10 Exciting Things to Do in Central Java

By: Hipster Travel Guide

Central Java, located on the island of Java, Indonesia, is known for its rich cultural heritage and breathtaking natural scenery. From ancient temples to rugged landscapes, Central Java has something for everyone. Here are ten exciting things you can do in Central Java.

Explore the Ancient Temples in Central Java

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The ancient temples in Central Java are a testament to the region’s rich history and cultural significance. The temples were built by the kings of the Mataram Kingdom and are considered one of the world’s greatest archaeological wonders. There are three magnificent temples that you have to visit when you come to Central Java.

Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and records back to the 8th century. This giant stone mandala is adorned with over 2,000 intricate reliefs carved into the stone walls and celebrates the life and teachings of Buddha.

The temple is divided into three zones, each with its own style and symbolism. Visitors can climb to the top of the temple to witness the stunning view of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Indonesia and is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple was built in the 9th century by the Sanjaya dynasty and is a masterpiece of ancient Javanese art and architecture.

The temple has a towering central structure, which represents the god Shiva, and is surrounded by smaller temples that represent his consort, Vishnu, and Brahma.

Sewu Temple

Sewu Temple is an 8th-century Buddhist temple located near Prambanan Temple. It is a lesser-known temple, but it attracts a significant number of visitors because of its unique structure and carvings.

Sewu Temple is unique in that it consists of several smaller temples arranged in concentric circles around a central temple tower. The intricate carvings in the temples depict scenes from Buddhist and Hindu mythology, and there are over 1,000 Buddha statues throughout the temple complex.

Discover the Natural Wonders in Central Java

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Central Java is home to some of Indonesia’s most breathtaking natural wonders. From volcanic landscapes to hidden caves, there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy.

Dieng Plateau

The Dieng Plateau is a highland region located in Central Java’s Wonosobo regency, known for its stunning volcanic landscape and cool climate. The plateau is covered in terraced fields and is home to several ancient Hindu temples.

Visitors to the Dieng Plateau can hike through the lush forests, explore ancient temples, and witness the spectacular sunrise over the volcanic peaks.

Mount Merapi

Mount Merapi is an active volcano located near the city of Yogyakarta in Central Java. The mountain is known for its spectacular views and the occasional volcanic eruption.

Visitors to Mount Merapi can hike up to the summit to witness the stunning view of the surrounding landscape. There are also several hot springs near the mountain where visitors can relax and soak in the healing waters.

Jomblang Cave

Jomblang Cave is a natural wonder located in the Gunungkidul Regency in Central Java. Visitors to the cave have to rappel down more than 60 meters into the cave to explore the underground river and the stunning cave formations.

The cave is known for its ‘heaven’s light’ phenomenon when sunlight enters the cave from an opening in the ceiling, casting a beam of light onto the cave floor.

Experience the Rich Culture

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Central Java is famous for its rich cultural heritage, which is expressed in its traditional art, dance and music, and handicrafts. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture by witnessing traditional dance performances, attending batik workshops, and exploring local markets.

Traditional Dance Performances

Central Java is known for its traditional dance performances, which are an expression of the region’s rich cultural heritage. The dances, which are often accompanied by gamelan music, tell stories from Javanese mythology and history.

Visitors can attend dance performances in the royal palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, or in the local theatres in smaller towns and villages.

Batik Workshops

Batik is a traditional Indonesian fabric that is dyed with wax to create intricate patterns. Central Java is known for its high-quality batik, and visitors can attend workshops where they can learn how to create their own batik designs.

The workshops are usually conducted by local artisans who have been practising the art form for generations. Visitors can create their own batik fabric or purchase finished products to take home as souvenirs.

Visit Local Markets

Central Java is home to some of Indonesia’s most vibrant and colourful local markets. Visitors can explore the markets to learn about the local cuisine, see traditional handicrafts, and interact with the locals.

The markets are usually open in the early morning or late afternoon and offer the best opportunity to experience the local culture. Visitors can purchase traditional snacks, fresh produce, and handicrafts to take home.

Savour the Local Cuisine

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Central Java has a rich culinary heritage that reflects its diverse cultural influences. Visitors can indulge in local cuisine, which is known for its flavours and spices.


Gudeg is a traditional Javanese dish made from young jackfruit, coconut milk, and spices. The dish is slow-cooked for hours to create a rich, sweet flavour, and is often served with rice and chicken.

Visitors can try gudeg at local restaurants or food stalls in Yogyakarta. The dish is a must-try for all visitors to Central Java.

Kopi Joss

Kopi Joss is a unique coffee drink that originated in Yogyakarta. The coffee is brewed traditionally, but a red-hot coal ball is added to the cup, creating a sizzling sound and a smoky aroma.

Visitors can enjoy kopi joss at local coffee shops or food stalls in Yogyakarta.

Tempe Mendoan

Tempe Mendoan is a traditional Javanese snack made from fried tempeh (fermented soybeans). The dish is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and is usually served with chilli sauce.

Visitors can find tempe mendoan at local food stalls or restaurants in Central Java.

Summing It Up

Central Java is a fascinating destination that offers a blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and culinary experiences. This article has highlighted ten exciting things to do in Central Java, from exploring ancient temples to savouring the local cuisine.

Whether you are an adventurer, a culture enthusiast, or a food lover, Central Java has something to offer everyone. Plan your trip today and experience the wonders of Central Java for yourself.