Iloilo is one of the prime tourist destinations in the Visayas region. Founded in 1581 as La Villa Rica de Arevalo, Iloilo is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines. Yet despite its fast-growing transformation, it has kept its old charm while embracing modernity. Indeed, it has balanced its old and new vibe.
There’s always something new (or old) to love when you visit Iloilo. It was my fourth time visiting the city and it feels like it was my first time. There were already a lot of developments since I last visited a few years ago. Fortunately, it has maintained its “old feels” which is one of the reasons why people keep coming back to the city.
Best Tourist Spots in Iloilo City
The Molo Church is one of the most familiar landmarks of Iloilo. Built in 1831, the church stands as a reminder of Iloilo’s rich history and a monument for Ilonggo artistry. It is famous for being a “feminist church” with all-women saints surrounding the walls of the church.
BOOK a discounted tour: Iloilo City Heritage Tour
Jaro Cathedral and Belfry
Built in 1864, Jaro Cathedral (Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary) is one of Iloilo’s most famous icons. The church was once damaged by an earthquake in January 1948 and was only restored in 1956. Its belfry is not attached to the main church but stands in front of the cathedral.
Calle Real Iloilo
JM Basa Street, popularly known as “Calle Real,” is a historic street located in the downtown district of Iloilo City. It is the place where elites in the Spanish era lived.
Casa Mariquit is a two-story privately-owned ancestral house situated behind a banyan (balete) tree at a corner of Sta. Isabel Street in Jaro District.
Nelly’s Garden is a Lopez-owned heritage house located in the Jaro District of Iloilo City. It was built in 1928 by Ilonggo statesman Don Vicente Lopez. Over the past decades, the mansion has hosted several elite and notable personalities both local and foreign.
Situated along Bonifacio Drive, Iloilo City, Museo Iloilo is the first government-sponsored museum outside Metro Manila. It was built in 1971 and was designed by Ilonggo architect Sergio Penasales. It has a remarkable display of Panay’s cultural heritage and historical artifacts.
Top Tourist Spots Iloilo Province
Islas de Gigantes
Islas de Gigantes is a group of islands that is part of the municipality of Carles in the Iloilo province. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the province and is frequented by both local and foreign travelers. One of its most visited attractions is the Tangke Saltwater Lagoon. BOOK a discounted tour to Isa de Gigantes from Iloilo City
Damires Hills Tierra Verde Farms
Located in Barangay Janiuay, Iloilo, Damires Hills sits on a 40-hectare property owned and managed by the Tirador family. It is situated less than 20 kilometers away from Iloilo International Airport and about 30 minutes drive from Iloilo City. This Iloilo mountain resort is ideal for people who are looking for a quiet place to spend quality time with family and friends.
Ephrathah Farm is a farm tourism site in the Province of Iloilo. It features small but pretty accommodations, a swimming pool, a 7-hectare farm of rolling hills and a glass chapel which is ideal for intimate weddings.
The Miag-ao Church was built in 1786 by Spanish Augustinian missionaries and was declared as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Baroque Churches of the Philippines” in 1993.
Located in the town of San Joaquin, Garin Farm is a popular tourist spot in the southern part of Iloilo province. It’s an inland resort and at the same time a functional farm that combines leisure, religion and agriculture making it a unique destination in Iloilo.
Campo Santo de San Joaquin
Campo Santo is located in the town of San Joaquin, Iloilo, around 55 kilometers away from Iloilo City. It is situated along the Iloilo-Antique national highway and a walking distance from the town plaza where the famous San Joaquin Church is located.
San Joaquin Church
Situated in one of Iloilo’s oldest and most historic towns, the church of San Joaquin is a Roman Catholic parish that was built during the Spanish era in the late 1800s. It is known as the only church in the Philippines with a “militaristic” facade, incorporating the bas-relief mural called Rendicion de Tetuan.
Kuliatan Marine Sanctuary
Kuliatan Marine Sanctuary is a hidden paradise located in Barangay Sinogbuhan in the town of San Joaquin, Iloilo. It is a protected marine sanctuary that features a beautiful seascape.
Notable Iloilo Tourist Spots
Angelicum School (Lizares Mansion)
Iloilo River Esplanade
Camina Balay nga Bato
Santa Barbara Church
Santa Barbara, Iloilo
Must-Try Food in Iloilo
- Pancit Molo at Camina Balay nga Bato
- La Paz Batchoy at the La Paz Public Market in Iloilo. You can get it at Netong’s, Deco’s or Ted’s
- Tinuom at Lea’s in Cabatuan, Iloilo
- Seafood at Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood Restaurant or at Breakthrough Restaurant
- Fried Liempo at Ramboy’s
- Pork Estofado at Wawa Heritage Restaurant
- Siopao at Roberto’s
Festivals in Iloilo
- Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City
- Paraw Regatta Festival in Iloilo City
- Binanog Festival in Lambunao, Iloilo
- Leganes Saad Festival in the Municipality of Leganes, Iloilo
- Jimanban Festival in the Municipaliy of New Lucena
- Hirinugyaw-Suguidanunay Festival in the Municipality of Calinog
- Pasungay-Pahibag in the Municipality of San Joaquin
- Saug Festival in the Municipality of Lemery
- Salakayan Festival in the Municipality of Miag-ao
- Kanaway Festival in the Municipality of Barotac Viejo
- Pintados de Passi Festival in the City of Passi
- Tampisaw Festival in the Municipality of Concepcion
- Lechon Festival in the Municipality of Balasan
- Tinuom Festival in the Municipality of Cabatuan
- Sandiya Festival in the Municipality of Oton
Where to Stay in Iloilo City?
Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo
Richmonde Hotel Iloilo
Seda Atria Iloilo
Sample Iloilo City Itinerary
9:00 AM – Iloilo City Gallery, Iloilo City Hall Roof deck
10:00 – Plaza Libertad (the last capital of Spain in the Philippines)
– passing: Gen. Hughes St.
Fort San Pedro
11:00 – Museo Iloilo
– passing: Gen. Luna St.
St. Paul Univ.
University of the Philippines (City Campus)
12:00 – Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafood for Lunch
1:30 PM – Iloilo River Esplanade
2:00 – Jaro Cathedral and Belfry
2:30 – Casa Mariquit (a heritage house)
3:15 – Biscocho Haus (famous pasalubong center)
passing: Jaro Evangelical Church
Sanson Y Montinola Antillean House
St. Clement’s Church
4:00 – Original Lapaz Batchoy – Netong’s Batchoy/Ted’s Batchoy
passing: Forbes Bridge
How to Get to Iloilo City
Iloilo is pretty much accessible from major cities in the Philippines. It’s an hour’s plane ride from Manila, 30 minutes from Cebu, less than an hour from Davao and Cagayan de Oro, and about 1.5 hours from Bacolod City by ferry. Book your ticket to Iloilo now.
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Glen Nomad is a travel blogger and the founder of Escape Manila, one of the top travel blogs in the Philippines. He has visited all 82 provinces in the Philippines and has explored 53 countries across Asia, North & South America, East Africa, Europe, and Australia. Follow him on IG at @escapemanila