Hey there! Are you ready for another exciting adventure? Well, I’m sure that you’ll love our next destination which is famous for its “Old-World” architecture and stunning cultural wonders that will let you appreciate the rich history of our country. That’s right, we’re going to Ilocos Sur! This cultural and historical province has been the go-to destination for curious travelers and history buffs out there. When we talk about Ilocos Sur, the very first thing that comes to mind is the city of Vigan, a famous UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country, which is also the capital of the province and where the classic “Bahay na Bato” houses can be found. Oh, and it’s also obviously the origin place of the delicious Vigan Longganisa!
But aside from Vigan City, there are still a lot of breathtaking hidden gems yet to be uncovered in the whole province. From different religious landmarks, cultural buildings, and close encounters with nature, our adventure in Ilocos Sur will absolutely be one of the most memorable experiences of your whole life!
So, are you ready? I hope you’ve cleared enough memory space on your cameras because we’re definitely going to fill those up with fantastic pictures. Come and join me because here are the 15 Best Tourist Spots in Ilocos Sur!
1. Calle Crisologo
One of the most iconic tourist destinations not only in Ilocos Sur but in the entire Philippines is the nostalgic old-world street of Calle Crisologo. Visiting this breathtaking street will make you feel like you’re traveling back in time as you encounter century-old buildings, houses, tungsten lamps, and cobblestone walkways. The street spans for a length of 500 meters where only pedestrians and calesas or horse-drawn carriages are allowed. This gives tourists a chance to admire and enjoy what it was like to live 200 years ago. What an unforgettable experience indeed!
Calle Crisologo is also the perfect place to immerse yourselves in the rich culture of Ilocos Sur because some of the ancestral houses were turned into souvenir shops and fantastic restaurants serving irresistible Ilocano delights like bagnet, Ilocos empanada, and many more! Calle Crisologo is undoubtedly the face of Ilocos Sur’s culture and tourism. This is why you shouldn’t miss the chance of exploring it during your visit!
2. Bantay Church Bell Tower
Another iconic symbol that played a huge role in Vigan City’s rich culture and history is the Bantay Church Bell Tower. This bell tower served as the city’s watchtower when it was built in 1591 to alert against possible enemies and invasions.
Located in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, this popular landmark is only about 10 minutes away from the city of Vigan so it’s relatively easy to reach it. A lot of people visit the Bantay Church Bell Tower because of the undeniable beauty and nostalgic feeling it gives to the place.
It is a significant piece of the country’s history that unbelievably stood the test of time, war, and natural disasters. Be sure to take some nice pictures!
3. Vigan Cathedral
Visiting Vigan Cathedral will be absolutely one of the highlights of your adventure in Vigan City because this cathedral serves as a huge reason why the city was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, the church plays a huge role in the religious culture of Ilocanos because it serves as the seat of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. The cathedral in itself is already a tourist destination because of the stunning design of the facade and the interior.
The church was built way back in 1574 and has been through a lot of renovation and reconstruction over the years. At night, the cathedral lights up beautifully which attracts hundreds of tourists and locals to take pictures after the mass.
4. Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo
Well, yes! Ilocos Sur isn’t only about century-old buildings and churches, you also have the chance to get closer to nature and meet lovely animals during your visit. The Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo are owned by the famous Ilocano politician Chavit Singson. This park covers a huge area of 100 hectares and features several exciting attractions and activities that people of all ages will surely love! It’s your chance to meet rare animals up close such as Bengal tigers, lions, peacocks, and many more. There are also several animal statues and figures displayed all over the zoological park which I’m sure children will really love.
Aside from the wonderful animal interactive activities waiting for you here at the Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo, the park also features a museum, the Safari Gallery, where you can find hundreds of displays and artifacts showcasing the beautiful history of wildlife from different places all over the world. The best part? There’s no entrance fee here at Baluarte Resort and Mini Zoo!
5. Crisologo Museum
Another must-visit and educational destination waiting for you in Ilocos Sur are the Crisologo Museum. This ancestral house turned museum is owned by the Crisologo Family, one of the most powerful and prominent families in the province’s history. The head of the family, Floro Crisologo, was once a congressman of Ilocos Sur, and therefore became an important figure in the province’s political affairs.
The museum contains the family’s antique memorabilia such as furniture, clothes, kitchen equipment, and many more. Visiting Crisologo Museum will give you a chance to go back in time and see how Filipinos lived throughout history.
6. Syquia Mansion Museum
The Syquia Mansion Museum on the other hand is also an ancestral home owned by Estefania Angco and Gregorio Syquia, who both belong to powerful Ilocano families. The mansion museum is located in Vigan City and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s highlighted buildings.
Exploring the museum will let you catch a glimpse of the Philippines’ rich culture during the Spanish Colonial Era featuring the family’s antique heirlooms and significant artifacts. Indeed, visiting the Syquia Mansion Museum allows us to travel back in time and understand the beauty of Filipino history through high-valued antiquities. A great experience is indeed waiting for you here!
7. Candon Church
The Saint John of Sahagun Parish Church or more popularly known as Candon Church is another significant religious landmark located in Ilocos Sur. The church was built in the year 1591 and is still used and visited up to this day. Unlike most of our featured destinations so far which are located in Vigan City, this one is located in the city of Candon, Ilocos Sur. Candon is dubbed the “Tobacco Capital of the Philippines” so obviously, the city specializes in Tobacco products and is in fact the largest producer of Virginia-type tobacco in the country.
A unique experience is waiting for you here during your visit to Candon Church, so I suggest that you make the most of it and buy as many pasalubongs as you can!
8. Mindoro Beach of Vigan
Ah, finally! After a tiring day of walking and exploring all the stunning cultural buildings and landmarks of Vigan City, it’s time to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beach.
So, where do we go from here? Well, there’s a famous beach destination near the city called the Mindoro Beach of Vigan known for its clean gray sands, deep blue waters, and the refreshing sea breeze. It is indeed the perfect place to relax and escape the cobblestone walkways of Vigan City. Oh, and it’s also a nice place to watch the sunset with your family and friends!
9. Sta. Maria Church
The Santa Maria Church is another significant religious structure located in Ilocos Sur and is popularly known for its unique design and architecture. Also known as the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish Church, the exterior design of the church features the use of bricks and mortar as its main components. This unique design justified the rich history of the Santa Maria Church because it was once used as a citadel during the Spanish Colonial Era where Spanish soldiers along with friars were camped.
The Santa Maria Church is undoubtedly one of the must-see tourist destinations in Ilocos Sur especially for Catholics because it is considered a National Cultural Treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
10. Plaza Salcedo
One of the reasons why Vigan City is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the country is because of the very people living in it. Yes, there are countless nostalgic buildings scattered all around but nothing beats the experience of interacting with the locals and learning more about their culture and history. Well, that being said, the best place in Vigan to do this is no other than the iconic Plaza Salcedo. The plaza and park are located at the heart of Vigan City where tourists can easily access significant landmarks such as the Saint Paul Cathedral, Archbishop’s Palace, Vigan City Hall, and many more!
Plaza Salcedo is also a perfect place to buy souvenirs and other local products from the friendly vendors around. Oh, and don’t you dare miss the famous Dancing Fountain Show held in Plaza Salcedo featuring colorful jets of water and laser lights which is absolutely a visual treat for everyone!
11. Narvacan Church
Located at the place famously known as “The Town that Would Never Sink” or Narvacan, Ilocos Sur is another incredibly beautiful religious landmark. Narvacan Church or the Santa Lucia Parish Church is a must-visit destination for history buffs and heritage structure fans. There are tons of history tucked within this amazing structure because it was built way back in 1587 by the Augustinian priests. The church’s facade and exterior design are absolutely stunning so if ever you’re looking for ideas for your next Visita Iglesia adventure, then add Narvacan Church already to your list!
12. Padre Burgos House
Another beautiful ancestral home nestled within the heart of Vigan City is the Padre Burgos House. The famous priest and patriot Jose Burgos belongs to the iconic trio of GomBurZa, the three Filipino Catholic priests who were beheaded using the garrote. The GomBurZa became a huge part of the Philippine Revolution and inspired our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal to fight for our freedom.
The Padre Burgos House also serves as a museum where hundreds of important historical artifacts belong to major ethnic groups including the Ilocanos, Kankana-ey, and Itneg. Various antiquities like musical instruments, wooden coffins, jars, rare paintings, and many more are beautifully displayed here. And of course, a special section dedicated to Padre Jose Burgos can be found in the museum containing all of his life’s collection and personal memorabilia.
13. Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone
Ah, and there it is! Are you ready for another fun-filled and adrenaline-pumping experience you’ll never forget? Well, suit yourselves because that’s exactly what Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone will bring for us! This national park and adventure center is located at the boundaries of Bantay and Santa, Ilocos Sur. It’s actually near another must-visit landmark in the province, the Old Quirino Bridge.
Countless fun and exciting activities are waiting for you here at the ISAZ such as kayaking, rappelling, rock climbing, Zorb Balls, ziplines, and many more. It’s also a perfect chance to enjoy outdoor activities and be closer than ever to nature because there are rivers, mountains, and forests surrounding you. So, what are you waiting for? Come and visit Ilocos Sur Adventure Zone!
14. Pagburnayan Jar Factory
Pottery and jar-making are a huge part of Ilocos Sur’s culture, especially in the town of Pagburnayan. The people here use a century-old method of making Burnay Jars which are said to be more durable than the famous terracotta jars.
These jars are often used to store water, grains, and also the native Basi Wine. That’s why visiting a Pagburnayan Jar Factory during your visit to Ilocos Sur is a nice way to know more about the province’s cultural and traditional practices. Oh, and you can also buy some of their jars and clay pots as your souvenirs!
15. Hidden Garden
Ah, yes! As they say, it’s always nice to save the best for last. And by visiting the Hidden Garden last, which is actually a hidden gem in Vigan City, we are undoubtedly justifying that beautiful quote. Why? Well, it’s because the Hidden Garden gives us a glimpse of a tropical paradise and I’m sure our beloved plantitos and plantitas out there will fall in love with this place. There are beautiful plants and ornaments scattered all over the place which therefore gives you a chance to take unlimited Instagrammable photos of yourself!
The best part? There’s a restaurant there called the Lilong and Lilang Restaurant which serves some of the most delicious Ilocano dishes like Vigan Longganisa, Bagnet, Silog Meals, Sisig, and many more. See? What a beautiful ending to our Ilocos Sur adventure!