Surabaya, The City of Heroes, Capital City Of East Java

This big thriving city is the crowded capital of East Java. Home to many of the nation’s fiercest independence fighters, the city is known to locals as Kota Pahlawan (City of Heroes) and around the city you will see scatered statues commemorating many heroes of the independence movement.

Historically this city used to be the trading hub for the illustrious inland empires of Java, that included Majapahit, Singosari and Kediri. Situated on the mouth of the Brantas river, Surabaya was officially founded in 1293 on the site of a legendary battle between a shark (sura) and crocodile (baya).

The Sura and Baya monument, Surabaya
The Sura and Baya monument, Surabaya (Source :

Today, Surabaya is a modern industrial city, considered the economic and trading centre of Eastern Java as well as home to the nation’s navy. Second only to Jakarta in size, population and commerce, this is a massive city of over three million people.

With 21st century shopping malls, colonial era buildings and business high rises, this city represents a melting pot of Javanese culture with modern industrial development.

For visitors, highlights of the city include it’s zoological gardens, the immaculately presented Sampoerna museum or a visit to the island of Madura where you can experience the excitement and thrill of a local bull race. The city is also an ideal base to explore the other attractions of East Java including Mt Bromo, the cool mountain retreats of Malang and the natural beauty of Ijen Plateau.

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Taxi’s, buses and bemo all operate in Surabaya.

The cities extensive bus network is the most popular way to get around. Bemo (minibuses) operate on different routes which are labelled A, B, C etc.

The reputable Bluebird group operate taxi’s in Surabaya. They also offer Silver Bird executive taxis.

You can also ask at your hotel to help you organise to hire a car with a driver.


Surabaya is served by domestic and international air routes. Many domestic routes use Surabaya airport as a transit point.

Airlines operating to and out of Surabaya include:

  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Batik Air
  • Lion Air
  • Air Asia
  • Sriwijaya Air
  • Citilink

Buses operate between Surabaya and Malang, Probolinggo, Banyuwangi, Solo and Yogyakarta.

Boats operate from Tanjung Perak Harbour. Pelni operate connections to Sulawesi and Kalimantan.

Fast trains travel between Jakarta and Surabaya via Semarang and Yogyakarta. From Surabaya most trains going to Jakarta depart from Pasar Turi train station and depart multiple times a day.

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