Below is a Quick List of the Top Tourist Attractions and places to visit in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Let’s now enjoy all the best places to visit and Tourist attractions in Jaffna in more detail!
- Jaffna Market
- Nainativu (Nagadeepa) Island
- Nallur Kandiswamy Kovil
- Jaffna Library and Clock Tower
- Jaffna Fort
- Kadurugoda Temple and Ruins
- Neduntheevu (Delft Island)
- Sakkottai Cape (Point Pedro)
- Dambakola Patuna
- Dutch Fort
- Hammenhiel Fort
- Charty Beach
- Akkarai Beach
- Karainagar Beach
Ask yourself what place to visit in Jaffna as soon as you arrive? We suggest you consider going to the local market, right in the middle of town. This vibrant and noisy market is a treasure chest of items that you won’t be able to locate in a daily store or grocery – perfect if you’re trying to explore fresh produce and snacks. If you’re trying to indulge yourself in the hustle-bustle of day-to-day life in Jaffna, and enjoy seeing some people while you’re at it, then the market is the place to visit.
Nainativu (Nagadeepa) Island
Nainativu (also recognized as Nagadeepa) is a tiny island off the coast of the Jaffna Peninsula that is reported to have been a habitat to the Naga people, a historic tribe that once populated Sri Lanka. Today, it is a spiritually important location for Hindus and Buddhists alike.
You can find Nagadeepa Purana Viharaya on the island, among the most sacred Buddhist shrines in the country. As per recent records, Gautama Buddha visited the location five years after he had attained enlightenment to resolve a conflict between two Naga rulers. The other prominent religious location on the island is the Nagapooshani Amman Temple, a Hindu temple, and also a very significant icon for the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka.
Nagapooshani Amman Temple is among the top tourist attractions in Jaffna. You would require a 20-minute ferry to get to Nainativu from Kurikadduwan Jetty, which can be approached by bus from Jaffna Bus Station (Bus 776). Put another way, you may pick up a cab or borrow a scooter for the day. This is one of the best places to visit in Jaffna.
Nallur Kandiswam Kovil
Established in the 15th century in what was once the historic capital of the Kingdom of Jaffna, Nallur Kandiswamy Kovil is among the most worshipped places of worship in Sri Lanka and the holiest temple for Hindu worshippers. This stunning gold temple is situated about a 10-minute journey outside the city center.
If you happen to be in Jaffna in August, be sure to visit the temple in the evenings to see the famed annual Nallur Festival. Chariot ceremonies, instrumentalists, and singers as well as followers march in and around the temple in praise of the god of war Skanda. The religiously loaded festival is a wonder to behold. The festival is celebrated 25 days and is the longest in the country, making it Jaffna’s one of the top tourist attractions.
Library of Jaffna and Clock Tower
The Jaffna Library, established in 1933, is a very significant structure in the Northern Province. It had been one of the biggest libraries in Asia, with about 100,000 books and documents.
Unfortunately, several of these works were destroyed in 1981, in a fire sparked by an effort to remove Tamil heritage at a period of political unrest before the Civil War began. The Library has now been rebuilt and has become a staple of the history of Northern Sri Lanka. Not far from the Library, you’ll notice another significant landmark in the area, the Jaffna Clock Tower. It was built to commemorate the arrival of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII to Ceylon (the term of Sri Lanka under British rule) in 1875.
The Fort of Jaffna
Founded by the Portuguese when they conquered Jaffna in the 17th century, it was later taken over by the Dutch. This star-shaped structure is among the best-preserved colonial ramparts in Sri Lanka and the most famous attractions in Jaffna. You will enter the open fields, stroll across the moat and gateways, and ascend the elegant walls to appreciate the wonderful views of Jaffna and the lagoon. A trip to the fort at sunset is a must for every tourist in the area.
The Temple and Ruins of Kadurugoda
Temple and Ruins are among the few surviving Buddhist heritage sites in the northern region. Paul E. Peiris, Jaffna Magistrate in 1917, reported almost 60 gray coral stone stupas when he discovered the remains at the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, though, only about 20 stupas exist spread over less than an acre of open ground under coconut palms.
Situated half an hour’s drive from Jaffna, Kadurugoda Temple, and Ruins can be discovered on the outskirts of the town of Kantharodai. It is claimed that this name derives from the Sinhalese word, Kadurugoda (the location of a military camp), which was later adopted as Kantharodai by the Tamil resident community of the city.
Neduntheevu (Island of Delft)
While locally known as Neduntheevu, Delft Island is still commonly referred to as the term adopted from the Dutch in colonial Jaffna. Vast, and mostly unpopulated, Delft Island is renowned for its wild horses that wander its coastal plains. The best visited by Tuk-tuk, Delft Island still contains relics of the past, such as a historic Baobab tree, and also a ramshackle colonial fort made mostly of coral – just like much of the structures on the island.
At an equivalent distance between Sri Lanka and India, Delft Island can be approached by a regular ferry departing from the Kurikkaduwan Jetty, one hour from Jetwing Jaffna. The Sri Lankan Navy conducts one round-trip flight a day, departing for Delft at 9 a.m. and back to Kurikkaduwan at 2:30 p.m. Since these ferries are capable of carrying up to a capacity of 100 people, priority will be given to the citizens of Delft. Without a doubt, this is another top place to visit in Jaffna during your holiday.
Cape Sakkottai (Point Pedro)
At the very top of the teardrop island, Sakkottai Cape is the northernmost point of the country in the Point Pedro neighborhood. When you travel to the coastline from the town of Point Pedro, you will first be welcomed by a sign that contains distances to different countries. To the west, the Point Pedro Lighthouse rises in the shade of a telephone mast, to the east; the cement flag of Sri Lanka is at the edges of the coast to signal your arrival at Sakkottai Cape.
Sakkottai Cape sits on a rugged coast on the outskirts of Point Pedro. Driving along the superficial shoreline would enable you to skirt the northern portion of Sri Lanka, while your mobile will also pick up cellular signals from India. You can also take a look at the southern coast of India in the range on a bright day.
Keerimalai refers to ‘mongoose hill’ in the local dialect of Tamil. This relates to the local tradition of a sage afflicted with a face like a mongoose, who was later restored by immersing themself in the soothing waters of the Keerimalai Holy Water Spring. Today, spring is extremely influential with local men and boys splashing about in a scenic ancient pond spanning the harbor. The women’s swimming area is distinct and can be located behind the main building of the pond.
Only next door, there is also the Keerimalai Naguleswaram Kovil – another of Sri Lanka’s sacred Pancha Ishwarams, or shrines devoted to the Hindu deity, Shiva, who is worshiped as the killer of darkness. Dating back thousands of years, it is said the same tainted sage built this kovil in appreciation for the healing forces of the neighboring pond.
Keerimalai is situated at the top of Sri Lanka and can be conveniently combined with a ride to Dambakola Patuna on one ride. The Holy Water Spring and Naguleswaram Kovil are also within easy reach of each other, allowing you plenty of time to experience both attractions in all their glory.
Here’s one of the famous places to visit in Jaffna. After the advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka more than 2000 years ago, Sanghamitta, the daughter of the old Hindu emperor Ashoka, arrived at the ancient port of Dambakola Patuna with the holy grove of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha was enlightened. Sri Lankan Ruler Devanampiyatissa subsequently used this shrub to plant the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, which today retains the distinction of becoming the oldest human-planted tree in the world to exist. A temple was constructed here to celebrate the advent of the sapling, but there are no remains of this historic landmark today. Since then, however, the Sri Lankan Navy has constructed a new temple called Sri Sangamitta Viharaya which is one of the main Buddhist monuments of the northern peninsula.
The Sri Sangamitta Viharaya is located on a coast that stretches along the northern edge of Sri Lanka, spanning the emerald waters of the Palk Strait. You will also be able to see the tip of India’s southern coastline on a bright day.
Standing upright since 1618, under the Portuguese order, once the Dutch fort of Asia, the Dutch fort of Jaffna is a memorial that remembers the events that occurred since then and the role played by the fort. Having moved from one ruler to the other, today the fort is standing with its remains.
The fort was captured over by the Dutch in 1658, who under their control restored and enlarged both the interior and the fort’s land. From the year 1795 to the year 1948, the fort has been under British control and was primarily used as a military base for soldiers. For nine years, from 1986 to 1955, the fort was targeted and burned. After the attack, the government of Sri Lanka, with the Dutch funds, was restoring the fort.
Fort of Hammenhiel
Hammenhiel Fort is renowned for its status as a fortress. Located in a stunning position on the mesmerizing island between the Kayts and the Karaitivu Islands, the fort was founded by the Portuguese as a national guard. Now, it’s one of the top tourist attractions in Jaffna. It was then restored by the Dutch and taken over by the British. The fort was used either as jail or as a storehouse of weapons, by its administrators, and even today it has the image of being a jail. Fort Hammenhiel is also an open hotel allowing tourists to experience history within its doors.
Move 15 kilometers from Jaffna to the beautiful white-sand beach of Charty. Enjoy a peaceful day in the coconut and palm trees. Charty Beach is situated in Velanai, the northern part of the island.