I skipped Bali on my first trip to Indonesia. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to go there. After researching more about travel destinations in Indonesia, however, my bucketlist grew too large for my two-week trip.

My adventure came to an end with me only stepping foot in Java Island. Yes. I was only able to visit one island out of over 17,000 in Indonesia.

This country is the world’s largest archipelago and there are a lot of places worth visiting, too many to cram in just one trip.

With this in mind, I decided to maximize my trip in Java and save the rest when I come back.

If you ever find yourself traveling to the country, I hope this list inspires you to explore the wonderful places to visit in Java.

1. Yogyakarta

Dutch-colonial buildings & public art along Malioboro Street, in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

Dutch-colonial buildings & public art along Malioboro Street, in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

Why go — If you love wandering around ancient temples & ruined cities, Yogyakarta should be on the top of your list of places to visit in Indonesia! Here, you can find the temple complexes of Borobodur and Prambanan. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites & among Asia’s most beautiful landmarks. The city is also home to an 18th-century royal complex, the Water Castle (Taman Sari), and beautiful Dutch-era colonial buildings.

Plan a trip

2. Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple Complex in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

Borobudur Temple Complex in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

Why go — Located an hour’s drive from the main city of Yogyakarta, this ancient monument is the single largest Buddhist temple anywhere on earth. It is impressive not only in size, but also because of the intricate detail of its construction. No doubt, Borobudur Temple is a must-visit heritage site in Southeast Asia.

Plan a trip

3. Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple Complex & Merapi Volcano at dusk, in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

Prambanan Temple Complex & Merapi Volcano at dusk, in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia

Why go — If Borobudur Temple is not enough to impress, Prambanan Temple Complex is another ancient site to you can explore near Yogyakarta. The main temple structure has the distinction of being the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia. Within the complex, you can also find the ruined Sewu temple complex, Indonesia’s second biggest Buddhist temple after Borobudur.

Plan a trip

4. Jakarta

Dutch-colonial buildings in Kota Tua (Batavia Old Town), Jakarta, Indonesia

Dutch-colonial buildings in Kota Tua (Batavia Old Town), Jakarta, Indonesia

Why go — Jakarta may seem like a daunting megacity, but it also has a couple of interesting places that are worth a stopover. Wander around the Dutch-colonial heritage sites in Kota Tua (Old Jakarta), Glodok (Chinatown) and the historic port of Sunda Kelapa. Many travelers transit through Jakarta because it is the country’s biggest international gateway. The Jakarta Airport is served by major airlines including low-cost carriers that frequently offer cheap flights and promo fares.

Plan a trip

5. Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo summit crater in East Java, Indonesia

Mount Bromo summit crater in East Java, Indonesia

Why go — Take the ultimate selfie, at the rim of an active volcano’s summit crater. Mount Bromo is an easy place to do it since it is one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist spots. If you go, don’t miss the glorious sunrise from the viewpoint at nearby Mount Penanjakan. There are also a lot of beautiful waterfalls and villages nearby that are worth a peek like the Madakaripura Waterfall in Cemoro Lawang & Ngadas Village.

Plan a trip

See also

6. Ngadas Village

Ngadas Village & Slope Farms in Mount Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia

Ngadas Village & Slope Farms in Mount Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, East Java, Indonesia

Why go — On the lookout for off-beat adventures? Go to Ngadas and escape the tourist crowd. This peaceful village offers homestays, a glimpse of life in the Indonesian countrysides, and scenic views of slope farms on green hillsides.

Plan a trip

See moreNgadas blogs & guides.

7. Baluran National Park

Deer herd at Baluran National Park, in East Java, Indonesia

Deer herd at Baluran National Park, in East Java, Indonesia

Why go — A failed trip to Mount Ijen brought me to Baluran National Park. This nature reserve is a place where you can enjoy close encounters with the wildlife in East Java. Get a feel of the African savanna by visiting during the dry season from April to September.

Plan a trip

8. Surabaya

Surabaya Dutch-colonial heritage buildings in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia

Surabaya Dutch-colonial heritage buildings in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia

Why go — Surabaya is home to Indonesia’s second busiest airport and the main gateway to East Java. There are interesting sights in the Old City, Arab Quarter, and Chinatown that can be easily explored. Surabaya is known to Indonesians as the “City of Heroes” because of its historical importance for promoting Indonesian independence during the Dutch-colonial period.

Plan a trip

Note: Destinations featured above are not listed by rank.