Surabaya is the capital of the province of East Java. It is a bustling metropolis for business set in one of the most beautiful areas of Java. The city is most famous for its delicious local food, yet there is more to the Surabaya than its restaurants. Within a few hours from the city you can watch traditional bull races, see the sun rise over Bromo Volcano and visit the tumbling waterfalls of Madakaripura. To help you make the most of your time, here is a list of 15 things to do in (and around) Surabaya on your holiday.

Arranged Your Trip to Surabaya? Check Out: 

  1. Shared and Private East Java Tours
  2. The Best Hotels in Surabaya for Every Budget

To help you find the best places to visit in the city we’ve shortlisted the five places that we’d recommend on a tour. Then, because we know you might have your own ideas about what you should do in Surabaya, we gave you 10 different options. We hope you like the list. Let’s get started!

The Essential List of Things to do in Surabaya

The Surabaya Tour Bus is run by the Sampoerna Museum as part of the company's CSR Program.

The Surabaya Tour Bus is run by the Sampoerna Museum as part of the company’s CSR Program.

1. Sampoerna Museum

It’s strange to recommend the museum of a cigarette factory as the best thing to do in Surabaya, yet the Sampoerna Museum easily makes the top of the list. Let’s start at the beginning… Sampoerna are a famous brand of clove cigarettes from Surabaya. The Museum documents the history of the company and is also a working cigarette factory.

The Sampoerna Museum is based in a grand colonial era building. The downstairs portion of the building houses the museum. There are lots of exhibits, many from the family collection, and old photos. As you tour the Museum you will see how the company started and how the advertising for Sampoerna has changed over time. On the second floor of the Museum is a viewing room over the working cigarette factory.The Museum also operates a free tourism bus around Surabaya. You can find the timetable for the tour bus here.


Different types of traditional sweet desserts served at Kartiko.

2. Traditional Food: Kartiko at Pasar Atum

Food is a big thing in Surabaya. In fact if you ask people ‘what are the best things to do in Surabaya?’ top of the list will be food. One of the few restaurants in Surabaya that still sells traditional food from Surabaya is Kartiko Restaurant. The restaurant serves a large selection of traditional sweet and savoury food from the city. It’s always busy and the food is delicious (and cheap). Definitely add this to your list of things to do in Surabaya!


You just need to look at the photo to realise why Bromo is so popular.

3. Bromo Midnight Tour

Bromo is an active volcano and one of the tourism highlights of East Java. The volcano is located in the Bromo Tengger National Park, an area famous for its striking landscape. Most tourists wanting to visit Bromo from Surabaya join the ‘Bromo Midnight Tour‘ so that they can watch the sun rise from behind the volcano. It’s one for the bucket list and should be top of your list of things to do in Surabaya.

The bull racing season in Madura traditionally starts after the rice harvests have been collected.

The bull racing season in Madura traditionally starts after the rice harvests have been collected.

4. The Bull Races on Madura

The island of Madura is located just off the coast of Java. From July through to August buffalo races are held on the island. The races are held as a way to celebrate the rice harvest. If you are in the region between these dates you should try to visit the bull races. It’s a 3-4 hour drive from Surabaya, so you will have to do it on a day trip, or overnight trip, but it is definitely worth it. The bull races are as unique as they are unusual (and on Madura probably more popular than football).

Alternative Things to do in Surabaya

The Suroboyo Monument is a

The Suroboyo Monument comes from two Sanskrit words, ‘Sura’ and ‘Baya’. ‘Sura’ means whale and ‘Baya’ means crocodile. It is the emblem of Surabaya.

5. Surabaya Monument

The emblem of Surabaya is an image of a crocodile and a whale. It comes from two Sanskrit words, Sura and Baya. Sura means whale and Baya means crocodile. According to legend the two animals symbolise peace and war. There are two sculptures of the emblem in Surabaya. It’s a famous place for photos for many tourists who visit the city.

6. Taman Bungkul

If you are looking for a bit of greenery in Surabaya you should visit Taman Bungkul. The park is one of the main parks in Surabaya and a small pool of tranquility near the centre of the city. Taman Bungkul is located close to the Shangri-La Hotel and costs Rp 5,000 per person to enter. You can visit it at any time of day. The park is busiest in the evenings when you will find couples walking around and sitting on the benches.

7. Suramadu National Bridge

The Suramadu National Bridge is the longest bridge in South East Asia. The bridge connects Surabaya with the island of Madura. You can see the Suramadu National Bridge from most places on the waterfront of Surabaya. The best time to see it is in the evening when it is let up in multi coloured lights. If you want to visit Madura you should try to visit from July through to October when the traditional bull races are held on the island. More about that in a bit.


The Majapahit Hotel in Surabaya is a nice place for an afternoon tea.

6. Tea at Majapahit

If you want to visit some of the historical landmarks of Surabaya you should definitely visit the Majapahit Hotel. The hotel is located in a grand colonial mansion, surrounded by manicured lawns. The mansion dates back to 1910 and still retains its classic atmosphere with polished floors and marble bathrooms. The best time to visit the Majapahit Hotel is in the afternoon for high tea and sandwiches. The hotel serves tea from 12-6.

9. Cheng Hoo Chinese Mosque

Surabaya has a large population of Chinese Indonesians, many of whom originally came to the city as traders. The Cheng Hoo Mosque is a testament to how the Chinese have integrated into the local culture, adopting the local religion, yet keeping a sense of their heritage. You can see it everywhere in the decoration. The mosque is painted in bright red, green and yellow. At the entrance to the mosque is traditional pagoda that incorporates dragon and lion motifs.

10. Attend a Persebaya Game

Many Indonesians are passionate about their local clubs and the city of Surabaya has one of the biggest in the country, Persebaya. When at home Persebaya Football Club play at the Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium. The stadium has a capacity of 50,000, which gives the home games have plenty of atmosphere, so if you love football and you are passing through the city you should definitely try attend a Persebaya game.

Armata III harbour fun cruise

Enjoying the cruise on the Armata III.

11. Harbour Cruise on Artama III

Surabaya is a major seaport and one of the most interesting ways of exploring the city and seeing exactly what this means is joining a Harbour Cruise on Artama III. The cruise takes more approximately 2 hours and follows the waterfront of the city pass the bustling port and under the famous bridge (Suramadu Bridge). The cruise operates every Sunday from 9 am to 11 am and costs Rp 120,000 per person. You can find more information about it here.

12. Visit the Malls

If you are visiting Surabaya and you are looking for a place to do some shopping or just catch a movie then you might well find yourself in one of the cities many malls. It’s not a bad thing. Malls are a big part of modern Indonesian culture. The malls are a place where people come to meet up, hang out and socialise. If you want a recommendation of where to visit in Surabaya, two of the best malls in the city are Tunjungan Plaza and Ciputra World Surabaya.

13. Surabaya Bars and Nightlife

Surabaya is a bustling city and theres plenty of things to do when the sunsets over the city. The city has plenty of great restaurants that you can visit and there are also lively bars and nightclubs that cater to different interests. You can find chilled out places like Our Bar for a relaxing chat with friends or more lively places like Colors Pub and Restaurant. While it’s not anywhere near as Jakarta or Bali there are still many places to explore for a good night out.

The Monkasel Submarine saw service in the Indonesian navy in the 1950's. It is now a tourist attraction in the centre of Surabaya.

The Monkasel Submarine saw service in the Indonesian navy in the 1950’s. It is now a tourist attraction in the centre of Surabaya.

14. Monkasel Submarine

The Monkasel is a Russian Submarine that saw service in the Indonesian navy shortly after Indonesian independence. After being decommissioned the submarine was turned into a tourist attraction. The Monkasel now rests in the heart of Surabaya on Pemuda Street near the bank of the Kalimas river. You can still enter the submarine and take a tour of the interior. It costs Rp 20,000 per person to visit the submarine.

15. Klenteng Sanggar Agung

Klenteng Sanggar Agung is a large Chinese temple used by adherents of Tridharma. The temple is the perfect place to visit if you are looking to escape the busy streets of Surabaya. Klenteng Sanggar Agung temple is on the edge of the city and overlooks the ocean. With hundreds of burning candles and the smell of incense hanging in the air the temple has a calm and peaceful atmosphere.

Dragon arches at the Klenteng Sanggar Agung Temple in Surabaya.

Dragon arches at the Klenteng Sanggar Agung Temple in Surabaya.

Final Thoughts

Surabaya is one of the largest cities in Indonesia and despite it’s reputation as a business city there are plenty of interesting places to visit here. From watching a match at Gelora Bung Tomo to taking high tea at Majapahit Hotel, I hope this list has given you a few ideas of fun things to do in Surabaya.

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

Budget HotelHotel 88 Embong Kenongo from $27 a Night
Mid Range HotelHarris Hotel & Conventions Gubeng from $42 a Night
Luxury HotelHotel Majapahit Surabaya from $119 a Night

Have you visited Surabaya? What would you recommend to tourists coming to the city? Share your thoughts in the comments below.