Surabaya is one of the most popular travel destinations of Indonesia and it offers an incredible range of wonderful sights, activities and events. Its mixture of ancient and modern is so enchanting that it will make you want to come there over and over again.
Situated on the northeast of Java Island, Surabaya is the capital of Jawa Timur and one of the largest Indonesian cities. Because of the famous Battle of Surabaya during the Indonesian National Revolution it is also known as Kota Pahlawan or the city of heroes.
Then and Now
In ancient times, Surabaya was the trading center of the old empires that included Singosari, Majapahit, and Kediri. The city was established on the site of a mythical battle between sura – shark and baya – crocodile on the mouth of the Brantas River. Today it is a huge, modern industrial city with more than 3 million inhabitants, offering modern shopping malls and high rises on one side and old buildings from the colonial era on the other.
Famous Places to Visit
Surabaya is abundant with wonderful places and landscapes and if you want to visit it you should make your plans carefully and be sure not to miss some of the most important places.
This is certainly one of the must-see places and a good start to explore Surabaya. Even though this historical part of the city is not well preserved, it still deserves to be called most beautiful. Walking along the old city you can enjoy the view of some of the colonial buildings, in the style of Dutch architecture strongly influenced by the Chinese, and distinctive Arab quarter.
House of Sampoerna
A Cigarette Museum in a colonial-designed building from 1862 is a great place where you can enjoy in some of the cafes, visit a nice gallery or buy some nice souvenirs in a gift shop. Back in history the Dutch ran an orphanage here and later it was converted into a cigarette plant which is still fully functional producing Indonesia’s most respected hand-rolled cigarette, Dji Sam Soe.
Arab Quarter, also known as Ampel or Kampung Arab offers the atmosphere and looks of the Middle East. Many narrow paths form a maze-like place lined with stalls selling black Muslim felt hats called peci, prayer beads, perfumes, dates.
Here you’ll be able to see lots of warehouses and small businesses and it is similar to other big cities’ Chinese quarters. Whenever you come there, you will feel the atmosphere of the busy, crowded streets, not very clean but with a great vibrant atmosphere. The streets are too narrow, so the goods are still transported by hand-pulled carts here. You can buy anything at the Pasar Pabean market. Although the buildings are old and run down, this is still a wonderful part of the city.
The Cheng Ho Chinese Mosque
This mosque is one of the many functional religious places open for tourists. When you come to Surabaya one of the first things you become aware of is that you see a lot of Chinese people. They actually make almost half of the population and they are mostly Muslims. Everywhere you look, you can see Chinese women wearing tudungs over the head. The Cheng Ho Chinese Mosque is the example of stunning Chinese architecture and one of the sights you should definitely visit. The mosque has rich ornaments in green, red and yellow and it is dedicated to the pious admiral Cheng Ho, who brought Islam to this community. And remember, you must wear appropriate clothes when you go there. If you don’t wear appropriate clothes, don’t worry, you can rent sarongs and enjoy the visit.
The Zoo of Surabaya is one of the biggest zoos in Asia and it is definitely one of the places you should visit if you are wildlife lovers. The conditions at the zoo in the past weren’t really good and many animals died because of that, so Indonesian government has decided to make some improvements. Today, the zoo has more than 300 different species and it is a great opportunity to see some very rare as well as endangered animals such as Komodo dragons, Sumatra tiger or Kalimantan crocodile. This is the place where the orangutans were bred in captivity for the first time.
Eat & Shop
Surabaya has to offer various restaurants and cafes. Sheraton Surabaya Hotel and Towers is a synonym for the finest cuisine in a luxury restaurant. At Kafe Bromo, you will be able to try numerous international meals or a favorite cuisine of your choice. If you are a Chinese food lover, visit the popular Lung Yuan Chinese Restaurant, which offers diversity in sea foods. If you want to hear live music and taste excellent wines or cocktails, go straight to Kawi Lounge. Shangri-La’s restaurant brings you many Asian and Continental dishes, and you can try sushi or antipasti this place is well-known for. If you wish to have Italian food, the perfect restaurant to visit is La Rucola, as well as Portofino and Primavera. They offer delicious desserts such as different kinds of cakes and ice cream and serve tasty homemade risottos, pastas, Mediterranean-style seafood meals, Tuscan-style steak and a great number of Italian appetizers.
Here is the great news, especially for the ladies: Surabaya is definitely a heaven for shopaholics. With its various malls and handicraft shops, shopping in this city is an extraordinary experience. Visit Plaza Tunjungan and Plaza Pemuda, which have a lot of shops selling a variety of products such as clothes and electronic goods. Surabaya’s Jalan Pemuda is the perfect place to buy gold jewelry. The Delta Plaza is the main shopping complex in Southeast Asia and it is situated at Jalan Pemuda, and it is definitely worth visiting. Shopping Malls in Surabaya sell international brands as well.
Besides malls, you can find handicraft and antique shops which are selling an array of products such as textiles and carvings. Jalan Kyai Mas Mansur is another shopping destination where you can buy perfumes, saris, spices and herbs. You should also visit Semarang, the old market in the town which offers a range of electronic goods, attires and house ware.