Sumatra’s major metropolis, and Indonesia’s third-largest city, Medan is the first (or final) port of call for many visitors to the island. Given it's not on the coast, and there's no mountain backdrop or even a grand river, Medan is much maligned among many travelers as a soulless industrialised city, a necessary evil to reach more exciting destinations. While it does have issues with traffic and pollution, it's a city with real Indonesian urban character. If you can get over the culture shock and give Medan a bit of time, you'll discover there's more than a hint of crumbling Dutch-colonial-era architecture, plus some worthwhile sightseeing and shopping, contemporary nightlife and restaurants, and old-school backstreet food stalls.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Medan.
Whether it’s a guided tour of a historic landmark, private tasting of local delicacies, or an off-road adventure — explore the best experiences in Medan.