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.
Magallanes Street, next to Basilica del Santo Nino
A small circular pavilion, built in the 19th century, houses Magellan’s Cross, which is today one of Cebu island’s most important religious icons and an essential stop on any Cebu City tour. The painted ceiling shows Filipinos erecting the original crucifix while the explorer watches, and locals still flock here to light a candle and say a prayer or two. There’s no charge to visit the site and it’s easy enough to visit on a walking tour. However, many travelers prefer to join a tour that bundles the cross with other attractions such as Fort San Pedro and Mactan Island.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Magellan’s Cross is perfect for travelers with an interest in history and religion.
- Dress codes for religious sites are more relaxed in the Philippines than in many parts of the world, but do bear modesty in mind.
- Both the plaza and the pavilion are wheelchair accessible, but only one door has a ramp.
How to Get There
Magellan’s Cross sits in the heart of downtown Cebu City, just feet from City Hall, and less than a 1-mile (1.5-kilometer) walk from the pier where ferries come in. Many travelers prefer to visit on an organized tour rather than piecing together jeepneys, tricycles, and motorbike taxis.
When to Get There
The pavilion (or rotunda) is open from morning until early evening, seven days a week. Aim to visit during the working week to beat the crowds. Avoid weekends, Easter, Christmas, and other religious holidays.
Ferdinand Magellan in the Philippines Well over 90% of the population of the Philippines describe themselves as Christians, unusually for southeast Asia where Islam and Buddhism dominate. Ferdinand Magellan (Fernando de Magallanes in Spanish) brought Christianity to the islands, supposedly baptizing hundreds of locals before planting his famous cross. He was killed by a poisoned arrow on Mactan Island, off Cebu City, in a battle some believe focused on religion.
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