Sightseeing in Iloilo is the best way to enjoy an island that is home to historical landmarks, quaint beaches and islands, heritage homes, and tasty and unique cuisine.
If you’re a history buff, you won’t get enough of the places that Iloilo has to offer. It’s home to different historical churches and religious artefacts as well as heritage houses and mansions built during the Spanish era in the country.
By plane, travel time to Iloilo takes around 1 hour from Manila, 30 minutes from Cebu, 2 hours and 30 minutes from Hong Kong, and 3 hours and 30 minutes from Singapore. By direct ferry, Iloilo is approximately 1.5 hours away from Bacolod, and 15 minutes away from Guimaras.
Here are some of the tourist spots perfect for sightseeing in Iloilo.
Spanish colonial churches are amongst the well-known tourist sites in the province. Every church sports a unique design and architecture perfect for enthusiasts going sightseeing in Iloilo. Miag-ao Church is a world heritage site that boasts an Aztec-Baroque architecture. It is known for its intricate facade and pyramidal bell towers. The church was used as a fortress during the olden days.
Meanwhile, the Gothic-Renaissance Church of Molo is made out of coral stones adorned with classical and gothic details and was used as a watchtower to warn the people if there are any attackers on the shore of Iloilo City. Cabatuan Church is a neoclassic church, known to be the most massive Hispanic structure in Iloilo built out of red bricks. It is believed to be the largest red brick structure in the Visayas and it was given the title “Model of Temples” by the “l Eco de Panay”.
The beautiful San Jose Church in front of plaza Libertad is considered the most historic among the churches in Iloilo City. It is a Byzantine-Neoclassic Church planned to look like the Spanish Church of Valencia del Cid. On the other hand, Passi City Church is considered a militaristic church in that it was planned as a “fortress church” with massive buttresses that support the walls of the church. Lastly, Santa Barbara Church and Convent is considered to be the “Cradle of Independence” in the Visayan region because of its role in achieving the country’s independence from the Spaniards. It was also used as the general headquarters and military hospital of the revolutionary forces.
Calle Real Heritage District
As a leading province during the Spanish Colonial Era, the province of Iloilo is widely known for its beautiful old-world architecture similar to that of Latin American Countries. Centuries-old houses that were preserved peppered the province. Calle Real, or the J.M. Basa Street in Iloilo City, is once the main commercial centre of the city during the Imperial Spanish and American periods. It houses numerous old colonial buildings.
To start your sightseeing in Iloilo, go to the Old Capitol building is a national historical site. The building was built with wood and stone during the Spanish colonial period. It served as the capital when the civil government of Iloilo was founded in 1901.
The Iloilo Esplanade is the city’s newest hub for dining, leisure and recreation. Poised to be one of the longest linear parks in the country, it is a park adorned with lush ornamental landscape along the Iloilo River ideal for strolling or jogging.
The town of Bucari is dubbed the “summer capital of Iloilo” as it is a special economic zone for tourism and ecological enterprise due to its cool climate, topography, highland attractions and scenery.
Located 21 kilometres away from the town proper, the area is 1,200 meters above sea level. Its appealing scenery is an explosion of greens saturating the pine tree-covered mountains—a perfect place to just kick back and relax. A stop here is highly advisable for those who want to go sightseeing in Iloilo.
Islas de Gigantes
The Islas de Gigantes is an island group found in the offshores of the municipality of Carles. The place is known for its numerous caves, white sand beaches, emerald-like shores and lagoon, and rock formations.
This picturesque group of islands is an ideal location if you are looking for a quieter and more relaxing atmosphere. Also known as the “Selfie Island” among tourists with its rock formation where visitors can climb all the way to the top, the best spot for viewing the whole islet and a selfie shot.
Garinfarm is an inland resort that offers several unique experiences ranging from agriculture, leisure, and pilgrimage. It has a lot of activities and is great for friends and families especially the children. Enjoy gorgeous mountain views while hiking up to and down from its 480-step viewing deck at the base of its 100-foot Blazing Cross.
On your way to the steps from the main base, you will see nine life-size religious scenes from Creation until the Ascension of Christ. Visitors can also avail of golf carts on their way to and from the viewing deck making sightseeing in Iloilo easier.
Bulabog Puti-an National Park
Bulabog Puti-an National Park is a protected rainforest area known for being a living museum of flora and fauna. Hundreds of local and foreign tourists visit the 847 eco-tourism park to immerse in the area’s natural attractions such as its various forms of wildlife and more than 30 caves. It hosts several species of flora and fauna.