Things to do in Semarang

As a tourist attraction, Semarang may not be as popular as the adjacent cities of Solo and Yogyakarta, but the Central Java capital boasts numerous hidden gems you won’t find anywhere else.

From visiting what is dubbed Indonesia’s Grand Canyon to trying the famous Semarang-style lumpia or spring rolls, we’ve compiled a list of things to do in the city that will make your visit worth the steamy weather it is famous for.

1. Brown Canyon – hiking and photo sessions at “Indonesia’s Grand Canyon”

semarang brown canyon
Image credit: @dzikri_robby

Dubbed as “Indonesia’s Grand Canyon”, Semarang’s Brown Canyon boasts sand-colored cliffs that stand tall above a mining site. It is one of the city’s most popular photoshoot locations, with visitors usually flocking before the evening to catch the sunset.

As the site’s tourist facilities are still mostly underdeveloped, getting there can be quite challenging. Most visitors opt to use private vehicles and navigate from the nearby Meteseh Market as a reference point, but keep in mind that the road can be rocky as it’s mostly used by trucks going to and from the mining site.

Address: Rowosari, Tembalang, Semarang, Central Java 50279

2. Kampung Pelangi – a village of colorful houses that will brighten your day

semarang kampung pelangi
Image credit: @maghfirroh

Kampung Pelangi – which literally means “Rainbow Village” – started off as a slum behind Semarang’s Kalisari Flower Market, but it is now one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions thanks to the city government’s effort in painting the houses and facilities such as bridges and roads in bright colors in 2017.

Thanks to its location near the Semarang city center, Kampung Pelangi is easily accessible by private vehicle or app-based transportation services. Visitors are charged Rp. 3,000 (~USD0.21) per person, on top of a parking fee of Rp. 2,000 (~USD0.14) per vehicle.

Address: Jalan DR. Sutomo No. 89, Randusari, Semarang, Central Java 50244

3. Kota Lama – walking down memory lane at Semarang’s Old Town

semarang kota lama - 1
Image credit: @aldyputu

As a port city, Semarang was one of the most important cities for the Dutch colonial government during its occupation of Indonesia, so visitors can still see the remainders of the colonial era that make up the city’s Kota Lama, or Old Town area.

semarang kota lama - 2Blenduk Church at Kota Lama Semarang
Image credit: @fitriana_ruva

The area contains preserved centuries-old buildings from the Dutch colonial era, including the famous Lawang Sewu (literally means “a thousand doors”) and the pictured Blenduk Church, which was built in 1753 and is famous for its large dome.

Address: Jalan Letjen Suprapto No. 31, Semarang, Central Java 50714

4. Sam Poo Kong – see religions coexisting peacefully at a historical Chinese temple

semarang sam poo kong - 1
Image credit: Izuan Mohati

The oldest Chinese temple in Semarang, Sam Poo Kong was established in the 15th century by Chinese admiral Zheng He, and is now one of the city’s major historical landmarks. While it started off as a Taoist temple, today it is shared by multiple denominations including Muslims and Buddhists.

semarang sam poo kong - 2
Image credit: Izuan Mohati

One of the temple’s most prominent features is a statue of Zheng He, located in front of the main shrine. The temple serves as the venue of the annual Zheng He Festival, which commemorates the admiral’s arrival in Semarang centuries ago.

Address: Jalan Simongan No. 129, Bongsari, West Semarang, Semarang, Central Java 50148

5. Gardu Pandang Lereng Kelir – fresh air and pine forest

semarang gardu pandang lereng kelir
Image credit: @mflhuda_24

Located at an elevation of 1,300 meters above sea level, Gardu Pandang Lereng Kelir is one of the best spots to catch a breath of fresh air while enjoying the view of Semarang from above. Not only that, visitors can also catch a glimpse of some of Central Java’s most famous mountains, such as Mount Sumbing and Mount Merbabu.

Lereng Kelir is also famous for its pine forest, which you can explore while taking photos along the way, and camping site. Entry costs Rp. 5,000 (~USD0.35) on weekdays and Rp. 7,000 (~USD0.49) on weekends.

Address: Jalan Ke Dusun Gertas, Gertas, Brongkol, Jambu, Semarang Regency, Central Java 50663

6. Watu Gunung Ungaran – waterpark with natural springs

semarang watu gunung ungaran
Image credit: @johanijone

Located in the nearby town of Ungaran in Semarang Regency, Watu Gunung is best known for its hot springs, with water sourced directly from Mount Ungaran, an adjacent stratovolcano, which makes them a popular attraction for those looking to relax and escape busy city life.

semarang watu gunung ungaran - 2
Image credit: @kristighifari

Aside from pools and hot springs, the area also has a number of family-friendly water attractions, including rental boats you can use to explore a large man-made lake. Entry to the waterpark costs Rp. 20,000 (~USD1.39) per person on weekdays and Rp. 25,000 (~USD1.73) on weekends.

Address: Lerep Satu, Lerep, West Ungaran, Semarang Regency, Central Java 50519

7. Toko Oen – a dining experience from a bygone era

semarang toko oen - 1
Image credit: Izuan Mohati

Semarang is full of remnants from the Dutch colonial era, and Toko Oen Restaurant near the city center is one of the best places to experience it. Having been in operation since 1936, the restaurant retains its Dutch colonial interior and takes pride in offering European-influenced cuisine.

semarang toko oen - 2
Image credit: @heidy_sk

It is best known for its wide variety of ice creams, ranging from its signature three-flavored Symphony Ice Cream to various ice cream cakes, and Dutch appetizers such as bitterballen and croquettes.

Address: Jalan Pemuda No. 52, Bangunharjo, Central Semarang, Semarang, Central Java 50138

8. Gang Lombok – bring home Semarang’s famous lumpia or spring rolls

semarang gang lombok - 1
Image credit: @fisena_hard

A trip to Semarang would not be complete without getting a taste of the famous lumpia, or Semarang-style spring rolls with chicken, shrimp, and bamboo shoot fillings. Gang Lombok is widely regarded as the home of the original lumpia, having been in operation for generations since the late 19th century.

semarang gang lombok - 2Image credit: @julianculinary

The humble small shop, which still retains much of its original interior, is a popular destination among tourists looking to bring home a basket of freshly made spring rolls. Each lumpia, whether fried or steamed, costs Rp. 18,000 (~USD1.25).

Address: Jalan Gang Lombok No. 11, Purwodinatan, Central Semarang, Semarang, Central Java 50137

Things to do in Semarang

Although Semarang is still developing as a tourist destination, its attractions and landmarks promise a unique travel experience that cannot be found anywhere else.

Even with the notorious steamy weather, Semarang is worth exploring especially if you are keen on seeing remnants of Indonesia’s colonial past, and those who expect a food adventure will not be disappointed with the city’s culinary gems.

For more Indonesian guides, check out:

Cover image adapted from @dzikri_robby and @julianculinary

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