7 Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra

There are just so much to do in Medan beyond Lake Toba, Samosir Island and Sipiso Waterfall, and going to these three areas will take you more than a day to fully enjoy the booming city. Let us lead you through Medan with this piece, and we know that you are going to factor in another three days in the town on your next trip to Indonesia.


1. Instagrammable Historic Landmarks

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Instagrammable Historic Landmarks Tjong A Fie Mansion

Image Credit: @jonthearchitect

Get transported into the nostalgic Indonesian history with a trip to Tjong A Fie Mansion – the historical jewel in Medan, built more than a century ago in 1895. With Chinese, Malay and Art Deco influences in its architecture, the mansion houses curious art pieces, unique furniture, and walls with original hand-crafted carvings.

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Instagrammable Historic Landmarks Medan Great Mosque

Image Credit: @anggidhini

Religions aside, the Medan Great Mosque is a must-visit for first-timers to Medan. The Moorish and Spanish architectural style of the mosque, with a tinge of both Middle East and India’s influences, made it a matchless construction. You know you can never resist a photo or two at this sacred place of worship.




2. Watch sunset on Gundaling Hill

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Sunset at Gundaling Hill

Image Credit: @desydonk

Nestled in between two active volcanos – Mount Sinabung and Mount Sibayak – Gundaling Hill might be a little more adventurous than the usual historic landmarks. In addition, it has also proven to provide an unforgettable view from its viewpoint. Cuddle with your other half, enjoy a light-heart chat with your friends or snap some panoramic shots with your family with the sunset as your backdrop!

It might not be as spectacular as a sunset view at Tibet’s Mount Everest Base Camp but it certainly is one of a kind and could hold its own.


3. Nature beyond the jungles

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Mount Sibayak

Image Credit: @fachrul9048

Trust us when we say that your body will thank you for that trip to the hot springs, located at the foot of Mount Sibayak, after the hike down the mountain. While the smell of rotten eggs (that’s just sulphur!) might put you off, the cheap entrance fee and the thought of soaking away the fatigue should be more than enough motivation for you to head in. Just remember to bring your own swimsuit and towels!

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Two-color waterfall

Image Credit: @i.cella

Anyone who had been to Medan had probably been to the Sipiso-piso Waterfall, but how about the Two-Color Waterfalls at the foot of Mount Sibayak? While the hike takes about two hours before you can reach the waterfalls, the light-blue and greyish-white hues of the magnificent falls will be enough to take away the fatigue. You can also jump in and take a swim, but be careful not to swim too near the falls itself!


4. Shop till you drop

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra center point medan

No holiday will be completed without a trip to the mall. Get your shopping fix at Medan’s biggest shopping mall – Center Point Medan. Housing many international brands as well as a cinema, it is not difficult to get great deals while shopping there. The plus-point? A supermarket filled with local goodies that will your souvenir-shopping a walk in the park.




5. Eat your way through Medan

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Lontong Sayur

Image Credit: @Wowkuliner

Lontong Sayur, Soto Medan and Bika Ambon are some of the must-eats for your trip to Medan. A breakfast food in Medan, the Lontong Sayur is made of compressed rice cakes known as lontong, served in coconut milk soup with shredded tofu, hard-boiled egg, sambal and various ingredients. Soto Medan is a Medan-styled chicken noddle soup, and Bika Ambon is a sweet dessert made from tapioca flour. Readily available throughout Medan, you will have no lack of Indonesian food throughout your stay there. 

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Bukit Lawang Durians

Image Credit: @bukitlawangparadise

A day-trip to Bukit Lawang will bring you the tastiest, though some might dispute, fruit – Durian! While the fruits are also readily available in Medan, a little bird gave us the tip that it is cheaper here. Give your taste buds an awakening with the King of fruits after some jungle trekking where the sweet fruit can make you feel fuller before heading back to Medan for dinner.


While we are on the topic of food, one of the hot spots in Medan, Merdeka Walk, is jam packed with outdoor eateries that ranges from traditional Indonesian cuisines to international brands like Starbucks. The area comes alive at night with its bright neon lights and busy stalls with tourists lined up for a taste of great food.


6. Hipster cafes on point

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra The Thirty-Six

An emerging scene for cafes, Medan is home to a handful of pretty cafes that will give your local cafes a run for their money. Check out Macehat Coffee with its pretty latte art and affordable pricing, or The Thirty-Six with their manual brews, huge selection of Western meals and pretty cakes. Don’t forget those Instagram-worthy shots while you enjoy a lazy and relaxed afternoon at these cafes!


7. Lake Toba

Things to Do in Medan and North Sumatra Lake Toba

Image Credit: @narendroo

We caved. No visit to Medan can be completed without a trip to Lake Toba because what’s not to love there? Chill by the lake or take a dive into the waters, you can even go jet skiing if you are more adventurous. If you want a bird’s eye view of the lake, look up and you will find huts on the edges of the higher cliffs where locals run inexpensive coffee houses for you to relax and recharge.

Lake Toba is one great natural wonder that even a Bali Getaway to the ‘Island of the Gods’ will not yield you any lake that comes close to this, not even the wildly popular Lake Bratan (Pura Ulun Danu) or Lake Batur.

Next stop check out Berastagi and Parapat.




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