If you want to visit Sumatra, it can be very overwhelming at first to decide on an itinerary. The island is huge and many people underestimate the distances between places. If you lay the island across Europe, it runs from the UK to Greece. In this article, we’ll give you a few tips on how to find the ideal itinerary for Sumatra, what to look out for and specific route suggestions.

We understand that finding the ideal itinerary plays a crucial role in your Sumatra experience. Here are some tips on how to put together your perfect itinerary for Sumatra.

itinerary for Sumatra - Bukittinggi

Places to visit in North and West Sumatra

To give you an overview of interesting and worthwhile places in North and West Sumatra, we have put together a small overview below.

  • Bukit Lawang: Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Gunung Leuser National Park and experience encounters with wild orangutans in their natural habitat on a one or multiple day trek.
  • Berastagi: Enjoy the picturesque views of smoking volcanoes and explore the colourful markets of this charming highland town.
  • Lake Toba: Experience the tranquil beauty of Southeast Asia’s largest volcanic lake, surrounded by green hills and traditional Batak villages. Take a boat trip to Samosir Island or simply relax on the shores of the lake.
  • Bukittinggi: Immerse yourself in the rich history of this historic town in the Minangkabau Highlands and explore sights such as the breathtaking Sianok Gorge and the magnificent Pagaruyung Palace.
  • Lake Maninjau: Discover the picturesque beauty of this idyllic lake surrounded by green hills, perfect for boating, fishing and relaxing on the shore.
  • Harau Valley: Marvel at the majestic limestone cliffs and waterfalls of this hidden gem, perfect for hiking and exploring nature.
  • Mentawai Islands: A surfer’s paradise with its world-class waves and pristine beaches, as well as the opportunity to visit the Mentawai Tribes.
  • Pulau Weh: Attracts visitors with its breathtaking underwater world and is a popular destination for divers and snorkellers.

Of course, this is just a selection. The more time you have, the more likely you are to visit other places.

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Tips on how to find your itinerary

Step 1: When do you want to travel?

Sumatra has a lot to offer all year round, but it’s important to consider the best time to visit for your preferences. The months from April to October are considered the dry season, perfect for beach and nature lovers. The months of November to March can see more rain, but this is the best time to experience the jungle in its full splendour. Everything is so wonderfuly green and there are fewer tourists around

Read also: Best time to visit Sumatra

Step 2: How much time do you have?

Depending on how much time you have available, you can design an itinerary that fills your days optimally with beautiful experiences and activities. For a shorter trip of up to 10 days, we recommend exploring the highlights of North Sumatra. If you have more time, you can choose a more comprehensive route that takes you through the jungle, to beautiful beaches and cultural sights in North and West Sumatra. Don’t underestimate the distances of the destinations and don’t pack too many places into a few days.

To give you an idea, here are a few journey times:

  • Medan – Bukit Lawang: 4h
  • Bukit Lawang – Berastagi: 4h
  • Berastagi – Lake Toba: 4h
  • Lake Toba – Medan: 4h
  • Lake Toba – Bukittingi: 2 Tage á 8h

Read also: How to get around Sumatra

Step 3: What do you like?

Sumatra offers a variety of landscapes and activities to suit a wide range of preferences. Beach lovers should check out the stunning coastal areas in the north and west. Adventure seekers can opt for a jungle trek in Bukit Lawang or climb the Sibayak volcano in Beratagi. Culture lovers will be thrilled by the traditional villages in Berastagi, Lake Toba or around Bukittinggi. The question of transport also has an impact on the itinerary and duration. If you are travelling more cheaply with local buses, you may need longer than if you are travelling more comfortably with a private driver.

itinerary for Sumatra

Itineraries for Sumatra

Up to 4 days

For up to 4 days, it is advisable to visit only one location.

  • Nature: Jungle trekking in Bukit Lawang
  • Beach: Pulau Weh
  • Culture: Padang and Bukittinggi
  • Adventure: 4 days with the Mentawai indigenous people

5-6 days

  • Medan – Bukit Lawang – Berastagi – Medan
  • Padang – Bukittinggi – Harau Valley – Lake Maninjau – Padang
  • Jungle and surfing on the Mentawai Islands

7-12 days

  • Medan – Bukit Lawang – Berastagi – Lake Toba
  • Padang – Bukittinggi – Lake Toba – Medan

Read also: 1 week route through Sumatra

From 14 days

  • Medan – Bukit Lawang – Berastagi – Lake Toba – Pulau Weh (flight)
  • Medan – Bukit Lawang – Berastagi – Lake Toba – Bukittinggi – Padang
  • Medan – Bukit Lawang – Berastagi – Lake Toba – Mentawai Islands (flight)

We are at your disposal to help you customise your Sumatra itinerary according to your wishes. Whether you’re looking for a tailor-made adventure trip or a relaxing beach break, we’ll make sure your round trip to Sumatra is an unforgettable experience. Contact us today to start planning your dream trip!