20 Philippines Cities To Visit

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The Philippines is a stunningly beautiful country with friendly locals, picturesque landscapes and bustling mega cities. It’s a fascinating country to visit not least because it is an archipelago of 7,641 islands. The 11 largest islands have most of the country’s total land area and most of its major cities. From the mega city of Manila to the lovely coastal city of Puerto Princesa on Palawan Island, the Philippines is a vastly diverse country with so much to see and do. Check out this guide to 20 cities in the Philippines for ideas on where to head to on your next Philippines vacation.

Cities In Phillipines

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1- Manila

Manila City With Skyscrapers
Manila tops the list of major cities in the Philippines.

If asked to name a city in the Philippines most people would probably say Manila.

Most travellers heading to the Philippines from abroad will likely fly into the capital, so it’s worth adding a couple of days in the city to your itinerary.

Manila is the nation’s capital and it’s on the island of Luzon.

It’s a mega city with a population of more than 1.78 million people.


By population Manila is the 17th largest city in the world but Manila is much more than just a large population.

The city itself is a unique and juxtaposed blend of Spanish colonial architecture and modern skyscrapers.

There are many things to do in Manila from the old to the new.

Wander around the walled city, otherwise known as Intramuros, which dates to 1571.

There’s also Fort Santiago which is a citadel built in Italian and Spanish architectural styles.

You can also head to the Manila Baywalk which is a wonderful 2km (1.2 mi) stretch where you can watch the sunset and the yachts bobbing in the bay.

Recommended tours:

2- Cebu City

Modern City Of Cebu With Skyscrapers And Buildings
Cebu City is one of the biggest cities in the Philippines.

Cebu City is in Cebu province which is in the Central Visayas region.

This region comprises Cebu Island and 150 smaller islands.

This port city retains landmarks from its 16th century Spanish colonial past.

You can use Cebu City as a base to explore some of the other epic things to do on the island which include swimming with whale sharks, canyoneering at Kawasan Falls and island hopping to the paradise-like smaller islands.

Some of the top attractions in Cebu City include Magellan’s cross which is situated next to the Basilica del Santo Niño.

Here you can see a Christian cross which was put there by explorers from the Spanish expedition.

Another landmark that showcases the Philippines colonial past is Fort San Pedro.

It was built as a military defence by the Spanish.

If you head to the pier area in Cebu City, you will find it.

Recommended tour: Cebu: Whale Shark Swim and Kawasan Canyoneering Group Tour

3- Davao City

Aerial View Of The Davao City
Davao City is another of the largest cities in the Philippines.

Davao City is on the island of Mindanao in the south of the Philippines.

Outside of Manila, Davao City is one of the most well-known built-up areas in the Philippines.

There’s plenty of things to do in the city and easy access to Davao Airport makes it a great location to connect to other Philippine destinations.

One of the things Davao is known for is the Kadayawan Festival, which has a float parade, street dancing and music.

This festival represents the local people giving thanks for the season’s harvest and is held in the third week of August.

You can also check out Malagos Garden Resort and Chocolate Museum.

This nature theme park is perfect for the whole family.

There are animals, a garden and a wonderful chocolate factory and museum.

Recommended tour: Davao Samal Island Hopping (Joiners Tour)

4- Puerto Princesa

Puerto Princesa City
Puerto Princesa is one of the major cities in Philippines.

The island of Palawan is a popular destination in the Philippines.

This stunning island in the west of the country is home to Puerto Princesa.

You can use Puerto Princesa as a base for taking trips to limestone caves, swimming in Kayangan Lake, and admiring sunsets on the beach.

One of the best things to do in the city is explore the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.

Also known as the underground river, this national park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.

This river network is 8.2 km (5 mi) long and you can take a boat to explore the caves.

Recommended tour: From Puerto Princesa: Underground River Full-Day Trip

5- Makati City

Makati City. Early Dawn In The City.
Makati City is one of the best cities in the Philippines for shopping.

Makati City is a city close to Manila and a bustling business district.

Large glass skyscrapers define the city, and, on the streets, you will find a mix of locals and foreigners.

Whilst Mataki certainly has a high-end vibe with its fancy buildings and expensive shopping malls there are other more cultural things to see and do.

You can head to the Ayala Museum to discover artifacts that tell the story of Filipino culture, customs, history, and heritage.

In the middle of a sprawling city there is Greenbelt Park.

It’s a wonderful oasis with water fountains, a pond, trees, and much needed shade.

Recommended tours:

6- Vigan City

Vigan City In Sunny Weather
Vigan City is one of the best cities in Philippines for colonial architecture.

Vigan City on the west coast of Luzon Island is known for its wonderfully preserved colonial architecture mixed with its Asian influenced styles.

Vigan is so well preserved that they are remaining with the grid street system that was introduced by the Spanish.

Some of the best historic sites in the city include Sitio Remedios Heritage Village and Bantay Bell Tower and Church.

In fact, just wandering the streets of Vigan you will notice the picturesque, cobbled streets.

Other attractions close by to Vigan City include Mount Sicapoo (for hiking with incredible views) and Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park.

Recommended tour: Private Heritage and Adventure: Vigan to Laoag Escapade

7- Baguio City

Baguio City In The Mountains
Baguio City is one of the largest cities in Philippines.

Another of Luzon Island’s cities is Baguio, which is an intriguing city is known for its colourful houses that cover the mountainside.

You will find locals and visitors alike heading to Baguio during summer to enjoy a break from the tropical heat in the lowlands.

Many have even referred to Baguio City as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines”.

Its climate has also led to the city receiving another nickname: “The City of Pines”.

So, what is there to do in Baguio City?

You can head to Wright Park where you can see the famous pine trees, ride horses, and take a stroll.

You can also admire Baguio Cathedral and the views from Mines View Park.

If you head to the city between February 1st and the first Sunday in March then you will see all the colour and extravagance of Panagbenga Festival, also known as the Baguio Flower Festival.

Recommended tours:

8- Taguig City

Manila, Taguig City In The Twilight
Taguig City is one of the popular cities in the Philippines.

Another city in Metro Manilla is Taguig.

Taguig might be close to the second largest city in the Philippines but it’s not short on people itself.

Taguig is the 9th most populous city in the Philippines, with a population of 644,473 (as of 2024).

Taguig is most known as housing the Bonifacio Global City (usually referred to as BGC).

The BGC is Metro Manila’s second most important business district.

It is also a major tourism hub because of its excellent shopping, entertainment, and dining facilities.

Want to see Venice but you happen to be in the Philippines?

Well, head to Venice Grand Canal Mall and you can experience a replica Venice complete with gondolas.

9- Antipolo

Just a 30-minute drive from Taguig is the beautiful city of Antipolo.

When visiting Antipolo you certainly feel further removed from the hustle and bustle of Manila or even Taguig.

Antipolo offers a more peaceful and relaxed vibe.

Antipolo is situated on the hills of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range and is well known for its lovely scenery.

Whilst there you can check out the Cloud 9 Hotel and Restaurant Resort which has an inclining bridge you can walk along to reach a vantage point.

At the top you can enjoy wonderful views of the surrounding cities and Laguna de Bay.

You can also check out the Hinulugang Taktak waterfall which is just a 20-minute drive from central Antipolo.

10- Pasay City

Officially known as the City of Pasay, this 1st class city is next to Makati and Taguig just south of Manila.

There are a variety of things to do in Pasay.

If you are interested in aviation, then head to the Philippine Air Force Aerospace Museum.

Another excellent museum is the Upside Down Museum.

This is a fantastic spot for children and adults alike.

There’s also the fun and fabulous Dessert Museum.

For all things shopping and entertainment head to SM Mall of Asia.

This is an enormous shopping center.

Inside there are movie theatres, a vast array of clothes shops and restaurants and even an amusement park.

11- San Pedro

San Pedro is on Laguna Island just outside of Metro Manila.

This city sits on the banks of Laguna de Bay.

The city is named after the patron saint, Saint Peter.

As its names origin would suggest there are many religious sites in San Pedro which you can look at that showcase the country’s history and culture, including the Christian Bible Baptist Church.

If you are staying in the Manila area San Pedro is also a good location to find lively waterparks.

There’s Splash Island and Coco Valley Richnez Waterpark.

12- Iloilo City

Jaro Cathedral
Iloilo is one of the lovely cities in the Philippines.

Head south of Manila to one of the Philippines central islands and you will find Panay and the city of Iloilo.

Iloilo is the perfect city to visit for an eclectic range of historical, cultural, and natural wonders.

As well as exploring the beautiful ocean landscape and neighbouring islands there are plenty of things to do in the city itself.

You can wake up in the morning and head to the Iloilo River Esplanade where you can walk, run, or bike for 9 km (5.5 mi).

You can also visit St Anne Parish Church.

It’s a striking Roman Catholic church which dates to 1888.

One of the highlights of a visit to Iloilo is to stroll around Calle Real, one of the country’s oldest business districts.

You will feel as if you’ve been transported back in time.

Recommended tour: Half-Day Iloilo City Tour (Private Tour)

13- Quezon City

Outdoor Shade Hut At Quezon City
Quezon City is one of the best cities to live in the Philippines.

Many people may assume that Manila is the largest city in the Philippines, but they would be wrong.

Quezon City (also known as QC) has a population of 2.96 million people.

Quezon City is part of Metro Manila and is known for its entertainment industry, media outlets and broadcasting networks.

It is aptly named the “City of Stars”.

QC also held the title of capital of the Philippines for 28 years before losing its place to Manila in 1976.

If you are into history then be sure to check out the following monuments: Unang Sigaw ng Balintawak, People Power Monument, San Pedro Bautista Church, and the General Lawton Monument.

14- Cotabato City

Cotabato City is on the west coast of Mindanao Island (the second largest island after Luzon).

This city is the ancient capital of the old Empire Province of Cotabato.

It’s an interesting place to learn more about Filipino culture and history.

Cotabato City is in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of the Philippines.

Without a doubt the most interesting thing to see in the city is the Grand Mosque of Cotabato.

It’s the second largest mosque in the Philippines and it can accommodate 15,000 people.

The best time to visit the mosque is at dawn for sunrise or for sunset when the mosque’s walls turn beautiful colours.

15- Butuan City

Butuan City in Mindanao is a city surrounded by scenic landscapes and historical treasures.

If you are looking to learn more about local history, then head to the Butuan National Museum.

There’s also the Balangay Shrine which is also a museum and features an array of artifacts.

For fun in nature, you can head to Delta Discovery Park.

The park is situated among the trees which you can zipline through.

From the sky you can admire the Agusan River.

16- Naga City

Another city whose architecture is highly influenced by the Spanish is Naga City.

Located in the south of Luzon Island, Naga City is home to Mount Isarog.

Many people are drawn to Naga because of the nearby Mt.

Isarog National Park.

Mt Isarog is an active stratovolcano with active fumaroles and hot springs.

There are plenty of amazing hiking opportunities in the area including the stunning single drop waterfall Malabsay Falls.

Recommended tour: Bicol Philippines: Naga City Tour with Panicuason Hot Spring

17- Zamboanga City

On the western peninsula of Mindanao opposite Basilan Island you will find Zamboanga City.

This part of the Philippines is growing in popularity because of the beautiful beaches.

In terms of the city itself there are plenty of cultural and heritage attractions to enjoy in Zamboanga.

One of your first stops in the city should be to El Museo de Zamboanga.

Here you will understand more about the city.

Other interesting sites in the city include Fort Pilar Shrine and Museum and Yakan Weaving Village.

There are some wonderful foods that you must try in Zamboanga City.

These include curacha (spanner crabs), Moro food (made by Filipino Muslims) and Zamboanga’s famous ice cream sundae dessert…the knickerbocker.

18- Sagada

Sagada Village Skyline
Sagada is one of the smaller cities in Philippines.

Sagada is a small city in the Cordillera Mountains in the country’s Mountain Province.

This is a truly fascinating place to visit and gives you a taste of rural life in the Philippines.

One of the most unusual and interesting things to see in Sagada are the hanging coffins.

Wood coffins can be found hanging from a cliff face as part of a unique burial ritual.

You can also visit Samaguing Cave and Marlboro Hill for hiking with incredible views.

Recommended tour: From Manila: 4-Day Sagada and Banaue Rice Terraces Tour

19- Samal

Malipano Island, Philippines, Samal
Samal is down as the garden city in Philippines.

Officially known as the Island Garden City of Samal (which sounds dreamy in itself), Samal is in Davao del Norte right across from Davao City.

Samal is a popular spot for beach lovers and even honeymooners.

This place is for the outdoorsy type.

You can paddle at Hagimit Falls which has a series of natural pools.

You can use the city as a base to explore the rest of the island by motorbike.

There’s also Monfort Bat Cave where thousands of fruit bats live in their natural habitat.

Of course, popping down to the beaches for a snorkel, swim or scuba dive is never a bad idea.

20- Cagayan de Oro

Cagayan De Oro City, Philippines.
Cagayan De Oro is one of the safest cities in the Philippines.

Cagayan de Oro is a city in the northern part of Mindanao Island.

There are plenty of things to do in the city for the whole family.

There’s no better place to cool off from the summer heat than at Seven Seas Waterpark.

There’s fun to be had for the whole family whether you are young or old, tall, or small.

For a jam-packed adventure head to Mapawa Nature Park.

This forest park offers climbing, swimming, canyoneering, and cliff jumping.

It is also a wonderful place to go hiking and camping.

Recommended tour: 4D3N Exclusive Cagayan De Oro City Tour (Private Tour)

For more incredible cities in Asia and Africa, read:

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