Resting between the capital of Indonesia, and beautiful coastlines of the Indian Ocean is the incredible city of Yogyakarta. Contrary to the surrounding areas, this city runs at a slower pace and with locals living quieter, less populated lifestyles. Yogyakarta overflows with culture, food, sites, shopping, and activities. We walk you through the history as well as the modern attractions of the city of Yogyakarta.
Although located near the busy city of Jakarta, on one of most populated island in providence, Yogyakarta is a peaceful retreat. Yogyakarta is deeply rooted in ancient Javanese culture and art. Two kingdoms, Hindu and Buddhist, inhabited Yogyakarta and built immaculate temples. To this day the cultures of the past shine through the performances and architecture of Yogyakarta. Theaters displace performances of Javanese music and dances. Temples and palaces are ordained with stunning architecture, displaying its Hindu and Buddhist past. Visitors do not need to travel far in Yogyakarta to witness the rich culture and history the city has to offer.
Friendly people, a plethora of incredible sites, and a variety of activities welcome all visitors to the beautiful city of Yogyakarta. Eat like a king, site see like a local, and experience new events with the attractions below. Be sure to read our advice and tips to make the most of your time in Yogyakarta.
Partaking in local cuisine is part of the whole Yogyakarta experience. One popular local food is Gudeg. Gudeg is a sweet jackfruit dish that is traditionally served with boiled egg and tofu, or rice and chicken. To create this dish, unripe jackfruit is combined with sugar and coconut milk, them boiled for several hours.
A famous chocolate factory in Yogyakarta is home to fantastic sweets. Visiting Monggo gives you the chance to indulge in locally made chocolates. There is also a showroom to gaze upon the many creations of the “Willy Wonka” of Yogyakarta.
When translated, this dish means “cat rice,” but do not let the name fool you, this meal is friendly to humans and cats alike. Sego Kucing includes rice with fish, tempeh, and a spicy sauce. All the ingredients are wrapped in banana leaves and ready to enjoy.
If you find the local cuisine not to your liking, there are several restaurants around Yogyakarta which offer western foods. Typically, the western foods are served with more unique sauces. Mix up your usual favorites by tasting some new sauces while you are in Yogyakarta.
One of the biggest attractions in Yogyakarta for locals and visitors alike is Malioboro. Find affordable food, fun local produce, or wonderful souvenirs, Malioboro has it all. Visit this huge market by foot to experience the authentic feel of strolling around a market in the heart of Yogyakarta. While walking you will also get a better view of the items for sale. There are many other stores around Yogyakarta that offer great deals and products, but Malioboro is a must see for all visitors.
Sites to See
If you are a fan of natural light photography, or you enjoy seeing beautiful skylights in caves, Jomblang cave is for you. This cave is known for the rays of light that shine down into the cave. The light is best seen at noon, but a tour must be reserved in order to witness this magical sight.
KratonPalace is like a mini city in Yogyakarta and is meant to be a highlight of the entire kingdom. As a home to much culture and history of Yogyakarta, there is much to see and learn from visiting. The palace was built to house royalty and is still the home of the Sultan today. Ceremonies and cultural gatherings take place here among the colorful architecture with European influence.
Borobudur at Sunrise
At 113 feet high, the Borobudur temple was the largest Buddhist temple in the world before it was bombed and parts where left destroyed. The temple has since been restored and now has security protecting this masterpiece. From the pyramid shaped temple, you can see four volcanoes in the distance, most of them still active. The best time to visit is at sunrise. Looking east over the horizon offers an incredible view and stunning photos. Booking a sunrise ticket and seeing the daybreak is a must while in Yogyakarta. However, do not leave right when the sun pops over the horizon. The best views happen about 45 minutes after sunrise. In order to make it on time, you will need to wake up early to reach the temple. The Atria Hotel Magelang is an excellent choice to stay the night before the sunrise viewing as it is located near Borobudur.
Parangtritis Beach Sunset
Looking for a beach in Yogyakarta is not hard, but Parangtritis Beach is the top pick for visitors and locals alike. There is plenty to do on this beach. From the basic beach day of swimming and having a picnic, to riding ATVs, sand-boarding, and paragliding (during the months of January to February), Parangtritis is fun for the whole family.
Kalibiru National Park
This park was completely built by locals, and out of their work a social media sensation was formed. The highlight of this park is the viewpoint. A wooden platform presents a view of mountains and a forest below. For the best photos visit Kalibiru in the evening or early morning.
Indonesia has many incredible handmade items. Silver, leather, and wood are finely crafted into masterpieces. Workshops offered in Yogyakarta display how these creations are formed, and the best part is you can learn how to make your own. Find workshops for making your own silver ring, dyeing your own fabric, making pottery and more. Check out the full list of excellent workshops to make your reservation.
Out of all the workshops in Yogyakarta, one that is the most recommended is batik. Batik is a died fabric, a traditional art in Indonesia. The Museum of Batik Yogyakarta gives visitors the chance to try making their own batik. Be careful with dying your fabric to ensure a beautiful pattern to take home as a souvenir.
Yogyakarta is full of museums! Some of the most famous are Ullen Sentalu Museum, with its mystical history. Yogyakarta’s Javanese culture is presented at Ullen Sentalu Museum in a captivating way. Art, statues, guided tours, and incredible exhibits are all found at Ullen Sentalu Museum.
An outdoor stage with the backdrop of Prambanan Temple is the perfect location to watch a Ramayana Ballet. This performance is a Javanese cultural experience full of Javanese music, stories, and dances. Over 200 performers wear immaculate costumes to deliver an outstanding performance.
Merapi Lava Tour
The captivating volcanoes surrounding Yogyakarta played an important role in the history of city. To see one of the volcanos yourself in a thrilling way, The Merapi Lava Tour offers an adventurous excursion around the Merapi Volcano. On this tour a 4x4 jeep rolls across the scenery to display the land and abandoned villages around the volcano.
Twin Beringin Trees
The Twin Beringin Trees come with a long history full of myths and stories. Though the trees are not a major attraction, they are a fun site to see and come with a challenge. One of the stories of the Twin Beringin Trees state that those who walk through the trees with their eyes closed will have a wish come true. Bring your own blindfold or rent one if you want to try this challenge.
Where to stay
There are many wonderful places to stay in Yogyakarta. However, we know the importance of vacationing in an incredible location. To make your trip even more special, we listed some of the top reviewed hotels in Yogyakarta.
If you are looking for luxury and a great location, look no further than the Phoenix Hotel. With breathtaking colonial style, the Phoenix hotel is a favorite to many. What makes this hotel stand out is their immaculate outdoor swimming pool. Mornings at the Phoenix will leave you satisfied and ready to take on the day with a range of Indonesian and Western foods.
Located in the northwest region of Yogyakarta, this newer hotel has already become a favorite among visitors. The most commented on is the staff’s warm welcome and friendliness. In addition to the staff, Neo Malioboro has all the amenities you could want. A sky lounge and beautiful swimming pool are a favorite among the guests, and the location is a conveniently short walk to the railway station.
Located close to the Keraton Palace, this hotel is best known for its Javanese decoration. A wonderful staff, clean rooms, and great location make this hotel an excellent choice. Follow the rooms out to the terrace for a view of the garden courtyard.
Yogyakarta is Waiting
With the plethora of activities, sites, and food in Yogyakarta, we’ve only discussed the most favorited. There are so many more reasons to visit this incredible location in Indonesia. Overall this spectacular city is welcoming to all and it does not leave its visitors disappointed.