Cebu City serves as the gateway to a variety of touristic destinations and as a hub to a variety of places in the Philippines. It is located south of Mandaue, at about 1 hour from the Mactan international airport, which is actually located on Mactan island. Some people that use Cebu as a connecting hub actually need to spend the night in the city. Staying at a hotel near the airport, in Lapu-Lapu city will save 1.5 hours going back and forth to the airport.

(destination expert comment. The above is only true at the moment because of bridge repairs. Normal travel time from Cebu City to the airport in normal daytime traffic is 30 to 40 minutes. Late night and early morning, the trip can be done in 15 to 20 minutes) 


For those coming to Cebu City, there are a few areas to stay, mainly the waterfront, fuente Osmena and Ayala. The latter is besically the business district and home to Ayala mall, which has been designed as an oasis in the city with a lot of open air areas to sit down and relax. Fuente Osmena is where the nightlife area is, and it gets a little rowdy around Mango Square. The waterfront is a little quieter and more boring and it does not have a particular appeal. There are a few sights in the city such as Magellan's cross, Colon Street (older street in the country, located in a squatter area) and a lot of old churches.

Do not spend more than one night in Cebu City. Instead head out for the beaches and the nature. Among the different possibilities are Moalboal in the Southwest (3 hours by car), which is a little cozy village frequented by divers and an average beach; Alcoy in the South east with a somehow better beach but in a more conservative setting and more frequented by locals; Bantayan and Malapasqua islands (3 hours by car plus one hour by boat) in the far north; and Camotes Islands on the east side. Despite their fame, Malapasqua has not much to offer unless you are diving, as it is a small island overrun by construction and boats parked along the beach. Bantayan is a larger island, with a real town life and average beaches of not-so-fine white sand. Camotes is the crown jewel of Cebu and has one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines in Santiago Bay (try staying at the resort there and enjoy the awesome views from their infinity pool). Unfortunately, Camotes is being discovered by budget students from Korea, who come to the Philippines as a cheap destination to learn English.


Some additional information:

- Trip time from the airport to the centre of Cebu City, say the area around Ayala mal, will depend entirely on traffic. Early morning, the trip can be done in as little as 15 minutes. Trip time in normal daytime traffic is 30 to 40 minutes.

- Lapu Lapu City has 3 shopping malls on the main road through the centre of the city. On Mactan Island, you can dine on floating restaurants, go on a ride in a yellow submarine. visit a guitar factory and see guitars and other instruments being made, go on a balloon ride, visit the Lap Lapu monument, pay to use the facilities of a beach resort for the day and more. 

 - There is no accommodation at the waterfront in Cebu City as the whole of the Cebu City coastline is taken up with shipping and industry. The most common areas for tourists to stay in Cebu City are UPTOWN, MIDTOWN, DOWNTOWN, LAHUG/AYALA, BANILAD and THE RECLAMATION AREA. 

- MIDTOWN has the highest concentration of night life activity although there are expat bars, discos, night clubs, karake bars, resto bars with live music and bikini bars spread out through out Metro Cebu.

- Colon is the Central Business District of Cebu City. Along Colon, there are several department store and shopping malls plus at least one university.  Plus multiple banks, hotels, beauty parlours, cinemas, restauarants, electrical stores, cell phone stores, doctors, attorneys and more.  Near Colon are several more universities, multiple hotels, multiple restaurants, multiple night life, the Cebu Metroplitan Cathedral, The Sto Nino Basilica, several colleges and multiple tourist sites such as Casa Gorordo, Fort San Pedro and the Yap ancestral house. There was a large squatter area one block from Colon which has now been cleared out.

- The trip time To Moalboal by car from Downtown Cebu City is 2 hours or less but it can take 3 hours in a bus.