3 weeks in Bali is an excellent amount of time to explore this exotic Indonesian island to the fullest. There’s a lot to see and do here and if you want to make the most of your trip, you’ll definitely need a plan! We’ve assembled the ultimate 3 week Bali itinerary based on our own travels around the island. It covers the best things to see in Bali and takes into account travel time between areas for the most effective ways of getting around.
Read on for our action-packed 3 weeks in Bali itinerary (and a bonus itinerary that includes Lombok and the Gili Islands). ?
Uluwatu – 3 days
Uluwatu is the perfect starting point for your Bali 3 week itinerary due to its location, which is right next to the airport! It’s is best known for its tall rugged cliffs that overlook the east coast of Bali, with views of the Nusa islands in the distance. Waves crash against the cliffside to create a dramatic scenery that you’ll love! Many of the hotels here have infinity pools that overstretch the tall cliffs and bars and restaurants are perched on the side of the rock banks.
The area is becomingly increasingly popular for luxury Bali holidays, world class resorts and epic dance beach clubs, but it has also retained its cultural heart. The iconic Uluwatu temple sits perched on the hillside amongst the modern developments and you can spend a good couple of hours here exploring local customs and watching the Kecak fire dance. Spend 3 days in Uluwatu browsing these historic attractions, relaxing in a cool hotel and checking out the top bars and restaurants.
Top things to do in Uluwatu:
- Enjoy a nice meal overlooking the Ocean at Ulu Cliffhouse
- Watch a traditional Kecak fire dance show and explore Uluwatu Temple
- Descend to the beaches and relax at Sundays Beach Club
- See a world-class DJ at Omnia day club
- Relax in a luxury hotel with infinity pool
Canggu – 4 days
Canggu is the beach resort of choice for backpackers, young people that want a cool atmosphere of surfing, nice restaurants and sunset cocktail bars. It’s a refreshing break away from the tourist centres of Kuta and Seminyak. It’s also home to digital nomads, yoga guru’s and tourists that stop by for some surfing, beach relaxation and a sample of the relaxed Bali lifestyle. Stay in a boutique hotel near the beach-front or rent a luxury villa with a pool, tucked back inland with beautiful views of the rice fields.
We chose Canggu instead of a visit to Kuta and other beaches near the airport as it’s much less touristic and busy, the beaches and restaurants are unique and the area itself is prettier. You’ll love embracing the beach-life in true Bali style, catching a late morning brunch before heading to the beach and then out for some evening cocktails. The must-see Tanah Lot sea-temple is also a short drive away so you can supplement your beach time with some sightseeing.
Top things to do in Canggu:
- Learn to surf or relax on the white-sand beaches
- Check out the quirky bars and restaurants
- Take a half-day trip to the nearby Tanah Lot temple (a must-see)
- Join an active yoga class and meet other travellers
West Bali – 4 days
The best reason to visit the west of Bali is for its beautiful nature parks, quiet towns and lack of tourists. As it’s on the complete opposite side of the island to the airport, many visitors favour the closer areas of Ubud and the southern beaches. Negara, Gilimanuk and Medewi Beach are the places to stay for a cultural local atmosphere, where you can try a cooking class, unwind on the less-crowded beach and take a boat out to the sea that divides Bali with East Java island. Go scuba diving or snorkelling is waters rich with tropical fish and turtles, without a tourist in sight!
North-west, you have the upmarket beach area of Pemuteran, which is also worth a visit if you just want to relax on the beach or in a nice hotel. 4- and 5-star hotels in Pemuteran are just as good as Seminyak but at a fraction of the price! It’s also a good base to explore the stunning West Bali National Park. Hike up the mountain, through the jungle and down to untouched white-sand beaches. The whole area is preserved and home to some amazing tropical wildlife. Research of the areas we’ve mentioned and choose a destination (or two) in West Bali that suits you best.
Top things to do in West Bali:
- Go scuba diving or snorkelling in quiet tropical waters
- Take a day-trip to East Java island
- Meet the locals and take part in a craft class in a Balinese village
- Live a life of luxury and enjoy spa’s and beaches in Pemuteran
- Trek through West Bali National Park for hidden beaches and amazing wildlife
Ubud – 5 days
Ubud is a Bali destination that you’ve probably heard of. It’s one of the most popular places to visit during your 3 weeks in Bali and almost every tourist plans at least one stop to this inland jungle village. Whilst Ubud is pretty touristic and the main street suffers from heavy traffic, it’s still well worth seeing and will be one of your favourite areas regardless. The entire town is surrounded by dense jungle terrain, sprawling rice fields, fruit plantations, waterfalls and other natural sights. Within town, you have a cool collection of accommodation options, from cheap but themed guesthouses to luxurious resorts with infinity pool views of the rice terraces.
A stay in Ubud is all about exploring nature and embracing the love, peace and earth atmosphere that everyone loves. You’ll meet like-minded travellers from around the world, go on daily adventures and return to town for a nice evening meal in an authentic Balinese restaurant. Everything in Ubud has a raw ‘nature’ appeal, from the boutique shops to the bars and restaurants.
We recommend using Ubud as a base to also the local area the north-east of the island, which includes a trek to the mighty Mount Agung volcano and Pura Penataran Agung Lempuyang temples. There’s a lot to do here so make sure you plan everything you want to visit before arrival!
Top things to do in Ubud:
- Visit the Monkey Forest animal sanctuary
- Explore the nearby waterfalls, temples and jungles on day-trips
- Stop by the sprawling market in the centre of Ubud
- Take part in a unique class. Options include cooking, art, glassworks and other craft options
- Experience the rustic jungle theme of the hotels, bars and restaurants
- Embark on an sunrise trek to Mount Agung volcano
Nusa islands – 3 days
Nusa Penida, Lembongan and Cenigan are sometimes overlooked as places to visit in Bali for first timers as they’re islands located east off the mainland and you’ll need a boat to get there. Anyone that’s visited (including us!) will tell you that they’re simply one of the best places that Bali has to offer and they can’t be missed. The sparsely populated archipelago is full of hidden beach coves, hiking spots with amazing views of the cliffs, cool caves and blue lagoons for snorkelling.
We recommend staying on Nusa Lembongan as a base to explore the other islands. There’s plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets, it’s easy to get around and it’s a popular island to visit, so there’s a good atmosphere on an evening. From here you can relax on beautiful beaches or tour the coast on daily boat tours. You can also rent a kayak and uncover the coves and caves yourself if you’re feeling adventurous!
Top things to do on the Nusa islands:
- Explore the local marine life on a snorkelling trip
- Delve deep into the complex of underground caves
- Hike to the top of the famous Kelingking viewpoint on Nusa Penida
- Find a secluded beach and spend a day relaxing in the sun
- Stay in the mountain tree-houses on Nusa Lembongan for the best sunset views
Seminyak – 2 days
As your 3 weeks in Bali itinerary is nearing an end, return to the mainland and head straight to the beach resort of Seminyak. The area may be quite built up and touristic with numerous hotels and restaurants, however it’s a great place to wind down at the end of your holiday. Splash out on a nice, luxurious hotel or apartment, enjoy sunset cocktails in one of the quirky beach bars and do a spot of gift shopping before returning home. Seminyak is a clean, upmarket and trendy destination to spend time before returning to work. Plus, you’ll need the rest after all the adventures you’ve been on!
Another bonus of visiting Seminyak at the end of your trip is that it’s only a 20-minute drive from Denpasar airport, for a smooth trip home.
Top things to do in Seminyak:
- Relax on the beach or perfect your surfing skills
- Sample the vibrant Seminyak nightlife, from chilled beach bars to super-clubs
- Tantalise your taste buds at the top-rated cafes and restaurants across world cuisine
- Go horse riding along the beach at sunset
- Take advantage of a low-cost luxury hotel
Alternative itinerary – Bali, the Gili islands and Lombok
Many people visiting Bali for 2 weeks or more choose to combine Bali with a trip to neighbouring Lombok and the Gili Islands. If you’d prefer to check out these islands over a full 3 weeks in Bali, we recommend 2 weeks in Bali and an additional week in Lombok and the Gili’s. Check out our alternative itinerary below:
Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands alternative itinerary summary: (21 nights):
Uluwatu – 2 days
Canggu – 3 days
Ubud and the north-east – 5 days
Nusa Islands – 3 days
Gili Islands – 4 days
Lombok – 3 days
Seminyak – 1 day
After your adventure in Bali, the Gili Islands are the perfect place to enjoy the sun. The quaint collection of islands is only a 2-hour boat ride from Bali! Spend your days chilling out on a hammock, cycling around the islands and embarking on a boat trip. The snorkelling and sea-life here is some of the best in Asia! On an evening, you can snuggle up with a cocktail to watch sunset or head to Gili Trawangan for an eclectic nightlife scene. The Gili Islands have something for all ages, interests and budgets! Check out our Gili travel guide here to help you choose an island.
Like Bali, Lombok’s skyline is dominated by a mighty volcano and rich jungle terrain inland, with a plethora of beautiful beaches on the coastline. The best reason to visit the island is to wind down at the end of your holiday so you can enjoy a low-cost but beautiful beach hotel and gaze at the beautiful scenery. Lombok is a welcome escape from the busy crowds of Bali and it’s easy to get to via speed boat or plane. We recommend staying at Senggigi Beach for an easy-to-get-to beach resort trip, or on the south-coast for a more rural and quieter experience.
How to travel around Bali
Bali is a small island but sometimes the roads can be challenging, especially in the north! Here are some great ways to get around whilst you’re there. We recommend avoiding renting a car – you probably won’t need one and driving is tough when you’re not used to the roads.
Go-Jek rides – An Indonesian version of Uber. Download the app and order taxi cars or moped taxis to pick you up and drop you offer anywhere you want on the island. It’s extremely affordable, much more so than the local taxi’s in fact. We use Go-Jek for short journeys and longer distances between towns and villages. Download the Go-Jek app here.
Organised tours – Inexpensive guided tours are the best way to see the main sites. This is especially the case in Ubud. You’ll join a group of other travellers and stop off at various sites, including waterfalls, rice fields, temples and beaches. Book excursions with your hotel, at travel agencies in towns or on TripAdvisor before arrival. Check out a list of our favourite tours in Bali here.
Boat – To get to the Nusa islands, Lombok or the Gili Islands, you’ll need to catch a ferry or catamaran speed boat. Boats depart from multiple locations in Bali so find the port nearest to where you’ll be staying. Visit the official Bali Ferry website here for route information and to book tickets.
Private driver – For the utmost convenience and un-paralleled local knowledge, book a driver/tour guide to take you around the island by car on the days you want to go sightseeing. They’ll take you straight to your destination without any waiting in queues, will take you to non-touristic spots and can build an itinerary around your key ‘must-see’ sights and interests. This is the most expensive option, but it can be surprisingly good value compared to other destinations. See a list of the top-rated private drivers on TripAdvisor here.
Now you’ve read our suggested 3 weeks in Bali itinerary, start your own travel plans using ours as inspiration. Feel free to spend more or less time in each destination and personalise your trip around your interests. We’ve covered our favourite places to visit (and have avoided the disappointing tourist traps) but each area has something completely different to offer. Get in touch if you have any questions! Check out our other Bali travel guides and tips here.