Fort San Pedro, Cebu – A Guide To The Oldest Fort In The Philippines

Based on the Cebu coastline just 800m from Cebu pier you’ll find Fort San Pedro, the oldest fort in the Philippines.

Fort San Pedro, also referred to as Fuerte de San Pedro is a military defence structure that was built in 1565 by the Spanish under the command of the first governor of the Captaincy General of the Philippines at the time Miguel López de Legazpi.

Today, Fort San Pedro is a fantastic attraction for visitors looking to learn more about the history of Cebu and the Philippines in what is the heart of the city.

As well as being the oldest fort in the Philippines Fort San Pedro is also the smallest, so if you’re nearby or have an hour to spare then this is the perfect place to visit.

How To Get To Fort San Pedro 

Located in the area known as Plaza Independencia, the pier area of the city is where you will find Fort San Pedro.

You can walk from Colon street which takes roughly 10-15 minutes. Walking from Colon street is a great way to explore more of the are. Also, Colon Street is known to be the oldest street in Cebu.

We took a Grab from our hostel in Banilad, Cebu City. The ride was roughly 30 minutes and cost 336 pesos. We recommend using Grab as it is regulated, safe and you won’t get any unexpected fees.

Pro Tip: On our return journey at around 5 pm it took 3 times as long as the traffic was at its peak. Bare that in mind when creating your itinerary.

Entry Costs

To enter Fort San Pedro it is 30 pesos per adult, 20 pesos for children and children under the age of 4 are free.

During our visit, the only way to pay for entry was using cash so be sure to head to the cash machine or exchange bureau before visiting.

Once you’ve paid to enter fort San Pedro you can stay until closing time, leaving you with plenty of time to explore, but also sit back, relax and enjoy the views.

Fort San Pedro Guide

Fort San Pedro was established in 1565 under the rule of Miguel López de Legazpi. The fort has been used for a number of things over time such as the city zoo, prison camp and an army garrison. 

The Fort standing there today has an impressive gateway, picturesque courtyard and a small museum. 

As the conqueror, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was the commander of the Spaniards and governor of Captaincy General of the Philippines, the fort and many places in the Philippines have a Spanish influence.

The original Fort was made of wood but then replaced in the 17th century and rebuilt in stone to repel Muslim raiders. It is also the oldest triangular bastion fort in the country.

Fort San Pedro is open from 8 am to 7 pm daily. 

Pro Tip: To get the best shots to go early in the day or within the evening to beat the midday sun. Also would make a great spot for watching a sunset.

The fort is currently under the control of the Cebu city government and the lands on which the fort is built are under control by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which explains why the gardens are well kept and cared for.

Before entering the fort we took a stroll around the gardens. At the time of our visit, the area has been set up for the Sinulog Festival with decorations, a stage and vendors selling food, drink and souvenirs.

We noticed that there were many signs stating traders we not permitted within the grounds. Making it a very peaceful and tranquil place to come. This was to stop many of the unlicensed vendors from coming into the area.

There were parks for children to play in, gardens to look at and benches under trees to sit in the shade. 

One of the features I really liked about the grounds surrounding the fort was the conscious effort they were going to make the gardens look nice. They were recycling bottles to grow new plants and even had a nursery to the back of the fort.

Pro Tip: make sure you take a hat and sun cream as the heat can get very strong and there isn’t much shelter at the fort. 

When entering the fort you will be required to buy a ticket. At the entrance, there are also some pictures and information that is worth reading before you go through.

After you have paid and got your recipes/ticket you are advised to stick to the right as you move around the fort. I believe this is to keep the flow of people moving, especially at peak hours.

As it was a hot day we headed straight for a bottle of water before continuing to explore. You can find a table and chair and a bar-like area at the very back. You can’t miss it, as it has signs and welcoming faces.

You can purchase a chilled bottle of water within the fort for 20 pesos. 

After getting a drink head into the first room on the right as you entered. Here you will see a number of pictures of the most important people that were part of the history of Fort San Pedro. 

Exiting out of the same door you entered there is a slight cobbles stone slope upwards, before reaching the top there is another room.

In there you will find a number of pieces with plenty of information about the Fort and the people who were key to the history and events.

After reading up on all the events head up the slope to the top. Here is where the patrols and guards would have stood to keep watch for invaders. The fort is very picturesque with trees growing and create shade and flowers.

Along the walk around the top of the fort, there is a section which is the main entrance below. Here is a wall built up that has a small window like shape in the stone. This is a popular place to get a picture, Instagram shot or just enjoy the shade.

Along the top you will notice 3 bastion domes, these are now closed off the majority of the time. Each was originally given a unique name and each was manned.

Upon the top of the fort, you can see lovely views over the surrounding area of Cebu. You will notice in certain areas the plants and flowers have a label with their name which I really enjoyed.

There are a couple of benches located at each of the 3 bastions. There you can find a seat and relax in the shade. At each of the three bastions, there is also a wooden sign with information and each one is different.

Alternatively, if you don’t fancy hopping around on your own you can join a tour. There is a tour that covers many of the key landmarks within Cebu City including Fort San Pedro.

A tour is a great way of getting around and seeing more of what a place has to offer. This tour with Get Your Guide is a 4-hour tour stopping at landmarks such as Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, Cebu Taoist Temple and Magellan’s Cross.

The tour is a great way to meet others if you are travelling solo or just looking to have a helping hand while you explore the sights of Cebu.

Where To Eat At Fort San Pedro

While there are no dedicated cafes or restaurants within the Fort you can find a number of places to eat surrounding the area. 

Most commonly on the outskirts of the park areas, you will see street vendors and hole in the wall cafes. 

Alternatively, I would recommend getting a taxi 10 minutes down the seafront to SM Seaside. Known as the 3rd largest mall in Asia and also has stunning views over the harbor area.

Here you can find a whole host of places to eat and a number of different cuisines. The bonus is that you can take a break in the lovely air-conditioned building.

If you are heading to watch the sunset you can always take a taxi ride to Sugbo Mercano Market in Cebu I.T Park where you can find a number of authentic dishes and cuisines.

That is everything for our guide to Fort San Pedro. If you have been and know of anything we have missed or know of anything we should cover let us know in the comments below.

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