Solo the short name for Surakarta, is a major city in Central Java, Indonesia. Together with Yogyakarta, these two cities are heirs of the Mataram kingdom that was split in 1755.
Solo lies some 100 kilometers south of Semarang and some 60 kilometers east of Yogyakarta. As the 'twin' sister of Yogyakarta, this city looks much like the later. But because Solo is not a provincial capital, this city has preserved much of its Javanese character. This also means that Solo is less touristy than Yogyakarta.
Today's Solo is a bustling economic center of some 800,000 (with the suburbs). It is in close proximity to the temples of Prambanan. The town is a center of art and education, offers some good shopping and has some range of tourist facilities.
Solo is very well known of its charming and soft-spoken people. It is said as the least westernized city in Central Java.
Solo's Adisumarmo International Airport (SOC), 10 km north of town, is a small airport. There are 8 flights a day to Jakarta. The "international" part of the name comes from Silk Air's direct services to Singapore. Malaysia's low cost airline Air Asia now flies daily to Kuala Lumpur. If using taxi, you should by a ticket in a ticket shelter. Just name your destination and pay the amount they ask, and you will be assigned to a registered taxi.
You can also fly to Yogyakarta's Adisucipto International Airport. The distance between Yogyakarta and Solo is only 60km and any taxi will be glad to take you.
The main bus station is actually not in Solo city itself, but in Kartasura, some 12 kilometers west of the center. There are regular services throughout the island, including Jakarta (10 hours) and Surabaya (5 hours).
There is however also a bus terminal in the city itself in Terminal Tirtonadi.
Express trains to Jakarta take around 8 hours. Other trains take longer, sometimes much longer. Express trains serving Solo include Argo Lawu, Argo Dwipangga, Bima and Gajayana expresses (to/from Jakarta, all AC), Argo Wilis and Lodaya (to/from Bandung), Argo Wilis and Sancaka (to/from Surabaya).
The main station is Solobalapan. Other stations are present, i.e. Purwosari and Solojebres, but only used for ekonomi and local services to Yogyakarta.
Taxi is the easiest way to go around. It is cheap, and you can even book it for the whole trip. You can negotiate for the price. Ask in your hotel reception if they can arrange one for you. Or they may also have a car to rent (mostly including the driver).
By horse cart
Very cheap and immersive.
Kasunanan. Beautiful palace built in 1675. Facility: museum, art and cultural centre.
Puro Mangkunegaran. Beautiful palace built in 1757. Facility: museum, art and cultural centre.
Jurug Zoo. Facility: zoo, aquarium.
Sriwedari Park. Facility: art and cultural centre (puppet show/wayang at night), children playground, food court (traditional javaneses restaurants).
Mandi lulur, a traditional skin-care done by rubbing special spices to the skin to exfoliate it. Very relaxing. Many hotels offer this service. Or ask your hotel reception for a reputable place.
Batik. You can buy anything made with batik in Solo. The fabrics range from silk to normal cotton. The ones made by hand (batik tulis) is of course more expensive than the ones made using the 'stamp' (batik cap). Beware though that most of batik will lose some color during first few washes -- washing with similar color is highly recommended.
Danar Hadi, Jl Dr Rajiman 164, Solo 57111. Tel.: (62)(271) 644126.
Keris, Desa Cemani Selatan Laweyan, Solo 57167. Tel.: (62)(271) 721217.
Semar, Jl Laksda Adisucipto 101, Solo 57144. Tel.: (62)(271) 722937
Kampung Batik, Jl. Dr. Rajiman Laweyan.
Pasar Klewer, a traditional market for textile, mostly batik. Located off the west gate of Keraton's North Square. As in any other traditional markets in Indonesia, you will have to bargain.
Solo Grand, Jl. Slamet Riyadi No. 313
Solo Square, Jl. Slamet Riyadi No 451.
Ciputra Sun, Jl. Ronggowarsito.
Solo is famous for its "Soto" & "Nasi Liwet".
Soto is a sort-of chicken soup (or it can also be made from beef). You can find various kinds of soto in Solo. "Soto Kirana" is well-known and worth to try.
Nasi Liwet is almost similar to "Nasi Uduk" which is very famous in Jakarta or west Java.
It is rice, which is cooked with 'santan' or coconut milk.
Gudeg is also worth to try, even though people said that gudeg originally comes from Jogja, however, Gudeg Solo is quite different from the one from Jogja. Gudeg Jogja is dried and sweet. While Gudeg Solo is usually served with sauce.
Dawet or called 'cendol' in west java/Jakarta tastes so good to cool you down during the hot days in Solo.
This drink is made with coconut milk and brown-javanese sugar and sort-of gelatine. Thus this is sweet and usually served with ice-cubes.