Anuradhapura is the city in Sri Lanka for visiting various temples. The city itself is not very beautiful, but it is the place where you have a chance to learn more about Sri Lankan culture and history. In fact, it was once Sri Lanka’s first capital, resulting in the construction of numerous stupas and temples.
We decided to add Anuradhapura to our itinerary because we wanted to combine it with Wilpattu. Sri Lanka’s oldest wildlife park and one of the few places where the jaguar can still be spotted. Unfortunately, we only had 1 afternoon to visit Anuradhapura, so we had to make choices.
In this article
- To do
- Travel time
- Practical information
- The nicest accommodations
- How do I get there?
- Our opinion
Is Anuradhapura worth a visit?
If you want to learn more about the history and culture of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura is definitely worth a visit. However, do not expect temples as you know them from Angkor Watt, for example. Moreover, Anuradhapura combines well with Wilpattu so that too is a good destination to add to your itinerary. Therefore, whether you should add Anuradhapura to your Sri Lanka itinerary depends on your time and what you would like to see during your trip.
What to do in Anuradhapura
Visiting temples in Anuradhapura
Most people go for the five most famous temples. Here, then, you pay top dollar. Admission for 1 day costs about 30 euros per person. These are not all the temples. Since we only had an afternoon to explore the city, we decided to rent our own scooter and visit the lesser-known temples.
To enter the other temples, you often pay a small donation. It was a great way to get to know the city a little better, but not a highlight of our trip. We could have missed it, too. In hindsight, it might have been better to plan a full day for Anuradhapura and spend a little more deeply.
Tuktuk for a day
On Reisjunk I read as a tip, that it is wise to book a tuktuk for a day, so you also learn more about the history and culture of Sri Lanka. Here I completely agree. On a day trip, you’ll learn a lot more about the city and discover its finest joints. You can easily book these day trips at your accommodation. Tip! Ask your guide where to go for real Sri Lankan food. They know best places to eat like no other.
Book your activities here with local guides
Best time to travel to Anuradhapura
The best travel time to visit Anuradhapura is February and March. In the north, rain begins to decrease in March. If you are leaving for Sri Lanka in February, it is best to add the north to your itinerary last, because here the rainy season is really over by March.
Which budget do i need in Anuradhapura ?
Your budget for visiting Anuradhapura depends on desires and what you want to visit. If you go for an extended day trip with luxury accommodation, then for 2 days of Anuradhapura you will easily spend 200 euros. If you have a smaller budget and like to stay in homestays then you can also get by with a budget of around 40 euros per day for 2 people. So were around 50 euros and this was incl. a sumptuous meal at our homestay, deluxe 2 person room, scooter for a day and a visit to several temples.
- Homestay: 15 euros per night for 2 people
- Luxury accommodation: +50 euros per night for 2 people
- Temple visits: 30 euros per person
- Day trip: 50 euros per person
- Free temple visits: 5 euros per person
- Scooter rental: 5-10 euros for a day
Practical information about Anuradhapura
- Download the app PickMe. Sri Lanka’s uber with which you can also book tuktuks. Ideal!
- Want to visit a temple? Then keep your clothes in mind. VOor both men and women, legs and shoulders covered. Buy a nice sarong somewhere and make sure you always have it with you.
- Bring change for visiting the temples and rocks for admission, as well as for a tasty snack along the way.
- Want to bike around town. Then book accommodation close to the old town.
- Visit the temples early in the morning due to the crowds and heat.
- Bring sunscreen.
- For a Tuktuk ride, you pay about 100 – 300 rupees (about 1.50 max). This is for a ride of about 5 – 15 minutes.
- They drive LEFT in Sri Lanka. Don’t forget.
- At most restaurants, you pay an additional 10% service charge. It is then still customary to tip 5 – 10% (depending on the food and services). Sounds maybe a lot but on average a dinner with drinks costs less than 10 euros incl. service charges. So that one euro you can well spare ;p
What are nice places to stay in Anuradhapura ?
We booked 2 nights at Ceylonima Home Stay & it was really great. Accommodation is simple, but super clean and tidy. The owners are truly FANTASTIC! Should you book this accommodation, we also recommend dining here. This was truly divine! Ceylonima Home Stay is therefore rated 10 on BOOKING with more than 100 reviews. Yup that says it all.
How to get to Anuradhapura ?Anuradhapura ?
Since we didn’t have a lot of time left in the last few days, we decided to book a cab from Trincomalee to Anuradhapura. We paid about 25 euros for this and the trip took 2 hours.
From Trincomalee to Anuradhapura, you can also take a bus if necessary. For this, you often pay only 2 euros and you spend an average of 4 hours on the road. It is best to ask your accommodation where you can board.
From Colombo to Anuradhapura, a train takes about 4 hours. The train is the perfect and most comfortable way to travel through Sri Lanka. Do book a ticket in advance, though.
From Kandy to Anuradhapura, you can also take the bus. This first goes to the town of Dambulla and here you can transfer to a bus to Anuradhapura. There is also a direct connection. The best thing to do is to ask people at the bus stop for advice.
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