Exploring The 12 Best Bali Temples – The Island of the Gods’ Most Iconic Sites

Bali is beautiful and one of the most attractive highlights of the island is the local culture. The best temples in Bali are the finest examples of this culture in action.

Here, we share 12 of our favourite temples. From illustrious monuments to sacred sp ots shrouded in mystery and wonder; we’ve got you covered.

bali temples the island of the gods most iconic sites

Tanah Lot Temple

Tanah Lot Temple is an absolute must-see for all travellers, especially if you are staying in Canggu. It’s one of the most iconic temples in Bali.

Located in the Tabanan district, Pura Tanah Lot is a famous setting on the rocks, surrounded by the Indian Ocean.

The name “Tanah Lot” translates to “land in the sea,” and it’s believed to have been formed when the Hindu god Baruna threw a rock into the waves.

This temple has regular ceremonies, giving onlookers and tourists a unique chance to watch the processions and ceremonies in progress.

As you walk around, you’ll also get to explore nearby small shrines, which are often decorated with intricate carvings, statues, paintings, and offerings left by devotees.

Sunsets here are incredible, with the colours of the sky and water as the backdrop for the temple. 

Tanah Lot Temple is one of Bali’s most popular tourist attractions, with many visitors coming to explore the surroundings, temple architecture and the local markets and food stalls that are nearby.

If you are staying in Canggu, Tanah Lot is one of the easiest places to explore Balinese culture and take a few photos of this magnificent temple on the rocks.

You can find Tanah Lot at Jalan Raya Tanah Lot, Beraban, Kediri, Tabanan Regency, Bali 82121, Indonesia.

tanah lot temple bali

Uluwatu Temple

Uluwatu Temple, also known as Pura Luhur Uluwatu, is perched atop the beautiful Bukit Peninsula in southwest Bali.

It’s a simple one-hour drive from Canggu and is popular among tourists, not just for its beauty but because of its cultural significance.

Uluwatu Temple is one of Bali’s main temples as the setting for Hindu rituals honouring gods and demons. The sea temple helps to protect the island from the forces of the sea.

Many people come here for the amazing view over the ocean at sunset as the crashing waves pound the cliffs below.

The Kecak dance at Pura Luhur Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most iconic dance performances.

As the sun sets beyond the open-air theatre, audiences are treated to the story of the journey of Prince Rama as he searches for his wife Sita, who has been kidnapped by the demon king Ravana.

The dancers act out different scenes from the story while chanting “cak” in a rhythmic pattern, which creates a hypnotic and trance-like effect.

It’s also one of the best temples in Bali to see monkeys, though whether that’s a plus or not, we’ll leave you to decide.

You can find this temple at Pecatu, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali.

Tirta Empul Temple

Pura Tirta Empul, also known as the water temple, is one of the oldest and most spiritual locations on the island of Bali.

It was built in 962 AD and has 30 springs and two sacred bathing pools. It’s one of the most venerated temples in Bali.

This holy site offers a chance to connect with the spiritual atmosphere through the purification rituals that are regularly performed here.

The holy springs are believed to bring good luck and rejuvenate the body and soul.

People come here to cleanse themselves physically with baths in the holy water of the sacred spring and spiritually with prayers for health and prosperity.

Aside from the healing power of the holy spring waters, visitors come to appreciate the temple’s stunning architecture and many carved statues inside and outside the grounds.

If you would like to take part and undertake your own purification ritual, be sure to bring your swimsuit, but you will be given sarongs for proper clothing in the Hindu temple. 

This one of our temples in Bali is found at Tampaksiring, Gianyar Regency, Bali 80552 near Central Ubud.

Taman Ayun Temple

Pura Taman Ayun is a UNESCO World Cultural Tourism site in Mengwi.

It’s easily recognisable among the Bali temples, due to its towering gates, pagodas and courtyards that reach up to 4 stories high, it’s a big change from the traditional Balinese architecture of other temple sites.

Taman Ayun Temple is huge, complex and filled with intricate carvings, shrines and gardens.

It’s one of Indonesia’s most impressive architectural achievements and temples in Bali don’t get much more imposing than Taman Ayun Temple.

The Hindu temple complex of Pura Taman Ayun includes a central courtyard, two main meru towers and seven terraced shrines, built in 1632-1634 by the first Indonesian king Tjokerda Sakti Blambangan – this makes them some of Bali’s oldest structures.

You can explore this temple at Jl. Ayodya No.10, Mengwi, Kec. Mengwi, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80351

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple

The famous Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is in the Bedugul highlands of North Bali, atop a small island in Lake Beratan.

It’s often called the floating temple as this ancient Hindu shrine appears to float on the waters of the lake during the rainy season, it’s really impressive.

You can spot this iconic site from the surrounding mountains and lush greenery.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is dedicated to 3 of the Hindu’s most revered gods, Shiva, Sang Hyang Widhi, and Vishnu, whose energies surround the temple and lands around it.

You can stroll around the lakefront gardens or admire the architecture of the tiers. Outside the temple courtyard of this breathtaking temple, you will find stalls and vendors galore.

Lake Beratan backdrop makes Ulun Danu Beratan perfect for sunrise and sunset viewing.

This temple is truly one the most beautiful temples in Bali, and exploring it is an unforgettable experience.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple can be found at Danau Beratan, Candikuning, Kec. Baturiti, Kabupaten Tabanan, Bali 82191

Besakih Temple

Besakih Temple, also known as the mother temple in Karangasem, is one of Bali’s oldest and most iconic Hindu temples.

Pura Besakih is also the biggest of the best temples in Bali, which is why some refer to it as the ‘Great Temple.”

It’s also the main temple on the island and all other temples in Bali are connected to Besakih Temple spiritually.

Located on the slopes of Mount Agung, Besakih Temple is a complex of more than 20 separate temples each honouring a different Hindu God, with entrances facing all four directions.

Although Pura Besakih is full of tourists, you can still feel an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity as you walk its grounds.

The temple complex features intricate carvings, statues, and other artwork that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Bali.

Mount Agung provides a stunning backdrop, and the views from the temple are breathtaking, and the surrounding countryside is also beautiful.

You can find Besakih Temple here: Besakih, Rendang, Karangasem Regency, Bali 80863

Goa Gajah Temple “The Elephant Cave”

Goa Gajah Temple is known as the “elephant cave,” and it is a renowned temple near Ubud. (We also have a great list of the best temples in Ubud). 

It is surrounded by gardens and natural rock formations and dates back about 1,000 years.

Though the precise history of Goa Gajah Temple is not fully understood, that adds to the mysterious nature of this compelling place.

People believe that Goa Gajah has a powerful energy that connects visitors to nature.

Inside the temple, you can find an old meditative cave, where Hindus practised rituals like chanting mantras and healing prayers.

Follow the stone elephant sculpture to an inner chamber with delicate intricate stone carvings and non-Hindu artworks.

These relics are remarkable and very unique, not found in other locations around the island.

Goa Gajah has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List for 20 years, but it was pulled along with all other submissions from Bali in 2015. This was done to protect the sacred shrines of the nation and reduce over-tourism.

The address of Goa Gajah is Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Bedulu, Blahbatuh, Gianyar Regency, Bali

goa gajah temple bali

Lempuyang Temple

Lempuyang temple, also known as Pura Lempuyang Luhur and ‘The Gate of Heaven’, is a famous temple in Bali and probably the most Instagram-able spot on the island.

We should note, however, that if you make the journey to see this one of the best Bali temples, you may be disappointed to learn that the most popular photo taken here is an optical illusion and not what’s actually there.

It is on the Eastern side of the island, on the peak of Mount Lempuyang, surrounded by greenery and valleys.

This temple is well worth the visit for more than just a quick social media post. It dates back to the 11th century, with terraced gardens with stone statues and pavilions.

A mystic stairway takes you to the main structure at 1,175 meters above sea level. You can see the incredible mountain skyline of Bali in every direction.

The best time to visit Lempuyang Temple is early in the morning to avoid the crowds and take a hike up Mount Lempuyang after exploring the temple grounds. The views from the top will make all that effort worthwhile!

The address of this one of our best temples in Bali is JJ5H+HMF, Jl. Pura Telaga Mas Lempuyang, Tri Buana, Kec. Abang, Kabupaten Karangasem, Bali 80852

Saraswati Temple

In the centre of Ubud rests the iconic Saraswati Temple.

Built in the 1950s and dedicated to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, art, and culture, it features a large whitewashed water garden and some of the most incredible Balinese carvings.

The Lotus Ponds in the centre of this garden are a major feature of the temple and there’s a pleasant cafe nearby to enjoy food, and drink and at night, they hold traditional dance performances for their patrons.

Inside the main shrine sits a golden effigy of Saraswati and devotees performing ceremonies.

Wild birds and soft instrumental music fill the courtyards, creating an ethereal atmosphere.

Every day at 7:30 PM, you will be able to witness traditional Balinese dance performances for an entry fee of 80k IDR.

You can find Pura Taman Saraswati here: F7V6+JHX, Jl. Kajeng, Ubud, Kecamatan Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571

Samuan Tiga Temple

Along with Saraswati Temple, if you are visiting Ubud, a stop at Samuan Tiga Temple is highly recommended.

This temple is surrounded by seven courtyards, and it is intricately decorated with carvings of Hindu deities.

It is a wonderful display of Balinese culture and its artistry.

Samuan Tiga should be on your itinerary for Ubud day trips for its beautiful landscape, exotic carvings, mysterious caves and proximity to other Ubud attractions.

For those looking to explore the many Balinese temples, booking a driver with us is the best choice.

Our drivers are experienced and knowledgeable in the area, so they can help you get the most out of your experience.

They will take you to all popular temples, such as Lempuyang Temple, Ulun Danu Batur Temple and Samuan Tiga Temple so that you can fully appreciate their beauty and cultural significance.

Plus, our drivers know all the hidden gems that tourists may not know – giving you access to an even more authentic Balinese experience!

Our reliable service ensures that your temple tour goes smoothly and safely while ensuring that your time in this beautiful country is unforgettable.

You can find the temple here: Bedulu, Kec. Blahbatuh, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali

Ulun Danu Batur Temple

Pura Ulun Danu Batur, not to be confused with Ulun Danu Beratan, which we mentioned above, is nestled in Kintamani with stunning views of the lake and Mount Batur.

Dedicated to the goddess of Lake Batur and Vishnu, it’s one of the most visited temples in Bali, with structures like shrines ascending into the air among the terraces and courtyards.

First established in the 17th century and rebuilt in 1926, the temple became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012.

The temple has seven traditional statues, each representing a manifestation of God.

The people come to this temple for the Odalan ceremony to make offerings to Dewi Danu and strengthen relationships.

The combination of culture and landscape makes Ulun Danu Batur one of the most iconic Bali Temples.

You can visit this temple at Jl. Raya Kintamani, Batur Sel., Kec. Kintamani, Kabupaten Bangli, Bali 80652

bali tour guide for temple day trips with bali res centre

Pura Kehen Temple

This was once the royal temple of the Bangli Kingdom and you can find it in Central Bali in the Regency of Bangli.

It’s an old temple that was mentioned in sacred inscriptions as early as the 9th century and appears to have been “Hyang Api” – “The God of Fire” temple.

Today, this sacred site doesn’t see anywhere near as many visitors as the other Bali temples on our list, which is a shame because it’s very attractive and the relic-filled courtyard is the sort of thing we can see the Balinese kings of yore being very proud of.

See this temple at Jl. Sriwijaya No.8, Cempaga, Kec. Bangli, Kabupaten Bangli, Bali 80613

FAQs

What Is The Most Scenic Temple In Bali?

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple is often considered to be the most scenic temple in Bali. That’s due to its position on the lake where it can appear to float above the water in wet season.

However, all of the best temples in Bali are very scenic.

What Is The Most Sacred Place In Bali? What’s The Biggest Temple In Bali?

Besakih is the largest temple and the most sacred temple in Bali. It’s the “Mother Temple” and all other temples in Bali are connected to it.

Which Is Better Tanah Lot Or Uluwatu?

We don’t think it’s appropriate to grade the best temples in Bali as “better” or “worse” than each other, what we can tell you is that both of these temples are among the best temples in Bali and they are both worth visiting.

If you’re pushed for time on your Bali visit – just opt for the temple that’s closest to where you are, you won’t regret seeing either of these amazing places.

Bali Tour Guide for Temple Day Trips

Ask our team at Bali Res Centre, located on the third floor of FINNS Recreation Club, for anything you need to organise day trips and tours to see Bali’s iconic temples.

Many are close to Ubud and can be seen together in one day of fun temple hopping. Others are a bit farther out, in the mountains of Kintamani or Bedugul, with stunning views of lakes and volcanoes.

Your tours can also include stops at majestic waterfalls and renowned rice terraces.

Book a car and driver with our team, with our local guides who can share their best tips and secrets, and relax as you are chauffeured to these extraordinary locations.

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