11 Best Things to Do in Yogyakarta + Sample Itinerary

I want to help you plan an epic itinerary for your trip to Indonesia. In this post, you’ll find the best things to do in Yogyakarta for first-timers!

I’ve been to Indonesia a few times now. One of my most memorable trips was when I visited Yogyakarta.

My friend Angge and I initially planned our trip to Indonesia to just enjoy the beaches of Bali. But after I showed her the pictures of Borobudur, and probably because she’s very aware that I really wanted to visit another UNESCO World Heritage site, we decided to include Yogyakarta in our Indonesia itinerary. Woohoo!

Yogyakarta City is the capital of the Special Region of Yogyakarta. If you’re flying from Bali and Jakarta, it is your gateway to the Temples of Borobudur and Prambanan.

Exploring Candi Borobudur - one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta

While you might plan to visit Yogyakarta to watch the sunrise from the majestic Temple of Borobudur and explore Prambanan, you might be wondering what are the best things to do in Yogyakarta, especially if it’s your first time and if you only have limited time to stay in this beautiful city.

Don’t worry. I got you! Below, I share what you need to know about planning your trip to Yogyakarta. By the end of this blog post, you’ll have the answer to the question, “What are the best things to do in Yogyakarta?”

So, read on!

⏳ Short on time?

Here are my recommended travel planning resources for your trip to Yogyakarta, Indonesia!

✈️ Flights: Book your flights with WayAway [BONUS: Get cashback for flights, accommodations, car rentals, tours with WayAway Plus]
πŸ’Έ Flying within Indonesia on a budget? Book your flights with Airasia.

πŸš™ Airport Transfer and Private Charter with Driver: Book with Klook
πŸš— Car Rental: Book with Rentalcars.com

🏞️ Tours & Activities: Book with GetYourGuide, Viator, or Klook (popular in Asia)

πŸ‘£ Recommended Experiences (Best Things to Do in Yogyakarta):
Borobudur Sunrise + Mt. Merapi + Prambanan Tour
Ramayana Ballet at the Prambanan Temple
Yogyakarta Palace + Taman Sari Water Castle Tour
Batik Painting Masterclass
Silver Crafting Workshop by a Local Artisan
Yogyakarta Street food tour
Javanese cooking class
Day trip to Jomblang Cave and Timang Beach

πŸ›Œ Hotels & Accommodation: Booking.com, Agoda (popular in Asia), & Hostelworld
Budget: Snooze Hostel Yogyakarta
Mid-range: Greenhost Boutique Hotel Prawirotaman
: Marriott Hotel

πŸ›œ e-Sim: Airalo
πŸ“ Visas & Other Travel Documents: iVisa
🩺 Travel Medical Insurance: SafetyWing

*These are all travel resources I personally use for planning and booking my trips. If you use them, some of them will earn me a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps reduce the ever-increasing costs of keeping my site up. Thanks!

πŸ‘£ Best Things to Do in Yogyakarta Region for First-Timers

Yogyakarta, also sometimes called Jogja, is a city rich in history and culture. From Yogyakarta, you can access two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Borobudur Temple Complex and Prambanan Temple Compounds.

Also known as the Art Capital of Indonesia, Yogyakarta offers many things to do and experience to feed your artistic soul.

So, below, I share the best things to do in Yogyakarta to help you plan a memorable trip!

1) Watch the sunrise from Borobudur Temple.

Candi Borobudur in Indonesia with the early morning sun - witnessing this is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta
Exploring Candi Borobudur – one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta. Photo taken by The Boho Travels.

While technically not part of Yogyakarta, watching the sunrise from Borobudur Temple is on everyone’s list of the best things to do in Yogyakarta. 

This Mahayana Buddhist temple, located in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is definitely worth visiting.

We initially planned to watch the sunrise from Borobudur Temple. Unfortunately, though, we left later than expected, so we didn’t get to catch it from Borobudur.

But I think it was a blessing, too, β€˜cos we got to enjoy Borobudur Temple minus the crowds.

πŸ’‘ Pro Tip: Set your alarm and wake up early! While I didn’t get to watch the sun rise from Borobudur, I genuinely hope that you do! I’ve seen videos of my friends who did, and the colors of the sun rising with Candi Borobudur as the backdrop are breathtaking.

2) Explore Candi Mendut

A male and a female at Candi Mendut in Indonesia
Angge and Kuya at Candi Mendut. Photo taken by The Boho Travels.

Candi Mendut is a Buddhist temple in Central Java, Indonesia. Although it is not as famous and grandiose as the majestic Candi Borobudur, I still think it’s worth the stop and is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta if you’re a history buff.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a local guide, which was a pity since the carvings were pretty interesting. So, I hope you can get one when you visit it!

3) Go on a Mount Merapi Jeep Tour

Travelers riding a 4x4 at Mount Merapi in Indonesia

To be honest, it wasn’t part of our initial plan. We even thought it was a tourist trap.

However, after experiencing it, I believe the Mount Merapi Jeep Tour, also known as the Merapi Lava Tour, is among the best things to do in Yogyakarta.

Riding the Jeep was an adventure in itself.

But hearing the heartbreaking story of the ruined village caused by the eruption of Merapi Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia, made this experience still etched in my memories.

⏰ Visiting Yogyakarta with limited time? I recommend booking a highly-rated tour that combines watching the Borobudur sunrise and sunset in Prambanan with a Mount Merapi Jeep Tour in one day.

4) Catch the sunset from Prambanan Temple. 

The Boho Travels at Prambanan Temple - exploring the Prambanan Temple Compounds is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta
The Boho Travels at Prambanan Temple.

Prambanan Temple Compounds, more famously known as Prambanan Temple, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Indonesia. 

According to UNESCO, Prambanan Temple Compounds is the most significant temple compound in Indonesia that is dedicated to Shiva. It is composed of over 500 temples and is an excellent example of the impressive culture of Siva art.

If you’re interested in history and culture, like me, exploring the Prambanan Temples is definitely one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta.

πŸ’‘ Pro Tip: Make sure to visit Candi Sewu, also located within the Prambanan Temple Compounds – one of the most interesting temples we explored when we visited Yogyakarta. 

5) Watch the Ramayana Ballet at the Prambanan Temple

If you’re a fan of dance and culture, one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta is to watch the Ramayana Ballet at the Prambanan Temple.

It would be a beautiful experience to watch Javanese dancers in colorful costumes with the lit-up Prambanan Temple as a backdrop.

Watching the Ramayana Ballet was one of the things that we wanted to do when we visited Yogyakarta. But we didn’t get to do this because of some mishap in our plans. But I hope you will get to do it!

6) Explore Taman Sari Water Castle and Underground Mosque

Taman Sari Water Castle - exploring it is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta
Taman Sari Water Complex. Photo by The Boho Travels.

Taman Sari Water Castle is part of the Tamansari Royal Garden Complex, which, together with other historic landmarks in the Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2023.

The Sultanate of Yogyakarta started building the Taman Sari Water Castle in the mid-18th century. Although it no longer functions as a royal garden of the Sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, offerings are still made at the main gate for the Sultan’s birthday.

I’ve visited many places in Indonesia, but exploring the Taman Sari Royal Garden Complex is undoubtedly one of my favorites to this day. Its antiquity, beauty, and historical significance make visiting Taman Sari one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta.

7) Visit the Kraton of Yogyakarta (Royal Sultan Palace)

Musician at the Kraton of Yogyakarta
Musician at the Royal Sultan Palace. Photo taken by The Boho Travels.

Our trip to the Kraton of Yogyakarta was an interesting one.  We got to learn about their culture and take a peek at the lives of the royal family in Yogyakarta.

If you’re interested in architecture and history, visiting the Sultan’s Palace is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta.

8) Learn Batik Painting

A local artisan painting a batik in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Learning batik painting is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta
Batik Painting. Photo by The Boho Travels.

Indonesian batik is one of the country’s UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

We witnessed the step-by-step process of making batik, which was truly fascinating!

If you want to learn how to create batik, I invite you to sign up for a Batik Painting Masterclass.

9) Explore Yogyakarta’s culinary scene with a street food tour or a Javanese cooking class.

I believe one of the best ways to know a place is through its food.

So, why not go on a street food tour and interact with the locals to learn more about Yogyakarta and its culinary scene?

If you want a more hands-on experience, you can also take a Javanese cooking class and learn how to prepare Indonesian cuisine.

10) Go on an adventure at Jomblang Cave and Timang Beach

Yogyakarta isn’t just the center of Indonesian culture. It also offers experiences for the adventurous soul, such as exploring Jomblang Cave and visiting Timang Beach.

11) Go bargain hunting at Malioboro Street.

This was one of the experiences I enjoyed when I visited Yogyakarta.

Interacting with the local vendors was so fun that I bought many gifts for my loved ones.

So, if you’re looking for a place to shop in Yogyakarta, head to Malioboro Street and enjoy bargain hunting!

πŸ—ΊοΈ Map of Things to Do in Yogyakarta

If you want to visit all of the places of best things to do in Yogyakarta, here’s the map that I created for you:

πŸ›Œ Where to stay in Yogyakarta

One of the things I love about Yogyakarta is the many options for affordable hotels and other accommodations. Here are my recommended places to stay in Yogyakarta:

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Budget OptionSnooze Hostel Yogyakarta is just a 10-minute walk from Keraton Yogyakarta. Guests love staying here because of its amazing and helpful staff, clean rooms and facilities, and friendly vibe.

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Mid-range OptionGreenhost Boutique Hotel Prawirotaman is a green hotel located in Kota Gede. Guests love staying here because of its unique concept, hospitable staff, and proximity to nice restaurants and bars.

πŸ‘‰πŸΌ Luxury OptionMarriott Hotel is a 5-star hotel in Yogyakarta with onsite restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and a spa. Aside from its facilities, guests love staying here because of its exceptional customer service, big and cozy rooms, comfortable beds, and delicious breakfast.

πŸ“ Sample Itinerary: Things to Do in Yogyakarta

Here’s a sample itinerary for when you visit Yogyakarta. This is pretty much the same itinerary that we followed when I visited it with my friends:

✈️ How to get to Yogyakarta

There are many ways to get to Yogyakarta, but for the purpose of this blog post, I’ll focus on how to get to Yogyakarta from Bali and Jakarta.

Bali to Yogyakarta

  • The fastest way to travel to Yogyakarta from Bali is by air. For budget flights within Southeast Asia, I choose flying with AirAsia.
  • The cheapest way to Yogyakarta from Bali is by bus

Jakarta to Yogyakarta

πŸš— Getting around Yogyakarta

A convenient way of getting around Yogyakarta is by renting a car or booking tailor-made private tour with a driver.

Renting a car or a motorcycle

If you want more flexibility, control of your time, and if you are looking to experience driving in Indonesia, I recommend renting a car or a motorcycle.

Booking a customized private tour with a driver (this is what we did!)

If, like us, you aren’t familiar with Jogja and would like to experience the best things to do in Yogyakarta with a highly-rated and trustworthy local driver, I recommend booking a customized private tour with a driver, which is also what we did during our trip to Yogyakarta.

It was one of our best decisions for our Yogyakarta trip. He picked us up from the airport and for the duration of our stay in Yogyakarta, he picked us up from the hotel, brought us to places we wanted to visit in and around Yogyakarta, and even took us to good food spots not frequented by tourists, as we requested.

So, to experience the best things to do in Yogyakarta hassle-free and comfortably, I recommend booking a local driver for your trip to Yogyakarta.

🧳 What to pack for Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta can be pretty hot and humid, so bring sunblock and hand fans. 

If you’re visiting temples, please bring pants, long skirts, or a sarong. As the temples are religious sites, please dress appropriately.

If you’re visiting the Jomblang Cave, bring clothes you can use for rappelling.

πŸ“– Travel Guide: Know Before You Go

Here are the things you need to know before you experience the best things to do in Yogyakarta.

  • Local weather: Yogyakarta is located in Indonesia, a tropical country. It has rainy and dry months.
  • Timezone: Yogyakarta’s timezone is GMT+7.
  • Currency: The official currency of Yogyakarta is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR).
  • Official language: Javanese is the official language of the Yogyakarta Special Region.
  • Best time to visit Yogyakarta: As in many, if not all, Southeast Asian countries, Yogyakarta has two seasons: Dry and Rainy. The best time to visit Yogyakarta is during its dry months, which are from April to October.
  • Recommended trip duration: Many people head to Yogyakarta to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Candi Borobudur and Prambanan. But Yogyakarta is more than these two fascinating temples. If you’d like to visit other interesting historical and cultural sites, explore the city and its vibrant art and culinary scene, and go on an adventure to Kalibiru National Park and Jomblang Cave, I recommend planning at least four (4) days in Yogyakarta.

FAQs: Best Things to Do in Yogyakarta for First-Timers

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Yogyakarta Indonesia:

Is it worth visiting Yogyakarta?

Definitely! I’ve been to many countries in Southeast Asia and have visited many places in Indonesia. With its interesting ancient temples, proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Candi Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, fascinating culture, and vibrant street art and food scene, I’d say that Yogyakarta is indeed worth visiting.

How many days should I spend in Yogyakarta?

I suggest staying in Yogyakarta for at least four days. It should give you enough time to visit its majestic ancient temples, explore the city and its historical sites, and enjoy its vibrant art scene, culinary activities, and natural resources.Β 

What is Yogyakarta best known for?

Yogyakarta is known as the center of Javanese fine arts, culture, and history. It is home to UNESCO World Heritage Sites Prambanan Temple Compounds and Cosmological Axis of Yogyakarta and its historical landmarks. From Yogyakarta, you can also take an hour’s drive to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the majestic Candi Borobudur.Β 

Is Yogyakarta cheaper than Bali?

Yes, hotels, tours and experiences, and food are generally cheaper in Yogyakarta than in Bali.

What to do in Yogyakarta for three days?

βœ”οΈ Day 1: Borobudur Sunrise, Merapi Jeep Tour, Prambanan Temples, Ramayana Ballet
βœ”οΈ Day 2: Taman Sari Water Castle & Underground Mosque, Kraton Yogyakarta, Batik Making Class or Silver Making Workshop, and Street Food Tour in the evening
βœ”οΈ Day 3: Jomblang Cave and Timang Beach OR go street art hunting, shop at Malioboro Street, and enjoy your free time.

What is the best one-day itinerary for visiting Yogyakarta?

If you’re interested in exploring ancient temples and historical sites, a perfect one-day itinerary for visiting Yogyakarta would be Candi Borobudur Sunrise, Candi Mendut, Taman Sari Water Castle & Underground Mosque, Kraton Yogyakarta, Prambanan Temple Sunset, and Ramayana Ballet. If you still have the energy, you can explore the street food scene in Malioboro.

Is Yogyakarta touristy?

While Yogyakarta is a famous tourist destination for both local and foreign travelers, it’s not a touristy place, especially compared to Bali, another famous tourist destination in Indonesia.

The Wrap-up: Best Things to Do in Yogyakarta

Visiting Yogyakarta was one of the most memorable experiences I had in the many times I’ve visited Indonesia. As someone fascinated by ancient culture and experiencing new things, I truly loved experiencing the best things to do in Yogyakarta, especially exploring Candi Borobudur, watching the sunset from Prambanan Temple, off-roading in Mount Merapi, and exploring Taman Sari Water Castle and Underground Mosque.

While there are still so many things you can experience in this destination rich in history and culture, I hope that the above list of the best things to do in Yogyakarta has helped you in planning your itinerary.

That’s it! If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch with me. I’d be happy to help!

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