Best Things to Do in Manila in a Day

Do you have only a day to spend in Manila? If you have 24 hours in Manila or less, I have put together the perfect one day in Manila itinerary to make the most of your short visit.

Getting to and Around Manila

Most travelers visiting the Philippines fly into Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL). For visitors spending the night, it is best to book a private transfer from Manila airport to hotel to drop off your luggage and maximize your sightseeing time.

There are many options for getting around the city including the Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), buses, taxis, ride-hailing apps like Grab, a motorcycle booking app (Angkas) and motorized tricycles.

Jeepneys (or jeeps) are unique to the Philippines and are the most popular means of public transportation in the country.

One Day in Manila Itinerary

These are the best things to do in Manila in a day. There are enough things to see for a long day in Manila, so feel free to skip a few attractions if you enjoy exploring at a more relaxed pace.

Explore Intramuros

Intramuros in Manila

Spend at least a couple of hours walking the cobblestone streets of Intramuros and exploring the heart of Old Manila. Intramuros (meaning “inside the walls”) is a small historic walled area within the city. It is the capital’s oldest district and is home to beautiful historic churches and monuments including Fort Santiago, Museo de Intramuros, the Palacio del Gobernador, Casa Manila, the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church.

Don’t miss these highlights of Intramuros:

Fort Santiago

Explore the large complex of Fort Santiago, a historic fort and former military prison built in 1571. One of the highlights is the Rizal Shrine museum dedicated to José Rizal (considered the national hero of the Philippines) who was imprisoned in Fort Santiago before his execution.

Manila Cathedral
1 day in Manila Cathedral

The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (also known as the Manila Cathedral) is the first cathedral in the country and is an active place of worship.

While the Manila Cathedral is beautiful on the outside, it is worth heading inside to see the side chapels, statues, carvings and its many stained glass windows.

San Agustin Church 

San Agustin Church is the oldest stone church in the country and one of the Philippines’ four Baroque Churches designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. If time allows, head inside the church and the adjoining San Agustin Museum to see religious antiquities and statues.

Take a Break at Rizal Park

Luneta Park is one of the best things to do in Manila in a day

Located next to Intramuros, historic Rizal Park (also known as Luneta Park or Luneta) is a large urban park with lawns, gardens, ponds and more. It is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city, but you can also check out the various museums and monuments.

Located within the same complex in Rizal Park, the National Museum houses a large collection representing the country’s most historic works of art, culture and national heritage.

Stroll on Roxas Boulevard

Manila Bay sunset

From Rizal Park, take a stroll on Roxas Boulevard, which runs along the shores of Manila Bay, towards the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The walk includes the two-kilometre Manila Baywalk, the waterfront promenade and beachfront, a popular early evening stop known for its sunset views. Stop for dinner and drinks at one of the nearby open-air bars and restaurants serving local cuisine.

These are my top choices for the top things to do in Manila if you only have one day.

Looking for more Philippines travel inspiration? Read my other Philippines travel guides:


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