Ubud is located in the uplands of Bali and is a completely different atmosphere to brash and busy areas like Kuta or Seminyak. This part of the island has long been known as its cultural capital and you will find colorful art galleries, engaging museums, and dainty temples all over the area.
There is also the beautiful Royal Palace in the center of town and all of the cultural attractions are set against valleys and terraces of jade-hued rice fields. Ubud is also the home of some of the finest dining in Bali and there are a wealth of healthy restaurants here serving up vegetarian and vegan fare, or you can head to some of the resorts in the area and enjoy some upscale dining.
Ubud is also close to a range of other famous Balinese attractions like the sacred bathing waters of Tirta Empul, and if you want to experience the best of the culture here then make sure not to miss an elegant Balinese dance performance.
Here are the 25 best things to do in Ubud…
1. Have dinner at Locavore
Locavore is the most famous restaurant in Ubud if not in Indonesia.
Having won a host of awards, this is the place to come if you want to try some of the best fusion food around.
The chefs, Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah cook locally inspired dishes made from food sourced in the area and they serve up tasting menus that can stretch to nine courses.
Meals here usually last upwards of three hours and you can also choose dishes paired with wines to make sure you get the best out of your meal.
Most dishes are fusion based so they mix local elements with foreign techniques.
Famous dishes include smoked catfish and pork shoulder and, needless to say, you will need to book in advance if you are hoping to visit.
2. Enjoy the views at the Campuhan Ridge Walk
If you want to get out and about in Ubud and take in the best of the local scenery then head to the Campuhan Ridge Walk which is located slightly out of town.
The walk will take you through a lush area of gorgeous hills which overlook an exquisite valley and you can meander along the ridge from the pretty starting point of Gunung Lebah Temple.
There is a dedicated path here that you can follow and this is one of the nicest ways to take in some of the less developed areas around Ubud.
3. Admire the Museum Puri Lukisan
Ubud is known for being the cultural capital of Bali and it still has the highest concentration of art galleries on the island.
One of the best museums to visit if you want a slice of the modern arts scene in Ubud is Museum Puri Lukisan where you will find a wide range of art work on show which comes with English language explanations of the history of art in this part of the world.
The museum was the brainchild of Rudolf Bonnet, Walter Spies, and local artist Cokorda Gede Agung Sukawati who was a prince and a member of the Royal Family of Ubud.
If you love art, then this is one of the best places to learn all about it, including non-religious art works which can be hard to find in other galleries.
4. Visit Pura Taman Saraswati
This quaint little temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess of wisdom and art called Dewi Saraswati.
To that end, you will find gorgeous carvings of the goddess all over the building as well as fountains that gush from the front of the temple and fill a large limpid pond area.
The pond is covered in lush lotus blossoms and it is customary to bathe or drink the waters in order to harness some of the power of the goddess.
There are also dance performances held here in the evenings when the temple is illuminated against the night sky and is even more magical than during the day time.
5. Stop for a cup at Coffee Studio Seniman
As a self-styled ‘coffee studio’, this coffee shop is known as one of the best places in Ubud to stop and grab a cup of coffee.
The brews here all come from the region and you can sit in one of the relaxing rocking chairs and enjoy the serene environment.
They take their coffee seriously here and you can enjoy a huge range of beverages including siphon and pour-over and sample some of the best Indonesian beans in the business at the same time.
They also serve food here which is a mix of local and international fare as well as alcoholic drinks in the evenings.
6. Visit Threads of Life Indonesian Textile Arts Center
This gorgeous textile gallery is not to be missed in Ubud and is also part of the Threads of Life charity which helps the local area through the sale of sustainable textiles.
All the pieces here are made using natural dyes and with a range of weaving techniques found around Indonesia.
This means that you can enjoy centuries of handicrafts traditions here and there is an adjacent shop where you can pick up a few of your own pieces as souvenirs of your trip.
If you want to get hands on then you can also join one of the in house textile-appreciation courses.
7. Explore Puri Saren Palace
Puri Saren Agung is also known as the Ubud Royal Palace and is close to the Ubud Art Market so you can easily take in both places at the same time.
It is located in the center of the city and dates from the 1800s when it was built during the reign of Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel.
The Royal Family still lives in sections of the palace which is also used for ceremonial reasons but you can still walk around the gardens here and enjoy the Balinese ornate architecture.
It is also known as the best place to come in the evenings if you want to take in a traditional Balinese dance performance.
8. Enjoy Museum Rudana
This pretty museum overlooks some lush emerald hued rice fields and belongs to a Balinese politician called Nyoman Rudana and his wife, a fellow art lover called Ni Wayan Olasthini.
The museum spans three floors of art related memorabilia and you will find some 400 pieces which include vivid traditional paintings as well as antique pieces like a calendar that was made in the 1840s.
There are also modern pieces of art here and there is also an adjacent gallery where you can buy your own pieces of Balinese art work.
9. Have lunch at Alchemy Cafe
One of the local legends in Ubud is Alchemy Cafe where you will find some of the best raw and vegan food on the island.
All products are made onsite and you can enjoy plates such as vegan cheesecake and a full salad bar.
As if that wasn’t enough they also make raw vegan chocolate at their in house chocolaterie or you can just enjoy one of the raw pressed juices.
There is also an adjacent health store and a holistic clinic upstairs where you can get a range of beauty treatments.
10. Sample the delights at Gianyar Night Market
The Gianyar Night Market is found a little way outside the center of Ubud but it is well worth visiting if you are looking for something to do in the evening.
The night market is known for its delicious food and you will find a range of typical Balinese snacks such as satay, fried bananas, and dainty little cakes.
There is also the ubiquitous roasted suckling pig for which Bali is famous as well as other items for sale like clothes and toys.
11. Visit Goa Gajah
Goa Gajah means Elephant Cave in Indonesian and is one of the top attractions on the island of Bali.
It sits just outside Ubud in Bedulu Village and is an impressive archaeological wonder made up of a large temple complex.
To get to the cave you will need to walk down a flight of stairs and will then get to a charming courtyard that is the entrance to a cave that is said to date from the 11th century.
Inside the cave you will find a range of cave paintings as well as a small shrine used for meditation, and on the outside you can also enjoy a full Hindu temple complete with a resplendent bathing pool and some gushing fountains.
12. Take a class at the Yoga Barn
Ubud is known for its yoga retreats and one of the best-loved is the Yoga Barn.
Here you will find a range of classes for all different levels of ability and there are five different studios to choose from which have been designed to be open plan, meaning that you can take in the idyllic surroundings at the same time.
You can either come here for a class or stay longer and sign up for a cleansing program which requires a three day commitment.
13. Watch a Legong dance performance
One of the best cultural attractions in Bali is the Legong dance which is based on a legend from East Java that dates from the 12th century.
It is the story of a maiden who was kidnapped and then imprisoned and much of the story is dedicated to telling the tale of how she is freed.
Expect amazing dance moves and hypnotic music and you can watch the dance at a range of venues in and around Ubud such as Puri Saren, Peliatan Village, and Pura Dalem Puri.
14. Take a class at Casa Luna Cooking School
Bali is famous for its food, so if you want to have a go at making some of your own then you need to head to the Casa Luna Cooking School in Ubud.
Not only can you take a cooking class here but you will also get to learn all about the history, culture, and religious beliefs associated with food in Bali, and can then make a variety of Balinese classics.
Each of the traditional ingredients will be explained to you and participants are given recipe cards to take home as well as class notes so that you don’t forget anything you have learned.
Dishes change on a daily basis and you will then sit down and eat the fruits of your labors with all the other class participants.
15. Sample the duck at Bebek Bengil
Another one of Ubud’s most famous restaurants is called Bebek Bengil which translates as the ‘Dirty Duck’. The restaurant backs on to pretty rice paddies and the story goes that when the restaurant was being built a group of ducks waddled through and gave the building its name.
As you would expect, duck features heavily on the men and you can get traditional dishes such as crispy duck rubbed with a Balinese blend of herbs and spices which was first pioneered here in the 1990s, or you can enjoy fusion dishes such as duck salad with melon.
16. Admire the Botanic Garden Ubud
One of the delights of Ubud is that you can find some lovely green spaces in the center of town.
The Botanic Garden was designed by Stefan Reisner, a German journalist who modeled the area on the Royal Garden’s in Berlin using local shrubs to give the gardens their own Balinese identity.
The gardens run over 14 acres and you will find different themed areas as well as some greenhouses and a children’s area.
17. Visit the Agung Rai Museum of Art
The Agung Rai Museum of Art is also known as ARMA and is a gallery and cultural centre rolled into one.
It is the work of Anak Agung Gede Rai and is separated into two buildings which are stuffed with a wide array of art works.
If you want to learn more about the great art scene here and get an overview of the kinds of works produced in Bali then this is a great place to come.
18. Explore Monkey Forest
You can’t come to Ubud and not visit one of its signature attractions which is Monkey Forest.
This is actually a series of three temples that date from the 14th century and sit in a nature reserve which has also been turned into a conservation area.
The complex is now overrun with cute primates, as you would expect from the name, and the monkeys here are said to be spiritual animals that guard the temples.
You can buy bananas to feed the monkeys here but take care with your personal belongings as the monkeys have been known to snatch items like sunglasses from visitors.
19. Go for a spa session at Lembah Spa
Lembah Spa is one of the best spas in Ubud and is located on the majestic Patanu River.
If you really want to pamper yourself then you can choose from treatments that last up to 2 hours and there are even packages available for couples.
Some of the best treatments come with lunch or dinner overlooking the stunning river vistas and you can also swim in the onsite pool.
20. Peruse Neka Art Museum
Neka Art Museum is one of the best museums not only in Ubud but in Bali generally and you will find a huge cross-section of modern and ancient pieces.
The museum aims to tell the story of Balinese art work over the years and also showcases local rising talent.
You will get to learn all about the history of art in Indonesia and you can also find a great mix of pieces including paintings, jewelry, metalwork, and even textiles.
21. Go shopping at Ubud Market
Ubud Market is actually a series of different markets throughout the day and may look familiar as it was used as a location for the film Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts.
The market sells fruits and vegetables in the morning and in the afternoon you will find arts and crafts pieces on offer which can make great souvenirs.
It gets rather crowded in the afternoons so it is best to get here as early as possible to get the best deals.
22. Blanco Renaissance Museum
The Blanco Renaissance Museum is one of the best-loved spots in Ubud and is the former home and studio of Don Antonio Blanco.
The museum sits on a hill which looks out across jade-colored rice paddies in Campuhan and you will find a great array of art here including paintings, poetry pieces, collages, and even lithographs.
Many of the pieces are modeled on Balinese women and dancers and you can tour the artist’s home which is still run by his descendents.
As well as the museum you can also enjoy an onsite restaurant and wander through the pretty manicured gardens.
23. Enjoy some fine dining at Swept Away Restaurant
If you really want to splurge when you are in Ubud then come to the Swept Away Restaurant which is part of the Samaya Ubud.
The restaurant sits on the river and has a great fusion menu which includes choices like Pulled Chicken in Rice Paper Rolls.
There is also an afternoon tapas menu if you just want to relax here with some light bites or you can have the four course or six course tasting menu in the evening which usually includes plates such as lobster or wagyu beef.
24. Visit the Petulu Heron Colony
The Petulu Heron Colony is a little way out of Ubud but is a great place to come if you are looking for an interesting day trip.
This little village is known for the herons that fly in every evening to settle down in the trees for the night, and there is a slightly eerie feel to the proceedings as the birds are meant to be sacred and represent the souls of the dead.
Still, if you like wildlife then this interesting natural spectacle is a must-see in the Ubud area.
25. Walk through the Tegallalang Rice Terraces
Another attraction not to be missed in Ubud is a trip to the Tegallalang Rice Terraces.
These were created as a result of an irrigation technique called ‘subak’ which creates a stepped landscape and you can visit the terraces after a short drive to the outskirts of Ubud.
Some of the activities here include walking around the terraces and you can even learn how to plant and harvest rice.
There are also some souvenir stands here and it is best to visit in the morning or late afternoon as the sun can be fierce in the middle of the day.
Many people who visit Ubud consider a trip out here to be the highlight of their holiday in Bali.