Known to be Sri Lanka’s second largest city after Colombo, Kandy is diversely rich in its own sense of exclusive culture that bears a strong confluence to Buddhism and overall Sinhalese values. Having been one of Lanka’s former capital cities, its heritage in terms of history and religion is immensely influential and has been wondrously preserved for the betterment of educating and enriching those in our future generations.

From the world famous Dalada Maligawa (The Temple of the Tooth) to the Kandy City Centre, this bustling metropolis has a plethora of treats to offer to the avid visitor. Here, we’ve rounded up a few places and activities that are known to be the most enjoyable things to do in Kandy. However, before we get to elaborating more on these vicinities, here are a few facts that shall be of great interest for you to know when it comes to understanding Kandy tourist attractions:

Some fun titbits of Kandy

Did you know that:

  • The name ‘Kandy’ initially derived from the Sinhalese word ‘Kanda Uda Rata’ which means ‘Land of the Mountain’. Upon colonialism, the Portuguese referred to this phrase as ‘Candea’ in short, hence leading to the pronunciation ‘Kandy’ over time.
  • The Kandy Lake isn’t a natural body of water: it’s man-made. Fishing and swimming are prohibited at this lake since it is considered to be highly sacred.
  • The sacred tooth relic of the Buddha that remains today at the Dalada Maligawa was smuggled by Princess Hemamali in 313 AD – in her hair!

Statistics of Kandy:

  • Altitude: 488m above sea level,
  • Distance from Colombo: 115 km,
  • Transportation from Colombo: Reachable via the A1 highway, either on an Intercity coach or Intercity Express train, roughly within 3 to 4 hours.

Activities/things to do in Kandy

(i) Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth)

When it comes to Kandy tourist attractions, this magnificent palace cum temple is the first that always comes to mind, owing to its prominence in Buddhism as it pays homage to the upper left canine tooth of Lord Buddha. A walk around shall give you a glimpse of ancient Sri Lankan architecture, while paintings along the worship hall depict historic tales of this locale. There’s a Dalada Maligawa Museum at the rear too, if you’re keen on witnessing the range of ancient artefacts that are on display.

(ii) Peradeniya Gardens

If you’re here for your honeymoon, then you’ll be missing out on the most romantic things to do in Kandy if you don’t take a stroll around this 59 hectares worth of captivating flora and foliage. A replica of the Kew Garden in Southwest London, England, this botanical paradise bears home to an array of plants; from flowers to spices and from shrubs to palms.

(iii) Kandy Lake and its boat rides

Just yank a few boiled chickpeas into the waters of this lake and see what happens: schools of fish are bound to make a quick swim to the surface to indulge in these little treats all the time! In conjunction to taking a trip on the ferry that operates at the lake, these combinations are popular Kandy tourist attractions for the whole family.

(iv) A variety of Buddhist temples

Out of all the things to do in Kandy, your sightseeing extravaganza shan’t be complete unless you exclusively take a trip to the following temples that are renowned for their heritage over the centuries, such as:

  • The Malwatte temple,
  • Asgiriya temple,
  • Lankatilaka,
  • Gadaladeniya,

(v) Tea Museum

Presenting the machinery and practices that were used in the processing and packaging of tea during the previous century, this Tea Museum is one of the most enlightening Kandy tourist attractions after the Dalada Maligawa Museum as it features a complete elaboration of how tea was processed in yesteryears.

(vi) Kandy City Centre

Shopping galore! But of course, while this metropolitan city offers so much for the culture-oriented, it’s also on par with a shopaholic’s best interests at heart! Conclude your journey of things to do in Kandy by picking up a few mementos before you head back home, or simply grab a warm or chilled beverage and relax at one of the eateries at the mall.

(vii) The Commonwealth War Cemetery

A cemetery that bears sympathetic dedication to all those who sacrificed their lives during World War II, this graveyard is more like a beautiful garden, parallel to River Mahaweli. Out of all Kandy tourist attractions, this place is divinely bound to kindle a sense of peace and admiration within you.

(viii) Hanthana and Knuckles Mountain Ranges

Up for some trekking? Then head over to these mountains in and around city limits to ultimately make the most of your trip to Kandy. From crystal clear waterways to lush foliage, there’s much to offer to the hiking nature lover here amidst the terrain of Hanthana and Knuckles.

(ix) Udawattakele Forest Reserve

Home to a variety of flora and fauna, the Udawattakele Forest Reserve has been around since ancient times (in fact, it was a popular leisure spot for Sri Lanka’s lineage of kings). Adjoining the Dalada Maligawa, visiting this wildlife sanctuary is one of the most exciting things to do in Kandy, and is now under standardized control and care of the nation’s Wildlife Conservation Department.

(x) Hindu shrines

A total of four Hindu shrines are located in Kandy:

  • The Vishnu Devale – north from the Dalada Maligawa,
  • The Kataragama Devale – famously known to gift and grant one’s wishes,
  • Pattini Devale – a goddess who is prayed to by expectant mothers, located within the Dalada Maligawa itself,
  • Natha Devale – ancient kings of Sri Lanka would come here for worship, prior to ascending the throne.

Here’s a bonus: if you’re lucky enough to visit anywhere between July and August, then you can witness the elaborate Kandy Perahera! One of the most major Kandy tourist attractions, this seasonal grandeur is ornate in its musicians, elephants and the ‘tusker’ who carries the sacred tooth relic for ten consecutive nights along town, ending on the full moon of August. A must-see parade for both young and old alike!