Known more as an urban city, Surabaya’s tourism charm is often overlooked in favor of business and shopping. But there is so much more to the city than mega-malls and office buildings. From sightseeing to cultural experiences, discover the top things to see and do in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Surabaya does offer its visitors a myriad of malls and shopping centers, but the Atom Market still holds a special place throughout the city’s history. Established in 1972, this market is still one of the best shopping spots for cheap and locally made goods. The market also serves as a large culinary center where tourists can sample all kinds of traditional sweets, snacks, and meals.
The longest bridge in Southeast Asia so far, Suramadu connects Surabaya with the island of Madura, which previously seemed much more inaccessible and somewhat mysterious. Even if you’re not crossing over, the bridge itself is a lovely sight to behold, with impressive construction and beaming, colorful lights at night.
Thanks to the Suramadu Bridge, the beautiful island of Madura is now conveniently within reach from Surabaya. It takes roughly half-an-hour to drive across the toll bridge but once you reach the island, it’s a whole other world to explore. This island has numerous natural attractions worth discovering, such as the Arosbaya Limestone Hill, Jaddih Hill, and stunning beaches. If you plan your visit around July or August, you can witness the famed Madura bull racing tournament.
Indonesians know Sampoerna as one of the earliest and most popular clover cigarette (or kretek) brands. But this museum shows much more than just the history of the well-known cigarette producer and its big factory. The building is of historical interest in itself, being a heritage colonial building with stunning façade and interiors. More than just showing visitors factories and its artifacts, this museum also tells stories about kretek and its somewhat bittersweet importance for Indonesia’s working class, along with the family’s wealth and glam, such as the collection of Rolls Royce and glamorous traditional dresses.
Once a vital port town for international trades, Surabaya holds a large population of Chinese descendants. And while the community has been integrated into the local culture, they still uphold many of their original customs and practices learned throughout generations. That unique mix is reflected through the buildings, objects, and distinctive customs of the Surabaya-Chinese. One good example is the Cheng Hoo Mosque, a stunning pagoda-like mosque with a very vivid oriental architecture.
There are several bus tours to choose according to your interest. The local government has Surabaya Shopping and Culinary Track that is available through reservation, with four different routes each month. Another one is the Surabaya Heritage Track organized by the House of Sampoerna. Each track covers Surabaya’s important landmarks and museums according to the theme.
This iconic volcano is not technically in Surabaya, but the city is a popular and convenient hub for the coveted Bromo sunrise tours. Tourists can sign up for tours that will typically leave at midnight in order to arrive at the best spot before the glorious sunrise. Bromo itself is one of Indonesia’s must-visit attractions to enjoy awe-inspiring nature and engage in a cultural experience all at once.
A submarine in the middle of the city? Yes, please! The Monkasel was a Russian submarine used by the Indonesian navy after independence. It is now a popular tourist attraction that will not only showcase the little-known interior of this warcraft but also tell stories about the nation’s maritime and history.