Whether you are traveling to Yogyakarta for the first time and wondering what to do in Yogyakarta, this article is for you. Yogyakarta, also known as Jogja, is a special region in Java Island in which you can really feel the ‘touches’ of Java. Like Bali, people come to Yogyakarta for their unique cultures. But, Yogyakarta takes that uniqueness to a whole different level.
If you’re planning your trip and wondering what the best things to do and see in Yogyakarta are, wonder no more! Read up this article to get some ideas. Here are 10 recommendations on what to do in Yogyakarta to get the utmost experiences in this area:
For some more ideas of things to see and do in Yogyakarta, check out Extreme Things to Do in Yogyakarta page. For specific interests, see Best Things to Do in Yogyakarta for Family page.
Go Back in Time at Yogyakarta Palace and Taman Sari Water Castle
Yogyakarta is where you can learn and get to know Javanese culture, tradition, and history. At Yogyakarta Palace tourists can learn and see directly how the Javanese culture continues to live and be preserved. The palace, known as Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, is the residence of the royal family in Yogyakarta. The complex displays noteworthy architectural design created by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I, the founder of Yogyakarta Sultanate.
Besides admiring the unique architecture and interiors of the buildings, you can also explore the museum and see more of the royal artifacts. At specific time and day, you might see traditional performing arts live in the palace from gamelan music concerts, Javanese puppet show, and traditional dance performance.
Roughly 1 km away from the palace, you can reach Taman Sari Water Castle. In the past, this complex had many functions other than just a bathhouse. Now, the explorable areas only includes the bathing area and the hiding place for defense, among others. There are many interesting historical facts to learn about Taman Sari Water Castle. So, make sure you hire a guide who will explain to you as you tour around this complex.
Yogyakarta Palace: Rotowijayan St. Block No. 1, Panembahan, Kraton Sub District, Yogyakarta City, Yogyakarta Special Region
Taman Sari: Taman Sari Tourism Area, Tamanan Street, Patehan, Kraton Sub District, Yogyakarta City, Yogyakarta Special Region 55133
Tips: Go on weekdays as these touristy spots will most likely be packed with tourists on weekends and public holidays.
Enjoy the Nightlife and Shop in Malioboro Street
Talking about shopping in Yogyakarta, you’ll most likely to hear about the phenomenal Malioboro Street. For locals and foreigners alike, Malioboro area is still the most visited place in Yogyakarta. Here you’ll find a line of stores and stalls selling batik, handicrafts, accessories, jewelries, and many others.
Explore this street at night to catch the glimse of the nightlife in Yogyakarta. Plenty of food vendors available in the night from 10 pm – 4 am. Local street food called “angkringan” is a must try in Yogyakarta, which is also well known for it’s “nasi kucing” menu that’s small for its amount and the price is super affordable. Also, try the favorite hot drinks ”Kopi Joss”, a coffee offered with hot charcoal plunged in it. While dining outside, you might get the chance to enjoy the street life performance. A group of some street musicians playing angklung and other musical instruments usually chooses Malioboro Street as their stage.
Besides Malioboro Street, you can go to the nearby Beringharjo Market, the oldest market in Yogyakarta. From Malioboro Street, this traditional market is reachable within 10-minute walk. Here, you can shop for souvenirs, batik cloths, traditional food and snacks, jamu (Javanese traditional herbal drink), and many others.
Beringharjo Market: Margo Mulyo St., No.16, Ngupasan, Gondomanan Sub District, Yogyakarta City, Yogyakarta Special Region 55122
Local Culinary Tour
In Yogyakarta, you can enjoy delicious and cheap meals all day. Just like many cities in Asia, there are so many good food and interesting foods to try. Also, there are several Yogyakarta food tours that will take you on a culinary journey. If you’re new to Yogyakarta, you must try gudeg, pecel madiun, ice dawet, and try some angkringan. House of Raminten is one of recommended restaurants in Yogyakarta. This local restaurant serves various local cuisine for anyone who wants to Try Indonesian food.
House of Raminten : Jl. Faridan M Noto No.7, Kotabaru, Kec. Gondokusuman, Yogyakarta, 55224
Do Temple-Hopping Tour
Yogyakarta region is known not only for their palace, but also the Buddhist and Hindu temples scattered in nearby areas. A trip to Yogyakarta won’t be perfect without visiting these prominent temples. In Magelang Regency, Central Java, the hugest Buddhist temple in the world is standing so majestically. Borobudur Temple is within 1 hour and 10-minute drive from Yogyakarta. If you wonder about the things to do in Borobudur, make sure to have ‘Borobudur Sunrise’ in mind. With this kind of tour, you’ll be able to absorb the energy of the rising sun from the temple. The breath-taking view of the sunrise sneaking out from the surrounding forest is surely worth your effort.
If sunrise is for Borobudur, sunset is the best time to visit Prambanan Temple and Ratu Boko Temple. Prambanan Temple is a prominent Hindu temple located in Sleman Regency, around 41-minute drive from the city of Yogyakarta. There’s a well-known legend about the construction process of Prambanan Temple. Have you heard? This has something to do with nearby Ratu Boko Temple, which also has majestic sunset vista. Make sure you’re well-informed about this legend after the tour!
Borobudur Temple: Badrawati St., Borobudur Temple Tourism Complex, Borobudur Sub District, Magelang Regency, Central Java
Prambanan Temple: Solo – Yogyakarta Highway No.16, Kranggan, Bokoharjo, Prambanan Sub District, Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta Special Region 55571
Ratu Boko Temple: Piyungan – Prambanan Highway No. KM.2, Gatak, Bokoharjo, Prambanan Sub District, Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta Special Region
Enjoy Ramayana Ballet Show
Haven’t got enough of the great Prambanan Temple? Other than touring this complex and enjoy the mesmerizing sunset vista, watching Ramayana Ballet Show is another recommended thing to do in Prambanan. Sendratari Ramayana or Ramayana Ballet is a combination of drama and dance performance.
This show performs Ramayana classic story on an open stage, with the complex of Prambanan Temple as its backdrop. This is applicable only during May to October. While during November to April period, the show will be in indoor stage of Trimurti Building. Due to its popularity, advance booking is advisable if you’re interested in enjoying the show.
The Show: Performed every Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, from 7:30 – 9:30 PM (GMT +7)
Learn Arts and Crafts on Workshops and Craft Centers
There are some craft centers in Yogyakarta. Among the most popular ones are ceramic pottery workshop and batik workshop. If you are interested in the makings, visiting their workshops and craft centers can be a fun tour for you. Head to Tirtodipuran Street if you are curious about batik fabric art. Take a short workshop to create your own traditional hand waxed batik at Batik Winotosastro. Or, visit the tradıtıonal pottery center in Kasongan Village.
Batik Winotosastro: Tirtodipuran St No.54, Mantrijeron, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta 55143
Join Jeep Tour on Mount Merapi (Or Climb It!)
When it comes to the talks about hiking Yogyakarta, Mount Merapi almost always gets special mention. Mount Merapi is an active strato-volcano standing 2968 meters above sea level in the border of Yogyakarta and Central Java. Besides climbing to its peak, you can join jeep tour to explore the lower area of this volcano. This tour usually will take you to the Sisa Hartaku Mini Museum and the house of late ‘caretaker’ of the volcano, Mbah Marijan, who passed away during the 2010 eruption. Besides, you’ll get to check out the Pasir Panas area, find the unique Batu Wajah, and explore the wet trek of Kalikuning.
Visit Ullen Sentalu Museum
Calling for art-lovers and culture addicts touring to Jogja! If you are keen on these two fields, pay a visit Ullen Sentalu Museum. You’ll get excited to observe all their unique collections. This museum starts as a private museum by Haryono family. Ullen Sentalu Museum exhibits arts and cultural artifacts, mostly paintings. Besides the collection, you can admire the architecture of the buildings and enjoy your leisure time in the gardens. Don’t forget to take bunches of pictures for mementos!
Address: Jl. Boyong No.KM 25, Kaliurang Barat, Hargobinangun, Sleman, Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 55582
Entrance Tickets for Foreign Tourists: IDR 100,000 (Adult), IDR 60,000 (Children between 5-12 years old)
Open Tuesday to Sunday | 8:30 AM – 4 PM (Tuesdays to Fridays) & 8:30 AM – 5 PM (Saturdays and Sundays)
Note: You can have a guided tour in English every 30 minutes, starting from 8:45 AM.
Explore Jomblang Cave
For those adventurers who enjoy the time close to the nature, Yogyakarta also have something. This special region has many tranquil places which are kept natural. In Jogja, caving is a thing. The most famous cave in this area is Jomblang Cave, an outstanding combo of vertical cave and ancient forest. The prominent feature of this cave is the heavenly light bursting into the cave from above, as if it comes directly from the celestial city. To preserve the area, Jomblang Cave limits its visitors each day and no reservation can be made in advance. So, coming earlier to the basecamp is advisable.
Location: Jetis Wetan, Pacarejo, Semanu, Gunung Kidul Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta 55893
Breathe the Fresh Air in the Pine Forest Pinus Pengger
If you can’t manage to explore Jomblang Cave, don’t worry. Yogyakarta still has plenty of touristy spots where you can breathe fresh air. Pinus Pengger Pine Forest is one Instagrammable place in Jogja which is part of Dlingo, Bantul. If you want to take stunning photos for your Instagram feeds, you’ll find many worthy photo spots in this area. So, bring your fully-charged camera and hire a scooter or rent a car to reach this area from Yogyakarta City. The fact that this is a pine forest makes Pinus Pengger a tranquil place to refresh your mind and calm yourself.
Location: Dlingo-Patuk St., Pantirejo, Terong, Dlingo, Bantul, Yogyakarta Special Region 55783
Pump Your Adrenaline at Timang Beach
South Korean variety show Running Man ever featured Timang Beach as one of the ‘dangerous’ places for their challenges. If you go, make sure to try going by the well-known man-powered gondola and thrill yourself like Lee Kwangsoo did. Be ready to get wet! The seawater will surely splash up and drench your whole body, especially if you go during high tide. To go to Timang Beach from the parking area, going by Jeep is more convenient. Besides the extreme gondola riding, Timang Beach is also known for lobster fishing spots. So, while you are there, make sure you have a taste of their freshly harvested lobsters.