Kandy, also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, has a lot in store for tourists. The city is nestled on a plateau which is surrounded by mountains that make up tea plantations and rainforests. At an altitude of 500m above sea level, Kandy offers a much cooler and relaxed climate when compared to Colombo. Places to visit in Kandy include the beautiful Kandy Lake located at the heart of the city, around which most of the city revolves. After Colombo, Kandy is the next busiest city in the island with busy streets, and hustling bus stations.



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Because Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese Kingdom, before the British came to rule in 1815, there is plenty of history and tradition remaining in this loyal city.

  • The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – a shrine that holds the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
  • The Esala Perahera – an exclusive procession, takes place in late July/early August and is something you must not miss.
  • Ceylon Tea Museum – the 1925 vintage Hantane Tea Factory.
  • Royal Botanical Gardens – a paradise for nature lovers: dates back to the 14th

Kandy is home to some of the nicest boutique hotels nestled among the scenic hills and these are a great way to base yourself for a relaxing holiday while enjoying the culture and tradition of the popular Kandy tourist attractions.

Best Places to Visit in Kandy

  1. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. This is a royal palace complex that preserves the left canine tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Built during the 17th century, this Temple is well preserved till today and visited by many thousands of devotees and tourists from around the world.

This shrine has always played an important role in politics because there is a belief that whoever is in possession of the relic is the one who holds the governance of the country. In 1987, a golden canopy was built over the main shrine and this made the Temple easily identifiable from far away. Due to the significances that this sacred relic is known for it is one of the best places to visit in Kandy and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  1. Kandy Lake

Located in the heart of the city, the Kandy Lake is a man-made lake created by the last King of the Sinhalese Kingdom, in the year 1807. Also known as Kiri Muhuda or Sea of Milk, the Lake is protected against fisherman and is used for leisure activities such as boat riding. A stroll around the lake is an ideal evening activity which will also show you around the hustle bustle of the city of Kandy that has developed around the Lake. The best part to walk around is the area where the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is located.

Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was the King who built this lake by excavating paddy fields in an effort to beautify the Temple of the Tooth. Bordering most of the lake you will see a decorative clouds wall which was also built by the King but was left incomplete because the British force invaded and imprisoned the King. The triangular holes that you see in the wall were used to light oil lamps at night during those days.

  1. Royal Botanical Gardens

The name ‘royal’ is implied because the history of these botanic gardens dates as far back as the 14th century where Royal Kings of the Sinhalese Kingdom kept their courts. A Temple was also built on this location but then destroyed during the British rule. The British then brought in several plants from around the island and implemented the Royal Botanical Gardens as a Kandy tourist attraction.

These gardens are located in Peradeniya, about five and a half kms from Kandy and are home to over 4000 species of plants visited by approximately two million tourists every year. Known for its unique collection of orchids, the Royal Gardens can easily be classified as one of the best of its kind. In addition to orchids, the botanic gardens also hold a variety of spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. The garden is about 147 hectares large and is currently managed by the Department of Agriculture.

  1. Esala Perahera

This festival is a grand celebration which includes elegant costumes, traditional dances, jugglers, fire breathers and elephants dressed in exclusive clothing. The significance of this historic procession is to pay respect to the Sacred Tooth Relic that the city holds. If you are visiting Sri Lanka around July/August, be sure to schedule your stay in Kandy on nights when this procession is taking place.

The Esala Procession begins with the sanctifying of a young jackfruit tree and signifies blessings showered on the Kings and the people. Believed to be a mix of two separate, yet interconnected processions, the Esala Perahera initially began as a prayer to God to request rainfall.

After ten nights of continuous dance and music in traditional forms, the festival ends with a water cutting ceremony at the bank of the Mahaweli River. Monks of the Buddhist Clergy in Sri Lanka are responsible for the organizing of the event. Being one of the oldest and grandest Buddhist festival in the country, it is definitely a must see event.

Find out more about Kandy Perahera 2023

  1. Ceylon Tea Museum

If you are on a Sri Lankan tea tour, this is an essential stop on your list of places to visit in Kandy. Even if you are not, you have to know where the first successful tea cultivation was done in a land that exports tea on a grand scale. About 5km from Kandy city is the Hantane Tea Factory where the Ceylon Tea Museum is located.