How to Spend 3 Days in Kandy
With three days in Kandy, you can get a feel for the ancient city with a visit to its historic attractions and religious sites, museums, and restaurants, with time left over to venture out to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Sigiriya and Dambulla nearby. Here’s how to do it.
Day 1: Historic and Cultural Highlights
Spend your first day in Kandy visiting the city’s numerous cultural and historic sites. Taking a guided tour is a good way to get acquainted with the area while learning about Kandy’s history. Most visitors start with the star attraction: Sri Dalada Maligawa, more commonly referred to as the Temple of the Tooth. Dating to the 18th century, this temple was named after a relic in its possession—a tooth believed to have belonged to the Buddha. Most of the city's main cultural sites are located within walking distance of the temple, including the National Museum and International Buddhist Museum, which focuses on Buddhism around the world. Don’t miss the Royal Palace of Kandy, just north of the Temple of the Tooth, which features centuries worth of local architecture (its Natha Devale shrine dates back to the 1300s). Finish your day with a dance performance at the nearby Kandyan Art Association.
Day 2: Food and Tea
On your second day in Kandy, take a tour out to one of the many tea plantations in the area, where you can learn all about the cultivation and production of Ceylon tea. While most tours are by car or tuk tuk, bicycle tours are a good option to get a little exercise along the way. If you have your own car or have booked a personal tour with a tuk tuk and driver for the morning, request to stop at a local spice farm to learn about spice production. If you have time left over, head back to Kandy for an afternoon food tour, a great way to try a lot of different Sri Lankan food in one go. Afterwards, join a local cooking class and dinner experience to learn how to make local favorites yourself.
Day 3: Day Trip to Sigiriya and Dambulla
Devote your final day to visiting two of Sri Lanka's most important UNESCO World Heritage sites: Sigiriya and Dambulla. Sigiriya features an intricately frescoed palace situated atop a 656-foot-high (200-meter-high) rock. The palace was used as a Buddhist monastery until around the 14th century. Today it's possible to climb to the top of the rock to visit the site's architecture, frescoes, and gardens. Sigiriya is usually visited in conjunction with the nearby Dambulla Cave Temple, which features more than 150 statues of the Buddha spread across five caves, the biggest of which is about 50 feet (15 meters) in length. Multiple private tour options are available from Kandy. Some include stops at additional sites such as Minneriya National Park, a popular spot for wildlife jeep safaris, and Hiriwadunna Village, where you can take a boat or ox cart ride or learn to cook from local village residents.