Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi, has been a trading center since the beginning of the sixteenth century. As one of the busiest business cities in Indonesia, Makassar gets plenty of visitors. Though it is overlooked as a tourism destination there are plenty of things to do in Makassar.
With its strong historical roots, plenty of tasty food, and also amazing scenery, there are plenty of reasons to make Makassar the candidate for your next holiday spot. Here are a few of the best things to do in and around Makassar.
1. Catch the sunset at Losari Beach
Losari Beach is a popular sunset spot for locals thanks to the dramatic and amazing sunsets. There’s a large public area where you’ll find kids on inline skates, people enjoying the view of the sea and families enjoying the outdoors. It’s a great place to do people watching. Besides the sunset, make sure to visit the Amirul Mukminin Floating Mosque, which is a 5 minutes walk from Losari Beach.
2. Discover the Dutch heritage at Fort Rotterdam
Makassar or Ujung Pandang dates back to the early 15th century. During a war with the Dutch, I Mallombasi Muhammad Bakir Daeng Mattawang Karaeng Bonto Mangape, better known as Sultan Hasanuddin, signed over the fort as part of the peace treaty. When the Dutch occupied this fort, they changed the name from Ujung Pandang to Fort Rotterdam.
The fort is still well preserved and it’s a nice area to wander around and explore. Close to the entrance, on the left side, there is an area that you can climb up, and enjoy the view of Losari Beach. Within the fort you’ll find La Galigo Museum.
3. Somba Opu Sultan’s Fort
Somba Opu Fort dates back to the same period as Fort Rotterdam. Following the signing of the Bungaya Agreement in 1667 between the Sultanate of Gowa and the Netherlands Somba Opu Fort became the royal quarters for the king.
A visit to the Somba Opu Port is less well maintained than Fort Rotterdam. On the way to Somba Opu Fort you have to pass Gowa Discovery Park (a sort of waterpark). The road to the fort is poorly maintained. When you arrive you will see remnants of the ruins of the fort, cannon, a two-storey museum and also some traditional houses. It’s worth visiting and one of the interesting things to do in Makassar if you plan to be in the city for a few days.
4. Join in Car Free Day
Every Sunday in Makassar the city holds a car-free day. The car free areas of the city include Losari Beach, Sudirman Street and a few other points as well. The morning is a great chance to take over the busy roads of Makassar and do activities such as jogging, cycling and enjoying an easy culinary tour. Don’t worry if you get hungry, there are many small booths selling a variety of typical dishes of the city.
5. Water sports at Kodingareng Island
If you are looking for some relaxing things to do in Makassar you should visit Kodingareng Island. The island is a 45-minute boat ride away from Makassar’s Bangkoang Port. There is no public boat to go to the island, so if you want to visit you’ll have to arrange your own boat. It’s easy to arrange this from the port (cost approxiametly Rp 500,000). On Kodingareng Island you can do water sports like snorkeling, playing on jet skies or just sunbathing. There are also some snorkeling spots 10 minutes away from the island if you want to explore the underwater world.
6. Happy lunch at Samalona Island
If you are planning to visit Kodingareng then you should also go to Samalona Island. The island is a 30-minute boat ride from Makassar and it’s a nice place to grab a tasty seafood lunch from some locals who live on Samalona Island. Make sure to try the black ink squid, which is delicious!
Some nice things to do when you are visiting the island include more snorkeling on nearby Samalona Island or just take a walk around the island. Btw, there is a stall on the island where you can rent snorkeling equipment.
7. Dessert and snack time in Makassar
The food from Makassar is famous around Indonesia for its sweet desserts. One of the most famous dishes is Es Pisang Ijo. This dish is made from a banana wrapped in green dough and served with ice shavings, syrup and custard. One of the best places to try the dish is RM Muda Mudi, which is located on Jl. Rusa No.45 A.
A savory option to try is Jalangkote, a typical snack from Makassar that looks similar to puff pasty. Jalangkote is served with a sauce of vinegar and chili. The Jalangkote puff is stuffed with diced carrots and potatoes, bean sprouts and rice noddle. You can find Jalangkote at many restaurants and street stalls.
The third snack you should try if you are looking for things to do in Makassar is Pisang Epe. The dish is prepared by grilling a banana over coals for 10-15 minutes and is served with a caramel sauce. You can also choose more modern options like Pisang Epe with cheese or chocolate, etc. There is a kilometer long stretch by Losari Beach, which is occupied by more than 150 Pisang Epe sellers.
8. See the Phinisi at Paotere Harbour
Makassar is a port city and the day here starts very early. If you like to wake up early and are looking for things to do in Makassar the Paotere Harbour is an interesting place to visit. Come just after sunrise and you’ll see fishermen bringing in catch from the night before. The highlight of a visit to the harbor is a chance to see the traditional Phinisi boats of the Bugis from Makassar (this is where the word Boogeyman comes from, many Bugis were pirates). The pinisi or phinisi is a traditional Indonesian two-masted sailing ship. Pinisi is still commonly used as small cruise ships, especially in the eastern part of Indonesia.
9. Wander at Rammang-Rammang
A visit to Rammang-Rammang, which is located in Maros, a 40 minutes drive from the city center, is one of the best things to do in Makassar. I would suggest you go early in the morning, probably depart from Makassar at 6 am. When you visit you’ll be amazed by the karts/limestone. The best way to explore is joining a cruise on a small canoe.
During the cruise you will get a chance to visit the Berua village, definitely one of the most picturesque villages in the region. The villagers are so lucky to be surrounded by the amazing limestone karts. If you visit during the rain season you will be rewarded with the green scenery, while a visit during the dry season the landscape is a golden brown.
10. Enjoy the natural slide at Bantimurung Waterfall
One of the highlights of a visit to Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park is the natural slide at Bantimurung Waterfall. This is a definite favorite with young kids and young at heart adults. The waterfall is very famous with locals and up to 10,000 people can visit over a weekend (so try to visit during the week when it is calmer if you can).
Of course there is more to the Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park than the Bantimurung Waterfall. If you decide to explore the park you’ll find that there are several caves that you can explore and natural lakes to trek around. Make sure to bring a guide and some food for a picnic.
11. Breakfast with Coto Makassar
The best way to start the day in Makassar if you want to feel like a local is with a traditional breakfast. People in Makassar love Coto Makassar for breakfast (I recommend trying it from the restaurant on Gagak Street). The dish is a beef soup, served with rice cake (ketupat) and fried red shallots. Don’t forget to add a good squeeze of lime, the must-have-condiment for almost all dishes in Makassar.
12. Try the famous Pallubasa Serigala
Pallubasa is a dish that looks similar to Coto Makassar. The soup is traditionally made of a mixture of offal and meat and served with a raw egg in the soup. You can enjoy the Coto Makassar with Ketupat rice cake, or with steamed rice. I personally prefer Pallubasa compared to Coto Makassar. I think that the way the meat is prepared makes the beef in Pallubasa very tender compared to Coto Makassar.
13.Visit the grave of Pangeran Diponegoro
Pangeran Diponegoro is an Indonesian national hero who was born in Yogyakarta and exiled to Makassar. Prior to being exiled he played an important role in the revolts against Dutch colonialism known as the Java War (1825-1830). The Dutch imprisoned him in Fort Rotterdam in 1834. Pangeran Diponegoro died in exile in Makassar in 1855.
14. Shop till you drop
There are a lot of chances to do shopping in Makassar. If you fancy to buy some souvenirs from Makassar you should definitely visit Somba Opu Street. There are plenty of stores selling textiles, fabrics like Songket Makassar and of course lots of traditional snacks. If you want something more upmarket you could also visit the mall. Some of the malls in the city that you should check out include Ratu Indah Mall, and Trans Studio Mall.
15. Head into the highlands of Toraja
When you have finished your list of things to do in Makassar it will be time to head to Toraja. A 10-hour bus ride from Makassar, the exotic highlands of Toraja with its interesting culture and unique traditions is a must if you are travelling through Sulawesi. Some of the highlights of Tana Toraja include tasty coffee, strong culture, unique gravesites, amazing landscapes and beautiful woven fabrics. You can check out this post for a list of some of the best things to do in Tana Toraja.
I hope this inspires you and helps you create your own list of things to do in Makassar. For more information about this part of Indonesia check out the Discover Your Indonesia Sulawesi page. There are plenty of articles to help you organize your trip around the island.
Have you ever visited Makassar? What’s your favorite thing to do in the city? Share your ideas and questions in the comments below.
Note: Makassar is one of the destinations that I visited during the #TripOfWonders with South East Asian travel bloggers and influencers and run by the Tourism Board of Indonesia. For more info about Wonderful Indonesia, check the official website: Indonesia.Travel.