Cebu City has several claims to fame: in pre-colonial times, it was a rajahnate and trade center. With Magellan’s landing, it became the first Spanish settlement and the cradle of Christianity in Asia, making it home to many heritage sites and buildings.
The city remains a major center of commerce, with Cebu Business Park and Cebu I.T. Park housing top local and global companies. It’s also a hive of creative talent with the likes of furniture designers Kenneth Cobonpue and Vito Selma, and fashion designers Cary Santiago and Monique Lhuillier, paving the way for young Cebuano artists.
Equal parts old-world and trendy, Cebu city never runs out of new and unique experiences. Beyond Sinulog, island-hopping, and lechon, here are some that you can add to your ‘Cebucket’ list.
1. Homegrown restaurants
Every so often in Cebu, a new kid on the restaurant block appears, delighting patrons with both cuisine and aesthetics. The Pyramid opened this summer and has already attracted attention for its Louvre-like design. The restaurant also holds community events like morning yoga, wine classes, and art exhibits. Also worth visiting are Señor Kimchi (Korean-Mexican fusion), La Maison Rose (authentic French cuisine), Abaca Baking Company (artisanal American breakfast), and Anzani (gourmet Mediterranean).
The cafés are just as varied. There’s Amidala, a Star Wars-themed café with drinks like Forcechoke Milkshake, C3Peanutbutter, and Carameleia. Korean-inspired Coffee Prince and Café Tiala will take you to Seoul with their baristas and interiors. The 10,000 Roses Café‘s LED roses light up at night, a view you can enjoy right after a sunset by the sea. In Cebu city, dining is a feast for the eyes and the tummy.
All are located within or near Cebu I.T. Park. Click links for more info on each restaurant.
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2. Nature parks and gardens
You have your pick of Cebu’s natural wonders if you wanna check out the numerous dive spots, waterfalls, canyoneering, and trekking sites. But if you’re looking for something more low-key while being one with nature, there’s a majestic flower farm less than an hour’s drive from the city: Sirao Gardens, also called “Little Amsterdam,” where red and yellow celosia flowers are grown for festivals like Sinulog.
The 8,000-sqm hillside garden is home to beautiful blooms of dahlias, smithias, everlastings, China asters, cockscombs, yellow bells, petunias, and Guernsey lilies, accentuated by benches, a little windmill, and other garden décor. Enjoy the scenery, take pictures, or bring a picnic. It’s best to come when the flowers are in full bloom, so inquire with the garden when planning your trip.
Open 7 a.m. until sunset. Roundtrip fare by “habal-habal” is around P200 to 250 from JY Square in Lahug. Entrance is P30 per adult.
3. Cebu’s Taj Mahal
Not far from Sirao Gardens is the Temple of Leah. With its grandiose Greco-Roman architecture, one wouldn’t think it was only built in 2012. Inspired by the Taj Mahal, it was built in memory of entrepreneur Teodorico Adarna’s wife, Leah. The two were married for 53 years before she passed away in 2010. He adopted a classical design to make it a timeless landmark.
Leah hoarded so many books, furniture, décor, and artwork from her travels that it took seven houses to store everything. Now, the temple’s 24 chambers contain all her belongings. There’s a convenience store and free outside parking for guests.
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Entrance is P50 for guests aged 11 to 60 and is free for everyone else. Your habal-habal can take you from Sirao to the temple for around P500, or you can take the temple’s shuttle from Cebu IT Park.
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4. Cebu’s beaches
Of course, you should visit Cebu city’s beaches when you have the chance. If you don’t want to travel for three hours to get to a beach, the good news is you don’t have to. Jpark Island Resort is a luxury destination about 40 minutes from Cebu I.T. Park and 15 minutes from the Cebu International Airport. One of its events spaces was the site of the Miss Universe swimsuit competition in January, during the candidates’ 10-hour whirlwind tour in Cebu.
Jpark includes a private beach (where you can do water sports, including snorkeling and scuba diving), a waterpark (with five pools including one with an island bar and one with a current for floaters, three water slides, mini golf, go-karts, and a giant chess board), restaurants (with a café, international buffet, Asian and Mediterranean, Chinese, Korean, and seafood), and accommodations (deluxe rooms, luxury suites, and private villas with their own pools or jacuzzis). Visit for the day, or have an all-out beach staycation!
The day rate includes lunch or dinner, towels, and use of the beach and waterpark.
5. World-class Cebuano products
Making everything from The Chocolate Chamber‘s gourmet tablea items to Loudbasstard‘s bamboo amplifiers and hybrid speakers, Cebu’s artisans have elevated native Filipino brands to world-class standards, with customers from as far as Europe and Canada placing orders and requests for foreign distributors. Bring home a box of TCC’s bestsellers or shop for Loudbasstard products at an Islands Souvenir store (another homegrown brand!) and take a piece of Cebu’s craftsmanship with you.
Cebu City easily evokes T.S. Eliot: “At the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” It’s a city so interesting you might just stay for good. All these cool experiences are easily accessible from Avida Towers Riala, a residential condominium in Cebu I.T. Park.
Aside from its proximity to major establishments and lifestyle hubs, Riala can be described as a new and unique urban green living experience in Cebu: future residents will live, work, and play amidst greenery that thrives in the middle of the city with 5,000 square meters of open space. From the modern comforts of city life to the leisurely delights of a nature stroll, it merges metro and eco-living effortlessly. At Avida Towers Riala, you can enjoy the best experiences Cebu has to offer.
Take the leap, then! Once you experience how it is to live in the green community that is Avida Towers Riala, you won’t want to be anywhere else.