Yogyakarta is one of the must-visit place in Java, Indonesia. It is also known as Jogjakarta or Jogja or Yogya (you decide!) by travelers and locals alike. From all the places you must visit in Java, this is the one place you cannot miss.
If you have 3 days to spend in Yogyakarta, your itinerary would definitely include an in-depth tour of this interesting city plus visiting the two famous temples of Borobudur and Prambanan.
Here is our suggested itinerary in Yogyakarta for 3 days.
Day 1 : Yogyakarta city center
It is good to stay near the city center, as it helps for quick access to all the tourist attractions in Yogyakarta. It includes the experience living in a bustling city of Indonesia. If you arrived early in the morning from an overnight train, grab a typical Indonesian breakfast at one of the food mongers spread along Malioboro Street. Also, check out the famous Pasar Beringharjo (market), where you can find souvenirs. Bring out your bargaining skills here!
Without wasting more time, head to the famous Keraton Palace, a well-mainted palace from the days of the Sultans. Here you will find unique architecture and heirlooms of the days of glory. Everyone will be accompanied by a local guide who can speak all kinds of languages, and it is indeed a good experience as it gives you insights into the rich history and culture of Jogja.
Next head on to Taman Sari (Water Castle) which is not far from the palace. Use a back way from the other side of the castle and try to sneak your way in through rundown defense walls and scattered village houses. Once you got in, you will find yourself in mazes of underground water holes, secret chambers and gardens and pools. This castle is a huge complex that used to be a former royal garden of Sultanate of Yogyakarta used for various functions including bathing place.
Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta
After that, it is time to test your luck. Head to Alun-Alun Kidul (South Square park) in Yogyakarta, where an urban legend has it that anyone who successfully crosses between the two huge banyan trees blindfolded will get what they wish for. The amazing thing is apparently many people failed at this attempt despite the huge gap.
One of the popular museums here in Yogyakarta is the Art museum. It features the works of the Indonesia’s legendary painter Affandi, where he spent most of his life here producing many masterpieces while keeping it away from other painters.
Sneak in a lunch at a long standing establishment Gudeg Yu Djum for possibly the best Indonesian dish ever called Gudeg. This unique Indonesian dish is a stew made from young jackfruit (nangka) with palm sugar, coconut milk, meat, garlic, and spices. The special taste came from the slow melding of flavors and textures to the right perfection.
Gudeg Yu Djum, Yogyakarta
After that head to Sonobudoyo Museum,, another museum worth visiting. Do not forget to also watch the special leather puppet show featured here, available every day from 8- 10 pm. It is accompanied by Javanese Gamelan music and language. While waiting for the show, you can take a look at the collection of artefacts and collections of batik, keris, wayang, and antique weapons.
In the evening, return to Alun-alun Kidul park and find the new trend of bling-bling car. They are small cars decorated with bold lightings that will bring you around the city. The price is IDR 15,000 for one loop of the ride. Many locals love to give this attraction a try.
For dinner, head to a traditional food stall, north of Malioboro street in a small alley, called Angkringan Lik Man. Angkringan is a typical roadside stall in Yogyakarta that you can find in almost every corner of the city. Lik Man is the most special as it has an anti-mainstream coffee to warm up your night, which is coffee served with a flaming charcoal. You must also try the Nasi Kucing and other side dishes here, such as chicken intestines satay, chicken gizzard satay, quail eggs and satay.
Now it is time for our day trip to the two anceient temples of Java, Indonesia. Borobudur temple is located 1-hour drive from yogyakarta and it is well worth the trip. Try to get there early to avoid the crowd, and to enjoy the silent beauty of the place with respect. This 9th-century temple is an Indonesia UNESCO Heritage site and one of the largest Buddhist temple in the world, consisting of six square platforms with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha status. Thousands of Buddhists do their pilgrimage here in Borobudur during Waisak day.
After visiting this temple, you can grab a quick lunch in Borobudur city before heading back to Yogyakarta but with a stop at the next temple – Prambanan Temple.
It is a well known ancient Hindu Temple in Indonesia built during the 9th century for Trimurti as an expression that God is the Creator (Brahma), Preserver (Vishnu) and also the Destroyer (Shiva). It is also one of the Indonesia UNESCO World Heritage Site, being one of the largest Hindu temple architecture in Southeast Asia. At the same time, don’t forget to check out Candi Sewu, located just 15 minutes walk from Prambanan temple. This place is a good respite from the crowds of Prambanan, featuring many hidden structures and carvings for self-exploration. If you are here on the right day, there would be a Ramayana Ballet show, with 200 artists playing a role and dancing to classsical Javanese music. This show does not run every day so check online if you want to catch it. The ticket price starts from IDR 125,000 and the show begins at 19.30.
With that is the end of your full 3 days itinerary in Yogyakarta. There is always something more to explore in Yogyakara if you have the time, there are a lot of cafes to check out in the city and there are a number of options for day trips, such as to Mount Merapi, Gunung Kidul, Jamblang Cave or Mangunan Fruit Garden. Check out our Yogyakarta 5 days / 4 nights Itinerary for the expansion.
Yogyakarta has long been my must-visit place in Java, Indonesia. It is also known as Jogjakarta or Jogja or Yogya (you decide!) by travelers and locals alike. From all the places you must visit in Java, this is the one place you cannot miss.
If you have 5 days to spend in Yogyakarta, your itinerary can include a city tour, visiting the two famous temples Borobudur and Prambanan and also some nature trip nearby. Here is my own itinerary in Yogyakarta for 5 days and 4 nights.
Day 1 : Yogyakarta city center tour
It is good to stay near the city center, as it helps for quick access to all the tourist attractions in Yogyakarta. It also offers to experience the hustle and bustle of every day from the morning till night. If you just arrive early in the morning from the overnight train, you can grab a typical breakfast of either Soto, Jenang, Nasi Liwet, or Pecel. All of those food mongers are spread along the Malioboro Street and Pasar Beringharjo (Beringharjo Market). You can easily find some souvenirs at Pasar Beringharjo too. Do not forget to test your bargaining skill here. Also, a tip is to not easily agree with the first price they offer. You can start bargaining with 50% markdown.
If you are already tired from walking, you can choose to take the “becak” (local trishaw) to go around the city. You should also bargain so that it would not be overpriced. They will start with IDR 10,000 to visit some stores like Bakpia and clothes store but be aware that they will be unhappy if you end up not buying anything at the store. This is because they are hoping to get some percentage from the things you buy at certain stores. Therefore, it is better for you to confirm from the beginning whether if you would want to shop for bakpia and clothes. If you are not, then you can bargain for a more reasonable price to go around the area (maybe around IDR 30,000). You just need to tell them where you want to go.
Do not forget to tell the becak driver to take you to visit the popular tourist attractions in Yogyakarta, such as the Royal Palace (Keraton). It has an open pavilion extravagantly decorated with the golden colored ornaments. There are also galleries which keep treasures of the royal family and also showcased of historical batik fabrics.
After that, head to Taman Sari (Water Castle). Only a step away from the palace, this castle used to be a historical bathing complex for the royals. It is built by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I but finished by Sultan Hamengkubuwono II. Since this place is aimed at resting and relaxing, its four areas are consist of an artificial lake, pavilion, and the bathing complex itself.
Bathing pool at Taman Sari, Yogyakarta
Since Javanese is well known with its Batik, you may also want to try a Batik workshop, just stop by in one of the small alleys around Taman Sari. Here, you can learn how to make all kinds of stuff using Batik patterns such as bags, purses, or any other accessories.
Then it is time to test your luck. When the night comes, go to Alun-Alun Kidul (South Square park) in Yogyakarta. An urban legend has said that those who can successfully cross between the two huge banyan trees blindfolded will have their wishes come true. The amazing thing is apparently most people failed at that attempt, even though the gap is substantially big enough between the trees.
Day 2 : Art Museum, Bling-bling Car, Charcoal Coffee
Today you can expand your knowledge of art by visiting museums. Start your day enjoying art paintings at Affandi Museum, which consists of three galleries. This place is located at Jalan Laksda Adisucipto 167. Take a look at the work of Indonesia’s legendary painter, Affandi. This is also the place where he spent most of his life, produced many of his masterpieces and kept them all away from other painters.
Another museum to visit is the Sonobudoyo Museum, located at Jalan Pangurakan Yogyakarta No. 6, Ngupasan, Gondomanan. Do not let your visit here go by without watching the special leather puppet show. The show is available every day from 8 PM – 10 PM. Accompanied by Javanese Gamelan music and Javanese language, this show is the epitome of the art and culture of Yogyakarta. While you are waiting for the show, you can take a look at the collection of artefacts and collections of batik, keris, wayang, and antique weapons.
On this night, go back again to the hip main square from yesterday. Again at Alun-Alun Kidul, you will find a bling-bling car decorated with bold lightings. Although it is such a small car, the lights will bring you to it from afar. The loud music makes the car even livelier. The price is IDR 15,000 for one loop of the ride.
For supper, we head to a traditional food stall. Heading north from the direction of Malioboro Street, you will find a small alley where Angkringan Lik Man is located. Angkringan is a typical roadside stall in Yogyakarta and I bet can find it in almost every corner of the city. But this one is special since Lik Man has an anti-mainstream coffee to warm up your night. This place will introduce you to a coffee served with the flaming charcoal. You must also try Nasi Kucing and other side dishes such as chicken intestines satay, chicken gizzard satay, quail eggs and satay here.
Day 3 – Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple
Borobudur Temple is not actually located in Yogyakarta but in the Magelang Regency, two hours drive away from the main city area. It is designated as a World Heritage by UNESCO. and consists of 72 stupas, each with statues of Buddha. Borobudur is built based on Buddhism, depicting three levels of the universe (Kamadhatu, Ruphadatu, and Arupadhatu).
Another must visit historical temple other than Borobudur is the Prambanan Temple. The most suggested thing to do here is to watch the Javanese culture show, the Ramayana Ballet, preserved since the olden days. The show is available indoor at Trimurti Theater and it is also possible to watch in an open air theatre. Do not forget to check the schedule online because the show is not performed every day. The ticket price starts from IDR 125,000 and the show begins at 19.30. Ramayana Ballet will showcase 200 artists combining their skills to play a role and dance along with the classical Javanese music.
Day 4 – Day Trip from Yogyakarta with Mountain peak, Caves and Beach
Now it’s time to escape the city of Yogyakarta to look for some dose of nature. We will be visiting Gunung Kidul, about 40 km west of the city of Yogyakarta. We will start at Ancient Volcano of Nglanggeran. If you are quite a fit hiker, you may need only 1 to 1.5 hours to reach the peak. While walking uphill, do not forget to enjoy the serene surroundings and the fresh air. The cold breeze here is great as it is located approximately 700 meters above the sea level
Next on our day trip from Yogyakarta is the Goa Jamblang (Jamblang Cave). This vertical cave is typically known as a collapsed doline, formed from a geologist process resulting in a sinkhole about 50 meters square. It is advisable to get a guided tour here to explore the caves. This guided tour will cost you around IDR 600,000-700,000 per person (including all the equipment rental cost). You need at least 2-3 hours to finish this caving adventure. The best time to explore Jamblang Cave is in the morning, finishing before lunch. You will meet a beautiful sunlight trickling onto the stone down at the cave.
After a tiring morning of trekking and caving, it is time for you to just sit and relax, waiting for the sun to set at Indrayanti Beach. Located still in Gunung Kidul Area, this beach offers you a panoramic beauty which is completed by the white sand, majestic hills of coral rocks and sparkling blue sea. If you are a water sports lover, you can try jet ski here, costing IDR 250,000 per 15 minutes.
Day 5 – Mangunan Fruit Garden before leaving
Have a visit to the increasingly famous Mangunan Fruit Garden. It is in the area of Bantul, which is 35 km away from the city center. Here you can learn about various kinds of fruits. All fruits are placed in accordance with the slope of its area such as durian, mango, orange, rose apple, orange, and mangosteen. You will also find a beautiful view here on the viewing dock, surrounded by the pine trees. This is one amazing spot for some selfies! Just stand up at the edge of the dock for the backdrop of greenery hills.
After this visit, head on back to Yogyakarta for your onward journey. Although you may have done quite a bit here for 5 days, there are always still much more things to do in Yogyakarta. There are always reasons to return to visit this area of Java Island of Indonesia.
Best Accommodations in Yogyakarta
Booking.com is a good choice as most of the bookings can be cancelled right up to the trip, allowing flexibility. In Yogyakarta, staying in the city center would help to save time in visiting all the must-visit places, but if you are looking for also some relaxation, just a little off center to north or south are some great choices. Here are a few of the best accommodations that we recommend to stay in Yogyakarta:
Luxury (from 150 USD)
For those who want tranquillity and privacy, this villa lies just 15 minutes south of the city center surrounded by rice fields. It comes not only with a private pool, but also all meals provided and an all-day use of a car and driver! Well worth the splurge here. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Phoenix Hotel – McGallery by Sofitel
Run by the well known Sofitel, this hotel is for those who wants their luxury in the center of Yogyakarta. The hotel’s interior comes with a blend of grand Asian and European decor, with the rooms terraces overlooking a courtyard and pool. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Mid-range (50 – 150 USD)
For those who seek a well known brand and comfort, this hotel is located strategically to visit the tourist attractions. You can expect clean modern rooms with wide range of delicious breakfast. It also comes with a pool. Definitely value for money. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Dusun Jogja Village Inn
For those looking for a nature getaway and some tranquility, this hotel is like an oasis in the middle of the city. Surrounded by tropical gardens of palm trees around a beautiful pool. It is also well located, just south to the main attractions area. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Budget (below 50 USD)
Just nestled next to the Keraton Palace, this small and Javanese designed boutique hotel is for those who knows a good deal. The location is hard to beat! There is also nice terrace and garden for those who hang to rest in between the hustle and bustle. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Rumah Mertua Boutique Hotel
For those looking for a boutique hotel, combining comfort with budget, this hotel comes wih Javanese decorated rooms and a pool surrounded by romantic gardens. It is located 20 minutes drive north from the city center in a tranquil setting. Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Next destinations: Malang – pitstop to Mount Bromo, with beautiful landscape and some more ancient temples Mount Bromo – the most popular volcano crater in Indonesia, particularly for its breathtaking sunrise
Ubud is Bali’s heart and soul, with so many things to do, you can easily spend more than one day here, but our itinerary will help you to maximise the time you have. Geographically it is also located in the center of southern Bali. Ubud can seem to offer too much sometimes, with rice fields to traverse, traditional dances to relish, art museums and galleries to explore, cooking courses and yoga classes to join and traditional markets and villages to discover.
In this 1 day itinerary in Ubud, you will check out the few main attractions in Ubud, then head out for a short excursion to the temple and rice fields and return in time for massage and spa, Kecak Dance performance and live music afterwards.
Ubud Itinerary Map
Morning – Market, Monkey Forest and Museum
Wake up early and check out the public market (pasar umum). This market is a beautiful chaos itself, offering many things in a bargain, from T-shirts and bangles to tea leaves and bananas. Start here before 8 am to catch the mass local produce before they disappear as the souvenir stalls take over.
From the market walk to the opposite to Ubud Palace, also known as Puri Saren Agung, to admire the architecture and the gamelan instruments on display. These instruments are used in the evening’s traditional dance performance. Then head on to the popular Sacred Monkey Forest of Ubud before it gets too hot. This is a lush jungle dotted with temples, transporting tourists away from the urban sprawl of Ubud. Then head south to the magnificent Aung Rai Museum of Art with expansive collections and beautiful gardens. From here head to Jalan Suweta for lunch of the famous roast pig (babi guling) of Ubud at Ibu Oka.
Lady selling flowers at the Market at Ubud, Bali. Photo by David Stanley
Afternoon – Excursion of Paddy Fields and Temple
Then it is time to discover the wonders that surround the Ubud city. Head west and ride (you may want to rent a motorbike or hire a car for the half day) down the beautiful road to Kendaran, with sloping coconut palms flanked by paddy fields and volcanic mountains. On the way, we stop by at Tirta Empul, one of the top 10 temples to visit in Bali, with a complex of pools, temples and gardens. The hot water springs are regarded as holy in Bali and have the magical power to heal, resulting in its invasion by locals and tourists alike. At the end of the road, turn north to Tegallalang, a village handicraft shops.
Return in time to Ubud to catch a traditional dance performance with live music. This is one of the must do in Ubud to sum up your experience. If there is still time, squeeze in some massage and spa at the many choices you can find in Ubud. End the day with a sumptuous dinner at one of the best restaurants in Bandung. After that, if you still have the energy, check out one of the many places that play live music at the center of Ubud.
Stay in Ubud for culture, nature, arts and markets. Ubud has plenty of places that tourists will enjoy staying at. There’s the Como Shambhala Estate *, which is a health retreat deep in the rainforest. There’s the Hanging Gardens Ubud *, which has a spectacular view and private pool villas. The Purist Villas & Spa * is another popular place to stay in Ubud, as it’s a stylish boutique villa complete with meal and spa facilities. A popular boutique hotel is Uma by COMO *, which is located on the hillside in Ubud.
Ubud is Bali’s heart and soul, with so many things to do, you can easily spend 3 days here. Geographically it is also located in the center of southern Bali. Ubud can seem to offer too much sometimes, with rice fields to traverse, traditional dances to relish, art museums and galleries to explore, cooking courses and yoga classes to join and traditional markets and villages to discover.
In this 3 days itinerary in Ubud, you will explore in depth the village of Ubud with a full day walking tour, and then a day around the tourist attractions of Ubud and lastly a short excursion out to caves and rice fields.
Ubud Itinerary Map
Day 1 – walking tour of Ubud village
Today would be a walking tour day in the village of Ubud. The best starting point is the public market (pasar umum). This market is a mesmesrizing place itself, offering many things in a bargain, from T-shirts and bangles to tea leaves and bananas. Start here before 8 am to catch the mass local produce before they disappear as the souvenir stalls take over.
Lady selling flowers at the Market at Ubud, Bali. Photo by David Stanley
From the market walk to the opposite to Ubud Palace, also known as Puri Saren Agung, to admire the architecture and the gamelan instruments on display. These instruments are used in the evening’s traditional dance performance.
Continuing down the main road you will see Pura Dalem Ubud temple, closed to the public but good to admire from the outside. Further on is Pura Taman Saraswati, a majestic temple with a pond full of lotus flowers. Close by here is the Museum Puri Lukisan if you are keen on a collection of works by local and foreign artists inspired by Bali.
Walk down Jalan Raya Ubud to Panestanan and spend some time here enjoying the peace, passing yoga and meditation centers. From here you can choose either to explore the nature by doing one of the best walks in Bali at Campuhan ridge or get a motor taxi (ojek) and head to Neka Art Musuem for its marvelous artworks and lush gardens. End the day with dinner, drinks and dance at Jazz Cafe Tebesya.
Wake up early morning and head to the popular Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud. This is a lush jungle dotted with temples, transporting tourists away from the urban sprawl of Ubud. Exit through the southern gate to Nyuhkuning, a charming village renowned for its wood carvings. This village is also a good place for cycling (bike available for rent here) due to its flat roads.
Then head south to the magnificent Aung Rai Museum of Art with expansive collections and beautiful gardens. From here head to Jalan Suweta for lunch of the famous roast pig (babi guling) of Ubud at Ibu Oka. After that walk off the meal at Botanic Garden (open 8 am to 6 pm daily). Turn up at the main street of Petulu between 4-5pm to watch the flocking of thousands of herons and egrets there. End the day with a sumptuous dinner at Bali Buddha.
Monkey Forest at Ubud
Day 3 – Day trip excursions from Ubud
Today we will discover the wonders that surround the Ubud city starting with Goa Gajah Cave. This mysterious and fascinating cave is known for its T-shaped that was created over a thousand years ago. It contains Hindu and Buddhist artefacts and bizarre carvings around the entrance.A travel tip is to come here early before 9 am to escape the crowds from tours.
Next head on to Gunung Kawi, where massive shrines are carved into cliffs surrounded by stunning landscapes. Not far down from here is the Kafe Kawi, a perfect place for lunch. Further on we head to Tirta Empul, one of the top 10 temples to visit in Bali, with a complex of pools, temples and gardens. The hot water springs are regarded as holy in Bali and have the magical power to heal, resulting in its invasion by locals and tourists alike.
Head west and ride down the beautiful road to Kendaran, with sloping coconut palms flanked by padi fields and volcanic mountains. At the end of the road, turn north to Tegallalang, a village handicraft shops. Return in time to Ubud to catch a traditional dance performance with live music. This is a must to sum up your experience in Ubud.