There are 3 routes going up Gunung Lawu. With increasing difficulty, the first route begins at Cemoro Sewu, the second at Cemoro Kandang and the 3rd is the Candi Cetho route.
The two Cemoros are very nearby. They are easily accessible from the town of Tawangmangu (30 mins) which is in turn about 1 hour’s drive from Solo. For this trip, I flew from Jakarta to Solo, then took a taxi to stay a night at Tawangmangu. There are some very nice and affordable rooms in this beautiful town in the highlands.
As usual, I did not pre-book for the climb through an agent in Tawangmangu (expensive) or Solo (even more expensive). I don’t need an English-speaking guide, so I have a lot more choices. Arriving at Cemoro Kandang at about 1000, I just casually asked the ibu at the warung if she knew anyone who could guide me up the mountain. Ibu shouted to someone loafing around on a bench, he picked up his phone and a few calls later, a guy wearing a jacket, hiking boots and bandana roared into the warung on his motorbike. It’s on YouTube.