Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is the most urbanized city in the country. There is a lot to see and a lot to eat while in the city. Home to some of the largest malls in the country and delicious delicacies not only with home grown roots but also fused with Spanish, American, and Japanese influences, this city is a reflection of each Filipino. As the city continues to grow and develop, venture into its history to learn more about the Philippines. Here, we’ve curated a list of scenic and educational things to do in Manila.
1. Fort Santiago, Intramuros, Manila
Fort Santiago is a historical landmark of the Philippines. It was built during the Spanish Inquisition in 1590, and completed three years later. It is a defense fortress so you know that this is one big and mighty wall. Not only that, within its walls there are stories to be unfolded. It also held a prison cell, and Jose Rizal, one of the country’s national heroes, was imprisoned here before his execution. Flags were held up here as a sign of invading the country since these walls were hard to breech. Today, it still stands strong and mighty and several ruins and memorabilia have been well preserved.
Address: Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila
Opening Hours: 8 AM – 6 PM
2. Historical churches in Manila
When the Spaniards were in Manila, they spread Christianity like wildfire. With that, beautiful churches with breathtaking architecture arose in different parts of the city. The San Agustin Church and Museum is more than 440 years old and is still standing strong. It was denoted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica is just a few meters away from the San Agustin Church and Museum. It is also around 430 years old, and despite being destroyed several times in the past, it has been renovated and is still standing strong with its alluring multi-layered arches. Other churches around Manila are Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned or Sta. Ana Church, Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church or Malate Church, Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz or Binondo Church, and Santo Niño de Tondo Parish, among many others.
San Agustin Church
Address: General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila
Opening Hours: 8 am – 12 pm /1 pm – 6 pm
Contact: (02) 527 2746
3. Rizal Park
This is an urbanized park that has witnessed important events in the country’s history. Rizal Park, also known as Luneta National Park or simply Luneta, was where the national hero, Jose Rizal, was executed during the Spanish Regime. To commemorate the patriotic emblem of the country, they have officially renamed the park to Rizal Park. Rizal Monument stands in the middle of the park. Philippine Independence Day and other major events are celebrated here here. On a normal day, locals stroll, jog, or hang out in the area.
Address: Roxas Blvd Ermita, Barangay 666 Zone 72, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila
Opening Hours: 5 AM – 9 PM
Contact: (63)919 926 4413
4. National Museum of the Philippines
Located at the heart of Manila, visitors will find the grand building that is the museum of the Filipino people. Peruse through the artifacts and artworks that showcase the cultural heritage of the Filipinos. There are more than 1,000 fine art pieces spread out across the museum spanning from 18th century up to the 21st century. Their collections include fine art, archaeology, ethnography, and natural history. The largest painting in the Philippines, Juan Luna’s Spolarium, can also be found in here. You can see all these beautiful pieces for free! For more information, you can check out their website below.
National Museum of the Philippines
Address: P. Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Manila
Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Website: National Museum of the Philippines
5. Museo Pambata
Museo Pambata is also known as the Children’s Museum or Museum for Children. Unlike traditional museums, this interactive and hands-on museum encourages its visitors use all their senses throughout the exhibits. They also have events, learning rooms, and more to be able to provide education and entertainment for children. For more information and discounts on admission fees, browse through their website below.
Address: Roxas Boulevard cor. South Drive, Manila, Philippines
Contact: 02-523-1797/98, 02-536-0595
Email: [email protected]
Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays: 8 AM to 5 PM from September to February, 9 AM to 5 PM from March to August, and Sundays: 1 PM to 5 PM
Admission Fees: 250 PHP / 4.95 USD (for children 2 years old and above and adults), Free (for Museum workers and teachers (with valid IDs)), and Free (for Manila residents (with valid IDs) on Tuesdays and 50% discount on other days (not applicable for group tours))
Website: Museo Pambata
6. Manila Ocean Park
Visit the first marine theme park in the Philippines! They have wide array of attractions from oceanariums to birdhouses. There are exceptional shows in store for visitors as well like the Sea Lion Show, All Star Bird Show, Penguin Talk Show, and the Symphony Evening Show. They also have different kinds of exciting encounters such as being able to train sea lions, having a mermaid swimming experience (yes, they provide the mermaid tails!), sharks and rays encounter, and/or be an aquanaut (aquarium + astronaut)! For different kinds of packages and promos for you and your family and/or friends, check out their website below.
Manila Ocean Park
Address: Manila Ocean Park behind Quirino Grandstand Luneta Manila Philippines 1000
Email: [email protected]
Website: Manila Ocean Park
7. Cultural Center of the Philippines
With its vision that “art matters in the life of every Filipino,” the Cultural Center of the Philippines is that one stop you shouldn’t miss. Built in the 1960s, this structure has stood strong and has held thousands of operas, plays, and any kind of excellent performance. Aiming to preserve, develop, and promote arts, it always has something going on from music, dance, and art, to exhibits, concerts, and competitions. To actually see a list of the things going on, visit CCP’s official website below.
Cultural Center of the Philippines
Address: CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Website: Cultural Center of the Philippines
8. Sunset at Manila Bay
End your day in Manila by walking along the Manila Bay to enjoy the wondrous sunset at around 6:30 pm every evening. The orange to gold hues of the sun glow and flow through the water, making this a romantic sight. Along Manila Bay, you will also see locals jogging, visitors riding kalesas (a horse-drawn calash), vendors selling goodies, and others just hanging around. There are also different statues and monuments to see around the area. There are still many landmarks near the bay that you could visit to finish off your day of sightseeing. The peaceful scenery here is good for reflecting on the trip that you’ve just had.
Address: Roxas Blvd, Manila
Every spectrum covered
A diverse and populated city, Manila is a good preview of the Philippines. From the different sectors of the society, small buildings to towering skyscrapers, peaceful sunsets to party scenes, this city has got it all for you. It has rich history but has kept up to date and has something happening in every corner of the city, so you will never run out of things to do in Manila.
Get Trip101 in your inbox
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101
*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.