Surabaya is East Java’s capital city and is the second largest city after Jakarta. It is a commercial city, has lots of malls and shopping opportunities, is loaded with chic cafeterias, has a bustling culinary scene and has a good selection of bars and clubs.
Unlike other cities in Java, Surabaya has a good infrastructure and although busy does not feel so. It is clean, well organised and has beautiful neighbourhoods. Surabaya is our preferred city in Java and is a good option if considering a longer stay on this island (Java).
Our loop through East Java started and finished in Surabaya. Surabaya has an airport with flights to major destinations including to Bali.
Here you will find a list of airlines and their destinations operating from Surabaya’s airport.
Things To Do in Surabaya
Heroes Monument & 10th November Museum
Heroes Monument is Surabaya’s landmark. The monument stands at 41 metres and is dedicated to those who died during the colonial battle of Surabaya on November 10th 1945 in order for Indonesia to regain its independence. A well maintained garden surrounds the monument. Displayed in the garden are the larger artillery used during the war. Cars of the time and statues of important figures are also displayed here.
10th November museum is located under the monument and is a must if wanting to learn more on Surabaya’s history. The museum is spread over two levels. On first floor is an auditorium and has reproductions of documentary photographs. On the second floor are dioramas presenting 8 events that happened around 10th November 1945. Artifacts such as artillery, tools and other objects of that time are also displayed here.
The admission fee is 5k IDR (€0.32) per person.
Ria Kenjeran beach
Ria Kenjeran is a beach area 9 km east from downtown Surabaya. The beach is not suitable for swimming and the area is known for its fun park and religious buildings. One popular building is Sanggar Agung which is a Chinese temple. This temple is still a place of worship and is home to a beautiful Guan Yin statue on its waterfront.
Opposite the temple is a 4 faced Brahma Hindu Shrine and within 1 km is the beautiful Pagoda Tian Ti which on our visit was closed so we enjoyed it from the outside. Interesting is the fact that although a nice and peaceful location, everything seems to be abandoned.
Entrance fee is 5k IDR (€0.32). A 5k IDR parking fee also applies.
Bus Tour around Surabaya
Taking a bus tour around the city offers the chance to get to know more about the history and other interesting facts of Surabaya and a chance to meet the lovely locals (since we were the only foreign tourists on the bus tour).
The helpful tourist information centre in Gubeng organizes the bus tours on certain days of the week. As there is just one bus and only operates on some days you will need to book at least one day before at the tourist information office which is shown on the map below.
The tour will go around the city and stop at certain places. On the day of our tour we visited a couple of historic buildings. One of these was a 142 year old building that is now used as a government office and a small museum. The museum has a collection of historical artifacts and the museum guide is very informative. During our English tour around the museum we learned of Dolly, a red-light area in Surabaya. Dolly was a street in the region of Pasar Kembang. The street was a brothel area and surprisingly was also South East Asia’s biggest prostitution area. Today Dolly no longer exists, all the prostitution businesses were forced to close down in 2014.
The tour includes a visit to the Russian submarine and after we watched a short documentary on Indonesia’s navy in a small theatre. The movie is in Indonesian but has English subtitles. Later we went to Suroboyo park. Here is a big monument of a shark and crocodile which represents Surabaya. Surabaya’s name means suro – shark and boyo – crocodile. The day ended at another park where we stopped for a late lunch before heading back to the tourist information centre.
Bus tour costs 7.5k IDR (€0.48) per person. Some attractions on the tour bear a small entrance fee.
G.Walk is a vibrant culinary street right in the heart of CitraLand. Although this is the high end area of Surabaya, this street is loaded with inexpensive eateries and restaurants. Being such a popular area with foreigners especially Chinese, here you will also find a variety of pork dishes which is hard to find in other places in Java. Along with all the eateries are also cafeterias and bars making G.Walk popular with local families and youths.
Graha Fairground is another popular spot close to G.Walk. This is an outdoor food court offering a variety of dishes. Also in this same area are a few restaurants and a sports pub.
All around Gubeng you will find shopping malls with Tunjungan being one of them. It is centrally located and is one of the largest and offers broad shopping options. The mall is only 10 minutes walk to the train station and you will find anything from clothes and accessories to gadgets and also a cinema. On the first floor are cafeterias and restaurants offering local and western dishes where we had some great meals.
Pampering in Surabaya
This is our first post about such a topic and felt we had to include Jayanata as their facial treatment was exceptional. Jayanata was our first visit to a beauty parlour during our trip, or at least it was Jacqueline’s first. They don’t cater to men. The clinic is huge and spread over 3 floors. The first floor is a cosmetic and make up store. Second and third floor is where treatments and messages are done.
Where to eat while in Surabaya
Aiola is an open air food court in Gubeng. A variety of themed food stalls offer a wide range of dishes. Here you will find Indonesian, fish, meat, chicken and also a waffle and Italian stall. The cool atmosphere and cheap prices make Aiola a popular spot with locals and students.
Historica is a cafeteria and restaurant in Gubeng. Like most cafeterias in Surabaya, Historica has a cool look and relaxed atmosphere. Coffees are good and the food is amazing. Along with the selection of pasta and western food are pastries and cakes.
Our bar is a cosy pub style bar just outside of Gubeng. The fully stacked bar has a wide range of spirits, beers and cocktails. The bar also offers a menu of European food and snacks making this a great place to hang out and relax.
>>East Java was a highlight in our one year trip to SE Asia. It has breathtaking natural wonders including two highly accessible volcanoes, Mount Bromo & Ijen and an impressive waterfall, Tumpak Sewu. Make sure to include these epic spots and these other destinations in your Java itinerary.
- Jakarta in west Java
- Yogyakarta in south Java
- Karimunjawa Islands in the north
Where to stay in Surabaya
Gubeng is perfect for first timers while CitraLand is a good option for longer stays. Both these areas offer a number of amenities within walking distance.
Gubeng is recognized by many backpackers for it’s train station which has the same name. Mostly considered for being a gateway for East Java’s highlights, Gubeng is increasingly getting known for its vibrant scene. Within a few hundred metres from the train station are malls, bars, cafeterias, restaurants and lots of cool local eateries.
Citra Land Surabaya
CitraLand’s envision is to be a city of the future. It is a 40 minute drive from Gubeng, has a neat master plan, well organised infrastructure and modern buildings. CitraLand has gained the nickname ‘Singapore of Surabaya’. Ideal for longer stays, this area is without a doubt the upscale part of Surabaya. Besides being popular for its mall and restaurants CitraLand is known for the vibrant scene along G.Walk
Getting Around in Surabaya
Renting a scooter in Surabaya isn’t quite the same as other places. We contacted loads of rental shops and once they knew we were foreigners they would just decline renting. In the end we managed to find a place, Rental Motor Surabaya (+62 856-4909-3091).
Map with attractions of Surabaya
Click on the right most button to enlarge the map, get the map legend and search the map.
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