Traveling Java in Indonesia – Temples, Beaches and Volcanoes

Traveling Java

Java is undoubtedly the most visited of Indonesia’s 5 major islands (Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Papua and Borneo). However, since the island is far larger compared to the tourist hotspots of Bali & Lombok, you will encounter far fewer travelers here. A trip to Java has the advantage that you can travel most of the way by train, which I personally find very pleasant. It is also ideal that you can connect the two main airports of the country with each other. If you start in Jakarta, for example, you can fly back from Denpasar on Bali without having to drive back the way you came. On Java you can expect a lot of culture, unique volcanoes and great beaches which are also suitable for surfing.

Java is the main island and also the economic center of the country. With 145 million people live here just over half of the total population of Indonesia. The majority of the Javanese population is Muslim. The capital Jakarta is located in the west of the long island. It also borders Sumatra to the northwest and Bali to the east.

Top 8 Highlights for your trip to Java

I spent 5 months in beautiful Yogyakarta as part of my semester abroad. In 2019, I was there a second time to bring my girlfriend closer to the great island. Personally, the cities of Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya did not give me anything, which is why I quickly left again each time. I therefore recommend going directly by train from Jakarta to Banjar.

1 Borobodur

An undisputed highlight of the island is the temple complex Borobodur, which is why I have dedicated a separate page to it. The temple complex is one of the most important Buddhist buildings at all. The ground plan of the temple is square with a pyramidal structure. On the top of the temple there is a stupa. The temple complex is located just a few kilometers outside Yogyakarta. You can buy tickets for sunset, sunrise or regular opening hours. If you also want to visit Prambanan, it is worth buying a combined ticket for both temples (valid for 2 days). With a student ID card you save even more.

2 Yogyakarta

The city where I lived for half a year to study. Relatively centrally located in the middle of Java, it is something like the cultural capital of Indonesia. In Yogyakarta itself there are some malls, a great bar street, delicious street food, the Prambanan temple and very many students. In addition, Yogyakarta is ideal as a starting point for visiting Karimunjawa, the beaches in the south, the temple complex Borobodur, climbing the volcano Merapi and and and. If you are looking for batik clothes you will also find them here. What I also appreciate about Yogyakarta is that you do not have the feeling of being in a typical Asian city, because there are only a few high-rise buildings. You can also take a walk into the surrounding rice fields. In addition, I would claim that Yogyakarta is one of the cheapest places in Indonesia. Depending on where you eat, you pay 6,000 rupiah for a nasi goreng on the street.

3 Kawah Ijen

Ijen offers an absolutely unique natural spectacle. In the middle of the night you start with the ascent to have a look at the blue glowing sulfur flames of the volcano crater still in the dark. Besides the blue sulfur flames, the crater lake with its turquoise and steaming water is also an absolute highlight. The starting point for climbing the volcano is the town of Banyuwangi at the east end of Java. From Banyuwangi you can also take a ferry to Bali within a few minutes. Again, you should check in advance, as the volcano remains closed at certain times. What is on one side a wonderful natural spectacle means for some locals a short life. Follow the link and read everything you need to know about Kawah Ijen.

4 Mount Bromo

Surely each of you has seen Bromo on a poster or dekstop background. The volcanic crater, surrounded by a lunar landscape is already a unique natural spectacle. The “ascent” is like a leisurely walk and can be done without a tour. The paths are relatively clear. Here the choice of the right place is crucial if you want to experience the sunrise for yourself. Be careful and don’t get ripped off if you’re thinking of checking out the volcano. Here I show you exactly what to look for when you want to visit Mt. Bromo.

5 Karimunjawa

About 6h north of Yogyakarta is the small island of Karimunjawa. The small archipelago with the dreamlike islets offers a paradise-like place for a little time out or a creative break. Just let your soul dangle on the beach, enjoy the tranquility and in the evening snack on the food market – that’s the way to live.

6 beaches south of Yogyakarta (e.g. Ngandong, Sadranan, Seruni and Timang Beach)

For those who want it a little more untouristy, I have a very special tip. South of Yogyakarta are some beaches that are not far apart. Grab a scooter in Yogya and drive south. After about 1.5 h you will reach Parangtritis beach, but I don’t recommend it. If you follow the “roads” to the south near the beach, you will reach again and again single, partly unvisited beaches. A little scooter experience is an advantage here, since you are partly on completely unpaved terrain. But the trip is worth it! If you want to return the next day, you can find accommodation with bungalows at Ngandong beach. If you want something more luxurious, you can stay at the “Queen of the South” resort in Parangtritis with an infinity pool.

6 Batu Karas

The small village is located about 6h away from Yogyakarta and is ideal for surf beginners. The journey is made by train and cab. Since the last part of the route is not very well developed, there is no public transport here. Batu Karas itself is a small village located directly at the sea, which is mainly visited by friends of surfing. There is an old bamboo bridge over the river that can be passed by scooter and the Green Canyon for the adventurous with jumps of about 10 meters, Tarzan swings, waterfalls, grottos, etc.. I must apologize for the terrible shots, as these were taken with a cheap actioncam.

7 Prambanan

The temple complex of Prambanan is one of the largest Hindu structures in Southeast Asia. In total, the complex consists of 8 large shrines and more than 250 small temples. The three largest temples are dedicated to the Hindu deities Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The complex is located only a few kilometers east of Yogyakarta. Worthwhile is the combination ticket for Prambanan and Borobodur, which is also valid for 2 days. With a student ID card you save even more.

8 Pacitan

About 3-4 hours east of Yogyakarta lies the small sleepy village Pacitan. The small village is suitable for a short surf trip from Yogyakarta. However, check out the local wave conditions in advance so that you don’t head there for nothing. Apart from a moderately beautiful beach, there is not much to discover here.

Recommended route for your journey through Java from west to east:

Here I have outlined a possible route through Java. The proposed route is best suited for, either a return flight from Bali or just the onward journey to Bali / Lombok / Nusa Penida / Gilis. I can’t repeat my main tip for Indonesia often enough – even if you think it can easily be done in 10 days, take your time. Indonesia is an incredibly relaxed country. Adapting to this rhythm offers you an unforgettable vacation on Java. Since I personally don’t like the big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, I deliberately skipped them. Who loves the hustle and bustle and wants to see the cities (Surabaya is on the direct way to Bromo) can still do this of course.

Day 1 Arrival in Jakarta and exploration of the city.
Day 2 Train ride to Batu Karas
Day 3-5: Surfing and Green Canyon in Batu Karas
Day 6: Train ride to Yogyakarta
Day 7-14: Experience Yogyakarta, climb Merapi, beach in the south, temple Borobodur and Prambanan possibly Pacitan
Day 15 : Drive to Karimunjawa
Day 16-20 : Relax on the beach of Karimunjawa
Day 21 Drive back to Yogyakarta
Day 22 : Train to Probolinggo
Day 23: Mt. Bromo at sunrise
Day 23 : Afternoon train to Banyuwangi
Day 24 : Kawa Ijen at sunrise

How to get to Java

If you fly from Europe to Indonesia, you will land either in Denpasar on Bali or in Jakarta. Both places are ideal as a starting point for exploring Java. An open jaw flight is also recommended, so that one does not have to return to the starting point.

Transportation for your trip to Java


Good news for all people who like to travel by train… The route network on Java is well developed, so that you can reach most stations comfortably by bus.


Besides the train, the bus is the most common means of transportation to get from A to B while traveling in Java. Buses are also very cheap and connect all important places. Minibuses are also frequently used, especially on less touristy routes.

Renting a scooter:

Especially in Indonesia, the scooter is the No. 1 means of transportation. In contrast to the scooters in Germany, the scooters usually drive up to 80 Km / h. Therefore, you should be somewhat experienced in scooter driving before you plunge into the chaotic traffic of Indonesia. Especially in Yogyakarta it makes sense to rent a scooter, because you can easily see all the surrounding highlights.


Whether by scooter or car, taking a cab is very affordable in Indonesia and remains the most convenient way to get around. There are many different apps that you can use to order a cab. Popular ones are Uber, Grabcar and Go-Jek. The latter is mainly designed for scooter cabs and fulfills your every wish. So instead of ordering a cab, you can order food, tickets, medication, masseur:in, etc. A ride, whether as a cab or a delivery service, usually costs about 15,000 rupiah.

The best time for your trip to Java

The best time for your trip to Java is from May to October, because from November onwards the rainy season starts slowly but surely. The beginning of the rainy season sometimes shifts a bit, but as a guideline, the information should capture the best travel period relatively well. I have experienced both the dry and rainy season on Java and find that the rainy season also has a certain charm. Often the weather is quite sunny in the morning until about 2pm and then in the afternoon it starts raining like cats and dogs. The weather then also cools down a bit and the scent of summer rain spreads. Trip to Java

Frequently asked questions about your trip to Java

Changing money in Indonesia is usually possible at reception desks, accommodations and exchange offices. Since the exchange rate is usually not special, it is recommended to withdraw money with a credit card on site. Also, most accommodations can be paid by Visa or Master Card.
3 weeks! 3 weeks I see as a minimum to collect unforgettable impressions on Java without rushing through the island. In Indonesia the clocks tick differently. Therefore, I also recommend every traveler to adapt to this in order to experience a relaxed dream vacation full of unforgettable impressions.
Yes! Even if the probability of getting something is very low, it must be pointed out that there are always floods or volcanic eruptions in Java, such as the eruption of Merapis or the strong earthquake on Lombok in 2018. As for crime against travelers, I can report no incidents during my entire stay.
No, Indonesia is one of the cheapest travel countries. Especially the region around Yogyakarta is even cheaper than the rest of the country.
Yes! I strongly recommend to travel Java on your own. You don’t need cabs in most cases (exception to get to Batu Karas), nor tour packages, nor great hotels. If you want to experience some adventure, pack your backpack and just go.

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We are Julian & Naomi and we love to travel the world and immerse ourselves in other cultures. We have an adventurous, spartan, sustainable and reflective travel style. In our opinion, the greatest adventures are experienced when you do things on your own and try to live like a local. The taste of a country is best captured on the road
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