If you were ever in doubt about Indonesia, East Java Indonesia has no shortage of incredibly scenic landscapes, volcanoes, temples, waterfalls, and loads of Javanese culture.
If you’re looking at an Indonesia map for the first time, It’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are 7 main regions (Java, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Lesser Sunda Islands, Maluku, Western New Guinea), With Java in Indonesia being the most populated island.
Java Indonesia consists of Central Java, West Java, and East Java where the ‘must see’ attractions (volcanoes, waterfalls, temples, etc.) tend to pile up, but in this article, we’ll focus on an East Java itinerary that will show you only the best the island has to offer in a 1-week itinerary with some bonus extras if you have a few more days to spare.
If you’re starting your trip from Jakarta or West Java Indonesia, Indonesia’s Central Java attractions should not be overlooked.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: We started in Yogyakarta. I love to travel in Central Java because it hosts the wonderful culturally rich city of Yogyakarta and is the perfect place to start your journey of the attractions in Java island Indonesia.
Day 1 to 3: Yogyakarta
In Yogyakarta, you will find two of the most coveted tourist destinations in Indonesia: Prambanan temple and Borobudur temple Java Indonesia. Both these monuments are UNESCO World Heritage sites and are vastly different in their structure and design.
GETTING TO YOGYAKARTA: The easiest way to get from Jakarta to Yogyakarta is the flight option, there is however easily accessible bus and train options that are surprisingly comfortable. Check out this map of Java Indonesia
Borobudur Central Java Indonesia is the LARGEST BUDDHIST TEMPLE IN THE WORLD! How interesting that in a vast majority Muslim country you’d find the largest Buddhist monument in the world! It just shows you the cultural diversity of Java as well as the beauty of different religions living in unison in the country.
The sheer size of the temple Borobudur Java Indonesia is a sight to behold. One can effortlessly spend a good 3 to 4 hours walking the grounds and ascending the tiers to finally reach the stupas. As this infamous tourist spot in Indonesia is extremely popular, there is the option to visit for a Borobudur sunrise tour or during regular hours.
The sunrise tour affords you the ability to see the sun rising over the Borobudur compounds which is great for photography purposes. It’s a super early start especially if you aren’t staying near the temples.
The island of Java Indonesia also hosts an equally beautiful Hindu masterpiece, Prambanan, which was also awarded UNESCO world heritage status.
Characterized by spine-like features, unlike Borobudur, Prambanan temple suffered more significant wrath of the Mount Merapi volcano, as you will still see rubble and debris of the ancient stone yet to be restored to Prambanan temple.
TRAVELIST TIP: If you’re short on time, Both these temples can be visited on the same day, especially if you are doing a Borobudur at sunrise, Java Indonesia is incredibly hot so sunrise is a brilliant option to escape the humidity of the afternoon. Prambanan temple is also favoured to be visited from late afternoon into early evening for sunset.
More Activities in Yogyakarta
There are some wonderful other places to visit in Yogyakarta but depending on your schedule you may have to pick and choose what you can and can’t do:
Shop the Malioboro road night market
Go cafe and bar hopping on Jalan Prawirotaman
Looking for places to visit in Yogyakarta? Check out these amazing tours!
From Central Java, It’s time to make your way to Jawa Timur Indonesia (East Java province in Bahasa Indonesian)
GETTING FROM YOGYAKARTA TO SURABAYA: I’d recommend by train or flight. The train tickets may take longer, they are comfortable and cost-effective. I did however notice that if you book flights early enough in Indonesia, you’ll find great deals, and there is also the option to grab a flight that costs the same as a first-class train ticket. You can also travel from Yogyakarta to Malang East Java to reach your next destination. We chose Surabaya because it was a larger city and had more travel options compared to East Java Malang.
Check out this East Java Map to see where we’re heading
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: We opted to use a train from Yogyakarta to Surabaya and had a tour company fetch us from Surabaya train station. Our East Java road trip began and ended in Surabaya, but depending on where you’re staying will determine your route.
Day 4: Madakaripura Waterfall
I’ve truly never seen a waterfall anything like it. Madakaripura Waterfall East Java Indonesia is a towering waterfall that creates a beautiful curtain of mist and enriches the ever-growing moss of the cavernous rock face.
It was one of the most enchanting places I’ve ever seen. The walk into visiting Madakaripura is an easy journey but if you hadn’t researched it before, you have no idea what to expect and I still feel typing these words I cannot do it justice.
It took my breath away!
Looking for Madakaripura Waterfall Tours
Check out my full post on the most enchanting waterfall in Indonesia Madakaripura Waterfall Indonesia East Java
You will get wet, but who cares when you’re in this magical place. This unusual Malang waterfall created some incredible vertical panoramic shots. The walk through the cleared jungle path was also delightful.
GETTING TO CEMORO LAWANG: From Madakaripura Waterfall to Mount Bromo location is quite a drive, but it’s interesting to ride through the East Java island countryside. You’ll also note a significant temperature drop as you ascend to the higher elevation. After visiting Madakaripura waterfall you will drive to the visit of Cemoro Lawang which is the closest village to Mount Bromo. There are a number of hotels, hostels, and homestays in the area and I highly suggest staying as close to the entrance to the Bromo National Park entrance as possible because again this is one of the most famous places in Indonesia to visit some there will be plenty of locals too that have made the journey to visit this spectacular natural wonder!
Looking for some East Java Tours?
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Day 5: Mount Bromo
Mount Bromo at sunrise along with the climb up to the crater rim was ultimately the travel experienced that inspired me to take the risk and embrace my passion for travelling and start this blog.
That is how memorable visiting Mount Bromo is.
I’ve yet to find a person who can disagree with that statement. If this is the first time you’ll be visiting an active volcano you’ll realise how bucket list-worthy this moment is.
Looking for Mount Bromo Tours?
Visiting Mount Bromo for sunrise is one of the most popular East Java attractions. The Bromo sunrise is best seen from Mount Penanjakan and then after sunrise, you head to Mount Bromo itself and take a short hike (walk up a series of stairs and across a sea of sand/ash) to the crater rim.
At the crater rim, you can literally see the smoke coming off the sulfur and it’s pretty safe. This is truly one of my favourite volcanoes in Java Indonesia.
There is so much to say about this incredibly magic location, Check out my Mount Bromo article Mount Bromo sunrise + 7 reasons you have to visit
After summiting the crater, the tour guides will drop you off at your accommodation to shower and refresh, grab some breakfast (since it’s still breakfast time), and then you’ll head off to your next destination.
FAQ: Mount Bromo
GETTING FROM BROMO TO TUMPAK SEWU WATERFALL: After taking in the breathtaking beauty of Bromo mountain Indonesia, you’ll wonder if it can get any better. It will and does. The drive through Bromo Tengger Semeru National is stunning. As mentioned we did this through a tour company making it a literally effortless trip.
Day 6: Tumpak Sewu Waterfall, Goa Tetes Waterfall, Kapas Biru Waterfall
As you can see Java has no shortage of natural beauty. Possibly the most famous East Java waterfall is Tumpak Sewu waterfall Indonesia, but just in its immediate vicinity is Goa Tetes waterfall, and a few kilometers away you’ll find Kapas Biru Waterfall.
Tumpak Sewu is an incredible mammoth 120 m tall waterfall in an amphitheater-style rockface cascading down into the gauge. It’s beautiful to see from two viewpoints.
The panoramic view is easily accessible and only a few metres from the entrance, then you descend into the gorge which is a bit more of a treacherous journey. The path involves walking down some make-shift mud stairs and handrails made of not-very-sturdy bamboo so I’d strongly suggest you wear some grip sandals or aqua boots.
When you do reach the bottom it’s a great scene and there a constant mist in the air which creates a simply magical atmosphere. This is truly one of my favourite East Java Indonesia waterfalls.
Just left to the turn of reaching the gorge of Tumpak Sewu waterfall East Java Indonesia is the short path to Goa Tetes waterfall. It’s a lovely bonus and even more so because you can stand under these smaller gushing falls which is incredibly refreshing!
Just another 5.5 km away is a third beautiful waterfall called Kapas Biru. It’s also not the easiest path to walk through to get to but if you have a bit of extra time, it’s worth a visit.
These waterfalls are high up on our list of East Java destinations which truly proves that the Indonesian Island East of Java has a lot on offer.
Want to learn more about this incredible adventure to this waterfall East Java holds?
READ: Tumpak Sewu waterfalls in East Java
Day 7: Kawah Ijen Crater
Another of the highly recommended things to do in East Java is Kawah Ijen Crater. It’s certainly one of my East Java highlights. We arrived in Bondowoso at 17:00 and left for Kawah Ijen crater at 23:30 that same evening.
Why those crazy arrival and departure times?
Well for many visiting this unique destination, you have to be up at the crater edge at a particular time (the early dark hours of the morning before dawn) to view the infamous Ijen East Java blue fire flames.
Kawah Ijen East Java Indonesia is literally one of the few places in the entire world where you’ll be able to see this phenomenon. So when I say this is once in a lifetime, I mean it! There is a very small likelihood that you will see this in your lifetime.
The ascent again, one wouldn’t typically term a hike, but a very steep dark walk. It pretty much is paved the entire way up, but you really don’t realize how steep it is when you’re walking in the dark. I consider myself relatively fit and I was quite happy to stop a good few times to catch my breath whilst walking up to Kawah Ijen volcano java Indonesia.
When you reach the top, it’s still pitch dark and that’s when it’s time to see the blue flames. The flames are produced due to the gases produced from the sulfur catching alight means that there no guarantee that on your trip you will get to see it unfortunately and it will also never be consistent on what the size of the flames will be at Mt Ijen East Java
Looking for Kawah Ijen Crater Volcano Tours?
We did manage to see some flames but they were small. It was still incredible, but gosh it quite windy up there, and it is icy cold. Then there is the wait till sunrise, but you’ll find a number of guides that make small campfires in and around the crater rim (although you don’t realise where the crater is because it’s still pitch dark).
I clung to the campfires as if my life depended on it, I had to be peeled away to go to the sunrise cliff face to actually watch it. But on that point, when the light starts to uncover the surroundings, your jaw will drop.
Throughout the darkness, you literally have no idea what has been behind you the entire time. A monumental turquoise sulfuric lake. It is an overwhelming presence once you see it! It’s also the largest sulfuric lake in the world – should you need more convincing on why you need to visit. This definitely needs to be on the list of places to visit in East Java.
Want to learn more about this East Java travel destination? READ: East Java trip to Mount Ijen Crater Volcano with blue fire guide
FAQ: Kawah Ijen Crater
Want to Start your East Java trip from Bali? Check out these tours starting in Bali
Now if you want to stop here, the above is a great 1 week east Java itinerary. However, there are still plenty of East Java points of interest that I haven’t mentioned.
There are plenty more East Java tourist attractions as well as some undiscovered gems.
GETTING BACK TO SURABAYA: From Kawah Ijen, you can drive back to Surabaya and take a train or flight back to Jakarta/Bali and back to your home. The other option which is fairly popular is to take a ferry at Ketapang port to Bali to start your island-hopping journey.
If you’re headed to Bali, READ: The Ultimate 2021 Bali Bucket List
If you want to continue seeing what East Java has to offer whilst you make your way back to Malang or Surabaya let’s add a couple more days so you check out some other highlights below:
East Java Bonus Destinations
Pulau Merah (Red Island Beach)
Not as well known as the other attractions in East Java, but definitely a photo-worthy moment. The sand has a pinkish-red hue to it, similar to what you would see on Pink Beach in Komodo Islands National Park.
It’s a great place to relax on the beach, but also has the option to stay overnight. It’s a very good surfing destination (so I’m told). The beach can be reached by car or motorbike from Banyuwangi and is approximately 60 km away.
Tanjung Papuma (Papuma Beach)
This is a gorgeous little gem tucked in on the southern coastlines of East Java. What makes this beautiful beach worth a visit is its iconic islets. The waters are a stunning crystal blue which reminded me of the Philippines along with the beautiful colourful boats littered along the shores waiting to eagerly take you out and about among the rocky islets.
It’s a popular beach and does not lend itself to much privacy but the backdrop is wonderful for laying on the beach enjoying a festive atmosphere with plenty of stalls and restaurants to cater to patrons.
Kabut Pelangi Waterfall
Another waterfall? Could one ever tire of these? NEVER!
Honestly, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to these as far as Indonesian attractions are concerned. The name loosely translates as rainbow mist waterfall. The trek to the waterfall is not as easily marked and distinct as that for Madakaripura and Tumpak Sewu.
It’s not technically difficult either but may take some time to reach the main waterfall, as you will pass smaller ones before you get there, but don’t be fooled, you need to trek on! Extremely photogenic and a must if you have a few more days to play with in Java
Jordipan Colourful Rainbow Village
As far as Instagram is concerned, this is truly picture perfect! If you’re in East Java Malang you need to make sure you check out this stunning gem within the city which bursts with literally all the colours of the rainbow.
This area of Malang is what was once a ‘slum area’ but a group of students took on an assignment to bring the village back to life through colour. Their efforts were incredibly successful in turning this village into a bustling tourist attraction for locals and foreigners alike!
The village is divided into two sections separated by a river, it costs ONLY IDR 3000 to enter (approximately 0.21 USD) to enter either side. On the other side of the river is the Blue Village (a village completely painted all blue) called Kampung Biru Arema.
TRAVELIST TIP: Some of the other places not listed in the 1 week East Java Itinerary could possibly be added in during the one week but it would be a push. It would involve literally no rest and this itinerary already is quite packed. I’d strongly suggest rather visiting these other places on your way back from Kawah Ijen to Malang or Surabaya East Java Indonesia. If you are headed to Bali after Kawah Ijen, then you may need to re-think the order of your activities.
Discuss with a tour guide and driver because the locals know their lands and roads best and will offer you the best solution to make sure you get to see all these attractions in Indonesia’s East Java.
East Java FAQ
If anything, this should be a given for any trip you take! But be sure to keep a copy of your insurance details. This is an adventure experience so you need to be prepared.
Check out World Nomads for amazing travel insurance options
ARE YOU INSPIRED BY THIS EAST JAVA TRAVEL GUIDE?
Excited to visit East Java or have you visited already? I’d love to hear from you. Any places you think should be added to the list? Comment in the section below!
Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the article have affiliate links, what this means is, if you click a link and make a purchase; I may earn some money to buy a coffee (woohoo!). Thanks for the support, I’d love to keep making this content freely available to all. As always opinions and thoughts remain my own.