The Cultural Capital of Sri Lanka

Kandy, often referred to as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, is a city steeped in history and tradition. Nestled amidst lush hills in the central part of the island, Kandy is renowned for its scenic beauty, colonial architecture, and rich cultural heritage. As the last royal capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy is home to many significant religious and historical sites, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Sri Lanka.

Things to Do

Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa)

  • Buddhist Pilgrimage Site: The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. The temple houses a tooth relic of Lord Buddha, attracting pilgrims and visitors from around the globe.
  • Cultural Performances: Attend the daily Thewawa ceremony, where traditional music and drumming accompany the display of the tooth relic. The temple also hosts various cultural performances and events during the Esala Perahera festival.

Stroll Through the Royal Botanical Gardens

  • Exotic Plant Collections: Located in Peradeniya, just a few kilometers from Kandy, the Royal Botanical Gardens are famous for their extensive collection of orchids, medicinal plants, and palm trees. The gardens span 147 acres and offer a tranquil escape into nature.
  • Scenic Walks: Enjoy leisurely walks along the beautifully landscaped pathways, admiring the lush greenery, manicured lawns, and colorful flower beds. Highlights include the giant Javan fig tree and the picturesque suspension bridge over the Mahaweli River.

Explore Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake)

  • Peaceful Ambiance: Kandy Lake, also known as the Sea of Milk, is an artificial lake built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. It is a central feature of Kandy, offering a peaceful ambiance amidst the bustling city.
  • Lakeside Walks: Take a relaxing stroll along the lakeside promenade, enjoying the serene views and the cooling breeze. The walk is especially charming in the evening when the lake is illuminated.

Discover the History at Kandy National Museum

  • Cultural Artifacts: Located within the Royal Palace complex, the Kandy National Museum showcases an extensive collection of artifacts related to the Kandyan period, including royal regalia, weapons, jewelry, and historical documents.
  • Educational Exhibits: The museum provides valuable insights into the history, culture, and traditions of the Kandyan Kingdom, making it an essential stop for history enthusiasts.

Attend a Traditional Kandyan Dance Performance

  • Cultural Showcase: Experience the vibrant and energetic Kandyan dance, a traditional form of dance that originated in the Kandy region. Performances typically feature colorful costumes, elaborate headdresses, and rhythmic drumming.
  • Local Theaters: Several theaters in Kandy, such as the Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre and the Kandy Lake Club, regularly host traditional dance performances.

Visit the Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue

  • Panoramic Views: The Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue is a massive white statue of Buddha located on a hill overlooking Kandy. The site offers stunning panoramic views of the city and its surrounding hills.
  • Peaceful Atmosphere: The tranquil atmosphere of the temple and the serene presence of the Buddha statue make it a perfect spot for meditation and reflection.

Explore the Udawattakele Forest Reserve

  • Nature Trails: Just a short distance from the city center, the Udawattakele Forest Reserve is a lush green sanctuary ideal for nature walks and bird watching. The reserve is home to a variety of flora and fauna, including rare plant species and endemic birds.
  • Historical Sites: Within the forest, you’ll find ancient hermitages, rock shelters, and the ruins of a royal bathing pond, adding a historical dimension to your exploration.

Shop at the Kandy City Centre

  • Modern Shopping Mall: The Kandy City Centre is a modern shopping complex that offers a range of local and international brands, dining options, and entertainment facilities.
  • Souvenirs and Handicrafts: Explore the various shops selling traditional Sri Lankan handicrafts, jewelry, textiles, and souvenirs to take home a piece of Kandy’s culture.

Explore the Gadaladeniya Temple

  • Ancient Temple: Gadaladeniya Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple located a few kilometers from Kandy. Built in the 14th century, the temple is known for its impressive stone carvings and beautiful murals.
  • Historical Artifacts: The temple complex includes several shrines and ancient relics, providing insight into the religious and artistic heritage of the region.

Relax at the Victoria Golf & Country Resort

  • Scenic Golf Course: For golf enthusiasts, the Victoria Golf & Country Resort offers an 18-hole championship golf course set amidst stunning natural scenery. The course is considered one of the best in Asia.
  • Leisure Activities: In addition to golfing, the resort offers horse riding, nature walks, and luxurious spa treatments, making it a perfect retreat for relaxation and recreation.

Visit the Lankatilaka Vihara

  • Architectural Marvel: Lankatilaka Vihara is a stunning 14th-century temple known for its unique architectural style, which combines elements of Sinhala, Dravidian, and Indo-Chinese design.
  • Cultural Heritage: The temple houses exquisite statues, ancient frescoes, and historical inscriptions, offering a deep dive into Sri Lanka’s religious and cultural history.

Explore the Degaldoruwa Temple

  • Rock-Cut Temple: The Degaldoruwa Temple is a rock-cut temple that dates back to the 18th century. It features beautifully preserved murals depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology.
  • Spiritual Experience: The serene and tranquil environment of the temple provides a perfect setting for meditation and spiritual reflection.

Experience the Kandy Esala Perahera

  • Grand Festival: If you visit Kandy in July or August, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the Kandy Esala Perahera, one of the most spectacular festivals in Sri Lanka. This grand procession, held in honor of the Sacred Tooth Relic, features elaborately decorated elephants, traditional dancers, drummers, and fire performers.
  • Cultural Immersion: The festival is a vibrant display of Sri Lankan culture and religious devotion, offering an unforgettable experience for visitors.

Tour the Royal Palace of Kandy

  • Historical Significance: The Royal Palace, located adjacent to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, was the residence of the last king of Sri Lanka. Today, it houses several museums and offers a glimpse into the grandeur of the Kandyan era.
  • Architectural Beauty: Admire the traditional Kandyan architecture, with its intricate woodwork, ornate carvings, and beautiful courtyards.

Visit the Ceylon Tea Museum

  • Tea History: Located in an old tea factory, the Ceylon Tea Museum offers an informative journey through the history of tea production in Sri Lanka. Learn about the tea-making process, from leaf to cup, and the significant role tea plays in Sri Lankan culture.
  • Tea Tasting: Enjoy a guided tour of the museum, followed by a tea tasting session where you can sample different varieties of Ceylon tea.

Attend a Cultural Workshop

  • Traditional Crafts: Participate in workshops that offer hands-on experiences in traditional Sri Lankan crafts, such as mask making, batik printing, and wood carving. These workshops provide a deeper understanding of the local culture and artistic heritage.
  • Cooking Classes: Join a cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional Sri Lankan dishes using local ingredients and spices. Enjoy the delicious results of your culinary efforts.

Take a Day Trip to Knuckles Mountain Range

  • Hiking and Trekking: The Knuckles Mountain Range, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers some of the best hiking and trekking opportunities in Sri Lanka. The range is named for its resemblance to a clenched fist and features diverse landscapes, including dense forests, waterfalls, and grasslands.
  • Biodiversity Hotspot: Explore the rich biodiversity of the region, with numerous endemic species of flora and fauna. Guided treks provide insights into the ecological significance of the area.

Visit the Embekke Devalaya

  • Wood Carvings: Embekke Devalaya is renowned for its intricate wood carvings, which are considered some of the finest examples of Sri Lankan art. The temple, dedicated to the deity Kataragama, features stunning wooden pillars adorned with detailed carvings of dancers, musicians, and mythical creatures.
  • Historial Significancce: The temple complex dates back to the 14th century and offers a fascinating glimpse into the religious and artistic heritage of the Kandyan Kingdom.

Explore the Asgiri Maha Viharaya

  • Monastic Complex: Asgiri Maha Viharaya is one of the two main monastic complexes in Kandy, the other being Malwathu Maha Viharaya. The temple serves as an important center for Buddhist learning and practice.
  • Historical Artifacts: The complex includes ancient relics, statues, and manuscripts that provide insight into the monastic traditions and religious history of the region.

Relax at a Tea Plantation

  • Tea Tasting and Tours: Visit one of the many tea plantations around Kandy to learn about the tea production process, from plucking the leaves to processing and packaging. Enjoy guided tours and tea-tasting sessions to sample the finest Ceylon tea.
  • Scenic Views: The tea plantations offer stunning views of rolling hills covered in lush green tea bushes, providing a picturesque backdrop for a relaxing afternoon.

Practical Tips for Visiting Kandy

  • Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Kandy is during the dry season, from December to April, when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
  • Transportation: Kandy is well-connected by road and rail. The scenic train ride from Colombo to Kandy is a popular and enjoyable way to reach the city.
  • Accommodation: Kandy offers a range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to luxury hotels. Staying near the city center provides easy access to major attractions.


Kandy is a destination that offers a perfect blend of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. Whether you’re exploring ancient temples, strolling through botanical gardens, or immersing yourself in local traditions, Kandy promises a rich and rewarding travel experience. Plan your visit to this vibrant city and discover the cultural heart of Sri Lanka.