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Indonesia is a popular travel destination in Southeast Asia and spans over more than 17,500 islands. The largest islands in the country include Java, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. Other islands like Bali, for example, are known worldwide. Indonesia’s most beautiful places are spread across some of the islands of this vast country and are absolute highlights on a trip to Southeast Asia.

Our 10 Tips for the Most Beautiful Places in Indonesia

In addition to well-known destinations like Bali or the Gili Islands, we introduce you to a number of other islands, cities, and temples in our article about the most beautiful places in Indonesia that you shouldn’t miss. Did you know, for example, that in Indonesia, despite the majority of Muslim residents, the world’s largest Buddhist temple stands? You’ll find out all of this and much more in our 10 tips.

How to Get to Indonesia

Every journey from Europe to Indonesia naturally involves a flight. There are a few direct flights from Europe to Indonesia with a flight time of approximately 16 hours to Jakarta, for example, from Amsterdam. You have a much wider selection with a layover in the United Arab Emirates or even Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. This does extend the travel time, but we also find a break along the way enjoyable. Besides, places like Bangkok are perfect for a stopover. To compare flights for the best prices and times, we recommend using Skyscanner.

If you want to travel from one destination to another within Indonesia, there are also other options besides the airplane. These include bus or boat trips between individual islands such as Bali, the Gili Islands, and Lombok. For a good overview of connections and booking tickets online in advance, it’s best to check out our partner 12go.asia.

1. Lombok

Even today, more than 10 years after our first visit in 2013, Lombok remains one of Indonesia’s most beautiful places for us. The island has naturally undergone significant changes during this time and has become increasingly popular internationally. Nevertheless, it has largely retained its charm, and you can still find countless secluded beaches and untouched nature on Lombok. However, the island now hosts the Indonesian MotoGP, which has given it a rapid boost in popularity.

Lombok is still in the shadow of the neighboring island of Bali (see point 3), even though, in our opinion, you can find more beautiful beaches on Lombok. Whether in the south in Kuta and its surroundings or along the picturesque west coast – Lombok has a lot to offer, and it can also impress with its volcanic landscapes. The Mount Rinjani majestically rises into the sky, offering hikers an unforgettable adventure.

Tampah Beach in the south of Lombok
The south of Lombok offers many dreamlike beaches

You can discover many blog articles about Lombok in our Lombok category.

2. Gili Islands

The Gili Islands are, of course, familiar to Southeast Asia travelers, and we also made a detour to the three small paradise islands off Lombok during our first long-term trip. Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air are – and we don’t want to sweep this under the rug – quite crowded paradises. Especially the main island “Gili T” sometimes has more visitors than the environment can really handle. The neighboring islands Meno and Air are much quieter, and if you combine this with the off-season, you can experience a truly great island idyll. Snorkeling and diving are also part of the daily program, of course.

Aerial view of Gili Trawangan with Lombok in the background
Gili Trawangan with a view of Lombok in the background

Did you know that there are more than just the three famous Gilis? In the south of Lombok, you’ll find the so-called “Secret Gilis” – even though, admittedly, they are no longer quite so “secret.” Nevertheless, they are the ideal alternative for those seeking tranquility, and fans of the underwater world will also find plenty to enjoy here.

3. Bali

Bali is the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia, enchanting visitors with a unique blend of breathtaking nature, rich culture, and a lively atmosphere. Despite the many tourists, Bali is considered one of Indonesia’s most beautiful places by many. After all, there are still secluded and peaceful, even dreamlike places to be found there. To be honest, we didn’t quite warm up to the island on our first visit, but sometimes it just takes a second chance.

In the lively Uluwatu, in the south of the island, you can visit the famous Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur) and enjoy spectacular sunsets over the cliffs. Uluwatu is also very popular among surfers, from beginners to pros. This is where the annual Rip Curl surf competition, Padang-Padang, takes place.

View of the cliffs and beaches of Uluwatu, Bali
View of the cliffs and beaches of Uluwatu

The cultural heart of Bali, Ubud, entices with traditional dances, handicrafts, and the famous Monkey Forest. Another highlight is Tanah Lot, a sea temple on a small island off the coast. It provides an impressive photo opportunity and is a magical and popular place, especially at sunset.

Bali’s beaches are also diverse, from vibrant places like Canggu to tranquil coves in Nusa Dua. The island offers something for every taste. While places like Kuta and Seminyak offer lively nightlife and shopping, you can enjoy quieter and more relaxed environments in the eastern and northern parts of Bali. Bali is a great mix of lively places and still very peaceful nature – in addition, the unique Balinese culture makes the island a must-see in Indonesia.

4. Borobudur

Borobudur is located on the island of Java, about 25 kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta (see the next point) and is definitely one of Indonesia’s most beautiful places. It is one of the most impressive monuments and, above all, the largest Buddhist temple complex in the world. The complex, built in the 9th century, has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. It consists of nine platforms resting on a large central stupa and rising 40 meters in height. The walls and balustrades of the temple are engraved with more than 2,600 relief panels depicting scenes from the life and teachings of Buddha.

Buddha Statue in the Borobudur Temple on Java, Indonesia

Also interesting is the story that this enormous temple complex was only rediscovered in 1814, as it was buried under volcanic ash. As a visitor, you can explore the impressive architecture and enjoy the breathtaking view from the top platform, which offers a glimpse of the surrounding villages and the lush Javanese nature. Borobudur attracts pilgrims, tourists, and history enthusiasts alike, providing a fascinating opportunity to delve into the Buddhist history and culture of Indonesia. The entrance fee for visitors is approximately $25.

While you can explore the site on your own, it’s worth taking a guide or booking an organized tour here. Especially if you’re interested in the history of Borobudur and would like to learn more. Don’t miss it!

5. Yogyakarta

The city of Yogyakarta, often affectionately abbreviated as “Jogja,” is a cultural hub and is also located on Java. It has a rich history and artistic scene. From 1945 to 1949, Yogyakarta was even briefly the capital of Indonesia during the war for independence. The highlight of the city is the magnificent Royal Palace of Yogyakarta, known as the Kraton (sometimes spelled Keraton). It provides insights into the royal culture and history of Java.

The city is also an ideal starting point for exploring the surrounding natural wonders, including the active volcano Merapi and the temples of Prambanan or Borobudur (see previous point). If you plan to visit Yogyakarta, we would recommend doing so in combination with at least a visit to Borobudur. While the city offers a lot of tradition, apart from the Royal Palace, there are no particular must-see attractions. As mentioned earlier, it is often used by tourists as a starting point. However, if you want to immerse yourself deeper into Javanese culture and experience the real local life, you can spend several days in the city.

6. Flores

The island of Flores is one of the largest islands in Indonesia, but unlike Bali or even Lombok, it is still relatively unspoiled by tourism. Another unique aspect of Flores is the religious orientation of the locals. While the majority of Indonesia is influenced by Islam, on the island, over 90% of the population follows Christianity. The name Flores comes from the term “Cabo das Flores,” which the island received from Portuguese trading ships when it was discovered by Europeans.

Flores is known for its beautiful nature and cultural diversity. Some highlights you can discover during a visit include traditional villages like Wae Rebo, nestled in the mountains. Another natural wonder is the Kelimutu Volcano. With its three crater lakes, it’s a popular trekking destination, especially for sunrise.

Sunrise at Kelimutu Volcano in Flores, Indonesia
Sunrise at Kelimutu Volcano

Flores also offers a paradise for divers and snorkelers, namely Riung. This is the home of the Riung 17 Islands Marine Park, which boasts a stunning island world with clear water, coral reefs, and a bustling underwater ecosystem. In total, there are even 20 islands off the coast here, so the name “17 Islands” can be somewhat misleading. You can find more information about Flores in our blog article.

7. Komodo

The island of Komodo, famous for its namesake Komodo dragons, is one of the most impressive islands and one of Indonesia’s most beautiful places. In addition to its unique wildlife, Komodo offers a breathtaking landscape characterized by smoking volcanoes, lush hills, and crystal-clear waters. One of the unforgettable highlights is the ascent to the summit of Padar Island, from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the bays and surrounding islands. A very popular photo motif on Instagram and similar platforms.

View of Padar Island (Pulau Padar) in Komodo National Park
The famous view of Padar Island, also known as Pulau Padar

To reach Komodo, you usually start in Labuan Bajo on Flores (see previous point). From there, boat tours and excursions to the Komodo Islands are easy to organize because there are many providers on-site. So, Labuan Bajo is an excellent starting point for your adventure to Komodo.

8. Sulawesi

Sulawesi is another fascinating island of Indonesia that still attracts relatively few tourists. It offers a variety of highlights if you dare to embark on a journey. This includes, for example, the Tana Toraja Regency in the heart of Sulawesi. It is famous for its unique burial rituals and the traditional architecture of Toraja houses. Here, you can immerse yourself in the globally unique culture and history of the locals.

Dream beach on one of the Togian Islands near Sulawesi
Dream beach on one of the Togian Islands

In the north of the island lies the Bunaken Marine National Park, a magnificent place for divers and snorkelers. The rich coral reefs and crystal-clear waters offer a fantastic underwater world. Southeast of Sulawesi, you will also find the 56 Togian Islands, a remote island paradise with pristine beaches and a relaxed atmosphere. Here, you can unwind and discover the natural beauty of the islands. Sulawesi is definitely a versatile travel destination that has something to offer for everyone.

9. Sumatra

Sumatra is the sixth-largest island in the world and a true gem of Indonesia. The island hosts some of the country’s most fascinating natural treasures. In the Gunung Leuser National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can observe the native wildlife, including the rare Sumatran orangutans, and hike in the lush, untouched nature. If you’re adventurous, the Sibayak Volcano in North Sumatra offers the opportunity to hike to its summit and bathe in its crater.

However, you can also visit some beautiful islands in the vicinity, including Pulau Weh. The island is a wonderful place for diving and snorkeling with beautiful, intact coral reefs and an impressive underwater world. Lake Toba, the world’s largest volcanic lake, is another highlight with picturesque villages and a relaxed atmosphere. In Sumatra, you can experience how natural beauty and cultural diversity harmoniously blend together.

10. Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is an island group consisting of more than 1500 islands. There are many paradise islands with crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches to discover. But the lush jungle in the hinterland also invites exploration. Raja Ampat undoubtedly attracts beach lovers, divers, and snorkelers. A highlight is the view from the viewpoint on Waigeo Island. From here, you have a spectacular panoramic view of the emerald green lagoon and the surrounding islands.

View of Raja Ampat Island, most beautiful places in Indonesia

The remote island paradise is not so easy to reach and is therefore not frequented by too many tourists. To get to Raja Ampat, you usually have to take a flight to Sorong and then continue your journey by boat. A trip to Raja Ampat is still definitely an unforgettable adventure and not to be missed while discovering Indonesia’s most beautiful places.

Have you been to Indonesia? What places were your highlights of Indonesia’s most beautiful places and why? Leave us your opinion in the comments!

Photos: Photo 3 (Uluwatu, Bali): I Love Drones/shutterstock.com – Photo 4 (Borobudur, Java): ErlanggaSujono/shutterstock.com – Photo 8 & Featured Image (Raja Ampat): codemeblue/shutterstock.com