Iloilo City is my beautiful hometown in the Philippines. It is charming city located in the Visayan region. It is also known as the “City of Love” because people from Iloilo are known to be very lovable exemplified by their sweet loving tone of how we speak.
A few weeks ago, my family and I had a short vacation to Iloilo and we were very impressed with the new development of our booming city. I have friends who express their intention to visit Iloilo City and would often asked me what are my recommended places to go there. So here are 10 things you can try when you are in Iloilo.
1. Have a hearty lunch at Breakthrough or Tatoy’s
Breakthrough and Tatoy’s are two of the favorite family restaurants of Ilonggos. They are found near the beach. You get to enjoy a wide selection of seafood and other fresh Filipino dishes by the beach.
2. Take a historical tour in Balay na Bato while enjoying a cup of hot tsokolate and Pancit Molo
Balay na Bato is a well-preserved old Spanish-era house owned by the Camina family. The Balay na Bato visit consists of a guided-tour of the house and a served meal of a popular Ilonggo dish, Pancit Molo and tsokolate (hot chocolate). This tour cost 200 pesos per person. It is definitely worth the visit.
3. Check out the beautiful old churches
Iloilo City has a lot of beautiful preserved Spanish churches. Two of my favorites are the Miag-ao Church and the St. Anne Molo Church. You can also visit the Jaro Cathedral where you find the miraculous Lady of Candles statue which some says that the statue grown in size over the centuries that it was eventually transferred to the balcony. The image’s shrine is accessible by walking up a flight of steps attached to the cathedral’s northeastern facade.
4. Try the famous Lapaz batchoy
I hail from Lapaz,Iloilo City — the place where Lapaz Batchoy came from. For those who doesn’t know what batchoy is, batchoy is a popular noodle soup composed of a tasty broth, pork innards, miki or round noodles, pieces of pork, and chicharon (crushed pork cracklings). You can choose from the different batchoyan: Ted’s Old Timer, Deco’s, Netong’s or Popoy’s. They all taste yummy to me.
5. Take a day trip to Garin Farm
Garin Farm owned by the prestigious Garin family is a place that offers agriculture, leisure and pilgrimage, quite an interesting mix. There are a lot of things you can do there: zipline, fishing, boating, horsebacking riding and many more. You can plan an overnight stay there as well. It is quite popular place to visit during Lenten season. You can climb up the 456 steps leading to the Divine Mercy Cross and say a prayer.
6. Visit the magnificent Nelly’s Garden
Nelly Garden or also known as the Lopez Mansion is a 5 hectare land and one of the most prominent landmark in Iloilo. It was built in 1928, by Don Vicente Lopez and his wife Donya Elena Hofilena. It was named after their eldest daughter, Nelly.The majestic big white Spanish mansion is one of its admirable features and it is publicly open for tours and event.
Mansion Tour Fee: P200/pax; minimum of 5 pax (parties less than 5 people may opt to pay the full amount of P1000 instead); inclusive of tour guide. All tours must be booked at least 3 days in advance to confirm availability. Capacity for the main house is 100 pax while the estate grounds can accommodate 150-500 pax.
Call (033)-3203075 for further inquiries and bookings.
7. Enjoy the local coffee at Madge Cafe
If you are a person who loves coffee, you might want to try out the local coffee in Iloilo with its soothing aroma and deep roast flavor. You can enjoy it at its original branch in Lapaz Market or check out its hip branch in Atria Business Park.
8. Have a food trip with pals at Atria or FestiveWalk
Ilonggos love food, obviously. So you come to Iloilo to binge. No dieting allows. There are so many food places to choose from at these places that would cater to everyone’s palate.
9. Take a walk at Esplanade
This is a linear park near the river which is great for an evening stroll to walk off the calories you have consumed during your Iloilo trip. The place is a great way to relax but your exercise plan may still be sabotaged by the food carts waiting nearby that sells street foods like fish balls, etc.
10. Check out the night life in Iloilo
If you love to party or have a big mug of beer with your fun-loving friends, then maybe you can check out places like Smallville, Brewery Gastropub or Stockroom Bar.
There are more than 10 things to do in Iloilo but let me stop at 10 for now. Do let me know if you are visiting Iloilo City soon.