things to do in Jogja pinterest

Yogyakarta is a very special city. This is the first place where I actually enjoy riding a motorbike by myself (I don’t have the guts to drive a motorbike by myself in Jakarta or Bali). 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!”

I often enjoy my days sitting at a cafe in South part of Yogyakarta, working and trying to write articles, 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.

Arranged Your Trip to Yogyakarta? Check Out: 

  1. Shared and Private Yogyakarta Tours
  2. Best Hotels For any Budget Near Malioboro
  3. 9 Best Luxury Hotels in Yogyakarta For the Ultimate Vacation

Realizing that I haven’t written a guide on things to do in Yogyakarta (hey I’ve written about things to do in Jakarta, check it out!), here are some suggestions that I give when I do jump into a random conversation with tourists in Yogyakarta. 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.

3 of the Best Things to do in Yogya

Borobudur Sunrise

View from the top of Borobudur Temple at sunrise.

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.

Most Popular Way to Visit:

Watch sunrise overlooking Borobudur and then visit the temple, also known as Sunrise From Setumbu Hill: Find out more.
Watch sunrise from the top of Borobudur Temple, also known as Sunrise Manohara: Find out more.


Sunlight coming through the hole in the roof, Gua Jomblang.

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.

Most Popular Way to Visit:

Take a morning car rental to Gua Jomblng Cave. Can be combined with other activities: Find out more.


View from the top of Merapi Volcano.

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.

Most Popular Way to Visit:

Overnight hike so you can watch sunrise from the peak of Merapi. You can join a shared tour: Find out more.

Fun Ideas for Things to do in Yogyakarta

The Gondola is use by fishermen to fish for lobsters on the rocky point.

The Gondola is use by fishermen to fish for lobsters on the rocky point.

4. Go to the Beaches in Gunung Kidul

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.

Most Popular Way to Visit:

Arrange a car rental to visit Timang Beach and see the Gondola of Timang Beach: Find out more.


The Ramayana Ballet is held on an open stage against the backdrop of Prambanan Temple.

5. Watch the Ramayana Ballet

The Ramayana Ballet is a dance and theatre performance held on an outdoor stage against the backdrop of Prambanan Temple. The play is based on an ancient Hindu love story and follows the tale of King Rama and Princess Shinta. Over 200 dancers and actors perform in this epic. Recommended for people who enjoy performances and want to see a real spectacle, with Javanese dancing and eye catching costumes.

Most Popular Way to Visit:

Join a shared tour or book a ticket to the performance: Find out more.

The Merapi Jeep Volcano Tour, Mt Merapi, Merapi Volcano

The Merapi Jeep Tour on the slopes of Mount Merapi.

6. Merapi Lava Tour

The Merapi Lava Tour is an off road adventure on the slopes of Merapi Volcano with a serious backstory. The tour is held around the region most affected by the last volcanic explosion. During the tour you are driven around on a 4×4 jeep through a beautiful landscape. You will also visit some of the villages that were abandoned following the last eruption. This is definitely one of the interesting things to do in Yogyakarta when you are visiting the city.

Most Popular Way to Visit:
Join a shared tour or book a ticket to the performance: Find out more.

taman sari places to visit yogya

The Kraton Water Palace in Yogyakarta.

7. Explore the Kraton (Royal Palace)

The Kraton Kasultanan Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, better known as Kraton, is basically the royal palace. It is where the king and his family stay. I have never explored the Kraton museum, but from what I heard from my best friend it is a great place to visit and learn more about Javanese culture (directly from people who keep the traditions alive every single day). There are two entrances to the Kraton, one is from Tepas Keprajuritan and the other is Tepas Pariwisata. There is a Javanese cultural show that you can enjoy almost every day (every day there is a different performance) either at 9 or 10 am.

Besides exploring the Kraton, do not forget to wander around Taman sari (Taman sari water castle). Though it needs improved maintenance, it is a great place just to wander around. Visit early, explore and loose yourself around the villages little alleys, the mosque and underground tunnels. Sometimes you will find local guides who explain this and that. These guys will not do any harm, if you don’t need them just say and they will stop following you. Otherwise if you are keen to have a local guide explain the areas history, then agree on a price before the ‘guide service’ begin.

things to do in Yogyakarta alkid at night

At night the central square of Yogya lights up.

8. Hang out at Alun-Alun Selatan Kraton!

If you are stuck for things to do in the evening I would recommend visiting alun-alun selatan Kraton. You’ll be surprised how busy this place can be at night (just like me, I was surprised too!). You will mostly find Indonesian tourists and locals around alun-alun selatan. They will be busy trying to do the twins Beringin tree challenge (see no. 7), enjoy the night breezy weather, eat various local food or ride a super blink ‘car’.

You’ll either giggle or be shocked when you see the bling-bling cars. They are peddle cars and are about the same size as a smart car or VW Beetle. The cars are equipped with hundreds of bright lights and loud music! Cars even come equipped with a small TV. A few nights ago, my friends and I cycled in one of these cars while listening to Katy Perry. It costs you 15,000 IDR for one loop (small car for 4-6 people).

challenge yourself at Kraton twin trees

Walking while blindfolded between the Beringin trees is supposed to bring you good luck.

9. Walk Between the Twin Beringin Trees

There are plenty of different myths about the beringin trees challenge. Some say that if you can pass between the two trees with your eyes closed then whatever you ask for is going to come true. Others says that people who succeed in passing between the two beringin trees able to refuse reinforcements / any bad things that is being addressed to him or her.

I failed this challenge on my first attempt. I succeeded on my second. I was quite surprised how hard it is to walk in a straight line with your eyes close. You can rent a scarf to cover your eyes for 5,000 IDR or you can bring your own if you want.

10. Enjoy sunset at Parangtritis Beach (you can do paragliding there on January-February)

Parangtritis Beach is around 25 km from the city center. The beach is always busy with locals during the evening and on weekends. You can have a picnic, ride an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), enjoy the sunset, photograph the scenery, swim at the small swimming pool or go paragliding here (only available between January and February). One more activity that most people miss out on is sand-boarding at Gumuk Pasir, read about it here.

Monggo Yogyakarta

The most famous brand of chocolate in Yogya.

11. Try the Famous Chocolate Monggo

While in Yogya you can visit the Monggo chocolate factory! A visit to Chocolate Monggo factory in KotaGede, is a great thing to do. You can also find the Monggo showroom there. Monggo chocolate has been around since 2005.

12. Visit the Museums

There are a lot of museums in Yogyakarta! You can check out the full list here. For sure I haven’t had the chance to visit all of them, but here are some of my personal favorites. Museum Tembi/Rumah Budaya Tembi at Jl. Parangtritis Km 8,4, Bantul, Museum Ullen Sentalu at Jl Boyong, Pakem, Museum Affandi at Jalan Laksda Adisucipto Nomor 167 and Museum Batik Yogyakarta at Jl. Dr. Sutomo, Yogyakarta.

malioboro yogya

Malioboro Street is popular with backpackers.

13. Stroll around Jalan Malioboro

Visiting Yogyakarta without stroll around Malioboro is like going to Paris without checking out the Eiffel Tower. Stroll around Malioboro, shop there or go to Beringharjo market, open from 9 am until 5 pm. There are plenty of Batik (trousers, t-shirt, dresses, bangles and etc), sandals, blangkon (traditional central Javanese headdress worn by men and made of batik fabric) and much more to buy. A lot of tourists prefer to walk around Malioboro in the evening or at night.

Malioboro is one of the best streets to sample cheap local food. There are plenty of Angkringan/Sego Kucing sellers around the street. Sego Kucing translated as cat rice, consists of a small portion of rice with toppings, usually spicy sauce (sambal), dried fish, and tempeh, wrapped in banana leaves. Nothing to do with having cat as an ingredient! If you prefer restaurant food, turn right to Sosrowijayan Street and go to Atap restaurant (there are other restaurants there as well that you can try!). They have western food with an interesting choice of sauces. They are open from 6 until 9 pm.


Professional batik artists adding wax to the fabric.

14. Join a Workshop (Batik, silver, pottery and leather)

I have only ever done a leather workshop in Yogyakarta and it was awesome. You’ll learn how to make your own leather stuff (it can be a purse, a small sling bag, an iPad case and many more) and at the end of the course, you’ll be able to bring home your creation. There is nothing better than a friend complimenting you on your bag/wallet when you created it.

There are plenty of Batik course in Kraton area, around the small alleys around Taman Sari. Silver courses can be found around Kota Gede (you can made your own silver ring!), and the pottery courses are available around Kasongan area. You need to make a reservation before the workshop day.

Most Popular Workshops:

Join a leather making workshop in Yogyakarta: Find out more.
Join a leather making workshop in Yogyakarta: Find out more.

Local food in Yogyakarta

15. Eat Like a Local

Food! If you are wondering about what is authentic Yogyakarta cuisine, you should definitely give Gudeg a try. Gudeg is made from young unripe jackfruit boiled for several hours with palm sugar, and coconut milk. It is served with steamed rice and chicken in coconut milk (opor ayam) or telur pindang (boiled egg) and with tofu (tahu) or tempeh (tempe) plus sambal goreng krecek. It is delicious! Please do give it a try.

Famous places to buy Gudeg include Ibu Ageng or Bale Raos. One of my favourite places is Gudeg Pawon on Janturan Street, but it only opens at 10-12pm. Other than that, feel free to try other fantastic food in Yogyakarta, here are my favourite dishes to eat (not all are traditional). Another suggestion would be taking one of the evening food tours (you can find out more about the food tours here).


Views of the countryside outside of Yogya during a bicycle tour.

Final Thoughts

There are (still) plenty of other things to do in Yogya. For example: spend some time at a cafe in Yogyakarta (at the moment Lotus Mio is my favorite), go to the bird market (Pasty), watch the Sendratari Ramayana (Ramayana Ballet) at Prambanan temple, watch the leather puppet show every night (8-10pm) at Sonobudoyo museum (Trikora street No. 6), cycle on an old fashion bike at Kulon Progo and much more!

To help you arrange your trip to Yogyakarta I’ve created a helpful shortlist of the best hotels. You can find them below. Just pick the article that suits your travel needs.

Booked Your Accommodation? Here are the Best Hotels in Yogya for Every Budget

Luxury HotelThe Phoenix Hotel
Mid Range HotelGallery Prawirotaman
Budget HotelAdhishana Hotel Yogyakarta

P.S. Need help arranging your Yogyakarta holidays? Save yourself some time! Here’s a list of Shared and Private tours.

Do you have any plans to visit Yogyakarta soon? What would you like to do in Yogya? Share your ideas with me 🙂