After my fantastic itinerary North Sumatra in Indonesia, I traveled onward to the island of Java. Java is the most populous island in Indonesia with its 132,000 km² and more than 145 million inhabitants. There are several large, uninviting cities in Java, including the capital Jakarta. I’m definitely not a city lover, but I thought my Java itinerary was fantastic! The island also has beautiful nature and culture. There are no fewer than 45 active volcanoes on the island.
Java lends itself perfectly for an itinerary of about 2 weeks. Perfect for a holiday or backpacking trip, but also to combine with an itinerary through Bali. Interested in a complete Indonesia itinerary for 2 months? You can read it here.
What really surprised me during my Java itinerary was that many locals were not so used to seeing white tourists. That is why I have been photographed with many people in different places!
Jakarta ➤ Bandung ➤ Pangandaran ➤ Yogyakarta ➤ Karimujawa ➤ Surabaya ➤ Bromo ➤ Banyuwangi
My Java itinerary started in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia in the west of the island. More than 10 million people live in this gigantic, chaotic city. Because I had heard beforehand that it’s better to skip Jakarta, I decided to stay there for only 1 night. I therefore immediately traveled by train to Bandung the next morning.
Bandung is a big city, but is a lot less chaotic than Jakarta. It’s located at about 770 meters above sea level and therefore has a slightly cooler climate than, for example, Jakarta. Bandung has quite a lot of Dutch influences. You will find old colonial buildings and also many restaurants have Dutch dishes on the menu, such as bitterballen and poffertjes. I also found speculoos in the supermarket!
Once I arrived at Bandung train station I took a Grab taxi to my hostel; Buton Backpackers, highly recommended by the way! I met some people at the hostel who were going to do a tour the next day with Fanji, a local from Bandung and decided to come along. We visited the white crater lake Kawah Putih, but also the tea plantations and were even invited to a wedding!
How to get there: Trains depart daily from Gambir station in Jakarta. The ride takes about 3 to 3.5 hours and costs no more than € 10.
Read all about the best things to do in Bandung.
The village of Pangandaran is located on the southern coast between Bandung and Yogyakarta. It’s one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Java. You just don’t have to expect tropical beaches, but you can expect good waves to surf on! In addition, you can walk around the Pangandaran National Park on the peninsula, take a boat trip through the Green Canyon and visit the fishing village of Batu Karas.
How to get there: You can reach Pangandaran by bus or by train and taxi / bus. The bus leaves from Cicaheum station in Bandung and takes about 7 hours. By train you travel from Bandung to Sidareja station where you can then take the bus or a Grab taxi of 45 minutes to the village.
Yogyakarta is considered by many to be one of the nicest cities in Java. It’s also a real student city. There are more than enough places of interest in Yogyakarta to be entertained for a few days. You can visit various palaces, but also book a tour to the Merapi volcano, highly recommended! But the most famous sights are the Prambanan and Borobudur outside the city. Rent a motorbike and go out on your own, or take a driver to drive you around for a day.
There are a lot of nice hostels, guesthouses and luxury hotels in Yogyakarta. For example, Laura’s Backpacker Hostel is quite popular. I spent a few nights at Wood Stone Hostel and in the great Palem Kipas Homestay with a super friendly owner and lovely rooms.
How to get there: From Bandung you can easily travel with a direct train to Yogyakarta. This drive of no less than 400 kilometers takes about 8 hours, but is amazingly beautiful. If you are traveling from Pangandaran you can take the train from Sidareja station from where you can take a direct train to Yogyakarta.
A destination that wasn’t planned for me, but which I’m very happy to have traveled to, was the tropical island of Karimunjawa. I got this destination as a tip from a Dutch couple I met in Bandung and wow, they hadn’t lied about the beauty. On this island you can still ride a motorbike through small villages and visit paradise beaches without encountering hundreds of tourists. You don’t even come across dozens of tourists.
How to get there: From Yogyakarta you first travel by bus to Jepara in about 6 hours. Here you can stay overnight and then take the fastboat to the island the next morning, which will take about 2 hours.
Read all about Karimunjawa, the most beautiful island of Java!
After Karimunjawa I traveled by shuttle bus to Surabaya in more than 8 hours. I could also choose to travel from the island to Probolinggo or Malang, but I thought that was a bit too much.
There is not much to do in Surabaya, but it’s especially a great stopover to continue to the Bromo volcano. I stayed in Hotel 88 Embong Kenongo with nice rooms located near the train station, so ideal!
How to get there: Surabaya is easily reached from several major cities in Java by train including Yogyakarta (6 hours), Malang (2 hours) and Probolinggo (1.5 hours).
Bromo (Cemoro Lawang)
The next morning I traveled by train to Probolinggo and took a shuttle bus to Cemoro Lawang. This small village is the perfect base for a visit to the Bromo volcano and the viewpoint from where you have a beautiful view of the landscape. Bromo was without doubt one of my highlights of my Java itinerary.
How to get there: From Surabaya, take the train from Gubeng station to Probolinggo. Then you can take a shared shuttle bus to Cemoro Lawang. You can also choose to do an organized tour. This can be done from Surabaya, Malang or Probolinggo.
I visited the Bromo volcano for free without a tour! You can read all about it here.
From Cemoro Lawang I traveled to Banyuwangi. There isn’t much to do in the city itself, but I still found it quite pleasant in some places. In addition, the food there is dirt cheap. Banyuwangi is the base for visiting the Ijen volcano. A sunrise tour to the Kawah Ijen is quite popular because you get the chance to see the blue fire rising from the ground. In addition, you get a good picture of the hard life of the miners who lift hundreds of kilos of sulfur from the crater every day (without protection!).
How to get there: From Cemoro Lawang, take a shuttle bus to Probolinggo and then take a direct train to Banyuwangi. But Banyuwangi is also easy to reach by train from, for example, Surabaya (7 hours) and Malang (7 hours).
From Banyuwangi you can take a Gojek or Grab taxi to Ketapang harbor and then with the local boat to Gilimanuk harbor in Bali. The trip takes no more than an hour and costs less than a euro.
Transport Java itinerary
When you buy a train ticket, you can choose from different classes: economy, business and executive. Economy is the simplest and cheapest and with the executive, for example, you have a lot of legroom, making that class the most expensive.
Often you can also travel with a (shuttle) bus, but this is a bit less comfortable and often the price does not save much by train.
Best time to travel Java itinerary
The best travel time for your travel itinerary in Java is in the dry season between May – September. In the rainy season you can also visit Java, but you just have a lot more chance of rain and it is often cloudy. And that can be a pity if you want to enjoy a nice view.