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23 Best Places To Visit In Kandy, Sri Lanka In 2024

Are you looking for the best places to visit in Kandy? You’ve come to the right place!

Kandy is a beautiful and vibrant city in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. It’s the second-largest city in the country and is known for its rich history, unique culture, majestic temples, scenic mountain views, and serene nature reserves.

Most tourists only spend a night or two here before jumping straight on the famous scenic train to Ella.

However, there are so many fun and interesting things to do in Kandy. I’d definitely recommend sticking around to get to know the city a little better. It’s my favourite city in Sri Lanka, and I’ve been there twice now.

Table of Contents

In this post, I’ll be sharing with you my pick of the best places to visit in Kandy. This includes some of the obvious main sights, such as the famous Temple of the Tooth, Royal Botanic Gardens, and Kandy Lake.

But I’ve also included some genuine hidden gems that I only learned about from my local friends, like the Knuckles Forest Reserve and Victoria Reservoir.

🤩 Short for time? Check out this excellent (and good-value) full-day tour of Kandy’s most famous sights

23 Best Places to Visit in Kandy, Sri Lanka

No matter what kind of experience you’re looking for, Kandy has something perfect for you. It’s definitely somewhere that I could see myself living at some point.

Here’s my pick of the best things to do and places to visit in Kandy.

the-temple-of-the-tooth-is-a-famous-place-to-visit-in-kandy

1. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa)

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Temple of the Tooth, for short) is one of the most important places to visit in Kandy.

It houses a canine tooth of Lord Buddha himself and is an extremely sacred place for Buddhists. Thousands of devotees and tourists visit the Temple of the Tooth every day.

The temple itself is housed inside a wider complex known as the Sacred City of Kandy. This used to be the royal capital of the former Kingdom of Kandy.

The complex is surrounded by a 19th-century white stone parapet and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that also includes the Royal Palace complex.

The Sinhala people have long believed that possession of the sacred tooth relic is vital to the governing of Sri Lanka. It is said to symbolise spiritual power and authority.

You can witness the daily rituals and ceremonies at the temple, which are mesmerizing. Once a week (on Wednesdays) the relic is also symbolically bathed in water mixed with herbs and flowers.

Inside the temple, you’ll find a large golden shrine, which houses the tooth, surrounded by other shrines filled with offerings.

Visiting the Temple of the Tooth is one of the most iconic things to do in Kandy – don’t miss it.

Price: 2,000 LKR ($6 USD) for foreigners (separate admission fees for foreigners and locals is fairly common in Sri Lanka)

Note: You can pre-book your entrance tickets here to skip the long queue at the entrance. However, this ends up costing more than twice as much, so I’d only recommend it if you’re very pressed for time.

Opening times: 5:30 am–8 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: 7JVR+CG Kandy, Sri Lanka

amazing-gnarled-tree-in-royal-botanic-gardens-kandy

2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya (One of my Favourite Places to Visit in Kandy)

5 kilometres southwest of the centre of Kandy, in the district of Peradeniya, lies the Royal Botanic Gardens. It’s a lush oasis that offers a wonderful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Founded in 1821 and covering 147 acres, it’s one of the largest and best-maintained botanic gardens in all of South Asia.

The Royal Botanic Gardens is home to over 4,000 different species of plants from all over the world. It has an amazing collection of trees, shrubs, flowers, spices, and plants (including an interesting section full of medicinal plants).

giant-tree-in-middle-of-lawn-in-peredeniya-royal-botanical-gardens-kandy

The gardens are also a haven for wildlife, including monkeys and many species of birds.

As soon as you step into the gardens, you’re greeted by an impressive array of palm trees. From here, take your pick from a number of tranquil paths that wind through the trees.

I recommend picking up a map from the entrance gate. The gardens are pretty big and there are many different areas to explore.

Guided tours are also available in both Sinhala and English that cover all aspects of the gardens. I didn’t bother with this and just set out by myself with a map.

royal-botanical-gardens-in-kandy

One must-see section of the gardens is its Orchid House, where you can admire over 300 species of rare and beautiful orchids.

Other highlights include cacti collections, avenue trees planted by British colonists in the 1870s, the Arboretum, the Fernery, and the Spice Garden.

Each section of the garden has its own unique charm. There’s something new and amazing to discover around each corner.

There’s even a suspension bridge across the Mahaweli Ganga River that links the gardens with the Gannoruwa district. It’s narrow and very wobbly, but fun as long as you’re not too afraid of heights!

suspension-bridge-in-royal-botanic-gardens-kandy

Allow at least a couple of hours to see the Kandy Royal Botanic Gardens properly. I spent an entire afternoon there and it was fantastic. This is definitely one of my favourite places to visit in Kandy.

Price: 2,000 LKR ($6.50 USD) Tourist price

Opening times: 7:30 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: Royal Botanic Gardens, Colombo – Kandy Rd, Kandy 20400, Sri Lanka

🤩 This is a fun 6-hour tuk-tuk tour of Kandy (includes the Botanic Gardens)

kandy-lake-is-one-of-the-most-popular-places-to-visit-in-kandy

3. Kandy Lake

Kandy Lake is one of Kandy’s most iconic landmarks. It’s serene, peaceful, and known locally as Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk.

It was constructed in 1807 by the last king of Sri Lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasingh to improve the local irrigation system.

Today, Kandy Lake is a scenic and enchanting spot in the heart of the bustling city. It’s also home to a large number of water birds and other wildlife.

You’ll probably notice the small island in the middle of the lake. According to local legend, it once housed the king’s summerhouse and was connected to the palace by a secret underwater tunnel.

Taking a leisurely walk along the banks of the lake is one of the best free things to do in Kandy. There are benches dotted around the shore where you can sit and take in the tranquil views.

The lake is surrounded by lush greenery and many of Kandy’s most important buildings, including the Temple of the Tooth and the former Royal Palace of Kandy.

And as day transitions into night, the lake takes on a magical charm, with the beautifully lit cityscape reflected in its still waters.

Price: Free

Location: Kandy, Sri Lanka

Udawatta-Kele-sanctuary-kandy

4. Udawatta Kele Sanctuary

Udawatta Kele Sanctuary is a lush forest reserve located right next to the centre of Kandy. It’s basically a slice of jungle in the heart of the city.

Amazingly, the entrance is only 500 metres from the main Kandy Road and a 15-minute walk from Kandy Lake. However, as soon as you step into the jungle, it’s like you’ve been transported to an entirely different place.

This is a great place to visit in Kandy for nature lovers – the sanctuary is known for its rich biodiversity. It has a wide variety of plant species, including giant liana vines and tropical shrubs.

It’s also home to many different mammals, snakes, other reptiles, insects, and numerous bird species – including eagles, parrots, parakeets, and kingfishers.

There are several fantastic hiking trails and paths, allowing you to immerse yourself in the peace and tranquility of the dense forest.

Keep an eye out for the little Buddhist temples, caves, shrines, and hermitages that are scattered throughout the reserve.

Note: you’re not allowed to take plastic items (including plastic water bottles) inside the sanctuary. There’s a place where you can leave bags at the entrance ticket office.

Also, a warning: leeches can be a problem during rainy periods, so I recommend wearing covered shoes if you plan to visit then. They’re not in any way dangerous. But they are pretty unpleasant and rank among my least favourite creatures.

Price: 900 LKR ($3 USD)

Opening times: 8 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: Forest Department Office, Sangamitta Mawatha, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka

Royal-Palace-Park-kandy-places-to-visit

5. Royal Palace Park (Wales Park)

Royal Palace Park, also known as Wales Park, is a small but picturesque public park located on a hilltop above Kandy Lake.

Due to its elevation, the park offers great views over Kandy, the lake, the Temple of the Tooth, and the surrounding hills. It’s particularly enchanting at sunset when the city is bathed in a warm, golden glow.

The park itself is an oasis of landscaped gardens, with colourful flowers, plants, and mature trees. It’s a popular spot for picnics and you’ll probably see local families and friends of all ages relaxing here.

One of Royal Palace Park’s most distinctive features is its Japanese field gun. This relic from the Second World War is displayed prominently in the centre of an ornamental pond

Take a leisurely walk through the greenery, or sit in the shade and enjoy the clean air and the panoramic views.

Price: 150 LKR ($0.50 USD) (it’s not always enforced)

Opening times: 8 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: 7JRP+4W5, Rajapihilla Mawatha, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka

Bahirawakanda-Vihara-giant-buddha

6. Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue (Sri Maha Bodhi Maha Viharaya)

The Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue (or Big Buddha) is an iconic Kandy landmark that’s hard to miss.

Perched atop Bahirawa Kanda Hill, this majestic statue stands at an impressive 88 feet, making it one of the largest Buddha statues in Sri Lanka. You can see it from all over Kandy.

main-street-in-the-centre-of-kandy

It was constructed in 1972 and depicts Buddha seated in the Nirvana pose, symbolising his first Enlightenment.

From the centre of Kandy, it takes about 20-30 minutes of steep uphill walking (or a 5-10 minute tuk-tuk ride) to get to the bottom of the steps leading up to the giant Buddha statue.

It’s definitely worth the effort to get here though. From up here, you get spectacular panoramic views of the entire city and the surrounding mountains.

Note: The statue is part of the Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya Buddhist temple, so you need to cover your knees and shoulders to enter.

Price: 600 LKR ($2 USD)

Location: 7JWJ+5GR, Bahirawa Kanda Rd, Kandy, Sri Lanka

🤩 Fancy doing some white water rafting near Kandy?

Kandy-View-Point-at-dusk

7. Kandy View Point (Arthur’s Seat)

Kandy View Point is another spot that offers fantastic views of Kandy. It offers a different aspect of the city and is a bit easier to reach than the Big Buddha statue (although I think both places are worth visiting).

From here you can clearly see landmarks like the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy Lake, and the Big Buddha. It’s a great spot to get a bird’s eye view of the city’s unique blend of urban bustle and natural beauty.

In the morning, the city awakens under a soft, golden light. By afternoon, the city is abuzz with activity, while the evening brings a serene ambiance as the city lights begin to twinkle.

Reaching Kandy Viewpoint involves a short climb, but there are plenty of benches where you can sit, relax, and soak in the scenery along the way.

Price: Free

Location: 20000, Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe Mawatha, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka

Ceylon-Tea-Museum

8. Ceylon Tea Museum

Tea plays an important role in Sri Lankan culture. If you’re a tea lover or simply curious about Sri Lanka’s rich tea history, a visit to the Ceylon Tea Museum in Kandy is a must.

Housed in a former tea factory, this museum showcases the history and heritage of tea production over the years, from traditional methods to modern machinery.

Each floor of the building is dedicated to a different aspect of tea production, providing a comprehensive look at the industry’s past and present.

You’ll learn about the various stages involved in making tea, from growing and maintaining the bushes to harvesting, blending, and then packaging the finished product ready for sale and export.

One of the museum’s highlights is a collection of antique tea processing equipment, some of which date back to the 1800s. These artifacts offer a fascinating glimpse into the intricate process behind your daily cup of tea.

Here you can also sample a variety of Ceylon teas. Each one is totally different, and I was really taken by the variety of flavours and aromas on offer.

There’s a shop too where you can buy some top quality Sri Lankan tea to take home with you.

Price: 750 LKR ($2.50 USD)

Opening times: 8:30 am–4 pm, Tue–Sun (closed Monday)

Location: Hantana Rd, Sri Lanka

🤩 Check out this awesome mountain biking tour through the tea plantations above Kandy

9. Commonwealth War Cemetery

The Commonwealth War Cemetery in Kandy is a poignant and solemn reminder of the enormous sacrifices made during World War II.

Nestled amidst lush greenery, this immaculately maintained cemetery honours the memory of soldiers from the Commonwealth nations who were laid to rest here.

Each grave is marked with a simple white headstone inscribed with the soldier’s name, rank, and regiment. The headstones are neatly arranged in rows surrounded by manicured lawns and vibrant flowers.

What struck me most about this place is the diversity of the soldiers buried there. The graves are of servicemen from many different countries, backgrounds, and religions. It really highlights the global impact of the war.

The grounds are peaceful and serene, making it an ideal spot for reflection and remembrance. The well-tended gardens, the chirping birds, and the tranquil setting all contribute to an ambiance of calm and respect.

There are also several historical markers and plaques around the cemetery, which provide information about the individuals who died during this dark period of history.

Price: Free

Opening times: 7 am–4 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: 7JJ5+P85, Kandy, Sri Lanka

cultural-dance-show-at-the-Kandyan-Cultural-Centre

10. Kandyan Cultural Centre (& Kandyan Art Association)

Immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s vibrant culture at the Kandyan Cultural Centre.

Located in the heart of Kandy, this centre is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional arts, crafts, dance, and music. It’s a real cultural hub and offers a great taste of the country’s rich heritage.

One of the centre’s main highlights is its daily cultural show. This mesmerizing performance features traditional Kandyan dances, live music, drumming, and acrobatics.

Each dance tells a story, and provides a fantastic insight into Sri Lankan culture, its customs, traditions, folklore, and rituals that have been passed down for centuries.

Also, don’t miss the Kandyan Art Association next door. This showcases a variety of local arts and crafts, including exquisite batik prints, intricate wood carvings, and delicate lacework.

In addition to performances and exhibits, the centre offers workshops where you can try your hand at various crafts. Whether it’s carving a wooden mask or painting a batik cloth, these sessions offer a unique, hands-on experience.

Price: 2,000 LKR ($6.50 USD)

Opening times: 9 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: 72 Sangaraja Mawatha, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka

🤩 Hungry? This is a highly-reviewed private street food tour in Kandy

Hanthana-Mountain-peak

11. Hanthana Mountain

The city of Kandy is located in a natural bowl surrounded by mountains. The large 7-peaked mountain range that lies due south of the city is called Hanthana.

It’s an environmental protection area and a popular spot with hikers and nature lovers. There are several hiking trails, of various difficulties, winding through lush forests, past freshwater springs, and up to peaks offering breathtaking views.

From these vantage points, you can take in panoramic vistas of Kandy city, the surrounding countryside, and on clear days, even the Knuckles Mountain Range (see below).

Most tourists don’t make it up here, but it’s a favourite among locals and features in various Kandyan folklore.

If you have the necessary gear, you could even camp out on one of the peaks under the starry night sky. I didn’t get the chance to do this during my time in Kandy, but a couple of people told me that it’s a great thing to do if you can.

To get to the best hiking areas, first, head up to the Ceylon Tea Museum (above). Then continue along Hanthana Road away from the direction of Kandy (i.e. south), passing through the tea plantations.

The road continues climbing uphill. Keep an eye out for the hiking trails on your right-hand side. Maps.me has the main trails marked – I recommend downloading this before you set off to prevent you from getting lost.

Stick to the well-made paths and beware of leeches during rainy periods…

leech-bite-in-sri-lanka

Price: Free (excluding transport to get there)

Location: Hantana – Uduwela Rd, Sri Lanka

🤩 If you’d prefer a guide, this is a good private guided hiking tour of Nanthana Mountain (includes transport)

12. National Museum of Kandy

The Kandy National Museum offers a fascinating journey through Sri Lanka’s rich history. Housed in the former Royal Palace of Kandy, this museum is a treasure trove of historical artifacts and cultural relics.

The museum’s collection spans several centuries, showcasing items from the Kandyan Kingdom through the British colonial period to the present day.

You’ll find an array of exhibits, including weapons, royal regalia, traditional clothing, artwork, coins, and intricate jewelry. Each artifact tells a story, offering insights into the country’s past.

One of the museum’s highlights is the display of royal attire, which showcases the opulence of the Kandyan royalty.

Another standout exhibit is a collection of traditional Kandyan drums, providing a glimpse into the island’s musical heritage.

The museum also houses an impressive collection of antique furniture, giving you a sense of the living standards of the royals and nobility.

Price: 600 LKR ($2 USD)

Opening times: 9 am–5 pm, Tues–Sat (closed Sun–Mon)

Location: 7JVR+8VW, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Gadaladeniya-temple

13. Gadaladeniya Temple (Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya)

The Gadaladeniya Temple, located on a hilltop near Kandy, offers a captivating blend of history, architecture, and spirituality. Built in 1344, this ancient temple is one of the most significant Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka.

The temple complex has a unique architectural style, influenced by South Indian designs. The main shrine, built entirely of granite, houses an impressive seated Buddha statue.

Intricate carvings adorn the temple’s wooden doors and stone pillars, reflecting the craftsmanship of the era.

Within the complex, you’ll also find four smaller shrines dedicated to various Hindu deities, symbolizing the religious harmony that existed during the period.

Another highlight is the dagoba (i.e. stupa) which features a distinct design influenced by Dravidian architecture.

Price: 300 LKR ($1 USD)

Opening times: 7 am–8 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: Gadaladeniya Paranapattiya Rd, Sri Lanka

🤩 Check out this fantastic Sri Lankan cooking class in Kandy

wood-carvings-at-Embekke-Devalaya

14. Embekke Devalaya (Embekka Dewalaya)

The Embekke Devalaya is a Hindu temple built in the 14th century by King Vikramabahu III. Interestingly, this temple is dedicated to Kataragama Deviyo, a deity revered by both Buddhists and Hindus.

It’s famous for its stunning wooden architecture and intricate wood carvings, considered among the finest examples of such craftsmanship in Sri Lanka.

The Drummers’ Hall, or Hevisi Mandapaya, features an array of beautifully carved wooden pillars. Each pillar is decorated with detailed motifs, including dancers, wrestlers, mythical creatures, and floral designs.

Despite their age, the carvings retain their intricate detail, offering a glimpse into the country’s rich artistic heritage.

In addition to its architectural beauty, the temple also holds a significant place in local folklore. It’s associated with various legends and traditions.

Price: 750 LKR ($2.50 USD)

Location: 210/e, Embekka, Handessa, Kandy 20480, Sri Lanka

Lankatilaka-temple-kandy

15. Lankatilaka Temple

The Lankatilaka Temple is another striking example of traditional Sinhalese architecture. Constructed in the 14th century during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV, this temple is an important site for Sri Lankan Buddhists.

The building has high walls that resemble a fortress, and the interior is decorated with intricate frescoes and carvings. At the heart of the temple is an impressive seated Buddha statue.

Another interesting aspect of Lankatilaka is its fusion of Buddhist and Hindu religious elements. Apart from the main Buddha shrine, the temple also houses shrines dedicated to various Hindu deities.

Price: 300 LKR ($1 USD)

Location: 6HM7+JX7, Daulagala, Sri Lanka

🤩 Want to visit Sigiriya too? This is an excellent day tour to Sigiriya from Kandy (also includes the Dambulla Cave Temples)

Also, see my post on the 16 Best Things To Do In Sigiriya.

Aluvihara-rock-cave-temple-matale

16. Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple

Located 28 kilometres north of Kandy, in the hills near Matale, the ancient Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple dates back to the 3rd century BC.

It’s believed that this is the site where the Buddhist scriptures, known as the Tripitaka, were first written down in Sri Lanka on palm leaves. It’s an important site for Buddhist pilgrims who come here to offer prayers.

As you explore the temple, you’ll discover a series of rock caves adorned with vibrant murals and Buddha statues. Each cave tells a different story from Buddha’s life or the history of Buddhism, depicted through art.

The Hell Cave features graphic depictions of hell to serve as a reminder of the consequences of immoral behavior according to Buddhist teachings.

Another noteworthy feature is the library, which contains ancient palm-leaf manuscripts and statues made out of various materials.

Price: 300 LKR ($1 USD)

Location: FJXC+3PV, Thotagamuwa, Sri Lanka

17. Degal Doruwa Raja Maha Vihara

The Degal Doruwa Raja Maha Vihara is another sacred Buddhist rock temple located near Kandy.

One of the most striking features of the temple is its stunning murals. These intricate paintings are very colourful and depict various Buddhist Jataka stories (tales about the previous lives of the Buddha).

Within the temple, you’ll also find several beautiful Buddha statues. In the main shrine room, there is an 18-foot-long reclining Buddha and murals showing a number of pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka, including several places in Anuradhapura.

Price: Free (donations are appreciated)

Location: 55 Sirimalwatta – Amunugama – Madawala Rd, Sirimalwatta, Sri Lanka

18. Kandy City Centre

Located in the heart of Kandy, next to Kandy Lake, Kandy City Centre (popularly known as KCC) is a modern indoor shopping mall spread across 3 levels.

It’s a popular spot with locals of all ages and contains a wide range of retail outlets, from local boutiques to international brands.

Whether you’re looking for clothes, electronics, books, or unique souvenirs, you’re likely to find what you need here.

The mall also features several jewelry stores, offering exquisite pieces crafted from Sri Lanka’s famous gemstones.

Kandy City Centre also has a food court with a good selection of different cuisines, a supermarket for grocery shopping, and a modern cinema (KCC Multiplex).

KCC isn’t a typical tourist destination in Kandy. But I like that it gives a genuine insight into everyday life in the city. Given its convenient central location, it’s well worth stopping by.

Price: N/A

Opening times: 10 am–9:30 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe Mawatha, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka

🤩 This is a great-value day tour to Nuwara Eliya from Kandy

view-of-knuckles-mountain-range-in-sri-lanka

19. Knuckles Forest Reserve (My Favourite Place to Visit Near Kandy)

The Knuckles Forest Reserve (or Knuckles, for short) is another place that most tourists don’t get to see.

Several Sri Lankan people I met told me that it’s their favourite place in the country and that I had to visit. So I did, and wow. It’s utterly spectacular.

Named after the Knuckles Mountain Range, which resembles a clenched fist, this place is a real paradise of rugged peaks, deep valleys, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls.

waterfall-in-knuckles-forest

It’s also a biodiversity hotspot, home to many endemic species of flora and fauna.

I spent two days exploring the Knuckles Forest Reserve and fell in love with the place.

Here you’ll find a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks to challenging hikes, each offering a unique perspective of its stunning beauty. The hike to Deanston Mini World’s End is one of the more accessible ones.

However, it’s mandatory to have an official guide if you want to go deeper into the reserve, regardless of your experience level. This is partly for conservation reasons, but also partly due to the area’s vastness and the risk of getting lost.

I recommend spending at least one night here to give yourself enough time to enjoy it properly.

glamping-by-offtrek-in-knuckles-mountains

Nomi and I stayed at Glamping by Offtrek and it was honestly one of the most special, memorable places we’ve ever spent the night.

The guys there were so hospitable, the food was delicious, and the views from our Geodome were unreal. In the morning, they took us on a hike up to see a hidden waterfall before cooking us an incredible breakfast. 5-star service.

view-from-geodome-glamping-pod-in-knuckles-forest-reserve

If they’re full, try Wild Glamping Knuckles which offers a similar setup.

Both of these places can organise a guide to take you on longer treks into the mountains. Just ask in advance if this is something you want to do.

If you have your own transport, you can drive all the way up to Saree Ella Waterfall, via Huluganga Waterfall.

However, DO NOT take this “road” if you don’t have a 4×4. We did this in our rented tuk-tuk and almost destroyed it. The “road” is barely more than a rocky track and there are steep drops in many places.

Funny in hindsight, but quite stupid.

glamping-in-knuckles-mountains

Another leech warning: the main downside to the Knuckles Mountains is the leeches. Without leech socks and an effective leech remover (e.g. a mixture of Dettol and vinegar in a squirty bottle), you will be eaten alive while hiking.

Buy leech socks here!

🤩 This is a great full-day guided hike in Knuckles (includes transport to/from Kandy)

Or, if you’d prefer to do an overnight trip, check out this highly-reviewed guided hike in Knuckles (includes 2 nights’ accommodation and all meals)

20. Pallekele International Cricket Stadium

The Pallekele International Cricket Stadium is a state-of-the-art venue located 13 kilometres east of Kandy. With a capacity of 35,000, it’s one of the largest and best cricket stadiums in the country.

Inaugurated in 2009, Pallekele (also known as Kandy Stadium) has hosted numerous international cricket matches, including World Cup games.

Pallekele is known for its lively pitch, making games exciting and unpredictable. The stadium is also nestled amidst lush green hills, providing a gorgeous backdrop to the on-field action.

There weren’t any matches on here during the times that I visited Kandy. But I’d love to go one day. I went to a game in Galle and it was fantastic.

If you get the chance to watch a cricket match here, it’ll be an amazing experience I’m sure. Sri Lankans love cricket and the atmosphere is always great.

Matchday ticket prices: 300–6,500 LKR ($1–21 USD)

Opening times: 8 am–6 pm, Mon–Sun

Location: 7PJC+7X8, Kandy-Mahiyangane-Padiyatalawa Hwy, Pallekele, Sri Lanka

🤩 Check out this day tour to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa from Kandy

nelligala-international-buddhist-centre

21. Nelligala International Buddhist Centre

Perched on a hilltop near Kandy, the Nelligala International Buddhist Centre is a modern temple that was opened in 2015.

Primarily a centre of Buddhist teaching, it was built to be a symbol of unity and peace among all nations and religions.

The temple has an ornate gold stupa, a giant gold bowl containing a sacred bodhi tree, several golden statues of Buddha, and a statue of Sumana Saman (a traditional Sinhala deity) riding a white elephant.

There are various shrines, libraries, meditation halls, and accommodation facilities at Nelligala.

The centre hosts a range of educational and cultural programmes, workshops, lectures, ceremonies, and retreats, including many on Buddhism and philosophy.

Its hilltop location also offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, making it a perfect spot for contemplation and meditation.

Visiting the Nelligala International Buddhist Centre is an enriching experience. Whether you’re interested in Buddhism, seeking spiritual solace, or simply want to enjoy the serene environment and stunning views, Nelligala is well worth a trip.

I’d like to go on an intensive meditation retreat here at some point.

It takes about 30 minutes to get to Nelligala from Kandy by road.

Price: Free (donations are appreciated)

Location: Nelligala Rd, Sri Lanka

reservoir-near-kandy

22. Victoria Dam & Victoria Reservoir

This is another place that I only heard about via a local.

The Victoria Dam is the tallest dam in Sri Lanka and powers the country’s largest hydroelectric power station. It was completed in 1985 and plays a vital role in Sri Lanka’s sustainable energy production.

The Victoria Reservoir, created by the dam, is a haven for wildlife. Surrounded by lush greenery, it offers stunning views with a backdrop of rolling hills.

I drove past here on the way to Arugam Bay on the east coast. I didn’t have time to do a hike, but it’s a beautiful and scenic place.

Price: Free (excluding transport to get there)

Location: Victoria Reservoir, Sri Lanka

🤩 Travelling to Arugam Bay? Check out this 3-day tour from Kandy to Arugam Bay (via Sigiriya and Minneriya National Park)

Here are 8 of the best national parks for going on safari in Sri Lanka.

Ranawana-Purana-Rajamaha-buddha-statue

23. Ranawana Purana Rajamaha Viharaya Temple

One more temple on this list. (As you’ve gathered, there are lots of temples in and around Kandy!)

Ranawana Purana Rajamaha Viharaya Temple is home to the world’s tallest walking Buddha statue, which stands an impressive 80 feet high.

The statue, with its serene expression and intricate detailing, exudes a sense of peace and spirituality that permeates the entire complex.

The temple grounds also house several other statues and structures depicting various scenes from the life of Buddha.

These include the Jathaka Katha Mandapaya, which illustrates the 550 Jataka tales through beautifully crafted sculptures.

It’s located just past the suburb of Kiribathkumbura, a 15-minute drive from the centre of Kandy.

Price: 300 LKR ($1 USD)

Location: 7HC7+JM8, Ranawana Temple Rd, Pilimathalawa, Sri Lanka

sunset-over-kandy-from-a-roof-terrace-with-benches-and-a-laptop

Best Restaurants in Kandy (& Other Places to Eat in Kandy)

Kandy is home to some fantastic restaurants. Here are a few of my favourites.

Soul Food

This amazing little place is tucked away down a backstreet behind the KCC shopping complex. They do delicious vegan food (I’m not a vegan but the food here is superb).

Try the jackfruit burger and the pumpkin soup.

Mandiya

Mandiya is consistently voted among the best restaurants in Kandy. The rice and curry here is some of the tastiest I’ve ever eaten, and it’s super popular with both locals and tourists alike.

The dishes on offer change daily, but try the mango curry if they have it. Prices are also super reasonable.

Balaji Dosai

After spending time in Jaffna, I found myself craving Tamil and South Indian food on a fairly frequent basis when I got back to Kandy. Balaji Dosai hit the spot perfectly.

Their masala dosas, chutneys, and dal vada (lentil fritters) are all excellent.

dosa-for-dinner-in-kandy

Buono

My favourite cafe in Kandy. Buono serves fantastic coffee, juices, teas, and a range of tasty food.

One time I was there, a couple of guys started randomly playing acoustic guitars, and a woman with a beautiful voice joined in to sing. Really friendly vibes here. I love the aesthetic of the place too.

Kuma Place

If you’re looking for a cheap, authentic local place to eat in Kandy, check out Kuma Place. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but trust me, the food here is delicious, especially their vegetable rotis and parathas.

There’s an open kitchen and you can watch food being prepared over an open fire. It’s a little bit out of the centre (20 mins walk), but I liked this place so much I came back twice.

How to Get to Kandy

Kandy is a major city located near the centre of Sri Lanka. It’s fairly easy to get there using various modes of transport.

Public buses tend to be the cheapest way to get to Kandy. You can get a direct bus to Kandy from a number of major towns and cities around the country, including Colombo, Trincomalee, Jaffna, and Dambulla (near Sigiriya).

Remember to bring cash for purchasing bus tickets onboard.

You can take the train to Kandy from Colombo, Hatton, Nanuoya (near Nuwara Eliya), Ella, and Badulla. Try to book tickets well in advance as they tend to sell out.

kandy-train-station-platform-with-train

Sometimes it’s possible to book Sri Lankan train tickets online on 12Go Asia. And sometimes it isn’t – I’ve never managed to figure out why (!) but it’s worth a try.

The train journey between Kandy and Ella is one of the most scenic in the world. It’s not exactly a secret. However, most tourists take the train from Kandy to Ella. Far fewer take it from Ella to Kandy.

My advice: take the train from Ella to Kandy, not from Kandy to Ella. Same track, same train, same views. But about 90% fewer tourists hanging out of the doors trying to get that Instagram photo.

from-from-the-train-getting-to-kandy

If time is a constraint and budget isn’t a concern, taxis (and sometimes Ubers) offer a comfortable and convenient way to travel to Kandy.

Always agree on a price in advance, and ask at your accommodation for guidance on fair prices if you’re not sure.

If you’re coming straight from Colombo airport, the easiest way to get to Kandy is to book a private transfer.

Joining a tour is another way to visit Kandy. This option can be particularly attractive for those with very limited time, although this is likely to be the most expensive form of transport.

🤩 This is an amazing 7-day tour of Sri Lanka’s “Cultural Triangle”

Or, if you have less time, check out this 2-day tour of Sri Lanka’s hill country

Hiring a tuk-tuk and driving yourself is an exciting and ultimately flexible way to explore Sri Lanka.

If this is something you want to do, I recommend booking with Tuk Tuk Ceylon Ride. They have excellent customer service, low prices, and will sort out all of the necessary paperwork and permits for you in advance.

Alternatively, take a look at this well-reviewed tuk-tuk rental company.

view-of-kandy-at-sunset-from-the-mountains

Where to Stay in Kandy

Kandy is a popular tourist destination with a huge range of accommodation options, from simple guesthouses to luxury hotels and everything in between.

Whatever your budget, you shouldn’t struggle to find a good place to stay in Kandy.

I’ve personally stayed at, and can highly recommend, Skyloft Kandy. It’s located high up in the hills above Kandy and has amazing views out over the city.

alex-tiffany-working-from-skyloft-hotel-in-kandy-sri-lanka

This great mid-range hotel has a beautiful rooftop bar/terrace, comfortable rooms, and the manager is super helpful and accommodating.

I’ve also stayed at City Breeze Residence, which is an excellent budget guesthouse/homestay surrounded by lush greenery. I saw a toucan and several monkeys here in the trees next to the upper terrace.

view-of-jungle-from-city-breeze-residence-kandy

It’s a 30-minute walk (or 10-minute tuk-tuk ride) from the centre of the city. The owners are very kind and plied me with delicious homemade food during Sri Lankan New Year. There isn’t any A/C here, but it’s very affordable.

alex-tiffany-with-host-family-in-kandy-sri-lanka

If you’re looking for something high-end and exclusive, The Theva Residency is one of the best luxury hotels in Kandy. It has stunning views of the mountains, an outdoor pool, and a sauna and hammam.

Alternatively, for the ultimate luxury getaway in the mountains, check out the GreenAcres Leisure Resort. It’s located a little way away from Kandy, but wow. Just look at the views from this place – I had to include it!

🤩 Click here to check prices and availability of all other Kandy accommodation on Booking.com

FAQs About What to Do in Kandy

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about visiting Kandy.

What are the most beautiful places in Kandy?

There are many beautiful places in Kandy. Some of my favourites include the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy Lake, Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, and the nearby Knuckles Forest Reserve.

Is Kandy worth visiting?

Yes, Kandy is definitely worth visiting! It’s a beautiful city filled with culture, history, and has an amazing natural setting in the mountains.

In fact, Kandy is my favourite city in Sri Lanka. I could easily live here.

What is Kandy famous for?

Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most important Buddhist sites in the world. It’s also famous for being the last capital of the ancient Sinhalese Kingdom that ruled Sri Lanka until 1815.

Is Kandy better than Colombo?

Kandy and Colombo are totally different. I prefer Kandy, but ultimately it comes down to personal preference.

Kandy is smaller, more laid-back, and much more scenic. It’s also located in the mountains and has a slightly cooler climate.

Colombo on the other hand is a large, modern capital city on the coast. There’s more going on in Colombo, but it lacks the intimacy of Kandy.

How many days are enough for Kandy, Sri Lanka?

You could see most of the top places to visit in Kandy in around 3 days.

However, if you’ve got a week to spend here, that’d be more relaxing. You’d be able to take your time and get a much better sense of the place.

Is Kandy or Ella better?

Kandy is a city; Ella is a small town (it’s more of a large village really). They’re both popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka, but there’s no easy answer to which is better.

It depends on the type of experience you’re looking for and what sort of things you want to do. There are more things to do in Kandy than in Ella.

What is the best time to visit Kandy?

The best time to visit Kandy is from December until May when the weather is mostly dry, sunny, and pleasant.

October and November tend to be Kandy’s wettest months, although rainfall is fairly common from June onwards.

You can still visit Kandy during the rainy season, although outdoor activities won’t be as fun, and you probably won’t be able to do much hiking.

Is one day in Kandy enough?

One day in Kandy is enough to get a small taste of the city. You’ll be able to visit some of the most famous sights in Kandy, such as the Temple of the Tooth, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and Kandy Lake.

However, it’s not really enough time to see more than that. I’d recommend staying for longer if you can.

Is the Temple of the Tooth worth seeing?

Yes, the Temple of the Tooth is worth seeing. It’s one of the most sacred places in the world for Buddhists and is one of Sri Lanka’s most important historical sites.

panoramic-photo-of-kandy-from-the-mountains

🤩 This is an excellent full-day tour of Kandy’s most famous sights

Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do in Kandy

Kandy is a fantastic city and somewhere that I’d love to return to. It offers a great mixture of culture, history, food, and natural beauty.

My favourite places in Kandy are the Royal Botanical Gardens, Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, Kandy Lake, and Buono Cafe. The nearby Knuckles Forest Reserve is also epic.

I also just really like the vibe of the city. It’s laid-back, friendly, and just big enough to be interesting, but not so big that it’s overwhelming.

I sometimes find myself imagining living in a house in the hills above Kandy. A house with big windows and a terrace overlooking the city. It’s an image that comes back to me fairly often. Maybe I’ll do it one day!

red-tuk-tuk-next-to-a-house-in-the-mountains-above-kandy

IMPORTANT: Never travel without travel insurance!

Here are three companies that I’ve used, and thoroughly recommend:

  • HeyMondo – the best value travel insurance provider on the market. They cover virtually every country in the world, they have an easy-to-use app, and their policies are straightforward and upfront, with minimal (often no) deductibles and excesses.
  • SafetyWing – if you’re a digital nomad like me, it’s essential that you have suitable insurance. It’s super flexible and affordable, you can sign up for as little or as long as you want, and can activate and deactivate it whenever you need to.
  • World Nomads – for adventurous travellers, covers 200+ activities that many other insurers won’t, such as skydiving, heli-skiing, rock climbing, rafting, scuba diving, cliff jumping, and kiteboarding (not available for residents of every country – check here).

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4 Comments

  1. Found your guide on Google. I must say that you’ve written a very informative travel guide on Kandy.

  2. Regardless of what kind of experience you seek, Sri Lanka has something for you. Having spent my childhood in Kandy, your post reminds me of those times I spent growing up in the city.

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  • I’m Alex Tiffany.  Former corporate city robot; lifelong travel addict.

 

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