Welcome to the charming city of Yogyakarta, the heart and soul of Indonesia! If you’re looking for a destination that offers the perfect blend of culture, history and adventure, then you must visit Yogyakarta.
This captivating city is home to some of Indonesia’s most breathtaking sights that will leave you spellbound.
Yogyakarta is the vibrant heart and soul of Indonesia. This city, also known as Yogja, is a treasure trove of culture, history and breathtaking scenery. As part of the island of Java, it offers an irresistible mix of ancient traditions, fascinating ceremonies, delicious cuisine and impressive sights – all of which will undoubtedly enchant you. From ancient temples to scenic landscapes, Yogyakarta has it all.
In this blog post, we’ll take you on a journey through Yogyakarta’s hidden gems and show you why it should be at the top of your travel bucket list.
Here is an overview:
Grab Your Sense of Adventure: Let’s Discover the Magic of Yogyakarta
Ready for an adventure in Yogyakarta? Let’s dive in.
Traveler’s Wonderland: Must-See Sights
It’s time to grab your camera and explore the enchanting sights of Yogyakarta.
Be enchanted by the majestic Borobudur Temple – the largest Buddhist temple in the world – as you watch the sunrise; an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe.
Immerse yourself in the mystical world of Prambanan Temple – an impressive Hindu complex with intricate carvings and imposing structures.
For nature lovers, the tranquil water castle of Taman Sari and the surreal Jomblang Cave are breathtaking adventures that will take your breath away!
Explore Borobudur and Prambanan
Get ready for an exclusive exploration of the stunning temples of Borobudur and Prambanan, and immerse yourself in the fascinating culture of Indonesia.
In the morning, I recommend a trip to Borobudur Temple. Explore this impressive Buddhist temple, considered the largest of its kind in the world, and learn about its fascinating history. Built from thousands of blocks of volcanic and river stone, the temple is a true masterpiece of human craftsmanship – it took an incredible 75 years to complete! Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site still shines in all its glory, with breathtakingly beautiful carvings and an unusual, yet beautiful, mass structure.
Afterwards, it’s worth visiting two other nearby Buddhist temples: Pawon and Mendut. There, you can discover more historical treasures and continue your journey through this spiritual region of Indonesia.
After lunch at a local restaurant, continue your journey to the Prambanan Temple. This impressive temple complex was built in the 9th century and consists of a collection of sharp, jagged buildings with three main shrines dedicated to the Hindu trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. It’s no wonder UNESCO declared Prambanan a World Heritage Site in 1991!
During your visit, your guide will not only give you an insight into the temple’s history, but also explain its symbolism – an unforgettable experience for any culture lover!
You will be able to enjoy many amenities on this tour. These include the entrance fee, which is already included in the price. You will also have private air-conditioned transportation to comfortably take you to your destination.
Pick up and drop off at your hotel will also be organized by us so you can have a worry-free trip. The tour operator’s experienced guide will accompany you throughout the trip and provide you with interesting information about the area.
Fun fact Borobudur temple
We recommend visiting one of these stupas at the world-famous Borobudur site in Yogayakarta and put your hand inside. Legend has it that your wish will come true as long as you don’t get bitten by the snakes inside.
But be warned. It’s better to play it safe and avoid these supposed snakes – who knows what lurks there? Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth visiting this unique sight in Yogyakarta!
This place, very close to the Craton, was once used as a garden for the Sultan of Yogyakarta. Taman Sari originally had a variety of functions, and today, only a few buildings remain.
In the past, this place was used for recreation, meditation, and work and also provided shelter and hiding places for the Sultan’s family. Locals have converted some of the remaining buildings into homes; only the mosque, resting places and bathing areas, including underground tunnels, are open to tourists.
The most famous place in Tamansari is the bathing and resting place of the Sultan and his princesses, called Umbul Pasiraman.
Besides Umbul Pasiraman, there are other attractions that visitors can explore. These include an underground tunnel and a mosque. The tunnel used to have a different purpose and served as a hiding place for people in the area. However, it is no longer used and is partly used as a living space.
The mosque on this site is quite different from most other places of worship of this type. It is circular in shape and has a Sumur Gumilang – a special place of prayer for the Sultan – underneath.
So it’s worthwhile for every visitor to discover these two sights!
Explore Yogyakarta City in 180 minutes
Start your day in Yogyakarta with a city tour that will give you an idea of the city’s beauty. Your first stop is the Sultan’s Palace – also known as “Keraton” – an impressive example of traditional Javanese sultanate architecture from the 18th century.
Then, you’ll head to the Taman Sari Water Temple, an extension of the royal complex built over two centuries ago and designed specifically for the first sultan’s harem.
The tour includes everything you need: transportation to and from your hotel, a guide, and mineral water throughout the trip. Entrance fees as per the program are also included, as well as parking fees – so you can sit back, relax and enjoy your adventure!
You will be fascinated by the natural beauty of Jomblang Cave, the most famous of hundreds of caves in the Gunungkidul Cave Complex. This complex stretches along the southern coast from Gombong in Central Java to the karst mountains of Mount Sewu in West Java.
Thousands of years ago, a collapse of soil and vegetation below the surface created a sinkhole about 50 meters wide and up to 80 meters deep. Over many millennia, an incredible forest developed inside the cave, fed only by the “sky rays” – a daily three-hour window of sunlight that penetrates inside.
Explore the Beautiful Surroundings of Yogyakarta
The fascination does not stop at the city limits! Around Yogyakarta, there are a variety of natural beauties that will leave you speechless.
Imagine standing atop the majestic Mount Merapi – an active volcano with breathtaking views of the lush landscapes below.
Mount Merapi, near Yogyakarta, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and one of about 500 volcanoes in Indonesia, of which at least 129 are active along the Asia-Pacific island arc – also known as the Ring of Fire.
Despite its activity, the people here have formed a close bond with the mountain, accepting its rumbling and coughing as part of normal natural phenomena. The mountain has calmed down for some time now, but it still attracts hikers, rock climbers, and adventurers who want to follow the hot lava flow from the last eruption – even though it has cooled considerably.
Whether you’re a professional volcanologist or simply looking for adventure, the perilous ascent of Mount Merapi will fascinate and challenge you in equal measure! Whether you want to go up by jeep or climb, there is an experience for everyone.
Merapi Lava Tour in a 4×4 Vehicle
Start your day with a drive to the slopes of Mount Merapi, where you can enjoy the fresh air and breathtaking views. Then, experience the adventure of a sightseeing tour in a 4×4 vehicle through the forest, including a visit to the remains of the last eruption in 2010 – a tourist destination of high interest.
The comprehensive tour includes transportation and pick up or drop off directly at your hotel. A knowledgeable guide will accompany you and provide you with all the information you need. Mineral water is provided for your convenience and all entrance fees are included in the program. You don’t have to worry about parking fees either!
If you’re more of a sandy beach fan, then Parangtritis Beach is for you: experience exciting water activities or just enjoy the golden sun and relax in a gorgeous setting.
Parangtritis is only about 28 km (17 miles) from Yogyakarta – a perfect distance for a day trip to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere by the sea. A breathtaking view awaits you: Green hills against the backdrop of the roaring sea.
Take a deep breath and listen to the waves crashing on the shore as you walk along the beach. If you get tired, you can rest in one of the shady shelters, where you can sit for a small fee.
Close to Parangtritis Beach is the hot springs at Parangwedang, where you can soak for 15 minutes for a small fee! Enjoy the health benefits of these waters and feel rejuvenated after your soak in the warm water area.
Explore the Diverse Regions Surrounding Yogyakarta
Get out of the city and explore the enchanting regions surrounding Yogyakarta.
Experience the peaceful village life of Kasongan, where talented artisans create stunning pottery and ceramics.
Kasongan is also known for its ceramic workshops. Works of art are produced here and exported locally and worldwide to Indonesia. In addition to the traditional crafts, there are many galleries to explore that offer wood or stone sculptures in all price ranges. Some pieces are replicas but available at incredibly low prices.
But if you want to experience the true essence of the place, go deep into the centre – here, you will find individually crafted pieces by talented local artists using classic techniques!
Pine Forest Imogiri
Imogiri’s picturesque pine forest offers you a unique opportunity to surrender to nature and enjoy the simple life of the countryside.
Ecotourism is particularly strong in this area, as there are numerous forests, mountains and hidden waterfalls to explore. One of the most popular places is the Imogiri Pine Forest – also known as the Mangunan Pine Forest.
Many young people flock here daily to take great selfies in the subtropical forest. Not only that but couples also like to use this place for their wedding photos, taking advantage of the romantic shadows under the pine trees to create dramatic photo scenarios!
Memorable Experiences: Activities for Every Type of Traveller
There are many exciting options for you as a traveller in Yogyakarta. If you are looking for adventure, a four-wheel drive tour through the rugged landscape around Mount Merapi is just the thing.
Art enthusiasts can explore their creativity with a batik art class and create their own masterpieces. If you’re more interested in history, take a guided walk through the city’s old streets and learn about times gone by.
In short, there is something for everyone in Yogyakarta!
A Feast for Your Taste Buds: A Foodie Adventure
Prepare for a culinary adventure unlike any other! Yogyakarta’s gourmet scene combines irresistible aromas and flavors.
Related read: Local Dishes in Bali: Top Dishes You Have To Try
Try the legendary gudeg, a sweet and salty jackfruit stew that is considered a landmark of the city.
Gudeg is made from young, unripe jackfruit, locally known as gori. The chopped fruit is cooked with palm sugar and coconut milk over low heat for several hours. The dish is especially delicious when prepared in a clay pot over an open wood or coal fire. Garlic, shallots, cinnamon, coriander, galangal, bay leaves, and teak wood are used to give the stew a reddish-brown color.
Because the sweet taste dominates, gudeg is often called “sweet stew with young jackfruit” – a real treat!
Try Javanese cuisine with Ayam Goreng (fried chicken) if spice is your thing.
Indonesia has a specially created version of a crispy fried chicken known as Ayam Goreng Tepung, that is very popular. It is an Indonesian version of the classic fried chicken dish.
While in the U.S. the chicken is breaded, Indonesian cuisine takes a different approach: the meat is marinated in a mixture of spices and then fried until golden brown. This creates a wonderful contrast between the crispy skin and the tender, juicy interior – simply hearty and delicious!
A delicious dish from Indonesia is Sate Klatak (grilled meat on a skewer), which originated in Pleret, near Yogyakarta. It is made with goat or mutton meat seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper. The pieces of meat are then skewered on iron skewers and grilled or roasted over an open fire, unlike other satay variations that use bamboo skewers.
Iron skewers ensure that the meat is cooked evenly, giving Sate Klatak its distinctive flavor. Traditionally, it is served with the spicy curry soup Gulai, which is a perfect accompaniment! By the way: The name “Klathak” is derived from the special method of cooking the satay over an open fire – a unique taste experience for every food lover!
And don’t forget to treat yourself to a delicious bakpia pathok. These delicious sweet pastries make the perfect souvenir to take home!
Bakpia Pathok is a sweet delicacy from Indonesia that consists of a round and slightly flattened dough. It is stuffed with mung beans, which blend perfectly with the soft and flaky dough.
Originally, the name Bakpia Pathok comes from a suburb called Pathok in Yogyakarta, where the pastry was first made. Today, however, you can find other variations of the snack, including chocolate, cheese, and exotic fruit fillings such as pineapple or durian.
In addition to these classic flavors, many more innovative variations have appeared, including cappuccino, banana cheese, and blueberry cheese and tuna! Although this treat was originally created with Chinese influences, it has since developed a character of its own. It is one of the most popular street snacks throughout Indonesia!
A Cultural Journey: Embracing the Traditions
Yogyakarta has a deeply rooted culture that sets it apart from other cities. From the moment you set foot in this fascinating country, you will be overwhelmed by the warm hospitality and sincere smiles of the locals.
The city takes great care to preserve its centuries-old customs and you can experience how traditional art forms such as batik, wayang kulit (shadow puppetry) and gamelan music are still alive.
Journey Through Time: Lift the Veil of History
In Yogyakarta, one skill is particularly suited to the people of Yogyakarta: celebrating life!
Throughout the year, the city comes alive with vibrant ceremonies and festivals. You can witness firsthand the celebration of Sekaten, a week-long festival honoring the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
The festivities begin after the Isya evening prayer with a magnificent procession of royal guards and “abdi dalem” court officials. The majestic parade is accompanied by the sounds of two historic gamelan instruments: The Kyai Nogo Wilogo and the Kyai Guntur Madu.
At the end of the festival, both gamelans are taken back to the craton.
ARTJOG – Yogyakarta’s Arts Festival
During the annual Yogyakarta Arts Festival, the vibrant Malioboro Street is transformed into a dazzling kaleidoscope of color and artwork.
ARTJOG is an event that promotes the exchange of new ideas and creativity in art. Not only are aesthetic experiences gathered, but also current knowledge about developments is exchanged.
The goal of ARTJOG is to break down barriers and remove restrictions in the field of art. A close network between artists, market participants and political decision-makers is cultivated – all in the common interest of artistic works.
Visitors have the opportunity to talk to like-minded people or to be inspired by new impressions. In this way, ARTJOG contributes to the promotion of cultural understanding and creates new perspectives in the world of art!
These events give you a deep insight into the heart and soul of the Javanese people.
Yogyakarta, a stunning destination, offers a fascinating mix of culture and history, as well as culinary delights and natural beauty. The city will enchant you with its charm and warm hospitality – you will feel right at home!
Unforgettable experiences await you in every city corner; its sights will be etched in your heart forever.
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and immerse yourself in the magic of Yogyakarta!