As one of the major provinces during the Spanish colonial era and officially declared as a Royal City in 1889 by the Queen of Spain, Iloilo is rich in historical and cultural treasures. Along with the mandatory food tripping and hopping around nearby beaches, waterfalls, and nature parks, any decent Iloilo itinerary would include beautiful remnants of the Spanish era, such as Calle Real (the royal road), Museo Iloilo, and Miag-ao church, a UNESCO World Heritage Baroque Church that dates back over 300 years.
Other heritage sites include the Camiña Balay nga Bato, Casa Mariquit, Lizares Mansion, and the magnificent Lopez Mansion popularly known as Nelly’s Garden. Many more tourist attractions fill this list, each one a testament to the old-world European charm for which the city is renowned.
However, Iloilo has more to offer apart from the beautiful glimpses of its storied past. If you’ve gone on the road oft-traveled, it’s time to check out this vibrant city’s hippest hangouts and upcoming spots.
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The River Esplanade is a tree-lined boardwalk and park along the Iloilo River where people can walk their pets, jog, hang out or dine at any of the nearby restaurants. Located near the Atria Park District, the Esplanade started out as a 1.2-km stretch from Diversion Road to Carpenter Bridge, eventually expanding into a 2.6-km stretch now known as Esplanade 2. A third, fourth and sixth Esplanade are all in the works.
Architect Paulo Alcazaren (who also designed the Singapore Quay and River Esplanade) designed the Esplanade with input from the locals. The park is part of the Iloilo local government’s green efforts: to rehabilitate the 15-km mangrove river, give people the space for outdoor leisure, and be more environmentally sustainable.
Other upcoming riverside developments include the Rivercraft Pavilion near Carpenter Bridge, and the redevelopment of Fort San Pedro near Esplanade 2. Folks can look forward to scenic cruises as an added attraction to the river boat ride.
Far from the humble farm where Clark Kent grew up, in Iloilo, Smallville is the city’s bustling nightlife center. It used to refer to the small complex that housed clubs and restaurants along Diversion Road in Mandurriao, near the Riverside Boardwalk. Then, the commercial complex catered mostly to travelers checked in at the hotels in the area.
But now that several more establishments have set up shop, Smallville has come to refer to the larger vicinity in which various lifestyle districts have developed. A road connects it to Atria Park District as well, which itself hosts an impressive variety of homegrown and casual dining concepts.
However you choose to unwind, there is something for you around these parts. Party the night away at Aura or MO2 Ice. If you prefer something more low-key, enjoy cold beer at Shipwreck, or Brewery Gastropub, where you can sample the best local and foreign brews.
Feast on authentic European cuisine at Amalfi Cucina Italiana, a regular on “Best Restaurants” lists. If you’re craving for American comfort food, check out the pizza and ribs at Bourbon Street bistro or grab a gourmet Crave Burger at its original branch.
To tease your palette for Asian Cuisine, there’s SSAM and Kogi & Vegi (Korean), Troi Oi and Asian Spoon (Vietnamese), Spring Palace (Chinese), Ohana (Japanese), Clarke Quay (Singaporean), and Bauhinia (Filipino). And if you have an insatiable sweet tooth, get your fill of cakes and shakes at Nothing But Desserts.
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Parks and Recreation
In 2015, Iloilo landed at the top of the Livable Cities Design Challenge, a competition for Philippine city planners to transform their cities into more sustainable and attractive places to live in. One of the components of the city’s winning entry was the restoration of Sunburst Park, the location of the iconic Customs House Plaza and Iloilo Freedom Grandstand during the Japanese era. The Sunburst project includes the revitalization of the old CBD and pedestrianization of Calle Real.
Thanks to the government’s efforts to build around establishments and roads that were declared Heritage Zones by the National Historical Commission, Iloilo is on the fast track to becoming a globally competitive city with its pedestrian-friendly and bike-friendly parks and recreation spaces.
A few steps away from all these cool places is Iloilo’s premier lifestyle hub and another awesome hangout spot: Shops at Atria in Atria Park District. Similar to Serendra in BGC, Shops at Atria is an 8,000-square meter open-space commercial complex, which makes it fit right in with the city’s development initiatives. In addition to coffee shops and restaurants, it offers quick access to basic shopping and servicing needs. It’s also conveniently located near Ateneo de Iloilo, Qualimed Hospital, Seda Hotel, Ayala Technohub, and other key establishments.
With everything that’s coming up for Iloilo, you might just love the City of Love so much that you’d want to put down roots here—and you could! As a master-planned, mixed-use estate development, Atria Park District includes the recently completed Avida Towers Atria and Avida Storeys Atria, which strike the perfect balance between modern city living and an environmental garden lifestyle in the heart of Iloilo.
Residents and their guests would enjoy not only the fabulous in-house amenities. These residential condominiums offer the very best Iloilo has to offer; they are located so close to everything—from riverside attractions to green recreational spaces, from lifestyle essentials to endless dining options. So whether you live in Iloilo or are headed there for business or pleasure, a fantastic trip awaits!