Kandy, the enchanting city tucked away in lush central highlands, is a must-visit destination filled with captivating attractions and rich culture in the heart of Sri Lanka.
As the country’s cultural capital, Kandy offers a plethora of fascinating experiences – from exploring ancient temples to discovering beautiful gardens and partaking in vibrant local festivals.
10 Best Things To Do In Kandy
If you’re planning your next adventure, look no further than our top 10 best places to visit while soaking up the charm of this stunning destination.
1. Visit The Temple Of The Tooth Relic
Explore the sacred history and rituals of Sri Lanka by visiting the Temple of the Tooth Relic, where you can immerse yourself in the serenity of the temple complex.
Stepping into the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, you’ll find yourself immersed in centuries worth of history and sacred rituals. This revered site houses what is believed to be a relic of the Buddha’s tooth, making it one of Sri Lanka’s most significant Buddhist pilgrimage destinations.
During your visit to this sacred place, observe as locals engage in age-old religious rituals such as offering flowers and lighting oil lamps. If you’re there during puja times – typically held three times a day – don’t miss out on witnessing these vibrant ceremonies filled with chants, music, and dancing.
As you stroll through this sacred complex, you can’t help but feel encompassed by an aura of spirituality and calmness that permeates throughout the temple grounds.
Take time to admire the striking Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue overlooking Kandy from a nearby hilltop as you wander through this holy haven. You might even have the opportunity to witness local monks adorned in vibrant orange robes conducting daily prayer rituals, providing a unique insight into their dedication to their faith.
2. Explore The Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya is one of the must-visit Kandy attractions for nature lovers seeking to explore the rich biodiversity of Sri Lanka. The lush, sprawling grounds cover an impressive 147 acres and are home to over 4,000 species of plants ranging from medicinal herbs and spices to towering trees that have stood tall for centuries.
Don’t miss out on exploring colorful palm-tree-lined avenues and bamboo groves where rare endemic species thrive.
While exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy, don’t forget to stop by the Orchid House and Spice Garden. This charming attraction offers a fascinating glimpse into the diverse plant life of Sri Lanka.
Admire the colorful display of orchids grown in different shapes and sizes, including rare species like Vanda Rothschildiana and Dendrobium Mousmee. Take a deep breath in as you stroll through rows of aromatic spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, vanilla, and pepper.
You’ll also have an opportunity to purchase fresh spices for cooking or souvenirs to take back home.
3. Take A Stroll Around Kandy Lake
One of the must-do things in Kandy is to take a leisurely stroll around the beautiful Kandy Lake. The lake boasts breathtaking views and charming scenery that are sure to captivate your senses.
A perfect spot for nature lovers, this picturesque location is also rich in historical significance as it was built by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807.
Walking around the lake will also give you an opportunity to witness local life and interact with friendly locals who often use it for jogging, fishing or just spending quality time with family and friends.
You can even rent a boat and enjoy a serene ride during sunset for an unforgettable experience.
4. Take A Scenic Train Ride To Ella
Hop on the train from Kandy to Ella for a breathtaking journey through rolling hills, cascading waterfalls, and lush green tea plantations. Don’t miss this as it’s one of the world’s best train rides that will leave you with memories of Sri Lanka’s stunning natural beauty.
Get a glimpse into the daily lives of locals as they go about their daily routine amidst breathtaking hills, valleys, and waterfalls.
The panoramic views on the way are breathtakingly beautiful, making it one of the most popular train journeys in Sri Lanka.
Once you reach Ella, you can enjoy an authentic taste of local life while experiencing majestic scenery found nowhere else in the world.
5. Visit The Tea Museum And Tea Plantations
Explore the history and production of Sri Lankan tea with a visit to the Tea Museum and Tea Plantations, where you can taste and shop various types of tea.
A trip to Kandy won’t be complete without exploring the tea estates and learning about the history and production of Sri Lankan tea. The Tea Museum in Kandy is a great place to start your journey, where you can witness the evolution of tea production in Sri Lanka, from the colonial era until today.
At the museum, you will learn about how tea plants were brought to Sri Lanka by British colonizers and how they shaped its cultivation practices over time.
You will also see traditional tools used by tea farmers such as wooden ladders for plucking leaves manually.
6. Visit Bahiravokanda Buddha Statue
The Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue is one of the most prominent landmarks in Kandy, rising at 88 feet tall. The statue was built in 1972 and overlooks the city from its hilltop location, providing a panoramic view of Kandy’s surroundings.
The Buddha statue stands as a symbol of peace and serenity and offers a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown Kandy. It’s an excellent place for contemplation, meditation or just enjoying some quiet time away from all stressors.
Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue is known for its elevated position offering stunning views over Kandy City combined with beautiful architectural designs and is one of the most famous places to visit in Kandy.
7. Eat At Vito Wood-fired Pizza
If you’re a pizza lover, make sure to stop by Vito wood-fired Pizza in Kandy. This restaurant serves up some of the best pizza in town with a crispy thin crust and delicious toppings.
Vito’s offers a range of classic pizzas such as Margherita or pepperoni as well as more unique flavors like spicy chicken or seafood. They also have vegetarian options available for those who prefer it.
In addition to their tasty pizzas, Vito’s also offers other dishes such as pasta and salads. The restaurant has a beautiful view over looking Kandy lake.
8. Explore Udawatta Kele Sanctuary
Udawatta Kele Sanctuary is a must-see nature reserve located in the heart of Kandy. This serene sanctuary features lush green forests and diverse wildlife, making it an ideal place for travelers seeking natural beauty and tranquility.
In addition to its stunning landscapes, Udawatta Kele Sanctuary has significant cultural importance as well. The site was once used as a royal park by Kandyan kings and even served as a refuge during battles against colonial powers.
Visitors can spend hours exploring the winding paths that weave through Udawatta Kele Sanctuary.
9. Roam The Streets Of The Kandy City Centre
Kandy Centre is filled with beautiful colonial buildings that are lined with street vendors. Travelers who love shopping will appreciate the town of Kandy for its extensive collection of products at reasonable prices. From jewelry to clothing to handmade crafts, there’s something for everyone.
You can start from the temple of the tooth and wander the streets through the city, be sure to try the delicious street foods along the way.
10. Take A Day Trip To Sigiriya
If you’re looking to do a Kandy day tour, take a day trip to Sigiriya and explore the ancient rock fortress known for its incredible views and fascinating history. This is one of the top things in Sri Lanka to see.
Sigiriya is a fascinating historical site located just a few hours away from Kandy.
To get to Sigiriya from Kandy, you can hire a tuk-tuk or take public transportation. It’s recommended to visit early in the morning to avoid crowds, heat, and long queues.
Once you arrive at Sigiriya, explore the extensive network of gardens at its base before ascending up around 1200 steps with intermittent rest areas along the way.
While visiting Sigiriya for only one day might seem rushed; however, there is plenty that travelers can do within that time frame.
How To Get To Sigiriya From Kandy
Sigiriya, located about 3 hours away from Kandy, is a must-visit attraction. Here’s how to get there:
- By Private Car: Hire a private car in Kandy and enjoy a comfortable ride to Sigiriya.
- By Bus: Take a bus from the Kandy Central Bus Station to Dambulla, then switch to another bus heading for Sigiriya.
- By Train and Bus: Take the train from Kandy to Habarana, then take a bus or tuk-tuk to Sigiriya.
- By Guided Tour: Join a guided tour that includes transportation from Kandy to Sigiriya and back.
No matter how you choose to get there, make sure you plan enough time to explore this incredible site!
Also read: Top 10 Best Things To Do In Sigiriya
Where To Stay In Kandy In 2023
Find the perfect place to rest and recharge after a day of exploring Kandy with our top hotel and budget-friendly options highlighted in this section.
Top Hotels And Accommodations
Kandy offers a variety of top hotels and accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Here’s a list of some of the best options:
|Luxurious rooms, scenic views, and a spa
|The Radh Hotel
|Elegant rooms, fine dining, and walking distance to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
|Panoramic views, Ayurvedic spa, and a hilltop location
|Spacious rooms, outdoor pool, and beautiful gardens
These hotels not only provide comfortable accommodations but are also well-situated to explore Kandy’s top attractions, such as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya, and Kandy Lake.
Kandy offers various budget-friendly options for travelers seeking an affordable yet comfortable stay. Check out these top budget-friendly accommodations in Kandy:
|Madugalle Friendly Family Guest House
|204/12, Rajapihilla Mawatha, Kandy
|$15-$25 per night
|Mount View Inn
|110/8, Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Kandy
|$20-$30 per night
|Kandyan View Holiday Bungalow
|293/5, Rajapihilla Mawatha, Kandy
|$25-$35 per night
|Tree Breeze Inn
|69A, George E. De Silva Mawatha, Kandy
|$20-$30 per night
These budget-friendly options offer a mix of hostel, guesthouse, hotel, bungalow, and inn accommodations, catering to various preferences and travel styles while ensuring a comfortable stay close to Kandy’s main attractions, such as the Temple of the Tooth and the Botanical Gardens.
Best Restaurants In Kandy
Discover the best restaurants in Kandy, including options for local cuisine, international fare, cafes, and bars.
When in Kandy, make sure to try out the local cuisine for a taste of Sri Lanka’s culture. Here are some dishes and places to check out:
- Kottu Roti: A popular street food dish made with chopped roti (flatbread) stir-fried with vegetables and meat.
- Hoppers: Thin, bowl-shaped pancakes made from rice flour and coconut milk, often eaten for breakfast or as a snack.
- Rice and Curry: A staple dish in Sri Lanka, consisting of rice served with various flavorful curries and accompaniments such as sambal (a spicy relish) and papadum (a crispy flatbread).
- The Empire Cafe: Located near the Temple of the Tooth, this cafe serves traditional food as well as international dishes like pizza and burgers.
- Kandyan Muslim Hotel: A popular spot for biryani (spiced rice dish with meat or vegetables), curry, and other Muslim-style food.
Don’t be afraid to ask locals for recommendations or try out small eateries along the way for an authentic culinary experience in Kandy.
For those looking for a taste of international cuisine, Kandy offers various options to choose from. Here are some of the best international restaurants in Kandy:
- Balaji Dosai – This Indian restaurant serves delicious dosas, uttapams, and other South Indian dishes.
- Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar – This rooftop restaurant and bar serves up international fare such as burgers and Mexican-style fajitas, along with stunning views of Kandy Lake.
- The Pub – As its name suggests, this English-style pub serves up traditional pub food like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie.
Whether you’re craving sushi or spaghetti carbonara, Kandy has plenty of international options to satisfy your appetite during your trip!
Cafes And Bars
Kandy has a diverse range of cafes and bars for you to explore. Check out our top picks:
- The Empire Cafe – This colonial-style cafe is located near the Temple of the Tooth and offers a variety of delicious Sri Lankan and Western dishes.
- Cafe Secret Alley – Located in the heart of Kandy, this charming cafe serves up tasty coffee, tea, and light bites in a cozy atmosphere.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing cup of coffee or a lively night out, Kandy has plenty of options to satisfy all tastes and moods.
Getting Around Kandy
Tuk-tuks and taxis are the most popular ways of getting around Kandy, but public transportation and walking are also viable options.
Tuk-tuks And Taxis
Getting around Kandy is easy with several transportation options. Tuk-tuks and taxis are convenient ways to explore the city’s attractions. They can be found everywhere, from main roads to small lanes, making it easy for travelers to navigate through the city.
Taxis in Kandy are metered, while tuk-tuks may not always have meters. Negotiating prices beforehand may help avoid surprises at the end of your journey.
It’s worth noting that some drivers may quote higher rates than usual, particularly during peak hours or when tourists visit popular attractions like the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Getting around Kandy is easy and affordable thanks to its public transportation system. Tuk-tuks and taxis are widely available, especially in the city center, but if you’re on a budget, hop onto one of the many buses that operate within Kandy.
There are no designated bus stops, so just wave down any bus heading in your desired direction. Walking is also an option as most of Kandy’s main attractions are located near each other.
If you’re looking for a more scenic way to explore the area surrounding Kandy, consider taking a train ride from the city’s railway station to destinations such as Nuwara Eliya or Ella.
Train journeys offer stunning panoramic views of Sri Lanka’s lush green landscapes and rolling hillsides. Alternatively, hire a car and driver for more flexibility with your itinerary.
One of the best ways to explore Kandy is by taking a leisurely stroll around the city’s attractions. Walking around Kandy allows you to soak up the sights and sounds of this beautiful city at your own pace.
Take a walk around Kandy Lake, which is located right in the heart of the city, and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. As you wander around, watch out for monkeys that are known to inhabit some parts of Kandy.
Additionally, walking is an excellent way to explore places like Udawattekele Sanctuary or Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue since both are situated on expansive grounds that can be explored on foot only.
How To Get From Colombo To Kandy
You can get to Kandy from Colombo by train, bus, or car.
One of the best ways to get from Colombo to Kandy is by train. The journey offers incredible views of the Sri Lankan countryside and is an experience in itself.
There are a few different train options, including express trains that take around 3 hours and slower trains that take up to 6 hours. The most popular train ride is the scenic route from Ella to Kandy, which takes you through tea plantations and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
It’s also possible to take a day trip by train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya or Hatton for some more stunning scenery.
Travelling by bus is a budget-friendly option for getting from Colombo to Kandy. The journey takes around 3-5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Buses are available throughout the day, but it’s recommended to take an early morning or late evening departure to avoid the midday heat. The buses can get crowded, so it’s best to arrive early and secure your seat.
Some of the popular bus companies include Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) and private operators like “Private Bus” and “Kandy Express”. Keep in mind that the ride can be bumpy at times due to narrow roads and winding mountainous terrain.
Getting to Kandy by car is a popular option among travelers looking for flexibility and convenience. The journey from Colombo to Kandy by car takes approximately 3-4 hours, depending on traffic conditions.
If you choose to rent a car in Sri Lanka, it’s important to note that driving here can be quite challenging due to narrow roads, heavy traffic, and unpredictable driving behavior.
Many rental companies offer chauffeur-driven options where an experienced local driver will navigate the roads for you.
Suggested Itinerary For A Day Trip In Kandy
If you only have one day to spend in Kandy, there are a few must-see attractions that should be on your itinerary. Start off your day with a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is believed to house a tooth of Buddha himself.
Next up, head over to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya where you can enjoy a relaxing stroll through acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and learn about Sri Lankan flora and fauna.
For lunch, try some local cuisine at one of Kandy’s many restaurants serving traditional dishes like rice and curry or hopper pancakes.
With so much to see and do in Kandy, this suggested itinerary is guaranteed to provide travellers with a taste of Sri Lanka’s cultural capital within just one day.
How Long To Stay In Kandy
One day in Kandy is not enough as there is so many attractions in Kandy to visit. To truly experience the best of Kandy, it is recommended that visitors spend at least 2 to 3 days in this cultural city. This will give you enough time to explore the major attractions such as the Temple of the Tooth and Royal Botanical Gardens, as well as discover some hidden gems like Udawattekele Sanctuary and Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue.
If you have more time, consider extending your stay to visit nearby attractions such as Sigiriya or Nuwara Eliya for a scenic train ride through tea plantations.
With so much to see and do in Kandy and its surroundings, you don’t want to feel rushed during your trip.
Additional Activities And Excursions In The Surrounding Area
If you have more time in on your Kandy trip, there are plenty of additional activities and excursions to enjoy in the surrounding area. Here are some suggestions to add to your Kandy itinerary:
- Visit the beautiful town of Nuwara Eliya, which is about a two – hour drive from Kandy and is known for its scenic tea plantations.
- Take a train journey through the stunning countryside on one of the many train routes that depart from Kandy.
- Explore the fascinating city of Colombo, which is about a three – hour drive from Kandy and is home to many historical sites and cultural attractions.
- Head south of Kandy to explore the Knuckles Mountains, which offer breathtaking views and wonderful hiking opportunities.
- Visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, located just an hour’s drive from Kandy, where you can see baby elephants up close and even feed them.
- Take a trip to the ancient city of Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka’s most famous landmarks, located just over an hour’s drive from Kandy.
- Don’t miss out on experiencing traditional cuisine by taking a cooking class or visiting local markets and street food vendors.
- Spend some time at Udawattekele Sanctuary, just outside Kandy, where you can walk along trails that wind through dense forest teeming with wildlife.
- Take a day trip to nearby Dambulla to explore ancient Buddhist temples and caves adorned with stunning frescoes.
- Finally, be sure to catch a traditional Kandyan dance show during your stay in Kandy – it’s an unforgettable experience that truly captures the spirit of this vibrant cultural capital!
Final Tips For Visiting Kandy
In conclusion, Kandy is a must-visit destination for any traveler looking to experience the best of Sri Lankan culture and nature. From the iconic Temple of the Tooth Relic to the panoramic views at Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue, there’s something for everyone in this cultural capital.
Be sure to take a stroll around Kandy Lake and enjoy one of its kind traditional dance shows while you’re here. With our comprehensive guide and tips on where to stay, what to see, and how to get around, we hope your trip will be memorable.