The 48 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Indonesia

Rice terrace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Rice terrace in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia | © Christophe Faugere / Shutterstock
Edira Putri

The sprawling archipelago of Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands, 300 ethnicities and countless idyllic landscapes, making it ever-intriguing to explore. From majestic mountains to glorious temples, discover the most beautiful places in the country.

1. Mount Bromo, will you hike it?

Natural Feature

Mount Bromo volcano, Indonesia
Kevin Zhang / Unsplash
This volcano, often surrounded by smoke and a multi-colored sky, has become one of the iconic sights of Indonesia. Watching the sunrise at Mount Bromo from Java Island is an unforgettable excursion. The volcano also shares the area with a vast desert, other lush mountains and hills, sweeping flower fields and some waterfalls, most of which can be explored in a day or two.

2. Ubud, the beating heart of Balinese culture

Yoga Studio

Beautiful sunrise over famous Balinese landmark Tegalalang rice terraces. Magic sun rays, amazing light.
Oleg Breslavtsev / Adobe Stock

Considered the art and culture capital of Bali, Ubud charms with elegant art galleries and lively traditional performances. It’s also a beautiful neighborhood: the Tegalalang Rice Terrace, for example, is a must-visit spot while in Bali. The lush jungles and calming rivers have also provided many wellness retreats with a serene atmosphere. Even a casual stroll or meal in this locality could easily come with a lovely view of nature or architecture.

3. Lake Toba, for natural beauty and rural living

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Toba is not only the biggest lake in the country; it could be the most beautiful. Almost twice the size of Singapore, there are so many viewpoints from which you can enjoy this volcanic lake, surrounded by hills and lush greenery. Make sure you visit Samosir, the charming island in the middle of the lake. Then, in the nearby villages, you can also explore the fascinating Batak culture.

4. Borobudur Temple, where ancient culture meets jaw-dropping beauty

Archaeological site, Buddhist Temple

Borobudur is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist Temple in Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia
© Udompeter/Shutterstock
The biggest Buddhist sanctuary in the world is must-visit, not only because of its religious significance but also for the beauty and charm. Built around the eighth century, this temple is a reflection of the long and intricate national history, incorporating religion, culture, customs and architecture. Visiting, you can observe the ornate and mesmerising stone carvings, gaze at the main grand structure and immerse themselves in the surrounding scenery.

5. Wae Rebo Village, for a taste of local culture

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Bird eye view of indigenous conical huts in Wae Rebo Village, Flores Island, Indonesia
© Suwida Boonyatistarn / Shutterstock

The unique charm of this village in Flores has earned it more and more recognition worldwide. The cone-shaped houses align beautifully against the backdrop of mountains and mist; they’re adored by domestic and international tourists alike. Don’t miss the surrounding nature either, with thriving orchids, wildlife and tropical greeneries all nearby.

6. Lombok, Indonesia's number one Bali alternative

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Some say Lombok reminds them of Bali decades ago, before the island became a tourist magnet. The landscape and beaches here are no doubt on par with Bali – in fact, their pristine state may make them even more beautiful. Among the most glorious sights are the volcano Mount Rinjani and Pink Beach. The Gili Islands, just off the coast of Lombok, are also a must-visit, offering a mix of natural beauty and modern attractions such as luxury resorts and hip bars.

7. Nusa Islands, for underwater adventures

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Beautiful view of Kelingking beach at Nusa Penida island, Bali
Sneha Chandrashekar / Unsplash

Sometimes dubbed The Maldives of Bali, this string of three islands off the coast of Bali is an up-and-coming tropical paradise with natural attractions that many would argue outshine the famed mainland. Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan each have their own specialty, but all three offer a splendid underwater scene. There’s always thriving wildlife and translucent water all around – perfect for diving, snorkeling or water sports. Other favourite activities include cliff-jumping in Nusa Ceningan, crossing the yellow bridge between Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan, caving and hiking.

8. Bukittinggi, for a glimpse into Indonesia's history

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This charming town in West Sumatra is at the forefront of tourism in the province. At 930m (3,051ft) above sea level, it has a glorious highland view and crisp air. Popular destinations include the majestic Sianok Canyon, Japanese WWII tunnels, hilltop fortress Fort de Kock, Pasar Atas market and Jam Gadang clock tower, which was built during the colonial era in 1926.

9. Bukit Lawang, for supporting local wildlife

Forest, Natural Feature

Located in the vast Gunung Leuser National Park, this charming village is the cherry on top of the flourishing, pristine tropical jungle. Bukit Lawang is a sanctuary for the beloved orangutan, serving as both natural habitat and conservation centre. The area also reverberates with natural charms like rivers, hills and towering trees, making it an ideal spot for trekking while spotting the thriving Sumatra wildlife. Other popular activities include river-tubing, caving, even volunteering to teach local children or helping out with orangutan rehabilitation.

10. Gili Islands, for a truly dreamy island escape

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Tropical sea with turquoise water and trees. Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
ronnybas / Adobe Stock
This string of islets off the coast of Lombok used to be a notorious backpacking destination. Today, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air welcome everyone, from lavish globetrotters to travellers on a shoestring budget. And the charms they hold sure check all the boxes. We’re talking beachside hip bars overlooking glorious sunsets, hiking up the hills and diving down the coral reef in one day, and scrumptious local seafood dinners followed by rave parties.

11. Yogyakarta, to experience ancient traditions

Hindu Temple, Market, Museum, Natural Feature

Yogyakarta, or Jogja, as it’s often lovingly called, is a cherished guardian of the Javanese culture, keeping profound traditions alive and well throughout the centuries. This results in a truly distinctive town, a stronghold for tradition and culture that fascinates tourists with all its charms. The Yogyakarta Sultanate palace complex remains one of the unmissable highlights where tourists can observe and interact with the ancient culture in the flesh. Exploring villages of batik-makers and visiting the majestic Prambanan Temple are also among the best experiences to have in Java’s center of art and culture.

12. Dieng Plateau, for stunning mountain vistas

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Perched at 2,000m (6,562ft) above sea level, Dieng Plateau is one of the coolest destinations in Indonesia, and not just weather-wise. Other than the sweeping mountain view of jungles and distant villages, this highland also has a multi-coloured lake, a hot spring and ancient Hindu temples. Once a year, tourists flock to the spot for a much-anticipated festival that includes traditional rituals, performances, and jazz above the clouds.

13. Jakarta, for epic skyscrapers and tiny islands

Architectural Landmark

Crowded traffic around welcoming statue in Jakarta, Indonesia
Eko Herwantoro / Unsplash

Most tourists only know Jakarta as a metropolitan city with stern tall buildings, traffic jams, and a vibrant nightlife. But the province also includes hundreds of small beautiful islands just a few kilometers offshore. Called “Kepulauan Seribu” which means “a thousand islands”, tourists have a fantastic choice on offer. Some popular destinations are Tidung Island, Bidadari Island, Pramuka Island, and Harapan Island. Most of the islands area host fascinating corals and other oceanic species, so snorkeling or diving is a must-try.

14. Bandung, for a honeymoon to remember

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Arguably the most romantic city in Java, Bandung is an amazing honeymoon destination with a great balance of embracing nature and welcoming new swoon-worthy accommodations with creative concepts. Bandung has an ever-growing choice of romantic hotels and resorts that offer honeymooners a private, luxurious time with a touch of nature, many of which come with a private pool overlooking Bandung’s lush hills and mountains.

15. Padang, for riding waves

Architectural Landmark

Located in West Sumatra, Padang is lapped by the Indian Ocean. Its beaches, including the famous Air Manis Beach, are blessed with the strong waves, perfect for daring surfers. Padang also has a beautiful mountainous area, not too far from the amazing beaches. The city is also home to some historic sites to visit. And with the absorbing culture and renowned Padang cuisine, the town really has the whole package.

16. Manado, for a diverse range of natural landscapes

Other than plenty of beaches for seaside fun, the town’s beauty extends to the depth of the sea, home to wonderful coral beds. The Bunaken National Park in the Manado Gulf is strategically located in the center of a massive Coral Triangle, which is home to almost 400 species of oceanic creatures. Other than its reputation as a diving and surfing paradise, the city is also famous for its distinctive culinary landscape, dominated with special spicy seafood, fresh from the ocean.

Raja Ampat, for an untouched tropical haven

With an incredibly lively underwater scene, this tropical paradise is home to more than 530 species of coral, 700 species of mollusk and 1,300 types of fish. Despite the magnetism of exotic species and a breathtaking island view, Raja Ampat remains largely pristine, largely thanks to the remote location. More than just a divers’ paradise, Raja Ampat is also unforgettable for birdwatchers, photographers and adventurers. Hell, even if you just long for a luxury vacation with an amazing view, you’ll have a great time.

Colourful Corals in Raja Ampat

Tana Toraja, for trekking in the hills

Mostly prized for the bewitching local funeral customs, Tana Toraja is a beautiful destination. This highland in South Sulawesi has a majestic backdrop of mountain scenery, lush tropical jungles, and ornate villages with captivating traditional houses. Tourists can start the day watching the sun rise from above the clouds, then continue exploring the villages and picturesque hills, including the eerie but fascinating burial cave.

Derawan Islands, six sublime tropical islands

This archipelago in East Kalimantan is a stellar example of a tropical paradise. It’s comprised of six islands and some smaller islets, each with individual adventures and charm. Maratua Island, for example, has sublime sea caves, lakes and lavish resorts. Kakaban Island offers swimming in a lake full of stingless jellyfish. Meanwhile, Sangalaki Island is popular for diving and snorkeling; the thriving underwater scene is filled with coral, manta rays, turtles and more. The relatively remote location helps conserve the natural beauty of this archipelago, keeping it pristine and beautiful.

Bangka Belitung Islands, for palm trees and white sand beaches

Located off the coast of mainland Sumatra, Bangka Belitung Island is famed for its idyllic beaches with blissful white sand, iconic granite boulders, and palm trees. But beyond the translucent water and hypnotizing sunsets, the locality is also home to impressive cultural and historical landmarks—many of which are heritage buildings from the colonial era—that suit the charming natural view. From this archipelago, tourists can also venture to the surrounding smaller inhabited islands for even more pristine natural beauty.

Lampung, for chilling on the beach

As the southernmost region in the island of Sumatra, the province is entitled to extensive coastlines to the Java Sea and Sunda Strait. Most of the province’s border is the sea, resulting in expansive wonderful beaches to visit. Lampung also hosts many smaller islands, each one with its own character and charm. Tourists who love wildlife will love Lampung, as the town provides many activities such as dolphin-watching, elephant-riding, and jungle explorations.

Seram Island, for a remote getaway

This island may be infrequently heard of due to its relatively remote location, but if that happens to sound like a perfect getaway for you, then Seram Island in Maluku is totally worth the journey. The island’s most popular destination is the exotic and very private Ora Beach, which is often dubbed as the “Little Maldives of Indonesia”. It has comfortable luxury resorts that will make you feel in a world of your own. The area is also heaven for travellers who like to hike and watch the wildlife, as the translucent beach area is surrounded by lush pristine jungle.

The Most Beautiful National Parks in Indonesia

17. Komodo National Park

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Komodo national park, Indonesia
© Chuckaoo Majkl/Shutterstock
Mighty and otherworldly, the Komodo dragon could be the most fascinating creature on earth – and one you can only encounter in the wild at the Komodo National Park. And that lizard is hardly the only interesting thing in the string of exotic islands that constitute the reserve. The three islands (Komodo, Padar, and Rinca) have glorious hills and a beach view, along with a breathtaking coastline, lush tropical hills and thriving underwater wildlife. Komodo Island even has the famed pink sand beach, while Padar Island has an iconic hill with a view of three magnificent bays.

18. Tanjung Puting National Park

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Tanjung Puting National Park is a vast, mostly untouched tropical jungle. Visit it to indulge in heavenly fresh air, mystical morning fog and rivers gushing. Still not sold? It’s also home to the wild orangutan, the adorable primate that steals the hearts of many with its loveliness and wit.

19. West Bali National Park

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Although many parts of Bali are now well-developed touristy destinations, raw natural beauty remains at the tip of its northwest area. West Bali National Park features lush greeneries, majestic hills, and mountains, as well as idyllic, pristine beaches. The park is home to some endemic species and exotic birds, including the endangered white Bali Starling, sacred kingfisher, and more. The park area also includes Menjangan Island, a favorite diving spot known for its beautiful walls and untouched corals.

20. Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

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Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia
Elvira Syamsir / Unsplash

This national park highlights Mount Bromo, an awe-inspiring active volcano that sits in the middle of a plain called Segara Wedi (Sea of Sand). The iconic blown-off top, showing an active crater that emits white sulfurous smoke, has been one of the most popular sceneries from Indonesia. The national park also has Mount Semeru, also known as “The Great Mountain” or Mahameru, the highest and one of the most active volcanoes in Java. The “Tengger” from the national park’s name refers to the Tengger people who inhabit the area around the park, an ancient community believed to be descendants of the Majapahit Kingdom’s princes.

Kerinci Seblat National Park

The expansive national park spans over four provinces in Sumatra and includes the country’s second highest volcano peak, Mount Kerinci. The unspoiled nature helps wildlife to thrive in this area, making the national park a home to a mixture of peculiar species. More than 4,000 plant species also call the park home, including the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldi, and also the tallest flower, Titan arum. The area is also the natural habitat of protected wild species of tigers, rhinoceroses, and birds.

Ujung Kulon National Park

The massive Krakatoa explosion in 1883 wiped out villages, which, in turn, caused humans to flee, in the area that now makes up the national park, allowing the peninsula to host various flora and fauna. Decades later, people returned, but only to preserve and observe the vibrant wildlife in the lowland rainforest. The park includes the Krakatoa islets, some small nearby islands, and the peninsula area at the westernmost of Java. The protected park is home to numerous endangered animals and plants species, including the iconic one-horned rhinoceros, Java mouse-deer, silvery gibbon, and more.

Way Kambas National Park

Located in Lampung, Sumatra, the Way Kambas National Park is home to some critically endangered species, including Sumatran elephants, tigers, and rhinoceroses. Locally, the park is well known as a habitat and conservation area for elephants where visitors can interact with the animals. The park also has an elephant training center with accommodations nearby. It also has mangrove areas, freshwater forests, and a coastline. Sadly, the park and the endangered animals are under constant threat of poaching.

Baluran National Park

This national park is often dubbed “Indonesia’s little Africa”, and for good reason. Compared to other national parks that are dominated by lush tropical forests, this location has a dry climate that sustains different sets of plants, birds, and mammals ecosystem. The area covers vast mountainous areas and savanna, where endangered mammals like banteng, Java mouse-deer, fishing cat, Javan leopard, and the Javan lutung roam free. Also in the neighborhood are hundreds of endangered plants and endemic birds. Standing tall at its center is the extinct volcano Mount Baluran. Tourists can sign up for an organized safari tour arranged by the park to ensure a more convenient and safe adventure.

Gunung Leuser National Park

For wildlife enthusiasts who fancy a real jungle experience, this conservation area is among the most pristine and wild in Indonesia, especially the part that belongs to the Special Region of Aceh. The diverse wildlife is thriving, sustained by dense vegetation and untouched nature, leading this location to be referred to as a “complete ecosystem laboratory”. Contrary to confined animals at zoos or some other conservation centers, the orangutans, monkeys, elephants, and rhinoceros in this park are at least semi-wild, or even wild.

Tangkoko National Park

Located in less-traveled eastern Indonesia, this nature reserve does not receive as much credit as it deserves. Sulawesi itself is one of Indonesia’s foremost wildlife fronts, supporting the lives of countless endemic and exotic species. At 8,890 hectares, Tangkoko has more than tourists could ever hope for, including the Sulawesi’s prima donna bird, the Maleo. A stroll through the jungle pretty much guarantees encounters with unique species like the world’s smallest primate Tarsius and black tailless monkeys.

Places in Indonesia Even Locals Don’t Know About

21. Beji Guwang Canyon

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Also known as “the hidden canyon of Beji Guwang”, this beautiful spot has managed to escape Bali’s bustling tourism scene. Some people who have been lucky enough to witness its beauty have said that you can observe various human expressions in the canyon’s curves. Located near the popular Sukawati Market and the temple of Pura Dalem Guwang, this place is considered sacred by locals.

Pulau Biawak

Komodo Island, the land of the mighty komodo dragon, is well-known, but not many people know about a similar island off Indramayu, West Java. Giant monitor lizards roam free, along with other exotic bird and fish species. The island is also home to a majestic lighthouse built during Indonesia’s colonial era. Pulau Biawak, or Biawak Island, is characterized by dense mangrove in the middle and stunning beaches with rich corals around the edge.

Parangkusumo Sand Dunes

It might be surprising to learn about such sand dunes on a beautiful tropical archipelago like Indonesia. Even many locals don’t suspect that Yogyakarta hides massive sandbanks. Located near a more popular destination, the Parangkusumo Beach, this sandbank attracts travelers and adventurers to try sand-boarding in a natural landscape so rare in Indonesia.

Pulau Pombo

Pulau Pombo, or Pombo Island, is a hidden tropical paradise in Ambon, Maluku, in the less-traveled east region of Indonesia. This small island is inhabited by pombo birds, two-colored pigeons unique to the region. As a remote pristine island, Pulau Pombo has clean white sand, lush greenery, and sparkling blue water. But the area is as beautiful underwater as it is on land, with flourishing coral adding vibrant colors to the brilliant blue ocean.

Danau Kakaban

This lake in Kakaban Island, East Kalimantan (Borneo) is also known as the jellyfish lake for an obvious reason. Danau Kakaban (Kakaban Lake) is home to at least four different species of jellyfish with one thing in common: they do not sting. So, the hundreds of jellyfish floating underwater is more of an attraction for tourists than an annoyance. They live in the rather peculiar habitat of a semi-salt-water lake trapped inside a small island. Therefore, the species living in the lake show atypical behaviors that have captivated scientists and adventurers alike.

Tebing Lamreh

A natural pavilion from which to enjoy a picturesque view of the coastline, cliffs, ocean, and jungles, Tebing Lamreh is a hidden paradise in the Special Region of Aceh. From this cliff, tourists can see Weh Island, the westernmost point of Indonesia, and other small islands scattered in the ocean. The cool fresh breeze and sunset views are further reasons to visit this place.

Air Terjun Laguna

Air Terjun Laguna (Laguna Waterfall) is a remote attraction nestled in the middle of dense pine woods. Not many eyes have seen this place, but those who have could have sworn that this is the most beautiful waterfall in Indonesia. Surrounded by lush vegetation, exquisite birds and butterflies, and epic cliffs, this waterfall is certainly worth the long journey through the woods.

Edelweiss Garden of Pananjakan

Most locals (and many international tourists) have heard or witnessed the captivating beauty of Mount Bromo, an active volcano in East Java. But few have traveled the extra mile to reach the carpets of edelweiss flowers, framed by the beautiful mountain. The beauty of this savanna matches the world-famous sunrises, and tourists can actually enjoy both in one visit.

Tebing Citatah

This magnificent cliff complex remains unknown to many locals. On weekdays, some of the cliffs are occupied by the training military, proving that this is not an adventure for just anyone. In fact, you have to be a certified rock climber to even attempt to ascend to some of the cliffs. But once you do, you’ll have an unrestricted view of the city. Located in Padalarang, Bandung, this spot is near the better-known Pawon Cave and Stone Garden.

Danau Idenberg

Located in the middle of the Jayawijaya ridge, the beauty of Danau Idenberg (Idenberg Lake) is reserved for those who are fit and adventurous enough to reach it. This lake is considered mysterious because sometimes the water overflows, while at other times it appears to be dry. Some mountain climbers have also reported sightings of black swans, considered odd due to the height and atmosphere. The surrounding white-flecked mountaintops are a rare sight in a tropical paradise like Indonesia.

The Most Difficult Places to Visit in Indonesia

22. Jomblang and Grubug Cave, Central Java

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This vertical cave requires skill, experience, gear and courage to explore. Study and practice single-rope technique before driving to the cave’s mouth. To reach the bottom of the sinkhole–where peculiar ancient species that had never seen the sun dwell–adventurers will have to conquer the slippery vertical drop. Jomblang is actually just part of a massive cave system through the Mount Kidul area, and there’s a pitch black tunnel that will lead you to the adjacent Grubug Cave, with its famous ‘heaven’s light’.

Mount Leuser, Aceh

Hiking this mountain is made difficult by the complicated and unpredictable land—dense untouched jungles, rushing rivers, steep rocks. But the real danger and challenge lies in the wildlife. Even if you stay right on track, there are real possibilities of encountering snakes, bears, even tigers. The summit of Mount Leuser can be reached in about two weeks. The mountain is located in a relatively remote area, and to reach the starting point tourists have to switch flights in the country’s Sharia-governed Aceh Province.

Breueh Island, Aceh

Sabang is the westernmost city of Indonesia. Further to the northwest is Breueh Island, one of the most beautiful and remote islands in the region. To reach it you’ll have to find a fisherman on a nearby island who doesn’t mind taking extra passengers, as there’s no ferry or organized boat operators there.

Lake Kaco, Jambi

This mystical lake has become somewhat like a fairy-tale, as not many tourists are prepared to traverse 500 kilometers of jungle between the lake and the nearest town, Jambi. The road trip takes at least 10 hours, followed by four hours of walking through dense jungles. The luminescent lake is approximately 30 meters wide and surrounded by lush jungle. Although the opulent blue water is breathtaking, Lake Kaco is even more mystical at night, when the surface of the water reflects the moonlight like a mirror. Daring adventurers can swim in this mysterious lake, but don’t expect to see its bottom. Nobody has ever dived to the bottom.

Siroktabe Island, North Sumatra

This remote island off the coast of Sumatra offers the ultimate survival adventure, with no facilities whatsoever — no homestays, toilet, or kitchen, let alone electricity or communication networks. Adventurers will have to rely on their own wits to find transportation to this island, whether by convincing a fisherman to take them or finding a tour operator (although there are only a couple that will go here). Don’t attempt to canoe your way to this virgin, idyllic island, though. It’s not even on Google Maps. Daredevils can enjoy the whole island and have the vast white stretch of beach for themselves.

Baliem Valley, Papua

The remote location and challenging landscape make a trip to Baliem Valley not only difficult but also very expensive. The flight to the nearest airport alone costs significantly more than flights to any other town in the country, and switching flights will be necessary. Baliem Valley is just an entry point to a whole other world of wonderful, mesmerizing, and largely unknown cultures of Papua. Tourists will have to hire a local guide to get through the dense forests to the villages, where indigenous tribes live.

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