How to Spend 48 Hours in Iloilo: What to See and Do in the City of Love

Sometime last year, together with the Iligan Bloggers Society fambam, we took Air Asia's inaugural flight from Cagayan de Oro City to Iloilo. Okay, out with it: WE WENT WITHOUT A FIXED ITINERARY! 🀦 Let's just say we're spontaneous and adventurous like that, although that's admittedly not 100% true. Haha! We decided to have a chill type of travel and just play it by ear, which basically translates to "we don't have a plan."

So did we see much of Iloilo after all? Here's a quick video of our 48-hour adventure. Read on for more details of our impromptu itinerary.

The Itinerary

Iloilo is all about its rich and colorful history and spectacular architecture. If you have just 48 hours in Iloilo, you need to plan your day in such a way that you enjoy the best of its culture. We have a pretty short checklist: Good food, old churches, and maybe a glimpse of the "new" Iloilo.

Day 1:

Our first order of business: Catch some precious zzzzzz's. We checked in at Madison Hotel and rested for a few hours while we crowdsourced how we're spending the next couple of days in the City of Love. We were serious about taking our sweet time and just have a laidback adventure. Haha!

Feeling refreshed and well-rested, we stepped out for a sunset walk at the Esplanade Boardwalk. It's where the "I am Iloilo" sign is located. There were tourists and locals in the area -- strolling, jogging, paddle boating, or eating out. 

πŸ“ Molo Mansion

We continued our walking adventure to Molo Mansion, which is just across Molo Church and Molo Plaza. The mansion was built in the 1920s and was reopened to the public in 2015 as a cultural souvenir shop (Kultura).

There's also a cafe within the compound, where we tried the authentic Pancit Molo. 

Day 2:

For Day 2, we still wanted to keep it easy and chill. We opted to hire a van for an entire day. Quick side note: We contacted the van that brought us from the airport to our hotel the previous day. We told the driver we wanted to go to Garin Farm and then visit some old churches in Iloilo.

πŸ“ Guimbal Vanishing Mansion
On our way to Garin Farm in San Joaquin, we had a quick stopover at Guimbal Vanishing Mansion. Stories have it that at this spot, where a century-old acacia tree and a statue stand, is where taxi drivers have reportedly picked up a white lady, who then directs them to a gate that leads to a mansion. 

πŸ“ Garin Farm

Garin Farm Pilgrimage Resort is an inland resort in San Joaquin, Iloilo that integrates agriculture, leisure, and religion. It features a farm, a recreational place with tons of activities, and a pilgrimage site all in one. Shuttles are available for easier access to the key features of the resort.

Garin Farm is famous for its Stairway to Heaven, a 400-plus stairway that represents a journey from the creation to ascension. There is a Divine Mercy Dark Meditation Tunnel on the Pilgrimage Hill that leads to its main attraction, a representation of heaven -- with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, surrounded by angels and saints.

Entrance Fee:
On our way back to Iloilo City, we had another quick stopover at Camposanto de San Joaquin. It's a Catholic cemetery in San Joaquin, which was designated as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.


πŸ“ Miagao Church

The Santo TomΓ‘s de Villanueva Parish Church, or Miagao Church, was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It was built in a Baroque Romanesque architectural style and was mainly made of adobe, egg, coral, and limestone.



πŸ“ Lunch Stop: Doming's Talabahan

When visiting Iloilo, eating talaba (oyster) is a must. We stopped at Doming's Talabahan, a no-frills eatery located along the national highway of Miagao, for lunch.


Oh, and we found this there:

πŸ“ Guimbal Parish Church

The Parish of St. Nicolas of Tolentino, or Guimbal Church, made of yellow adobe and coral stones, is  also one of the oldest churches in the country. 



πŸ“ Tigbauan Church

We also dropped by San Juan Sahagun Parish Church, or Tigbauan Church, in the town of Tigbauan, Iloilo. It was built in Spanish Baroque style and features intricate designs in its interior.  The biggest mosaic is found on the church’s altar in a dome, showing Jesus and his disciples, heaven, earth, and hell.





πŸ“ Iloilo Business Park

Before heading to our final church stop, we had another quick stopover for a glimpse of the "new" Iloilo. We stopped by Iloilo Business Park and took pictures of Casa de Emperador, which houses the Iloilo Museum of Contemporary Art (ILOMOCA), the first museum dedicated to contemporary and modern art in Visayas and Mindanao. We didn't have a chance to get into the museum as we were kind of pressed for time. Saving that for our next visit. :)


πŸ“ Jaro Cathedral Church

We then headed to Jaro Cathedral, which was constructed in the Romanesque Revival style. The facade of the Cathedral features stairs leading to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Candles.



πŸ“ Souvenir Shopping: Original Deocampo Barquillos

It's Filipino culture to always bring pasalubong. So we made sure to visit this shop in Jaro.



We then went back to the hotel for a quick shuteye and freshen up a bit before heading out for dinner.

πŸ“ Dinner: The Pitstop Restaurant SM City Iloilo Southpoint

For dinner, we wanted something uniquely Ilonggo. We opted for the Pitstop, which serves nearly everything with Guimaras mango -- from pizza to bulalo and sisig. Interesting!



πŸ“ Plazuela Dos
After a very filling dinner, we walked around SM City Southpoint to a nearby Plazuela Dos before heading back to the hotel.


Sticking with our plan of keeping the itinerary chill and easy, we opted to stay in the hotel (while some friends went back to Molo Church) while waiting for our AirAsia flight back to Cagayan de Oro City.

I posted this on my Facebook account right after:

No wonder Iloilo City is called the City of Love: You spend barely 48 hours, yet you fall in love with the city. ❤️

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