There is no doubt in my mind that Yogyakarta is one of the best cities to visit in Indonesia. It is jam-packed full of fascinating palaces and temples which all tell a unique story about the country’s past. Jogja is home to the mighty Borobudur temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for being the largest Buddhist temple on the entire planet.
This marvelous temple is shockingly huge bringing millions of tourists every year to witness its religious significance. Borobudur is by far the most visited tourist attraction in Jogja, but there is considerably more to do in this cute little city.
So, whether you want to explore special and historical palaces or relax in some of the more natural scenes on offer, you can do it all in Yogyakarta. After exploring this city in full for two days, I will share everything I know in this guide including the best tourist attractions to visit and what separates it from anywhere else in Indonesia.
The Perfect 2-Day Yogyakarta Itinerary – Everything to See and More!
- How to Get to Yogyakarta
- Getting Around
- When Is The Best Time to Go to Yogyakarta?
- Day 1: Temples and Food
- Borobudur Temple
- Mendut Buddhist Monastery
- Pawon Luwak Coffee
- Prambanan Temple
- Enjoy a Night Food Tour
- Day 2: Palaces and Exploration
- The Palace of Yogyakarta
- Taman Sari Yogyakarta
- Hutan Pinus Pengger
- Kedung Kayang Waterfall
- How To Book Yogyakarta Group Tours
- My Recommended Hotel to Stay in Yogyakarta
How to Get to Yogyakarta
There are several ways of traveling to Yogyakarta with the easiest by far being by plane. You can catch a flight from the airports of most popular tourist destinations in the country including Bali, Jakarta, and Surabaya. These flights will vary from one to two hours depending on which airport you decide to fly from.
Besides flying, there are multiple other options depending on your budget and preference. I will list each of them here in this section:
One of the beneficial aspects of traveling in Indonesia is the strong train system. This is linked throughout Java allowing you to travel to any of the major cities on the island which also includes Jogja. Some would argue that traveling to and from cities such as Surabaya, Bandung, and Yogyakarta is easier by train than any other way.
This is because you don’t have to go through the same security measures as you would at an airport. In addition to that aspect, the trains are usually very comfortable and less expensive than catching a flight. Of course, the only downside to train travel is the fact that it takes longer when compared with flying.
You can expect a train from Jakarta to Jogja for example to take almost 8 hours, and 5 hours from Surabaya. For this reason, deciding how much time you are willing to spend traveling there should be the aspect that you consider the most in addition to budget.
Another transport option worth mentioning in Indonesia is the buses. These are very comparable to trains when taking into consideration the level of comfort, cost, and time for getting to your destination. It usually takes a similar amount of time with both forms of travel, and they always are more cost-effective than catching a flight.
You can catch a bus to and from all the major cities in Java Island and they are easy to get. Just look for the main bus station in the city you are in, and it will typically have a timetable for each destination that you are traveling to. A fantastic way of doing this which I like doing myself is to book tickets online.
A fast google search will quickly show you the best bus stations to go to with cheap prices. From here, you can use the online schedule provided to plan your trip smoothly.
Getting Around Yogyakarta
Once you have made the arduous journey into the city of Yogyakarta, the next step is knowing how to get around. As with many cities I have explored in Indonesia, my favorite way of getting around typically is to get Gojeks. This is because they are very budget-friendly, and the price is provided to you by the app.
This saves a lot of hassle which often comes with negotiating prices with a local taxi or ojek. As the most reliable option, Gojek is the way to go for both motorcycle taxis and car taxis.
However, there are some other options that are important to mention for getting around the city:
Trans Jogja buses run all over Yogyakarta and serve as the city’s main bus system. These buses are usually spacious, offer air-conditioned seating, and are extremely well priced. The cost for one trip can be as little as 3,000 Rupiah or 20 cents US, which is amazing when you think about it!
You can find Trans Jogja bus stops all over the city with details of various locations and their times. Don’t be afraid to hop on one of these green buses because they are one of the cheapest forms of travel in all the city!
Local taxis are another ideal way of getting around Yogyakarta compared to buses. They’re not only instantly accessible from anywhere in the city center, but it means you don’t have to wait around in the heat as you would do with a bus.
If you do choose to get local taxis, it is vital to make sure that you ask the driver to turn the meter on. Although a large majority of drivers are honest, some will leave the meter off and hike up the price instead. This is why it is good practice to ensure your driver turns it on before starting the taxi journey to your destination.
Renting a Vehicle
Renting a car or motorcycle is perfect for those who like more personalized forms of travel. This allows you to structure your day and plan the places you want to see more easily without having to rely on other forms of transport. Of course, renting isn’t the most cost-effective option, so it is worth considering how much you are willing to spend before deciding.
Prices will typically be anywhere from 800,000 Rupiah to 3,000,000 Rupiah daily ($53.01 – $198.79) for a car or van rental in the city.
When Is The Best Time to Go to Yogyakarta?
Indonesia is like other southeast Asian countries in the sense that it has both a dry season and a wet season. I would argue from my own experience that it is almost always better to visit at the time of the year when it is drier. This is because the weather is more predictable, and you can enjoy the weather and make the most of your itinerary.
These seasons both last for 6 months each and are as follows:
The dry season in Indonesia starts in May and ends in September. During this time, you can expect minimal rainfall which is best for visiting tourist attractions and other outdoor activities. If you are planning to explore Yogyakarta, it is best to go at any time during these months.
This is the time when you can expect rainfall with a large majority of it coming during the night. The months of December and January typically see the most rain and it often rains every day for more than half of these months. It is best to not go to Yogyakarta during these months if you want a more predictable outdoor travel experience.
Best Places To Visit in Yogyakarta
Day 1: Temples and a Food Tour
Opening Times: 6AM – 16:30PM
Entrance Fee: 350,000 IDR per person ($23.21)
Extra Cost to Climb the Stupa: 1,500,000 ($100)
Borobudur Temple looks equally as stunning in real life as it does in the photos of travel magazines you might have had your hands on before. This is the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, and there certainly is an abundance of fascinating parts to explore on the temple’s grounds.
The first thing I did upon coming here was snap a photo of the temple’s outside structure. It is truly spectacular to look at and the fact it has 9 floors and a total height of 35 meters proves what an incredible spectacle it is.
What else is unique about Borobudur?
Well, this temple is made from more than 2 million individual stones and has 504 sitting buddha statues that are all hand-carved!
If you are expecting to come here, it is worth mentioning that the cost to climb up to the top of the temple is pricey. This option is available at the entrance for the equivalent of $100. This allows you to enjoy an epic view over the temple grounds and get up close and personal with the temple’s stupas.
Overall, Borobudur was just as impressive as I expected it to be and it would be my first stop if I happened to be in Jogja again. At the time that I visited Borobudur which was end of October 2022, the entrance to the top was off-limits and I couldn’t visit the top part.
Mendut Buddhist Monastery
Opening Times: 7AM – 19:00PM
Entrance Fee: 20,000 IDR ($1.32)
Although I didn’t make it in time for the religious ceremonies at Mendut Buddhist Monastery, it was still worth visiting. The good news about coming to this monastery is that it is only a 10-minute drive from Borobudur temple. This makes it a great idea to visit while there and it allows you to tick off two notable destinations from your itinerary.
The atmosphere was so peaceful and pleasant around this gorgeous little monastery. I enjoyed taking a light walk around the grounds here and admiring the different Buddhist statues to be seen outside. While on the topic of buddha statues, there is also a special Vairocana Buddha sculpture on the temple site. This Buddha statue can be seen sitting on a throne holding a lotus in the palm of its hand.
This large and fascinating statue is a symbol of peace, love, and emptiness which is a representation of the core values of Buddhism.
Pawon Luwak Coffee
Opening Times: 7:30AM – 17:30PM
If you are in search of trying something unique, then the most expensive coffee in the world will sound just right. Kopi Luwak (civet coffee) is not only one of the world’s most exotic coffees but also rarest and most expensive. If you are visiting Borobudur make a stop at Pawon Luwak coffee shop and learn all about this fascinating process.
Kopi Luwak originates from Indonesia and if you are a coffee enthusiast you mustn’t miss this opportunity to try it. The production doesn’t sound at all appealing but the taste is great.
The beans are harvested from the faeces of Luwak which is a breed of a small cat like mammal known as Paradoxurus that lives near the coffee plantations. These wild cats thrive on red coffee cherries however their bodies are not meant to digest the beans and thus they discharge them with their excrements.
The beans are then collected, cleaned and roasted like any other coffee. Prices start at IDR250,000 (USD17) for a small packet of 100 gms of Robusta and IDR400,000 (USD27) for 100 grams of Arabica.
Opening Times: 6:30AM – 17:00PM
Entrance Fee: 325,000 IDR per person ($21.52)
Prambanan Temple is a Hindu temple complex built in the 9th century. It was originally dedicated to the Trimurti, the expression of God as the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer.
I loved strolling around here and it is certainly photogenic so bringing a camera is essential!
Prambanan is similarly priced to Borobudur temple which is higher than many other tourist attractions you will visit in Indonesia as a whole. Although it is on the pricey side of things, this temple complex consists of a whopping 260 different temples that you can choose to visit if you want to.
Another interesting similarity between Prambanan temple and Borobudur is the time it takes to get there. I found that both journeys with our tour guide took slightly less than an hour’s drive from the center of the city during my two-day stay. The difference of course is that this temple is east of the city center and Borobudur is in the northwest region.
Although the price is high compared to other popular tourist attractions in Indonesia, I would still recommend coming here and paying the fee. Prambanan is up there as an important part of Yogyakarta city and it would be a shame to miss it while visiting!
Enjoy A Night Food Tour
As you might have guessed from the previous guides I have written, I am a HUGE fan of food tours. They are a way in which you can connect more deeply with a city’s culture and experience the foods which locals taste on a daily basis. One of the most reputable food tour companies in Yogyakarta is Jogja Food Tour.
They offer both a morning food tour and a night food tour. These two are great options although I would recommend the night food tour. This provides you with a perfect evening activity to end your first full day of exploring temples.
This food tour is also given by rickshaw which allows you to get from place to place more easily and enjoy all the amazing local foods that the city has to offer!
Food Tour by Night in Yogyakarta
See a different side of Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s cultural capital, on this fun night tour jam-packed with street food delights. See the city from a “becak” rickshaw without having to haggle on price.BOOK THE TOUR HERE
Day 2: Palaces and Exploration
The Palace of Yogyakarta
Opening Times: 9AM – 14:00PM (9AM – 11AM on Friday)
Entrance Fee:15,000 IDR per person ($0.99)
The Palace of Yogyakarta is home to the current sultan of the city named Hamengkubuwono X. I found this quite surprising considering this is the case, and it is still open to the public.
It lies directly in the center of the city which made for a smooth and fast arrival. There were a lot of fascinating things to see here including the museum which had some mind-blowing artifacts to feast your eyes on.
I arrived at the palace in time to watch a traditional Javanese dance performance which was intriguing from start to finish. The dancers wore stunning costumes in various colors and moved eloquently around the palace floor to the sounds of the music.
If you are interested, this dance show takes place early in the morning and can be found within the Kraton area of the palace.
Taman Sari Water Palace
Opening Times: 9AM – 15:00PM
Entrance Fee: 15,000 IDR per person ($0.99)
The interesting history of Taman Sari Water Palace is what makes it what it is. According to the stories, this luxury water palace was actually used by the king of Yogyakarta to choose the women that he desired the most. He would do this by allowing them to bathe in the water and then picking the females which physically attracted him.
Although it seems unacceptable in the current modern world, this was customary practice as a form of enjoyment for the king at the time.
I had a pleasant time seeing the different areas in this water palace and it was nice knowing this was once used as a significant place by Indonesian royalty.
Another point worth mentioning is that it is possible to go to the king’s exact viewing spot where he would pick the women he wanted too. This was both hilarious and interesting while providing a gorgeous view over the two little pools that are there.
I would highly recommend coming here because the ticket price is very budget-friendly and it holds the real history of what this vibrant, cultural city once was.
Yogyakarta: Palace, Water Castle & UNESCO Temple Guided Tour
Explore Yogyakarta, widely renowned as Java’s educational center, and see some of the city’s most prominent landmarks. Visit the Sultan’s Palace, which dates back to the 17th century and is home to the current sultan. Explore the exquisite ancient royal baths at Taman Sari Water Castle and Visit the UNESCO heritage listed Borobudur or Prambanan Temple CompoundsBOOK THE TOUR HERE
Hutan Pinus Pengger
Opening Times: 8AM – 21:00PM
Entrance Fee: 5000 IDR ($0.33)
Hutan Pinus Pengger is an ideal place for those who want to escape the main city and get into nature. This is essentially a pine forest that has been repurposed into a tourist site since 2016. The main highlight of visiting here must be the Panawacara or otherwise known as the giant hand.
The hand not only looks like a magnificent piece of art, but it offers a tremendous standing view of Yogyakarta city perfect for your Instagram feed!
This whacky and unique forest attraction takes roughly 40 minutes by car from the center of Yogyakarta. Once here, you can also have the option of camping overnight making it suitable for outdoor lovers.
Kedung Kayang Waterfall
Opening Times: 8AM – 17:00PM
Entrance Fee: 5000 IDR ($0.33)
Additional Fee for Viewing/Photo Post: 5000 IDR ($0.33)
Kedung Kayang waterfall was by far the most Instagrammable tourist attraction I came across in the Yogyakarta area. It isn’t just the waterfall itself that is spectacular, but there is a wooden photo point attached to a tree which provides excellent views from high elevation.
Me and my friend knew we had to get a photo at the photo point as soon as we arrived, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The photo spot also serves a phenomenal view of Mount Merapi which is nothing less than breath-taking.
To come to this waterfall, you will need to drive for 40-50 minutes from the center of Yogyakarta until you see the entrance sign. After arriving, feel free to spend as much time here as you wish until closing hours at 5pm.
How To Book Yogyakarta Group Tours
There are lots of different websites out there which offer Yogyakarta Group Tours.
A great company that I use often is Get Your Guide. You can choose from different tours depending on several factors including:
- The reviews of the tour
- The length of time it is on for
I would highly recommend Get Your Guide as I’ve done a high number of tours with them before, and they have never let me down.
Discover Borobudur and Prambanan with the tours below
- Check out three of the best sites in Yogyakarta on this trip to Merapi Volcano, Prambanan Temples, and Borobudur Temple on this Borobudur Sunrise from setumbu Hill, Merapi Volcano & Prambanan Full Day Tour
- Visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites—Borobudur and Prambanan : Borobudur(climb up), Merapi Volcano and Prambanan Temple Tour
- Go on a full day tour to see Yogyakarta’s finest sightseeing destinations with a Jeep Yogyakarta Borobudur Sunrise & Merapi Jeep on a Private Tour
My Recommended Hotel to Stay in Yogyakarta
After staying in Yogyakarta for two nights, I can honestly say that I had an amazing stay at the Melia hotel. This 5-star hotel exceeded all my expectations, and our beds were so comfortable that they were difficult to get out of in the morning. In addition to all the amazing amenities, we were provided with a pool and garden view from our room window which was the cherry on top!
If you are looking for a place to stay which offers luxury at a low cost, I would highly suggest staying a night or two at Melia Hotel.
1. How is Yogyakarta Different from Jakarta?
There are multiple ways that you could answer this question. The first way to answer it is by saying that Jakarta is expensive than Yogyakarta as a travel destination. You will find that prices for things are a lot more affordable in Jogja compared to Jakarta.
Another key point worth mentioning is that Jogja is also more relaxed and the life there is slower. I found Jakarta to be a bit fast for my liking and it has all the aspects of a busy city. You will find Yogyakarta to be nice and chilled out and it is the better option for a vacation.
2. Is Two Days in the City Enough?
I can confidently say that you will not need much more than two days to experience Jogja in its fullest. The pleasant aspect about coming here is that the city is small so you can see everything in a short space of time.
If you are active during those two days, it should be more than enough time to explore the best places in the city.
Yogyakarta is one of those underrated cities which often flies under people’s radar in Southeast Asia. Although often overlooked, there is an abundance of fun activities and places to explore which makes it more than worth checking out. With this 2-day itinerary guide, you now have a plan and everything you need to know to fully make the most of your trip to Jogja.
Remember to bookmark this page for the next time you visit to ensure your trip is the best it can be.