Whether you’re a nature adventurer, cultural geek, culinary aficionado or even shopping enthusiast, Yogyakarta offers a sweet combination of all aspects of tourism. From magnificent sunrise views to temples and shopping streets, read our guide on how to spend 48 hours in Yogyakarta
05.30: Sunrise at Suroloyo Peak
Suroloyo Peak is the highest summit at the picturesque Menoreh Hills, which share the neighbourhood with the renowned eco-tourism destination Kulon Progo. This peak is one of the most popular spots to catch Yogyakarta’s most glorious sunrise that cast rays of light upon the Borobudur Temple and Java’s big four mountains: Merapi, Merbabu, Sumbing, and Sindoro. Other than the breathtaking view, this peak also holds some religious artefacts, including ascetic pavilions and statues.
Suroloyo Peak, Giritengah, Magelang, Central Java
08.00: Sightseeing at Kalibiru
From one peak to another, the newly-popular destination of Kalibiru will present you with the sweeping nature view of lush jungles, lakes, mountains, even the seashore when the day is clear. Organised by the local community, this creative eco-tourism destination boasts various outbound activities and stunning spots that guarantee coveted selfies, such as a stretching wooden bridge and a charming treehouse.
Kalibiru Wisata Alam, Hargowilis, Kulon Progo Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta
11.30: Lunch at Bale Raos
Head back to the city centre for a lavish lunch that will recharge your energy for the next adventure. Bale Raos serves royal cuisine as loved by Yogyakarta’s Sultans, with an affordable price. From the original creation of Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX named Bebek Suwar Suwir to spice-rich beverages, this restaurant offers you a distinctive dining experience you can’t taste anywhere else.
Bale Raos, Jalan Magangan Kulon, Panembahan, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta
12.30: Explore Yogyakarta’s Palace
Now that you’ve dined like a royal, it’s time to actually see the life of the Javanese regal. The royal palace complex, or keraton, still serves as a residence for the Sultan’s family, but some parts of it are open to public. There’s a diorama museum depicting traditional practices of the monarchy and showcasing the royal family’s antiques and heirlooms. You can also watch traditional dance and music performances, including the sacred Serimpi dance.
Keraton Yogyakarta, Jalan Rotowijayan Blok No. 1, Panembahan, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta
15.00: Visit the Affandi Museum
Affandi was a renowned Indonesian artist considered as the nation’s father of expressionism and perhaps the most internationally-famous and acclaimed Indonesian painter. He decided to reside in Yogyakarta in 1945, where the painter designed a free-form house for himself. Now serving as a contemporary museum, this iconic building in Yogyakarta houses more than 250 of his paintings, along with some works by his artist wife Maryati and daughter Kartika, who also became a painter herself.
Affandi Museum, Jalan Laksda Adisucipto, Caturtunggal, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta
00: Sunset at Prambanan Temple
17.00: Sunset at Prambanan Temple
As Indonesia’s biggest Hindu temple complex, this temple is a significant cultural destination not to be missed. Tourists can explore the massive temple compound and learn the ancient history of the nation, way before the country even came to be. Beyond the mighty and mysteriously grand construction, the temple bears with it some intriguing stories and legends you can learn from hired local tour guides (explicitly ask for one that can tell you stories and explain hidden symbols).
Stay for the magnificent, awe-inspiring sunset that will turn the ornate grandness into a monumental silhouette as the sky bursts with splendid sunset shades of pinks and golds. There’s also a regular Ramayana Ballet show, a cultural performance based on one of Hinduism’s most prominent epics of Rama and Shinta. Be sure to check the schedule to find out whether the show is scheduled for the day of your visit.
Prambanan temple near Yogyakarta on Java island Indonesia | © Tatiana Popova/Shutterstock
Prambanan Temple, Bokoharjo, Sleman Regency, Special Region of Yogyakarta
05.30: Sunrise at Punthuk Sethumbu
Perhaps you’ve heard of the famed Borobudur Temple, the biggest Buddhist sanctuary in the world. Start the day with the only thing as jaw-dropping as visiting the temple itself —watching the sunrise with the majestic temple in the backdrop. From this hill, the first light of the day will slowly reveal the mesmerising temple complex and its surrounding lush nature. The morning mist makes it appear like the temple is floating on clouds, intensifying the magical and mystical atmosphere of the temple. If the day is clear, tourists will also be granted a sweeping view across Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu.
Punthuk Setumbu, Karangrejo, Magelang, Central Java
08.00: Borobudur Temple
Breathtaking as it is, the sneak peek of Borobudur is just that, a teaser. When you get to the vast temple complex, it’s a whole other world, indeed. The complex consists of platforms built with a distinctive Javanese Buddhist architecture that blends traditional beliefs with Buddhist concepts. The stone walls are carved with reliefs depicting ancient narratives and scriptures, and 504 Buddha statues leading up to the central dome. In fact, Borobudur’s relief is considered the largest and most complete unit of reliefs in the world, making this destination popular among tourists, scholars, and religious pilgrims alike.
Borobudur Temple, Borobudur, Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia
13.00: Taman Sari Water Castle
Taman Sari Water Castle is one of the most beautiful ancient palaces in Yogyakarta and Indonesia. Built in the 1700s, this castle serves as both a fortress and recreational site for the Yogyakarta Sultanate royal family. The purposes of this building are reflected through the refreshingly airy building plan with large pools, spacious rooms to rest, as well as tall stern towers. In addition to the eye-soothing bathing complex, this castle complex also has an artificial lake, gardens, and an underground hall that once served as a covert mosque.
Kampung Wisata Taman Sari, Patehan, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
15.00: Shopping spree at Malioboro Street
As Yogyakarta’s main shopping area, this is perhaps the most lively street in the city, bustling with shops, street food vendors, hawkers, restaurants, and more. This street holds tourists’ best chance to purchase traditional products at the most affordable prices, from batik clothes to handmade crafts. This street is also a hub for tourists exploring the city, where various museums and palaces flocks nearby. Even if you’re not big on shopping, you can still find many things to do in Malioboro, such as venturing on for scrumptious local snacks or riding around on a becak.
Jalan Malioboro, Sosromenduran, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia
18.00: Eat like a local
Nothing gives you such a genuine local experience in Yogyakarta like dining at an angkringan or traditional food vendor. As the sun goes down, the city centre will be lined up with erected tents or carts of angkringan. So here’s how it works: tourists can handpick various traditional side dishes set on the cart — different kind of satay (skewer), tofu, tempeh, quail eggs and more. Then the vendor will prepare the dish for you for a really affordable price. Simple as it is, these humble establishments have been a big part of locals’ daily lives and might be a relaxing way to conclude your fun trip in Yogyakarta.