Are you ready to check what Iloilo City can offer? Iloilo Tourist Spots is on of the best things to visit this 2023. This beautiful province can be seen on the map in the middle part of the Philippines. Iloilo, due to its rich cultural heritage and location, is known as The Heart Of The Philippines. It is also one of the most popular Visayas tourist destinations. Queen Maria Cristina of Spain gave Iloilo City the title Luy muy Leal y Noble Ciudad, which means that it is the most gentle and loyal city.
This province is blessed by incredible islands and islets, which could easily rival Boracay Island.
Hidden caves and lagoons, magnificent mountains and falls, as well as a wide variety of heritage homes and churches that are still standing today, make this area a living museum.
These are the top experiences that you can have and you should include them in your Iloilo tour.
1. Pray at Jaro Cathedral
The Jaro Cathedral is one of Iloilo’s oldest churches with a long, colorful history. Also known as the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary and National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles, locals lovingly call it merely as Jaro Cathedral.
It first started as a small parish back in 1587. As the years went by, it became a cathedral, and today, it is a national shrine that serves as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jaro.
The church was destroyed by an earthquake back in 1948 and was rebuilt in 1956. In 1976, the Jaro Cathedral was declared a historical landmark.
Interestingly, the Jaro Cathedral is called the “male church,” while the Molo Church, which is also in Iloilo, is called the “female church.” The churches got their nicknames because of the saints displayed there.
Jaro Cathedral has male saints standing inside the church pillars while Molo Church features female saints. Many people, especially locals, believe that the church’s 400-year-old image of Mother and Child is miraculous.
You can find the Jaro Cathedral along the busy Plaza Rizal Street in Jaro. The best time to visit this during your day trip in Iloilo is early in the morning or just before evening as the town winds down.
While you’re there, do check out the nearby bell tower called the Campanario de Jaro, which is another famous Iloilo landmark.
2. Tatoy’s Manokan Food Trip
One of Iloilo’s best restaurants is Tatoy’s Manokan. This popular restaurant was founded in the 1970s and was originally a three table nipa shack. Tatoy was a fisherman, but he had the skills to cook them into tasty dishes.
Tatoy’s is best known for their lechon manok (roasted chicken). Tatoy’s chicken is marinated in native vinegar and calamansi with stuffed tamarind leaves and lemongrass. It has a rich, juicy, and savoy flavor that needs no sauce.
Tatoy’s also offer a wide variety of delicious seafood dishes. They have fresh scallops cooked with butter and garlic, grilled fish, kinilaw (ceviche), and stuffed squid.
There’s a large glass-covered table where a selection of mouthwatering meals are presented. They provide fresh mango, coconut shake, and coconut juice.
3. Take a Dip at Sicogon Island
A high-end resort called Sicogon Island made this part of Iloilo famous during the 70s and 80s. Today, the luxurious resort is no longer in operation.
However, the island is still a popular Iloilo tourist spot because of its forests, mountains, and beaches where the sand has a light yellow or orange tone.
The Barangay Buaya Beach is believed to be the best swimming spot on the entire island. Teeming with nipa huts and tall coconut trees, it’s one of the best Iloilo beaches where you can unwind in peace.
If you want to snorkel, head to Tumaguin Island, but if you’re going to do some hiking, you can take on the 1-2 hour hike towards the summit of Mount Opao.
Near the central part of the beach are some cottages that are available for tourists who plan to stay overnight. Make sure to try some activities in Sicogon Island to maximize your experience.
4. Eat Pancit Molo
This local dish is a must-try in Iloilo. Pancit Molo is a meat-filled wonton with a hearty broth. The piping hot soup is ladled into bowls and garnished with green onions and fried garlic.
It originated from the seaport in the Philippine town of Molo. The Chinese tradesmen introduced wonton soup to the area, and local people started to call them Pancit Molo, perhaps because of a lack of a word for wonton that they instead likened it to pancit (noodles).
Tita Paz House of Pancit Molo on of Iloilo Tourist Spots is said to be the source of the famous soup. The restaurant shares a room with the Molo County Bakeshop, where residents can also buy gifts from Iloilo.
Kap Ising Pancit Molo is also one spot that locals love going to. Kap Ising’s is said to have Pancit Molo’s most exquisite taste in the region.
5. Pilgrimage at Garin Farm
Garin Farm in San Joaquin is another well-photographed Iloilo tourist spot. It’s an in-land resort that uniquely combines recreational, religion, and agriculture. You can kayak, swim, fish, and ride the zipline here.
You can check out the pilgrimage site where you’ll see nine biblical scenes, including Noah’s Ark and the Garden of Eden, depicted as life-size dioramas.
To reach the majestic white cross that stands atop a hill, you need to climb the 456-step staircase. The summit is a great place to reflect and pray.
At the summit, you’ll find the entrance to the Divine Mercy Dark Meditation Tunnel that leads to what is probably the most photographed part of Garin Farm in a day trip in Iloilo: the so-called Heaven On Earth.
The dark tunnel symbolizes one’s challenges while on Earth, and the all-white and blindingly bright Heaven On Earth Iloilo Tourist Spots represents a person’s ascent to heaven after cleansing.
Book a tour in Garin Farm so you can try to maximize your trip. The place is accessible via both private and public transportation. The best time to go here is either very early in the morning or just before sunset.
6. Visit Molo Church
The province of Iloilo is filled with historical and ancestral homes that show travelers a glimpse of how the wealthy families lived back then as well as centuries-old churches that survived natural and human-made disasters.
Today, you can visit these ancestral homes and churches by joining a pilgrimage excursion.
If you want to see statues of Greek gods and goddesses across a Catholic church, visit the Molo Church along San Pedro Street in Molo, Iloilo City. This so-called “female church” dates back to 1831.
The exterior walls are made of white coral rock In 1992, Molo Church one of Iloilo Tourist Spots officially became a national landmark.
Interestingly, you’ll find statues of Greek deities at the Molo Plaza, which is right across this Spanish-colonial Catholic Church. Both the Molo Church and Molo Plaza are top Iloilo tourist spots today.
To get to Molo Church, hop on a jeepney with Arevalo or Molo routes. The best time to try Molo Church tours is during sunset, followed by a stroll at Molo Plaza.
7. Enjoy La Paz Batchoy
The province of Iloilo is famous as the home of La Paz Batchoy, a clear noodle soup with pork cracklings, beef, chicken stock, and round noodles. The most popular places to eat batchoy are Netong’s, Deco’s, Ted’s, and Inggo’s.
You may go on an Iloilo food trip and judge for yourself which among them serves the tastiest.
Batchoy’s side dishes are pandesal (a Filipino bread) and puto (steamed rice cake). You can buy them or dip them in the broth. If you want, you can order more side dishes at a minimum cost.
Add a little pepper and soy sauce to the soup, mix well and enjoy. You can ask for a refill if you finish your soup quickly. Joining a food trip in Iloilo will make this experience even better.
8. Miagao Church Visit
Miagao Church along Zulueta Avenue in Miagao is probably the most visually appealing Iloilo Tourist Spots, age-old church in the province of Iloilo. Also known as the Church of Saint Thomas of Villanova, its construction was completed in 1797.
Today, it is one of the most unique Iloilo tourist spots and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as one of the top examples of a Baroque-style church.
It is also famous for the detailed, artistic sculptures that adorn its facade, showcasing a unique mix of Spanish, Muslim, and Chinese traditions, influence, and elements.
The image of the town’s patron saint, St. Thomas of Villanueva, can be seen above its ornate wooden doors.
Getting to Miagao Church is pretty straightforward. Take a jeepney bound for Miagao from Iloilo City. The church is about 45 minutes away from the city proper.
You can also join a guided tour that will bring you to this destination, among many other day trips in Miagao Church.
9. Experience Nightlife at Smallville
Smallville is the nightlife capital of Iloilo City filled with dining and entertainment options for locals and tourists. It’s connected to the Iloilo River Esplanade and easily accessible from many Iloilo hotels.
You can find Smallville Complex along Diversion Road.
Smallville one of the Iloilo Tourist Spots started out as a complex with a casino, bar, and club next to Iloilo Business Hotel. If people mention Smallville” they usually mean the larger area that stretches from the initial Commercial Complex of Smallville to the Iloilo River Esplanade.
There are many trendy Iloilo restaurants and bars here serving local, fusion, and international cuisines. Grab a drink at some of the most hip bars, go clubbing, or watch a live band and experience the nightlife in the city during your sightseeing escapade in Iloilo.
10. Biscocho Haus Souvenirs
If you’re looking for the best pasalubong (food souvenir) to bring home, head to Biscocho Haus and get some of their famous Biscocho, a type of toasted bread with butter and sugar.
It’s best eaten as a snack with coffee or Pancit Molo. Operated from 6 am to 8 pm every day, in the roads of Lopez Jaena St., Don Aguedo Del Rosario house, near Jaro Square, the Original Biscocho House has served patrons for more than four decades.
They are experts in producing biscocho, the twice-baked, butter-coated, sugar-coated small loaves of bread. It’s great to tickle the palate with coffee in the afternoon, or even with a bowl of hot soup.
Because of its long tradition of being a favorite snack for generations, Filipinos also relate this pastry to their loved ones’ fond memories.
Also, the original Biscocho Haus one of the Iloilo Tourist Spots offers a variety of pasalubong products such as butterscotch, which is another best seller.
There are also various types of fruit tarts, assorted slices of bread, banana chips, muscovado pieces of bread, tableas, and even numerous chicharon variants.
11. The Molo Mansion Attractions
This prominent mansion belonged to a noble and wealthy family in Iloilo. Built-in the 1920s, the Yusay-Consing Mansion, which is commonly known as the Molo Mansion, was once thought to be beyond repair.
But today, it’s open to the public as a heritage Iloilo Tourist Spots. Spend an afternoon here and marvel at the details of Filipino colonial architecture.
There are several stores here selling export quality Philippines souvenirs and clothing, particularly those featuring the Ilonggo heritage.
After a short tour, you can head to the Molo Mansion Café, located behind the mansion, and enjoy local Ilonggo dishes like Pancit Molo with kinihad (toasted bread).
Do try the intriguing buko ternate shake, a blue drink made with coconut meat and juice, and served in a green coconut shell. Its signature blue color comes from the bluish ternate flower.
The historic Molo Mansion one of the Iloilo Tourist Spots stands just across the St. Anne Parish or Molo Church. There are a lot of tours you can join to maximize your time here, or you can hop on a jeepney bound for Molo or Arevalo.
12. Heritage at Camiña Balay nga Bato
Camiña Balay nga Bato is one of Iloilo’s most prominent landmarks. The complex is still home to the 4th generation Melocoton-Avancena family.
When visiting the old house, visitors are also welcome to visit the Antiques and Souvenir Shop named the Lola Rufina Heritage Curio Shop.
Saint figures crafted in red bricks, pictures, and textiles are just some of the rarer objects here. The wide staircase reveals a century-old Spanish style, where visitors are told to ascend sideways.
When guests reach the second floor, you’ll see the Oratorio or prayer room, the Grand Sala, and the restaurant.
In their bright, balcony dining room and casual dining-room, Camiña Balay nga Bato serves you Iloilo’s finest Pancit Molo and hot chocolate.
The Pancit Molo dish originated from the kitchen of the local legend Kapitan Ising. Every dumpling has a smooth tasty broth and rich filling of pork, chicken, and shrimp.
13. Iloilo River Esplanade
Go here if you want to see Iloilo City’s effort to protect the Iloilo River and promote a healthier, active lifestyle among its people. The Iloilo River Esplanade is where you can find the big “I Am Iloilo” signage. It’s both a lively and peaceful spot to jog, stroll, or take in the view.
Locals sometimes call it merely the Esplanade, and it’s easily accessible by both jeepneys and taxis.
It’s the best starting point to kick off your walking tours because it’s nearby many Iloilo tourist spots like the Molo Church and Molo Plaza. The best time to go here are early morning and early evening.
The Esplanade stretches from Diversion Road to Carpenter’s Bridge, linking Molo and Mandurriao neighborhoods. The Esplanade is a great place to visit, providing entertainment and pleasant places, amazing views of tthe Iloilo River and the sunset.
14. Explore The Casa Mariquit
Casa Mariquit is a must-see well-preserved historic house in Iloilo. The house has been passed down through generations.
It became the residence of Mariquit Javellana Lopez, the granddaughter of banker Ramón Javellana, and her husband Fernando Lopez Sr., the former Vice President of the Philippines.
The word “mariquit” comes from the Tagalog word marikit which means beautiful, most likely referring to both the lady of the house and the house itself.
A Casa Mariquit excursion will take you around the property: the master bedroom, the former bank vault that Ramon Javellana used during his banker days, and the many furniture and memorabilia that belongs to the family spanning generations.
Unlike other ancestral homes in Iloilo, Casa Mariquit doesn’t have sprawling lawns. It’s also not as grand as it looks. But the furniture and political campaign paraphernalia here speak volumes about its history.
15. Visit Kuliatan Marine Sanctuary
This tourist spot in San Joaquin, Iloilo, is a far cry from the shores of the Gigantes Islands. Instead of powdery white sand, the sand in the 2-hectare Kuliatan Marine Sanctuary is dark and mostly made up of crushed corals.
But what makes this beach truly special is what you can see under the waters.
As the name suggests, it is a marine sanctuary. Snorkel here and discover the many corals and sea creatures swimming under the sea. You can also enjoy the beach facilities aside from the marine sanctuary or stay at one of the cottages or huts overnight.
Make sure to bring enough food and beverages when you plan on staying overnight as most small restaurants within the area are closed during off-peak hours. Most of all, keep the area clean and dispose garbage properly.
16. Explore Nadsadjan Falls
If you want to take a break from the back-to-back Iloilo beaches and island-hopping tours, you can swim in the calm waters of Nadsadjan Falls in Igbaras, Iloilo. At 100-feet tall, the rains fall beautifully to the natural swimming pool below. It’s one of the most relaxing tourist spots in Iloilo.
There are different types and sizes of trees and rocks along the path. Some stones are higher than usual, rough and hard, so be careful when trekking.
The Nadsadjan Falls is accessible by public transport, typically via a jeepney bound for Igbaras from Iloilo City. From the town proper, you need to take another jeepney to Barangay Passi. After a 45-minute trek, you’ll be rewarded with the majestic waters of the Nadsadjan Falls.
17. Visit Calle Real
Calle Real is one of Iloilo’s busiest and most iconic streets. It’s a highly photographed historic building in the city of Iloilo, and you’ve probably seen it in some travel magazines.
Also known as J.M. Basa Street, here you’ll find a lineup of Spanish-era and Commonwealth buildings with some dating back to the 1800s.
People sometimes call it Heritage Street because the province’s elite families once inhabited most of the buildings and homes here. It is easily accessible by jeepneys, and the majority of the tours in Iloilo include this stopover.
Many structures are built on one or two levels. On the first level you can find shops, and on the second floor you can find the residences of Iloilo’s elite families.
In 2000, the municipal government adopted the regional Cultural Preservation Ordinance to protect and prevent any harm to the structures.
Now, many buildings have already been repaired and beautified due to the contributions of the local government and private sectors.
18. Inside Lizares Mansion
The striking Lizares Mansion in Tabuc Suba, Jaro, has witnessed a series of tragic events, including the torture of Filipinos during World War II.
If you want to see how the noble and wealthy families of Iloilo lived during the colonial times, don’t miss this beautiful but also a sad reminder of the province’s past.
Filipino sugar baron Don Emiliano Lizares built the 3-story mansion in 1937 for his wife, Conchita Gamboa. During the war, the Lizares family fled to hide at Pototan, Iloilo.
The Japanese imperial army used the mansion as headquarters and its basement as a torture ground. After the war, the Lizares family moved back, but the once beautiful villa became a living reminder of tragic times.
When the patriarch died, the mansion was transformed into a casino before it was sold to the Dominicans in 1962. After its renovation, the Lizares Mansion now serves as the church of the Angelicum School Iloilo that also stands inside the Lizares compound.
When you’re in Iloilo, you ride a taxicab or a jeepney, which is an accessible mode of public transportation in the Philippines, and see the white mansion along McArthur Drive in Tabuc Suba, Jaro.
Tourists can join tours and see the intricate rooms and details of its rich past. The best time to visit is during the Christmas season when the whole mansion is adorned with holiday lights.
19. Adventure at Concepcion Island
The town of Concepcion is blessed with one of the most scenic seascapes in the whole Province of Iloilo. Forming a safe, natural harbor for Concepcion Bay are 16 islands connected by azure waters and abundant marine life.
It’s not as popular as Gigantes Islands, but the islands, islets, and beaches here are just as beautiful. You can go island hopping in the Philippines or beach-hopping between Malangabang Island and Sandbar, Agho Island, Bulubadiangan Island, and Sipol Island.
You can swim, snorkel, free dive, and scuba dive at the beaches in Concepcion Islands. You can trek Mt. Pan de Acuzar, which is also called Mt. Manaphag, Panay’s tallest peak.
Consider this as a challenge because Pan de Acuzar is the Philippines’ steepest mountain! After your trek, you can visit the Concepcion Island’s Spanish-style lighthouse that goes back to the colonial era on Calabaza Island.
20. Explore Islas de Gigantes
You can’t make your trip to Iloilo complete without experiencing the many adventures offered by the Gigantes Islands.
It is also known as Islas de Gigantes. This famous tourist spot in Iloilo boasts amazing beaches, secret caves, lagoons, and delicious seafood lunch buffets.
These are the top activities to add to your Islas de Gigantes island hopping trip itinerary
Cabugao Gamay Island
Because of the many photos shared on social media, this island is easily identifiable as one of the most popular in Gigantes Island. Cabugao Gamay Island is well-known for its beauty, but also its unusual, long-shaped shape.
One end of the island has thick vegetation while the other side is covered in rock formations. Between the two ends is a stunning white sandbar and the emerald-green waters surrounding it.
Visit the bizarre Bantigue Island with its incredible sandbar. The sandbar’s appearance will depend on the current. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you leave.
Bantigue Island is a great place to camp on an island. Imagine the stunning sunsets and sunrises! You can also camp here and enjoy the wonderful scallops.
The beach of Iloilo is covered in boulders. You can see erosion lines in the boulders that look like stacks of sandwiches.
The island is often called The Sandwich Island. But there’s more! Antonia Beach is often a recommended stopover on island hopping tours.
It was once called Isla Bonita. However, it was changed to Tinagong Dagat which means “hidden beaches.” Boracay Island, the most popular white-sand island beach in the Philippines, is home to this secluded beach.
Tinagong Dagat, a white sand beach in the Philippines, has clear waters and large stones that make it ideal for small cliff jumping.
Tangke Saltwater Lagoon
Another popular Iloilo tourist attraction is this one. Tangke is a tank. It is named such by the gap between two large boulders that form an opening at low tide.
This natural, hidden saltwater lagoon is accessible by boat. You can also swim in the shallow, clear waters. The deep pool is believed to be home to engkantos, mythical environmental spirits.
Tourists are frequently told to limit noise and other activities to avoid disturbing the minds.
After all the island-hopping, swimming and eating oysters and scallops, go for something more challenging: Explore the Pawikan Cave. It’s not a hideout for the Pawikan (sea turtles).
Because of the huge rock formations that look almost like eggs, the cave is named Egg Cave.
The trek to the cave’s entry takes approximately 1 hour from the Barangay Lantanga jump-off point. You’ll be greeted by amazing rock formations, brightly lit atriums, and other stunning sights. Some people find it a little eerie.
Tour guides recommend that you keep the noise levels low to avoid disturbing the spirits or elements believed to live there.
North Gigantes Island Lighthouse
The original Spanish-built lighthouse has been demolished. This is the modern Japanese-built one. The views from the top at the Gigantes Island Lighthouse are still spectacular. It’s like going back in time.
The building is an old Spanish Spanish structure that has been abandoned. There are also vines that have taken over the ruins. It is both dramatic and nostalgic, so it’s a must-see on your Gigantes Islands Tour.
THESE ARE THE LIST OF THE BEST TOURIST SPOTS IN ILOILO
There are many tourist spots in Iloilo that are definitely worth visiting. From the stunning beaches to the majestic mountains, there is something for everyone in this beautiful region of the Philippines.
Whether you are looking for a place to relax and unwind, or you want to explore and experience something new, Iloilo has it all. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Iloilo today!