Makassar: Discover the Heart of Sulawesi with These 10 Places

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Makassar: Discover the Heart of Sulawesi with These 10 Places

Makassar is a beautiful coastal city located on the southwestern edge of Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. It is one of the largest cities in the country and it serves as the administrative capital of the province of South Sulawesi. The city is believed to have been a flourishing fishing port even before Europeans arrived in the late 16th Century. It fell under the control of the Dutch in the early 1600s and quickly became one of their most important and strategic cities in East Indonesia even serving as their capital for a short period in the 1940s.

The city is also sometimes referred to as Ujung Pandang and is home to over two million people. It is a lovely and charming city to visit and explore with a host of attractions including historical relics, beaches, restaurants, and much more. Here are some of the must-visit attractions in Makassar.

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Makassar: Discover the Heart of Sulawesi with These 10 Places

1. Fort Rotterdam

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Fort Rotterdam is a well-preserved historic fort in Makassar and one of the finest examples of Dutch colonial architecture in Indonesia. It was built in the 17th Century on the same site as a previous Gowanese fort called Jum Pandang. The fort’s strategic position near the seaside made it a vital colonial fortress as well as an important trade center where goods especially spices were stocked for export. Locals fondly remember it as the last residence of Prince Diponegoro who led a rebellion against the Dutch in Java and was imprisoned at the fort for 25 years till his death in 1855. With a history stretching even before the Dutch colonization, the fort is the best place to learn about the history of the region.

2. Losari Beach

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Losari Beach also commonly referred to as Pantai Losari is a popular hangout for both locals and tourists and is definitely a must-visit while in Makassar. It is not your typical beach as most of the land is reclaimed but it more than makes up for that with its vibrancy. The promenade at Losari Beach is the perfect place to sample local delicacies like the pisang epek especially in the afternoon when the street vendors line the street. It is also a lovely place to watch the sunset as you dine at a seaside café or as you play about with friends and family at the large public area nearby. The Amirul Mukminin Floating Mosque located about five minutes away is also worth checking out while at the beachfront.

3. Malino Tea Plantation

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The Malino Tea Plantation is located about 70 kilometers from Makassar on the lower slopes of Mt. Bawakaraeng. The plantation was once a hillside resort for the Dutch who lived in the region famed for its magnificent views and fine accommodation. The plantation remains a popular attraction to this day beloved by locals and tourists in equal measure. Within the plantation are several cafes where you can drink tea as you marvel at the beautiful tea plantation stretching as far as the eye can see. Many visitors are instantly wowed by the clean fresh air on arrival which is a welcome respite especially for those traveling from the city.

4. Pulau Samalona

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It's almost unthinkable to plan a to Makassar without heading to Pulau Samalona, a stunning island just 35 minutes away from Makassar by boat. The island is run by a local community and is one of the best places to go snorkeling due to the abundance of fish and coral in its waters. Fret not if you do not have snorkeling gear as there are rental stalls along the beach where you can grab some. The clear blue waters around the island are perfect for swimming as well as for a variety of other water sports. The local beachfront is a nice place to grab tasty and fresh local seafood at friendlier prices than on the mainland.

5. Trans Studio Mall Makassar

The Trans Studio Mall in Makassar is home to one of the largest indoor theme park in the world making it a popular hangout place for most families in Makassar as well as tourists. The mall covers over 12 hectares with 20,000 square meters of floor space. Since its construction in 2010, the mall has grown to become a premier family destination due to the variety of activities to enjoy regardless of your age. The indoor theme park is undoubtedly the main attraction and it features over twenty rides spread out in four distinct zones. As one of the most modern malls in the city, it is the best place to shop for big brands and franchises as well as mementos of your visit.

6. Bugis Waterpark

If you are looking for a fun place for splashing around in the water while in Makassar, look no further than Bugis Waterpark. Built in 2012, it's one of the largest water parks in Indonesia with a variety of rides that guarantee a fun day out. There are ten different and amazing slides as well as an adult and a kid’s pool along with safety lockers to secure your valuables and gazebos which you can rent for a more intimate occasion or event. The waterpark is a lovely place to cool off when it is too hot in the city and is also known for hosting music events every now and then making it a must-visit destination.

7. Fort Somba Opu

Fort Somba Opu is an old fortress located in the Gowa Regency in Makassar. Built in the 1520s by Daeng Matanre Karaeng Tumapa'risi' Kallonna, the Sultan of Gowa at the time, it was destroyed in the late 1600s after a vicious military confrontation between the Gowanese and the Dutch. The fierce resistance the Dutch faced during its conquest is well remembered as the most difficult campaigns undertaken in the East.

The fort was submerged by a tidal wave until it was rediscovered by scientists in the 1980s and after an extensive reconstruction, it was opened to the public in the 1990s. Locals and tourists have thronged the fort since then to see what is hailed as the strongest fort ever built by Indonesians.

8. Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park

Located just 50 kilometers from Makassar is the Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park best known for its natural water slide. Covering over 40,000 hectares, the park is a joy to explore with three distinct ecosystems; a lowland forest, lower montane forest, and a karst ecosystem. The park is also home to a variety of birds, insects and butterfly species with a museum dedicated to the latter also found within the vast sanctuary.

The renowned Bantimurung waterfall is located just next to the Butterfly Museum and is without a doubt the highlight of a visit to the park. Visitors can slide down the calmer part of the falls although the area can be a bit crowded during the weekends. There are also hiking trails leading to caves with prehistoric art within the park. Needless to say, it is an entertaining and beautiful place to visit while in the region.

9. Balla Lompoa Museum

The Balla Lompoa Museum is located in Sungguminasa about twelve kilometers from the city of Makassar and is home to one of the largest collections of items and artifacts of Gowa heritage. The museum is housed in a traditional Bugi-shaped house whose distinct architecture includes ironwood stilts and large windows. The museum is a reconstruction of the Palace of the Gowa Kingdom and consists of the main room which includes private chambers for the king and storage space for artifacts as well as a reception room.

There are artifacts and objects on almost every facet of Gowanese life including weaponry, ceramics, and many more. The iconic architecture of this museum not to mention its collection is worth checking out while in Makassar.

10. Kondingareng Keke Island

About 13 kilometers from Makassar is a beautiful yet uninhabited island known as Kondingareng Keke. It is about one hectare in size and is as natural as can be with no buildings or infrastructure. However, this is its charm as it offers visitors a quiet and relaxed atmosphere where you can relax, play, and unwind while enjoying the beauty of the island. The waters around the island are clear and ideal for diving and snorkeling around with an abundance of marine life that makes it one of the most coveted destinations in the region. The island is accessible by boats which often carry up to eight passengers and can be rented at the harbor on the mainland. For the best experience, it is advisable to visit during the hotter months and as a side note, carry your own food and snacks as there is no permanent store or shop on the island.


Makassar has a rich historical past with a number of historic buildings and museums where you can learn more about the region, its people and culture over the centuries. It is also a perfect base for the exploration for the islands that surround the southern tip of Sulawesi. You'll find the locals are friendly and eager to share their culture, traditions, and cuisine with you making the region perfect for tourism.