9 Great Things To Do in Kandy, Sri Lanka

9 Great Things To Do in Kandy, Sri Lanka

9 Great Things To Do in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy, the second-largest city of Sri Lanka, is surrounded by mountain ranges and tea plantations. Due to its 3-hour distance from the capital Colombo, Kandy is a crowd favorite for travelers wanting to spend a day or two visiting its colonial buildings and religious sites. While most guidebooks mention Kandy city as the main attraction, there are more remarkable sights to see outside the city in the rainforest area. 

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things to do kandy sri lanka

Things to do in Kandy

Apart from Sri Lanka’s stunning beaches, it is also famous for its religious sites and spectacular train rides. This is where Kandy’s role in your Sri Lanka Route comes in, as the gateway to one of the most epic train journeys in the world and host to a myriad of cultural exhibits. Plan to spend one or two days in Kandy. 

1. Visit the Botanical Garden in Kandy

The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kandy is a place where people of all ages gather, especially at the weekends. The garden is famous for its countless (4000+) species of plants and trees. It is situated a 15-minute drive west of Kandy, and is a great escape from the city. Wander around the massive garden, take a towel and relax in the grass or sip a drink at one of the cafes. 

Entrance fee: 2,000 LKR (10 USD) – Pricey but worth it if you spend a couple of hours.

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things to do kandy sri lanka botanical gardens

2. The Streets of Kandy

The streets in Kandy center are filled with old colonial buildings and street vendors. Start from the Temple of the Tooth and wander around the old streets, enjoying a fresh coconut from one of the many colorful fruit stands.

Tip: Don’t forget to look up to see the beauty of the historical buildings!

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kandy sri lanka

3. Day trip to Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a stunning area about three hours drive from Kandy. It is home to Lion Rock, one of the Sri Lankan UNESCO world heritage sites and a must-do in Sri Lanka. Lion Rock is an enormous 200-meter square-shaped rock towering over the entire region. One of the best ways to experience this natural phenomenon is by hiking to the top at sunrise. For this reason, it is recommended to spend the previous night nearby in Sigiriya or Habarana.

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Kandy day trip Sigiriya

Tip: Pidurangdula lies opposite Sigiriya Rock and is a great alternative to avoid the crowds at sunrise. Not only do you get the same panoramic views as you would from Sigiriya but also a head-on view of Sigiriya Rock itself.

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4. Temple of the Tooth, Kandy

The Temple of the Tooth, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, is a beautiful golden-roofed Buddhist Temple in the heart of Kandy. Plan an early-morning visit to skip the crowds and see the legendary tooth relic of Buddha (yes the actual Buddha!). No expense is spared to protect the tooth, which is enclosed inside several golden boxes, covered in jewels.

The temple is a must-see in Kandy, not just for its religious fame as one of Buddhism’s most important shrines, but also for its beautiful interior!

Tip: You do not need a guide to enter the building, even though the guides at the front might say otherwise. 

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things to do kandy sri lanka Temple of the Tooth

5. Stay at a Rainforest Resort 

The real beauty of Kandy exists in its unique blend of nature and luxury. The nearby rainforest hosts a selection of resorts with pools overlooking the forest. Aarunya Resort is a sustainable nature retreat set within a 7-acre plantation, which they use to harvest fresh produce for their on-site restaurant. Their true Sri Lanka dining experience is, without a doubt, one of the best Sri Lankan meals you will have.

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sri lanka kandy Aarunya Resort

6. Do NOT visit an Elephant Orphanage 

Visiting an elephant orphanage is a popular thing to do in Kandy but this doesn’t mean it is ethically responsible. Although you might be led to believe that these establishments take care of animals (which is partly true), the animals are used more as a form of entertainment, rather than genuinely being taken care of. Multiple animal organizations, such as Born Free, have written about this and have stated that these examples of animal activities are always a no go.

➳ Here’s the best way to see the Elephants in Sri Lanka

7. Head for the hills to visit the Kandy Buddha Statue

The Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue is the biggest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka. This 88-foot high statue is nestled within the hilltops above Kandy, in the shadow of the Knuckles mountain range. The top can easily be reached by car or motorbike, and a small climb up the stairs will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the city.

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kandy white Buddha Statue

8. Kandy Lake

Stroll around the peaceful Kandy Lake, considered the heart and soul of the city because of its central location and undeniable beauty. In the middle of the lake is a tiny island with a few palm trees, recognized as one of Kandy’s iconic scenes and featured on many a postcard.

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things to do kandy sri lanka lake

Tip: When getting near the Temple of the Tooth do not buy any tickets from strangers on the streets. Kandy is sadly the only place in Sri Lanka where scams take place.

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kandy lake

9. Kandy to Ella Train

Kandy is the starting point of one of the world’s most beautiful train routes – a stunning 4-7 hour journey through the tea plantation hills, which is an absolute must-do on any Sri Lanka travel route. Feel the wind blow through your hair and across your skin, as you dangle your feet outside the door of the open train- an exhilarating experience that allows you to see nature in a totally unique way!

Options and Prices: Take the 4-hour ride to Nuwara Eliya or the 7-hour to Ella. A ticket costs around 400 LKR depending on the class and destination.

➳ Read: Epic Train Ride from Kandy to Ella in Sri Lanka

How to get to Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy has a strategic location in between all the major sites. The train station is connected to the central highlands, north to Jaffna, east to Trincomalee and to the capital Colombo.

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sri-lanka train ella kandy

Best restaurants in Kandy

As a popular travel hub, Kandy is not short of a variety of different restaurants and cuisines. The incredible flavours of traditional Sri Lankan dishes are well preserved, western recipes have been introduced and there is a great fusion of east meets west so that there is something for everyone in Kandy. These are our favourites:

  • Buono
  • Banana Chill
  • Vito Wood Fired Pizza
  • Indian Summer
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kandy street sri lanka

Where to stay in Kandy, Sri Lanka?

Kandy offers a good selection of affordable hostels and hotels. Stay in the city center to explore everything easily. Or choose for calmness by staying up in the hills.
We got you a $15 discount at Booking.com if you book via this link.

Hostels & Guesthouses

Hotels & Resorts

Find all the hotels in Kandy under $50 a night.

21/12/2019 https://www.saltinourhair.com/sri-lanka/kandy-sri-lanka/
Blog comments (14)

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  • Just a warning scams are increasing and in many places outside Kandy. We encountered the old favourite in Wellawaya the road to Ella apparently washed away and so an expensive tuk tuk ride. Fortunately we are not that gullible and caught the bus with dozens of school children who used us to practice their English.

  • whats the name of the place in #4 photo? thanks!

    • saltinourhair

      Hi Kara!
      Sorry, this was just an abandoned building we came across while strolling through the city. It doesn’t have a name.

  • Sri Lanka Reisen

    Great tourist place. temples are so beautiful. Such a good photo shot. I wish to visit there

  • A complete guide to things to do in Kandy. Great article and awesome photos all the photos are perfcet but Royal Botanical Garden one is my favorite. Except for Kandy did you guys wander through Colombo too? if answer is Please write a another blog post like this one. Cheers.

  • Heel mooie foto’s! Toen ik in Kandy was, sliep ik in een hotel met zicht op het meer. Was fantastisch om ‘s avonds op het terras te zitten met een biertje. :)

  • Praveen Mendis

    Amazing post..! guys ..really loved it.. the pictures are stunning… The views of you guys give a new dimension to Kandy…a dimension, that never seen before…thank you guys for it.. seems like you guys had a great time there….i personally feel, each and every place in this precious city needs a full day to explore completely am i correct…

    • saltinourhair

      Aw, thank you so much for your sweet words! You’re so right, this city is really worth it!

  • Tasha Elkins

    This is where those glorious train ride photos are from! I HAVE GOT TO GO ON THAT TRAIN! Bucket list item for sure!

    • SaltinourHair

      haha! Glad it’s on your Bucket list! For us it was one of the best experiences we have ever had while traveling!

  • Wow, Kandy looks so beautiful!! Those temples and that Buddha statue look absolutely incredible. Need to visit!

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