With its old dutch colonial buildings, surrounding waterfalls, hot springs and pristine coral reefs for diving Gorontalo should be a world famous destination.
However, most travellers only use it as a hub for the Togean islands.
The overnight ferry, Touna Tomini, from Ampana / Togean Islands calls on Gorontalo every Thursday and Sunday, making the return trip the next day. Note: There's only 1 ferry and when it breaks down there's none.
The new fast ferry from Togean leave Dolong (handy for Malenge) on wednesdays at 7.00 a.m. to Bubulan from where it's a 1 hour drive to Gorontalo.
Lion air connects Gorontalo to Makassar and beyond, while Merpati has flights to and from Manado.
Kijang (public cars) from Manado is a more comfortable option that will drop you at your preferred hotel. 150,000 Rp for front seat (more comfortable), 100,000 Rp. for backseat (brace yourself for a bumpy ride).
Bentors (a cross between a rickshaw and a motorbike) elsewhere in Indonesia known as becaks are plentiful and will take you around town for 5,000 Rp. 20,000-30.000 Rp. for destinations outside of town, such as beaches and waterfalls. Arriving from the Togeans, the 4 km ride from Gorontalo harbor to the city should cost you 20,000 Rp.
Local buses and bemos have been observed, but they seem only useful for the locals.
Dutch colonial mansions littered throughout the city.
Ruins of dutch forts lining the coastline.
Gorontalo is home to the Salvador Dali coral sponge, indigenous to this region. With more than 25 divesites accessible from the shore around Gorontalo, this should be a mecca for dive enthusiasts. However, so far this gem has remained relatively hidden.
Supplies for Togean. The islands are remote and essentials are expensive so bring sunscreen, mosquito spray / coils and other essentials that you can think of.
Mega Zinur Mall.
Magic Pan Pizza, ☎ (0435) 8829619. All 5 pizzas on the menu at this place are good and big. If they don't have what you want, just compose it yourself and they will make it happen. The taste is uniquely Indonesian, and the service is quick from the plentiful, friendly staff.40,000 Rp..
Suga Fried Chicken, (Near Gorontalo Mall). Your typical fastfood joint. I recommend the tiny burger. It's small but it's tasty. As always with western food in Indonesia, you pay more than you would for rice and noodles (ca. 10,000 for a burger), but after the Togean diet you can treat yourself.
King's Resto. Ikan bakar (grilled fish) is the specialty here. You pass the grill just outside the door as you walk into this place assuring you that the fish is indeed grilled here.
Night market, (Just opposite Melati Hotel). A number of food stalls sell the usual suspects. Fried rice, Fried noodles, Soto Ayam and Gado Gado. The food is good, and the seating area near the stalls make it a great place to mingle with the locals who seem ridiculously happy to say hello to you.
KFC, (at Mega Zinur mall).
The local shops sell beer for you to consume in the privacy of your hotel. To enjoy a night out, I'm afraid you will have to put up with being at a karaoke place paying 30.000 Rp./hour for the pleasure.
Melati Hotel. The helpful staff can give you all the information you need for going to Togean, booking transport to Manado and explore Gorontalo. All this comes with a fee, of course.100,000-250,000 Rp..
Hotel Karina. A popular cheapie with rooms to match the price. A good option if the Melati is full.115,000-150,000 Rp..
Hotel Oasis. This has been a very nice place when it was built. The rooms are located surrounding a garden with a pond that is now overgrown and mosquito ridden. The staff is unattentive and between them not a single one speak english.150,000 Rp..
The prices are mid range, but the quality really isn't.
Hotel Paradise. Plenty of rooms, all have aircon, cable tv and comfortable beds. Not exactly paradise, but it will do.300,000 Rp..
Hotel Yulia. The rooms are fairly standard. Beds with spring mattresses and tv. All rooms have similar layout, but the more expensive has more space around the furniture.400,000 Rp..