Yogyakarta is located in the beautiful island of Java in Indonesia and it’s a popular spot for backpackers who seek beautiful temples, mountains and culture.
Yogyakarta was one of my favourite places in Java because there was so much to see and do.
And not to mention, to eat!
Below I take you through everything you need to know about planning a trip to Yogyakarta and all the top things to do in Yogyakarta.
This list is based on everything Brad and I did, plus a couple that we had planned to do but simply ran out of time for.
Don't worry! I’ll state the opening times so you won’t make the same mistake, and include prices where possible too.
Ps. Yogyakarta also goes by the name of Jogja which is more commonly what the locals call it.
The best time to visit Yogyakarta is during the dry season of Java which is between the months of May and October. You can visit in the wet season but obviously you’ll have to be prepared for weather issues and potential delays.
Bradley and I visited in the month of August and thought it was perfect. We didn’t experience any rain and nothing was overly crowded.
I suggest at least 3 nights in Yogyakarta. This is because you’ve got a couple of great temples to see which require time, and you’ll definitely want to eat out into the mountainous areas. You could take your time and go slower, but 3 nights is a minimum you should spend.
Okay, now the part you’re really interested in, the top things to do in Yogyakarta! All these activities were fantastic and you’ll be able to tell what my absolute favourite was when you’ve finished reading. So let’s get to it and inspire you with what to do in Yogyakarta.
Maliboro street is the most well known street in Yogyakarta, especially amongst backpackers.
We didn’t visit until our last night but the atmosphere was amazing. It’s filled with shops and local street food, oh and massage spots too and it’s a great place to spend an evening.
I heard that once a week they turn it into a Chinatown type place which would be pretty cool (I love Chinese food!).
This is one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta at night.
A visit to Borobudur temple is one of the bucket list things to do in Yogyakarta. It’s totally worth it. What I will say is that Brad and I didn’t visit at sunrise…..
We set the alarm, woke up, but I was feeling sick, so we visited at around 9-10 am and to be honest, it wasn’t crazy busy, it was just crazy warm!
Below I’m going to give you some pointers to help you book your tickets to Borobudur temple, and I think the sunrise is a great way to do it because the colours look amazing. There will still be crowds, it’s just the amazing backdrop.
While you can totally purchase your own tickets to the temple, it might be worth getting them from tour providers such as GetYourGuide, as the price is so much cheaper and you'll get a few add-ons too!
Entrance: 455,000 IDR (or 375,000 IDR for just the temple complex)
Opening times: 06:30 - 17:00
Prambanan tTmple is 100% one of the best things to do in Yogyakarta, and I believe it’s the most beautiful temple in all of Indonesia (and of my top contenders for the world). The detail and beauty of this temple is astounding.
Lots of people say to visit early to beat the crowds, which you can do, but Bradley and I visited around 3 o'clock and it really wasn’t busy at all.
The temperature was also pleasant, so I recommend visiting in the late afternoon.
When you are there, there are actually around 3 temples to see and you can either walk between them, or catch a shuttle bus.
But, another fun option is to rent segways for 30,000 IDR that you can drive around the full temple complex.
That was super super fun! But I did fall, so be careful!
If you want to visit Borobudur and Prambanan, you can get a package ticket for 675,000 IDR.
Again, we'd also recommend booking ahead with tour providers, so you can skip the line!
Entrance: 375,000 IDR (25 USD)
Opening times: 06:30 - 17:00
Ratu Boko temple is another temple to visit in Yogyakarta, and you can get a shuttle bus from Prambanan that will take you to and from there.
Bradley and I didn’t end up visiting, although it was on my previously planned list of things to do in Yogyakarta, but we kind of ran out of time and were really tired from visiting two temples in one day and doing a LOT of driving.
This temple is less popular, so if you want some unique pictures, then it’s a great spot to visit.
You can also purchase a combo ticket to enter both Ratu Boko and Prambanan for 45 USD.
Entrance: 25 USD
Opening times: 07:00 - 17:00
This is the “water palace” of Yogyakarta, and it’s very cool and beautiful, or so I’ve read.
Basically that, and my next item was on my list of things to do in Yogyakarta, but I left them to the day we went to the temples, and as you read above, we missed the sunrise, so we ran out of time because this place closes very early!
Super annoying, but it’s worth visiting.
The entrance fee is really cheap and you can wander around on your own, or you could hire a local guide for around 50,000 IDR and learn more about its history.
Entrance: 15,000 IDR
Opening times: 09:00 - 15:00
I’m really annoyed I missed this spot, but it actually closes at 3pm which is pretty early. However, I have read that you need to be one of the first ones there in order to get pictures without mass crowds. But that being said, they’re still really cool.
Basically make these two of the first things you do in Yogyakarta when planning a full day itinerary.
Update in 2023: Apparently this place is temporarily closed, but we'll keep an eye on things and put another update here!
So, once you head out into the countryside of Yogyakarta, you’ll come across lots of manmade forests and picture spots. All these spots are located in the mountains which means the have stunning backdrops.
The first cool spot we visited was Becici Peak. It had lots of cool picture spots including, umbrellas, nests and a platform with stunning view, oh a swing too!
You could even do ziplining for 15,000 IDR (that’s less than £1). Sure, it’s a small zipline, but for that price, why wouldn’t you?!
The entrance is only 10,000 IDR which is about $0.60 and there are shops and places to eat on site. I actually had quite a few people ask to take my picture here, so maybe you will too.
Entrance: 10,000 IDR
Opening times: 08:00 - 20:00
This is another one of the cool places to visit in Yogyakarta. It’s a forest with picture spots, but the views from these picture spots are sooooo cool!
We had a lot of fun in this one, got some great pictures, got to see Spongebob's house... and walking around the forest was cool. It’s only 3,000 IDR for the entrance, which is less than 30 pence, so it’s absolutely worth visiting for unique photos.
It wasn’t busy at all when we visited which was around lunchtime.
Entrance: 3,000 IDR (plus motorbike or car parking)
Opening times: 06:00 - 18:00
So funny story, Brad and I made our way to these beautiful rice fields that I’ve seen lots of amazing pictures of...and...they are dry! But that’s because it’s the dry season.
So basically, only visit these rice fields when it's wet season, or you won’t get any green. It does look like it would make for an amazing drone photo, but you can’t control the seasons!
When you drive up the road you will see similar areas bring grown, so eventually there will be a couple of more cool rice fields with photo opportunities.
Sukorame itself is a stunning rice field with an iconic wooden bridge amid seas of green, where you can take some insta-worthy photos.
The best thing is that entrance is free!
Although there's a small parking fee if you're arriving with a bike or car.
Entrance: Free (with motorbike or car parking)
So this is another picture spot, but it’s up high in the mountains and actually it’s one of my favorite places to visit in Yogyakarta. You pay a small entrance fee (around 3,000 IDR) and then extra 1,000 IDR for each platform you want to take a picture on.
The guys running it will help take your photos, and our current cover photo was taken there, alongside some of these awesome pictures!
The view is of rice paddies too, which were brown when we visited. But if you visit in the wet season, I think the views would be even more amazing.
Oh, and you can come from as early as 05:00 to hunt for some epic sunrise shots.
The official Instagram page has some useful infos and photo references, which you could browse through before your visit!
Entrance: 3,000 IDR
Opening times: 04:00 - 17:00
This spot is unique for its cool little hobbit houses that you can go inside. It’s like a mini New Zealand in a random forest in Yogyakarta. In the park you can also do ziplining and take some cool pictures.
I definitely think this one is worth it for the hobbit houses and there are lots of lunch options.
So, with regards to these picture spots up high in the mountains and in forests, there are lots of them.
We had bookmarked a few (the ones I’ve listed), but when driving we drove past signs for so many more. It starts to get “same same” so we didn’t visit anymore, but you will be spoilt for choice.
Also, a lot of the woodland area has some cool camping spots if you’re looking for something unique to do in Yogyakarta.
And glamping too, if that's more up your alley!
Here's their official Instagram page, which includes contact for reservations.
Aside from these photo spots, you can actually trek along the trail until you reach Songgo Langit Hill for an awesome view! Not to mention all the pine trees along the way.
Entrance: 5,000 IDR
Opening times: 06:00 - 21:00
Before we went to Yogyakarta, I knew that in the coast near the sand someone had created a large heart out of flowers, and that it would make for an awesome drone photo. Again, when we visited the flowers were a little dead and dry, but it still made for a cool shot.
"Gumuk" comes from the Javanese word and simply means mounds, so this entire area is basically tall mounds of sands near the beach!
I actually only think it’s worth visiting if you’ve got a drone, as it doesn’t look as impressive from ground level.
Don't have a drone? Check out our buying guide on the best drones for travel.
When you’re near the coast, or specifically Timang Beach, you may as well have some fun in the sand.
You can try sandboarding, or you can hop in the back of a jeep and go offroading on the sand dunes.
We didn’t have time as we were against the clock to get back before sunset, but there are lots of people offering the service and it’s very cheap!
However, we'd recommend booking ahead of time to ensure that you've secured a jeep and get a proper off-road adventure!
This tour you can book via Klook takes you through multiple beaches and sand dunes that can only be accessed with a Jeep.
That includes Timang Beach, which you can reach only by crossing via gondola or a bridge. Definitely an adrenaline-rushing experience.
Tour price: From 450,000 IDR for a short Jeep trip
Brad and I didn’t do the free walking tour, but if you’re travelling solo, or stuck for time, I highly recommend heading to this. You’ll get to see all the best spots and you’ll learn more about them. I love walking tours and even though they are free, you should give your host a tip.
Or, if you prefer to book a walking tour with a fixed price so there's no need to worry about tipping too little (or too much), here's a great option via Klook.
This Historical Walking tour will take you to explore the hidden nooks at Malioboro or Beringharjo market.
You can ride the traditional odong-odong, learn about local favorites when it comes to street food, and much more.
Oh my, even writing about Roaster and Bear makes my tummy rumble. I never usually include food places as a “thing to do” in a location, but this is my exception.
Amazing food, at such a high quality for stupidly cheap prices. We dined in style with 3 course meals for less than $10 each. Yup, you read that right. I’m dreaming of the chicken Cordon Bleu and the roast chicken with peppered sauce, oh and the tofu starters….
Oh and they do great coffee and we actually spent some time working here with the wifi. Their latte art is amazing!
I tried to get a view of this volcano, but thanks to cloud I couldn’t. Anyway, I did some research on the active volcano and it’s got an interesting history. You can climb with a couple of tour groups, but it’s not for the inexperienced.
Merapi is the most active volcano in Indonesia with several devastating eruptions in the last few decades alone, so it's very much worth a visit.
As part of the trip you visit the museum which has samples of lava and ash and tells the story of the last eruption which I won't spoil here, you can read for yourself when you visit.
PS. We didn’t climb, but I think it’s one of the more unique things to do in Yogyakarta.
With that said, the more common way of going up Mount Merapi is actually, you guessed it, by Jeep.
We recommend booking ahead, and the best thing about this Guided Jeep Safari is that it includes hotel transfer, so you don't have to worry about getting to the site. Not to mention:
Alternatively, here's a fantastic Merapi Jeep tour from Klook.
Okay... if you're all about that adrenaline rush and nature experiences, you have to try cave tubing!
The most popular spot to do it in Yogyakarta is Goa Pindul, or Pindul Cave, which was formed about 7 km from Mount Kidul.
With this guided cave tubing experience, you'll witness the Light of Heaven that's 60 meters deep into Jomblang Cave, and then float along the karst-formed Pindul Cave.
Price starts at 975,610 IDR per person for a 5-people group, which may not be the cheapest but it's truly a unique experience you can't get in many other places!
Plus, it's inclusive of hotel pick-up and does take around 12 hours total, which gives you plenty of time to explore all they have to offer.
Yogyakarta is the beating cultural heart of Java.
It's as quintessentially Javanese as you get, and what better way to experience that than to attend a traditional workshop?
We didn't have enough time to do this, but it's definitely something you shouldn't miss, especially if you like to immerse in the local culture.
The workshop costs around 280,000 IDR per person, which is very reasonable!
You can choose between the dance or music class.
Option one is to learn a short musical piece on the gamelan, a traditional ensemble music of not only the Javanese, but also the Sundanese, and Balinese.
Alternatively, you can learn a bit of real choreography and try the Javanese traditional dance, all while wearing the traditional attire. Fun, huh?
So there you have it, my list of 18 awesome things to do in Yogyakarta.
I hope you’ve found this list useful in your planning, and hopefully it’s given you some ideas. Below I’m going to give you some extra information that will help make your trip to Yogyakarta stress free.
Yogyakarta actually has a decent airport and most backpackers like to fly to Yogyakarta, especially if they are coming from Bali or Jakarta (the capital). However, you can also get the train to Yogyakarta from any direction in Java.
The train network in Java is fantastic. They’re comfortable, fast and well priced. We actually got the train from Bandung as we spent a few days exploring there too.
It’s also possible to get buses, but they’re the same price as trains and less comfortable, so I would opt for the train!
When it comes to getting around Yogyakarta, you’ve got a few different options.
Grab: Grab is used all over Indonesia and it’s the cheapest and easiest way to get around. Get yourself a local sim so you can use it anywhere. You can opt for grab car or grab bike which takes you on a moped.
Moped: Speaking of moped, you can rent a moped to get around all the best tourist attractions Yogyakarta has to offer and that’s what Brad and I did. There are lots of companies, but you can usually rent through your hotel too.
Ours cost 80k for a day including 2 helmets. DO NOT DRIVE WITHOUT A HELMET, no matter how cool you think it will make you look.
Taxis: There are of course other taxis that can take you around Yogyakarta, however, I think that you’re more likely to get ripped off.
Private driver: If you’re not on a budget then a great option is to hire a private driver to take you to all the best spots in Yogyakarta. You can book one here.
Tours: Another great way for getting around Yogyakarta is to go on a tour. If you’re travelling solo and would like to meet other travellers, then a tour is a great way to do that. When it comes to booking tours we typically use Get Your Guide and Viator whom you can check out below.
Get Your Guide: Our no 1 choice for tours in Yogyakarta
Viator: Sometimes has extra options
You’ll be happy to know that when it comes to staying in Yogyakarta, you have lots of choices. Below I’ll provide you with a couple of options including where Bradley and I stayed for our stay in Yogyakarta.
Where we stayed: We used a homestay on Airbnb, You can get money off your first booking here.
Greenhost Boutique Hotel Prawirotaman: beautiful boutique hotel, modern, everything you need and an awesome swimming pool.
Hyatt Regency: The Hyatt is known worldwide for its quality and I think this is the cheapest you’ll ever get a stay here. Perfection! Seriously, this is one of the dreamiest hotels i’ve ever seen, set on 22 acres...
OYO 369 Hotel Sekar Ayu: You can’t beat a classic budget OYO. Clean, comfortable, wifi and air con, a fantastic budget option!
A few other tips...
Below are some other useful guides we’ve written that you might find useful for your trip Yogyakarta and Indonesia in general
So there you have it, I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide on the best things to do in Yogyakarta and hopefully you’ve got plenty to inspire you on what to see in Yogyakarta and keep you occupied on your adventures. If you’ve got any other Yogyakarta tourist attractions you think I should add to this list,then drop me a comment below.