Our top 5 temples to visit in Bali

Bali is famous for its temples. Hence it is often called “The Island of Gods”.

Every home in Bali has its own family temple, so you can already guess the number of small temples around the island. On top of that, there is a minimum of 3 temples in each village, which are symbolic of the three main Gods in Balinese Hinduism; Brahma (the creator), Visnu (the protector) and Shiva (the destroyer). And these are the regular village temples, which are the same all over the island.

But Bali has a few very special temples, which have also become a tourist destination due to their beauty, uniqueness and location. Some of these temples can get very busy, so we suggest you visit them early in the morning. Please note that you must wear proper attire when visiting a temple, meaning a sarong to cover your knees, a scarf around your waist and shoulders covered. At most bigger temples, you can hire these on the spot. For women, it is important to know that you are not allowed to enter a temple whilst menstruating.

So from all of these impressive temples, which ones are our favourites? We will list 5 of our top temples in Bali to visit. If you have any additions to the list, please let us know!


  1. Besakih Temple – The Mother Temple

The first temple we want to highlight is the most important in Bali, Besakih Temple, also called the Mother Temple. It is the most important, largest and holiest temple of the Hindu religion in Bali and one of a series of Balinese temples. Located nearly 1000 meters up the slopes of Mt. Agung, it is an extensive complex of 23 separate but related temples, with the largest and most important being Pura Penataran Agung. The temple is built on six levels, terraced up the slope. As Mt. Agung is considered the holiest place on the Island, the Besakih temple is as well.

All temples of every Balinese home and family temple come together at the Besakih temple. It is also the only temple open to every Hindu from any caste group because of its nature as the primary centre of all ceremonial activities. The complex is imposing to visit, as well are the views. Knowing that this is the most important place for the Balinese in their religion makes it a very special spot to visit. The best visiting times of the day are in the early morning and the evening, as the complex is much quieter during these hours. The official guides are easily identifiable by their traditional Batik shirts. The Besakih temple is about a 1,5 – 2 hours drive from Ubud. We suggest you go by car as the roads can be challenging.


  1. Tirta Empul – The holy water spring temple

The Tirta Empul temple is located close to Ubud, about a 30-minute drive. This temple visit is often combined with other sights in the area, such as the Tegallalang rice terraces, coffee plantations, the village of  Kintamani and Lake Batur. Tirta Empul is a particular temple, as it is not just a temple to pray but also a place where Balinese come for cleansing and purification. Tirta Empul means Holy Spring in Balinese. The temple pond has a spring which gives out fresh water regularly, which Balinese Hindus consider to be holy.

The temple consists of a large bathing structure, famous for its holy spring water, where Balinese Hindus go for ritual purification. The water in the pools is believed to have magical powers, so local Balinese come here to purify themselves under the 30 water fountains that go into the basins. Behind this area is a large temple where the Balinese pray after purification. It can get bustling at this temple, as it is very popular with tourists and local Balinese people. Especially on auspicious days such as Full Moon, the pools are packed with Balinese who come for the cleansing ritual. We suggest you come early in the morning, and if you want to experience the purification ritual, make sure you bring proper and spare clothes. In this case, we suggest you go with a local Balinese guide who can explain the process and guide you through it.

  1. Lempuyang Temple – The Gateway to Heaven

Lempuyang is located in the highlands of Bali on the peak of Mount Lempuyang. It is one of the oldest temples on the island. Getting to the temple is a steep climb. There are 1,700 steps, and you need to be reasonably fit. The view from the top of Mount Lempuyang is worth it, though, and if you arrive on a clear day, you can even see Mount Rinjani in Lombok.

Not all temple areas are open for visitors due to its holy and sacred location. However, seeing the complex and wandering around can give you a spiritual feeling.

This temple is arguably the temple with the most stunning view in Bali. The temple gates are high up the mountain with an astonishing view towards Mt. Agung, which is why this temple’s nickname is The Gateway To Heaven. Over the past few years, this temple has become a very popular destination and is even called the Instagram temple, thanks to its fantastic photo spot between the two gates. You have probably seen the pictures around on social media. Do keep in mind that these days there are actual waiting lines (sometimes up to 3 hours) to take that famous picture! Located on the island’s eastern point, the Lempuyang Temple is around a 2 hours drive from Ubud.

  1. Tanah Lot – The temple in the sea

After these temples located in the North of Bali, we head down South for the most touristic temple in Bali, the Tanah Lot temple. Even though this temple is very touristic, which does not always make it a pleasant visit, we put it on our list here as it is a must-visit whilst you are in Bali.

The Tanah Lot temple complex is located atop a rocky island just off the West coast of Bali. The setting is beautiful. Your first look at the temple is from the top of the cliffs. You can, and should, climb down to the beach for a closer look. You can even walk across the rocks and enter the temple at low tide (after you’ve received a blessing). The best time to visit is around sunset when you get all the fantastic colours in the sky and the water. The whole area is nice to walk around. There is a large garden up the hills with some restaurants as well, and down at the beach are many spots to sit down and enjoy the views. Please do note you won’t be the only one, especially around sunset time.

  1. Uluwatu Temple – Temple on the cliffs

The last temple on our list is the Uluwatu temple. It is located in the most Southern part of Bali, on the Uluwatu cliffs. For those views, this is one of our favourite temples, well actually places in general, in Bali. The sunsets from this spot are amazing and reason enough to visit this temple during sunset hours. And while you are there, make sure to watch the Kecak Fire Dance at the ample open space in the middle of the temple. It is absolutely magical to see the sun set into the waters and watch this unique traditional dance at the same time.

The temple is also home to many monkeys, which is fun, of course, for pictures, but make sure to keep an eye on your belongings, as these monkeys are very cheeky and love your sunglasses! Besides being one of the top touristic destinations and busy daily, the Uluwatu temple is also a significant temple to the Balinese.

The Balinese Hindus believe that the three divine powers of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva become one here. That belief makes Uluwatu Temple a place of worship for Siva Rudra, the Balinese Hindu deity of all elements and aspects of life in the universe. Pura Uluwatu is also dedicated to protecting Bali from evil sea spirits.