What to see in Indonesia

Yogyakarta

Tourist attractions Yogyakarta

The center of Javanese culture, this Indonesian city is the only one in the country still ruled by a SultanYogyakarta is at the heart of Javanese arts, language and tradition, making it an unmissable stop on a vacation to Indonesia. An endlessly creative place, Yogyakarta exudes artsy appeal with its array of galleries, museums, street art and bustling coffee shops. Affectionately known as ‘Yogya’, this royal city is bursting with timeless historic sights and is known for its artisans who produce some of the finest batik textiles and silver jewellery in the country.

Most people travel to Yogyakarta to visit the nearby Borobudur Temple, dating back to the golden age of the Javanese dynasties, although there are countless attractions and cultural treasures to unearth within Yogya itself. As well as boasting a smorgasbord of traditional arts, ranging from Javanese ballet to literature, puppetry and silversmithing, Yogyakarta is home to a large number of universities and its student population gives the city a distinctively youthful atmosphere. 

Considered the 'coolest' city in Indonesia, a trip to Yogyakarta is the chance to experience a vibrant cosmopolitan city, located just a stone’s throw away from soul-stirring beaches and towering volcanoes. It also provides an inspiring insight into the religious heritage of the region. Furthermore, the city’s street food scene caters for even the most discerning foodies.

Things to see in Yogyakarta

If you take a tour of Yogyakarta, the best thing to see is the Kraton, the Royal Palace of Yogyakarta. The political and cultural heart of the city, the Kraton is the best place to get to know the heritage and history of this Javanese former royal capital. Situated behind the main square, this complex is the seat of the current Sultan and his family. The complex was meticulously designed and decorated to reflect the Javanese cosmos, therefore it’s worth visiting Kraton with a tour guide to understand the intricate details of this historic palace. Within the walled city, you’ll find an entire world of pavilions, residences, markets, shops, schools and mosques. The eye-catching colourful 18th-century architecture is simply charming, whilst the central Golden Pavillion is considered the highlight of the complex. A number of exhibitions display precious objects and daily performances of traditional arts make this a fascinating place to visit in Yogyakarta.

Continuing the regal theme, the nearby Taman Sari is another of the best things to see in Yogyakarta. Although partially ruined, this was once the former royal garden and glamorous playground of the sultans. Palaces, waterways and swimming pools were once housed within the park, dating back to the 18th-century. Today, you can still enjoy a stroll around the well-preserved central bathing complex for a taste of the luxurious lifestyle of Yogyakarta’s sultans.

If you travel to Yogyakarta, don’t miss out on a visit to Kota Gede, the historic center of the city. This atmospheric maze of narrow streets is known as the best place to discover the city’s artisan heritage. The tiled houses, once home to the aristocracy, are now used as silversmith workshops. Here, you can view the local silversmiths at work, browse an array of glittering goods and purchase some of the finest silver jewellery in the country. 

With all this royal heritage, you might be longing to experience a more down to earth view of the city. If so, the best thing to do in Yogyakarta is to explore Pasar Beningharjo, the oldest market in the city. Inaugurated in 1758, this traditional marketplace is a must-see if you’re looking for authentic souvenirs. In particular, there is a great selection of batik textiles on sale here, especially clothing. On the other hand, the street food stalls are the best place to grab a delicious snack after a busy morning of shopping!

Finally, a trip to Yogyakarta is incomplete without visiting Borobudur Temple. Just 40 kilometers from the city itself, Yogyakarta is famously the jumping-off point for exploring this Mahayana Buddhist temple, the largest in the world. The amazing 9th-century architecture and intricate bas reliefs attract travellers from all over the world and the most popular tours of Borobodur take place at sunrise when you can enjoy spectacular views as the morning sun illuminates the ancient complex. 

 

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