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Yogyakarta Travel Guide: Tips, Sights & Highlights

Yogyakarta (often also called “Yogya”) can be thought of as the cultural centre of the island Java. Interestingly, the city is most famous for two attractions, which are in fact located some kilometres outside of the city: The two temples Borobudur and Prambanan.

Yogyakarta itself is definitely larger and more hectic than expected, but it also has very cosy corners. In Yogyakarta you will find many exhibitions, a few temples and best of all, many incredibly good restaurants. Yogyakarta is a university city, so the flair of the city is young and lively. 

In this travel guide we let you know everything that awaits you on your trip to Yogyakarta. We show you the most beautiful sights and of course reveal our personal travel tips for your time there.

1. Travel Guide: Top Sights & Highlights in Yogyakarta

Borobudur Temple

One of Yogyakarta’s main attractions is not located in the city centre, but quite far outside of it. Borobudur Temple dates back to the 8th century and is actually the largest Buddhist temple in the world – incredible, right? No wonder the temple has long been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Borobudur Temple is a staggered pyramid with countless characteristic bell-shaped stupas. It is nestled in the midst of lush green hills. The landscape is quite magical. You can climb up the temple: There are a total of nine levels.

The largest stupa, right on top of the temple, towers up into the sky. From up there (but also from further down) you have a fabulous view over the jungle. Rather interestingly: We were asked countless times by young Indonesians (primarily school groups) to take a photo together with them.

When is the best time to visit the Borobudur Temples?

Perhaps you can guess what is to come: Unfortunately, the Borobudur Temple is not nearly as quiet as it looks in some photos. This is unfortunately true for all times of day. It is especially popular to visit at sunrise. The atmosphere is really magical at this time, but you do have to share the backdrop with many others.

We ourselves were there at sunset. The weather wasn’t too kind to us, still we found this time to be ideal. There weren’t so many people there as we expected and visiting at this time is also cheaper than in the morning. (We will provide more details about this soon.) We would recommend you skip visiting around lunchtime.

Info for visiting the Borobudur Temples

Price: 350,000 IDR (the price at sunrise is 475,000 IDR; combo-ticket for Borobudur and Prambanan 630,000 IDR)
Opening hours: 6am until 5pm
Getting there: It is a good one-hour drive from Yogyakarta. We would recommend you organise to either hire a driver or take a minibus (much cheaper when you travel with others). You can also make your own way to the temple by scooter. We only recommend this if you have some experience (and definitely not when it’s dark).

Tip No. 1: In case it’s too much trouble to organise transport from where you are, you can also book a private tour in advance through GetYourGuide. This also includes the price of your entry fee.

You can book your tour here: Sunset or Sunrise Tour

Tip No. 2: If traveling there from Yogyakarta in the morning or traveling back after sundown is too troublesome for you, you could also consider an overnight stay close to Borobudur Temple.

Our hotel recommendation close to Borobudur Temple: Janur Bungalow

Yogyakarta Travel Guide

Prambanan Temple

The second largest temple close to Yogyakarta is the Prambanan Temple. It is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. Just like Borobudur, Prambanan Temple is very old: It also dates back to the 8th century.

The temple architecture is a little similar to that of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Eight shrines and temples stretch up into the sky. The main building is close to 50 metres high.

Even though the temple is of course very impressive, we have to confess that the Prambanan Temple impressed us a little less than Borobudur. But that is just our personal opinion, which certainly not everyone will share. Here we were also asked a million times by young Indonesians (mainly school groups) to have our photo taken together.

When is the best time to visit the Prambanan Temples?

We ourselves were at the Prambanan Temple during the day, although we would only partially recommend this time of day because it was very busy during this time. If you can manage, sunset is a more suitable visiting time.

Info for visiting the Prambanan Temples

Price: 350,000 IDR (the price at sunrise is 475,000 IDR; combo-ticket for Borobudur and Prambanan 630,000 IDR)
Opening hours: 6am until 5pm  
Getting there: You can drive from Yogyakarta to Prambanan in around half an hour. We would recommend you either hire a driver or take a minibus (much cheaper with other people) to get you there. There is also a public bus (number 1A), which leaves every 20 minutes from Malioboro Street to Prambanan Temple (3,600 IDR per person one way). You can also scooter to the temple, but our recommendation again is: only if you are experienced and not at night. 

Our tip: In case it is too difficult to organise transport form where you are then you can also, for example, book yourself a private tour in advance through GetYourGuide. The entrance fee is included in the tour price.

You can book your tour here: Sunset Tour  

Prambanan Yogyakarta
Prambanan school classes

Taman Sari (Water Castle)

The Water Castle (called Taman Sari in Indonesian) is located in the centre of Yogyakarta and is one of the most well-known attractions. It was established in the 18th century as a generous garden and place of retreat for the sultan.

First things first: The photos of Taman Sari are unfortunately a little misleading. Most corners of the Water Castle are not nearly as photogenic and well-preserved as one might think. Therefore, almost only photos of the famous central turquoise blue water basin (which you also see in our photo) are circulating the internet. Generally speaking, the grounds are getting a bit old and are desperately in need of a renovation.

The Water Castle is fairly well visited. We would recommend you arrive early and avoid visiting at lunchtime, if possible. 

Info for visiting Taman Sari

Price: 15,000 IDR
Opening hours: 8am until 3pm

Tamansari Yogyakarta

Kraton (the sultan’s palace of Yogyakarta)

The sultan’s palace of Yogyakarta (also called Kraton) is located just a few minutes’ walk away from Taman Sari, also in the heart of Yogyakarta’s old town. The term attraction unfortunately also isn’t quite right for here: Please don’t expect to find a grand palace complex.

Kraton is quite extensive, and you can get a good insight into the life of a sultan. However, in our opinion you could get a lot more out of the palace grounds. We liked that traditional Javanese music is performed in the morning within the courtyard inside. Our conclusion for sultan’s palace: You can go see it, but it’s not a must.

Info for visiting Kraton

Price: 15,000 IDR (1,000 IDR additional to take photos)
Opening hours: daily except for Mondays from 8:30am until 1:30pm

Sultan palace Yogyakarta

Jalan Malioboro & Pasar Beringharjo

Jalan Malioboro is not exactly a gem, but it is the main shopping street in Yogyakarta. The street has become rather touristy, but it is still worth witnessing the hustle and bustle here with your own eyes.

One of the most well-known markets in Yogyakarta, Pasar Beringharjo, is also nestled along Jalan Malioboro. If you enjoy markets, then you should stop by here. Here you can buy batik as well as groceries and spices. The market is open between 8am and 4pm.

You have to anticipate that you will be approached by quite a few supposed guides and art dealers. It is best to simply decline them in a friendly but firm manner.

2. Eating and Drinking in Yogyakarta: Our Tips

There are many great cafés and restaurants in Yogyakarta. The very best are primarily found in two areas: one is around the backpacker street of Prawirotaman, the other is around “Gang1” and “Gang2” – two tiny alleyways that lead from Jalan Sosrowijayan towards the train station.

ViaVia Resto & Bakery

ViaVia is quite a popular (perhaps even over-hyped) restaurant with a shop directly connected. It has a pretty terrace upstairs and a large selection of western and Indonesian dishes. Viavia also offers cooking and other courses that unfortunately we didn’t get to try out.

Kesuma Restaurant

Here they have traditional Javanese cuisine in a cosy atmosphere. The French restaurant owner is very courteous. His Indonesian wife prepares the dishes.


You can enjoy great food at Bladok, however it is very clearly catered towards tourists. They have Indonesian and western dishes, all in the mid to high price range. The ambiance is very lovely: You can sit outside in the garden at the front.

3. Our Hotel Tip for Yogyakarta

There is a large selection of hotel options in Yogyakarta and there you can find suitable accommodation for every travel budget. We can recommend Adhisthana Hotel Yogyakarta. It can be found right on the corner of Jalan Prawirotaman where many restaurants are located.

The rooms in the Adhisthana Hotel Yogyakarta are situated around a pretty pool. They are a little small depending on the room category, but tastefully decorated. The breakfast room and the lobby are also very cosy. All in all: Fantastic value for money. 

You can book the hotel here: Adhisthana Hotel Yogyakarta

4. Additional Travel Tips for Yogyakarta

Safety in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is not more unsafe than other large cities in Indonesia. Aside from small crime (bag thieves etc.), Yogyakarta is very safe and we didn’t feel uneasy at any time.

You do need to be especially cautious of “fake” guides – those people who try to talk to you in the middle of the street and want to recommend a great art exhibition to you that is only open today (which is complete nonsense of course). The best thing to do is to simply decline the offer in a friendly but firm manner.

Transport within Yogyakarta

Many destinations in Yogyakarta are within walking distance. However, you can also take a cycle rickshaw called a Becak to get from A to B. There are a whole lot of these in Yogyakarta and you can find them on almost every street corner. The price for one trip costs between 20,000 and 30,000 IDR.

Our Tip: Travel Guide for Indonesia

Even though now you can find so much travel information on the internet, we never travel without a printed travel guide. We like to use the Lonely Planet Travel Guides.

The travel guide has already accompanied us several times to Indonesia. It is very well researched and, as per usual with Lonely Planet, is very detailed. We very clearly recommend using this travel guide.

You can purchase the travel guide here: Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Indonesia

Disclaimer: Affiliate Links

This travel guide contains our personal recommendations in the form of affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we receive a small commission. This does not change the price for you at all. A million thanks from the both of us!

Have you already been to Yogyakarta and perhaps have some additional tips? Or are you planning a trip to Indonesia or Yogyakarta and have some more questions? We look forward to your comments!




4 responses

  1. car lockout

    Very helpful tips at me.I just found here which i wanted.i think every people will benefit from your tips.

  2. Kati – Mystery Of Iran

    Thank you for your interesting article and colorful photos!

  3. andre

    Nice Article!!

    1. Sommertage

      Thank you :)

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