In the eastern part of the Philippines lies Legazpi. 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. This off the beaten track destination 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.

girl in stripey dress looking at mayon volcano under a pink sunset in legazpi philippines
Firey sunsets in Legazpi

Legazpi City is great for those wanting to take a trip on the wild side, so here are my top 7 things to do in Legazpi:

1. Revel in the volcano views

Not surprisingly, one of the main reasons why people flock to Legazpi 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.

100 philippines money bill with image of mayon volcano in legazpi on the currency

The country’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 I’d suggest visiting Legazpi boulevard, Lingon Hill, Sumlang lake or Mayon Volcano observatory. Ideal times are early mornings or late evenings when the volcano is less likely to be obscured by clouds.

close up of active Mount Mayon volcano fuming  in the distance in legazpi city in albay in the philippines
Mount Mayon in Legazpi, is the most active volcano in the philippines and there are rice fields surrounding it
Aerial view of Mayon volcano
Photo by Richard Collett,
aerial view of the flooded rice fields that surround mayon volcano in legazpi philippines in albay
Aerial view of the rice fields surrounding the volcano
Photo by Richard Collett,

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, the experience still stood out as the highlight of my trip to Legazpi. 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.

The road was more like a dirt path, it took us through gullies, rivers, and fallen rock. The entire trail was made by nature – made 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 city!

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 routes to choose from, some lasting as little as 45 minutes. Importantly whatever your experience level or age, Mayon ATV tour can find route to suit you. Ensuring everyone can safely enjoy the ride of their life around Mount Mayon.

person quad biking to mayon volcano with palm trees on either side in legazpi philippines
Taking the road less trodden in Legazpi, Philippines
Photo by Richard Collett,

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 ATV tour, we spent a few minutes hiking the lava wall and to get a panoramic view of the area. When it was time to head back I had the choice of hiking downhill or zip-lining back to the base camp. I obviously chose the latter, and even though the experience only lasted a short time, it was a fun way to end the activity and at 300 pesos (£4.50) it hardly broke the bank!

view from top of lava wall of mayon volcano in legazpi philippines. the view is of volcanic boulders and the zip line route as well as banana trees and palm trees in the distance
The view from the top of the lava wall and the point where we would start the zip line back down to the base camp
Photo by Richard Collett,

4. Visit Legazpi boulevard, Philippines

Legazpi Boulevard offers stunning views of Mount Mayon across a glistening lake. A great place to sample the regions street food but an even better place for unrivalled sunset views of the volcano. In addition, the boulevard is also a popular spot for running enthusiasts, and those wanting to practise their photography skills.

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5. Relax at Sumlang Lake, Legazpi

A particularily tranquil hotspot for families, friends and couples, Sumlang Lake near Cagasawa 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, there are ample opportunities to take part in water-sports such as kayaking, fishing, rafting and aqua biking.

6. Sample Bicol’s famous Chilli Ice Cream

This is the first time I’ve ever 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.

Only found in this region of the Philippines, would you be brave enough to try the volcano strength level?

The Wanderlust Within - Chilli ice cream from Legazpi in Bicol Philippines, orange ice cream scoop in a glass bowl with a red chilli on top and a flag saying 1st colonial which is the shop
Chilli ice cream in Legazpi, Philippines

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 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. We spent the evening sipping wine and hearing interesting tales from the colonial days.

The Wanderlust Within - colonial house in Legazpi Philippines with wooden furniture
Casa Simeon: The dinner table is set in Legazpi, Philippines

How to get to Legazpi City

By Air – The journey from Manila to Legazpi is only a one hour by plane, and there are flights running daily.

By Car or Bus – The drive from Manila to Legazpi is 500km taking 9-11 hours on average.

Where to go next after Legazpi City

The best destination to combine with your trip to Legazpi is the Caramoan Islands. This hidden gem is full of deserted islands just waiting to be discovered, so ensure you stay atleast two or three nights. The journey from Legazpi to Caramoan involves a three hour drive to Sabang Port followed by a 1.5-2 hours on a speedboat to the Caramoan Islands, one of the most beautiful islands in Asia.

drone view of deserted islands of Caramoan in the Philippines surrounded by turquoise clear waters
Caramoan Islands in the Philippines

Disclaimer: I visited Legazpi City courtesy of The Philippines Tourist board, but as always opinions are my own.

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