One of the country’s most popular tourist destinations is the province of Ilocos Norte. With countless natural and cultural wonders to discover, visiting this breathtaking province will surely be one of the highlights of your travel adventures. Ilocos Norte is known for its distinctive geography being surrounded by bodies of water so if you’re looking for some of the best beaches in the Philippines, Ilocos Norte is exactly what you need! The province is also heavily influenced by the Spanish Colonial Era that’s why lots of perfectly-preserved churches and other significant structures are still present and open for visits.
Aside from Ilocos Norte’s spectacular list of attractions, what really stands out in the province is its rich culture and tradition that represent both pre-colonial and modern Filipino times. Do you know what people are really excited about when they visit Ilocos? Ilokano Foods. Yup! Ilokano cuisine is undoubtedly one of the most respected cuisines in the country offering a wide range of irresistibly delicious delights like the Ilocos Empanada, Dinengdeng, and the oh-so-crispy Bagnet. So get ready for an amazing gastronomic adventure as well!
See? There is an endless list of reasons why you should visit Ilocos Norte and that fact alone makes a lot of people more eager to even see a glimpse of this beautiful province. So, what are you waiting for? Come and join me as we both explore everything that this beautiful province has to offer, here are the 15 Best Tourist Spots in Ilocos Norte!
1. Paoay Church
The first one on the list has a lot of absolutely incredible credentials that will surely make you want to visit it during your Ilocos Norte adventure. Saint Augustine Church or more commonly known as Paoay Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an absolutely incredible national treasure famous for its rich history and stunning architecture. Paoay Church actually belongs to the group of Baroque Churches of the Philippines which features all the beautiful churches in the country built during the Spanish Colonial Era.
The breathtaking facade and the iconic bell tower of Paoay Church are undoubtedly the stars of the show but there’s something about old structures that can make you feel like you’re traveling back in time to the old world. And that is exactly what you’re gonna feel with the amazing ambiance and serenity of Paoay Church.
2. Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud
Ah, summer is already upon us! In Ilocos Norte, when we talk about the beach, the very first thing that comes to mind is Pagudpud, where the world-class beaches of the north can be found. And among these beautiful natural wonders is the famous Blue Lagoon. From the name itself, prepare to be in awe of azure blue waters, white sands, and incredible rock formations that will surely make you stay! Blue Lagoon is a perfect destination to bond with your family, loved ones, and friends. You can enjoy swimming, beach bumming and camping throughout the day.
There are also a lot of commercial establishments around the area like hotels, resorts, and restaurants to accommodate your stay. Oh, and you can also try several watersports activities like snorkeling, kayaking, and jet skiing to make your trip extra special!
3. Bangui Windmills
One of the most iconic tourist attractions in Ilocos Norte and probably the most popular wind farm in the country is the Bangui Windmills. The farm consists of 26 units of wind turbines, each about 70 meters in height, lined across the breathtaking Bangui Bay which gives you an extraordinary view of the West Philippine Sea! All in all, the wind farm is capable of producing electricity of up to 41 megawatts, that’s about 40% of Ilocos Norte’s electricity!
This “clean and green” project by the government is actually the first windmill farm in entire Southeast Asia. And not only did it help our country promote safe and renewable energy, but it also boosted local tourism in the beautiful province of Ilocos Norte! So, make sure to visit Bangui Windmills, enjoy the beach, and take lots of pictures!
4. Saud Beach in Pagudpud
I’m definitely not kidding when I said that Ilocos Norte has some of the most beautiful beach destinations in the country. But if you’re still wondering why then wait ‘till you see the jaw-dropping beauty of Pagudpud’s Saud Beach!
This is where you’ll see the long stretch of white sands, pristine turquoise waters, and lush coconut trees. It is the perfect place to enjoy, relax, and feel the peaceful environment of Pagudpud Beach itself. The beach is very well-maintained and serene, no wonder why this tropical island is considered a pride of Ilocos Norte!
5. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Another natural wonder you shouldn’t miss in Ilocos Norte is the Kapurpurawan Rock Formation located in Burgos. This massive rock formation was created by thousands of years of limestone sedimentation. Just seeing this enchanting rock formation from afar is already breathtaking, what more if you get closer!
The Ilokano term “Kapurpurawan” means “white” which describes the creamy white appearance of the huge rock formation. The perfect scenery featuring Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, the deep blue ocean waters, and the tropical coast really proves that Ilocos Norte is indeed incredibly blessed with beautiful beach destinations.
6. Paoay Sand Dunes
Ah, this one’s definitely exciting! If you’re a fan of adventures and outdoor activities, then I’m sure that you’ll love Paoay Sand Dunes. This desert-like attraction in Ilocos Norte covers a huge area of 88 square kilometers where tourists can enjoy adrenaline-pumping activities like sandboarding, sand surfing, and a 4×4 jeepney adventure. I hope you’re willing to get down and dirty because this is definitely a memorable experience you’ll never forget!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering why Paoay Sand Dunes seems familiar, it is actually the location where iconic Filipino films like Panday and Himala were filmed!
7. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse
Ah, there it is! Anywhere in the world, you go, nothing really compares to the unique sense of admiration and awe you’ll feel the moment you see a lighthouse. Luckily, we’ll have a chance to visit one in our Ilocos Norte Adventure! The Cape Bojeador Lighthouse or also known as the Burgos Lighthouse is located in Burgos, Ilocos Norte. Towering at a height of 66 feet, this octagonal-shaped stone lighthouse was built during the Spanish Colonial Era to guide hundreds of galleons sailing from the north.
The lighthouse was built on top of the Vidia de Nagpartian Hill and overlooks the stunning Cape Bojeador. Up to this day, thousands of tourists still visit this National Cultural Treasure to catch a glimpse of its breathtaking beauty and the perfect scenery of the very waters it lights.
8. Patapat Viaduct
On your way to Ilocos Norte, you’ll likely come across an incredibly beautiful winding road that offers a jaw-dropping view of the sea and the islands within. The Patapat Viaduct is undoubtedly an engineering wonder that allows tourists to enjoy and admire the beauty of nature. It is actually a coastal bridge built in the year 1986 fronting the majestic view of Pasaleng Bay. On a bright and clear day, there’s a high chance that you’ll be able to see with your naked eye the Calayan and Fuga group of islands from afar.
Patapat Viaduct eventually became a tourist attraction in itself where countless tourists stop by to take pictures and admire the rustling waves crashing on the rocky coastline. Oh, and it’s also a perfect location to take mind-blowing drone shots if you have one!
9. Kabigan Falls
Kabigan Falls is another hidden gem nestled within the lush forests of Pagudpud waiting to be discovered by tourists and visitors. It’s a small and lovely waterfall with a height of 87 feet and a speck of natural pool where you can swim and relax after a long day of exploring the beautiful attractions of Ilocos Norte.
The narrow body of white crystal clear water cascading down the stunning rock formation is already a sight you will truly remember. So don’t forget to take some pictures!
Oh, and I should warn you that Kabigan Falls is tucked deep within the forest so it will require some trekking and hiking to reach and leave the area. Well, those are already fun and exciting activities in themselves so why not give it a try, right?
10. Sinking Bell Tower
Did the name catch your attention too? Well, you’re not alone because the same goes for thousands of tourists who already visited and witnessed the enchanting beauty of the Sinking Bell Tower in Laoag. If you’re familiar with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this one’s very similar to that! It is said that the mysterious Bell Tower sinks at a rate of one inch per year and no one exactly knows why. Another odd thing about the tower is that it’s about 80 meters away from the cathedral it’s supposed to be attached to!
Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Well, that’s exactly part of the reason why countless tourists visit this mysterious cultural landmark. And I bet that you’re also intrigued to visit it after reading this!
11. Malacañang of the North
Another significant cultural and historical attraction in Ilocos Norte is the Malacañang of the North. This presidential museum located in Paoay actually served as the presidential mansion of the Marcos family during the term of President Ferdinand Marcos.
The building in itself is already an incredible tourist attraction having great architecture and scenic views overlooking Paoay Lake. To this date, the Malacañang of the North serves an important role in preserving our country’s history housing significant artifacts and memorabilia regarding the rich history of President Marcos’ legacy.
12. Paoay Lake
The Paoay Lake National Park is indeed a natural wonder you shouldn’t miss in Ilocos Norte. It is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places to visit in the province where you can just relax and enjoy the breathtaking view of the lake, the stunning landscape, and the fresh mountain air.
The largest lake in Ilocos Norte is also a popular spot for family picnics and sightseeing that’s perfect for countless memory-making opportunities!
Paoay Lake is indeed filled with beautiful natural features but what makes it extra special are the urban legends and mysteries surrounding it. One of the most popular stories suggests that the lake was once a small barangay in Ilocos Norte consisting of a community filled with wicked and enchanted people. It is said that it’s exactly the reason why the community ended up buried underwater. Hmm, interesting, right?
13. Museo Ilocos Norte
We definitely can’t deny that Ilocos Norte is overflowing with rich culture and history that eventually became a huge part of our country’s identity. That’s why we’re very fortunate that establishments like Museo Ilocos Norte were created to perfectly preserve significant artifacts that represent the culture and heritage of the province. The museum is located in Laoag and therefore easily visited by countless tourists from different parts of the world because it is located within the capital.
Some of Museo Ilocos Norte’s most famous attractions are the ethnic representations of the province’s native people like Igorots, Ilocanos, Itnegs, and many more. From traditional farming and house equipment to ancient “Bahay na Bato” structures, visiting Museo Ilocos Norte is definitely something you shouldn’t miss.
14. St. William’s Cathedral (Laoag Church)
The famous St. William’s Cathedral or more popularly known as the Laoag Church is another historical landmark that served as the pride of Ilocos Norte. The church as we know it was built in the year 1612 and until now it is still perfectly preserved and able to depict the rich religious history of Ilocos Norte. The extraordinary features of the Italian Renaissance-inspired architectural design of the cathedral are already an attraction in themselves!
Oh, and the Laoag Church is also the cathedral supposedly attached to the mysterious Sinking Bell Tower, so might as well pay a visit there too!
15. Juan Luna Shrine
Finally, the most fitting way to end our Ilocos Norte adventure is by visiting the famous Juan Luna Shrine located in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. The shrine is actually a representation of the very house where Juan Luna grew up. We all know that Luna is one of the most notable national heroes who fought the Spanish government through his paintings. Some of Juan Luna’s iconic paintings are Spoliarium, The Death of Cleopatra, and Exposicion Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Some of Juan Luna’s brother, General Antonio Luna’s significant memorabilia can also be found in this museum along with their respective personal items from childhood.