From the moss-speckled statues and intricate Hindu offerings to the carved flourishes on wooden furniture, artistry abounds in Ubud. Once a collection of quiet villages with an eclectic creative scene that drew painters, writers and filmmakers from faraway lands, it was established as a cultural center in the 1930s. Almost a century later, multiple museums house vast collections of works by Bali’s most influential artists while traditional dance and music are performed nightly. But although Ubud is world renowned for its customary arts, a kaleidoscopic array of contemporary creations is produced by locals and foreigners who call the town home, and with major events on the calendar, October is the ideal time to visit for an inspiring art-filled weekend.
One of the best ways to get to know a place is to walk its streets, which makes joining a walking tour led by Ubud Story Walks one of the best ways to get to know Ubud. Starting in the cool of the early morning, the mile-long meander takes in Bali’s oldest art museum and the home of its most revered artist, I Gusti Nyoman Lempad. A prolific stone sculptor, architect and painter who is said to have died at the age of 116, many of Ubud’s most distinctive landmarks and the artistic styles of younger generations across the island echo his enduring legacy.
A three-minute stroll from Lempad’s house is the home of some of Bali’s best coffee: Seniman, which means “artist” in Indonesian. The name isn’t just reflected in the cups of arabica and robusta they harvest, process, and roast themselves; the café is bristling with the quirky and playful design aesthetic of its founder Rodney Glick, an Australian sculptor. From its groundbreaking Indonesian Coffee Flavor Wheel to its vibrant wooden sticks on which drinks are served, Seniman is at the vanguard of both coffee and café decor in the region.
If at lunchtime you’re keen on consuming art along with an unforgettable meal, head to Locavore (though be sure to book ahead). The country’s only entrant on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, chef-owners Eelke Plasmeijer and Ray Adriansyah have redefined what it means to use Indonesian-only ingredients for fine dining at their small and unassuming restaurant — but they’ve got bigger things in sight.