Known as the Queen City of the South, Cebu offers a perfect marriage between the old and the new. It is home to the oldest street in the country, Calle Colon and the oldest religious icon brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards, the statue of Sto. Nino de Cebu housed in the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino de Cebu.

So if you’re wondering where to spend Christmas in the Philippines, Cebu would be an interesting holiday destination. Christmas in Cebu is vibrant with sparkling lights that reach as high as the tallest of buildings. Food is also wonderful in Cebu City; here you can find the best lechon in the country, as well as other delights like ngohiong lumpia, dried mangoes, otap and dried fish. The pristine shores of Malapascua, Bantayan and Mactan Islands are also just a boat/bus ride away.

What to Do in Cebu City

Sto. Nino Basilica in Cebu City
Basilica Minore del Sto. Nino de Cebu © banggigay on flickr

Hear Simbang Gabi at the Basilica.

The old world architecture, intricately-designed altar and the deep devotion of the Cebuanos are something worth waking up early for. It gets really crowded during morning masses in the Basilica so be prepared to elbow your way in and out of the church complex.

Escape to Malapascua or Bantayan Island.

The virgin beaches of the twin islands are very hard to resist: fine white sand, peaceful atmosphere and crystal clear waters are just some of the perks. The islands also offer exciting dive sites for those who would like to explore the underwater wonders in this part of the Philippines. Make sure to book accommodations at least a month ahead.

Bantayan Island, a virgin island hours away from Cebu City
Sunrise on Bantayan Island © VN Malazarte on flickr

Test your bravery at the Crown Regency Sky Experience Adventures.

Adrenaline junkies will definitely have a ball hanging on the edge of the 38th floor of the Crown Regency Hotel and Towers. And then there’s the Skywalk Experience that will allow you to walk (tied to a harness, of course) on a ledge attached to the outer side of the 37th floor. And if that is not enough, you can try the Sky Lift, a motorized zipline that will transport you from one skyscraper to another! After all the thrill seeking adventures, a sumptuous meal awaits at the hotel’s restaurant.

Crown Regency Hotel and Towers in Cebu City
Crown Regency Hotel and Towers in Metro Cebu © dbgg1979 on flickr

Feast on lechon at Zubuchon.

The famous food critic Anthony Bourdain called Zubuchon’s lechon the “world’s best whole roasted pig” and did so for a reason. The pigs used for their lechon are not commercially grown; instead, they use organic pigs raised in backyards. Whatever their secret ingredients are, Zubuchon’s treats are smoething worth spending for

Extend your stay until January to join the Sinulog merrymaking.

Sinulog is one of the biggest and grandest festivals in the Philippines. It would be a huge regret if you leave the city just as it is about to kick off. Witness how devoted Filipinos are to the Sto. Nino and feast on the different treats the city is famous for.

Don’t forget to greet the locals “Malipayong Pasko!”