Cebu, the Queen City of the South, is oozing with history, culture, and sights. You won’t need to spend much—or don’t even have to spend at all for a 360-degree experience of the place. Besides, who doesn’t love free things?
Here are 6 free things to do and places to visit in Cebu that won’t put a huge dent on your budget.
1. Stroll and take in the scene for free in Cebu
Parks and natural spaces are essential to every city. They are the fresh and green lungs that allow locals and tourists to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of city life. The island is adorned with both stunning land and seascapes. This makes Cebu home to different public areas with scenic views open to the community. These are just some of the spots where you can take in the peace and quiet—no entrance fee required.
Senior Citizens’ Park
One of the great things about Cebu is how much the locals still respect and care for the elderly. The Senior Citizens’ Park, opened to the public in 2012, can be found right across Cebu City Hall. The park is covered in green grass and lined with several trees. Its layout was inspired by Cebu’s famed Fuente Osmeña Circle with walk paths radiating from the statue at the center.
Take an afternoon off from adventuring! Sit in silence, or read a book under the shade of trees with the sweet music of the waves in the background. After all, it’s only a park named after senior citizens; anyone is free to come.
Golden Haven Memorial Park
Could sound a little weird, but yes, you read that right – a memorial park. Despite it being a cemetery, Golden Haven Memorial Park Cebu is known to be one of the most breathtaking parks in the city. At Golden Haven, people are free to sit, stroll, or jog around lush greenery.
Within the park are several awesome photo spots to visit as well. The open butterfly garden, koi pond, and fountain area are just some of the park landmarks definitely worth exploring. Moreover, because the park stands on top of a hill, the view is spectacular. Golden Haven Memorial Park Cebu is the perfect resting place—even for the living.
Location: Binaliw Rd, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu, Philippines – VIEW MAP
Contact: +63 32 346 7847 | Website
Hours: Monday to Friday from 9AM to 8PM (closed Saturday and Sunday)
South Road Properties is a reclaimed area containing different commercial developments. Aside from shopping malls, locals and tourists alike frequent the baywalk for the sea breeze and ocean view.
Regardless of the sun being too hot or the clouds being dark, you can enjoy the peaceful sound of the waves sitting on the benches under the covered walkway. And at the end of a long day—whoever you’re with—watch the colors of the sky change as the sun sets on the horizon.
2. Free nature watching in Cebu
The Philippines is blessed with various flora and fauna. While there are places and tours one can get up close and personal with exotic species, there’s really no need to spend anything to spot some of the local wildlife. Birdwatching is an activity totally free of charge. Plus points for you if you own a pair of binoculars. If you have left your bins at home, do not worry – just sit at a comfortable distance near trees or flowering plants early in the morning or during golden hour, and wait.
Some birds you can spot even in the city:
Sunbirds are the closest thing the Philippines has to hummingbirds. You can usually spot them hovering around flowering or fruit-bearing trees. If you have a sharp ear, you can easily identify them by listening for high-pitched chirps.
Asian Glossy Starling
Asian Glossy Starlings usually fly in flocks. At first, they seem to be slightly smaller crows from a distance. But when the sun hits their feathers, they turn into a beautiful metallic dark green color. Their call is likened to a creaking metal gate.
These graceful fishing birds can be found in towns beside the sea. Since they are the cousins of the Kookaburra, the call they make sounds like shrill laughing.
Nature watching is not just limited to plants and animals. The evening sky is also free for all to embrace. Stargazing and moon-watching are activities that require no expense. There are free phone apps which allow you to see the star maps in your location. Head over to TOPS for one of the best night views in the city.
3. Photo-walk around town for free in Cebu
Leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures! Cebu is full of life, and what better way to capture it than through photography. Take a quick trip to the public market and capture the colors of the local goods and the energy of daily market activities.
Let the Spanish influences of structures such as the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral or the Santo Niño Basilica transport you to colonial times.
Scan every detail on the Heritage of Cebu Monument to get a glimpse of each historical element that makes the region what it is today.
In a snap, you hold the ability to immortalize the grandeur of famous monuments, the stories of the locals, and the moments worth remembering. Even just with your phone camera in hand, you are sure to make your way home with a precious trip memento.
4. Go on a city-wide art hunt for free in Cebu
Another way to get to know a city more is by looking for its art. Though there is still some stigma attached to graffiti art in the Philippines, local artists continue to prove to officials how they can make the city a much more colorful and interesting place through this form of art.
Street art, spotted when you least expect them to be there, are the hidden gems of the metro. All throughout Cebu City, you can see works by local street artists like SID, Havoc, Derp, and more. Every artwork has a message or a story to tell, and all it needs is an audience— and that is you!
5. Watch a street festival for free in Cebu
Cebu is also known for its strong sense of tradition. Booking a trip close to a street festival will not only get you a chance to view a free show, but it will also allow you to see the locals at their happiest and most energetic. Music, food, art, and history all come alive during a Cebuano Fiesta.
A few colorful festivals with performances and displays you can see for free:
Originally a religious festival for the Child Jesus, Sinulog Festival has become one of the most awaited celebrations throughout the nation. Tourists fly in from other regions of the country to join in the procession and marvel at the street dancers. The festival is held every 3rd Sunday of January.
If you are thinking of flying off to a warmer place during the Yuletide season, Cebu’s Paskuhan Festival is something you should catch! Walk the streets at night and be in awe of the dazzling light displays at the city center. The festival holds nightly variety shows for the public to enjoy. Depending on how lucky you are, you might even hear the voices of carolers and performers serenading the town during these shows.
In this Carcar City festival, local superstitions merge together with Christian practices. The festival is a two-day affair celebrated during the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Street dancers perform choreography believed to ward off evil spirits. The festival’s name comes from a type of grass which commonly grows in Carcar. You can catch this festival on November 24 and 25.
First celebrated in 1999, this festival extends a meaningful message to the residents of the coastal town of Cordova. Aside from thanking the sea for the fishermen’s bounty, the community is reminded to be responsible stewards of all marine life. Street dancing competitions and performances are held for the public to enjoy. The festival happens every August 9, during the feast of the town’s patron saint, Saint Roche or San Roque.
5. Be a socially responsible tourist (for free) in Cebu
Cebu truly has so much to offer to its people and guests. From festive events, delicious food, all the way down to extraordinary sights, the island is not lacking in memorable experiences. If you are trying to find a way to give back to a city that has given you an unforgettable experience, volunteer for a program that will help you leave the place a little cleaner. After all, lending a helping hand is always free.
Follow the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office on Facebook for open calls to volunteer work. The CCENRO holds frequent clean up drive for the city’s rivers. Apart from river clean ups, tree planting activities are also held by the government office. Mad Monkey Hostel Cebu also regularly holds various community and environmental efforts as part of their core business model, so look out for announcements on the Facebook page whenever you’re in the city.
6. Make new friends for free in Cebu
Cebuanos are generally welcoming and hospitable. It’s not difficult to make new acquaintances in the Queen City of the South. Whether it is a fellow traveller you meet at the hostel or a friendly local, moments are made even richer when you have someone to share them with.
Travelling often gives people the idea that they would have to spend, spend, and spend. What they don’t know is that happiness and enjoyment come for free with every trip. Let us know if you have other suggestions on free things to do in Cebu!
More information about the top free things to do in Cebu City, Philippines
Did you find this article helpful? While we’re confident about your opinions, here are some other equally helpful articles in case you’re not sure which to prioritize first:
- 25 Best Things To Do In Cebu City from The Crazy Tourist
- Cebu-Ultimate Budget Travel Guide from The Fun-sized Traveller
- Celebrating All Year Round: Festivals In Cebu from Jonathan Filoteo, Cebu Wanderlust
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This article was written by Gabbi Reyes for Mad Monkey Hostels.