The Cultural Heart of Northern Sri Lanka

Jaffna, the vibrant capital of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, is a city rich in history, culture, and tradition. Known for its unique Tamil heritage, Jaffna offers visitors a glimpse into a distinct cultural landscape that differs from the rest of the island. With its ancient temples, colonial architecture, and beautiful coastal scenery, Jaffna is a must-visit destination for those seeking an authentic and immersive travel experience in Sri Lanka.

Things to Do

Visit the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil

  • Sacred Hindu Temple: Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil is one of the most significant Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. Dedicated to Lord Murugan, the temple is known for its grand architecture, vibrant festivals, and religious significance.
  • Cultural Experience: Explore the temple’s beautiful surroundings, intricate carvings, and colorful statues. The annual Nallur Festival, held in August, is a major cultural event that attracts thousands of devotees.

Explore Jaffna Fort

  • Colonial Landmark: Jaffna Fort, built by the Portuguese in the 17th century and later expanded by the Dutch, is a well-preserved colonial fortification. The fort offers a fascinating glimpse into Jaffna’s colonial history.
  • Scenic Views: Walk along the fort’s ramparts to enjoy scenic views of the Jaffna Lagoon and the surrounding area. The fort’s historic buildings and structures provide valuable insights into the region’s past. 

Visit the Jaffna Public Library

  • Iconic Library: The Jaffna Public Library is one of the most important and iconic libraries in Sri Lanka. The library, originally built in 1933, was destroyed during the civil war and later rebuilt.
  • Cultural Significance: Explore the library’s extensive collection of books, manuscripts, and historical documents. The library’s beautiful architecture and serene atmosphere make it a peaceful place for reading and reflection.

Discover the Nagadeepa Purana Vihara

  • Buddhist Temple: Nagadeepa Purana Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple located on Nagadeepa Island, off the coast of Jaffna. The temple is believed to have been visited by Lord Buddha and is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.
  • Island Visit: Take a boat ride to Nagadeepa Island to visit the temple and explore the island’s scenic surroundings. The island is also home to the Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple, a significant Hindu temple.

Relax at Casuarina Beach

  • Pristine Beach: Casuarina Beach, located on the island of Karainagar, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the Jaffna Peninsula. The beach’s soft sands, clear waters, and swaying casuarina trees create a perfect setting for relaxation.
  • Swimming and Sunbathing: Enjoy swimming in the calm waters and sunbathing on the sandy shores. The beach’s tranquil atmosphere makes it an ideal spot for a peaceful day by the sea.

Visit the Jaffna Market

  • Local Market: The Jaffna Market is a bustling local market where you can shop for fresh produce, spices, and handmade crafts. The market offers a variety of local products, including traditional Jaffna specialties like dried fish and palmyra products.
  • Cultural Experience: Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the market and interact with local vendors to learn about their products and traditions.

Explore the Keerimalai Hot Springs

  • Natural Springs: The Keerimalai Hot Springs are natural mineral springs located near the Keerimalai Naguleswaram Temple. The springs are believed to have therapeutic properties and are a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
  • Scenic Surroundings: Enjoy a relaxing dip in the hot springs and take in the scenic views of the nearby coastline and temple.

Visit the Dambakola Patuna Sangamitta Temple

  • Historical Temple: The Dambakola Patuna Sangamitta Temple is a significant Buddhist temple located near Jaffna. The temple is believed to mark the spot where Sangamitta, the daughter of Emperor Ashoka, landed in Sri Lanka with a sapling of the Bodhi tree.
  • Cultural Heritage: Explore the temple’s beautiful architecture and learn about its historical and cultural significance. The temple’s serene surroundings make it a peaceful place for meditation and reflection.

Discover the Jaffna Archaeological Museum

  • Cultural Artifacts: The Jaffna Archaeological Museum houses a collection of artifacts from the Jaffna Peninsula, including ancient coins, pottery, and statues. The museum provides valuable insights into the region’s history and culture.
  • Educational Displays: The museum’s informative displays and interactive exhibits make it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

Explore the Delft Island

  • Remote Island: Delft Island, also known as Neduntheevu, is a remote island located off the coast of Jaffna. The island is known for its unique landscapes, wild horses, and coral walls.
  • Historical Sites: Visit the island’s historical sites, including the ruins of a Dutch fort, an ancient baobab tree, and the famous Delft coral walls. The island’s rustic charm and scenic beauty make it a fascinating destination.

Visit the Chunnakam Market

  • Local Market: The Chunnakam Market is a bustling market located in the town of Chunnakam, near Jaffna. The market offers a variety of fresh produce, spices, and traditional Jaffna products.
  • Cultural Experience: Experience the vibrant atmosphere of the market and interact with local vendors to learn about their products and traditions.

Explore the Kadurugoda Temple Ruins

  • Ancient Buddhist Site: The Kadurugoda Temple Ruins, located in Kandarodai, are ancient Buddhist ruins that date back to the Anuradhapura period. The site includes the remains of stupas, stone inscriptions, and other archaeological features.
  • Historical Significance: Explore the ruins and learn about their historical and cultural significance. The site is set amidst lush greenery, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere.

Explore the Karainagar Island

  • Scenic Island: Karainagar Island, located near Jaffna, is a beautiful island known for its pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and traditional villages. The island offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
  • Cultural Experience: Visit the island’s traditional villages to learn about the local way of life and experience the warm hospitality of the island’s residents.

Visit the Keerimalai Naguleswaram Temple

  • Ancient Hindu Temple: The Keerimalai Naguleswaram Temple is an ancient Hindu temple located near the Keerimalai Hot Springs. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Sri Lanka.
  • Cultural Heritage: Explore the temple’s beautiful architecture and learn about its historical and cultural significance. The temple’s serene surroundings make it a peaceful place for meditation and reflection.

Take a Bicycle Tour of Jaffna

  • Local Exploration: Explore Jaffna and its surroundings on a bicycle tour. Visit local attractions, hidden temples, and scenic viewpoints with the help of a knowledgeable local guide.

  • Cultural Insights: Learn about the local culture, history, and traditions from your guide, who can provide valuable insights and recommendations.

Visit the Point Pedro Lighthouse

  • Coastal Landmark: The Point Pedro Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse located at the northernmost point of Sri Lanka. The lighthouse offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean and the surrounding coastline.
  • Scenic Views: Climb to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and the Jaffna Peninsula.

Take a Boat Ride on the Jaffna Lagoon

  • Scenic Waterways: Enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the Jaffna Lagoon, which offers scenic views of the surrounding landscapes and the opportunity to spot various bird species and other wildlife.
  • Island Visits: The lagoon is dotted with small islands, each with its own unique attractions. Visit some of these islands to explore their natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Visit the Jaffna Clock Tower

  • Historic Landmark: The Jaffna Clock Tower is a historic landmark located in the heart of Jaffna. The clock tower, built in the early 20th century, is a prominent feature of the city’s skyline.
  • Cultural Heritage: Explore the area around the clock tower and learn about its historical significance. The clock tower is surrounded by shops, cafes, and other local attractions.

Explore the Palmyra Handicraft Center

  • Traditional Crafts: The Palmyra Handicraft Center, located in Jaffna, showcases traditional handicrafts made from palmyra palm leaves. The center offers a variety of products, including baskets, mats, and decorative items.

  • Cultural Experience: Visit the center to learn about the traditional craft techniques and purchase unique handmade souvenirs.

Visit the St. Mary’s Cathedral

  • Historic Church: St. Mary’s Cathedral is a beautiful Roman Catholic church located in Jaffna. The cathedral, built in the early 20th century, features stunning architecture and intricate stained glass windows.
  • Cultural Heritage: Explore the cathedral’s elegant interiors and learn about its historical and cultural significance. The cathedral is a significant religious site for the local Christian community.

Practical Tips for Visiting Jaffna

  • Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Jaffna is during the dry season, from May to September, when the weather is most favorable for outdoor activities and exploration.
  • Transportation: Jaffna is accessible by road and rail from major cities like Colombo and Kandy. The city also has a domestic airport with flights from Colombo.
  • Accommodation: Jaffna offers a range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to comfortable hotels. Staying in the city center provides easy access to Jaffna’s main attractions.


Jaffna is a destination that offers a perfect blend of cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring ancient temples, relaxing on pristine beaches, or experiencing the vibrant local markets, Jaffna promises a memorable and enriching travel experience. Plan your visit to this cultural heart of northern Sri Lanka and discover the many treasures of the Jaffna Peninsula.