10 Best Things To Do In Vigan, Philippines(With Pictures)

things to do in vigan philippines
| 6 min read
Faye Relao
Endorsed by a Philippines Local Expert
Faye Relao

Vigan is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines and part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, due to its rich Hispanic towns and Spanish colonial history. To this day, its heritage is well-preserved most intricately. Each visit will always be consistently and beautifully nostalgic. Tourists can stay in the best hotels and Airbnb vacation rentals that provide homey amenities. Get to know the city more personally with these featured attractions.

1. Relive the steps of national heroes at Calle Crisologo

Calle Crisologo, Vigan at night
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Obra19-Jojo Deladia used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Cobblestones and calesas – these are the two things that make Calle Crisologo distinctly Filipino. The cultural and historical sentiment comes to life instantly, especially at night time with empanadas and other Vigan delicacies are up for grabs for anyone who would like to understand how it was in the Philippines during the Spanish era. Otherwise known as Mena Crisologo Street, this mestizo district is lined with Spanish-style houses, and souvenir shops, that Filipino writers have been so inspired by for many years. Even to this day, the red-tiled roofs and capiz shell windows have been preserved and there is no other place like it. Taking a walk along its lamp-lit lanes feels like being in the 18th-century. The sentimental street is named after Mena Pecson Crisologo, one of the most respectable sons of Ilocos. He was a prominent writer back in the day and is known for the Ilocano version to Don Quixote.

Calle Crisologo

Address: Crisologo, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Website: Mena Crisologo Street

Traveler's tips

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Nestled in the heart of Vigan City, Calle Crisologo stands as a captivating testament to the country's colonial past. This historic street, paved with cobblestones and lined with Spanish-era houses, exudes a charm that is unmatched. What sets Calle Crisologo apart is its remarkable preservation of Spanish colonial architecture, showcasing intricate details and timeless beauty that will transport you back in time. The street's authenticity and well-preserved ambiance make it a must-visit destination.

To fully enjoy the experience, it is recommended to visit Calle Crisologo during weekdays, as weekends tend to be more crowded. The early morning or late afternoon hours are the best time to soak in the atmosphere, as the street is quieter and bathed in a soft, golden light. 

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2. Get refreshed on the Mestizo River Cruise

Loboc River Cruise 1
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ric V Obedencio used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Cruising along the Mestizo River at Vigan is fascinating. It lasts for about 45 minutes and tells the story of the City from how it was discovered, how the Spanish took over and how it became one of the most-visited cities in the Philippines. The short excursion promises a time of refreshment, while learning more about life through the eyes of the Ilokanos. The best thing about the Mestizo River is the annual candle floating ceremony during the Raniag Twilight Festival. This is specifically done in Barangay Beddeng Laud in the Celedonia Garden.

Mestizo River

Address: Barangay Beddeng Laud | Mestizo River, Vigan

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3. Look at life differently from Bantay Belfry’s vantage point

Bantay Belfry
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ibarra Siapno used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The high tower that sits on a hill just ten minutes away from Vigan is Bantay Belfry, built in 1591. Standing there, looking at the panoramic view of Vigan from the highest point of the area, is both uplifting and empowering. Reaching the top is not that easy, especially for those who have issues with height. Each step you take makes you reflective and once you reach the top, there’s a sense of empowerment. Symbolically, looking at life from this point of view allows its beholders to get some perspective. Bantay Belfry is known as the “people’s tower” alerting town folk of coming danger. Its nearby churches include the St. Augustine Church, with its nearly gothic exterior, and the baroque Saint Paul Cathedral.

Bantay Belfry

Address: Bantay, Ilocos Sur

Website: Bantay Belfry

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4. Revisit history: Father Burgos Museum, Leona Florentino House, and the Crisologo Museum

The Spanish have made the Philippines distinctly strong in the Catholic faith. To understand why Filipinos are the way they are, visiting the museums and churches are worth the time and experience, because these are living testaments of how the Filipino people came to be. Three of the most enriching museums are the Father Burgos Museum, the Leona Florentino House and the Crisologo Museum.

Named after friar Father Burgos, the Father Burgos Museum showcases the remnants of his patriotic life through family heirlooms, jewelry, photos and other memorabilia. The museum also focuses on his personal library, including his own copy of Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal. Father Burgos is highly regarded because he supported the rebellion of the Filipino people against the Spaniards in the plight for independence. This caused his apparent execution at Bagumbayan in 1872. Father Burgos Museum is open to the public Tuesdays to Saturdays.

Father Burgos Museum

Address: Burgos, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Website: Father Burgos Museum

History will always need a woman’s touch. This is the main reason why Vigan has the Leona Florentino House built in 1797. Leona Florentino was a Filipino poet who has garnered international recognition. She is also the mother of the pioneer of the labor movement of the Philippines, Isabelo delos Reyes. Located at the heart of Calle Crisology, this ancestral home is the city’s heirloom, dearly beloved by the locals because of Café Leona – one of Vigan’s most favorite culinary destinations. Here, Ilokano cuisine is highlighted, specially because it is best enjoyed with family and friends, buffet-style. Get ready to experience Vigan delicacies at their best.

Leona Florentino House

Address: Mena Crisologo Street, Plaza Burgos, Vigan City

Website: Leona Florentino House

The Crisologo Museum is all about Floro S. Crisologo – a prominent congressman responsible for the legislations of landmarks that benefitted the country. Unfortunately, political unrest got Floro shot in October 1970 and because of this, the museum was established to let his legacy live on. The Crisologo Mansion is open for public viewing throughout the week and is found on Vigan’s Liberation Boulevard.

Crisologo Museum

Address: A. Reyes St, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Website: Crisologo Museum

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Vigan Tour Guide

Alvin Paulino Bolo

Alvin Paulino Bolo

Hello. I am Alvin Bolo, a tour guide with a license from the Philippines' Department of Tourism. I organise tours for various sets of places in the country, namely one for Manila, another one for Northern (and Central) Luzon (the largest of the islands) and another one for Palawan and the nearby Calamian Islands. You can also have other details (lodging, transportation, dining, etc.) associated with the tour arranged with my help.

Tours by Alvin paulino

5. Experience Vigan's festivities: Viva Vigan Festival of the Arts, Vigan City Fiesta, and the Tres de Mayo Celebration

Dancers in the street of Vigan during Binatbatan Festival of the Arts 2014-04-16 04-41
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Markanicas used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Any place that is rich in culture will always have vibrant festivals. The Viva Vigan Festival of Arts is a weeklong celebration done in the first week of May, usually in the first week. It is celebrated to promote the value of Vigan as a center of history, in the hope of strengthening the advocacy to preserve and protect its cultural identity. The Vigan City Fiesta, on the other hand, is held every year on January 25. It commemorates the conversion of St. Paul, Vigan City’s patron saint. The Metropolitan Cathedral is dedicated to St. Paul. The Tres de Mayo Celebration is also religious in nature, where the people remember St. Helena and her son, Prince Constantine in their plight to seek the cross Jesus died on. It is a thanks-giving day, celebrated with a feast in honor of the Black Nazarene. Usually, a drama is performed to relive Helena’s plight.

Vigan City Fiesta

Website: Vigan City Fiesta

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6. Abel-Iloko Weaving Tour

Loom Weaving Ilocos
Source: Pixabay

While loitering Calle Crisologo in Vigan, you may have seen an Abel-Iloko fabric. If you wonder how they were made, then go on a weaving tour at Rowilda’s loom weaving factory in Brgy. Camangaan. Here, you can watch several people do the manual-weaving for free or even try it for yourself. However, if you want to see the finish products, then visit Rowilda’s showroom along Calle Crisologo. You can buy here Abel-Iloko products such as shawls, blankets, table napkins, blouses, and placemats. So while in Vigan, take the opportunity to learn the art of weaving an Abel-Iloko fabric for free.

Rowilda’s Loom Weaving Factory

Address: Brgy. Camanggaan, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Opening hours: Weaving activity starts at 8 a.m

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7. Black Beach Sand

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user DrStockPhoto.com used under CC BY-SA 4.0

While most of Vigan tourists spend their time visiting heritage sites, this beach in Mindoro village will surely offer you pleasant discoveries. This off the beaten track is stretched along Vigan City and sprawls further to other neighboring towns. It has silky black sand with powerful waves that smash to the shore. Swimming is not recommended here, but you can enjoy sightseeing. Also, you’ll enjoy the privacy it offers as people rarely visit this place. Should you want to have a long black beach experience then you may stay at Playa de Oro Resort.

Playa de Oro Resort

Address: Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

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8. Baluarte Zoo

Baluarte park in Vigan City
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Irvin Parco Sto. ... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Enjoy an interactive wildlife adventure in Baluarte. The resort complex has a mini zoo that houses animals from other countries and those that are endemic to the country. This attraction will definitely be enjoyed by children and even those who are young at heart as they offer engaging attractions. Explore the zoo and marvel at Bengal tigers, peacocks, civet cats, iguanas, pythons and other reptiles and birds. You also have the chance to come closer to the animals and have your picture taken with them. If you are interested in hunting, you may also visit the Safari Gallery where preserved animals and hunting photos are exhibited.

Baluarte Zoo

Address: Quirino Boulevard, Tamag, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Opening hours: 7am - 6pm (daily)

Traveler's tips

During my visit to Baluarte Zoo, I was reminded of the importance of treating the animals with respect and kindness. It's crucial to adhere to the safety guidelines and rules set by the zoo management, which may include maintaining a safe distance from the animals, refraining from feeding them without proper authorization, and avoiding any behavior that could disturb or stress the animals.

I kept in mind that zoos have a significant role in conservation and education, so my responsible behavior was contributing to the well-being of the animals and the zoo's mission. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit by observing the animals in their naturalistic enclosures and taking the opportunity to learn about the diverse wildlife they house.

Tip from Trip101 local expert



Baluarte Zoo Baluarte Zoo Baluarte Zoo

We enjoyed our visit to Baluarte Zoo especially because we had a little one in the family during our visit. Although the zoo was big, it wasn't very tiring to explore because there were convenient shuttles that transported us from one point to another. The museum was an absolute highlight for me, featuring meticulously crafted replicas of exotic animals rarely seen in the Philippines. We also took pictures with the tiger and the lion (which were a bit scary)!

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9. Ilocos Empanada

Laoag Dap-Ayan to Ilocos Norte - Empanadas
Source: Photo by Flickr user Yvette Tan used under CC BY 2.0

When visiting Ilocos, be sure to give empanada a try. This is inspired by the Spanish empanada that has become one of the region’s most popular snacks. This treat is crispy on the outside and has a tasty filling inside. It goes well with vinegar and is best eaten while hot. You may get your sizzling empanada from street food stalls around Ilocos. To taste an authentic Ilocos empanada, you may go to Insiang’s Empanada or Irene’s Empanada which are both located on Calle Salcedo corner Calle V. de Los Reyes. Meanwhile, you can also visit Abuelita’s if you want to have it from a restaurant.

Traveler's tips

I found that Vigan empanadas come in various styles, and each stall may have its own special recipe or twist on the classic one. To fully appreciate the flavors, I decided to try empanadas from different vendors. This allowed me to discover the unique variations in taste, texture, and filling that each stall offered. Whether I preferred a spicier, meatier, or more vegetable-packed empanada, exploring the different options became a delightful part of my culinary adventure in Vigan. I also wasn't hesitant to ask locals for their favorite empanada stalls, and it led to an authentic and diverse dining experience.

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10. Antique and Jewelry Shopping

Lucy’s Antique Shop at Calle Crisologo, Vigan - One of The New 7 Wonder Cities of The World
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ray in Manila used under CC BY 2.0

Being a heritage site, Vigan is the perfect place to find various antique items. Their local products and antiques are definitely a good souvenir to bring back home. When looking for a unique antique item visit Lucy’s Antique Shop which is nestled on the ground floor of the old house of Don Renato Peña along Calle Crisologo. It is home to various old items like house furniture, wooden decorations, paintings, porcelain plates, vases, and glassware. Also, they sell souvenir key chains, native bags, and t-shirts.

Lucy’s Antique Shop

Address: Crisologo, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Traveler's tips

As I explored Calle Crisologo, I quickly realized its fame for artisanal crafts and antique shops. I decided to take my time strolling along this charming street, delving into the various shops and boutiques that lined the path. Engaging in friendly bargaining with the local shopkeepers, which I discovered was a common practice in the area, proved to be a rewarding experience. This approach allowed me to discover unique souvenirs and handicrafts at a reasonable price. I also kept in mind that by supporting local artisans and businesses, I was not only enriching my travel experience but also contributing to the thriving local economy.
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Vigan City is beautifully rich in all the significant ways

For a weekend well-spent or maybe for a simple change of scenery, Vigan City makes a great travel destination. It features amazing things to do and places to eat. Enjoying the people, the food, sights, and long walks will surely make each one of its guests feel like a Filipino.

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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This article has been endorsed by Philippines local expert Faye Relao

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Kaye Leah, a writer and traveler, spends her days teaching Writing and Literature. In the interim moments, she engages in conversations with fascinating individuals over coffee or diligently...Read more

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