Yogyakarta is a very special city. One of my favourite cities in Indonesia. I really like how most people are very friendly and welcoming. I remember, probably a year ago, where I was clueless about where I was and a middle-aged guy came and asked me where I wanted to go. He told me where I needed to go and said farewell with the kindest sentence a stranger can say. “Take care and enjoy your day!”.
Btw, I am reviewing one of my favourite travel apps (and it is an Indonesian company): Traveloka. Often their hotel booking deals in Indonesia are the cheapest. Learn more about the App here.
“I often enjoy my days sitting at a cafe in South part of Yogyakarta, working on the travel business, and sometimes overhear random conversation tourists have. Most conversations are about things that want to do in Yogyakarta. Often, I jump in to their conversation and give suggestions, but most of the time I keep quiet."
I am sure that there are actually many other things that you can do in Yogyakarta, but this list surely will help you find out what Yogyakarta has to offer. I hope you enjoy it! Please note that this list starts with the essential things to do in the city. Then I share ideas you might want to try. Oh, and if a list of things is not quite what you’re after, I’ve created eight different itinerariesyou can follow when you come to Yogyakarta.
1. Visit the temples (Borobudur, Prambanan and Ratu Boko)
Though Borobudur temple is not located in Yogyakarta, the temple however is one of the biggest reasons why people visit Yogyakarta. It takes 40 minutes to visit the temple from Yogyakarta. If you do visit Borobudur try to take a sunrise tour. It’s really worth it for the view. Besides Borobudur, the other big famous temple that you need to visit is Prambanan temple, which is a Hindu temple. Below are the two most popular ways to visit Borobudur.
2. Visit Goa Jomblang
Goa Jomblang caves is one of the tourism highlights of Yogyakarta. The caves are located in Gunung Kidul, an hour drive from Yogyakarta. To reach enter Goa Jomblang you are lowered 60 meters over the edge of a cliff into the sinkhole. At the bottom of the sinkhole is a hidden forest from where you enter a system of caves. The highlight of the trip is Grubug Cave. There is a hole in the roof of the cave and every morning the light filters through like a natural spotlight. Find out more about Goa Jomblang and how to get there in this article. You can buy your ticket through Discover Your Indonesia.
3. Hike Merapi Volcano
There are a lot of volcanos around Yogyakarta to climb. The most famous (and dangerous since it is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia) to climb is Merapi. It’s a tough trek. You can read more about my experience hiking this volcano here. Other than Merapi, there are Merbabu and Lawu. You can read my Lawu climb journey here.
4. Visit Chicken Church
Close to the famous Borobudur viewpoint Setumbu Hill, you can find the Chicken Church - or Gereja Ayam in Bahasa. The church was designed in 1992, and the architect meant to create a “dove,” but the locals saw things differently. The name is literal - the church is indeed shaped like a chicken. It is a 10-15 minute walk to get here, and the church is worth a visit.
Although it is no longer used as a church per se, the Chicken Church is still seen as a place of prayer. It is also a great alternative for watching the sunrise and less crowded than the famous view points. From the top of the church you can enjoy nice views of the tropical surroundings and the many volcanoes in the distance.
5. Visit Timang Beach
I love the beaches around Gunung Kidul. They are a nice place to relax and are only a one-hour drive from Yogyakarta. You can enjoy the view, relax and eat tasty, reasonably priced, fresh seafood. At some of the beaches you can even swim! Check out my interesting beaches and cave guide for the gunung kidul regency. One of the most popular beaches to visit at the moment is Timang Beach. It’s more of a photo spot, but you can buy cheap lobster nearby, which is great.