15 Best Cities to Visit in Indonesia

by Sarah Rizwan

Indonesia is an exciting and vibrant country with wonderful food and a wide variety of cultural experiences to offer visitors. However, tourists should be aware that the country’s large cities can be difficult to manage due to traffic and other factors. Ancient temples and mosques coexist in its streets with modern skyscrapers, fast food restaurants, and gleaming shopping malls, making for an intriguing contrast between the old and the contemporary. Being such a large country, Indonesia proudly displays all of its many customs, cuisines, and cultures.

The greatest cities in Indonesia are never far from a rejuvenating encounter with nature, what with the proximity of lovely beaches and breathtaking mountains, caves, lakes, and rivers. Traveling across Indonesia will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience due to the country’s rich cultural legacy and the abundance of amazing historic and cultural landmarks.

15. Bengkulu

Bengkulu, Bengkulu, Indonesia

Explore the charming city of Bengkulu in Bengkulu, Indonesia. Image source: Syarif Abdurrahman/Shutterstock.com

Bengkulu, Bengkulu, Indonesia – December 27th, 2020: Fort Marlborough in Bengkulu city, which was once a British fortress, is now a tourist attraction in Bengkulu

Bengkulu, on the southwestern coast of Sumatra, is a tranquil and relaxed paradise. It’s a terrific spot to visit since it has a beautiful city beach and many interesting historical structures.

The biggest British fortress in Southeast Asia is Fort Marlborough. The structure, which was constructed from 1714 to 1741, is presently used as a museum. Moreover, there are a plethora of things to do, like scuba diving, surfing, and hiking. The beautiful Pantai Panjang Beach is a must-see, and there is much beautiful wildlife to be seen in the city’s surroundings. Travelers between coastal cities often make a pit stop here.

14. Makassar

Fort Rotterdam, Makassar, South Sulawesi

Discover the historical Fort Rotterdam in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Image source: Devin Hunt/Shutterstock.com

Fort Rotterdam, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Makassar, Indonesia, is a busy port city with a diversified population since its economy is based on trade and commerce. People rarely remain in the city for any length of time due to the oppressive heat and pollution.

Aside from the beautiful beaches in the area, the city itself includes a noteworthy Dutch fort and a fine beachside promenade among its historical treasures. It’s easy to reach the Tana Toraja highlands from Makassar by airplane.

13. Banda Aceh

Baiturrahman Grand Mosque, Banda Aceh

Marvel at the majestic Baiturrahman Grand Mosque in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. Image source: FREDOGRAPHY.ID/Shutterstock.com

Located in the middle of this Sumatran city, the beautiful Grand Mosque stands out against the lush greenery of its surrounding gardens as the city’s crowning architectural achievement.

It’s a chill spot that seems brand new since so much of it was restored following the tsunami of 2004. Although it is home to a number of somber monuments, most visitors to this religiously fervent but hospitable city are on their way to the beautiful beaches of Lhoknga and Lampuuk or the diving mecca of Pulau Weh.

12. Ende

Muslim fisherman village near Ende, Flores Island

Experience the tranquil beauty of a Muslim fisherman village with a volcano as a backdrop near Ende, Flores Island, Indonesia. Image source: Ilya Sviridenko/Shutterstock.com

Ende is really breathtaking to look at, what with its magnificent black sand beaches and cobblestone streets, as well as the charming Meja and Iya Mounts towering gloriously behind the city. This little city on Flores is not only an important transportation hub but also a pleasant destination in its own right, thanks to its easygoing atmosphere and charming historic district.

Of course, Ende’s delicious food isn’t the only reason to visit; the surrounding mountains, lakes, and caverns also provide stunning scenery, beautiful waterfalls, and fascinating historical sites.

11. Kota Ambon

Ambon City, Indonesia

Discover the vibrant and cultural city of Ambon in Indonesia. Image source: Edmund Lowe Photography/Shutterstock.com

The capital of Maluku is a large city, although it is not very interesting in and of itself; rather, most tourists utilize it as a hub from which to explore the island’s more remote tropical paradises.

Kota Ambon is a pleasant enough stopover on route to the beautiful Kei Islands or the ethereal Banda Islands, thanks to its superb restaurants, gorgeous cafés, and wide selection of lodging alternatives.

10. Bukittinggi

Rumah Gadang, Minangkabau Traditional House in Bukittinggi

Immerse yourself in the cultural heritage of Minangkabau with the iconic Rumah Gadang in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Image source: Zulfikri Sasma/Shutterstock.com

Western Sumatra is home to the city of Bukittinggi, which sits on the brink of a magnificent canyon with a number of distant mountains providing a dramatic backdrop. A bustling marketplace, Jam Gadang has interesting historical landmarks like the clock tower (Jam Gadang) as well as excellent dining and drinking options (including the famous Jam Gadang clock).

Many visitors come to see the beautiful scenery and fascinating attractions that can be found outside of the city. Besides the stunning beauty of the Harau Valley, the interesting caverns and charming canyon make Bukittinggi a destination in its own right.

9. Jayapura

Aerial View of Jayapura City, Papua

Behold the breathtaking aerial view of Jayapura City, nestled in the captivating landscapes of Papua, Indonesia. Image source: Sony Herdiana/Shutterstock.com

Jayapura is Indonesia’s biggest and most significant city in Papua, and it has a beautiful location among charming, tree-clad hills. This old Dutch settlement has a tropical feel and is bustling with traffic, but there are many beautiful natural vistas outside of Jayapura if you need a break from the city.

Visit the nearby natural attractions, but don’t miss the fantastic night markets selling amazing local food. Beautiful beaches, a stunning lake, and a plethora of scenic vistas can all be enjoyed from this location.

8. Banjarmasin

Located in South Kalimantan, this massive city is famed for its beautiful waterways, bustling commercial districts, and enormous retail complexes. Floating markets are a lot of fun, and the city’s many rivers and canals are stunning, but they aren’t the primary draws.

Banjarmasin is an excellent jumping-off point for trips in the Loksado area, and it also has some wonderful architecture and delicious food to offer its visitors.

7. Medan

Grand Mosque, Medan

Visit the magnificent Grand Mosque in Medan, Indonesia. Image source: milosk50/Shutterstock.com

Near Sumatra’s northeast coast, you’ll find this enormous city. Given the wide range of people who call it home, you can sample a wide variety of cuisines at the city’s many restaurants and food stands.

Medan is a contemporary metropolis with many shopping malls but none of the chaos of most other big Indonesian cities, and it has some beautiful examples of colonial architecture and good museums. It’s a shame that most tourists just stop there to go from A to B, since the city itself is lovely. The spectacular Lake Toba crater lake, the sights and sounds of Berastagi, and even Malaysia are all within reach.

6. Surabaya

Colonial building in Surabaya

Step into the past with the elegant colonial buildings that grace the streets of Surabaya, Indonesia. Image source: INTREEGUE Photography/Shutterstock.com

Surabaya, the second-biggest city in Indonesia, is chaotic, traffic-filled, and polluting; yet, many visitors just visit the city as a means of transportation, which does a disservice to the city.

There aren’t any really must-see sights, but the ancient Arab quarter’s winding streets and charming colonial architecture are well worth exploring. Give Surabaya a go before you jet off to the beaches of Bali, thanks to its massive and bustling Chinatown and the abundance of fantastic restaurants, bars, and nightlife it has to offer.

5. Bandung

Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Discover the vibrant city of Bandung, nestled amidst the natural beauty of West Java, Indonesia. Image source: Akhmad Dody Firmansyah/Shutterstock.com

Bandung, the third-largest city in Indonesia, is a bustling metropolis that is rapidly encroaching on many of the sights that make the city worth visiting. Some very stunning examples of architecture can be seen among the many wonderful stores, restaurants, and other commercial establishments that can be found here.

Visitors can hike up volcanic peaks, soak in soothing hot springs, and tour neighboring tea farms in this mountainous region.

4. Jakarta

Jakarta Downtown Skyline at Sunset

Witness the mesmerizing Jakarta downtown skyline with towering high-rise buildings during a breathtaking sunset. Image source: amadeustx/Shutterstock.com

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is a bustling megacity full of energy and excitement. Though the city’s almost thirty million citizens might make for some chaotic streets, they are kind and helpful.

Although the city’s charming Chinatown and the colonial structures of the old town help present another side to Jakarta, the city’s rapid rate of growth means that high-rises and tower blocks are continually springing up.

You can indulge in the city’s lively nightlife culture, which has a wide variety of restaurants and cafés to suit your tastes. People who live there are really representative of Indonesia as a whole since their food, culture, and wares showcase the country’s cultural richness.

3. Kuta

Aerial View of Kuta Beach, Bali

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Kuta Beach, one of Bali’s famous and picturesque coastal destinations. Image source: AsiaTravel/Shutterstock.com

Kuta, Bali, was formerly a secluded fishing village, but it has since seen extensive development. Today, the area attracts a youthful, party-seeking Australian crowd that frequents the area’s many fast food restaurants, dive bars, and nightclubs. While it’s possible to spend your whole vacation partying, the bright white sands of Kuta Beach are the real draw. In fact, some say it’s the nicest beach on the island of Bali.

Enjoy beautiful beaches, excellent scuba diving, and thrilling waves all around the coast. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you can always visit the neighboring areas of Legian and Seminyak or take a boat ride to the beautiful beaches of the Gili Islands.

2. Ubud

Rice Terraces near Tegallalang Village, Ubud

Behold the breathtaking beauty of the morning light illuminating the enchanting rice terraces near Tegallalang Village in Ubud, Bali. Image source: Elena Ermakova/Shutterstock.com

Ubud is becoming more and more popular every year, so the main area is already crowded with visitors. However, if you go farther out, you will discover quieter neighborhoods and isolated rice paddies.

The city and its surrounds are rich in history and host many interesting cultural sites. Many magnificent temples await your exploration, as do charming caverns, beautiful stone sculptures, and excellent museums.

Besides all that, there are a plethora of excellent restaurants, bars, and local businesses to explore, and over 65 different art performances are staged each week. Ubud, Bali, is a place where creativity and peace coexist, and its allure causes many visitors to stay longer than they had originally planned.

1. Yogyakarta

Andong in Jogjakarta City

Discover the charm of Andong, the typical transportation in Jogjakarta city, as it meanders through the bustling streets. Image source: Bangkit Widyanarto/Shutterstock.com

Yogyakarta is the island of Java’s cultural and creative center, and exploring the city is a pleasure. A sultan still rules over this, one of Indonesia’s oldest towns, from his ornate, walled castle in the heart of the city.

Yogyakarta is a wonderful city to visit because of its amazing street art, magnificent art galleries and museums, and exquisite eating choices. Something fun to do or see is constantly available.

Fast-food restaurants and retail malls have grown up all over the city, yet the local culture and customs are still alive and well. Yogyakarta serves as a fantastic home base for exploring the surrounding area, which includes the impressive temple complexes of Borobudur and Prambanan.

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