1) Visit Borobudur Temple, the largest Buddhist monument on earth. Considered by many to be one of the seven wonders of the world. And no wonder. This colossus temple is made from 55,000 square meters of lava-rock and is erected on a hill in the form of a stepped-pyramid of six rectangular storeys, three circular terraces and a central stupa forming the summit. Wow!
2) Visit Prambanan Temple, Indonesia’s largest Hindu temple and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 9th century, the temple was apparently dedicated to the Trimurti, that is Brahma as the Creater, Vishnu as the Sustainer, and Shiva as the Destroyer. It was constructed in the form of tall and pointed architecture, typical of Hindu temple architecture, with the largest temple standing an astonishing 47m high.
3) Climb (or visit) the Merapi volcano. Suckers for punishment can climb this ethereal, rumbling volcano (it last erupted in 2010, so keep your fingers crossed it won’t blow again while you are there!). Leave late at night from Yogyakarta in a group tour (cost around Rp200,000 per person) with the aim to hike to the volcano’s summit by dawn. A less invigorating option, which is considerably safer and reduces by 100 percent the likelihood that you get blistered feet, is to drive (or ride a motorcycle) to the base of the volcano where you can take in the amazing panorama.
4) Visit the Affandi museum. Located on the banks of the Gajah Wong River, this offbeat museum/art gallery pays homage to Indonesia’s most famous painter, the legendary Affandi (1907-1990). Affandi was an expressionist and his paintings are to Indonesian art what Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead are to angst imbibed post-punk rock: loud, colorful and, above all, seaming with emotion, passion and creative intent.
5) Visit the Kraton. Yogyakarta is the only functioning sultanate in Indonesia and in the royal compound (the Kraton) you will come across ancient Hindu motifs, Buddhist lotus flowers, and Islamic calligraphy. The best way to reach the Kraton is by bicycle, as this makes it easier to explore the sleepy kampong surrounding the Kraton where the pace of life proceeds almost in slow motion.
6) Eat gudug on Jalan Wijilan. Feeling hungry? Well, simply head to Jalan Wijilan (10 minutes from the kraton) where a number of roadside eateries serve up nasi gudeg - Yogyakarta’s signature dish comprising steamed rice and the flesh of unripe jackfruit stewed in palm sugar and served with egg, chicken, tofu and – wait for it - buffalo skin. Those with a sweet tooth will love this dish but diabetics might want to give it a miss. The most popular place on Jalan Wijilan is “Gudeg Yu Djum”. Here they get through 50 to 150 chickens and 2,000 eggs every day!
7) Visit the rugged beaches to the south of Jogyakarta. But watch out because Parangtritis, the nearest beach to Jogyakarta, is also the domain of Nyai Loro Kidul, the legendary Queen of the South Seas. Venerated yet feared by Jogyakartans, she has been known to drag people who dare wear green (her color, you understand) into the raging seas. However, plenty of other careless idiots have met a similar fate. Maybe it isn’t the green after all! Further along the coast is a rugged stretch of coastline where you can find a string of beautiful beaches, including the amazing Pantai Baron. But also be careful if you enter the sea here!