Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka is a popular tourist city of great cultural significance in the world. It is the capital of the North Central Province of the island and the capital of the District of Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura is one of the medieval capitals of Sri Lanka, renowned for its well-preserved historical monuments of the Sinhalese civilization. It was the third capital of the kingdom of Rajarata, after the realms of Tambapanni and Upatissa Nuwara. 

The area, now a World Heritage Site, has been the center of Buddhism in Theravada for many generations. The town sits 205 km (127 mi) north of the present capital of Sri Lankan, Colombo, in the North Central Province, on the banks of the ancient Malvathu River. It is one of the oldest surviving populated cities in the world and is one of the eight World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. Places to visit in Anuradhapura are a list of world-famous tourist attractions that you must visit at least one time in your life. It’s so majestic and breath-taking.            

The relics of Anuradhapura are among the most captivating sights in South Asia. The bustling complex features a large compilation of archaeological and architectural marvels: huge dagobas (brick stupas), ancient pools and decaying temples, built during the thousand-year reign of Anuradhapura over Sri Lanka. Today, many sites persist in use as sacred sites and temples; regular rituals give Anuradhapura a richness that contrasts strongly with the museum-like environment of Polonnaruwa. Things to do and places to visit in Anuradhapura can immerse you in a magical world that resembles the greatness of ancient civilizations.      

Nowadays, Anuradhapura is a pleasant, bustling metropolis. There’s plenty of decent budget accommodation, simple bike hire, and a comfortable pace, making it a perfect place to spend an extra day.

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Places to Visit in Anuradhapura:

Your one-day trip to Anuradhapura could turn into four or even five when you realize that ample world-famous tourist attractions are in place in the grand city. Make sure you cover the top tourist attractions in Anuradhapura as they give you a snapshot of the past of this city. 

This list of top places in Anuradhapura will help you prepare a better vacation. Well, don’t skip any of the listings if you would like to have fun as well as learn much about this ancient city.

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi:

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is among the oldest trees now living high in the Mahamewna Gardens in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The ancient tree has flourished from a cutting taken from Bodh Gaya, India, where Gautama Buddha had achieved enlightenment. The sacred tree is a realistic and living link to Gautama Buddha and treated with respect as the oldest tree in the history of the plantation.

Ruwanweli Maha Seya:

Ruwanweliseya pagoda is one of the main stupas or dagobas in the center of the magnificent heritage city of Anuradhapura. The great King Dutugamunu built this ancient stupa. The Ruwanwelisaya stupa is also famous as the Maha stupa and is among the most embellished structures of the people of Sri Lanka. It’s one of the must-visit places in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. 

Jethawanaramaya Monastery:

Jetavanaramaya Monastery is among the biggest monasteries in the heritage town of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. This incredible construct was the third-largest building in the classical civilizations. Legend has it that part of the Lord Buddha’s sash or belt is here at the Jetavanaramaya monastery.


Thuparama, also recognized as Thuparamaya, is the very first stupa built in Sri Lanka after the introduction of Buddhism in the lovely town of Anuradhapura. The medieval stupa of Thuparamaya came to this world during the reign of King Devamnampiyatissa sometime in the 3rd century B.C., which is said to enforce the right collar bone of Gautama Buddha. Today, the remains of the structure occupy an area of about three and a half acres of land. Thuparama is one of the top places to visit in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. 

Abhayagiri Viharaya:

The Abhayagiri Vihara is among the most majestic and fascinating constructs in the ecosystem of Anuradhapura. The vast size of the remains of the monastery is absolutely impressive, and you can see it at any moment, whether at dawn or dusk. The Abhayagiri Vihara has a stunning, shimmering light.

Archaeological Museum, Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka:

Formed in 1947 by Dr. Senarath Paranavithan, the Archeological Museum or Puravidu Bhavana of Anuradhapura maintains some inspiring artifacts, sculptures, and ancient everyday objects found after excavation work in Anuradhapura and other heritage landmarks around Sri Lanka. It is a comprehensive source of knowledge on the history and culture of the region.

Rathna Prasada:

Best known for its finely carved stone structures, the Rathna Prasada is the Uposatha house (a place for purifying the sullied mind) of the Abhayagiri Viharaya. It is of high significance to Buddhists and a historical monument, making it a top place to visit in Anuradhapura. Built-in 192-194 AD by King Kanitta Tissa who governed Ceylon, Rathna Prasada, or Gem Palace was initially a seven-story skyscraper with a tiled roof, with wonderful guard stones (Mura Gal) and a statue of the Lord Buddha made from gold.


The Brazen Palace or Lovamahapaya is a 2,000-year-old chapel built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century B.C. and had 1,600 stone columns to support nine stories with a length of 150 feet and sides of 400 feet with 1,000 rooms. It is also famous as the Brazen Place due to the fabulous bronze tiles used on its roof.

Mihintale, best places to visit in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka:

Ceylon or Sri Lanka lies on a stunning view south of India; hills, beaches, valleys, and waterfalls decorate this land. One such medieval wonder is the hills of Mihintale, 12 km from Anuradhapura, known for religious faith, monarchy, war, and the inherent sense of stunning scenery diversity.

Samadhi Buddha Statue:

The city of Anuradhapura functioned as the first and old capital of Sri Lanka. It is an auspicious city to the Sri Lankans, as has always been the case in the past, that Anuradhapura acted as a city of stability and security against war and discord. The statue of the Samadhi Buddha is one of those wonders. Placed in Mahamevnāwa Park, this 4th-century sculpture is perhaps the best work of the Lord Buddha.

Ruins of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka:

The history and life of Anuradhapura date back to the 4th century BC. Being the ancient, first kingdom and having more than 2000 years of historical occurrences, Anuradhapura is now home to the remains of the castle, royal residences, temples, stupas, museums, and all you dream about when you speak about Royalty.


The ancient capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura, is home to ruins, stupas and rocky hills that carry an atmosphere of tranquility. Isurumuniya is one of the granite, marble, and stone buildings situated near Tissa Wewa, and this Buddhist temple features architecture, and monuments that highlight the liberation of the creators. This is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. 

The Royal Gardens:

It’s incredible to know these gardens are over 2,000 years old. Identified as the Goldfish Reserve, these pleasure gardens occupy 14 hectares. They include two ponds (hence the goldfish moniker) constructed around two massive cliffs.

Kuttam Pokuna:

These ponds or bathing pools are two of the best maintained in all of Sri Lanka. Considered to be one of the most important achievements in the field of hydrological engineering and the exceptional artistic and architectural works of ancient Sinhalese, this is a place that you have to visit in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. You’ll feel like jumping in to cool off on a hot day in Anuradhapura, too.

Avukana Buddha Statue:

Situated in the village of Avukana in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, this is a standing statue of the Lord Buddha cleverly cut out of a large rock wall. This piece of carving portraying the standing Buddha stands at 42 feet (along with the base,) and construction began during the reign of King Dhatusen. Every part of the body and dress has been elaborately crafted. The majestic Avukana Buddha is one of the best places to visit in Anuradhapura. 

The Best Things to do in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka 

Other than the world-famous tourist attractions in Anuradhapura, ample activities to do during your holiday in this ancient kingdom. Let’s now explore the top things to do in this magical, ancient city. 

Boat Tours:

Immaculate views of the rivers in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, draw visitors to the coast in significant numbers. Other than evergreen rainforests and captivating ancient ruins, the city has just about everything to make your trip a fondly remembered one. A lot of people pay a visit to this tourist destination for the excellent boating tours it provides. It is yours to decide whether you want a cruise or a private boat to celebrate the natural features of Anuradhapura very closely. Boating is obviously one of the greatest things to do in Anuradhapura to take a close look at the stunning features of this place. 

Hot Air Balloon Rides in Anuradhapura:

Hot Balloon trip is an activity that causes you to feel like you’re out of the universe. It’s a lot different from traditional air travel. You’ll get a stunning glimpse of Sri Lanka’s tropical paradise, not only of Anuradhapura. Licensed pilots will be around to take you to the top, and you’ll have an outlook of the rocky mountains, the river systems, the lakes, the city’s cultural places of interest and beautiful green trees. It’s better to do it in the morning and you’ll have a better view of the city at this time. The time from November to April is suitable for this top thing to do in Anuradhapura. 

Cycling in Anuradhapura:

How about discovering huge temples and surviving ruins scattered around the ancient city of Anuradhapura Sri Lanka on a bicycle. Keep up your speed while riding through the hot sun in Sri Lanka to get refreshed by the blowing wind. The many-square kilometer area has hundreds of stupas, temples, and Buddhas and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each ancient construct you will come across on the bike seems to be older and bigger than the one before. The perfect way to explore this amazing spot is – like a true Dutch citizen wants to do – by bike. Without a doubt, cycling is one of the best things to do in Anuradhapura. 

Wildlife Camping:

Just about 50 kilometers from Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, you can visit Wilpattu National Park, which is one of the most magnificent Srilankan National Parks worth a visit during your Anuradhapura holiday. This park is home to a variety of Villu, also known as natural reservoirs, much like dots filling the landscape of this beautiful park. Almost 30 species of different mammals live in this national park, including Elephant, Sri Lankan Leopard, Sloth Bear, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Buffalo, and Mongoose. Modern safari jeeps are obtainable in the park to take you on a safe, secure, and enjoyable tour of this park. 


Are you a regular trekker who wants to discover the natural wonders of Anuradhapura via trekking trails? If that’s valid, then believe us, you’ll have enough chance to enjoy long, exciting and grueling adventures here in this area. Anuradhapura is one of the best locations for trekking in Sri Lanka.

Alright, we have covered almost everything about Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. And we know that you want to visit this majestic ancient kingdom during your next holiday in Sri Lanka. No matter what your desires are, exploding the best places in Anuradhapura or things to do, we can craft a first-class tour package for you. 

Overa Tours is a team of travel experts who knows Sri Lanka and its tourist destinations and activities from A to Z. We can make arrangements for you to enjoy Anuradhapura in a luxury vehicle or on a bike. 

Contact us today!