The Best Historical Cities and Towns in The Philippines

You can experience many things on holiday in The Philippines. The country has beautiful sandy beaches, a warm climate, ancient churches, beautiful mountain ranges, tropical rainforests, rich and unique culture and friendly people – these are just some of the things you will encounter during your trip. With 7,107 islands the choices and possibilities are endless.

You can experience the country’s rich and unique culture in different ways, exploring old Spanish churches, experiencing the country’s many festivals and events and by enjoying exotic and tasty cuisine. Here are some of the best cities and towns to visit to get a taste of the history and culture of the Philippines.

The Spanish colonized the Philippines in the 1560s and controlled the country until the Americans took over in 1898. Many towns in the country have a few fine old buildings from that period and at least one Catholic church. A few have much more than that to offer, with whole districts full of old buildings including the remains of Spanish fortifications:


The capital of the Philippines is the center of the country’s history and culture and the perfect place to start exploring the 7,107 islands that make up the Philippines. Manila was established during the Spanish colonial era and the first impression is a city with modern skyscrapers. Explore further and you will find Manila has a rich historical and cultural heritage. Old churches, unique colonial buildings, neo-classical architecture and loads of other historical landmarks give this city a unique charm.


Cebu City was the first Spanish city in the Philippines and became the capital for a few years. Located in the middle of the eastern side of Cebu Island, it is the central part of Metro Cebu, the second-largest urban area in The Philippines. The city is famous for being the birthplace of Christianity in the far east. The Colon Street area is home to some of the most important historical sites in the country including Basilica of Santo Niño and Fort San Pedro. The Sinulog Festival attracts thousands of tourists and religious pilgrims and is one of the country’s most important festivals.


Vigan, located on the western coast of the large island of Luzon, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a former Spanish colonial town that also has a strong Chinese influence. A visit here can make you feel like you are somewhere in the Mediterranean part of Europe. There are loads of things to see including the Mestizo District and the St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral. Vigan is an 8-10 hour road journey from Manila – alternatively, daily flights are available.


The historic town of Baclayon lies on the island of Bohol. The town was founded in 1595 and features one of the oldest churches in the country. The Church overlooks a beautiful pier and harbour and a few elegant and well-preserved houses that line the nearby roads. Baclayon is a charming and idyllic place to spend some time exploring. Nearby, visitors can enjoy activities including whale and dolphin spotting and some incredible places for scuba diving.

Silay City

Silay City is famous for its many European style houses which have been declared historic landmarks.  Many of the houses have a fascinating history and have been opened as museums for visitors to explore.  The city is a center in the region for arts and culture and the transportation system is good.  A variety of restaurants with tasty food are also on offer for visitors to enjoy making Silay City a fantastic destination to explore.

Davao City

Davao City is the third most populated city in the country after Manila and Cebu, located on the island of Mindanoa near the highest mountain in the Philippines, Mount Apo. The People’s Park is in the heart of the city and is a fantastic place to relax. Many locals use the space to exercise and there is a children’s playground too. The city’s main cathedral, San Pedro Cathedral, with stunning Spanish-era architecture is worth making some time to explore. The Philippine Eagle Center houses 30 Philippine eagles, one of the largest eagles in the world, and one of the most endangered. Aside from eagles, the center is also home to other birds and animals.

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