Manila Tourist Spots: Ultimate Guide to Things to Do in Manila
Looking for Manila Tourist Spots for your next visit? Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is a bustling metropolis that offers a plethora of tourist spots and attractions for visitors to explore. This vibrant city has something for everyone, from historical landmarks to modern attractions. Manila has plenty of things to do and see whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler.
One of Manila’s most popular tourist spots is Intramuros, the walled city that dates back to the Spanish colonial era. Another must-see attraction is Rizal Park, a sprawling green space that honors the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal. Foodies will also be delighted by Manila’s diverse culinary scene, which offers a mix of local and international cuisine.
In a country with one too many beaches, sightseeing in the City of Manila is not first on many travelers’ lists. But it has a lot to offer those brave enough to venture out on its streets. Here are the Top tourist spots in Manila to get you started:
Historical and Religious Landmarks
Manila is a city rich in history and culture, with numerous landmarks and monuments that reflect its past. Here are some of the most significant historical landmarks in Manila.
Intramuros, also known as the Walled City, is a significant historical site in Manila. It was built during the Spanish colonial period and served as the seat of the Spanish government in the Philippines.
Today, Intramuros is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination in Manila. Visitors can explore the cobblestone streets, visit the museums and galleries, and take a tour of the city’s famous landmarks.
Fort Santiago is an iconic Spanish fortress in Intramuros, the walled city of Manila. Built in 1571 by Spanish navigator and governor Miguel López de Legazpi, the fort was designed to protect the newly established city of Manila from foreign invaders.
Fort Santiago has stood as a symbol of strength and resilience for centuries, making it one of the most historically significant sites in Manila. Today, the fort remains a reminder of the Philippines’ rich and tumultuous past.
Manila Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in Intramuros. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Manila and one of the most significant landmarks in the city. The cathedral has undergone numerous renovations and restorations over the years but retains its historical charm.
The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the Manila Cathedral, is a minor basilica located in Intramuros, the historic walled city within today’s modern city of Manila, Philippines.
Located in the heart of the capital, this historical park is a must-see for any visitor. It is home to the iconic monument of national hero Jose Rizal. It offers exciting attractions such as the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, the National Museum of the Philippines, and the Planetarium.
It is also the perfect spot for outdoor concerts and the famous dancing fountain show. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, a visit to Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is a must!
San Agustin Church
Built in 1587, the Church of Saint Augustine is the oldest stone church in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its architecture reflects the Spanish Baroque style, with intricate carvings and paintings adorning its beautiful interior.
This majestic church stands as a testament to the history of the Philippines and an enduring symbol of the strength of faith and the resilience of the Filipino people.
The majestic Minor Basilica and National Shrine of the Black Nazarene, more commonly known as Quiapo Church, stands proudly in the bustling district of Quiapo in the city of Manila, Philippines.
This iconic landmark is renowned for its unique blend of Spanish and Filipino architectural styles and its captivating interior adorned with numerous religious artifacts and paintings. Most of all, Quiapo Church is the home of the miraculous Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ believed to be endowed with divine powers.
Nestled in the bustling district of Binondo, Manila, lies a magnificent piece of architecture that has withstood the test of time: the Minor Basilica and National Shrine of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, otherwise known as Binondo Church.
Dedicated to the first Filipino saint, the church is a beautiful example of Chinese Baroque style, with intricate carvings and paintings adorning its walls and pillars. Step inside this grand structure, and you’ll immerse yourself in a rich history preserved for centuries.
University of Santo Tomas
The University of Santo Tomas is a private Catholic university in Sampaloc, Manila. It is the oldest university in the Philippines and one of the most significant landmarks in the city. The university’s architecture reflects the Spanish Baroque style, and its campus is home to numerous historical buildings and monuments.
Paco Park is a historical park located in Paco, Manila. It was built in the 18th century as a cemetery for Spanish aristocrats. Today, it is a popular destination for picnics, weddings, and other events.
The park’s architecture reflects the Spanish colonial period, and its interior is adorned with numerous sculptures and monuments.
The Our Lady of Remedios Parish, also known as Malate Church, is a beloved parish church located in the Malate district in Manila, Philippines. This stunning Mexican Baroque-style church overlooks Plaza Rajah Sulayman and, ultimately, the majestic Manila Bay.
Dedicated to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, the patroness of childbirth, the church houses a revered statue of the Virgin Mary in her role as Our Lady of Remedios, which was brought from Spain in 1624 and stands at the altar. Malate is a place of rich history, formerly known as Maalat due to the saline waters of the bay, and as Laguio or Lagunoi, the name of the street separated it from Ermita.
San Sebastian Church
The magnificent Minor Basilica of San Sebastian, more commonly known as San Sebastian Church or San Sebastian Basilica, is an awe-inspiring example of Gothic Revival architecture in Manila, Philippines.
Completed in 1891, this remarkable church is the only steel-building church in the country and proudly serves as the home of the Parish of San Sebastian and a Shrine of Nuestra Senora del Monte Carmelo, or Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In recognition of its remarkable history and architecture, San Sebastian Church was designated a National Historical Landmark in 1973 and National Cultural Treasure in 2011.
Museums and Art
Manila is home to a rich cultural heritage; its museums and art galleries are some of the best places to experience it. Here are some of the top museums and art galleries in Manila.
National Museum of Fine Arts
The National Museum of Fine Arts is home to an impressive array of artworks from some of the country’s most renowned artists. Its diverse collection includes masterpieces from the likes of Juan Luna, Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, and Fernando Amorsolo.
The most celebrated artwork in the museum is the Spoliarium, a remarkable painting by Juan Luna depicting the aftermath of Roman gladiators. This renowned art institution is an umbrella government organization that oversees several national museums in the Philippines, exhibiting ethnographic, anthropological, archaeological, and visual arts collections.
Located within the walls of the historic Intramuros district, the Casa Manila Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of wealthy Filipino families during the Spanish colonial period.
From antique furniture and artwork to other artifacts from the time, the museum houses a collection of items that bring the past to life. Step into the past and explore the grandeur of the 19th-century Filipino elite at the Casa Manila Museum.
Discover the rich history of Chinese-Filipino culture at Bahay Tsinoy, a museum in Intramuros, Manila, Philippines. This museum celebrates the Chinese influence on Filipino culture with its extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, and other items that showcase the Chinese-Filipino community’s history and culture.
Explore a range of topics, from Chinese medicine and language to religion, and gain a deeper understanding of the significant role the Chinese have played in the Philippines. Visit Bahay Tsinoy and the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center to learn more about this unique cultural heritage.
National Museum Complex
The National Museum Complex is a collection of museums located in the heart of Manila. The complex includes the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Planetarium. The National Museum of Anthropology houses artifacts and exhibits showcasing the Philippines’ pre-colonial history. The National Museum of Natural History is dedicated to the country’s flora and fauna, while the National Planetarium offers visitors a chance to learn about astronomy and space science.
Shopping and Markets
Manila is a shopper’s paradise, with a plethora of malls, markets, and souvenir shops to explore. Whether you’re looking for luxury brands or bargain finds, there’s something for everyone in the city.
SM Mall of Asia
One of the largest malls in the world, SM Mall of Asia is a must-visit for any shopping enthusiast. The mall features an extensive list of name-brand stores, high-end boutiques, and a good mix of international restaurants.
With an amusement park, cinema, ice skating rink, and a front-row seat overlooking Manila Bay, SM Mall of Asia is the perfect place to spend an entire day.
Divisoria is a bustling market district in Manila that offers a range of products at bargain prices. You can find almost anything in Divisoria, from clothing and accessories to electronics and household items. The key to shopping here is to haggle, so don’t hesitate to negotiate for a better price. Remember that the area can get crowded, so be prepared to navigate the crowds.
Quiapo is another famous market district in Manila known for its religious items and souvenirs. The Quiapo Church, also known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, is a significant landmark in the area and draws many visitors.
The market stalls surrounding the church offer a variety of religious items, including statues, rosaries, and candles. Quiapo is also home to a bustling street market that sells everything from clothing to food.
Manila has a lot of outdoor attractions that are perfect for those who want to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Here are some of the best outdoor attractions in Manila:
Manila Baywalk is a popular attraction among locals and tourists alike. The long promenade runs along Manila Bay and offers stunning sunset views. Visitors can take a leisurely walk, bike, or jog along the baywalk while enjoying the sea breeze. There are also several restaurants and cafes near the Baywalk where visitors can grab a bite to eat or drink while enjoying the view.
Manila Ocean Park
Manila Ocean Park is a marine-themed park located in Manila Bay. It features a variety of marine life exhibits, including a shark and ray encounter, a jellyfish exhibit, and a penguin exhibit.
Visitors can watch sea lions and dolphin shows and swim with the fish. The park also has several restaurants and souvenir shops.
Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden
The Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden is a 5.5-hectare park in the heart of Manila. It is home to over 1000 animals, including tigers, lions, elephants, and monkeys.
The park also has a botanical garden that features a variety of plants and trees. Visitors can take a guided tour of the park or explore on their own.
Star City Amusement Park
Star City Amusement Park is a popular amusement park in Pasay City, just a few minutes from Manila. It features a variety of rides and attractions, including roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, and a haunted house. The park also has several food stalls and souvenir shops.
Arroceros Forest Park
Arroceros Forest Park is a small park located in the heart of Manila. It is a green oasis in the middle of the city and is home to various trees and plants. Visitors can take a leisurely walk or have a picnic in the park. The park also has a playground for children.
Dining and Cuisine
Manila is a food lover’s paradise, with diverse dining options catering to all tastes and budgets. From street food to high-end restaurants, Manila has it all. Here are some of the best places to eat in Manila.
Binondo Food Crawl
Binondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world, and it is a must-visit destination for foodies. The streets are lined with vendors selling all kinds of Chinese delicacies, from dim sum to roasted duck. One of the best ways to experience the food in Binondo is to go on a food crawl. This involves visiting several different restaurants and trying a few dishes at each one. Some of the must-try dishes in Binondo include:
- Dim sum: These bite-sized portions of steamed or fried food are a staple of Chinese cuisine. Popular dim sum dishes include siomai, hakaw, and radish cake.
- Roasted duck: This succulent dish is typically served with rice and a sweet sauce.
- Hopia: This sweet pastry is filled with mung bean paste and is a popular snack in Binondo.
Maranao and Tausug Food in Quiapo
Quiapo is known for its vibrant street markets and religious landmarks, but it is also home to some of the best Maranao and Tausug food in Manila. These two ethnic groups are known for their flavorful dishes, often made with coconut milk and spices. Some of the must-try dishes in Quiapo include:
- Beef kulma: This hearty stew is made with beef, coconut milk, and spices. It is typically served with rice.
- Chicken piaparan: This dish contains chicken, coconut milk, and turmeric. It has a distinct yellow color and a spicy flavor.
- Satti: This popular street food in Quiapo consists of grilled meat on a stick, served with peanut sauce.
Whether you’re in the mood for Chinese cuisine or Maranao and Tausug food, Manila has something to offer every foodie. Be sure to explore the city’s diverse dining scene and try some of the local specialties.
Other Points of Interest
Manila has a rich history and culture, and many points of interest are beyond the famous tourist spots. Here are a few places to consider visiting:
Malate is an exciting neighborhood that pulses with energy day and night. From the lively Manila Baywalk to the traditional eateries of Remedios Circle, visitors will find plenty to explore. The nightlife and entertainment scene is second to none, with an array of bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. Not to mention, the Malate Church, one of Manila’s oldest churches, is also located here.
When the sun sets, the Baywalk is the perfect spot to watch the sun dip below the horizon, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines is a must-see for big-name theater and orchestral performances. Art lovers will also appreciate the Metropolitan Museum, which focuses on contemporary Filipino art. Whatever you’re looking for, Malate has it all!
Plaza de Roma
Located in the heart of Intramuros, Plaza de Roma is a public square surrounded by historic buildings such as the Manila Cathedral and the Palacio del Gobernador. It’s the perfect spot for capturing breathtaking photos and taking in the stunning scenery.
During the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1944, the plaza was known as Plaza Malaki, as American names were removed from public spaces. However, in 1960, the plaza was renamed Plaza Roma in honor of the College of Cardinals in Rome, following the elevation of Manila Archbishop Rufino Santos as the first Filipino cardinal.
Baluarte de San Diego
Explore the fascinating history of Baluarte de San Diego, a 16th-century fort located in Intramuros. Built by the Spanish to defend against invaders, this spade-shaped bulwark is a reminder of Manila’s rich history.
Take a tour of the fort and learn about its past, with an entry charge for adults and free entry for seniors. Discover the remains of the upper portion of the circular watch tower, built from 1586-1587, and marvel at its incredible architecture.
Manila City Hall
Visitors to Manila City Hall can experience a unique blend of history and beauty, as the impressive neoclassical building serves as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the Battle of Manila.
Its coffin-like shape is a reminder of the city’s past, and a visit to the city hall is an opportunity to learn about the city’s history and the role of the city government in shaping Manila. With its beautiful architecture and rich history, Manila City Hall is a must-see for anyone looking to explore the city.
Discover the history and explore the beauty of Escolta, a historic street in the heart of Manila. Once the city’s central commercial district, it now houses many of the country’s firsts and architectural gems.
Take a walking tour of the area to admire the classic Western designs and the beautiful buildings and landmarks. Enjoy the leisure, cultural, and business atmosphere of Escolta’s former years as you explore the area and learn about its rich history.
Manila is a bustling city with various transportation options to explore the city’s tourist spots. Visitors can choose from various modes of transportation, including LRT, taxis, jeepneys, calesa, horse-drawn carriages, and airport transfers.
The LRT is a convenient option for tourists to get around Manila. It cuts through most of the city, making reaching popular tourist destinations such as Binondo, Intramuros, and Rizal Park easy. The LRT 1 has a longer route, while the LRT 2 has the shortest route, running through Metro Manila’s East to West areas. Visitors can purchase a single journey ticket or a stored value ticket to save time and money.
Taxis are also a common mode of transportation in Manila. Visitors can hail a taxi on the street or use ride-hailing apps like Grab Car. It is important to note that taxis in Manila do not have meters, so it is recommended to negotiate the fare before starting the journey.
Jeepneys are a popular mode of transportation in the Philippines and are known for their colorful designs. They are affordable to get around Manila, but visitors should be prepared for crowded and uncomfortable rides.
Calesa, or horse-drawn carriages, are a unique way to explore Intramuros, Manila’s historic walled city. Visitors can take a leisurely ride and enjoy the sights while listening to the coachman’s stories about the city’s history.
There are several airport transfer options for visitors arriving at the airport. Taxis and ride-hailing apps are available, but visitors can also book a private transfer in advance to avoid the hassle of negotiating fares.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top tourist destinations in Manila?
Manila is a city that offers a variety of tourist destinations. Some of the top tourist destinations in Manila include Intramuros, Rizal Park, Manila Ocean Park, National Museum, and Fort Santiago. These places offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Philippines.
What are some Instagrammable places to visit in Manila?
For those looking to take Instagram-worthy photos, some of the most popular places to visit in Manila are Bonifacio Global City, Pinto Art Museum, The Dessert Museum, and Art in Island. These places offer unique and colorful backdrops that are perfect for taking photos.
Where can I find historical places to visit in Manila?
Manila is rich in history, and there are several places to visit for those interested in learning more about the city’s past. Some of the historical places to visit in Manila are Intramuros, Fort Santiago, Casa Manila, and San Agustin Church. These places offer a glimpse into the city’s colonial past.
What are some cheap hangout places in Manila?
For those on a budget, there are several cheap hangout places in Manila. Some of the popular hangout places include UP Town Center, Circuit Makati, and Maginhawa Street. These places offer a variety of food and entertainment options that won’t break the bank.
What is the number one tourist attraction in Metro Manila?
The number one tourist attraction in Metro Manila is the Mall of Asia. This shopping mall is one of the largest in Asia and offers a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. It is also located near Manila Bay, which offers a beautiful view of the sunset.
Are there any road trip destinations near Manila?
For those looking for a road trip adventure, there are several destinations near Manila that are worth visiting. Some of the popular road trip destinations include Tagaytay, Batangas, and Subic. These places offer scenic views and a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Manila Tourist Spots and Tour Packages
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