Iloilo City can be found on the southern coast of the island of Panay, which lies in the center of the Philippines. For many Philippines travelers, this capital of the Iloilo province serves as a gateway to the area, which includes the nearby island of Guimaras. This relatively small island is just a short boat ride away from Iloilo City, and it makes for a popular side trip destination. It also protects the waters of Iloilo City's harbor, which has long been one of the most important harbors in the Philippines. During the Spanish and American colonial periods, Iloilo's port was a popular trading post, and the city that grew up around it is still home to some interesting historical relics.
Iloilo City travel can include a number of fun outdoor activities, as the city offers proximity to mountains, beaches, and even some fascinating caves. When visitors aren't heading out into the surrounding area to get their fill of recreational fun on a Iloilo City vacation, exploring the city proper can be a rewarding way to spend some time. The Iloilo Museum is a good place to start a city tour. This museum offers exhibits that revolve around the city's history and the history of Panay Island. One of the more interesting exhibits at the Iloilo Museum displays treasure that was recovered from sunken ships. Coincidentally, the sunken ships off the coast of the island of Panay are popular dive spots. Scuba diving tours are relatively easy to arrange in Iloilo City, and exploring the underwater realms can add an entirely new dimension to your travels.
Iloilo City is relatively easy to navigate, and walking tours are ideal when there is no need to hurry. The colonial charm of the city encourages languid strolls, and visitors can admire buildings like the Iloilo Customs House along the way. This customs building was modeled after the one in Manila, and it was built during the American colonial period. Climbing the central tower of the Customs House is one of the most popular things to do in Iloilo City. It offers excellent views of the central business district, the Iloilo River Wharf, and Guimaras Island off in the near distance. One of the other popular things to do on an Iloilo City vacation is visit the small town of Molo and the suburbs of Jaro and La Paz. A trip to the village of Miagao is also recommended.
Molo, which used to be a separate town, is today part of Iloilo City. This area boasts an attractive central square that is dominated by St. Anne's Church. This neo-Gothic edifice, which was completed in 1831, is a joy to admire, especially for architecture buffs. The suburb of Jaro, which lies just north of the city, is also home to an impressive religious and architectural attraction. The Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, which was originally built in 1864, was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1948. By 1956, it was restored, and renovations have continued over time. In 1982, Pope John Paul II canonically crowned the statue of the Virgin Mary over the church's main door. It is of particular interest, as is the lone standing Belfry Tower that sits just across the road from the church. This attractive belfry is one of only a few belfries in the Philippines that is not connected to a church.
While the churches and cathedrals in Iloilo City and its suburbs are impressive, the cathedral in the nearby village of Miagao is the most stunning in the area. Built in the late 1700s, this divine structure is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Only four churches in the Philippines can claim that distinction. The visual appeal of the Miagao Cathedral is hard to deny, especially when it comes to the decorated main entrance. A side trip to Miagao is always worth adding to an Iloilo City travel itinerary, as is a visit to Guimaras Island.
Whereas Iloilo City is a relatively busy city, nearby Guimaras Island remains largely undeveloped. This is a big reason why so many travelers include a side trip to Guimaras on their list of things to do in Iloilo City. In addition to basking in the sun on white-sand beaches, visitors to Guimaras Island can also rent a bicycle and take to the scenic roads. A mountain bike is recommended for bike tours on the island, as it can better handle the rougher roads. As a side note, it is often best to book a guided mountain biking tour on the island of Guimaras, as it can be easy to get lost.
The list of things to do in Iloilo City is a long one, and it only gets longer when visitors branch out into the surrounding area. In addition to visiting the island of Guimaras for some fun on the beach, those who are engaging in Iloilo City travel can also enjoy plenty of sun and sand on the renowned island of Boracay. Island hopping is one of the most rewarding things to do in the Philippines, and Iliolo City makes for an ideal jump-off point for those who want to explore the islands in the Visayas region. Coincidentally, the city of Bacolod, which can be found on the nearby island of Negros Occidental, can also make for an excellent area base. Bacolod City is widely considered to be the "Best Place to Live in the Philippines," and it can be reached by way of ferry from Iloilo City in just 45 minutes.