Bali is, hands-down, one of our favorite travel destinations, and one of the most popular destinations in the world.
This magical tropical paradise attracts surfers, soul seekers, foodies, nomads and beach bums to its abundance of temples, historical sites, azure seas, and golden beaches year round.
From lush rice paddies to volcanoes, coral reefs to temples, beaches to waterfalls, yoga barns to Balinese markets, there is something on the Island of the Gods for everyone.
We have created this guide to narrow down your choices of things to do in Bali. Complete with all the must-see attractions and places to visit when discovering this magical wonderland.
Bali truly is a place of magic. The culture is dominated by a unique form of Hinduism that is portrayed in every aspect of the Balinese people’s lives. It’s inspiring to witness the dedication of their daily offerings to their gods, and the temples that ornament every corner with their distinctive architecture are awe-inspiring and out of this world.
Combine all that with scuba diving the coral reefs and surfing the swell while the sky turns shades of purple and crimson, and you’ve got a real-life paradise. Read on to discover what will make your trip to Bali everything you are seeking and more.
Where to Stay in Bali: Best places to stay in Bali
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There are just so many options when deciding where to stay in Bali – from the festive streets of Kuta to the hipster hotspot of Canggu to the laid back islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. Not to mention the spiritual center of Ubud.
If you have the time, we would recommend moving around the islands a bit to experience all the different things to do in Bali. Here are our top spots:
The cultural heart of the island, Ubud is alive with luscious green rolling rice paddies and magical temples everywhere you look.
Set among the terraced fields that climb up the foothills of the mountains, this is a great place to discover the arts and culture of Bali.
In Ubud, you’ll find live performances like Keyac dances on show every night. There are also important museums holding expansive collections of Balinese art, as well as markets and craft shops to explore.
It’s also a wonderfully central location to meet other travelers and book tours like the sunrise Volcano hike.
Nusa Lembongan is a small island located off the Southeastern shores of Bali’s mainland.
The laid back island vibes attract surfers and beach bums to its golden shores. It’s also small enough that you can explore the entire island on foot in less than four hours.
Spend your time relaxing here, overlooking the azure seas that crash upon the sides of the cliffs. The abundance of healthy coral and marine life makes snorkeling and diving a must-do activity, and the turquoise waters make it impossible to stay out of the surf.
Found on the Southwestern coast of Bali, Seminyak is a small town that has fast become one of the island’s most exclusive holiday destinations.
From high-end boutique hotels to luxury resorts and spas, seasoned travelers favor Seminyak for its lavish set-ups and panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, although the surf here is a bit rough for surfing. A good place to sign up for a cooking class and check out the local market.
Previously a sleepy fishing village, Kuta has boomed into a festive surf spot that attracts many travelers to its Southern shores.
Known for its uproarious nightlife, Kuta is a party-goer’s paradise. Days spent surfing in the rolling waves turn into nights of socializing and carousing. Kuta brings crowds of enjoyment both day and night to its broad stretches of beaches, so if you’re seeking solitude and serenity, give this one a miss.
In Southeast Bali, Sanur beach is located in the village of Denpasar, and is a serene destination with the nickname “Snore beach”.
Sanur has a pristine beach to stroll along or relax on a recliner reading your book. There are also several important historic sites, including the famous Blanjong Temple, containing a column that carries inscriptions dating back to the 9th century.
Lovina is the biggest resort area on the North coast of Bali. Renowned for its 5-mile long beach of blackened volcanic sand and common sightings of pods of dolphins that frequent its shores.
The calm sea is perfect for swimming, and makes Lovina a popular spot for snorkeling and diving as well. With local skippers ready and waiting for the adventure seekers to hop on board.
The area encompasses several small villages, and is the perfect location for a laid-back family vacation. Or for a half-day trip including sunrise, dolphins and waterfalls to fit all the adventure in.
Experience life as a local amidst the villagers in Canggu. Find a home-stay or private villa that offers complete relaxation in this laid-back uncommercialized hub.
Canggu is the place to visit in Bali if you are wanting to chill out and relax, eating healthy delicious food and experiencing world-class surfing with imperturbable tranquility.
Peruse the boho style clothing and interior shops owned by the local villagers to get a real sense of Canggu’s local charm.
Experience an authentic Bali experience, living next to the local people in quaint villages beside mesmerizing rice paddy fields. The waves are great for surfing and the local produce and coffee are the perfect post-surf treat.
Places to visit in Bali
There are so many temples and historical monuments. This can make it hard to decide where to go in Bali for sightseeing and general awe and wonder. Luckily, we have summarized the best places to visit in Bali so you can make the most of your trip.
Pura Luhur Uluwatu
Travel to the Southern tip of Bali to find this incredible temple of Pura Luhur Uluwatu. It’s one of the 9 major Hindu temples on the island.
This temple was built at the edge of a limestone cliff that juts out over the sea. Visitors are welcome to tour the grounds and enjoy the surrounding views, although only Hindi priests are allowed into the innermost sanctuary.
Here you’ll find statues of Ganesh, welcoming you into the temple complex and monkeys eagerly waiting for treats from visitors. Dances are also performed at sunset each night for those coming to visit.
Footing the slopes of Gunung Agung, the highest mountain in Bali is Pura Besakih. It’s one of the most important of the “kayangan jagat”, the nine directional temples built to shield the island from evil.
Pura Besakih was named after the dragon dog that lives within the depths of the mountain. It holds more than 28 structures that are built on seven ascending terraces. A trip to Bali without a tour of this temple would be incomplete.
Tanah Lot is one of the most famous Hindu temples in Bali and has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries. It’s one of 7 sea temples that form a chain along the Southwestern coast of Bali.
This is a tourist hotspot, so be prepared to face the crowds. Navigate through the maze of souvenir shops to find this magnificent temple perched on a rock in the ocean.
Ulun Danu Temple
Located on the edge of Baratan Lake in Bedungul, is this marvelous temple dedicated to the goddess of the lake.
Ulun Danu Temple is one of the most serene places on the island with intricately carved gates and ornate architecture hosting shrines with offerings to different Gods.
Tabanan Rice Fields
Those pictures you see all of your friends posting about that trip to Bali? Yip, that’s it…
These emerald rolling rice paddies that glisten under the sun are as beautiful as they are fascinating. Admire the stunning scenery and learn how rice is grown and harvested in Bali.
The monkey forest is one of the main attractions in Ubud. It’s a Hindu temple that houses more than 500 monkeys. The three temples that stand here date back to the 14th century and the monkeys have made their homes in amongst the vines and architecture.
Visit this nature reserve to check out the incredible temples and get some great photographs as you feed the monkeys, just beware of all of your possessions as they are professional thieves!
The sacred waters of Tirta Empul are the place in Bali to come bathe, for cleansing spiritual practices. The temple complex is located just outside Ubud and is made up of a number of pools fed by fountains.
The water here is said to be sacred, and is where hundreds of Hindus come to bathe. Anyone is allowed in these sacred waters, and you can walk around the temple grounds checking out the ornate statues and pretty architecture.
A most prominent palace, located right in the center of Ubud. It is recognized as a focal landmark and dates back to the 1800’s. The Pari Saren Ubud palace was originally the official residence of the royal family of Ubud.
It has well-preserved Balinese architecture and incredibly charming gardens settings to explore, and is well-known among lovers of Balinese arts as a prime spot for dramatic evening dance performances.
Widely known as the most picturesque cataract in Bali, the Gitgit waterfall’s waters lie between Denpasar and Singaraja. This is where you hike along the small trail, through leafy forests and coffee plantations, to get to the flowing waters.
The falls drop down a 35-meter drop into a mystical pool. Legend has it that this pool casts bad luck on couples who bathe together in its waters.
Things to do in Bali
Now that we’ve had a look at all the best places to stay in Bali, and the many places to visit in Bali, let’s talk about all the (other) awesome things to do and not-to-be-missed attractions.
Go surfing in Kuta
Kuta is a popular and highly frequented surf spot in Bali, and is a great option if you are new to surfing or are just looking for some gentle waves.
The beach is adjacent to a sand bar, which means that the rolling surf is free from sharp reefs and allows for an easy ride.
There are many places to rent a board or sign up for a surf lesson. Or you can rent a bodyboard if you’re up for something a bit more chilled.
Visit Bali Treetop Adventure Park
Calling all adventure seekers! This one’s for you. Make your way to Bali Treetop Adventure Park for an adrenaline-packed afternoon hosting a range of rides surrounded by lush forests.
Fly through the high-up circuits – going through the trees with nets, swings, flying foxes and breathtaking views over the forest canopy. A perfect activity for groups or families, with rides for children as young as 4 years old.
Relax at the Yoga Barn
Since Bali is known as a place to unwind and seek enlightenment, it’s fair to say that a trip to Bali isn’t complete with a yoga session or a visit to the Yoga Barn. This is one of the most famous yoga retreats on the island.
Located in the heart of contemplative Ubud, the Yoga Barn offers multiple yoga classes in its different Shala’s. It also offers retreats lasting several days with cleansing and detox programs to help you slow down the pace of life and take it all in.
Jetpack into the air in Tanjung Benoa
Another adrenaline filled activity for water-sports lovers, with a range of different activities on offer in Tanjung Benoa and pick-up options from your hotel.
One of the most exciting of them all is strapping on a Jetpack and shooting 10 meters into the air to absorb the natural beauty of Bali from above the sea.
The dedicated instructors are knowledgeable and experienced, and will teach you how to safely fly into the sky with a Jetpack on your back.
Go snorkeling in Amed
Snorkeling in this quieter corner of Bali is a great choice for those wanting to get away from the crowds and enjoy the excellent visibility underwater. Seeing the colors of the rainbow in the abundant sea life and healthy coral.
The snorkeling and diving in Amed is also inexpensive, compared to other parts of Bali. This is because it’s a bit off the beaten track and amidst a string of villages lining the shores.
Watch a Kecak dance
The Balinese culture is famous for its dances and a must-see activity in Bali. The Kecak dance is performed by dancers kitted out in exquisite attire, who enact a scene from a story based on the Hindu epic called the Ramayana. Think monkeys, dragons, masks, colourful outfits, face painting, instruments, chanting, and fire.
You can watch these dances all over the island and many of the shows take place outdoors under the stars.
Feast on seafood in Sanur
This sleepy seaside town, away from the bustling crowds, is a great place to get your seafood fix. The main strip of beach is lined with a long pavement that you can walk along to check out the views. Stop at one of the famous restaurants for a bite of fresh seafood.
Wander around before the scents and sights of the fish being grilled over coconut husks draw you in to enjoy their smoky fresh flavor with rice and chili sauce.
Climb Mount Batur
The sunrise hike up Mount Batur is definitely one of the best things to do in Bali. This active volcano stands at 1,700 meters above sea level and is a wonderful way to get a panoramic view of the Bali landscape.
The Volcano tour usually begins at 4am, which allows time to hike up the volcano to watch a spectacular sunrise over the crater gaze over the stunning lake below.
Go White Water Rafting on Ayung River
The Ayung River is covered with whitewater rapids that make for a wild ride as you pass the small local villages alongside the river and the lush forests that lie along its banks.
Another watersport for those seeking adventure and adrenaline from the viewpoint of a raft.
Go wreck diving at Tulamben
Discover the wreck of the USAT Liberty, which sunk in the Second World War and is one of the most famous wrecks in the world. Although diving is possible all around the island of Bali, this is the only place for a wreck dive.
Expect an abundance of sea-life and colorful fish enjoying the discreet nooks and crannies of the sunken ship and discover the nearby coral garden.
See the stone carvings at Batubulan
This is where you will find some of the prettiest stone carvings in Bali. The village is located just outside Denpasar and holds traditional carvings in the image of famous Balinese Gods and Goddesses. They also depict scenes from famous epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana.
The stones are made up of volcanic minerals and reflect colors of blue and black. Batubulan is the perfect place to pick up some souvenir’s to take home with you.
Whilst in Batubulan, be sure to check out the Bird Park and Reptile Park with an array of unusual species.
Marvel at the hidden waterfall in Sukawati
The spectacular Sekumpul Waterfall is by far one of the best things to do in Bali. This stunning waterfall is hidden in a lush valley and is said to be a sacred spot on the island.
Getting there requires a trek along a secluded path that winds up at the waterfall peeking out of the undergrowth. Take a dip in the pools beneath the cataract to cool off after descending the steps to this magical waterfall. Make the most of a day tour to the falls and experience a coffee tasting of Luwak coffee.
Visit Bali Provincial State Museum
The Bali Provincial State Museum is the oldest museum on the island. It holds over 10,000 items that include prehistoric artifacts and works of art and weaponry. Other galleries are filled with ceramics, statues, and stones with ancient inscriptions and tools and bronze pieces.
The museum is built in traditional Balinese architecture and has royal pavilions with traditional textiles and masks used in Balinese ceremonies and dances. Take a city tour from Denpasar to indulge in the culture and traditional styles and architecture at this inspiring museum.
Final thoughts on where to go in Bali
The island of the God’s is one of the most incredible travel destinations. And with so many options and so little time, it can be really hard to decide on where to go in Bali and the best things to see and do.
This magical island has something for all types of travelers and it’s no surprise it is such a popular destination. We hope this guide has made that a little easier in planning your trip to Bali!