6 places to live and visit in surprising Surabaya

The city in east Java is home to some of Indonesia’s best investment bets, cultural attractions, and lifestyle amenities

Al Akbar Mosque in Surabaya, Indonesia. raditya/Shutterstock

Once an illustrious trading hub for the Dutch East Indies empire during 18th and 19th century colonial rule, Surabaya is a city with a long and fascinating history. It is also Indonesia’s second largest, home to three million inhabitants, with plenty of attractions to explore. A significant Chinese and Middle Eastern population mean that Surabaya has a great mix of cuisines and neighbourhoods, each with their own characteristics and individual quirks. Modern and luxury shopping and eating spots are popping up increasingly around the city, with plenty of traditional and western bars and restaurants to choose from.


A self-styled ‘superblock’ complex, Praxis is the ultimate mixed-use, residential-led development. Located in Surabaya’s new business centre, its surroundings are conveniently situated and cater to the executive lifestyle. Praxis’ 289 apartments are spread across 28 floors and come in four sizes, including three-bed and deluxe two-bed spaces. The design of the units are well thought-out, with open living rooms, spacious bedrooms, and large window fittings. Premium ‘Signature’ apartments are on offer for those in need of extra space and a little more luxury. A place to live, work, and play, this mega-building houses office and retail spaces, and a long list of entertainment facilities such as a sizeable food court, restaurants, and cafes.

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Winner at the fourth annual PropertyGuru Indonesia Property Awards in 2018, The Arcadia at Sukolilo Residence is a striking and exclusive high-rise development that complements its plush and green surrounding neighbourhood. Residents enter the building through a glass-fronted lobby, which has been decorated with a number of sleek and stylish fittings and features. Apartments range in size from giant studios to spacious three-bed condos. All flats are furnished with modern and fashionable interiors and technology, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the main rooms with natural light. On the ground floor, residents will find a fully equipped gym that looks out onto a 50-metre swimming pool, which is surrounded with secluded waterbeds, sun loungers, and tropical trees for guests to relax in private and out of the midday sun.

Pabean Spice Market

Fiqah Anugerah Dah Besa/Shutterstock

Surabaya is famous for both in- and outdoor markets with several to explore, but for those seeking a slice of authentic Java living, the most memorable is Pasar Pabean. Tucked away in Surabaya’s old town, this sprawling, popular spice market links together the city’s historic Chinese and Arab quarters. Every corner of space is filled with piles of garlic and dried chillies, while onion and garlic skins scatter the floor and sacks of spices line numerous passageways, which are dotted with fans to keep everyone cool from the fierce Indonesia heat and are well-lit by low-hanging lamps suspended from metal roof beams. Without doubt, Pabean is well worth the visit.

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Dream of Kahyangan Art Resto

The impressive collection of Javanese and Chinese antiques placed around this stylish Indonesian restaurant in West Surabaya reflect the restaurant’s range of food, whilst also creating a perfect space for couples, families, and large groups. With a choice of inside dining area with Peranakan design or outside seating amongst koi ponds and tropical plants, diners may partake of traditional dishes that include classic Indonesian Nasi Ramayana, satay, the spicy Yogyakartan Oseng Mercon, and a range of excellent seafood choices served on authentic banana leaves. Perfect for a quiet lunch, the restaurant is also spacious and atmospheric in the evenings with live Javanese Gamelan music that adds to its lively ambience. Situated in a leafy residential area between the Ciputra and Pakuwon golf clubs, it also makes the perfect venue for business dinners, with long interior tables, and efficient, friendly staff.

Kuppel Biergarten & Bar

Set in the beating heart of West Surabaya, the space-age glass dome design of this bar, which opened in 2017, is truly unique. A great place to party at the weekends, the modern decor includes high and low table seating, a classy bar area, and outdoor tables at the rear. From a stage at the far end, there are regular live music performances and DJ sets after 10 p.m. to keep the atmosphere buzzing, while a large pull-down screen means it is also a perfect place to watch football. Its enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff provide attentive table service and there’s an excellent range of East Javan food, snacks and drinks, including a great beer and spirit selection, cocktails, and sake. Good for groups or parties, though table reservations are highly recommended.

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Submarine Museum

It’s rare to see the inner workings of a submarine, but this museum located in the centre of Surabaya, on the banks of the Kalimas river, allows you to explore just that. Originally built by Russia in 1952, this SS Whiskey Class model was bought by the Indonesian navy and 10 years later fought in the Battle of Arafura Sea to free Western New Guinea from Dutch occupation. Decommissioned in 1990, it was brought ashore as a monument to Indonesian sailors and allows access to the crew and captain’s quarters, torpedo rooms complete with four propeller torpedoes, control room where combat operations were conducted and where the periscope can be raised to view the surrounding area. The museum also includes a multimedia building where films are shown.

This article originally appeared in Issue No. 152 of PropertyGuru Property Report Magazine