The holy city of Kandy is known for its Buddhist pilgrimages. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are many nearby destinations to plan a day trip from Kandy. Nestled amidst the hills, Kandy has world-famous Buddhist sites such as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Buddhist monasteries, and the Hatara Devels with temples of Vishnu, Nath, Pattini and Kataragama. On a day trip from Kandy, discover Kandy, the last capital of the ancient kingly era of the island country Sri Lanka, as well as the surrounding historical and religious sites.
6 Best Day Trips from Kandy
There are many places one can visit from Kandy. Check out our curated list of the best day trips from Kandy:
The capital of Sri Lanka’s North Central Province, Anuradhapura is also known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. Plan your day trip from Kandy to Anuradhapura in such a way that you can visit famous tourist attractions like Sri Maha Bodhi, Isurumuniya Temple, Ruwanweli Maha Seiya, Thuparamaya and Abayagiriya Museum.
Sri Mahabodhi is a sacred tree and a place of religious significance, as it is the southernmost sapling of the tree in India in which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The Isurumuniya Temple is an ancient temple dedicated to Buddha, with special carvings dedicated to the royal family, elephant ponds and Isurumuniya lovers. The Stupa of Ruwanweli Maha Seya contains the world’s largest collection of relics. Located within the Mahamevna Park, Thuparamaya is the first Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. The Abayagiriya Museum displays a collection of religious sculptures, pottery, jewellery, stone artefacts and other artefacts.
Distance from Kandy: 137 km
Best time to visit: April to September
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2. Dambulla Cave Temple
Located in Dambulla city, the Dambulla Cave Temple is also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla or Dambulla Rock Temple. It is not only a religious site but also a historical monument which is one of the eight World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka by UNESCO. This preserved ancient site has five temples with beautiful carvings and wall paintings, all of which have stood the test of time. The complex also houses a golden Buddha statue and a Buddhist museum. The views from the top of the temple are extremely enjoyable and if you are there at sunset, you are in luck.
There are some strict rules for entering the temple. Take off your hat and shoes and make sure your shoulders and knees are covered. Make sure to buy tickets from the ticket booth near the parking lot, otherwise you will have to go down the stairs to the counter once you reach the entrance.
Distance from Kandy: 73 km
Best time to visit: January to May
ticket price: 1,500 LKR per person
Ticket Booth Timings: 7 am to 5 pm
Negombo is a major city in Sri Lanka, popular for its sandy beaches and fishing industry. On a one day tour to Negombo from Kandy, one can visit famous tourist attractions like Negombo Dutch Fort, Negombo Beach, Angurkaramulla Temple (Bodhirajaramaya), St. Mary’s Church and Negombo Lagoon.
The Negombo Dutch Fort, a symbol of Sri Lanka’s colonial history, is now in ruins but parts of it are still intact. Negombo’s popular spiritual sites include St. Mary’s Church (one of Sri Lanka’s largest cathedrals, famous for its Buddhist art) and the Angurkaramulla Temple (with a huge dragon entrance, a statue of the Buddha, and paintings and sculptures). Apart from enjoying the views at Negombo Beach, one can also enjoy windsurfing, sailing and kitesurfing if time permits.
Distance from Kandy: 109 km
Best time to visit: February to April
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Established by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century, Galle is a fortified UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. One of the best day trips in Kandy is to Galle, where there are many options to visit, such as Galle Fort, Galle International Stadium, Sea Turtle Hatchery Center and Madu Ganga River Safari.
Galle Fort is an architectural marvel amidst an equatorial setting, consisting of museums, churches, a mosque, a lighthouse, and a historic mansion. Galle International Stadium is the luckiest cricket venue for the host and home team Sri Lanka. The family-run Sea Turtle Hatchery Center is a rescue center for endangered turtles in the world, where you can see five different species of turtles. At Madu River Boat Safari, one can go on an adventurous trip with boat and bird-watching rides with trained professionals.
Distance from Kandy: 222 km
Best time to visit: December to March
Sigiriya is a rock fortress complex that has been dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by locals. The ancient rock fort, also known as the “Rock of the Lion”, is surrounded by ponds, gardens, canals, streets, fountains and fortifications. The base of the fort houses the Sigiriya Museum, which exhibits artefacts, photographs, jewellery, frescoes and sculptures, along with models and videos to illustrate the history of the ancient site.
Both Minneriya National Park and Kaudula National Park are famous for their majestic elephants. Apart from elephants, these parks have many interesting varieties of flora and fauna. Both have facilities for jeep safari tours. In short, on a Sigiriya day tour from Kandy, one can visit Sigiriya Rock and choose between the two national parks. For a unique sightseeing experience in Sigiriya, one can opt for an elephant ride.
Distance from Kandy: 90 km
Best time to visit: January to April
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6. Nuwara Eliza
Nuwara Eliya, surrounded by tea plantations, is also called “Little England” because the city still retains British influence. On a Nuwara Eliya day tour from Kandy, one can visit Gregory Lake, Ramboda Falls and a tea estate.
Falling from a height of approximately 1130 feet, Ramboda Falls is surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking views. It makes you feel closer to nature. Spend time at Lake Gregory amidst tranquil surroundings. It is also a famous picnic spot, where there are food stalls to satisfy your hunger. Jet skiing, horse riding and paddle boating can also be enjoyed on the lake. Among tea plantations, the Pedro Tea Factory is famous for its factory and grounds tours, and one can enjoy Ceylon tea on the premises.
Distance from Kandy: 72 km
Best time to visit: December to April
Now that you have a list of day trips from Kandy, you can bookmark it for your next visit to the last royal capital of Sri Lanka. Check out our Sri Lanka tour packages and book the one that best suits you for a hassle-free holiday experience. These packages can be customized as per your needs at the time of booking.
Cover Image Credit: For Vyacheslav Argenberg Wikimedia Commons
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FAQs About Day Trips From Kandy
What are the best day trips from Kandy?
The best day trips from Kandy can include a combination of Sigiriya and Dambulla from Kandy or exploring single cities like Galle, Nuwara Eliya, Negombo or Anuradhapura.
What are the best places for shopping in Kandy?
The best shopping places in Kandy are:
1. Kandy City Center
2. Jayamali Batik Studios
3. Kandy Municipal Central Market
4. Varuna Antiques
How to visit Sigiriya from Kandy as a one day tour?
From Kandy, Sigiriya can be reached by bus, which takes about 2.5 hours. Another option is to rent a private car, which is comparatively more expensive.
What are the best trekking routes in Kandy?
The best trekking routes in Kandy are:
1. Hantana to Galaha
2. Corbett Gap
3. Knuckles 5 Peak Trail
Where is the best place to experience traditional Kandyan dance?
Some of the best places to experience traditional Kandyan dance are:
1. Kandyan Art Association and Cultural Center
2. Kandy Lake Club
3. Young Men’s Buddhist Association (YMBA)
How to spend a day in Kandy?
Some of the best options for a day trip in Kandy are the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy Lake and the Royal Botanical Gardens.
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