Constructed during the 8th and early 9th centuries, the small temple complex of Gedung Songo contains some of the oldest Hindu antiquities in Java, along with those found further south on the Dieng Plateau. The complex contains nine temples in all, nestled out on the upper slopes of Mount Ungaran. The distant views of the surrounding volcanic ranges alone is worth the trip. On a clear day you can see all the way to far off Mount Lawu in the southeast, Mount Merbabu to the south and to the west Mount Sumbing, Mount Sundoro and the Dieng Plateau.
The temples are spaced between 100-200m apart. To see them all requires about 2km of walking through groves of pine tree, gardens and passing by a hot water spring where you can bathe. All in all you’ll need to allow a few hours to take everything in. If you don’t feel like walking 50.000Rp buys you a pony ride around the entire complex.
Gedung Songo is located near Bandungan in Ambarawa district, about 40km south of Semarang (1.5 hours) or 100km north of Yogyakarta (2-3 hours). Public buses run frequently along either route. You’ll need to grab a taxi or ojek to take you to the temple complex. It’s only 4k out of town so you could walk if you’re feeling energetic but be warned, it’s a long steep climb to the temple site. If you want to save some money, pay for the ride out and walk back.
Whilst you can do Gedung Songo as a long day trip from either Semarang or Yogyakarta, there’s basic accommodation available in Bandungan if you want to explore some of the nearby attractions like Lake Rawa Pening or the Ambarawa Railway Museum. Bandungan itself is a pretty busy market town so it’s worth looking around.