10 best things to do in Yogyakarta

I have been to Yogyakarta more times than I can count. It’s a fantastic city. Most of the locals call it “Jogja”. I will guide through the 10 best things to do in Yogyakarta ; so you can make the most of your trip. 

Yogyakarta is located in the beautiful island of Java in Indonesia. If you haven’t made it to Yogyakarta Indonesia yet, there are plenty of reasons why you should! It’s the perfect place to learn about Javanese culture, or just to relax and get away from the bustle of city life.


Facts about Yogyakarta:

  • Prambanan and Borobudur temples are both UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Yogyakarta is still a kingdom. Ruled by a Sultan. 
  • Named as the soul of Indonesia
  • Jogjakarta is the second cheapest city in Indonesia after Solo.

The Best Time To Visit Yogyakarta

The best time to travel in Yogyakarta would be during the dry months from April to October.You can visit in the wet season, the prices goes down but you’ll have to be prepared for weather.  Find out more about the weather in Indonesia here. 

How long you should stay in Yogyakarta

To enjoy Yogyakarta and see the main attractions, 3 nights are enough. If you plan to go visit the countryside and enjoy the calmness of the city then go for full 5 days. 

10 Best things to do in Yogyakarta

Borobudur temple and Merapi are definitely two of the best things to do in Yogyakarta!

1. Visit Borobudur temple at sunrise

Best Things To Do In Yogyakarta

This is one the most prominent and unique thing to do and see in Yogyakarta. Visit the temple of Borubudur at sunrise. The world’s largest Buddhist temple in the world. Built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty. The best time to visit the temple is around sunrise, the views are truly spectacular! If you’re not keen on going around sunrise, I recommend you to still aim to get there as early as possible.

Travel tips for visiting Borobudur:

  • Get there early – Borobudur temple get crowded fast.
  • Comfy and light dress – Yogyakarta is very hot during the day, make sure you dress respectfully according to the local customs. And comfy since you gonna walk a lot.
  • Bring with you water – Starting from 8 am the temperature goes high fast. Stay hydrated.
  • Get a guide/or a local friend – best way to know more about the history of the temple

The entrance fee to Borobudur :
For foreigners the admission fee is $25 USD for adults. 

2. Visit Ullen Sentalu Museum

Located at Jalan Boyong in Kaliurang, a small distance from the city of the center of Yogyakarta. It is the Best way to get to know a bit more about the Javanese culture and the local customs. When I visited the museum in 2016, the museum was not allowing guests to take pictures inside. The museum is stunning, its walls and floors are made of stones that were spewed by the Merapi volcano. Inside the museum you will find old photographs, old paintings and antique manuscripts.

The Museum is open from Tuesdays to Sundays and public holidays, from 09am – 15.30pm. The entry tickets cost Rp. 25,000 for Indonesians and $5 for international tourists.

3. Visit Prambanan Temple

Visiting temples is absolutely one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta. Located not far from the Buddhist Borobudur temple, Prambanan is a Hindu Temple built in the 10th century. 

With This stunning, unique cultural and architectural, Prambanan was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO. Prambanan is especially impressive when it’s lit up at night; tours are also offered that help you understand its intricate architecture.

Insider tip: The temple is best visited at sunset, sometimes combined with a ballet performance.

4. Explore the waterfall Sidoharjo

An another best things to do in Yogyakarta is ti enjoy the stunning nature. Sidoharjo is one of the highest waterfall in Kulon Progo around 60m. During the dry season there’s almost no water at all. To get to the waterfall you have to walk about 200 meters. The view is seriously astonishing, surrounded by a high cliff and canyon. It is advised to visit the waterfall during the rainy season.

5. Chill at Parangtritis Beach

The Parangtritis beach is located around 28 km from Yogyakarta. Around 1.5 hours south of the city. It is the best way to take a break from the city. You will definitely feel refreshed with the salty sea breezes and the sounds of the waves of the oceans. Beside the great atmosphere the beach is a sacred place. I remember wearing a shirt with some green motif. Once we arrived my friend noticed and told me this following story :

Kanjeng Ratu Kidul legend story

According to legend, the beach is the domain of Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, Queen of the Southern Ocean. She told me that Javanese will not wear green. And swimming is not recommended because the queen can take you with you.

Yogyakarta is a fascinating city full of great legend and stories.

6. Visit Taman Sari: The Water Castle

Best Things To Do In Yogyakarta

Located near the Kraton. The Castle was built in 1758 by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I.Known also as the water castle. In the Indonesian language Tamansari means beautiful garden. Taman sari is the perfect illustration of the stunning javanese architecture. Must be added on the list of things to do in Yogyakarta, Indonesia!

Tips inside the castle : Almost like in every monument in Indonesia, You should wear pants or skirts that covers your knees. It is a way to respect and understand the local customs.

7. Enjoy the traditional food from Yogyakarta

Jogja has delicious street food, and the cost of food is insanely cheap compare to others cities in Indonesia. As we’ve mentioned a few times already, Jogja is a foodie haven. I’m guessing that  you’re not familiar with Javanese cuisine, here I will mention the top dishes you should try while in Yogyakarta:

  • Gudeg: unripe jackfruit stewed for several hours with palm sugar and coconut milk for sweetness, and garlic and shallot. 

  • wedang ronde: One of my favourite drink in Indonesia, made of sweet glutinous rice balls soaked in hot ginger flavored water, syrup, sprinkled with a few peanuts, and filled with peanut in the rice balls.

  • Kue Klepon: A traditional snack common throughout Indonesia. Main ingredients: Flour, rice flour, palm sugar, pandan paste, pandan leaf, grated coconut 

  • Soto ayam is a yellow spicy chicken soup with lontong or nasi himpit or ketupat and/or vermicelli or noodles, 

  • Mie Ayam: seasoned yellow wheat noodles served with chicken. Stew of Yogyakarta

8. Get a Javanese Massage

Best Things To Do In Yogyakarta

Not because I have lived in Indonesia for the past 9 years and used to have 3 times massage per month, I can tell you that Indonesia is heaven for getting the perfect massage. 

It is always a good idea to get a Javanese massage if you just get to Yogykarta after a long trip or just had a long day visiting around the city. 

Here are some recommendation spas in Yogyakarta : 

  • Monggo relax spa: Body massages start at IDR 324,500 for an hour.

  • Tea spa 1-hour full-body massages start at IDR 165,000

  • SAARAH Day Full Body Massage for Rp. 150,000 per hour (approximately USD $10.45)

9. Hike the volcanic Mount Merapi

Climbing Mount Merapi is definitely one of great things to do in Yogyakarta. It is also one of the msot activated volcanic in Indonesia. The hike takes around three hours. You can climb around sunset to catch the sunrise or the way around is possible too. Beside hiking up Mount Merapi you can include to your trip a visit to the museum. It has samples of the lava and tells the story of the last eruption. 

10. Explore Jomblang Cave

Best Things To Do In Yogyakarta

Uncommon things to do in Yogyakarta ; If you enjoy hiking, Jomblang Cave is a must-see attraction. The cave is about a two-hour walk away from Prambanan Temple and it offers great views of its famous neighbor.

Having more time in Yogyakarta ?

Beside this list of the 3 Unique things to do and see in Yogyakarta, there are other plenty of things to do in Yogyakarta when it comes to arts, nature and discovering great local food. 

  • Visit the Kalibiru national park

KaliBiru National Park is a green nature spot in located outside of jogja in KulonProgo Regency, Yogyakarta. It is a great spot to relax with friends surrounded by green and lush environment.

  • See the wayang theater

This is definitely one the unique thing to do in Yogyakarta. Attending a shadow puppet show (an ancient Javanese art ) is on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2003) If you are in love ancient stories, at Wayng theater you’ll be able to attend one of these show by nights, stories about the Javanese culture and heroes are told by the shadows of puppets.

  • Eat Street Food in Malioboro

Walk around Malioboro street by night. It is one of the top things to do in Malioboro – eating street food! By night you will find bunch of street food.

  • Visit Museum Sisa Hartaku

If you enjoy history and nature, you need to stop by the Museum Sisa Hartaku. A small museum handled by a local family exposing and showing the history of the eruption that happened in 2010.

  • Kotagede Market

Kotagede, meaning the city of warlords, is a shopping district famous for its local handicrafts and souvenirs. This historical market has been around since 1746; and it’s one of Yogyakarta’s most interesting attractions. With more than 150,000 merchants spread over 1 square kilometer (0.4 sq mi), Kotagede is an astounding sight that all visitors should see at least once.

Where to stay in Yogyakarta ?

Looking for a place to stay? Here my suggestion for your 3 days in Yogyakarta. Yogyakarta is quiet affordable, you won’t find difficulties to find where to stay or where to eat. There is bunch of low-cost hotels and hostels.

Average price for a bed: Hostels in Yogyakarta cost $4 – $10 per night for a bed in a dorm. A private room has an average of around $14 per night. 

Check-In and Check Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3 pm), while the Check-Out time is before 11:00 (11 am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost.

Recommendations for :

  1. The Patio Yogya – best for female solo travellers
  2. Losmanos Hostel – best for sociable solo travellers
  3. Wonderloft Hostel Jogja – best for backpackers

How to get around Yogyakarta?

Renting a motorbike

Tis the best way to get around and explore Yogyakarta. If you cannot ride a bike you can grab one with Gojek or Grab bike. All you need is to download the Go-Jek app. It works exactly like an Uber app. The price depends on your distance trip, but quiet affordable.

  • Scooter rentals will cost you starting from 60k-100K( $5-8) per day. Make sure you have already experience on driving motorbikes.
  • You can get GOJEK (taxi motor) from 15k to 30K ($1-$4) depending how far you are going. 

Take a taki

Taxis are a bit more expensive but still affordable. The starting cost around 85k-110k IDR ($6-8). Budget Tip: From the airport to your hotel on the main might cost around IDR 100,000 ($7). The same trip would have cost IDR 47,000 ($3.40) in a GOJEK, saving a few pounds.

Becak (cycle rickshaw)

Try the local transportation called becak (cycle rickshaw). Feel and experience jogja like a local person. The cost is around 1$. 

Hire a driver

If you are not comfortable driving a mortorbike and wishing to get outside of the city, you can rend a grab car or a gojek car. You can hire a driver from the app for one day and bring you to several places in Yogyakarta. You can also ask your Hotel or your homestay to arrange a driver.