Bucket List: Best Places to Visit in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Explore the vast grounds of Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. Kandy has many scenic and historical sites along with their best species taken from herbs and cinnamon. It’s easy to stroll the vicinity as you won’t feel the exhaustion. At the same time, engross in fantastic and amazing sites, which include the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, Kandy Lake, and the Royal Botanical Gardens.
1. Re-energize Yourself in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth
The Temple of Sacred Tooth is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage site because of its ancient history and, specifically, what it holds— the relic of Buddha. Being one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, visitors and locals like to pay their respects and look at Budhha’s real tooth’s relic.
The City of Kandy was deemed an ancient kingdom during the lifetime of Buddha, which holds a significant understanding of why people built this temple.
When it comes to more legends about it, it is believed that whoever holds the relic of the sacred tooth of Buddha has the power of the country’s government.
2. Visit the Dalada Maligawa Museum
The Dalada Maligawa Museum comprises two floors containing a stunning cascade of gifts donated by presidents and Buddhist leaders to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.
These letters from the British time reveal the colonizers’ unseemingly and surprising respect for the tooth relic.
If you want to visit more museums, you can go to the Sri Dalada Museum, which is also located within the complex of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
3. Discover the Tales of Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake, located just in front of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, was formerly a stretch of paddy fields known as Tigolwela. It is also commonly known as Kiri Muhuda, which translates to the Sea of Milk.
It is a human-made lake sitting in the heart of Kandy’s hill city and built by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. As years passed, its size was reduced, and encouragement to protect it was started to the point that fishing became banned.
When it comes to one of many fascinating folktales about the lake, it is said that the island located at its center was used by the king’s helm for bathing and was connected to the palace by a secret tunnel.
To learn more about its tales, you can visit and talk with the locals about their fascinating legends.
4. Watch the Cultural Dance Show
A reflection of Sri Lanka’s rich culture and tradition can be seen in this vibrant and unique show that showcases Sri Lankan dance, art, and heritage.
The Kandy Lake Club, which started in 1982, performs almost 12 different folk and traditional dances within one hour in 35 years.
It has since attracted tourists from other countries and encouraged people to know more about their rich culture. We won’t give any spoilers for your good but be prepared for their jaw-dropping highlight!
5. Explore the Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens were once only for the eyes of Kandyan royalty. At present, commoners are already allowed to enjoy the most impressive and most extensive botanic gardens in Sri Lanka amounting to around 60 hectares, which is the finest in Asia.
Immerse yourself in nature by looking at the scenic view of a collection of orchids, a stately avenue of royal palms, the giant fig tree, and the Burma bamboo.
Alongside these plants which are around 4,000 different distinct plants and 10,00 trees, you’ll share the experience with thousands of wing-flapping fruit bats and hundreds of monkeys. Admire the beauty of Sri Lanka’s flora and many other tropical plants not native to the island.
6. Snack on the Kandy Market Hall
If you’re hungry and craving something different, the Kandy Market Hall is a place to stop by and explore. This market is the oldest market square found in Kandy, which sells a vast range of items like local fruits and vegetables, tea, and snacks on the first floor.
At the same time, you can get high-quality handmade crafts from locals, including books, souvenirs, and clothes on the second floor. To get a good deal, you can also haggle with shop vendors to get your desired price.
7. Visit the Ranweli Spice Garden
For another trip dedicated to taste, this will be an exciting trip that will fulfill your taste buds. The Ranweli Spice Garden will do the job with its excellent natural products of cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, peppercorn, and other herbs and spices.
They can teach you about the process of growing these natural delights using ecologically friendly methods that would not harm the environment. There’s also a one-stop shop for souvenirs where you can purchase some exotic spices.
8. Watch the Esala Perahera procession
The Esala Perahera is an annual event held in July or August. During this month, Buddha attained enlightenment, lasting for around 10 days. In line with this, the Esala Perahera in Kandy is celebrated to honor the Sacred Tooth Relic and the four ‘guardian’ Gods Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama, and Goddess Pattini.
It is considered one of the oldest and grandest Buddhist festivals where you can entertain yourself with the fantastic performances of dancers, fire-breathers, acrobats, lavishly decorated elephants, musicians, and jugglers.
9. Explore the Udawattakele Forest Reserve
Nestled in the heart of Kandy, this sanctuary is an escape from the bustling city. You can step into the jungle to have another perspective and view aside from the urban city.
You will see rare and endemic bird species and dwell on ancient ruins of dwellings used by monks. Various flora and fauna can be found in this protected and well-taken area in terms of ecology.
10. Stay at a Rainforest Resort
Having a relaxing and extravagant place at the Cinnamon Citadel is your ideal retreat for a carefree getaway. This Modern Group-oriented Hotel in the hill country is bordering the Mahaweli River. Enjoy the view of sweeping green hills, misty mornings, and awe-inspiring moments.
The resort is designed to reflect this rich history and majesty using ‘heritage’ red representing royalty and white spaces, symbolizing a modern, chic, and sophisticated ambiance.
11. Head up the hill and visit the Bahirawakanda Buddha Statue
The Bahirawakanda Buddha Statue is built at Sri Maha Bodhi Temple, located on the top of the Bahirawa Kanda hill. This gigantic sculpted white statue, standing at 88 feet, is one of the most giant Buddha statues found in Sri Lanka.
Buddha is seated in an iconic Nirvana pose, which can be seen in Kandy’s whole city. You can climb the top of the hill for panoramic shots for spectacular photographs and memories. It’s recommended to visit at night when the entire statue is lit up, and the city looks like a map of twinkling stars.
12. Sip Your Tea at the Ceylon Tea Museum
This spectacular museum has four floors for different purposes. It displays ancient machinery, library, and auditorium facilities with audio and visual presentations on the ground and second floor.
Going up to the third floor, that’s where you can enjoy the taste of tea in the café. On the last floor, you can admire mountain ranges that can be viewed with a mounted telescope.
13. Visit the Historic Three-Temple Loop of Kandy
Sri Lanka has stunning museums and villages. They also have the Three-temple Loop, which is the most exciting place to visit. The Three Temple Loop is named after the three temples called Embekke, Lankathilake, and Gadaladeniya, just a few steps away from each other.
Each temple has a lot of historical information about the ancient kingdom’s era, carved mostly in stone.
14. Hike to Alagalla Mountain Range
The Alagalla Mountain Range is also referred to as the “Potato Mountain” because of the potato-shaped rock which translates to “Tuber rock.”
It is located at a 3,740-foot peak, inspiring hikers to conquer and stand on its summit.
15. Ride the Kandy to Ella Train
If you have time for a scenic ride that can last for over six hours and where you can stop for a few days, this train journey would be the best for you. Nuwara Eliya is one ideal place to stop for a few days and explore the local tea plantations.
You’ll see the landscape during the journey that will take you through stunning tea plantations, waterfalls, rolling mountains, clouds, and mist.
Kandy Travel and Tour Packages
To help you plan out your vacation to Kandy, we listed places to visit and other amazing Kandy, Sri Lanka activities. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.
Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Kandy hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.