With some of the best beaches and scuba diving in Southeast Asia, it can be hard to tear yourself away from the coast in Cebu—particularly if you only have a single day to explore. But there’s plenty of natural appeal on the island’s interior as well. Here’s how to maximize 24 hours in Cebu.
Santo Niño Basilica (Basílica del Santo Niño)
You can see the miraculous Santo Niño (Holy Child) within the Santo Niño Chapel inside the basilica. As one of Cebu’s most notable landmarks, the basilica features on almost all sightseeing tours around town, including combination Cebu City and Mactan tours. Itineraries typically include stops at Magellan’s Cross and the Phillipine Taoist Monument, as well as Lapu Lapu and the Alegre guitar factory in Mactan.
Things to Know Before You Go
As the church dates all the way back to 1737, it’s a must-see for any first time visitor to Cebu.
Remember to dress respectfully and keep your voice down, as this is an active place of worship.
The basilica is free to enter.
How to Get There
The basilica is centrally located in Cebu City. If you’re visiting independently, you can get there by jeepney or metered taxi. There closest bus stop is Nino Barangay Hall, which is serviced by buses 4B, 4H, 4I, 10G, and 10H.
When to Get There
The basilica is open daily throughout the year. Plan to visit on Friday or Sunday, when the street outside closes to vehicular traffic and mass services are staged outdoors to crowds of pilgrims. Each year, the Basilica del Santo Niño celebrates Cebu's largest annual event, the Cebuano festival of Sinulog, which is centered on the small Flemish statue of Jesus. The festival features a street parade and performances by brightly-costumed dancers from all over the Philippines.
Statue of Santo Niño
The elaborately-carved wooden figure of Jesus, believed to be of Belgian origin, dates back to the time of Magellan. Historians believe that the figure traveled with the discoverer on his voyage of conquest to the Philippines. As the story goes, Magellan presented the figure to the wife of the Cebu chieftain at the time. After his death at the hands of locals in 1521, the statue disappeared until its rediscovery in 1565.
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