In the eastern part of the Philippines lies Legazpi City. A short flight from Manila, the city sits in the shadow of Mount Mayon. A 20 million year old active volcano that offers both wild adventure and captivating history. The off the beaten track destination of Legazpi Philippines has plenty to keep you busy for three days and can be combined with a trip to the Caramoan Islands, to really get a sense of this often overlooked region of Bicol Philippines. As there is little tourist information online about Legazpi City, I’ve created a travel guide for you including the Top 10 Things to do in Legazpi Philippines.
Where is Legazpi Philippines?
Legazpi City is the capital of Albay, in the region of Bicol located on the southern end of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago. Legazpi City used to be a small farming and fishing village but is now a bustling city, home to 200,000 people, and one of the Philippines’ top adventure tourism destinations. This is mainly due to the world-famous Mayon Volcano, which provides plenty of adrenaline fuelled activities (see Top 10 Things to do in Legazpi).
How To Get To Legazpi City Philippines
From Manila you can fly or drive to Legazpi City, depending on how much time and budget you have.
By Air – Legazpi Airport in Albay is serviced by Philippines Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Cebgo airlines. The journey from Manila to Legazpi is only one hour by plane, and there are several flights running daily.
By Car or Bus – The drive from Manila to Legazpi is 500km taking 9 to 11 hours on average.
How Many Days in Legazpi
The perfect amount of time to spend in Legazpi City is two to three days, this gives you enough time to see and do everything on offer in the city of fun and adventure.
When to Visit Legazpi Philippines
Due to its tropical rainforest climate, Legazpi City experiences a considerable amount of rainfall each year. In terms of weather, January is the coolest month and March to May are considered summer months. However, I visited during November, which was a great time of year, as it was still warm but not too as hot as summer, and all the outdoor activities were still possible.
Where To Stay In Legazpi City Philippines
As mentioned before, Legazpi City is one of the Philippines hidden gems, therefore big hotel chains and resorts have not yet made it to the Bicol region. However there are plenty of hotels available including the Oriental Hotel Legazpi which is famous for its pool view of Mayon Volcano, and Casa Simeon which would be my recommendation, for its history and boutique feel (See #7 below).
10 Things to do in Legazpi Philippines
1. Revel In The Volcano Views
Not surprisingly, one of the main reasons why people flock to Legazpi City is to see the astonishing Mayon Volcano. In addition to being overwhelmingly beautiful, its perfect conical shape also features on the countries 100 Peso bill.
The Philippine’s most active volcano can be viewed from almost anywhere in the city as it towers over the landscape. However for an unobstructed panoramic view of Mount Mayon I’d suggest visiting Legazpi boulevard, Lingon Hill, Sumlang lake or Mayon Volcano observatory. Ideal times are early mornings or late evenings when the tip of the volcano is less likely to be obscured by clouds.
2. Ride An ATV Around The Base Of Mayon Volcano
It wasn’t my first time on an ATV, in fact it wasn’t my first time on an ATV on a volcano (think back to Iceland last year). However, my Mount Mayon ATV experience stood out as the highlight of my trip to Legazpi City. Above all, it was an opportunity to get up close and personal with the active volcano that had been looming over us for our entire trip to the Philippines.
The road to Mayon Volcano was more like a dirt path, it took us through gullies, rivers, and fallen rock. The entire trail was made by nature and by years of eruptions and fury. As a result, the path was bordered by palm trees, able to grow tall and strong from the nutrient rich volcanic soil. However as we drew closer to the foot of Mount Mayon the scenery changed drastically. We were surrounded by large volcanic boulders, and it was hard to believe we were still in Legazpi Philippines!
A rain or shine activity, we chose the most advanced route, called the “Black Lava” trail. The ATV ride lasted several hours and took us to 2100 ft elevation, where the lava rocks lay from the most recent eruption in 2006.
In short there are plenty of ATV routes to Mayon Volcano to choose from, some lasting as little as 45 minutes, so whatever your experience level or age, it is easy to find a Mayon ATV tour to suit you.
3. Zip Lining From The Base Of Mayon Volcano
A popular activity at the lava wall of Mayon Volcano is to try the 300 meter zip-line. After the Mayon Volcano ATV tour, we spent a few minutes hiking the lava wall, to get a panoramic view of the area. When it was time to head back I had the choice of either hiking back downhill or zip-lining all the way to the base camp. As an adventure seeker, I obviously chose the latter, and even though the experience only lasted a short time, it was a fun way to end our day exploring Mount Mayon Volcano and at the price of 300 pesos ($5 USD) the zip-line hardly broke the bank!
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Over the years I’ve had countless experiences with active and dormant volcanoes in 13 countries. ? From hiking and camping to mountain biking and ATV riding, the adrenaline rush coupled with the panoramic views over the clouds just can’t be beaten. If you want to try something different, I recommend volcano boarding in Nicaragua, bathing in a mud volcano in Colombia or ziplining off a lava wall in the Philippines (pictured above). . Is anyone else a bit of a volcano junkie? . #thewanderlustwithin #itsmorefuninthephilippines @philippines_uk #tpbgovph #UKblogsPH
4. Visit Legazpi Boulevard, Bicol Philippines
One of the top Legazpi tourist attractions is the boulevard. Legazpi boulevard offers stunning views of Mount Mayon across a glistening lake. A great place to sample Bicol’s street food but an even better place for unrivalled sunset views of the volcano. In addition, Legazpi Boulevard is also a popular spot for running enthusiasts, and those wanting to practise their photography skills in the Philippines.
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Unforgettable sunset views of The Philippines most active volcano ? What an amazing whirlwind of a week it has been exploring this mesmerising country, can’t wait to show you more! . #thewanderlustwithin @philippines_uk #itsmorefuninthephilippines #tpbgovph #UKblogsPH #volcanoview
5. Relax At Sumlang Lake, Legazpi Philippines
A particularily tranquil hotspot for families, friends and couples, Sumlang Lake near Cagsawa Ruins, is a great day out in Legazpi Philippines. Aside from the varied Bicolano cuisine on offer, the numerous local handicrafts on sale, and the unique close up view of Mayon Volcano, there are ample opportunities to take part in water-sports such as kayaking, fishing, rafting and aqua biking, all great things to do in the Philippines.
6. Sample Bicol’s Famous Chilli Ice Cream
Legazpi City was the first time I’ve come across Chilli Ice Cream on a menu, #onlyinthephilippines as they say!
However 1st Colonial restaurant serves three different strengths of red hot ice cream topped with a real chilli. Laced with local siling labuyo chilli and coconut milk, you might be pleasantly surprised at how well the combination of hot and cold work.
The three levels of spice exist so all customers can sample the unique ice cream. Level 1 is suitable for children, Level 2 has a tickling and pinching sensation and Level 3 also known as the Mayon Volcano level – has the strongest kick, and is even served alongside a shot of milk to balance the heat.
Chilli Ice cream can only found in the city of Legazpi, so which of the three spicy deserts would you be brave enough to try?
7. Take A Step Back In Time And Spend The Night In A Colonial House
A rich and glossy shade of brown adorns the wooden floors and walls of this beautifully restored 1920s colonial home. Casa Simeon just outside Legazpi Philippines has recently opened as a guesthouse and restaurant, but has the most wonderful homely feel to it. We didn’t get the chance to stay here (next time I hope!) but we enjoyed a three course home cooked meal with the family on our final night in Bicol Philippines. We spent the evening sipping wine and hearing interesting tales from the colonial days, with this trip back in time.
8. Cagsawa Ruins Park, Legazpi Philippines
Just around the corner from Sumlang Lake is the Cagsawa Ruins Park. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Legazpi and the ruins are the remains of a church that was built by the Franciscans in the 17th Century. The church was destroyed by Dutch pirates and then again in 1814 when Mount Mayon erupted. On a clear day you can see Mt. Mayon just behind the ruins, and this national treasure one of the most popular photography spots in Legazpi Philippines.
9. Daraga Church, Legazpi City Philippines
Daraga Church is one of the most popular tourist spots in Legazpi Albay. Also known as the Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Parish Church, it was built in 1772 by the Franciscans in Daraga, Albay.
The unique white structure is made from volcanic rocks, and set on top of a hill with a clear view of Mt Mayon in the background, it’s no wonder Daraga Church is the most famous in Legazpi Philippines.
10. Busay Falls
Just outside Legazpi City, around a 45 minute drive away, are the enchanting Busay Falls. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Albay, these 91 meter high waterfalls are a natural gem surrounding by a bustling forest. The Busay waterfalls are actually made up of seven tiers, which is why they are often called ‘7 Falls’. The first two levels of waterfalls are easy to reach but the others will require hiking to.
Where To Go Next After Legazpi City
Legazpi City is situated in the Philippines region of Bicol. There are plenty of great tourist attractions within Bicol but my favourites are diving with whale sharks in Donsol and visiting the hidden gem of the Caramoan Islands. This jewel in the Camarines Sur is full of deserted islands just waiting to be discovered. You will need at least three nights in the Caramoan Islands to explore everything on offer, including the island hopping and fresh seafood. The journey from Legazpi to Caramoan involves a three hour drive to Sabang Port followed by two hours on a speedboat to the Caramoan Islands, which are dubbed one of the most beautiful islands in Asia.
Disclaimer: I visited Legazpi City courtesy of The Philippines Tourist board, but as always opinions are my own.