This post was last updated on April 9th, 2020 at 09:20 am
Kandy is, next to Colombo, one of the best-known cities in Sri Lanka. It is also called the capital of Hill Country and given its location this is not unjustified. Kandy is located 115 kilometers (71.4 miles) inland from Colombo at a height of 500 meters (1640 feet). The city offers atmosphere, history, culture, green hills, and a good vibe.
Kandy; the Big City
Kandy is also known by locals as Maha Nuwara (Big City) or simply as Nuwara (City). Kandy used to be the capital of the last Sinhalese Kingdom that fell after the British took it.
The city center is beautifully situated around a picturesque lake surrounded by hills. The center of the city exudes atmosphere with old shops, beautiful buildings, gemstone specialists, and a busy market.
In Kandy you will also find the famous Temple of the Tooth.
Kandy is a Must-See
Do not expect to party here until late at night. It is particularly quiet here in the evening. Kandy itself is located in a green valley. You can make beautiful walks and the area is surrounded by tea plantations.
A visit to the tea plantations is a real must. You can taste real tea here, see how it is made, and walk around in a beautiful setting.
7 Fun Things to Do in Kandy
Travelers who visit Kandy come here not only for the picturesque town, the characteristic tea plantations or the green surroundings but also because of the Tooth of Buddha and the Esala Perehera festival, one of the most famous Buddhist festivals in all of Asia.
1. Visit the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue
This huge white Buddha statue is visible from everywhere in Kandy, even from the mountains. It stands 26 meters (85 feet) high on the Bahirawakanda Hill. It is a place that you will certainly not miss when you are here.
The statue itself looks out to the most sacred temple of Kandy (Temple of the Tooth) and offers a beautiful 360-degree view of the city. It is especially beautiful to be here during the sunset. It is possible to have a view of the longest river of Sri Lanka, the Mahaveli River.
TIP – It is a 10-minute drive from the center with a tuk-tuk. The entrance fee is 200 Sri Lankan Rupees (US$1.15).
2. Relax in the Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens are worth a visit if you are in the Kandy area. The gardens are not the most impressive gardens, but Kandy is a busy city and it can be difficult to find quiet and natural spaces.
Exploring this area is one of the best outdoor activities you can do while you’re here. The gardens mainly show open areas with plants along the walking paths. Grab a picnic basket and enjoy dining in a beautiful natural environment, but choose your location carefully, as many monkeys inhabit the gardens (and they can be hungry too!).
TIP – Entrance costs you around 1,500 rupees, around US$8.50.
3. The Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa)
Kandy is not only the destination of travelers but also of millions of pilgrims who come to Kandy to visit the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple, also known as the Temple of the Tooth. It is in this temple where the tooth of Buddha is located. It is of great value and is even considered the holiest object in the world.
Because the temple is so important, it is guarded day and night.
TIP – You can read more about the temple on our Temple of the Tooth page.
4. Visit the Giragama Tea Plantation
Sri Lanka is one of the most important tea producers in the world and is home to numerous extensive tea plantations. It is worth making a trip to one of the many tea plantations to experience the process up close.
Giragama Tea Plantation is located just outside the city and offers an insight into making the delicious tea. It is located 600 meters above sea level and it also houses a tea museum. Visitors can also take a tour and taste the end products.
5. Experience the Esala Perehera Festival
Kandy is famous because of the Esala Perahera festival. This festival is celebrated 10 days prior to the Nikini Poya (full moon). This is at the end of the Esala month (July/August).
If you are in Sri Lanka around this time, this festival is an absolute must-visit. The Temple of the Tooth is very important during this festival with the first five days of the festival even taking place in the temple. Then they go onto the street where you hear and see elephants, acrobats, monks, and lots of music.
TIP – Keep in mind that it can be quite busy. So book a hotel or hostel in advance.
6. Relax at Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake is an artificial lake, built under the reign of the last king of Sri Lanka, Wikrama Rajasinhe. It is actually built to complement the Temple of the Tooth. It is also called the Milky Ocean.
Various legends are connected to Kandy Lake and it is believed that the king has constructed a secret tunnel from the island to the palace. Today it remains one of the most visited sights in the center of the city.
TIP – For a fun tour you can take a look at Sri Lanka Vacation Tours.
7. Visit the Local Market
In Kandy, you can visit the local market every day. This is located on the main road at the roundabout at Kandy lake. On the market, mainly fruit and other food products are traded.
Be sure to wander around this chaotic market when you are in Kandy. It is an experience in itself!
How to Get to Kandy
Kandy is a famous city in Sri Lanka and many travelers visit this city during their journey. It is, therefore, easily accessible. The city has an airport, but the short distances make the bus, minivan or train a lot easier and cheaper.
To Kandy by Bus
In the city you will find a number of bus stops and a bus station; the Goods Shed Bus Station. The long-distance buses leave from here. Some destinations are Peradeniya (20 Sri Lankan Rupees), Ampitiya (17 Rupees) and Matale (50 Rupees). There are also “tourist buses” running towards Negombo and Colombo. They leave from Station Rd. at the clock tower. A number of destinations are;
- Colombo ➜ 190 to 350 Rupees (US$1.10 to $2) – takes 3 to 4 hours
- Negombo ➜ 150 Rupees (US$0.85) – takes 3 to 4 hours
- Nuwara Eliya ➜ 120 to 220 Rupees (US$0.70 to $1.25) – takes 2 hours
- Polonnaruwa ➜ 180 to 270 Rupees (US$1 to $1.50) – takes 3 to 4 hours
To Kandy by Train
Kandy is a hub for train connections in Sri Lanka. You can easily reach the city by train from many parts of Sri Lanka. The city is known for its beautiful train journey to Ella. Most travelers will, therefore, leave the city via this iconic route.
Kandy has a daily train connection to the following cities:
- Colombo ➜ 7 to 8 hours | runs seven to nine times a day;
- Ella ➜ 6 to 7 hours | runs five times a day;
- Badulla ➜ 7 to 8 hours | runs five times a day;
- Haputale ➜ 5 to 6 hours | runs five times a day;
- Hatton ➜ 2.5 to 3 hours | runs five times a day;
- Nanu Oya ➜ 3.5 to 4 hours | runs five times a day.
It is best to check the current train prices locally. In general, traveling by train is the cheapest option of transportation in Sri Lanka. So count on a few US Dollars per ride.
To Kandy by Plane
Kandy also has a local airport. You can reach this destination with a domestic flight. There are one or two daily flights to and from the capital Colombo and a flight to Weerawila Airport near Yala National Park.
Prices for domestic flights are very expensive compared to public transport. We recommend that you travel to your destination by public transport and avoid expensive domestic flights.
Hotels & Hostels in Kandy
Kandy is the second-largest city in Sri Lanka after Colombo. It will not surprise you that the range of accommodation in the city is great. From small picturesque hostels to luxury resorts with their own spa, they are present in Kandy.
There are actually two choices you can make in Kandy. You can stay in the city center, nice and close to all restaurants and shops or you can find the tranquility of the mountains in the area. Both options have advantages and disadvantages.
In the mountains, it is quiet and calm, but you are further away from the sights and restaurants. In the center, you are close to the highlights, but it is often busy and noisy.
TIP – Take a look here for all available accommodations in Kandy.
Best Time to Visit Kandy
The best time to visit Kandy is from December to April, the dry season, with temperatures between 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). This is usually the high season, with the most favorable weather conditions, making it the busiest. However, it never gets really cold in the city, so you can visit this city all year round. Early March is the season of blooming flowers in Kandy.
Here, you can read more about the best time to visit and the average weather per month of the different parts of Sri Lanka.