Yogyakarta is often referred to as the culture capital of Indonesia. Indeed, the city has more to offer than the real capital Jakarta and I would definitely recommend visiting. In this city guide, I’ll explain what makes visiting Yogyakarta so interesting!
Indonesia is a really interesting country, but the interest sparks from the nature and not so much the big cities in the country. This is partly true for Yogyakarta as well, because the two main sights, Borobodur and Prambanan, are not located in Yogyakarta, but close to the city. In this city guide I won’t mention those two as we’ll have a special about each online in a while. Instead, I’ll let you know why visiting the city itself is a really nice experience not only as a base for these explorations, but also because of its cultural and historic roots.
The main sight in Yogyakarta is the so-called Kraton, often referred to as Yogyakarta Palace. At first sight, it actually doesn’t look that noteworthy or special.
Yet, the gates already help you get an impression of the special nature of the palace.
Inside, there are various different buildings alongside nice gardens.
The whole Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, as it is officially called, is sort-of a mix between a museum and pavillions, which you can’t enter, but that look pretty.
Personally, I’d say that walking through here for an hour or so is enough as I don’t really consider it to be that much of a highlight.
If you are short on time, my recommendation would be visiting Tamansari Water Castle, which I’d consider the real highlight of visiting Yogyakarta. Sure, it’s a bit run down and doesn’t look like somebody is really taking care of it.
Nevertheless, the whole architecure of the castle and it’s very special art makes it a really interesting place to visit, especially as it feels really one of a kind.
It’s one of the smaller castles I’ve visitied and you shouldn’t mistaken it with palaces like the one in Versailles or a castle like Carcassonne, but that aside it’s a nice place to walk around for a bit.
You can even walk up some of the towers and enjoy a nice view of the whole Water Castle.
Once again, this is not a place that you’ll spend hours and hours, but rather just 30 to 45 minutes as there’s not a museum or anything here.
However, you might want to get a guide who explains a bit about the history of the Tamansari Water Castle.
The third big sight in Yogyakarta is the Fort Vredeburg, which is a reminiscence of the Dutch colonial reign of Indonesia.
It’s a well preserved fort (way more so than the Tamansari Water Castle) and is also a very calm place to just relax for a while.
It’s quite nice that you can walk on the former walls of the fort, from where you also have nice views from time to time.
I also like the interesting architecture, which has a very Dutch and European feeling and doesn’t fit into Yogyakarta at all.
It’s also worth noting that the Fort Vredeburg is also a museum about Indonesian independence and colonial past, which I thought was quite interesting.
Overall, I’d definitely pay Fort Vredeburg a visit when in Yogyakarta.
It would be a long stretch to say that there are endless sights in Yogyakarta (they are around the city), but there are definitely a few more places worth visiting. Around Fort Vredeburg, there are a couple of interesting historic buildings as well as a monument.
Then closer to the Tamansare Water Castle, you can see the remaining parts of the former city wall and one of the gates.
Throughout the city, there are a couple more historic buildings, which are worth having a look at, but aren’t anything I’d go out of my way to see.
Generally, Yogyakarta can easily be visited in a day if you focus on the main sights, but particularly with exploring the area around town, I’d plan some more time!
Yogyakarta is the nicest city I’ve visited in Indonesia, yet. Nevertheless, the sights in the city are limited to a couple of nice places, which you can visit within a few hours. In the next weeks, we’ll release to specials featuring two of the most fascinating places I’ve vistied in my life. For those alone, visiting Yogyakarta is worth it, but if you are there already, don’t miss out on the cultural and historic highlights I’ve presetend to you in this city guide!
Do you have any questions about Yogyakarta? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!