Day 1 – Yogyakarta city
During your first full day in Yogyakarta, explore the highlights of the city. You will find a lot of influences from the Dutch colonial time in Indonesia. What surprised us the most about Yogya was how few foreign tourists we saw.
1. Underground Mosque (Sumur Gumuling)
One of the most interesting places in Yogyakarta is Sumur Gumuling, better known as the Underground Mosque. Once you enter the mosque, the walkway leads you to the center of it.
The center of the mosque includes four stairs that form a pyramid shape and a huge open circular ceiling revealing beautiful daylight. The underground mosque is part of the larger complex Taman Sari which is our next thing to do in Yogyakarta.
Tip: The complex opens at 9 AM. Get here as early as possible to avoid the crowds.
2. Water Castle (Taman Sari)
Taman Sari was a former bathing complex and has a beautiful blend of Dutch and Javanese architecture. Around the area, you can find a lot of beautiful murals, souvenir shops, cafes, and art workers. Plan to spend about 60 – 90 minutes for both Taman Sari and Sumur Gumuling.
3. Malioboro street
Malioboro street is the go-to place to do shopping. It is a huge street in the heart of Yogyakarta with everything from small street food vendors, art shops, clothing to souvenirs.
Once a week there is a China town with all local foods. Try to avoid art shops in this area, this is usually a scam.
4. The hunt for Street Art
As mention before, Yogyakarta is a hub for creatives. The popular area Mantrijeron owns a lot of murals. It’s great to have a walk around the area and see some of the greatest murals in Yogyakarta.
Day 2 – Prambanan and Borobudur
Rise at 4 AM to experience sunrise at the Borobudur temple. From Yogyakarta city, it is a 90-minute drive to the Borobudur temple. Plan to spend about 1.5-hours at both sights. PS: Don’t try to fly your drone at these temples.
5. Borobudur temple
The Borobudur temple contains four levels and has a total height of 34 meters. On the top level are loads of small stupas and one large stupa in the middle. Look closely inside these stupas to see the Buddhas inside. You can join a small group tour to Borobudur, Prambanan, and Merapi Volcano that includes hotel pickup, guide, and entry to all sites.
Tip: Are you a student? Bring your student pass or a copy and get a discount.
6. Prambanan, the best thing to do in Yogyakarta!
The biggest temple complex in Indonesia is Prambanan. Unlike the Borobudur, this is not a Buddhist but a Hindu temple. There are 3 main temples: Shiva Mahadeva, Candi Vishnu, and Candi Sewu. The whole complex has about 240 small and big temples. Shiva Mahadeva is 47 meters high! From Borobudur to Prambanan is a 1.5-hour drive.
Booking a Borobudur + Prambanan temple tour
The easiest way is to book the tour in advance online. However, it’s all possible to do so with your hostel/hotel in Yogyakarta. This should cost you around 130 – 150K for a shared van. Another option is to take a Grab Taxi. At both sights, there are official Grab stands.
7. Explore the best cafes & restaurants
Have a little rest for the rest of the day and again had out to the Mantrijeron area of Yogyakarta. Here are loads of great little cafes and restaurants. Some are more hidden than others. Most of them are on Jalan Prawirotaman Street. These are our favorites:
- Sade tropical kitchen
- Nanamia Pizzaria
- Move on
Day 3 – Mountains and Beaches
On the last day in Yogyakarta, rent a driver for the whole day. This should be anywhere between 450K – 650K for 12 hours. Visit the cooler mountains and the beautiful beachside of Yogyakarta.
Drive all the way up into the mountain of Yogyakarta. There are many viewpoints made to see and an amazing sunrise or view. It’s up to you if you’d like to experience this. Just remember that you have to get out early.
Our favorite viewpoints are Becici Peak & Bukit Panguk Kediwung. For both viewpoints, there is an entrance fee of 10.000 IDR.
9. Love Yogyakarta (Taman Gumuk Pasir)
One of the creative minds in Yogyakarta made this beautiful heart near the beach. This piece is at its best from above. The artist must have expected that drones will come here to take a photo or video.
10. Sukorama Rice Fields
A 300-meter long bamboo bridge through the rice fields. Before you plan a trip here, ask the locals if the rice fields are green. During summer, June to August, it’s usually dry and not green. Update 2021: This location seems permanently closed.
11. Serebu Batu
Serebu Batu is almost like a small theme park. All kinds of things are made from wood, like houses, statues, and a hobbit house. All spots up in the hills have a much more comfortable climate.
How to get to Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta is connected in almost any way. It has a good train station, an airport, and a highway.
The guesthouses and hotels in Yogyakarta are available in all kinds of price ranges. Hostels go anywhere from 5 USD – 30 USD per night. Whereas guesthouses and hotels in Yogyakarta will start from 12 USD a night, including breakfast.