In the heart of the island of Java lies the city of Surakarta – mostly called Solo by the locals. Anyone who wants to immerse themselves in Javanese culture and history is in the right place in Solo. Solo is considered to be the cultural center of the island of Java along with Yogyakarta.
Temple visits, dance performances and tie-dye museums – all this and much more awaits you on a trip to Solo. Surakarta is certainly not the most beautiful city in Indonesia, but one that has retained its authenticity.
In this blog article we show you which sights and highlights you should not miss in Solo. We tell you about our experiences and give you practical and personal travel tips for Surakarta.
1. Surakarta (Solo): First information at a glance What can I expect in Surakarta? Let’s start with what you not expected. Surakarta is definitely not a classically beautiful city. Or to put it another way: At first glance, Solo looks like a completely ordinary, uncharming Indonesian (big) city. Traffic chaos included.
But if you want to immerse yourself in the culture of Java, then Solo is the best choice. We experienced the city as one of the most authentic on Java. The following three points make Solo special:
Wayang Orang: These traditional dance and theater performances are very typical for Java. Surakarta is one of the most famous places in Indonesia to see one of these performances live. Temple: Both in In the city center and outside there are some palaces and ancient temples that are worth seeing. One of the most famous temples around Solo is Candi Sukuh, a Javanese Hindu temple dating from 10. Century. Markets: In Surakarta there are countless markets – called “Pasar” in Indonesian. The most famous market in Solo is the Pasar Gede. Also very well known is the Pasar Klewer, the largest batik market in Indonesia. How how many days should I plan for Surakarta? We ourselves stayed for two nights in Solo and can highly recommend this time frame . We had enough time to explore the main sights in the center (there aren’t that many), attend a dance performance and take a trip to Candi Sukuh.
Some also visit Solo as a Day Trip from Yogyakarta. The two cities are only about an hour away by train, so this is definitely an option. However, since dance performances take place in the evening, you will unfortunately fall over at this highlight.
2. The most beautiful sights in Solo Palaces in Solo There are two famous palaces in Surakarta that you can visit: Mangkunegaran Palace and Kraton. The luster of these dynasties has already faded a bit (a few corners would need some renovation), but if you’re interested in history then a visit might be interesting.
More worth seeing and better preserved is the Mangkunegaran Palace. If you don’t just want to walk through the premises and courtyards, you should be accompanied by a guide. In the Kraton, on the other hand, only selected areas can be visited. A visit is supposed to be rather disappointing, which is why we decided against it.
Markets in Surakarta You love markets? Good news: there are plenty of them in Solo. So, if you love to dive into the hustle and bustle of the market like we do, then Surakarta is the perfect place for you. The following three markets are the most famous in Surakarta:
Pasar Gede: Food (vegetables, fruit, meat etc.)Pasar Klewer: Textiles (clothing, batik, fabrics)Pasar Triwindu: Antiques and Handicrafts We also visited the Pasar Legi ourselves – an incredibly authentic market that inspired us like a wholesale market or transhipment point. We still remember the hustle and bustle, the winding corridors, the warehouses covered with dust and the laughter of the people. Sadly, 2018 raged ) a fire in the Pasar Legi, so we don’t know to what extent the market is still intact.
Wayang Orang: Traditional Javanese Theater/Dance Performance Many people who come to Solo have a very specific reason: they want to see a live traditional wayang orang performance. This form of dance theater is firmly rooted in Javanese culture.
Scenes from the two great Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are shown. Acting and dancing are accompanied by gamelan sounds, which – admittedly – sometimes sound a bit off to our ears. All in all, however, such a performance is a spectacle that you should not miss if you are a guest in Solo.
Entry: 10. IDR
Time: Every day except Sunday at 15 Watch
Location: Taman Swedari Theater
Candi Sukuh The Candi Sukuh is one of the most famous temples in the vicinity of Solo. It is about an hour’s drive east of Surakarta, more precisely in the mountainous hinterland near the volcano Gunung Lawu.
The Javanese Hindu Candi Sukuh comes from the 15. Century. Personally, in terms of architecture, it strongly reminded us of a Mexican Mayan ruin. The peculiarity of the temple are its reliefs depicting erotic scenes.
All in all, the complex is fairly manageable, so that the temple (can be climbed) can be explored relatively quickly. We really liked the location of the temple in the middle of the lush green hinterland of Java with a wonderful view.
Jumog Waterfall Just a stone’s throw away from Candi Sukuh is one of the most famous waterfalls in the region, the Jumog Waterfall. So if you are already in the area, then you should also make a stop here.
The waterfall is easily accessible: After the ticket -Purchasing leads down a flight of stairs to the waterfall. If you’re unlucky, there’s a lot going on here, but nature is really beautiful here.
Candi Cetho Besides Candi Sukuh, Candi Cetho is the second known temple of the region. He is enthroned in 1.400 meters high on one of the spurs of Gunung Lawu volcano. In terms of landscape alone, the temple is worth a visit thanks to the spectacular natural setting.
The Candi Cetho is also a Hindu temple. One could almost believe one has landed in Bali, because the architecture of the Candi Cetho is strongly reminiscent of a Balinese temple. The Candi Cetho is slightly larger than the Candi Sukuh – so plan a little more time on site.
3. Eating & Drinking in Surakarta: Our Tips To be honest, Javanese cuisine is not necessarily our favourite. Or to put it another way: Those who eat vegetarian or vegan food like us sometimes have a hard time. Usually a lot of meat is eaten, preferably chicken (“Ayam”).
Western or international or even young, hip restaurants are available in Surakarta hardly. One usually dines in a so-called warung, a simple restaurant. The food there is very cheap and mostly really good.
A specialty in Surakarta that you should not miss are so-called Serabi. The mini pancakes are usually served sweet with coconut milk and can often be found as street food in markets. Must try!
Local tips for Surakarta Ngarsopuro Night Market: This night market takes place every Saturday. We had dinner here. Inexpensive, traditional and delicious – highly recommended!
Alamama Resto: Very nicely designed, lovingly run restaurant. Western dishes (sandwiches, pasta, pizza) as well as Indonesian specialties are served. The vegetarian selection is unfortunately manageable.
Warung Pecel Dewi: Highly recommended traditional Warung. If you want to taste authentic Javanese food, this is the right place. (By the way, pecel is the name of a traditional salad-like dish with peanut sauce, which of course is also offered in this warung.) The prices are very reasonable.
4. Our hotel tip for Solo Are you looking for a really great hotel in Solo? Then we can warmly recommend the Hotel Alila Solo. It is probably the best hotel in Surakarta at the moment.
You can look forward to a very stylish, modern hotel here. The highlight awaits you on the roof terrace: The Rooftop Pool with a view over Solo is simply a dream! The rooms are elegantly furnished and simply top in terms of comfort and technical equipment.
The breakfast also deserves great praise – by Asian standards, the selection and quality are really good. All in all: the price-performance ratio is excellent. Highly recommended!
Here you can book the hotel: Hotel Alila Solo
5. More Tips for Surakarta Transportation in Solo: Getting from A to B In the city center itself you can reach a lot on foot. Still, Solo is quite a big city. For example, if you live a little further away, you will be more likely to use a means of transport.
The most convenient way to get from A to B is by Taxi. For example, you can ask the front desk for a taxi to be called, or you can just hail one on the side of the road. Either you ask that s is driven with a taximeter or you negotiate the price in advance.
The many cycle rickshaws, Becak also belong to the cityscape. Don’t forget to bargain, because tourists are usually asked for higher prices. A ride in the urban area should be approximately 20. cost IDR.
Otherwise there is the possibility to use the public bus, more precisely the Solo Trans, which, among other things, runs along the main road Jalan Slamet Riyadi drives and stops at fixed stops.
Travel Guide for Indonesia Are you still looking for a travel guide for your trip to Indonesia? Then we can highly recommend the one by Stefan Loose. For Southeast Asia, we prefer to use the travel guides by Stefan Loose, because they are really well researched.
Important to know: Since Indonesia is huge, the individual islands (Java, Bali, etc.) are of course relatively compact. However, we find the chapter on Java in particular to be quite detailed. Clear recommendation for everyone planning a trip through several parts of Indonesia.
You can buy the guide here: Stefan Loose Indonesia
More Indonesia travel tips on our travel blog All Indonesia travel reports at a glanceItinerary through IndonesiaYogyakarta TipsIjen volcano hikeIsland Secret Tip: Karimunjawa 29169Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
You did too ever ended up going solo? How was your experience? Which sights or markets do you remember the most? We look forward to your additional tips.