So, you’ve got one week in Bali? Awesome. Seven days should be enough to pack in the highlights of the legendary Isle of the Gods. You can start looking forward to a trip that will dip its toe into all the facets of this amazing corner of Indo, from the mysterious Hindu temples of Ubud to the surf-washed beaches of the Bukit Peninsula.
Cue our itinerary. It’s been curated to outline the must-see and must-do things of this ever-popular island on the edge of the Indian Ocean. It takes in the trodden path of south and central Bali, passing through the emerald-green regencies inland to showcase cascading rice terraces and then moving to the coast for cliff-topped bays where pro surfers ply their trade.
One thing to bear in mind is that you’re not likely to be doing this alone – the parts of Bali encompassed on our plan are among the most popular places in Southeast Asia as a whole. On top of that, there’s oodles and oodles more to see here, from coral-filled snorkelling bays to smoking volcanos, but you’ll probably need well over a week to get through them.
Day 1: Arrive in Bali and explore Ubud
With just seven days to explore the wonderful island of Bali, you’ll want to split your time between two home bases to pack as much in without it being too chaotic. We think the first of those should be Ubud. It’s got some of the most tempting cultural and natural draws in the region, including temples, terraces, and waterfalls, so it is a great place to kick off your adventure.
Straight off the plane, you’ll be welcomed by Bali’s warm, tropical air. Enjoy the landscape change from the heavily condensed streets of Denpasar and the Sunset Road to palm-fringed rice fields and craft shophouses as you drive the hour or two from the airport to Ubud.
The jungle town in central Bali was made famous by the movie Eat, Pray, Love, but it has more to offer than Elizabeth Gilbert-style self-discovery. Make the most of Ubud’s bohemian accommodation and zen rice terrace views once you’ve checked in, and enjoy some downtime at your hotel. You won’t want to plan anything too ambitious for today, but after you’ve rested, it’s time to head to the center to explore.
Peruse the local shops and stop for lunch if your peckish at Cafe Lotus. The best thing here is the views of the Lotus Temple, Pura Taman Kemedua Saraswati. Stroll through the temple gardens after you’ve eaten, and then make your way to the Ubud Art Market. Take in the smells of incense and the sounds of artisans at work and pick up a sarong – it’s a must-have for visiting temples in Bali!
After, you might want to enjoy a casual dinner at your hotel or make the most of the healthy food scene in Ubud, with a meal at Clear Café, Zest, or our Italian favorite, La Baracca. If you’ve still got the energy, then you might prefer to book tickets for the nightly dance performance that happens at the Ubud Palace, a journey through Hindu myth and legend.
Day 2: Waterfalls, Monkey Forest, and Tegalalang Rice Terraces
What better way to spend your first morning in Bali than chasing waterfalls. Enjoy a leisurely start at your hotel and maybe a floating breakfast before hiring a driver for the day and heading to the falls with your swimsuit and a change of clothes.
Gitgit and Tegenungan are in easy reach of central Ubud but are among the most touristy waterfalls. For a more serene atmosphere, check out Leke Leke, Tibumana, Kanto Lampo, or Banyumala waterful. Still, the earlier you get to any of these, the better.
Cool off from the sticky morning air in the rock pools and get your perfect Instagram shot under the falls before heading to the iconic Ubud Monkey Forest. Filled with exotic trees, flowers, and birds, the Monkey Forest isn’t all about its cheeky inhabitants. But that said, if you’re frightened of monkeys, you should give this one a miss. They get very close and will try to steal anything – especially food, so keep your belongings stowed away and stay calm if a monkey climbs on you.
Visitors rarely have negative experiences with the monkeys here, who are very used to humans. Watch the cute baby apes interact with their mothers and marvel at the adult monkeys as they swing through the trees. And make sure you don’t miss the three beautiful temples at the site before heading to the Tegalalang Rice Fields, just a 20-minute drive away.
This sweeping valley of terraces in Ubud is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The late afternoon, when most buses of tourists will have been and gone, is the best time to visit. Expect to get a bit sweaty and muddy as you trek the steep paths and enjoy some of Bali’s best views.
There’s a small entrance fee to the fields, but it’s more than worth it. Take your time walking through the lush grass and palm-fringed terraces and even hang around until sunset for a truly magical ambiance.
Check out the upmarket restaurant scene in Ubud for your second night. The Samaya serves exquisite local cuisine within a traditional Balinese setting on the edge of the river. Or relax with a craft cocktail in a romantic atmosphere at Papillon Restuarant for French-fusion food.
Day 3: Mount Batur, Coffee and Tea Tasting, and Balinese Massage
If the super early wake-up call doesn’t scare you off, trekking up Mount Batur is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should seize on your trip to Bali. Located just over an hour from Ubud in the northeast region of Kintamani, Batur is an active volcano with valley views over lake Batur that inspire hundreds of backpackers to make the 4 am trek for sunrise at the summit.
The hike has to be done as part of an arranged tour which your hotel can help you book. You’ll be picked up at around 2 am before being driven to the base of Mount Batur for the two-hour climb. The trail is well-maintained, and your experienced guide will be with your every step of the way. Watching the sun appear above the adjacent peaks of Mount Agung will make it all worth it.
Some tours include an optional visit to a Balinese tea and coffee plantation on your way back to Ubud. Enjoy these delicious brews while listening to the fascinating stories from the plantation staff. Finish your sleepy afternoon with a traditional Balinese massage in Ubud center to relieve your sore mountaineer bones and have a casual final dinner in Ubud. Treat yourself to an early night. Trust me. You’ll need it.
Day 4: Surfing in Canggu, Brunch Scene, and Uluwatu Temple
Day four, and it’s time to leave Ubud and check out what Bali’s southern coastlines have to offer. The stunning Uluwatu peninsula is next on the agenda, but not before you’ve checked out Bali’s hippest ex-pat neighborhood of Canggu and taken a surfing lesson on Batu Bolong Beach, home to the iconic Old Man’s break.
There are plenty of places to rent a board if you’re already a pro, but also beach vendors who will give you an hour lesson with no advanced booking. Enjoy a morning in the waves before indulging in Canggu’s famous brunch scene. You’ll have built up a good appetite, and there’s nowhere better than the west coast to treat yourself to good food. Canggu has the highest concentration of trendy eateries in Bali. Check out The Brunch Club for the jiggliest stacks of souflée pancakes, Nüde for excellent full breakfasts, and Bali Bowls for great deals on smoothie bowls and more.
Enjoy a leisurely afternoon exploring the bustling and energetic Canggu. Peruse the numerous high-end stores, market stalls, and bakeries before making the hour journey south to Uluwatu.
Uluwatu will be your base for the second portion of your trip. A great vantage point to south Bali and the nearby islands, the peninsula promises stunning panoramas and golden beaches wherever you go. But the areas of Bingin Beach, Padang Padang, Balangan Beach, and Pecatu are the best places to stay.
After checking in, make your way to the Uluwatu Temple for sunset. Set on the edge of a dramatic limestone cliff on the southern tip of Pecatu village, this Hindu monument is spectacular. The temple is thought to bless those who surf the Uluwatu waves. Join the crowds and enjoy the traditional religious ceremony, which takes place every evening. Watch the Kecak Dance performance to the sound of chanting as the sun goes down over the Indian Ocean.
Check out The Loft, Laggas Uluwatu, or Casa Asia after for great fusion food in the Bingin area. Soak up the laidback beach town vibes over a seafood meal.
Day 5: Uluwatu Beach Day and Outdoor Cinema
It wouldn’t be a trip to Bali without a glorified beach day. Although Canggu’s dazzling black sands are mesmerizing, Uluwatu is home to the best beaches on the island. After a jam-packed start to your holiday, it’s time to spend the whole day relaxing on the sands and exploring the hidden caves of Uluwatu’s best bays.
Hire a driver for the morning, or get yourself on a rental scooter and head to Bingin Beach for a bohemian surfer atmosphere and great beachfront barbecues. But be prepared for the steep trek down to the beach and treacherous hike back up.
The next bay along, Dreamland Beach, is perfect for swimming with a steep drop-off but limited currents and powdery white sands. While Pantai Melasti, at the southernmost tip of Bali, has dreamy crystal-clear waters and luxurious beach clubs.
Finally, Padang Padang beach is the jewel on Uluwatu’s beach crown. Made famous by Eat, Pray, Love, this hidden cove is isolated and serene. Snap the perfect Instagram shot as you explore the tidal caves surrounding the bay and soak up the sun on the pristine sands.
Top off your day of leisure with a visit to Ulu Cliffhouse. The luxury day club is a party haven on the weekends, but their weekday outdoor cinema is the perfect way to unwind after a sun-filled day. They show cult classic flics and new releases on a big projector served with chilled wine and fresh popcorn. Chill out to the sound of the waves as you enjoy this dreamy cliffside experience.
Day 6: Nusa Penida Boat Trip
If you have the time, making your way to one of the nearby “Nusas” is essential when visiting Bali. Nusa Penida is known for its postcard-perfect beaches and marine life. The island is only around 40-minutes from Bali’s east coast, and the public ferry runs several times a day. But booking an arranged boat trip will make for a much smoother round trip that you can do in half a day.
There are several private companies you can book through for your trip to Nusa Penida, most of which depart from Sanur which is less than an hour from Uluwatu. At the lower end, local fisherman boats will take you around the island for a few hours of snorkeling for as little as $20 per person. While full-day yacht charters are also available if it’s a touch of luxury you’re after. Starting at $100 per person, you have the optional add-ons of food, booze, and even onboard entertainment.
Whatever you do, make sure you disembark when you get to Penida. Visit Kelingking Beach for the iconic T-rex-rock photo moment, make the treacherous descent down to Crystal Bay, and snorkel at Diamond Beach for the chance to see manta rays and turtles.
You should dedicate at least four hours to exploring Penida, but you could easily spend the whole day on the island soaking up the beautiful surroundings and the Bali sun. When you’re back on dry land, finish the afternoon at one of Uluwatu’s notorious beach clubs for a sundowner and some fine-dining to the sound of chill beats. We recommend El Kabron, Sunday’s Beach Club, and Palmilla.
Day 7: Beachwalk Shopping and Depart
After a week of fun-filled adventure and discovery, it’s time to say goodbye to Bali. But not before making the most of Uluwatu’s yummy breakfast scene on your last morning. Check out The Bakery and Nourish for great pastries and healthy bowls before checking out of your lodgings and heading to the airport!
Whether you’re continuing your Indonesian adventure or heading home, Uluwatu is in easy reaching distance of all major ports. The international Ngurah Rai Airport is just 30-minutes from the southern peninsula, and Padang Bai, where you can jump on a ferry to Lombok and the Gili Islands, is just one hour away by car.
Before you depart, stop by Beachwalk Shopping Center in Kuta if you have time. The modern mall will give you a taste of contemporary Asian life with numerous high street retail and beauty stores. There’s even an indoor cinema screening new releases if you have a lot of time to kill. Pick up some souvenirs and enjoy a Boba tea before you wave goodbye to Bali in all of its glory.
Is one week enough time in Bali?
Bali might have diverse scenery and endless attractions, but it’s only one island, and you can fit a lot into one week. That said, if you have more time, you’ll be able to uncover far more of Bali’s mysteries and the incredible surrounding islands. We recommend at least two weeks in Bali and even more if you want to explore the rest of Indonesia.
How much will one week in Bali cost?
Bali is an affordable place with cheap living costs and no shortage of amenities. The island is more expensive than other regions in Indonesia, with high tourism and importation costs. But it can be as cheap as you want, with so many local food and budget accommodation options.
You can expect to spend as little as $10 a night on accommodation at the lower end and up to $100 for more luxury. Food and drink can cost between $10 and $30 per day, and transportation and attractions shouldn’t exceed $120 for the week, even if you’re often on the move. This makes the average cost for seven days in Bali around $300, not including the $500 to $800 average airfare and any visas you may need to obtain before your trip.
When is the best time to visit Bali?
The best time to visit Bali is between April and October when the skies are blue, and there is little rainfall. The rainy season runs from November through to March, but if you don’t mind a few overcast days, the low season promises fewer crowds and lower prices. Southern areas like Canggu and Uluwatu remain largely sunny throughout these months, and daytime temperatures hover between the mid-80s throughout the whole year.