Kandy, in the center of Sri Lanka, is one of those locations that create a lasting impact on the minds and souls of any enthusiastic traveler. The city is full of beautiful hymn tunes, emblazoned with a calming charm, and the mystical, good vibrations of nature. Whoever goes on a trip to Sri Lanka gets profoundly affected by the sophisticated beauty and the best things to do in Kandy that results in a wealth of unforgettable memories.
A significant center of Buddhism and other popular Asian destinations, Kandy is a spot immersed in serenity. Couples enjoy intimate moments in a pool facing a restaurant across Kandy Pool, ladies dressed in tasteful dresses, happy caring people brimming with warm gestures, and thrilling historic monuments overlooking spectacular views, making Kandy a thrilling location in Sri Lanka.
There are so many exciting things to do in Kandy, and we highly recommend taking a couple of days in town to take it all in. Here’s a quick list for you:
- Cycling in Kandy
- Day Tours from Kandy
- Explore the Market Streets of Kandy Old Town
- Walk the Kandy Lake
- Kandy to Ella Train Ride
- Kandy City Tours
- Bird Watching in Kandy in Sri Lanka
- Hiking and Trekking
- Cultural Dancing Show
- Visit Victoria Golf Course
- Knuckles Mountain Range
- Vedda’s Village Tours from Kandy
- Hanthana Mountain Range
- Kandy Three Temple Loops
- Riverston from Kandy for Trekking
The Best Things to do in Kandy in Sri Lanka
Here is the detailed explanation of what you can do in this world-famous city:
01. Cycling in Kandy
This extensive tour will take you through the ancient and conventional industrial environment of Kandy and its suburbs. A wide range of agricultural industries, such as vegetable and fruit gardens, beekeeping, plant pathology centers, insect zoos, and medicinal gardens, are on display.
Seeing the manufacture of fine-crafted products near the Dodanwala Handicraft Center on your way would be a fabulous part of cycling in Kandy.
With less traffic back, you will get to a tea factory where you can see how the tea leaves are handled. A good cup of tea at the end will help refresh you and continue moving towards the Dawson Tower in Kadugannawa Town, which can be the next destination, a memorial to Ceylon’s commanding engineer in the 1800s, Captain Dawson, who designed the country’s first highway network.
Places Covered During Cycling in Kandy:
- Dodanwala Handicraft Center
- Dawson Tower
- City Highlights
- 14th-Century Temples (Gadaladeniya Temple, Lankathilaka Temple, and Embekke Devale)
02. Day Tours from Kandy
Kandy in Sri Lanka, more commonly known as the capital of the hills of Sri Lanka, is an enticing tourist hotspot. Kandy has an array of cultural surroundings; the Temple of the Tooth is the most famous attraction.
Day tours from Kandy can cover so much of the beautiful Kandy and nearby tourist towns and attractions. If you are looking for the best things to do in Kandy, keep this in your TOP list.
Places that you can cover include:
- The Temple of the Tooth
- Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
- Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
- Kandy Viewpoint
- Spice Garden
- Cover City Highlights
- Sigiriya Rock Fortress
- Dambulla Cave Temple
03. Explore the Market Streets of Kandy Old Town
You’ll love the sights and sounds of local markets in Kandy. There’s always more to see, someone to meet, or, more importantly, something mouth-watering to eat.
Situated between Sri Delada Veediya and Colombo, the old town of Kandy is home to a maze of shops selling anything from textiles to incense. The noisy and crowded streets are packed with local Kandyans doing their day-to-day business, and you will find it a perfect place to experience the ‘authentic’ Kandy in Sri Lanka.
Some of the sights worth seeing in the old town include the Giragama Walawwa, the earliest Walawwa (former royal construction) in Kandy, the ancient and beautiful Red Mosque in Kandy, or the vibrant Kataragama Devalaya Hindu Temple.
Walk around the streets between Kandy Clock Tower and Colombo Street.
Places to visit during this tour:
- Local Markets
- Red Mosque in Kandy
- Giragama Walawwa
- Katharagama Devale
04. Walk the Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake; remarkably peaceful despite the busy road winding around it, and the silhouette of many of the city’s major tourist attractions, including the Tooth Relic Temple and the Udawattakele Forest Reserve. Walking across the lake is one of the best activities you can do in Kandy.
In 1807, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, the last ruler of Kandy’s kingdom, built this artificial lake.
The picturesque lake is the best spot to get your sights in Kandy and see some of the local wildlife. It takes about an hour to walk it around the lake (just over 3 km), and your favorite portion would be around the field next to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. We highly recommend this as one of the best things to do in Kandy. You can make this part of Kandy city exploration. The dawn is the best time to stroll around Kandy Lake with a beautiful atmosphere in nature.
05. Kandy to Ella Train Ride
Wandering through misty trees, green tea fields, over gushing waterfalls and lakes, and through vibrant towns and thrilling locals would be one of the most enjoyable journeys of your life.
Besides the awesome view, the feeling is what makes this train ride so remarkable. Prepare to see some of the most sincere smiles you’ll ever experience; groups of locals singing, playing music, or dancing (or doing all three!), vendors racing through flasks full of delicious chai, and every window or door jammed with the heads of visitors and locals alike, all looking in astonishment at the sights and jostling at the best views.
The Kandy to Ella train ride is so popular that you need to book your trip in advance (usually 1-2 days before). And that’s why we have listed this among the best things to do in Kandy.
Tip: the most beautiful aspect of the trip is from Nanu Oya to Ella, through the thick forest of the Horton Plains National Park, so we suggest taking a window seat or standing between the doors and watching the views as they pass by.
Where: Kandy Rail Station, Kandy
Price Second class: LKR 240 per person, 3rd class: LKR 175 per person (subject to change)
Kandy to Ella train times: Express trains depart from Ella to Kandy-0847 and 1110 (subject to change)
06.Kandy City Tours – Explore Kandy in Sri Lanka
This is the moment when you can witness all the places we mentioned above. Take an incredibly interesting stroll through the Sacred City of Kandy, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Experience some amazing sights with your better half as you walk along the halls of time.
Drive up the mountain to the ‘View Point,’ a stunning spot from where you can have a bird’s-eye view of the town of Kandy and take some fantastic photos.
The Kandy Cultural Show is followed by a soothing showcase of Sri Lankan Arts, Dance, and Cultural Heritage coming together like a splash of movements, acrobats, and extravagant color to the audio of Kandyan music and drumbeats.
Places of Visit During Kandy City Tours:
- Colonial Manor House of native headmen
- Highlights of the City
- The town hall of Kandy
- House of the President
- The Office of Old Lawyers
07. Bird Watching in Kandy – Udawattakele
Wander through the ancient forest used by the ancient kings of old Ceylon, and see everything from the endangered parakeet of Layard to the rare Three-toed Kingfisher in the Udawattakele Forest Reserve.
Udawatta Kele is known as a natural paradise where a variety of bird species do live and easy access. You’ll be able to see birds such as the Layard’s Parakeet, the Yellow-fronted Barbet, or even the Crimson-backed Golden Back. The forest has a host of night-time birds, such as the Brown Fish Owl.
Birds to See in Udawattakele:
- Yellow-fronted Barbet
- Layard’s Parakeet
- Crimson-backed Golden back
- Brown Fish Owl
- Little Cormorant
- White-bellied Sea Eagles
- Common Kingfishers
- Wild Boars
- Fishing Cats
- Toque Macaques
- Around 460 plant species
08. Hiking and Trekking in Kandy in Sri Lanka
Hiking and trekking in Kandy put you on the discovery track of the stunning Knuckles and Hanthana Mountain Ranges. The Knuckles Mountain Range offers a variety of trekking options for experienced hikers or trekkers on various trekking routes.
Hiking and trekking in Kandy take you on exploring the wonderful Knuckles and Hanthana mountain peaks. The Knuckles range stretches for a distance of 155 square kilometers, a protected region with many trees, flora and fauna habitats, and beautiful natural scenery.
Because the Knuckles Mountain Range has been designated a World Heritage Site for its protected area, the Knuckles Mountain Range provides a wide variety of trekking options for experienced hikers or trekkers on various trekking paths and for how long.
Things to do in Kandy – Trekking & Hiking Places in Kandy & Nearby Regions:
- Knuckles Mountain Range
- Nuwara Eliya
- North Central Plains
- Sinharaja Rain Forest
- Peacock Hill
- Trekking in Kandy Countryside
- Hanthana Mountain Range
09. Kandy Cultural Dance Show
Attend a cultural show in Kandy and experience some of Sri Lanka’s famous ceremonial dances. Most of these performances take place through teams of professionals who dress in elaborate jewels, mysterious masks, finely embellished dresses, and exquisite tiaras.
Enjoy the exciting show of Kandyan Dance, the national dance of Sri Lanka. The dance show is one of the best things to do in Kandy. This beautifully reflects the ancient history, heritage, and practices of the region. Be delighted at the soul-stirring success of the Kohomba Kankariya ritual dance and praise the passion and talent of the performers. In Kohomba Kankariya shows, performers mimic the graceful gestures of animals and birds and mystify the audience.
Along with their fluid dance steps, the performers can enthrall you with their spellbinding representation of the legend. Marvel at the facial gestures, the fluid moves, the killing dance moves, and the brisk eye contact of the performers. Besides the spectacular dance shows, you’ll also get an opportunity to enjoy the amazing acrobats and mind-blowing feats at the Kandy Cultural Show.
See people doing jaw-breaking tricks such as pirouette, plate flipping, fire acting, and bring more wonder to your amazement.
10. Victoria Golf Course
Linger in the pouch of nature all through your time at the Victoria Golf & Country Resort – a magnificent 500-acre resort property set in the midst of stunning scenery. Our property beautifully combines natural settings with immaculate architecture and gives you the perfect retreat you’ve ever been waiting for.
It also includes finely built rooms that come with all the requisite amenities. Apart from the above, the main draw of our resort is the golf course which is rated as one of the best golf courses in Sri Lanka. The course is loaded with stunning undulations and a demanding turf that also tests the abilities of well-trained golfers to bring more appeal to your holiday.
How can we not include this in the best things to do in the Kandy list? Well, you must visit this place when you are in Kandy.
11. Knuckles Mountain Range
If you’re someone who’s hunting for the best things to do in Kandy that are more adventurous, here’s the perfect deal for you. The enigmatic Knuckles Mountain range – named after it resembles a clenched fist – offers some of the most fascinatingly gorgeous scenery trails in Sri Lanka. Much known by scientists and anthropologists for its wide variety of habitats and local inhabitant tribes, the region is home to 40 remote towns and a range of endangered animals, including some really rare species.
Crossing both the dry and the wet areas, the rugged landscape is nearly always coated by a dense reflective fog that hangs low around the peaks all year long. With its fluctuating climate and frequent heavy rainfall, the Knuckles present some challenging trekking conditions.
We, therefore, suggest this trek to the more daring and intrepid trekkers who are prepared for the challenge. Yet don’t let this drive you out of here! Time trekking in the knuckles with your guide, an outdoor explorer, and a professional naturalist, and you are unlikely to see another soul along the way. It’s always going to be you and nature.
12. Vedda’s Village Tours from Kandy
Sri Lanka’s Aborigines, or Veddha’s meaning “people of the jungle” of Sri Lanka, have a much longer history than the 5th century BC landing of Prince Vijaya and the beginnings of the Sinhalese race.
Discover the way of life of Veddha, the first people of Sri Lanka. It can be a night or two days Veddha village camping trip that helps you to connect with them, perform with them, take a nature walk in the forest with Veddha to explore how they look for food, and understand their lifestyle.
They are basically hunter-gatherer woodland dwellers with no alteration in their lifestyle from the Stone Age to modern times. Veddha’s are permitted to hunt lawfully to support themselves in many regions, they are also expert fishermen. Veddha is also gathering the honey of the bee and trading it with locals for ax blades and fabric. This perfect thing to do in Kandy is a combination of adventure and culture.
13. Hanthana Mountain Range
Hanthana is 7 kilometers from Kandy. Hike through the cool tea plantations before trekking through the Hanthana Mountain Range, considered to be wonderfully overwhelmed by everything from exotic birds to raptors.
Known for its many bird species, the Hanthana Mountain Range is suitable for bird watching. You can also see some varieties of raptors and several species of endangered birds. The route contains some ascents as well as descents, and you can walk between the “Upper Lance” tea estates until you reach the Hanthana Mountain Range. After crossing the Hanthana range, you’ll come across a footpath that leads to Kandy. This footpath is perfect for seeing birds and seeing the picturesque scenery of the towns of Kandy, Galaha, and Peradeniya.
Sri Lanka is a nation with strong economic and technical development. The Hanthana area was selected as the location for a few radio transmitting towers owing to the optimal height for full coverage. You’re going to be able to see these towers up close on the way, making this one of the best things to do in Kandy.
14. Kandy Three Temple Loops
If you are up to witnessing Sri Lanka’s primary Buddhist temples, here’s the best to do in Kandy for you.
When you’re up to a challenge, enjoy a visit to three temples. Located in the Central Highlands, only a few kilometers southwest of Kandy, a 7 km (4mi) road links the temples of Embekke, Gadaladeniya, and Lankathilaka. The road leads you through lush paddy fields and small buzzing villages lined with colorful houses and the sight of a local woman swathed in bright saris. Speak to polite locals and drink tea in the tea stalls along the way.
Gadaladeniya Temple: renowned for its exquisite stone carvings, this Temple is on the flat rock of Diggala and was built in the 14th century. Decayed paintings from around that period offer several clues as to how the Temple came into existence. The architecture is South Asian, and the common perception is that the workers come from overseas.
Lankathilaka: the glorious Lankathilake Vihare, one of the most impressive monumental structures in the Gampola Kingdom, is on the top of a large rock called Panhalgala, overlooking the Hantane Mountains in the Hiripitiya hamlet of Udunuwara.
Embekke Devalaya: Embekke Devalaya is in the village of Ambakka, and it’s the temple built in the 14th century by King Wickremabahu III. The made-of-the-wood temple features a courtyard where hewisi drums and trumpets would be played during celebrations.
15.Rivrestone from Kandy
Alright, Riverston is about 50 km away from Kandy, but it’s one of the best trekking points in Sri Lanka. If you are looking for adventurous things to do in Kandy, you can consider Riverston as well, as an alternative.
With climatic conditions very comparable to the Hortons Plains, the Riverston trek also offers two elegant waterfalls, Sera Ella and Bambarakiri Ella. Sera Ella also has several strategically placed rock seats from which tourists can enjoy the soothing cool spray of misty droplets. The neighboring freshwater river, Thelgamu Oya, is perfect for a fast cooling dip or even a soothing spray before or after a long, arduous hike.
The trek is around two and a half kilometers in one direction, which does not take at most longer than a safe hour or two. This passes a segment known as the Pithawala Pathan and continues to the Riverstone Ridge. The landscape along the walk has views of the landscaped rice paddies, peculiar to certain mountainous areas around the world, and the stunning green Central Highlands.
The Riverston Summit features a dramatic 300m drop with breathtaking misty views of the surrounding Knuckles Mountain Range and Thelgamu River Valley. The summit, with its calm and breathtaking scenery, is also a perfect spot to meditate and rest on your holidays in Sri Lanka. The Riverston trek is a perfect chance for nature lovers and photographers who want those jaw-dropping pictures.
Well, then, that’s the end of our top things to do in Kandy. As you already know, Kandy is a top-rated tourist city, and the things to do in it are among the highest-rated tourist activities.
Do you want to visit Kandy? Yes, we know you want to. For memorable holidays in Kandy, contact us today.