Must-Visit Attractions in Ubud, Bali

Visit the Pura Saraswati Temple to relax by a tranquil lotus pond
Visit the Pura Saraswati Temple to relax by a tranquil lotus pond | © Elena Ermakova / Alamy
Edira Putri

Ubud, the art and culture capital of Bali, has a lot to offer if you tire of idyllic coasts and hip bars. From monkey-filled forests to a demon-fronted cave temple, here are our favourite attractions in and around the city.

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Ubud Monkey Forest

With sacred temples, ornate traditional statues, and hundreds of free-roaming monkeys, Ubud Monkey Forest is an all-round natural, cultural and spiritual experience. Find a serene atmosphere amid the 12.5ha (30 acres) of towering trees, and a mystical vibe as you travel between temples, halls and statues – and as you watch the friendly, long-tailed macaques.

Goa Gajah

The ornately crafted entrance to this cave, which is dominated by a wild-looking demon, is just one of the many fascinating things about this ancient temple. The original use of the cave has been lost in time, but it’s thought it could have been a place for meditation and reflection. Today, you can enter through the mouth of the demon to explore inside, where you’ll find exquisite figures from Hinduism and Buddhism.

Pura Taman Saraswati

This glorious water palace has a delicate lotus pond in front of a majestic, traditional Balinese gate. It was built to honour Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of wisdom, knowledge and arts, and has epic architecture, water features and graceful carvings. It’s also one of the best spots in Ubud to watch traditional performances.

Tirta Empul Temple

Legends tell of a feud between a king named Mayadenawa and Lord Indra, the Hindu god of the heavens, storms, rains and river flows. While fleeing the god, King Mayadenawa crafted a poisoned spring that brought down Lord Indra’s troops. But the god immediately created another to heal his men. That magical spring continues to be a source of healing; the water pouring into the purification pool at the Tirta Empul Temple, distributed through stone-carved spouts.

Tegalalang Rice Terrace

The postcard-worthy scenery of delicate rice terraces surrounded by lush palm trees and tropical greeneries makes Tegalalang a visually appealing sight. But exotic beauty is only part of the charm here; the rice terraces were built to facilitate effective use of water and to organise local social units. In other words, they bring people together and reflect the values and philosophy of Balinese culture. Explore the villages nearby to hear fascinating local stories and observe the customs and lifestyles of people who built and still maintain the rice terraces.

Tegenungan Waterfall

Tegenungan Waterfall near Ubud is one of the must-see natural attractions in Bali. It’s surrounded by Ubud’s signature lush greenery and tropical highland ambience. It’s safe to hike and explore to the top of the waterfall; and on certain days – when the water is high enough – people jump 32ft (10m) into the cool water below.

Campuhan Ridge Walk

Among the many splendid hills and landscapes in Ubud, Campuhan Ridge remains one of the most popular spots for hiking, cycling and sightseeing. Here you’ll find the ornate and historical Gunung Lebah temple, plus rivers, valleys, a gorgeous stretch of palm trees and fresh tropical greenery. This neighbourhood is also closely tied to the ancient history of Ubud: it’s the meeting point of two rivers where the Hindu priest Rsi Markandeya received divine inspiration and built the first temple in town – an event that spurred Ubud’s significance as a spiritual escape.

Blanco Renaissance Museum

In Don Antonio Blanco’s mansion, on a gorgeous hilltop in Ubud, the Blanco Renaissance Museum presents a unique mix of cultures that inspired and influenced the maestro’s works. Though many pieces in Blanco’s collections of paintings, illustrated poetry and erotic artworks were inspired by Ubud – where he relocated and his art flourished – his mansion is a European baroque-style building with a touch of renaissance grandeur.

Agung Rai Museum of Art (ARMA)

The Agung Rai Museum of Art is a cosy place to learn about Balinese art – both classical and contemporary. It houses an impressive collection of works by prominent artists from across the Indonesian archipelago – but especially Bali – many of whom are contemporary artists adapting to more traditional styles. The museum often hosts cultural events including traditional dance and music during the evenings.

Keen to visit? Ubud is just one of many fantastic destinations included as part of Culture Trip’s specially curated 12-day Bali tour, led by our local insider.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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