A 3 Day Itinerary for Yogyakarta on Java Island Indonesia

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Yogyakarta is the capital city of central Java island Indonesia. Also referred to as Jogja, it is known as a city of culture and arts and is slowly becoming a favorite destination with both local and foreign tourists.

Being well connected by train, bus and even has its own international airport with direct flights from places like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and even Bali , Yogyakarta is no doubt a place you should add to your next Indonesia itinerary plan.

Most famously known as a base for those wanting to explore the Borobudur and Prambanan temples and for visiting popular places within the city like Jalan Malioboro and a popular water castle. Yogyakarta offers so much more, either within the bustling city streets or on the outskirts where tropical landscapes dominate the lands.

If you’re thinking of visiting Yogyakarta any time soon and don’t know where to get started, don’t worry. This guide is a step-by-step daily plan for a 3-day itinerary in Yogyakarta. Even if you don’t follow the guide “exactly” as it is here, it will help you set the tone for your own itinerary.

Alun Alun Kidul - A neon lit 1900's replica peddle car and a renter standing next to it smoking a (probably) a kretek cigarette

WHAT TO DO IN YOGYAKARTA IN 3 DAYS

Yogyakarta Itinarary – Day 1

Although not a super touristy destination like Bali, Yogyakarta is a tourist-friendly destination, and navigating your way around the city to explore all the tourist attractions is quite convenient.

Most tourist attractions are within a 30-minute walk from the popular resort areas

So on the first day, stay in the city and find out more about Yogyakarta’s history and culture.

Taman Sari and Sumur Gumuling

One of the main attractions in the city is a beautiful water castle named Taman Sari. This pretty castle used to be a resting and bathing place of a former Sultan in Yogyakarta. And originally it was a massive complex with gardends and 4 distinct area and the bathing place was in the center.

Today, inside the walls that enclosed

and used to be a resting and bathing place of a Sultan in Yogyakarta.

And from Taman Sari, make your way through a maze of streets and stop for a visit at a unique Mosque located under the ground.

I suggest starting off from Taman Sari early in the morning because it is very popular and does get crowded during the day.

Sumur Gumuling - Jacqueline standing in a courtyard with a 3 flights of stairs forming a done and I photographed her through an archway door
Taman Sari - Opposing stair cases making their way up the facade of another entrance at Taman Sari water castle

Jalan Malioboro

After the underground Mosque, take a walk along the narrow alleys and backstreets of the city and make your way to Jalan Malioboro.

It should take about 30 minutes to walk from Taman Sari to Malioboro. Or if you prefer, you could take a taxi which shouldn’t cost more than $2.

But walking along those hidden streets offers a different picture of Yogyakarta and you’ll see where art meets culture with lots of beautiful murals and artistic paintings on walls of buildings in the narrow alleys.

Jalan Malioboro is Yogyakarta’s most popular street. Food vendors line the sidewalk, carriages drawn by horses take tourists on short sightseeing tours and there is lots of shopping going on in this vibrant road.

And there is no shortage of places to eat. Stop for a break in a nice cafe or restaurant. Or even better, try something local from one of the many street food vendors selling authentic Indonesian cuisine.

Another option is to walk down to Jalan Praworitaman where you’ll find loads of western restaurants and bars.

Malioboro - Old Dutch buildings in the Malioboro area Yogyakarta

Kampung Code

After your stop in Malioboro or Praworitaman, call a taxi or order an online taxi with Grab application.

You will go to Kampung Code, a charming neighborhood perched along the Kali Code river.

From Malioboro, Kampung Code is about 20 minutes by walk. So that is another option.

Walking along the streets and narrow alleys offers a glimpse into how contrasting life here is compared to the more vibrant streets of the City.

There are no cars in the village, so you’ll come across the cheerful kids playing in the alleys, people fishing in the river, and women preparing food to later on sell in Malioboro street.

Kampung Code - Jacqueline posing with an old traditional asian bike along the alleys of a river village
Kampung Code - Myself standing in the alley of this riverside village while holding a bowl of this sort of Indonesian version of porridge and looking rather shocked at how good it is

Alun-Alun Kidul

Come to Alun-Alun Kidul during the day and you won’t see much more than a piazza with two big banyan trees in the centre.

But come during the evening and this place transforms into one big open-air vibrant place. With food stalls lining all the streets and some of the side streets too, there is no better place to be if you seriously want to try some authentic Indonesian cuisine.

But what Alun-Alun Kidul is well known for are brightly lit neon pedal car fitted speakers and that visitors rent to pedal around the square in the energetic square not so far from Malioboro street.

In the meantime…

…at some point during the day make sure to organize transport for the following because the following day you’ll need a car to get to the next tourist spot.

The tourist spots of day 2 are super popular. So in order to avoid some of the crowds, let your driver know to pick you up at 4:30 am you’ll be on the spot before a lot of the big tours arrive and it will also be around sunrise time so you will also get the best light of day for photographs.

Usually what tourists do is they order a hire car with a driver for about 8 hours which is usually enough for most things in and around Yogyakarta. It is an effective way of getting around and prices are between IDR 450.000 and IDR 600.000 ($30 – $40).

Alun Alun Kidul- One of the vendors at Alun Alun Kidul grilling calamari and standing next to an open flame out of a butane can

More Than 3 Days in Yogyakarta?

If you have more than 3 days or want to add more or different things to your Yogyakarta itinerary, then make sure to check out the charming village in the mountains known as Nepal Van Java. We spent 2 nights up there in the mountains. It got cold at night, we were rewarded with epic morning sunrises, we helped cook our own dinner on a traditional wood-burning stove, and ended up being one of the most interesting and also raw experiences we did on Java island.

READ THE FULL NEPAL VAN JAVA ARTICLE

And if you still want to add more things to your Yogyakarta itinerary or want to spend maybe a week or more and you like laid back tropical islands – off the coast of North Java, [like just straight up from Yogyakarta], there is Karimunjawa. It is a small archipelago with the main island having some nice accommodation, stunning beaches with crystal clear water [some of the nicest beaches that we saw in Indonesia were in Karimunjawa] western and local restaurants, and has some amazing reefs just a short boat ride away.

READ THE FULL KARIMUNJAWA ARTICLE

Don’t mind the photos in the Karimunjawa post, we were at the start of this blog and had no good camera.

Yogyakarta Itinerary – Day 2

Most tourists base themselves in Yogyakarta to visit the historical temples and sites on the outskirts of the city. And on the second the focus will be on two very interesting sites about a 1-hour drive from the city.

Borobudur

Day 2 is an interesting day of getting to know more about the history of central Java.

The day starts off from Borobudur, a Unesco world heritage site and the largest Buddhist temple in the world. Built on 9 different levels and the last 3 being the highlight because of the 72 small dome-shaped stupas covering Buddhas inside, Borobudur is probably the most popular tourist spot in all of Indonesia.

That is why I suggest getting here early.

Make sure also to visit the museum inside the Borobudur complex. The museum highlights interesting facts about this temple. Like how it was abandoned and almost forgotten while the jungle took over the whole structure.

Prambanan

Next on the list is another beautiful temple. But surprisingly instead of being another Buddhist temple, this time the temple is Hindu. I guess that is why they call Yogyakarta a city of art and heritage.

Prambanan is again the largest, (Hindu temple this time), on the island of Java. It is a huge complex comprising of 3 tall dominant structures with top parts ending in a pyramid shape – a type of architecture synonymous with Hindu temples.

Originally, 240 smaller temples surrounded the 3 main temples that stand today. But until now, most of those temples are still in ruins and are currently being restored.

Borobudur - A Buddha sitting inside an uncovered stupa and surrounded with little stupas while the sun rises on a hazy day
Buddha at Borobudur temple
Prambanan - A Hindu statue in the foreground and stunning temple in the background facing a pile of stones of other temples left in ruins
One of the temples at Prambanan

Call it a day….

Visiting these 2 spots will take up most of the day. We followed this exact plan and arrived back at our accommodation at around 5:00 pm. However, we like to take things to slow so we probably doing both temples would be manageable in maybe 8 hours.

Either way, you might want a nice restaurant for dinner. Here are 2 restaurants that we can highly recommend.

Malioboro area – Roaster and Bear – steaks are delicious.

Praworitaman area – City Grill – Balkan food and has a great meat platter to share.

Yogyakarta Itinerary- Day 3

On the 3rd of your Yogyakarta itinerary, we will leave the start of the day up to you to decide. This is because this day requires you once again in order to reach the first place for sunrise. So you can follow this plan and wake up early or either still follow the plan but start off later on during the day.

Nglanggeran Ancient Volcano

This dormant volcano is located about a 45-minute drive from Yogyakarta City. If you’re looking for some adventure it is a great place to visit for the sunrise because once you reach the foot of the volcano you will need to hike through the jungle for around an hour in order to reach the peak.

Don’t worry, the path is well defined but there are some tricky parts that require squeezing through a crevice in the cliff face to carry on the trail.

What you will get from the top is stunning rising over a mountainous land, distant villages and misty verdant rice fields and farmland.

Nglanggeran - A crevice in the rock face and part of the trail to the top of the volcano
Nglanggeran - Standing on top of the volcano wjile the sunrise slowly rises over the mountain tops and create rainbow colors in the sky

Hutan Pinus Pengger

Hutan Pinus Pengger is a theme and about 30 minutes ride from the last. If you’re looking for some nice Instagrammable things, then there are quite a few spots here.

Scattered around tall trees and a stunning viewpoint are pretty hobbit-like houses and sort of human-sized bird nests made from sticks.

A highlight is a structure in the shape of a hand that looks like it is hanging off the edge of a cliff and makes for a good spot for taking a photo

Hutan Pinus Pengger - A structure made of sticks and pointing out of the viewing area with a stunning backdrop of mountains

Sri Gethuk Waterfall

End off the day at a beautiful park surrounded by beautiful rice paddies, a waterfall, and a river that has carved its way down a mountain among loads of huge boulders.

Sri Gethuk is a nice and relaxing way to end off the day. You can get close to the waterfall. And if you feel tired and hot just jump into the river. There is also a short boat tour on a barge in the river that will take you to other spots and another waterfall.

Sri Gethuk - Jacqueline walking along ricefields

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The Ancient volcano is an option. If you feel exhausted you may want to skip this and head straight to Pinus Pengger. If you opt to go directly to Pengger ask your driver to come for you at around 6:00 am.

Click on the button to the right to view the map larger and the list of attractions.

FINAL NOTE

We love Yogyakarta for a bunch of reasons. Probably one of the best things is that it is a city that is very easy to navigate, it has good infrastructure, and isn’t all that touristy but has enough things and amenities that we westerners are used to.

So those were our top tips and suggestions for places to go and things to do in and around Yogyakarta. And don’t forget about Jogja’s nightlife scene. Don’t expect anything crazy going on at night, but you can find some pretty decent places with live bands and things like that.

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHAT TO DO AT NIGHT IN JOGJA

If you’re planning to visit Yogyakarta any time soon, make sure to save the URL of this page. Or save the post to Pinterest for future reference. And if you have other travel buddies or adventurous family members, share it on your socials and get your friends and family inspired too!!

While you’re in Java make sure to visit the most impressive natural wonders in East Java because some are so unique you won’t find anything similar anywhere else.

READ OUR EAST JAVA ROUTE GUIDE

Read All Our Indonesia Guides.

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    1 thought on “A 3 Day Itinerary for Yogyakarta on Java Island Indonesia”

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