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Things to do in Cebu (during a layover)

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Layovers can be unexpected, sometimes, it adds to your projected expenses. But one thing I love about flight layovers is that it makes you explore more of a place while waiting for your next flight (talk about time cringe!) That’s what I experienced with my recent, supposed to be Bacolod-Guimaras trip when we had to drop by Cebu first.

Revisiting the 5th province on my “Project 81 Provinces,” I have always wanted to return to Cebu and re-experience everything again. It is like going back and living the past! It completes my nostalgic feels about this province. Read on and know my personal faves on what to do and places to see in the Queen City of the South and PH’s Lechon Capital during a layover.

Philippine Airlines' meal voucher | Cebu Turista Boy

On the other side of the wing

Ever experienced booking a flight hassle-free then all of a sudden your flight schedule changes? Long and cumbersome layovers usually gets you stuck in an airport with nowhere to go. Good thing, airlines nowadays e-mail you weeks before your new flight schedule. For me, I was rebooked automatically twice.

En route to Cebu | Turista Boy

Well, look at it on a brighter side! When me and my friend were en route to Bacolod, our carrier had us laid over in Cebu…

Exploring Cebu (during a layover)

A half day of waiting for that (delayed) flight would be tiresome and more expensive as food and services at the airport are almost at a premium. As our carrier e-mailed us our layover schedule a month before our scheduled flight, we decided to maximize our time and explore Cebu first before heading to the City of Smiles!

See also: Travel Guide: Reach Boracay in a snap!

What to visit and what to do!

Cebu is rich not only in history but also in tourist spots that are surely not to be missed. For this edition of a layover, I have jotted down some of the nearby spots where you can experience the province (almost) in its entirety.

Lapu-Lapu (Mactan) Shrine and Magellan’s Marker (Punta Engaño, Lapu Lapu City)

One of the more popular tourist spots near the Mactan-Cebu International Airport is the Mactan Shrine. This is known as the place where Lapu-Lapu defeated the Spanish conquistadores led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. To get here, you can ride a tricycle, cab, or jeep. Travel time from the airport is around 15-20 minutes. There is no entrance fee! This is also where the staging of the annual Kadaugan sa Mactan Festival happens.

10000 Roses Café (Cordova)

Maybe you have heard of this café in Cordova, a municipality in southern Mactan Island, and yes, you’re right, 10,000 artificial roses installed right in front of the café giving it its surreal ambiance. The café is open from 1100 H to 2300 H and you just have to pay PhP 20 (US$ 0.39) for the entrance fee before entering the premises.

10000 Roses Cafe | Cebu Turista Boy

The café serves mostly European dishes – from pasta to coffee, name it, they probably have it. I tell you that the best time to go to this famous, new-to-the-eye attraction is from 1800 H onwards, it is where the magic really happens. The roses light up the crisp night sky and will definitely bring you to a whole new dimension. 10000 Roses Café can be reached in about 30 minutes from the Lapu-Lapu Shrine.

Lantaw Floating Restaurant (Cordova)

Just near the 10000 Roses Café is the Lantaw Floating Restaurant. If you opt to have home-grown food, this is the place to be! With a view of the Cebu Strait and the Cebu City skyline, Lantaw Floating Restaurant also offers a cool ambiance that we loved.

Lantaw Restaurant | Cebu Turista Boy

I personally enjoyed their Cordova Cooler Drink wherein it tastes like a colada but infused with several citrus fruits like orange, calamansi, lemon, and watermelon as well. They serve mostly Filipino and Chinese cuisine and we have tried their Chopsuey (vegetarian mode on!) and their Crispy Garlic Shrimp.

Temple of Leah (Cebu City)

Basked within a lush vegetation in a higher part of Cebu City, the Temple of Leah is dedicated to Leah Villa Abino-Adarna honoring her and offering the temple to all her beauty. It is like the Taj Mahal of the Philippines wherein the façade and its interiors are that of an ancient Roman temple.

Temple of Leah | Cebu Turista Boy

When we went there, we had a hard time going up the hill (as we were only hitching on a motorbike). With its steep terrain going up, what you will see upon reaching the Temple is a 180-degree view of downtown Cebu and nearby Mactan Island. I personally have set high expectations on this place but to my surprise, the Temple is not yet done and ongoing construction works are still on its way to completion (but at least the main facade and balcony are ‘instagrammable.’) You will just have to pay PhP 50 (US$ 1) entrance fee and you can enjoy the ‘temple’ daily from 0600 – 2300 H.

Tops Lookout (Cebu City)

Just another must-see tourist attraction in Cebu, Tops Lookout is just a few meters farther than the Temple of Leah. One of the best kept secrets in Lahug.

Tops Lookout | Cebu Turista Boy

Located in Busay Hills, just like in Temple of Leah, Tops Lookout offers a much wider panoramic view of Cebu City and Mactan and Olango Islands. Tops can be reached approximately in 10-15 minutes from Temple of Leah via a habal-habal which usually costs PhP 100 one way (US$ 2), or 20-30 minutes away from JY Square (in downtown Cebu City, approx. 10 km) via a jeepney but it would sure take time when riding such. There is an entrance fee of PhP 100 (US$ 2) upon entering the premises. I also advise that you bring extra money for refreshments/souvenirs. Tops is open from 1000 – 2300 H.

Cebu Taoist Temple (Cebu City)

Built by the prominent Chinese community in Cebu, the Taoist Temple is always on every traveler’s travel bucket list. Sitting atop the famed Beverly Hills of Cebu, this attraction will bring you at peace to a whole new level. The temple remains free of charge as of this writing and it is open from 0900- 1700 H.

Cebu Taoist Temple | Turista Boy

To get to there, alight a jeep going to Lahug, as the driver to drop you off the Taoist temple. From the drop off, you can hire a habal-habal for PhP 10 (US$ 0.20) (depends) and they will drop you off the gate going to the temple. They aren’t allowed to go inside the exclusive village as it is noisy. You can also reach the place via a private car or a taxi at approximately 300-400 (US$ 6-8) (and the driver will wait for you until you finish the tour inside).

Magellan’s Cross / Basilica Minore del Santo Niño (Cebu City)

Probably the most visited site in Cebu, the Magellan’s Cross symbolizes the establishment of the Catholic faith in the Philippines. Claimed to be planted in the very site where it is now, the original cross is enclosed in Tindalo wood for it to be preserved.

Magellan's Cross | Cebu Turista Boy

Rumor has it that the original cross (before it was enclosed in wood) has supernatural powers that heals the sick on the olden times – that is why the site is so much venerated by Catholics. The site is just near the Basilica Minore del San Niño and the Cebu City Hall. It is easily accessible via various public transportation (or your private car) and is open daily from 0800 – 1800 H.

Fort San Pedro (Cebu City)

Fort San Pedro is considered to be the smallest and oldest fort in the Philippines. Now situated within Cebu’s Plaza Independencia, Fort San Pedro, a.k.a. Fuerza de San Pedro, also served as the first seat of the Spanish settlement in the country spearheaded by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. This triangular-shaped fortress is one of Cebu’s many symbols depicting the province’s rich history. The fort today has 14 cannons all around with three bastions and turrets that serves as its watchtower. It also has several plants that ornament and complement the fort itself.

Fort San Pedro | Cebu Turista Boy

There is a minimal entrance fee of PhP 30 (US$ 0.60) (regular); Students and Senior Citizens get discounts upon presentation of a valid ID. It is open daily from 0800 – 2000 H.

Taboan Market (Cebu City)

Cebu, known for its diverse sea life, is also known for its danggit or dried fish. Taboan Market is one of the more popular sites where you can buy such. Here, you will find a wide array of dried fish, small and big! Interestingly enough, too, are its pyramidal presentations when they sell their products. Price ranges vary based on the kind of fish. The market usually opens from 0400 – 2000 H daily.

Taboan Market | Cebu Turista Boy

Sample Itinerary

0800 – 0830 H Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Lapu-Lapu Shrine and Magellan Marker
0830 – 0900 H Travel time (to 10000 Roses Café)
0900 – 0930 H 10000 Roses Café (café opens at 1100 H)
0930 – 1030 H Brunch at Lantaw Floating Restaurant (near 10000 Roses Café)
1030 – 1130 H Travel time (to Temple of Leah)
1130 – 1200 H Temple of Leah
1200 – 1215 H Travel time (to Tops Lookout)
1215 – 1300 H Tops Lookout (and Lunch)
1300 – 1345 H Travel time (to Taoist Temple)
1345 – 1430 H Taoist Temple
1430 – 1500 H Travel time (to Magellan’s Cross)
1500 – 1530 H Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, Cebu City Hall
1530 – 1600 H Travel time (to Fort San Pedro)
1600 – 1630 H Fort San Pedro
1630 – 1700 H Travel time (to Taboan Market)
1700 – 1730 H Taboan Market (Danggit and pasalubong buying)

*Optional: Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House / Heritage of Cebu Monument / Colon Street / Baguio Craft Brewery – Cebu / Alegre Guitars

Possible Expenses

Lapu-Lapu Shrine, Magellan Marker FREE
10000 Roses Café (entrance fee, excluding food inside) P 20
Lantaw Floating Restaurant (group of 2-4) P 250~ (per person)
Temple of Leah (entrance fee, excluding food inside) P 50
Tops Lookout (entrance fee, excluding food inside) P 100
Taoist Temple FREE
Magellan’s Cross, Basilica Minore del Santo Nino, Cebu City Hall FREE
Fort San Pedro P 30
Taboan Market (depends)
TOTAL P 450 (US$ 9) ~

*excludes food, souvenir, and local transportation expenses

Layovers aren’t bad after all!

Asi it is my second time in Cebu and is my first layover experience, it just feels fulfilling realizing that there is so much to be done whenever you are laid over to a different place before reaching your main destination. Note, too, that the time and schedule depends on how many hours your layover is. It is just a matter of time management (and budget management, too!) and how eager you are in discovering different sights.

Things to do in Cebu during a layover | Turista Boy

Know more about my Visayas journey here in the coming days! We’re born to travel!

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6 thoughts on “Things to do in Cebu (during a layover)

  1. Layovers are indeed a travlers’ nightmare. But however they can turn out to be a blessing in disguise too. I would actually love to be stuck with a layover in a place like Cebu. There is so much to see and experience, I am sute it would be a very fruitful experience. I am really impressed by the magnificence of the Lapu Lapu monument and the exquisite temple.

  2. Noel says:

    So, if this isn’t you first time in Cebu, would you cross it on your list of 81? Also where can we find the page if you have been updating the list publicly?

    The Temple of Leah had me so intrigued. I never knew that Cebu is actually also the balwarte of the Adarnas. Hahaha!

  3. Goodness I can’t believe how much there is you can manage to fit in in a layover in Cebu. I’ve never been but these are all great ideas to add to either a layover or a normal visit! The floating Restaurant and the Taoist Temple would be top of my list 😀

  4. Joanna says:

    I can’t believe you have managed to see so many places in such a short time and you have spent only 9$ for the entire day. This is really impressive! I would love to visit the Taoist Temple, it looks so colorful and the architecture is very special as well.

  5. neha says:

    You covered great details during the layover itself. Although Cebu looks so beautiful, I would prefer to stay here for longer and explore the place at a slower pace. Lovely itinerary though.

  6. Ambuj Saxena says:

    That’s a rather economical way to spend a layover! Out of all the places you’ve mentioned I would love to hang out in 1000 roses cafe for the ambience it offers. Thanks for a wonderful post.

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