Bangui Wind Farm - one of the must-see attractions in Ilocos Norte
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

15 BEST Ilocos Norte Tourist Spots and Things to Do

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Thinking of where to go for your next family road trip? Ilocos Norte is the place to be! This captivating province features heritage architecture, scenic natural landscapes, and fun activities that make for great family bonding including swimming in the beach, sandboarding, and more.

In this guide, we’ll list the best Ilocos Norte tourist spots and activities that you should include in your itinerary.

1. Paoay Church

Paoay Church - a must-see spot in your Ilocos itinerary
The famous Paoay Church.

Paoay Church is one of the landmark attractions in Ilocos Norte — and it is one that you shouldn’t miss!

Officially known as the Saint Augustine Church, the church is known for its beautiful Spanish-era architecture. It was constructed between 1694 and 1710 by Augustinian friars and is renowned for its blend of Baroque, Gothic, and Oriental styles. Its most striking feature is its massive buttresses, made of stones, which were ingeniously incorporated into the structure to withstand earthquakes.

In 1993, Paoay Church was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once here, don’t forget to take photos of the PAOAY signage in front of the church. Marvel at the beauty of the church and stroll around the surrounding restaurants, food stalls, and souvenir shops. We particularly recommend dropping by Kusina Valentin for a bite of pinakbet pizza while enjoying the view of the Paoay Church.

Location: Paoay

2. Bangui Wind Mills

Bangui Wind Farm - one of the must-see attractions in Ilocos Norte

The Bangui Wind Mills is a set of 20 colossal wind turbines standing along the coastline of Bangui Bay. A project aimed at generating hydro-electric power for electricity, it has since become one of the most popular Ilocos Norte tourist spots.

Each wind turbine at Bangui stands at an impressive height of around 70 meters (230 feet), with massive blades spanning over 41 meters (135 feet) in diameter. Together, they form a captivating sight against the backdrop of the sea and clear skies.

When visiting here, don’t forget to check out the souvenir shop for miniature windmills that you can take home and check out other nearby activities, such as ATV rides.

Location: Bangui

3. Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Kapurpurawan Rock Formations

The Kapurpurawan Rock Formation is one of the most popular tourist spots in Ilocos Norte. This geological wonder was carved by relentless forces of wind and sea along the coast of Burgos. Its name, “kapurpurawan” came from the Ilocano word “puraw” (or white), referring to the unique white limestone rocks found in the area.

To get here, you need to walk for about 3 kilometers from the main road or go on a horseback ride. Once you reach the rock formations, take a moment to enjoy the view of the limestone along the ocean and feel the fresh breeze. It’s a spot that’s as atypical as it is arresting.

Pro Tip: Visit here during early morning or late afternoon to avoid harsh sun glares.

Location: Burgos

4. Paoay Sand Dunes

Paoay Sand Dunes art installation
One of the art installations.

One of the best things to do in Ilocos Norte is doing the 4×4 jeepney ride at the Paoay Sand Dunes! This vast expanse of sand, continuously shaped by relentless forces of wind, offers a natural playground for adrenaline junkies and nature enthusiasts.

Start your adventure with the 4×4 ride across undulating terrain, navigating steep slopes and dips under the guidance of experienced drivers. Make a stopover along the beach for fun photographs. If seeking an extra dose of adrenaline, try sandboarding down the dunes, which you can do either standing up or sitting down.

You can also take photos of art installations at the sand dunes, like the Stacked Stones, Mirror Installation, and Temptation Island sculptures.

Location: Paoay

5. Malacañang of the North

Malacanang of the North
Malacanang of the North.

Also located in the town of Paoay, the Malacañang of the North is a stately mansion that once served as the official residence of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his family. The state is now open as a museum, offering a glimpse into their opulent lifestyle.

Constructed in the 1970s, the mansion is characterized by its spacious layout, imposing façade, and meticulous attention to detail (check out the grand staircase, built according to a superstition in luck).

You can explore the various rooms at the mansion, including the lavish furnishings, portraits, and photographs. Don’t forget to check out the balcony and second-floor windows for a beautiful view of Paoay Lake across.

Location: Paoay

6. Patapat Viaduct

Patapat Viaduct

The Patapat Viaduct is one of the classic must-sees especially if it’s your first time in Ilocos Norte.

Constructed to bypass a treacherous section of the North Luzon Expressway, the Patapat Viaduct serves as a vital link between the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley. However, beyond its practical function as a transportation artery, the viaduct has become a popular tourist attraction in its own right.

The viaduct spans approximately 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) and is supported by elegant arches, similar to those seen in Europe. Perfected on the edge of the coastal cliffs, it offers panoramic views of the ocean, with waves crashing against the rocky shores.

It’s common for tourists to take pictures on the side — and even middle — of the road. If you’re planning to do this, just be safe and watch out for incoming vehicles on either side!

Location: Pagudpud

7. Sinking Bell Tower

The Sinking Bell Tower is a historical landmark in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. It was built during the Spanish Colonial Era and has earned its nickname due to rumors that the tower is sinking an inch per year. According to local stories, in the past, it was possible for a person mounted on a horse to pass through the gates, but today you’d have to crawl through to get inside.

But is it really sinking? Sadly, getting inside the tower is currently prohibited so it is not possible to try it for yourself. According to our guide in our Ilocos tour, the bell tower is not actually sinking — rather, roads were built higher.

Another interesting fact about this bell tower is that it is located several meters away from the St. William Cathedral which it was built for.

Regardless of what you believe about the Sinking Bell Tower, it is still one of the must-see Ilocos Norte tourist spots.

Location: Laoag City

8. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

There is something charming about lighthouses. Perhaps it’s their unique architecture or the fact that they are perched on high locations with the most amazing views!

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse is a Spanish Colonial-era lighthouse built atop a hill, overlooking the scenic coastline of Burgos, Ilocos Norte. It makes for a quick stopover during your Ilocos Norte itinerary and one that will leave you with great photos (and memories).

You can explore the base of the lighthouse, look at the items in the small museum, and of course appreciate the gorgeous view of the ocean from above. Don’t be shy in getting creative when it comes to picture taking; ask the guides at the lighthouse to show you the best spots!

To get here, you need to ride a tricycle to the parking area near the lighthouse. There are also souvenir shops and food stalls you can stop by along the way.

Location: Burgos

9. Burgos Wind Farm

Burgos Wind Farm in Ilocos
Rugged coastline views.

One of the two wind farms in the Ilocos Region, the Burgos Wind Farm is a 600-hectare project featuring 50 colossal wind turbines built along the rugged coastline in Burgos. The wind farm is so large that it covers three barangays and powers over 2 million households.

Similar to the Bangui Wind Farm, this place is also open to tourists who wish to see the windmills up close and take pictures of the structures against the backdrop of the ocean. Make sure to wear your best OOTD because this is one of the most scenic tourist spots in Ilocos Norte!

Pro Tip: Go here in the late afternoon to catch the amazing sunset views!

Location: Burgos

10. Blue Lagoon

Next up on our list of Ilocos Norte tourist spots that you should see is Blue Lagoon (locally known as Maira-ira Beach), a white-sand beach aptly named for its vibrant blue hues.

The clear waters of Blue Lagoon are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and watersports such as banana boat, paddleboarding, and more. During the rainy season, Blue Lagoon — along with other spots in Pagudpud — becomes a surfing spot for beginner and pro surfers, with waves from 2 to 10 feet high.

While it is possible to visit Blue Lagoon on a day trip, it’s ideal to stay here overnight to make the most of your stay. There are plenty of resorts and homestays that you can book, depending on your preferences and budget.

From the Blue Lagoo, you can also visit nearby tourist spots including Bantay Abot Cave and Kabigan Falls.

Location: Pagudpud

11. Saud Beach

Nestled along the coastline of Pagudpud is Saud Beach, a picturesque paradise renowned for its white sands, crystal-clear waters, and tranquil ambiance. Many attest that Saud Beach is one of the most underrated beaches in the Philippines; in fact, in 2023, Travel & Leisure listed it in their picks of Most Beautiful Beaches in the World.

Saud Beach is a great place for swimming for families, along with other watersports activities. There are also plenty of beachside resorts and cottages that you can rent overnight or in a day, as well as restaurants and bars for local and seafood delicacies.

Despite its beauty, Saud Beach remains relatively less crowded compared to Blue Lagoon and other beach destinations in the Ilocos Region.

If you’re looking to explore beyond the beach, Saud Beach is nearby other attractions in Pagudpud, such as Bangui Wind Farm, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, and Blue Lagoon.

Location: Pagudpud

12. Bacarra Church

Bacarra domeless tower
The Domeless Tower.

The Ilocos Region is home to some of the most beautiful Spanish-era churches, and one of those is located at the town of Bacarra.

Bacarra Church (also called St. Andrew the Apostle Church) was built in 1593, featuring Baroque architecture with a prominent red brick exterior. Beside is it the Domeless Bell Tower, which was damaged by several earthquakes in the past until one finally toppled off its roofing.

The Bacarra Church is a beautiful spot to visit especially for those who love architecture. There is also a museum beside it that houses various artifacts about the town’s history.

Location: Bacarra

13. Kabigan Falls

Kabigan Falls in Ilocos Norte

Kabigan Falls is an 80-feet waterfall tucked away in the lush forests of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. It is a secluded spot ideal for those who are looking for a short nature trip, with an ice-cold basin perfect for summer days.

Getting here is easy; in fact, it is one of the most accessible waterfalls in the area. You are required to secure a guide and then trek for 20-30 minutes across the jungle, depending on your pace. You can also go on a carabao ride and then trek for the rest of the way.

Make sure to bring snacks, water, and towels with you because there are no commercial structures in the waterfall area.

Pro Tip: Start your trek early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

Location: Pagudpud

14. Badoc Island

If you like going to beaches but hate the crowd, you’ll love the next item in our must-see tourist spots in Ilocos Norte.

Badoc Island is a privately owned island with a gorgeous white-sand beach, located 25 minutes away by boat from La Virgen Milagrosa Cove in Badoc, Ilocos Norte. This secluded spot is ideal for beach bumming, swimming, and of course taking lots of IG-worthy photos! Other activities include snorkeling, freediving, and hiking to see unique rock formations.

Since there are no commercial infrastructure in the island, only day tours are allowed.

As of 2022, the island is listed for sale, with the local government hoping for it to be developed into a luxury resort. As of this writing, it is still part of the tourist spots of the Ilocos Norte tourism.

Location: Badoc

15. Paoay Lake Water Park

Paoay Lake Water Park - one of the newest Ilocos Norte tourist spots
(Photo by Inflatable Island PH)

There is more to Ilocos Norte than its heritage structures, beaches, and windmills.

Opened to the public in 2022, Paoay Lake Water Park is one of the newest attractions in Ilocos Norte, featuring a hotel, a nice lakefront, and a sprawling water park with over 30 obstacle courses. Aside from the obstacle courses, there are also other activities including kayaking, paddle boarding, and volleyball.

For those who just want to chill, you can relax in one of the chic bean bags at the beachside while enjoying a summer drink of your choice.

You can visit here on a day pass or you can stay at the hotel overnight.

Location: Paoay

How to get to Ilocos Norte

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 from Manila to several destinations in Ilocos, including Laoag, Pagudpud, Vigan City, etc.

Click here to book a bus from Manila to Laoag City or Manila to Pagudpud.

3 Days Ilocos Itinerary

Here is a sample Ilocos itinerary for 3 days, covering the best destinations in both Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur: Pagudpud, Laoag City, and and Vigan City.

Day 010PM ETD from Mmanila
Day 1 – PagudpudCape Bojeador Lighthouse
Kapurpurawan Rock Formation
Bangui Wind Farm
Patapat Viaduct
Bantay Abot Cave
Kabigan Falls

Check in at resort in Pagudpud
Day 2 – Laoag CityMalacañang of the North
Paoay Church
Paoay Sand Dunes
Juan Luna Shrine

Head to Vigan City, check in at hotel
Day 3 – Vigan CityBantay Church
Crisologo Museum
Calle Crisologo

2PM or later: Departure to Manila
10PM Estimated arrival in Manila

This is a standard itinerary offered by travel agencies in the Ilocos Region.

*I personally do not recommend any destination that engages in picture taking with captive tigers. I believe there are alternative animal sanctuaries that promote conservation.

Where to stay in Ilocos Norte

There are plenty of resorts and hotels in Ilocos Norte. Here are our top picks on where to stay:


  • Paoay Lake JLP Resort. A hotel resort that overlooks Paoay Lake.

Laoag City:

  • Java Hotel. Beautiful Filipino-style hotel with pool and alfresco restaurant.
  • Amici Resort Hotel. Filipino-style hotel with private casitas and lush gardens.


Travel Tips

  • It can be especially hot in Ilocos Norte especially during summer. Always bring your summer essentials, including a hat, sunscreen, and reusable travel bottle.
  • Always bring cash, since many tourist attractions are far from ATMs.

Can you think of other places we should include in this list of Ilocos Norte tourist spots? Let us know in the comment section below!

What to read next:

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