With a tourism slogan ‘City of Fun and Adventure,’ the capital of Albay province definitely has a lot in store for travelers, adventurers, and foodies. If you have more days to explore Legazpi City, there are even more things you can discover within the city, or a road trip/boat ride away–skimboarding on a black sand beach, mountain biking on rough terrain, a sunset cruise for a magnificent view of the beautiful Mayon, for starters.
If you, however, can only squeeze in one day to go around this city, fret not — here’s your quick guide to experiencing the top spots in Legazpi, enough for a first-timer to easily breeze through just as soon as you arrive. Wear your comfiest shoes, charge your camera, and have an appetite for all sorts of food and activity — here’s your list of things to do in Legazpi City when you’re exploring it for one day.
1. Visit the most iconic bell tower with the view of Mayon Volcano.
Head to Cagsawa Ruins in Barangay Busay, Cagsawa, to check out the top tourist spot of Bicol. The belfry is now what remains of an old Baroque church, which was buried along with the town of Cagsawa during the eruption of Mayon Volcano in 1814. Now a tourist spot, Cagsawa Ruins never runs out of both local and foreign visitors, with its iconic view of the tower and Mayon.
Food stalls, pasalubong fare and other local souvenir shops have encircled the area to make it an excellent pit stop for sightseeing, photo-ops, quick snacking and shopping. It is also near the Legazpi Airport, so you can head here first upon landing or visit before your flight back home.
2. Head to the highest hill in the city for a sweeping 360 view of Legazpi.
Ligñon Hill Nature Park is located at the highest peak in Legazpi City (aside from Mayon Volcano), and when you reach its summit, you enjoy a good view of Legazpi City, Daraga, Albay Gulf and the Mayon Volcano. Known in local folklore as ‘Daragang Magayon’ (beautiful lady), Mayon Volcano comes with a story of a beautiful lady dying in the arms of her lover, she rises to live in the form of a raging volcano. The clouds are her protective lover, and so it has been said that only the pure of heart and intention get a glimpse of Mayon in full view. If Cagsawa Ruins wasn’t able to deliver a picture-perfect Mayon for you, perhaps in this spot (and others that will be listed here later on) you will be more lucky.
If you have more time for adventuring, Ligñon Hill Nature Park boasts of an ‘extreme experience zone,’ featuring ziplines, rapelling, a hanging bridge, ATV rides, paintball, and trekking.
3. Eat like a local: have it hot and spicy, or smothered in gata.
Learn more about Legazpi by way of eating, and when in Bicol, never must you miss their food that highlight their everlasting love for chili peppers (sili) and coconut milk (gata). Have a filling lunch of local cuisine at 1st Colonial Grill and savor true-blue Bikol fare like Kadingga (their version of bopis), Bicol Express (the real deal), authentic Camalig Pinangat, and Laing.
To cool you down but also to spice up an afternoon, must-try is the restaurant’s Sili Ice Cream. No time for a leisurely lunch? Cagsawa Ruins also sells Sili-loaded food, so do try their Bicol Express Fruit Shake (P69) or Sili Shake (P55) being sold at the food stalls, so you can sip on the go
4. Visit a 1700s church on a hill and enjoy a panoramic view of Mayon.
On top of Sta. Maria Hill in Daraga is Nuestra Señora de la Porteria (Our Lady of the Gate Church), more popularly known as Daraga Church. While there are many other old churches in Legazpi City, Daraga Church is widely popular for its beautiful baroque details embellished on its façade, made out of volcanic rocks in 1773 by Franciscan friars.
Architecture geeks and those with keen eye on design should definitely visit this church, as its salomónicas (solomonic columns) is unique and only a few churches have these spiral columns in the country. Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Church has also been declared a National Cultural Treasure in 2007, and a National Historical Landmark in 2008.
The church overlooks the town of Daraga town, and just as soon as you step outside if it, has another great view: a panoramic sight of Mayon. You might already notice by now that the top destinations in Legazpi City also come with it a gorgeous backdrop of their volcano, courtesy of Mother Nature herself.
5. Go nuts with delicious pasalubong shopping.
When it comes to edible pasalubong, you can do no wrong by bringing home a loot of pili products from Legazpi. Known for its unique light crispness and buttery-rich profile, the pili nut is a product you will see all over the city, in bottles and cans and plastic wraps; served as sweet delicacies or savory snacks, roasted or salted or loaded with garlic.
There are a lot of brands to choose from as Bicol is rich in pili nut trees, so one stop to the first and oldest pili nut makers will be best for a day trip. Albay Pili Nut Factory located at Rizal Street at the Old Albay Disctrict is really like an old house converted into a pili nut store–it is family-run business, after all. On display are all their products for you to choose from, with pili nuts as their key ingredient. Pilinut with sugar and roasted pili nut are popular, and so are their pulvoron with pili. A personal favorite since childhood is their Mazapan de Pili, a rectangular bar of nutty confection that’s chewy and sweet, like a longer butterscotch bar with crushed pili nuts, similar to marzipan that uses almonds.
In case you are pressed for time, Cagsawa Ruins also has stalls selling assorted pili nut products, but a visit to the factory really gets you the best buys in terms of variety, quality, and prices.
6. Have one last photo-op with Mayon at Legazpi Boulevard.
If you think you’ve had enough photos of the Mayon, then you still have yet to discover more nooks and crannies of Legazpi — there are more spaces to explore and each has a different vantage point of the photogenic volcano. Before the day ends, head to the Legazpi port, and experience the seaside road of Legazpi Boulevard where many locals stroll and jog especially when it is close to sunset (fresh sea breeze to accompany you while running). This scenic route illuminates at night with its row of street lights like Manila’s Roxas Boulevard, and a popular photo-op spot of this coastal road network is the Legazpi signage, which has the Mayon as its backdrop.
You can book the Legazpi City Tour (P5,490 with maximum 6 persons per tour) with Misibis Bay to add to your Bicol getaway. Other Special Tours you can book through Misibis Bay include Cave Exploration (spelunking at Pototan Cave), Waterfall Exploration (at Busay Falls or Vera Falls), Sula Channel Tour, and a Visit to the Boiling Lake of Nag-Aso. You may check availability of the tours online and reserve via www.misibisbay.com.
Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Tigerair have regular flights from Manila to Legazpi City (approximately a 50-minute flight). Land transportation (bus liners) from Manila to Legazpi also available (travel time approximately 12 hours).
Misibis Bay is located at Cagraray Island in Bacacay, Albay, Bicol; it is a one hour road trip from Legazpi Airport to the resort. For inquiries about Misibis Bay’s Special Tours and resort bookings, email [email protected] or call (0917) 5991606, (0921) 4873869 or (0915) 5006833. Like Misibis Bay on Facebook (/misibisbayofficialfanpage), visit their website (www.misibisbay.com), and follow on Instagram (@misibis_bay).
By: Beatriz Acosta, ClickTheCity
July 14, 2015