From Labuan Bajo airport, lots of drivers will negotiate a trip to Ruteng for you. Prices range from 250 to 600,000Rp. For 60,000 you can go by local buses or 'Travel' (which are cars) do the Labuan Bajo - Ruteng route. Some of them continue to Bajawa - Ende - Maumere. An Ojek can bring you for 10,000 to the starting point of the 'Travel' (from the airport or town).
In the dry season (May-October) two airlines, Merpati and Trans Nusa, fly 3-4 times of week from Ruteng to the province capital Kupang.
A motorbike is ideal to discover the surrounding area. The town itself is small and manageable on foot, but has few sights to offer.
Ruteng is a small town with no real attractions. The main points of interests are around the town. The surrounding nature is beautiful, and very accessible by motorbike. The main attractions are as follows:
- 1 Liang Bua Caves. The prehistorical caves where the fossils of homo florensis were found. The small museum next to the cave has a replica of the skeleton, the original is in Jakarta. The caves themselves are not particularly special, but the surroundings and the road there are very pretty. Google maps will actually find the way here. Head north from Ruteng and follow the signs. Ask the helpful locals if unsure, eventually you end up at a small museum to the right painted in yellow. The exhibit is in Bahasa Indonesia but the staff will try to translate for you and then accompany you to the cave (50 meters away) and show you its small secrets. 20,000 Rp.
- 2 Spiderweb rice-fields. About 20 min drive west from town along the Flores highway. Look out for an intersection where the highway turns left. Just continue straight through the intersection (leaving the highway) and follow the road for 500m. After a short hike up a hill, you have the view of the valley and the spiderweb rice-fields. Definitely worth a visit. 20 000Rp.
- Ranamese Lake. (Danau Rana Mese) 30 km from town, on the main road towards Bajawa. Beautiful lake, with a small waterfall which can be visited (with a guide) around there. It is possible to walk around the lake on a small path (around 45 minutes). The area is very calm with a few fishermen plying their trade. It is also possible to visit a 75m waterfall near one of the surrounding villages, ask the ticket officer of Ranamese Lake for more information. 5,000 Rp.
Drive to Bajawa. The surroundings are beautiful, more scenic than the famous Ubud area with massive amounts of terraced rice fields down the mountain to the sea.
- Rent a motorbike. Motorbikes can be rented from Rima Hotel. Approx. 100,000 rupiah per day. The spiderweb rice fields make for a nice half day trip. Traditional village Todo is another interesting destination within 2 hour or so distance to the south; drive is along potholed windy road into the mountains.
As with every other Indonesian town, there are many Masakan Padang places to eat at, showing off the selection of food in their window. As the evenings can be chilly, the local soup (Baksoto and Soto ayam) places are popular with the locals. The fried bananas (Pisang Goreng) here are delicious, especially when still hot (ask if they are 'hangat').
The Rumah Makan II at the bottom of the town square offers slightly more expensive but very good food with a varied menu of Indonesian dishes.
- Kopi Mane Inspiration, Jl. Yos Sudarso No. 12. Cosy cafe that has legitimately good coffee (freshly ground and with machine). Try the ginger coffee or ginger tea. Also offers basic but very tasty Indonesian meals, as well as fried chicken with chips. Very amicable English-speaking owners.
- Rima Hotel, Jalan Ahmed Yani. Swiss style hotel made of dark wood, it even has a Swiss cuckoo clock at reception. It's a bit gloomy and reportedly noisy, but it has internet cafe facilities and a small shop selling toiletries, snacks and drinks. The owner is friendly and speaks good English. They have a 200,000Rp "bisnis" room with hot water with clean sheets, hot water shower, and western style toilet. For 100.000Rp you get an "ekonomi" room for up to three people: shared cold water bathrooms, not a single plug in the rooms. The included breakfast is an egg toast and local ruteng coffee. 200,000rp.
- Kongregasi Santa Maria Berdukacita, Jl. A Yani 45. Staying at this convent is a fun experience. Peaceful and clean place - great value. The nuns will give you a simple breakfast in the morning with coffee, eggs and bread. Showers have hot water. The gate closes at 9pm and there is no Wi-Fi. Located on the same street as Rima Hotel.
- 1 Ranaka Hotel, JL. Kom L Yos Sudarso, No. 2. Very basic hotel. Breakfast is a single piece of sweet bread and tea/coffee. 60 000 for one person. 100,000 for two person room..
- 2 Hotel Sinda. "Best hotel in Ruteng" according to locals. 350,000 for standard room. More expensive rooms are available..