Welcome to our ultimate weekend Ubud itinerary, 2 days in the lush lands of southern Bali, where rice paddies rise and fall around the edges of town and you’ll be immersed in some of the most enthralling art galleries and temples the Isle of the Gods can muster. Yep, there are loads of reasons this one is up there with the top places to see on the island…
From mystical Buddhist shrines carved into the rock to ancient Hindu stupas claimed by the jungles (and the monkeys), it’s laden with historic relics. It’s also grown to be something of a cultural hub, with painting workshops, artisan coffee shops, batik fabric sellers, and a whole load more on offer between the stony streets and the bazaars.
This Ubud itinerary 2 days is all about making the most of the town in a short, sharp burst. It’s perfect for those who don’t have time to linger but plan on whizzing in from the surf breaks of the Bukit Peninsula or passing through on their way to the dolphin-splashing waters of Lovina. It offers step-by-step info on what to do and where to eat, along with recommendations on hotels in Ubud. Let’s begin.
Arriving in Ubud
First thing’s first. Before starting on our ultimate weekend Ubud itinerary 2 days, you’re going to have to get to the town. Thankfully, that should be pretty easy – this is one of Bali’s most-visited places, after all. We’ll assume you’re coming in from either the airport or the resorts of the south coast, since that’s where the vast majority of travelers begin on the Isle of the Gods. From there, transport options include:
- Uber/Gojek/Grab – Ride sharing apps are used widely in Bali, however there are ongoing troubles with the so-called ‘taxi mafia,’ who don’t take kindly to passengers or drivers who make use of them. You might have to be dropped off somewhere inconspicuous. The upside is lower fares – think around 125,000 IDR ($9) each way.
- Normal taxi – Most hotel desks can help you organize a taxi transfer from the south coast to Ubud and there are lots waiting outside of the airport. Just be sure to haggle for a good price. Anything between 500,000-750,000 IDR ($35-52) is normal these days.
- Bus – The cheapest option of all costs less than 100,000 IDR (<$8). It’s run by Kura Kura buses and says it takes just over an hour, though it’s almost always A LOT more than that due to traffic, especially on the way back south!
Where to stay in Ubud
The second question is about where you should stay for our Ubud itinerary 2 days. This is quite important because lots of the hotels in this jungle-shrouded town are actually on the outskirts, hidden by the rice paddies and surrounded by palm thickets. We’ve picked out three places below that mean you’ll be bedding down closer to the center and can start our sightseeing plan with ease each morning:
- The Runik Ubud by Pramana Villas ($$) – We simply love this small boutique hotel on the northwest side of downtown Ubud. It’s tucked away through narrow alleys and feels like an oasis amid the rice paddies, with a stunning pool thrown in for good measure.
- Honeymoon Guesthouse ($$-$$$) – One for the lovers, this grand residence hotel has four-poster beds and even Hindu carvings in the bathrooms.
- Rouge – Villas & Spa ($$) – There’s a lovely on-site bar at the Rouge, along with a series of cute bungalow-style villas that front their own pool.
Day 1 – Exploring Ubud itself
There’s a good chance that you’ve got breakfast included in the price of your hotel. If not, make your way to Mudra Café on Jalan Goutama. The joint really sums up the style of Ubud – eco-friendly, health-conscious, and with one eye on tradition. The menu fuses east and west, with dishes like rosti with poached egg and avocado next to fruit-filled poke bowls.
Once you’re all fed and fueled, it’s time to walk south through the town. Turn onto Jalan Monkey Forest. This is the main artery of Ubud, the central street that hosts the bulk of the souvenir stalls, the backpacker bars, oodles of hotels, and more restaurants than you can shake a plate of fresh papaya at. Go past all of them because you’re aiming for the very south end of the street.
Cue the Monkey Forest. This is one of the premier attractions of Ubud. Also known as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, it covers a huge swathe of woodland in a deep valley at the bottom of the main road.
The entrance is a gnarled and eerie Hindu gateway that’s covered in moss. You’ll need to pass under that and hit the paths. We think about two hours is right to explore the whole place. Inside, you’ll see the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal, or the Great Temple, reserved for Shiva, and the Pura Beji, the sacred bathing temple. Oh, and you’ll meet the local residents: A whopping 1,000 or so crab-eating macaques that aren’t shy at all! You’ve been warned.
From the Monkey Forest, steer your way left onto Jalan Bisma. This long street weaves along the western haunch of the town. It’s not as built up as the main drag and offers occasional glimpses of the rice paddies to the left and right. It’s also dotted with enticing coffee shops and eateries. You can stop at Taco Fiesta Bali to taste some spicy Mexicana fare or choose Umah Pizza for a wood-fired dish straight out of Italy. (Ubud is a hotspot for international dining!).
After lunch, keep going to the north end of Bisma. That joins Raya Ubud, which is the main street that’s home to the Taman Saraswati Temple. Prepare to be wowed. This glorious piece of building work is a symphony of Balinese architecture, with a big puja tower looming over lily-filled meditation ponds. (It also happens to be one of the most iconic Instagram spots in Ubud!).
Right next door to that is the Museum Puri Lukisan. It’s the most venerable museum in all of Bali and hosts some of the island’s richest collections. You’ll find pieces by 20th-century Balinese wood carvers and landscape painters within. Alternatively, choose to get lost in frenetic Ubud Market. It’s just over the road and is one of the mainstay draws of the town, brimming with sellers of gamelans, Balinese kites and masks, coffee and spices.
At night, book into the Puri Saren Agung for a traditional dance show. They depict episodes from the Hindu epics or the history of the Isle of the Gods, in a flurry of divinely inspired performance and gamelan percussion. Later, cross a block to get to Dewa Warung. It’s a family run kitchen that serves tasty Balinese staples like suckling pig, tempeh in peanut satay, and gado gado.
Day 2 – Exploring Ubud’s surroundings
Day 2 of our Ubud itinerary 2 days is all about getting out and about around Ubud itself. Now, you can do this by renting your own scooter, but you’ll need to make sure that you have all the right documentation (including an international driver’s license). Alternatively, you can hire a driver for the day, which should cost in the region of about 600,000 IDR ($42).
First, though: Breakfast. Move a little from the center this morning to Gangga Coffee Ubud. It’s a hipster joint with healthy bowls and great brews, located just on the north side of the town, which is the direction you’re headed in anyhow. An early start will help if you want to dodge the crowds at the sights, but the coffee shop isn’t open until 8am, so don’t worry too much.
Once you’ve eaten, get back on the road and drive straight north to the Tegallalang Rice Terrace. A bowl of emerald-green tucked into the hills and valleys of south-central Bali, these cascading paddies offer up some seriously stunning photo backdrops. They’re at their lushest in the middle of the wet season (November-March) but look lovely at anytime of the year. There’s a 15,000 IDR ($1) entry fee per person. Pay that you’re free to walk around to your heart’s content. About 1.5 hours is usually enough to make the most of it.
Next up is the Lembah Bidadari. Like a hidden Shangri-La in the Balinese woods, it’s a natural spring with shimmering bathing pools tucked in between pockets of jungle. There’s no entry fee, though the locals do ask for a donation.
Refreshed? Good. It’s lunch time. Cue Semara Ratih Delodsema Village. This fantastic restaurant has a striking design and location, set on plinths and perches connected by boardwalks overlooking the forest canopy. The food isn’t bad, either – think healthy fruit juices and zingy Indonesian fried rice and noodles.
Next up it’s the Goa Gajah. This mystical temple will take you over Ubud to the south of town. It’s thought to date all the way back to the 9th century and has a central shrine that’s carved straight into the rock surrounding the entrance to a cave. There are also honorific bathing pools and some huge caves to see.
As the sun closes in, cross town one more time to get to the start of the Campuhan Ridge Walk. This can only be done if you have the energy and enough time left in the day (it’s about two hours from start to finish). However, it’s perfect in the evening after the peak of the tropical heat has receded. The route takes you high above Ubud onto grass-clad ridges that offer views of lanky palms and rainforests. It’s a top spot to watch the sunset and finish our ultimate Ubud itinerary 2 days.