Around 60 kilometers away from Manila is an underrated city hiding in plain site. Most travelers don’t think to hop on over from Manila to Tagaytay for a few days in-between flights, so take advantage of the unspoiled culture and local prices while it’s still a somewhat secret spot on the western trail.
Tagaytay isn’t what you would imagine when you think of a Filipino city. While there is public transportation and the occasional traffic jam, Tagaytay is a city full of nature. The outdoor parks, restaurants, and even shopping centers take advantage of the stunning scenery by building around rolling hills and green ridges so that every experience feels like you’re still one with nature.
The main attraction in Tagaytay Come is the incredible Ta’al Volcano, which is truly a natural anomaly that will leave you scratching your head.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Tagaytay City:
1. Taal Volcano and Lake
Taal Volcano and Lake are the pride and joy of Tagaytay City. With 33 eruptions, it’s the second most active volcano in the Philippines. It’s signature is a huge cratered mouth and hilly sides that spill out into the Lake. But look a little bit closer and you’ll see that within the cratered mouth is a whole other Lake. And within that Lake, is another island.
Did you follow that? There is a volcano on a Lake, which has a Lake inside the volcano that has an island inside that Lake. If you’re still confused, that’s understandable. You’ll have to visit to see for yourself.
2. Our Lady of Manaoag at Tierra de Maria
If you haven’t already figured it out, the Philippines is a very religious country and therefore, has gone to great lengths to design, construct, and erect some of the most magnificent religious shrines in Asia.
You don’t have to be religious to find the ‘Our Lady of Manaoag’ fascinating. This 50ft statue of Mary, the Mother of God, is a spot where Filipinos worship and take photos for their Facebook. There is a small church temple next to the statue with a flea market collection of a Jesus statue on the cross, photos of the prophet, and twinkling Christmas lights strung about.
3. Breakfast at Antonio’s
Go for the food, stay for the views. Breakfast at Antonio’s is a two-in-one must-visit destination in Tagaytay City.
While they do offer incredible breakfast options such as homemade pork sausage and honey-infused Golden Waffles, we can’t recommend the sandwiches enough. Using quality deli meat and gourmet cheeses, you can order creations such as the Grilled Smoked Ham with Gruyere and Cheddar Cheese that will make you think you’ve died and gone to heaven.
All the while, you’re seated next to a large window overlooking the Ta’al Volcano and Lake which ties the entire experience together.
4. Picnic Grove
Carry on from the ‘Our Lady of Manaoag’ to the Picnic Grove nearby. The grove is a picturesque and idyllic space for families and couples to come for a picnic (duh), to fly a kite, or get some exercise. From the top of the sprawling grassy hill, it looks like if you were to roll down you’d fly off into the water and land amongst the islands in the distance. The views are incomprehensibly beautiful.
There are tons of activities here such as horseback riding, ziplining, swimming, shopping, and cable car riding. You could easily spend the entire day here. There are also restaurants and resto-shops to keep you sustained.
5. Cafe Veranda Cultural Show
Dinner and a show… what more could you want?
Swing by or stay at the Ta’al Vista hotel where you’ll be treated to a 4 course Filipino meal along with a show of talented Filipinas dancing in traditional clothing. The service is fantastic with hardly any wait to be seated and staff that are very attentive to your table.
There is one show at lunch and one at dinner- they perform the same 3 sets so no one is better than the other. If you call ahead, you can reserve a table closest to the performing area.
6. Sky Ranch
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned amusement park? Visit Sky Ranch and feel like a kid again! They have plenty of (well-maintained) rides for you to get your adrenaline pumping.
The Sky Eye Ferris Wheel takes you on a sightseeing tour 63 meters above the ground; the Sky Cruiser is a pedal bike high off the ground where riders pedal on an aerial track to get views of Ta’al Lake and Volcano; the zipline catapults you down a 300-meter long line high above the ground; and that’s just the beginning.
There are tons of rides for kids like little pedal boats in pools and a grand carousel that will make their eyes light up with excitement.
7. Museo Orlina
This music center, amphitheater, art gallery, and art exhibition center is worth a visit when you’re in Tagaytay City.
Throughout the year, Museo Orlina hosts a multitude of festivals with different themes. Sometimes you’ll find a music festival with a packed lineup of popular local artists and other times you’ll find stalls full of street art for sale.
Check out their website to discover which exhibitions are on display for your visit.
8. Puzzle Mansion Bed & Breakfast
If you’ve got the kids with you, the Puzzle Mansion Bed and Breakfast is a great place to stay and/or visit.
In 2012, Puzzle Mansion won an award for the largest collection of jigsaw puzzles in the world. It goes without saying that the extensive collection of configured puzzles is impressive. You’ll see familiar characters such as Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, next to 3D puzzles of scary dinosaurs, puzzles that are true pieces of art.
There is also a big blue pool in the back for guests to use.
9. Peoples Park In The Sky
Spend a day on a hill in the sky at this beautiful Tagaytay City park overlooking the whole city. This highest point in the city, People’s Park in the Sky gives you beautiful views of Ta’al Volcano and the Lake Ta’al.
This quaint hilltop space is adorned with wooden footbridges, gazeboes with a view, bench after bench in a roman-style amphitheater, and a strange life-size pineapple.
The best part, perhaps, is that the high altitude makes for some chilly weather to give you a break from the standard Filipino heat wave.
10. The Bathhouse at Qiwellness Living
Trust us, it doesn’t get any more zen than this. Picture soaking in an outdoor hot tub while looing out over the Ta’al volcano and Lake with total peace and tranquility. This center is a place where you can go to reconnect with your soul, take the stress out of your muscles, and press your inner restart button!
Have a glass of wine while sitting under the beautifully lit red pagoda or feel the breeze out on the open-air patio while you dine on world-class dishes.
The Bathhouse at Qiwellness Living is romantic, it’s relaxing, and it’s absolutely one of a kind.
11. Sonya’s Secret Garden
Restaurant, Bed & Breakfast, Spa, Wedding venue…. Sonya’s Secret Garden does it all and does it well. The setting is magical. Tucked in a tropical garden with flowers all around and teak wood furniture that seamlessly ties it all together, this is the best place in Tagaytay City to come for lunch.
You’ve got to try the ‘Bread & Dips’, which features homemade sesame seed bread from Sonya’s oven with a collection of tapenades such as bruschetta, basil pesto, and fresh green peppercorn in olive oil. In addition, there are fresh pastas, salads, and tenderly cooked proteins. With your meal, you can order bottomless freshly squeezed Dalandan juice and tarragon tea. It’s heaven.
12. Esquieres Travel Day Tours
No matter what adventure you’re seeking be it a day tour in Manilla, a waterfall excursion in the jungle, or an island hopping tour off the coast, Esquieres Travel Day Tours in Tagaytay City can help you out.
These tours are perfect for the solo traveler or groups that just have a couple days to spare before moving on to another destination. This tour group will arrange everything for you including transportation, pick-up, guides, and meals. There is nothing for you to worry about besides having fun and seeing the sites.
Tours range from local day tours to multi-city weeklong tours.
13. Nurture Wellness Village
If you’re looking for accommodation that is more than just a comfy bed and place to hang your coat, check out Nature Wellness Village. They surround everything they do with the idea that a healthier life is a better life.
You taste this motto in their restaurant where vegetarian eating and non-vegetarian eating are taken to a gourmet level. You feel it in their spa, which offers various forms of traditional Filipino massage using stones, leaves and oils. You sense it in your body at their Detox (and weight-loss, if that’s what you’re into) program where you will undergo a few days of structured healthy meal plans, acupuncture, steam bath, and more.
The grounds are beautiful, the staff is professional, and the experience is perfect.
14. Ayala Malls Serin
Unlike most malls that tend to be overwhelming, overcrowded, and dark, Ayala Malls Serin is a breath of fresh air. With its outdoor open-air layout complete with a central garden, you don’t feel like you’re wasting your day indoors.
There are 3 levels where you can stock up on travel necessities, try on some new outfits, and of course, eat to your heart’s content. You’ll find Japanese food, Chinese food, Filipino food, and ice cream.
The location of this Tagaytay mall is great, too, as it’s nearby many AirBnbs and hotels. Pop in for a look
15. Twin Lakes Shopping Village
Keeping up with the scenic theme of Tagaytay, Twin Lakes Shopping Village isn’t what you’d expect in a shopping destination. This little marketplace sits on a ridge overlooking one of the most stunning valleys that you have ever seen.
Famous for having the most beautifully situated Starbucks in the Philippines, there is more to be discovered here than just coffee. There are multiple restaurants, and cozy shops, which will keep you entertained for a couple hours, at least. As the sun sets and day fades into night, this is an ultra-peaceful place to sit under the moon with very little light pollution and watch for shooting stars.