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 it’s old and new vibe.
There’s always something new (or old) to love when you visit Iloilo. It was my fourth time to visit the city and it feels like it was my first time. There were already a lot of developments since I last visited few years ago. Fortunately, it has maintained its “old feels” which is one of the reasons why people keep coming back to the 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 an all-women saints surrounding the walls of the church.
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, or 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-storey 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 Near 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 minites 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 and a glass chapel which is ideal for intimate weddings.
Top Tourist Attractions in Southern Iloilo Province
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 historic towns, the church of San Joaquin is a Roman Catholic parish that was built during the Spanish era in the late 1800’s. 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 hiddend paradise located in Barangay Sinogbuhan in the town of San Joaquin, Iloilo. It is a protected marine sanctuary that features a beautiful seascape.
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 Seafoods 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 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.
——This is part of my Panay Loop Tour blog series organized by the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines in partnership with SmallVille Travel and Tours.