Cebu is the second-largest metropolitan area in The Philippines, the first being the capital city of Manila.
As a result, it’s often a city many tourists find themselves in whether it be for a stopover en route to area’s south of the mainland city such as Oslob or Bohol or for an alternative city experience.
If you’re looking for culture & local atmosphere then January is the best time to visit Cebu so you can attend the incredible Sinulog festival. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more laid-back atmosphere, & lower temperatures then you may find October through to December to be more suitable.
In this post I’ll be covering the benefits of visiting Cebu in each month of the year to help you decide when to visit, and what to expect upon your arrival.
If you love festivals and are interested to learn about the rich culture of a specific place during your visit, then the best time for you to go on a trip to Cebu is in January.
It is the city’s most festive time of the year. In fact, you can expect the people there to celebrate the Sinulog festival for the majority of the entire month.
Travelling to Cebu in January provides you with the unique experience of watching the city turn into a rainbow of colour and noise.
However, the drawback of visiting Cebu in January is that it’s the city’s peak season, and the festival is visited by Filipinos and tourists alike. As such when planning your trip to the Philippines you’ll likely not the higher cost of hotels and domestic flights in Cebu City during this month.
Despite the high cost of travel to Cebu during the month of January, not to mention the expensive hotels and accommodations, especially if you book on the third week, it will all be worth it.
It is because it is the perfect time to immerse in the city’s culture, history, and traditions.
You will definitely enjoy celebrating the festive spirit of the locals. January is also the perfect month to visit Cebu if you love being in a crowd and attend parties.
You can also do a lot of other exciting activities during January with its nice weather often ranging from 23 degrees Celsius to 31 degrees Celsius.
Just make sure to have an umbrella or waterproof rain jacket with you all the time as January also has fewer chances of rain.
What to Do in Cebu (January)
- Watch the colourful and festive Sinulog grand parade
- Take part in street parties
- Enjoy the city’s best foods and delicacies, including their famous Lechon, Puso, bam-I, and rumba
- Enjoy the fireworks display during Sinulog’s finale
- Have a historical and pilgrimage tour in the city
- Visit well-structured temples and churches, including the Taoist Temple, Basilica del Santo Nino, and Simala Church
February to March
If you are looking for a way to visit and explore the city of Cebu without paying the premiums of visiting in January, then try visiting from February to March.
These months are considered as the city’s off-peak seasons, so you’ll likely be able to find somewhere affordable last minute.
We travelled to the Philippines as an LGBTQ+ couple and experienced no discrimination during our visit. That’s not to say that homophobia doesn’t exist in the Philippines. However, cases are becoming increasingly rare.
The weather in Cebu from February to March is in my opinion perfect. It has an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius during the day and around 23 degrees Celsius at night.
There’s also a low chance of rain, so no need to worry about taking a brolly or a coat. Instead, you can just get out and enjoy everything this incredible city has to offer.
What to Do in Cebu (February-March)
- Visit churches with a loved one – Do this during the love month and make sure to include Basilica Church, Simala Church, and Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral in your itinerary.
- Visit waterfalls, including the famous Kawasan Falls, Ka-Tinggo Falls, and Aguinid Falls
- Roam around Cebu’s famous religious sites and landmarks, like the Fort Pilar and Magellan’s cross
- Try rock climbing
- Go sightseeing – Among those where you can feast your eyes on are 10,000 Roses Café, Sirao Flower Farm, and Temple of Leah
- Stroll around the Danasan Eco Adventure Park
April to May
For beach lovers, there is no better time to visit Cebu than during its hot and dry season, which runs from April to May. During the summer season, you can witness the city turning into a tropical paradise.
You can make the most out of your visit to Cebu during these months by getting out of the city and heading south to experience first-hand what it’s like to be in crystal-clear waters.
If you are a nature lover, then April and May are the perfect time for you to visit Cebu. During these months you’ll be able to experience some of the many incredible activities that the city offers.
The summer season is also the time when Cebu has a number of fiestas, so expect to take full advantage of what the city has to offer in terms of food.
What to Do in Cebu (April-May)
- Experience canyoneering to Kawasan falls
- Enjoy Bantayan Island beaches
- Try the fun and exciting water adventures offered by Camotes Island
- Dive in Malapascua Island
- Visit Sirao Garden and enjoy the nice view and smell of its breathtaking flowers
- Enjoy leisure hiking to Osmena Park
- Try the Sky Experience Adventure
- Enjoy the city’s food delicacies and specialities, especially the Cebu Lechon
- Go snorkelling in Moalboal
Travelling 90km south from Cebu City to Moalboal takes roughly 4 hours each way. However, this region is very different to the city of Cebu and well worth visiting during your trip.
June to September
If you are planning to visit Cebu during its low and off-peak seasons, then definitely consider the months between (and including) June to September.
However, there is, of course, a reason these months are off-peak and that’s due to the weather.
June to September is the rainy season. The good news is that even with the high chances of rain, there are still many things that you can do in Cebu during this period.
While even the cost of luxury resorts in Cebu is reasonable you’ll notice they drop by a further 10% – 20% during these off-peak months. Allowing you to experience the city without breaking the bank.
What to Do in Cebu (June-September)
- Shop and roam around SM Seaside City, one of the largest malls in the world – It has several indoor offerings. You can even chill and relax at the mall’s Sky Park found at the rooftop.
- Visit Oslob and enjoy whale shark watching
- Stroll around historical heritage sites
- Pamper yourself during this rainy season at the Esoy Hot Spring
- Visit museums and galleries, including Museo Sugbu
- Try your luck in the city’s famous casinos
Travelling from Cebu to Oslob takes between five and six hours. However, this region of the Philippines is a gateway to other islands including Bohol and Siquijor.
October to November
Cebu, much like Manila is home to a number of incredible shopping malls. Some of which are the largest in Asia.
The majority of these shopping malls start to prepare for Christmas as early as October so you better be prepared to get in the festive spirit if you’re visiting Cebu from October through to December.
October to November is a great time to consider visiting Cebu if you’re looking for drier and slightly warmer weather during your visit.
However, this is also the second busiest season in Cebu which results in the cost of hotels rising and the availability decreases for last-minute bookings especially.
What to do in Cebu (October-November)
- Enjoy concerts, shows, and other events hosted by the city, such as the Oktoberfest
- Shop in the city’s big and busy malls
- Enjoy the waters in Cebu’s famous beaches, including those found in the Bantayan Island
- Visit the Kawasan falls
- Stroll around the Mactan Shrine
- Visit the Tabo-an Market for souvenirs – Who knows? This is where you can find the best gifts for your loved ones during the holiday season.
- Go to Taoist Temple and Sirao Flower Gardens
Don’t rule out visiting Cebu during the holiday season. The weather is picking up significantly during this time with minimal rain and you’ll be able to take advance of some of the discounts and deals which are offered in many of the cities malls.
There are plenty of holiday celebrations going on throughout the city during the month of December providing you with plenty to do during your visit.
What to Do in Cebu (December)
- Feast on the city’s unique and famous delicacies, like Lechon, dangit and dried mangos
- Take a city tour – Include Taoist Temple, Magellan’s Cross, Fort San Pedro, Sirao Flower Farm, Temple of Leah, and Cebu Heritage Monument, among many others in your itinerary.
- Swim with whale sharks by paying Oslob a visit
- Attend Misa de Gallo
- Enjoy the Kasadya sa SRP that offers plenty of carnival rides and fun activities
- Enjoy the Symphony of Lights that takes place in Ayala Center
- Take advantage of Christmas bazaars
- Watch those awe-inspiring fireworks display in the city