Kandy, nestled amidst the hills in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, is a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. For those pondering things to do in Kandy, visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world, and exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens, a sprawling garden with a diverse collection of plants, are top activities.
The city’s Kandy Lake, also known as Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk, offers a peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll, with the scenic backdrop of the surrounding hills. Nearby, the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue, a massive Buddha figure, provides panoramic views of the city and is a significant religious landmark.
Beyond its historical and cultural attractions, Kandy is also known for its traditional dance and music, with the annual Esala Perahera festival being a highlight. For those seeking the best places to visit in Sri Lanka, Kandy’s blend of spiritual significance, cultural richness, and natural splendor makes it a captivating destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Kandy, Sri Lanka
1. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, or Sri Dalada Maligawa, is a pivotal Buddhist site that houses a tooth relic of the Buddha. Located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, it is revered by Buddhists worldwide.
Travel Tip: Dress conservatively when visiting the temple, covering legs and shoulders, and remove shoes before entering as a sign of respect.
2. Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens
These expansive gardens are a haven for nature lovers and those keen on botany. The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, renowned for their collection of orchids, are a legacy of the British colonial era and cover about 147 acres, providing a lush escape from the city.
Travel Tip: Take a guided tour to fully appreciate the diverse plant species, including the giant Javan fig tree on the great lawn.
3. Kandy Lake
Built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe next to the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy Lake offers a peaceful respite in the heart of the city. A stroll around the lake at dusk is a popular pastime, and it’s a perfect spot for birdwatching or simply relaxing.
Travel Tip: Enjoy the serene environment by taking a leisurely walk around the lake, but beware of the occasional monitor lizard basking in the sun.
4. Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue
Overlooking the city of Kandy, the Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue is an imposing figure that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It’s a short but steep hike to the top, where visitors are rewarded with panoramic views.
Travel Tip: Visit in the evening when the statue and the city are lit up, but be sure to check the opening hours as they can vary.
5. Kandy Cultural Show
The Kandy Cultural Show is a vibrant spectacle showcasing traditional Sri Lankan dance, music, and fire walking performances. It’s an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience the local culture first-hand.
Travel Tip: These shows are quite popular, so it’s wise to book your ticket in advance or arrive early to get good seating.
6. Udawattakele Forest Reserve
Just behind the Temple of the Tooth, this historic forest reserve offers trails through dense foliage, providing a cool and shady escape from the city. It’s a sanctuary for various plant and animal species, and a great place for bird watching.
Travel Tip: Hire a local guide at the entrance to make the most of your visit; they can point out wildlife and explain the history of the forest.
7. Commonwealth War Cemetery
A poignant reminder of World War II, the beautifully maintained Commonwealth War Cemetery lies in a tranquil setting. It is the final resting place for over 150 British and Commonwealth troops.
Travel Tip: It’s a place for quiet reflection; visitors are encouraged to maintain decorum and read the inscriptions to learn about the individuals who are commemorated here.
8. Kandy View Point
Known for offering a stunning vista of the city, especially beautiful at sunset, Kandy View Point is a must-visit location for photographers and anyone who appreciates a good view.
Travel Tip: The viewpoint can get crowded, especially around sunset, so arrive early to secure the best spot for photography.
9. The National Museum of Kandy
Located next to the Temple of the Tooth, this museum provides insights into the history of Kandy and houses artifacts from both the Kandyan kingdom and the colonial periods.
Travel Tip: Allocate time to visit the museum either before or after your visit to the Temple of the Tooth, as the two are in close proximity.
FAQ About Things to Do in Kandy, Sri Lanka
What are the must-visit places in Kandy, Sri Lanka?
Kandy is home to the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy Lake, Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, and the Udawattakele Forest Reserve among others.
Can I see traditional Kandyan dance performances in Kandy?
Yes, you can witness traditional Kandyan dance performances at the Kandy Cultural Centre, which are usually held in the evening.
Is the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya worth visiting?
Absolutely! The Royal Botanical Gardens is a sprawling garden with a wide variety of flora, famous for its collection of orchids and the long palm tree-lined pathways.
How can I visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic?
You can visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic during its opening hours, which are generally from morning to evening, with traditional ‘pujas’ held three times a day.
What are some activities to do around Kandy Lake?
You can enjoy a peaceful walk around Kandy Lake, take a boat ride, or simply relax in one of the nearby cafes and enjoy the view of the lake and the city.
Are there any trekking or hiking opportunities near Kandy?
Yes, the Knuckles Mountain Range near Kandy offers excellent trekking and hiking opportunities through diverse landscapes featuring waterfalls, dense forests, and tea plantations.
What shopping experiences are available in Kandy?
Kandy offers a variety of shopping experiences from the Kandy City Centre mall to local markets like the Kandy Market Hall, where you can find spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs.
Are there any unique food experiences in Kandy?
Yes, you can enjoy the unique flavors of Sri Lankan cuisine in Kandy. Be sure to try local dishes like Kottu, hoppers, and the traditional Sri Lankan curry at various eateries around the city.