Cebu City Travel Guide: Sto. Niño Shrine & Taboan Market [Updated]

January 21, 2023

Cebu City offers an experience beyond beaches and resorts. It is a place that is rich in traditions and historical sites.

Cebu City offers more than beaches and resorts. Cebu is rich in traditions and heritage, as well as abundant in historical sites. As such, a visit to Cebu is not complete without acquainting yourself with its distinct culture and popular tourist spots.

Sto. Nino Shrine in Cebu City
Sto. Nino Shrine

Cebu City Travel Guide: Sto. Niño Shrine & Taboan Market [Updated]

    We also heard that the nightlife in Cebu City is alive and bustling. I'm not talking about bars and cafes only but also night markets selling delicious food.

    It's easy to explore the city in a day. However, if you are looking for adventure-packed activities, we recommend a five-day Cebu itinerary. This is a comprehensive travel guide covering canyoneering, snorkeling, and other adrenaline-filled activities. Also, while you are in Cebu, don't forget to add a trip to the enthralling Kawasan Falls in your itinerary.

    About Cebu City

    Cebu City is a first-class and highly progressive city located in Central Visayas in the Philippines. Cebu City is the seat of the government of the island province of Cebu and the regional center of Central Visayas.

    Cebu City is an interesting mixture of modern shopping centers, five-star hotels, tall buildings, old churches, and heritage sites. A few hours away from Cebu City are some of the most pristine beaches in the province of Cebu which can rival those from other parts of the Philippines.

    How to go to Cebu

    The best and most practical way to go to Cebu is to travel by air. It saves you a lot of time plus with seat sales here and there, it's also relatively easy on the pocket. 

    Mactan-Cebu International Airport, located on Mactan Island, services the entire province of Cebu and serves as the main entry point for both domestic and international flights. There are daily direct flights to the Mactan-Cebu International Airport so it's fairly easy to reach Cebu. 

    From the airport, one may take a cab to reach nearby places such as Cebu City. Otherwise, if you are to embark on long-distance travel, the most practical and convenient mode of transportation is via bus (the terminal is near the airport). 

    A quick dip before our Cebu City tour

    We woke up early and had breakfast and coffee in our room. How time flies when you are on holiday. But, as they say, no amount of vacation seems to be enough especially if you are in a place that you are truly enjoying.

    Enjoying the beach at Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu
    Enjoying the beach at Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa

    We were to go to Cebu City in the afternoon. Thus, we took advantage of the opportunity to spend the morning on the beach, taking it slow and just letting the sight of the magnificent sea lull our minds. We also swam while the sun is still not yet too high.

    When we finally hauled ourselves out of the water, it was close to lunchtime. We went again to Acqua Restaurant for a light lunch of Greek and Caesar salads and pasta. After which, we got dressed and prepared for our trip to Cebu City later that day.

    Exploring Cebu City

    By early afternoon, we were off to Cebu City. The weather was fine; sunny yet it was breezy. It was perfect for an afternoon of leisurely walking.

    Our primary objective was to buy pasalubong and our itinerary consisted of a trip to Sto. Niño Shrine, Magellan's Cross, and Taboan Market. Aside from these destinations, one attraction that has gained popularity among travelers of late is the Sirao Flower Garden, so you might also want to check that out when in Cebu City.

    1. Sto. Niño Shrine

    We boarded a shuttle bus going to Ayala Center in Cebu City. From there, we took a cab going to the Sto. Niño Shrine. The shrine, officially called Basílica Minore del Santo Niño, is a small yet stunning edifice located in the heart of Cebu City.

    The altar of Sto. Nino Shrine in Cebu City
    The altar of Sto. Nino Shrine

    Its antique walls and arches added all the more to the magnificence of this building. History books say that the Sto. Nino Shrine is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the country and stands on the spot where Spanish explorers found the image of the child Jesus.

    Hallway inside Sto. Nino Shrine in Cebu City
    Hallway inside Sto. Nino Shrine

    This is a photo opportunity that I would not miss. Unfortunately, the façade was being renovated and a scaffolding gave me a hard time composing my shot.

    A painting inside Sto. Nino Shrine in Cebu City
    A painting depicting the arrival of the Spanish on the island of Cebu

    The interior of the church was impressive though. If you want to get a good photograph of the altar, bring a camera with a good zoom lens because you are allowed to take pictures only from afar. It was very solemn inside the church.

    Sto. Nino statues in Cebu City
    Sto. Nino statues

    As a testament to the devotion of Cebuanos to the infant Jesus, you can see people waving to the image of the Sto. Niño with their heads bowed as they pass by the Pilgrim Center, a structure built across the basilica to accommodate the growing number of worshipers and devotees.

    If you want to get to know more about the Pilgrim Center, you may want to go to the museum inside it. We were not able to visit it though because of time constraints.

    Pilgrim Center in Cebu City
    In front of the Pilgrim Center

    We went to the store inside the Basilica to buy religious figurines. I was particularly looking for a small black Sto. Niño statue which Nanay asked for pasalubong but it was not available at the store. Luckily, I found one in a shop just across the shrine.

    2. Magellan's Cross

    Another iconic landmark that we wanted to see in Cebu City was Magellan’s Cross. This small chapel houses the cross brought by Ferdinand Magellan when he landed in Cebu to signify the dissemination of the Roman Catholic faith in the Philippines. 

    Magellan's Cross in Cebu City
    Magellan's Cross

    The sign located inside the chapel says that the cross that we see is a wooden case made of Tindalo wood and encloses the original cross to protect it from deterioration and from people who take pieces of it as religious souvenirs.

    Rosaries being sold in Cebu City

    Unfortunately, Magellan's Cross was also closed for renovation when we went there. I still took photos of the exteriors of the chapel though.

    3. Taboan Market

    From the Sto. Nino Shrine, we took a cab going to Taboan Market (Pahina Central, Cebu City, Cebu) to buy danggit and other dried seafood; local produce that Cebu City is known for. Going there was a quick 30-40 minute ride.

    Dried seafood in Taboan Market in Cebu City
    Mounds of dried seafood

    As soon as we got out of the cab, the pungent aroma of dried fish immediately greeted us. Taboan Market is composed mainly of stalls selling dried seafood and a few souvenir shops.

    The mounds of assorted dried fish and squid were a sight to behold. There was something about seeing all those different types of dried seafood that got me excited. The richness of the Cebu seas is indeed very evident in these bountiful harvests.

    Aside from Taboan Market, you might also want to visit Carbon Market along M.C. Briones Street. Carbon Market is the oldest and largest farmer's market in Cebu City and also a famous tourist destination. It used to be a coal depot, hence, the name "Carbon" Market.

    For those who love breakfast food, you will enjoy it here at Taboan Market. The red-colored ones on the lower left-hand corner of the picture below are fish tocino (sweet cured fish, can also be pork). There is also dried swordfish and sapsap.

    Different types of dried seafood being sold at Taboan Market in Cebu City
    Various types of dried seafood

    We bought 15 bags of danggit, each weighing 1/4 kilo. Of course, we also bought a kilo of dried squid and danggit for us. For my office mates, I bought half a kilo of Cebu’s sinful chicharon (crunchy pork rind), with its crispy skin and layers of rich fat and meat. Easy on these babies because they sure are artery-clogging but they are so good! I would recommend eating this with a warm plate of steamed rice or on its own dipped in spicy vinegar and with a few bottles of beer. For the Cebu chicharon, we paid around P1,500.

    We were supposed to buy dried mangoes at Taboan Market, too, but, as a tip, one of the store helpers told us that it was cheaper to buy dried mangoes in SM Supermarket. So, we went straight to SM Supermarket after our trip to Taboan Market.


    From Taboan Market, we took a cab to SM Cebu where we bought hoards of dried mangoes. We got around 20 bags which cost us close to P4,000.

    We finished at around four-thirty in the afternoon and hurried back to Ayala Center to catch the last shuttle going back to Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa.


    Tired from running around the whole afternoon because of our cramped itinerary, we had early dinner at Tea of Spring and soon afterward, we were off to bed.

    If you are interested to book a room at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa or if you want to find out their latest promos and offers, you may get in touch with them through the following:

    Address: Punta Engano Road, Lapu-Lapu, Cebu 6015 Philippines
    Contact number: (63 32) 231 0288

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    1. I would love to visit Cebu one day. This is one of several things I've seen lately about Cebu, and I really want to go.

    2. I have always wanted to travel to the Philippines. I have never looked into where I wanted to visit but now I have one place on my list! The photos are beautiful and I cant wait to visit Cebu!

    3. What a great place to travel! The dried seafood looks so interesting, I don't think I've ever seen that before.

    4. I would love to see the Santo nino shrine. My aunt gifted me one when I was a little girl and they have always been special to me.

    5. Nnniiiccceeeee...I'd love to visit the Taboan Market! Any market is my favourite scene....

    6. Wow I want to go to that Cebu market! I want to see how to use that dried seafood.

    7. This looks like a great place to visit! I can't wait until I can come and see it for myself one day.

    8. I am amazed about the dry fishes! They are so many! Of course I would definitely add this on my itinerary when I can finally visit Cebu City in the Philippines.

    9. I miss going to Cebu. I love the food. I love the tourist spots! So nice actually!

    10. I have no idea where this is, but I know that it looks fun and very beautiful, two of my must-have when traveling!

    11. Sara LaFountain8 May 2022 at 03:33

      I really enjoyed these beautiful photos. One day I hope to visit the Phillipines.

    12. Sara LaFountain8 May 2022 at 03:33

      Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos. I hope to visit the Philipines one day soon.

    13. This looks like a great place for a trip. I do need a vacation soon.

    14. Gust Și Aromă8 May 2022 at 03:33

      A family vacation is what we need! Cebu sounds like the perfect vacation!

    15. Jonalyn Macandili-Mendoza8 May 2022 at 03:33

      I love reading you post. It seems like I am also in that vacation. I wish I can revisit Cebu again soon! - Anosa Malanga

    16. My mom was born in Cebu but I never got the chance to visit Cebu. Hopefully, one day.

    17. I can't wait to travel again outside of the road trips. I am looking forward to catching a flight and visiting places like Cebu. Thanks for this visual tour.

    18. crystal carder8 May 2022 at 03:34

      I've never heard of Cebu but it sounds like a great place to visit. Looks like a lot of good stuff to see.

    19. Cameron Hammock8 May 2022 at 03:34

      Wow, this is gorgeous. I cannot wait to travel again! The Taboan Market especially looks like fun. I need to try some new and exciting food.

    20. Melanie Edjourian8 May 2022 at 03:34

      A swim in the sea followed by salad and pasta sounds lovely to me. I really need a holiday.

    21. Looks like an amazing place to be. I can't wait to start traveling again. I would love to go here someday.

    22. I can't wait for the world to open normally again so I can explore these beauties

    23. Places in the world so far from me, I live in Italy, that allow me to open a window on the world. Your blog post did it, I didn't even know Cebu! Wow!

    24. This destination looks amazing! Would absolutely love to visit when everything opens back up!

    25. This destination looks incredible! Would definitely love to visit when everything officially opens back up

    26. I definitely want to see Cebu as soon as I'm able to travel again. It's such a beautiful place.

    27. I love exploring markets like that! They're so much fun to explore.

    28. These all sound like neat places to check out. I was not familiar with Cebu and it is interesting to learn about it.

    29. I don't know and haven't heard much about Cebu before. There is much to see and experience here!

    30. Shannon Graham8 May 2022 at 03:35

      That would be such an awesome trip. I miss traveling abroad.

    31. Looks like great trip. Glad that you guys had fun. great place to check it out.

    32. Really enjoyed reading you travel guides around Cebu. The assortment of dried seafood at Taboan Market seems quite plentiful!