Known as the Island of Gods, Bali has been seducing sun-seekers, scuba divers, surfers, and spiritual warriors for decades. The landscape is lush and dramatic: volcanic mountains, dense jungle, white-sand beaches, and emerald green rice paddies all vie to be discovered. Keep your days filled with sport and sightseeing, or surrender yourself to the leisurely pace and exceptional beauty of this Indian Ocean island.
1/6 A popular photo location, Denpasar’s majestic Bajra Sandhi Monument houses a diorama gallery that charts Balinese history from 3,000 BC up to Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch
2/6 As Bali’s capital city, Denpasar is the economic and cultural hub of the island as well as a gateway to the idyllic resorts just beyond
3/6 Watch a captivating performance of traditional Balinese dance at the Denpasar Werdhi Budaya Art Centre
4/6 Sanur Beach was one of Bali’s very first resorts and features golden sands, great surfing and a charming Balinese village
5/6 Pick up exotic spices, fresh fruit and local produce from all over Bali at Pasar Badung, Denpasar’s largest food market
6/6 Bali’s state Hindu temple, the beautiful Pura Jagatnatha, is found in Denpasar and boasts a white coral shrine and elaborate religious carvings
Things to do
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
Things to do
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
Lempuyang Temple + The Pura Ulu Danau Temple
Trek for several hours up Mount Lempuyang to be rewarded with one of the oldest pre-Hindu temples in Bali. Lempuyang Temple – the island’s third-largest and of great importance in Balinese culture – offers a spectacular view of Bali’s eastern tip, although beware of the ferocious macaque monkeys towards the top of the trail. The 17th-century Pura Ulu Danau Temple is a spectacular water temple situated on the edge of Lake Beratan. Giving the impression that it floats on water, this iconic wonder of Bali – so famous that it graces a local banknote – demands to be included on any itinerary.
It really is a circus at this stylish little spot, with coffee, cocktails, tapas and trendy interior design as the starring acts. At breakfast, order the avocado on toast with chili eggs, or indulge in a passion fruit and vanilla mojito later in the day. Shopping addicts will enjoy browsing the selection of quirky, brightly colored prints that are on sale exclusively at Sea Circus
Best health-food cafes
Hawaiian-inspired chain Nalu Bowls Bali was opened to provide delicious smoothie bowls to surfers and health nuts alike. Jam-packed with fresh, local fruit, protein-heavy nuts, and granola, they’re beloved by the island’s beach bunnies and bros. Alchemy – Bali’s first raw vegan café and juice bar – boasts a salad bar with a wide range of wholesome toppings, as well as a phenomenal selection of homemade raw chocolate treats. At healthy eating hub Soma Cafe, the slow food movement is embraced with a wide range of vegan and raw dishes while Clear Cafe will convince even the most hardcore carnivore that veg-heavy meals can be tasty too.
Rest and relaxation
Pampering is highly prized at Bali’s enormous selection of world-class spas. Check in to Ayana Resort’s Spa on the Rocks to check out from stress – this magnificent retreat, set high above the sea, offers staggeringly luxurious beauty treatments designed to relax and restore you. Try the centuries-old precious gems therapy, which uses hot and cold jade stones during your massage to dissolve tension, followed by a jade facial. Couples should head to Spa Alila for the decadent, three-and-a-half-hour ‘Journey Beyond Two’ package. Not only will you learn massage techniques to practice on one another, but the experience culminates in an hour-long Balinese massage followed by a candlelit dinner.
Within the high walls of this ancient secluded village lies a rare glimpse into a rapidly disappearing way of life. Observe the numerous spiritual rituals that govern daily life, and pick up an authentic gringsing, a Balinese textile made from a double-ikat technqiue which can take years to finish and is prized by collectors.
Tucked away on the east side of the island, the decor of Vincent’s pays homage to colourful Balinese culture with its rattan furniture and bright colours. If weather permits, reserve a table in its romantic garden, a lush and dimly lit oasis with twinkling fairy lights and live jazz music playing. An excellent selection of Western and Balinese food means even the fussiest of eaters will found something satisfactory; better yet, there’s a decent wine list to accompany dinner.
Cocktails and clubbing
Potato Head claims it’s a destination for good times – and, so far, it’s lived up to that reputation with ease. Its flagship property in Seminyak promises three restaurants, two bars, an infinity pool and a revolving door of international DJs, as well as exhibitions and installations for the culturally-inclined. The nearby Ku De Ta is another beachfront destination with a fondness for killer cocktails and wild parties. Start the night at its upscale, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant before heading to its stylish outdoor area for a drink under the palm trees.
Bali is adored by exercise enthusiasts for good reason – it’s a tropical playground packed to the rafters with yoga studios, sporting activities, and some of the best surf in the world. Head to the jungle town of Ubud to sweat out the toxins at a dynamic yoga class held at the Radiantly Alive studio. While you’re in town, book a whitewater rafting excursion with Bali Adventure Rafting down the Ayung River, which promises views of spectacular rice paddy terraces and thick rainforest, plus a few thrilling drops to get your heart racing. For a slower pace, cruise down the coast in a traditional jukung canoe. Most hotels in the Amed area can make arrangements.
Pantai Pasir Putih
The white sands of Pantai Pasir Putih, in the Karangasem regency of eastern Bali, are a hidden gem of the island. While the rocky dirt track that leads you from the nearby village down to the beach may be a little rough around the edges, it all becomes worth it when you reach the pristine beach. Its solitude, coupled with the calm water, makes it ideal for snorkelers, swimmers, and sun-seekers.
Surrounded by riotous jungle foliage, hotel Damai Lovina’s draws its sense of luxuriousness from the beauty of its surroundings rather than relying on any fancy gimmicks. The same can be said of its award-winning restaurant, which emphasizes the freshness of organic herbs and vegetables picked from its own on-site garden. If weather permits, book a candlelit table next to the swimming pool for sweeping views out to sea.
Balinese culinary immersion
Cook up a storm at the renowned Bali Asli cooking school and restaurant. Set in the midst of lush rice paddies in Gelumpang village, the cooking school offers a wide range of culinary experiences that introduces participants to local life as they shop for produce or accompany a fisherman on his boat to catch their own lunch. Bumbu Bali prides itself on being the only restaurant to serve bona fide Balinese food on the island so expect fresh fish, meat satays, and a gado-gado vegetable salad topped with peanut sauce. This emphasis on authenticity extends to the restaurant’s architecture, which mimics that of a traditional Balinese village.
Book a trip