Paoay Church - a must-see spot in your Ilocos itinerary
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

2 Days Ilocos Itinerary: BEST Attractions and Activities

Share this:

Planning on going on a road trip soon? One of the best road trips from the metro are the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. These destinations offer everything from centuries-old architecture and thrilling landscapes to bold flavors for the foodies.

Not to mention that they’re a great option for family trips, with activities that cater from the young to seniors.

We’ve recently been on a 2 day Ilocos tour c/o Department of Tourism – Region 1 and Cebu Pacific. In this guide we’ll be sharing our 2 days Ilocos itinerary, which includes the best tourist spots and activities you can do on a weekend!

How to get here

The easiest way to get to Ilocos is thru Laoag International Airport. Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Laoag City.

Alternatively, you can also ride a bus to several destinations in Ilocos, including Laoag, Pagudpud, Vigan City, etc.

2 Days Ilocos Itinerary

We know there are already tons of Ilocos itinerary out there, so consider this a new option when you’re planning your Ilocos tour.

Day 1

From Manila, we took an early-morning flight to Laoag International Airport via Cebu Pacific.

Paoay Sand Dunes

We started early the day at Suba Sand Dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte. We rode on a 4×4 ride and explored the sprawling sand dunes, screaming while our driver expertly navigated through curves, sharp turns, and drops. The drops literally felt as though we were freefalling, I kid you not.

Afterwards, we tried sandboarding. This is an optional activity where you can sled down sandy slopes while having an “I’m the king of the world!” moment.

Malacañang of the North

Next up is the Malacañang of the North, overlooking the Paoay Lake. The 2-storey mansion served as the official residence of the family of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos whenever they were visiting the north. Nowadays, it is open as a museum for those interested in history.

Malacanang of the North
Malacanang of the North.
Malacanang of the North

The architecture of the mansion and the hanging portraits of the Marcoses show the family’s love of luxury of opulence.

Nagbacalan Loomweavers

Nagbacalan Loomweavers

From there, we headed to Nagbacalan Loomweavers, where a local community continues the traditional art of weaving “abel iloko.” The art of weaving actually pre-dated the Spanish era, with the inabel cloth being used for trade with other countries in Asia, like China.

I’m a huge fan of inabel products. I love the artistry and effort into making each item — whether it’s a towel, a blanket, a bag, or even pieces of clothing. I personally have an inabel hat, a terno, a blanket, and placemats at home. So it was a wonderful experience to see the local weavers themselves.

You can also buy products from the Nagbacalan Loomweavers as souvenir or pasalubong!

Paoay Church

For brunch, we headed to Kusina Valentin where we sampled pinakbet pizza while enjoying the view of Paoay Church. Pizza with pinakbet ingredients — you might be thinking it’s an odd combination! It is, but surprisingly it works. You can also drizzle a bit of bagoong isda in the pizza for the full flavor.

Just thinking about it makes me drool! It’s definitely something to try the next time you’re in Paoay.

Once we’ve cleaned our plates, we went for a walk and explore Paoay Church. Paoay Church is one of the landmark attractions in Ilocos Norte. Also known as St. Augustine Church, the church is a beautiful Spanish-era architecture and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with other baroque churches in the country.

If you love taking pictures, this is one of the best spots in this Ilocos itinerary for IG-worthy snaps.

Vigan City

From Ilocos Norte, we drove to Vigan City about 2 hours away. Vigan City is most famous for Calle Crisologo, a cobblestone street home to a number of Spanish-era ancestral houses, some turned into museums and stores.

It is my second time to explore Calle Crisologo, and thanks to our tour guide Ms. Arlene, I learned something new. Apparently the cobblestones were not there originally but added later on for tourism; the ancestral houses underwent changes, from colorful paints to minimalist white walls.

For late lunch, we stopped at Hidden Garden — a local favorite that serves delicious Ilocano delicacies. After stuffing ourselves with different ulams, we strolled along the gardens filled with different varieties of plants and trees, including a bamboo grove. There was also a “smoking” kawa in one corner that I particularly liked.

The Hidden Garden can be busy, so it’s best to make reservations in advance.

From there, we headed to the Vigan City Museum to learn about the history of Vigan City, its religious roots, and the famous ancestral houses that line its streets. I am particularly awed at the architecture of the old houses, especially how they allow natural airflow in the house — something that modern housing often lacks.

After the museum, we checked in at Hotel Luna. This is a heritage hotel that offers beautiful rooms and suites and an art museum that houses original artwork, notably “La Mandolinera” of Juan Luna. I love this hotel and highly recommend it when you’re staying in Vigan!

Hotel Luna - where to stay in Vigan City
Our room at Hotel Luna.

But wait, wait, wait. Even though the comfortable beds at the hotel were beckoning us to sleep the rest of the day away, we couldn’t stay at Vigan City without doing a little exploration.

So we went on a kalesa ride, ate empanada at Irene’s and sampled some of the bugnay wines produced at Ilocos (to be honest, they were pretty good), and then visited the Dancing Fountain at night.

READ: Things to Do in Vigan on Your First Visit

Day 2

Are you excited for the second day of our Ilocos itinerary? I am, too!

We woke up early morning to take photos at Calle Crisologo. We got outside the hotel at around 6AM. The combination of the early morning light, the empty cobblestone streets, and the shine from the street lamps makes for great pictures! IMO this is the best time to visit Calle Crisologo.

Kat in Calle Crisologo early morning
Early morning at Calle Crisologo.

After breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and then headed to Badoc in Ilocos Norte.

Badoc Church

Our first stop was the Minor Basilia of St. John de Baptist (simply known as Badoc Church). Built during the Spanish Colonial Era, the church is now painted in clean white, in contrast to the old-world feel of its belfry.

Badoc Church in Ilocos Norte
Badoc Church.

The church isn’t just a beautiful spot to stop by, it is also the home of La Virgen Milagrosa de Badoc, a 400-year-old miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary.

Juan and Antonio Luna Museum

From the church, we walked to Juan and Antonio Luna Museum, a small 2-storey heritage house that pays tribute to the brothers who contributed to the Philippine independence.

Juan Luna was a celebrated artist, known for his painting of “Spoliarium,” while General Antonio Luna served as a leader of the Philippine Revolutionary Army during the early Philippine-American War. The latter’s life was portrayed in the highly rated film (and one of my personal favorites), Heneral Luna.

The Parisian Life in Juan and Antonio Luna Museum
“The Parisian Life” displayed at the museum.

The museum is small but it is an interesting stop in our Ilocos itinerary. You can also listen to a free guided tour to know more about the lives of the Luna brothers.

Glory’s Empanada

For an early lunch, we went to the Batac Riverside Empanadaan to visit Glory’s Empanada, owned by Lola Gloria Cocson, the oldest empanada maker in Ilocos Norte.

Lola Gloria of batac empanada
Lola Glory.

Fun fact: Vigan empanada is different from Batac empanada. The first only contains egg yolk, since the whites are also used for making okoy, while Batac empanada contains the whole egg and also has a more orange coloring due to annatto seeds.

Lola Gloria said the best way to eat empanada is by hand, with iloko suka. I actually prefer it with ketchup than suka, but sshh.

Lunch at La Preciosa

For proper lunch, we headed to La Preciosa in Laoag City. It’s a local restaurant that serves authentic Ilokano dishes. Finally tasted poqui poqui! It is actually pretty good and healthy too.

There were also other dishes like adobong manok sa suka, papaitan, crispy dinuguan, pansit lusay, and more.

La Preciosa restaurant offers Ilokano cuisine
Ilokano dishes at La Preciosa.

If you’re interested in a home-grown restaurant serving Ilocano cuisine, La Preciosa restaurant should be on your Ilocos itinerary!

Bacarra Church and Museum

Up next, we headed to the town of Bacarra to see one of their well-known attractions: Bacarra Church. Built in 1593, this church (formally known as St. Andrew the Apostle Church) is one of the oldest churches in the country and is known for its “domeless” bell tower, named for its missing upper layer that was toppled by an earthquake.

Bacarra domeless tower
The Domeless Tower.

The Bacarra Church is beautiful and it gets busy especially during the Visita Iglesia.

Just beside the church is the Bacarra Museum, which houses important artifacts and displays that tell the history of the town. It was interesting to see items from my childhood, like the improvised tambourine we used to make with flattened tansan caps. Outside the museum is a flooded underground tunnel, which is connected to the church.

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Later in the afternoon, we went to the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, perched atop Vigia de Nagpartian Hill in Burgos. Built in the late 19th century, the lighthouse is now open to tourists for visitation.

The view of the surrounding coastline from the lighthouse was amazing. We also looked around the small museum and took lots of fun photos. Afterwards, we enjoyed a merienda of dragonfruit bread, shanghai, and ice cream.

Burgos Wind Farm

Finally, we visited the Burgos Wind Farm. This is one of my favorite places in our 2 days Ilocos tour. The wind farm consists of 50 wind turbines built along the coastline. We came here just in time for sunset, and each side of the hill where we were parked offers amazing views!

Burgos Wind Farm - sunset

No words. Just go here, okay?

Check in at Java Hotel

After our stop at the wind farm, we checked in at Java Hotel in Laoag City. This hotel features beautiful Filipino architecture with a lot of wooden accents. It has beautiful rooms, an alfresco restaurant serving Ilocano cuisine, and a pool.

We had buffet-style dinner, with delicious local cuisine and live music to serenade us.

It’s a shame we only had a night to stay here!

The day after, we left for the Laoag International Airport to get home to Manila.

This was an amazing 2 day tour in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. I’d already been in a multi-day Ilocos tour with my family a few years back, and I was happy to visit here and discover new locations. How did I not know of Burgos Wind Farm before? I liked most of the places we’d visited, and the hotel options were top-notch.

I’d recommend these sights and activities the next time you’re planning a road trip to Ilocos provinces.

Where to stay

There are plenty of accommodation options in these provinces. Here are our suggestions:

Vigan City:

Laoag City:

Travel Tips

Here are important reminders and tips when visiting Ilocos:

  • Book a tour. It is best to book a packaged tour when exploring Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, due to the distance between its attractions. Our tour was organized by A&A Express Travel & Tours.
  • Pack accordingly. The weather in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur can be hot and humid, especially during the summer months. Pack lightweight and breathable clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
  • When to visit. The best time to visit Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur is during the dry months, from November to April.

Disclaimer: This tour was organized by Department of Tourism – Region 1 and Cebu Pacific. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.

What to read next:

Visiting the Ilocos Region? Read the rest of our articles!

See our hotel reviews:

Get discounts on your travels!

Klook logo

Enjoy discounts with KLOOK using our promo code: TARALETSANYWHERE

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.