Top Places to Visit in Indonesia

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Indonesia, located in Southeast Asia, is home to more than 17,000 islands with varying landscapes, cultures, and histories. This country boasts some of the world’s best natural sites, from active volcanoes and lush rainforests to mesmerising beaches, coral reefs, and a variety of rare flora and fauna.

With hundreds of different cultures, over 700 languages, and centuries of foreign influence, Indonesia's cultural heritage is remarkable. It has plenty of places for you to explore, such as the vibrant capital Jakarta and Bali's tranquil rice paddies.

Whether you're looking for an adventure or just a peaceful escape, Indonesia has something for everyone. Before planning your trip, however, you must decide where to go! The decision might seem daunting, with over 17,000 islands and 6,000 inhabited towns and villages to explore.

You won’t have to worry, though, as we have compiled a list of Indonesia’s top 10 places to visit worth your time. Join us as we dive deep into the details of each destination.

Top Places to Visit in Indonesia - An Overview

Let’s start with a quick look at some of the most remarkable places to visit in Indonesia-

Best Places to Visit in Summer Best Places to Visit in Winter Best Places to Visit with Family
Bali Bali Bali
Surabaya Jakarta Yogyakarta
Manado Lombok Manado
Makassar Yogyakarta Kalimantan
Palembang Aceh Makassar

1. Jakarta

Jakarta is Indonesia's capital as well as its largest city—making it the perfect starting point when exploring this fascinating nation. It's a vibrant mix of culture, modern business, and lively nightlife. You can explore museums and galleries, participate in cultural activities or shop at one of the city's world-class malls. If you are looking for Indonesia’s top places to visit, Jakarta certainly makes for a good choice to start your trip.

Listed below are the highlights of this place -

  • Old Batavia (Kota Tua): It is a historic Jakarta district and a must-visit for history buffs. This area has been preserved since the Dutch colonial period and is home to many historical buildings, museums, and galleries. Some highlights include the Jakarta History Museum, the Wayang Museum (often referred to as the Puppet Museum), and the Fine Art and Ceramic Museum.
  • Thousand Islands (Kepulauan Seribu):  If you are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Thousand Islands (actually consisting of around 110 islands!) offer a serene escape. This cluster of islands is located just off the coast of Jakarta and is perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and relaxing on the beach. You can also go on a boat tour to explore the island's beautiful coral reefs and wildlife.
  • Taman Mini Indonesia Indah: A cultural theme park that offers a glimpse into Indonesia's diverse cultural heritage, it features 26 traditional houses representing each of the country's provinces, a lake with traditional boats, a museum, and various cultural performances.
  • National Gallery of Indonesia: A must-see for art lovers, the National Gallery of Indonesia houses an impressive collection of Indonesian art from the colonial period to the present. The gallery, besides being home to 1,700+ art pieces, also hosts various temporary exhibitions, workshops, and events. Note that this gallery has free entry for tourists.

2. Bali

Located on the westernmost side of the Lesser Sunda Islands and wedged between Java and Lombok, Bali is a small Indonesian island with a stunning landscape of rice terraces, tropical forests, volcanic mountains, and breathtaking beaches. Popular as a tourist destination across the world, Bali is also one of the top places to visit in Indonesia.

Here are some of the best places to visit in Bali, Indonesia -

  • Uluwatu Temple: Located on the island's southern tip, Uluwatu Temple is a stunning temple that sits atop a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. The temple's architecture and location make it a perfect sunset spot. A white sand beach and dramatic cliff flank the temple for stunning backdrops.
  • Seminyak Beach: As one of Bali’s best places to visit, Seminyak Beach offers you plenty of restaurants, shops, and bars as well as one of the best places to surf in the country. The beach's beautiful white sand, clear water, and incredible sunsets make it a must-visit destination on the island.
  • Kuta Beach: Located on the island's western side, Kuta Beach is popular for its exquisite sunsets and calm waves. The beach is an excellent choice for those of you who want to relax on the beachside.
  • Ubud: Often referred to as the cultural heart of Bali, Ubud is a great site to have an authentic experience of Balinese culture. You can check out traditional dance performances, visit the famous Monkey Forest, and Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), and explore the town's markets and galleries.

3. Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is one of the top Indonesian places to visit. It is the artistic and cultural heart of the island of Java, where amazing architecture, creative art forms, and famous historical sites come alive. Yogyakarta has much to offer, from natural beauty and rich culture to art and historic structures.

Given below are the top places to check out in Yogyakarta -

  • Prambanan Temple Complex: The magnificent Prambanan Temple Complex in Yogyakarta is among the most iconic places in the region. This 10th-century Hindu temple was built during the reign of the Sailendra dynasty and is considered one of Java's most beautiful temples. The temple complex consists of three main temples dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, as well as several smaller temples.
  • Taman Sari Water Castle Road: You can take a trip along Taman Sari Water Castle Road for a great scenic route, which takes you through the lush countryside. You can stop at interesting attractions like Kalasan Temple, Kalibiru National Park and Pine Forest Saeger. Once you reach Gembong Village, you can enjoy fun activities like swimming and zip-lining.
  • Pasar Beringharjo: When shopping in Pasar Beringharjo, a traditional market, you can find excellent works by local artisans. Here, you'll find dozens of vendors selling handmade crafts such as batik fabric, silver jewellery, and wooden ornaments that can make memorable gifts for friends and family. You can also check out different types of uncommon fruits and vegetables here, with the list including dragon fruits, durian, and so forth.
  • Kalibiru National Park: Kalibiru National Park is a stunning natural destination in Indonesia's Yogyakarta region. If you seek outdoor adventure and inspiring scenery, this beautiful park is an ideal destination for you. With its stunning views and welcoming local community, this park will surely provide a memorable and enriching travel experience.

4. Surabaya

Surabaya, Indonesia, is renowned for its bountiful cultural legacy and incredible historical and cultural attractions. The name of the city originates from two words – sura (shark) and baya (crocodile)– given by the local people. It became a hub for the nation’s fight for independence during World War II. Surabaya has emerged as one of Indonesia’s major industrial, commercial and trading centres. What’s more, you can find people of Arab descent here in the Ampel District.

Here are some of the top places that you must visit here -

  • Heroes Monument: It is a 41-metre-tall tower built to commemorate the soldiers who fought for Indonesia's independence. The tower has a museum showcasing Indonesia's struggle for independence, making it an important place for anyone interested in Indonesian history.
  • Taman Bungkul: Honoured with the ‘2013 Asian Townscape Award’, this is a beautiful park situated in Surabaya. Perfect for a stroll, it has a lake, various plants and trees, and plenty of relaxing space. The park is a popular spot for joggers, families, and picnics, with plenty of food stalls and cafes available if you wish to stop for a snack or meal.
  • Ria Kenjeran Beach: Ria Kenjeran Beach is an ideal coastal destination with plenty to offer. You can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and water sports like jet skiing and banana boating. Additionally, you can take a stroll along the beach and revel in the spectacular views of the ocean, together with the nearby mountains and forests. 
  • Suramadu National Bridge: This impressive bridge connects Surabaya to the nearby island of Madura over the Madura Strait. It is the longest bridge in Indonesia, with a jaw-dropping length of around 5.4 km. You can walk or cycle along the pedestrian lane to enjoy the panoramic sea and city skyline views.

5. Palembang

Located on the coast of South Sumatra, Palembang is one of the largest cities in Indonesia. It is the capital of the South Sumatra Province and has numerous entertainment hubs for visitors to enjoy, making it one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.

When visiting Palembang, you can find plenty of activities - from beach resorts to water parks. The city also offers a lively nightlife with various bars and clubs for those looking for a night out in town.

Listed below are must-visit places in Palembang -

  • The Musi River: This river is of the utmost importance to Palembang and is one of the city's most iconic features. You can take a boat ride along the river and enjoy the beautiful views of the city's skyline. The river is also home to several floating markets, where locals sell fresh produce, fish, and other goods.
  • The Ampera Bridge: The bridge is one of Palembang's most recognisable landmarks. This iconic bridge spans the Musi River and provides an excellent city view. You can walk across the bridge and enjoy the cool breeze while enjoying the stunning scenery.
  • Kemaro Island: It is a small island located on the Musi River and is popular for its beautiful temple on top of a hill. You can take a boat ride to the island and explore the temple decorated with intricate carvings and statues. 
  • Kuto Besak Fortress: This historical fortress was built in the 18th century during the reign of Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II. It was used as a defence fort against the Dutch colonial forces. Today, you can explore the fortress and learn about the history of Palembang during the Dutch colonial era.

6. Lombok

Lombok is one of the most popular places to visit in Indonesia. This beautiful island is known for its fantastic beaches on Gili Islands, which offer a great island escape with world-renowned dive sites and snorkelling spots. 

Let’s explore the popular attractions in Lombok -

  • Gili Islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno are three small islands off the coast of Lombok, with each one having its unique charm. You can enjoy white sand beaches, crystal clear waters for swimming, snorkelling, and diving, as well as lively beach bars and nightlife.
  • Tetebatu Rice Terraces: Located on the foothills of Mount Rinjani, Tetebatu is a scenic village surrounded by rice paddies and lush forests. This is a great place to explore the rice terraces and learn about local farming practices, all while enjoying the stunning views.
  • Tanjung Aan Beach: Another beach on the list! This picturesque beach boasts soft white sand, turquoise waters, and incredible rocky cliffs. What’s remarkable about this beach is that it has ample opportunities for all types of visitors. If you are in the mood for adventure, you can enjoy swimming or try out water sports, including surfing, kiteboarding, and stand-up paddleboarding. However, if you simply wish to chill, you can sunbathe and gaze at the hills and scenic views nearby. 
  • Mount Rinjani: As the second-highest volcano in Indonesia, Mount Rinjani offers incredible views of Lombok and the surrounding islands. Hiking to the summit is a popular activity, which also allows you to explore the crater lake and hot springs on the mountain, which stands at an impressive 3,726 metres.

7. Aceh

Aceh, located on the northern tip of Sumatra, is a destination steeped in culture and history. Despite the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, which wrecked much of the region, Aceh has bounced back and has become a popular tourist destination. Its unique cultural attractions feature traditional Islamic architecture combined with Indonesian wood carvings and other decorations, making it a sight to be noticed.

The following are some places worth checking out in Aceh -

  • Tsunami Museum: The Tsunami Museum is a poignant reminder of the devastation caused by the 2004 tsunami. It offers informational exhibits about the disaster and its impact on the region.
  • Weh Island: Located off the coast of Aceh, Weh Island is a fantastic natural spot with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs. It is an ideal spot for snorkelling, diving, and other water activities without being crowded.
  • Cut Nyak Dhien House: This historic house is dedicated to Cut Nyak Dhien, a legendary female warrior who fought against Dutch colonial rule. You can learn about her life and legacy while admiring the traditional Acehnese architecture here.
  • Gunongan Historical Park: Built in the 16th century, Gunongan has a unique structure that blends Hindu and Islamic architectural elements. The park is surrounded by pretty gardens and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

8. Manado

Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi, is one of the world’s premier diving destinations. You can enjoy some of Sulawesi’s traditional cuisine in Manado at local eateries and participate in the city’s cultural festivals celebrating local traditions with music and dance performances. Manado is certainly a good pick among the top-rated places to visit in Indonesia.

Here are some captivating places that you should check out during your stay in Manado:

  • Yesus Memberkati Statue - The Yesus Memberkati Statue is located in the highlands of North Sulawesi and is considered one of the tallest statues of Jesus in Asia. The statue is named after the Indonesian phrase ‘Yesus Memberkati’, which reportedly means "Blessed Jesus." 
  • Malalayang Beach -  If you're a traveller seeking a beautiful beach destination, you should consider visiting Malalayang Beach in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. Its serene, clear waters, and soft white sand provide the perfect setting for swimming, sunbathing, and other aquatic activities. You can also unwind and admire the gorgeous views of the nearby mountains and islands.
  • Soekarno Bridge: A significant landmark worth seeing for visitors to Indonesia is the Soekarno Bridge Statue. This symbolic sculpture is located in Makassar, South Sulawesi, and pays tribute to the nation’s first president, Soekarno. 
  • Ban Hin Kiong Temple: This historic Chinese temple is one of the oldest in Manado and is a fascinating representation of Chinese architectural styles. You can explore the temple's intricate decorations and participate in traditional Chinese ceremonies.

9. Kalimantan

Blessed with lush rainforests and many natural wonders, this exquisite island is an ideal place for travellers to explore and experience the natural beauty of Indonesia. This region has everything - from remote villages in West Kalimantan to bustling cities in East Kalimantan - making it one of the best places to visit in Indonesia.

Some of the most popular destinations in the city include -

  • Tanjung Puting National Park: This national park is located in Central Kalimantan and is home to the famous orangutan rehabilitation centre. You can take a boat ride along the Sekonyer River and even see the orangutans up close.
  • Derawan Islands: Located in East Kalimantan, the Derawan Islands offer some of Indonesia's best diving and snorkelling opportunities. The islands surround crystal-clear waters and diverse marine life, which includes turtles, manta rays, and colourful fish.
  • Kutai National Park: Located in East Kalimantan, Kutai National Park is home to a range of wildlife, including orangutans, Proboscis monkeys, and more. You can move through the rainforest to see these animals as well as mangrove forests and more.
  • Pontianak: The capital of West Kalimantan, Pontianak is known for its delicious cuisine, including traditional dishes like sate and nasi goreng. You can also explore the city's cultural heritage by visiting the Equator Monument or the Kadriyah Palace.

10. Makassar

The final entry in our list of the top places to visit in Indonesia! Located in the heart of Sulawesi, it's a popular destination for travellers from around the world. From inner tubing and snorkelling to the famous Amoniak amusement park, Makassar has something for everyone.

Here are some of the must-visit places in Makassar -

  • Fort Rotterdam: This 17th-century fort is one of the most iconic landmarks of Makassar, serving as a reminder of the city's colonial past. It is a great historical site and has several museums nearby that showcase the region's history.
  • Losari Beach: This attractive beach is popular for its scenic views, especially around the time of sunset. You can stroll around, enjoy the sea breeze, and sample local street food from vendors lining the beach.
  • Paotere Harbour: Paotere Harbour in Makassar is a historic harbour that not only provides an insight into the region's maritime tradition and history but also has wooden phinisi boats that have been used for centuries for trading and transportation purposes. You can ride in ships around the bay and even explore the fish market in the vicinity here.
  • Somba Opu Sultan’s Fort: For history buffs, Somba Opu Sultan's Fort in Makassar would be among the best places to visit in Indonesia. This fort was built in the 16th-17th century and served as the residence of the Sultanate of Gowa, a potent force ruling over the area for many years. 

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