Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia, is a bustling metropolis known for its vibrant atmosphere, rich history, and diverse culture. For those considering things to do in Surabaya, exploring the House of Sampoerna, a beautifully preserved Dutch colonial-style building turned museum, and visiting the Heroes Monument, a tribute to the Indonesian independence struggle, are top activities.
The city’s bustling markets, such as the Pasar Atom, offer a lively atmosphere and a chance to experience local life, with vendors selling everything from traditional fabrics to local snacks. Nearby, the Surabaya Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world, provides a family-friendly attraction with a variety of animal species.
Beyond its urban attractions, Surabaya is also known for its culinary scene, with numerous warungs (food stalls) and restaurants serving traditional East Javanese dishes such as rawon and lontong balap. For those seeking the best places to visit in Indonesia, Surabaya’s blend of historical significance, cultural richness, and gastronomic adventures makes it a compelling destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Surabaya, Indonesia
1. House of Sampoerna
The House of Sampoerna is a beautifully preserved Dutch colonial-style compound that now serves as a museum, art gallery, and still-operational cigarette factory. Visitors can learn about the history of tobacco in Indonesia and the Sampoerna business dynasty.
Travel Tip: Try to catch the live music performances that are held regularly in the café; they provide a lively backdrop to your visit.
2. Suramadu National Bridge
Spanning across the Madura Strait, the Suramadu Bridge is a spectacular sight and a significant feat of engineering connecting Surabaya to the island of Madura. It’s the longest bridge in Indonesia and offers stunning views, especially at night when it’s lit up.
Travel Tip: For the best views and photos, visit at dusk when the lights turn on and the traffic is lighter.
3. Tugu Pahlawan (Heroes Monument)
The Heroes Monument is an iconic landmark of Surabaya, dedicated to the memory of the soldiers who died during the Battle of Surabaya on November 10, 1945. The towering monument stands as a symbol of the city’s spirit and resilience.
Travel Tip: Visit the accompanying museum to gain deeper insight into Indonesia’s struggle for independence.
4. Tunjungan Plaza
Tunjungan Plaza is one of the largest shopping malls in Indonesia, offering a modern shopping experience with a wide variety of stores, entertainment options, and eateries.
Travel Tip: Check for local events or shows held in the central atrium, as the mall often hosts cultural performances and expos.
5. Surabaya Zoo
As one of the oldest and largest zoos in Southeast Asia, Surabaya Zoo holds a variety of species from around the world. Despite some past controversies, efforts have been made to improve the conditions for the animals.
Travel Tip: Visit during the weekday mornings to avoid crowds and see the animals when they are most active.
6. Kebun Bibit Wonorejo
Kebun Bibit Wonorejo is a lush park and nursery offering a green escape within the city. It’s ideal for families and those seeking a peaceful place for a stroll or picnic.
Travel Tip: Bring along some snacks and a mat if you plan to picnic, as there are limited food stalls within the park.
7. Cheng Hoo Mosque
Cheng Hoo Mosque is unique for its Chinese architectural design, symbolizing the harmonious blend of Muslim and Chinese cultures in Indonesia. It stands out with its pagoda-like structure and is a place of worship as well as a cultural attraction.
Travel Tip: Dress modestly when visiting, and if you’re non-Muslim, avoid prayer times for your tour.
8. Ciputra Waterpark
As the largest waterpark in Indonesia, Ciputra Waterpark offers fun for the whole family with a variety of water slides, pools, and play areas.
Travel Tip: Go on a weekday to enjoy the park without the weekend crowds, and don’t forget to bring sunscreen for protection during the sunny days.
9. Pakuwon Food Festival
The Pakuwon Food Festival is an extensive outdoor dining complex where visitors can enjoy a vast selection of Indonesian and international cuisines. It’s a great place to indulge in local flavors and enjoy live entertainment.
Travel Tip: Try to visit in the evening when the atmosphere is most vibrant and lively.
10. Mpu Tantular Museum
This museum showcases a wide array of Indonesian artifacts including prehistoric finds, traditional costumes, and cultural items that narrate the rich history of the archipelago.
Travel Tip: Hiring a guide can greatly enhance your experience, offering insights into the cultural significance of the exhibits.
11. Monkasel (Submarine Monument)
Monkasel, short for Monumen Kapal Selam, is a retired Russian submarine turned museum in the heart of Surabaya. It provides a unique opportunity to explore the inside of a real submarine and learn about its history and the life of submariners.
Travel Tip: The interior can be quite cramped and hot, so visit earlier in the day when it’s cooler and less crowded.
12. Kenjeran Park
Kenjeran Park is an amusement park located on the eastern shore of Surabaya, offering a blend of recreational activities including a waterpark, karting track, and cultural attractions like the four-faced Buddha statue.
Travel Tip: Visit during a weekday to enjoy the facilities without the weekend rush, and stay for the sunset views over the beach.
13. Sanggar Agung Temple
This impressive Chinese temple, located within Kenjeran Park, stands out with its colorful architecture and statues, including a giant statue of Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. It’s not just a place of worship but also a cultural center for the Chinese-Indonesian community.
Travel Tip: The temple is particularly festive during Chinese New Year celebrations; visiting during this time provides a deeper glimpse into local traditions.
14. Surabaya North Quay
Surabaya North Quay is an upscale area by the port offering dining and entertainment with a view of the sea and passing ships. It’s a perfect place to relax and watch the sunset.
Travel Tip: Check out the schedule for live music or events that are frequently held here, adding to the ambiance of the quay.
15. Pasar Atom
Pasar Atom is a large market and shopping center known for its diverse range of goods from fabrics and clothing to electronics and traditional snacks. It’s a bustling place where locals and tourists alike come to shop and haggle.
Travel Tip: Be prepared to negotiate prices, and take the time to explore the different sections for the best deals.
16. Jembatan Merah
The “Red Bridge” is a historical landmark in Surabaya, which played a pivotal role during the Indonesian war of independence. The area around the bridge has now become a bustling commercial center.
Travel Tip: To learn more about its history, consider finding a local guide who can provide insights into the bridge’s significance and the surrounding area.
17. Balai Pemuda
Balai Pemuda is a cultural building that hosts various arts and performance events. It’s a central hub for the city’s cultural and artistic expression, housed in a historic building.
Travel Tip: Look out for posters or online listings of upcoming events that might coincide with your visit, as attending a local performance can be a memorable experience.
FAQ About Things to Do in Surabaya, Indonesia
What are the must-visit places in Surabaya?
Surabaya is known for its historical sites and vibrant city life. Key attractions include the House of Sampoerna, Suramadu Bridge, and the Submarine Monument. Don’t miss out on the Tugu Pahlawan (Heroes Monument) and the Surabaya Zoo for a family-friendly experience.
Can I experience local culture in Surabaya?
Yes, you can visit the bustling Pasar Atom Market to shop for local goods, enjoy traditional Javanese performances at the Balai Pemuda, or explore the Arab Quarter for a taste of the city’s historical trade and cultural exchange.
Is there a place for nature lovers in Surabaya?
Absolutely! The Mangrove Forest Park (Hutan Mangrove Wonorejo) is a great spot for nature enthusiasts to enjoy a green escape from the city and take part in eco-tourism activities.
What are the best shopping destinations in Surabaya?
Surabaya offers a variety of shopping experiences from modern malls like Tunjungan Plaza to traditional markets such as Pasar Genteng. For handcrafted batik and local textiles, Pasar Keputran is a go-to spot.
Are there any historical tours available in Surabaya?
Yes, you can take guided tours to learn about Surabaya’s rich history. These often include visits to the Museum Sempoerna, the old city hall, and the historic Kalimas Harbor.
Where can I find the best local food in Surabaya?
Head to the Warung Nasi Campur Tambak Bayan for a taste of traditional mixed rice or to Zangrandi Ice Cream for a sweet treat that’s been a local favorite since the colonial era. Street food tours are also available for a comprehensive culinary experience.
Can I explore Surabaya by water?
Yes, you can take a boat tour along the Kalimas River to see Surabaya from a different perspective. This is a relaxing way to see the city’s waterfront and historical buildings lining the riverbanks.
Does Surabaya have any parks or recreational areas?
Bungkul Park is one of the most popular parks in Surabaya, offering a clean and green space with a skate park, food stalls, and free Wi-Fi. It’s a great place for families and individuals to relax and enjoy the outdoors.