Should your travels ever lead you to the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka, even if you’re there just for one day, you can consider yourself very fortunate indeed. This incredible city right in the middle of the island has quite a glorious history and sights that will leave you speechless. Add to that amazing parks and interesting cuisine, and you get a place where you will create incredible memories that will last you a lifetime. The one day you have in Kandy will be one of the best days of your life.
Plan your trip to Kandy
1. What’s the best time to visit Kandy?
2. A few facts about Kandy
3. One day in Kandy itinerary
3.1. Start with a traditional breakfast
3.2. Take a stroll around the lake
3.3. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth…
3.4. … and the rest of the royal palace
3.5. Stop for lunch
3.6. Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens
3.7. Check out the massive Buddha
3.8. Enjoy a night out
4. Where to stay in Kandy?
5. Day trips from Kandy
6. Extra tips for visiting Kandy
When it comes to the temperatures in Kandy, they are pretty consistent throughout the year. It’s always quite warm here since this is a tropical climate after all, but it needs to be said that there is significantly less precipitation during January, February, and March. So if you want good weather, that’s when you need to come.
However, you may also want to visit in July/August because of The Esala Perahera, also known as The Festival of Tooth, where the locals ask gods for a bountiful harvest. Additionally, the locals celebrate New Year in April, and Vesak Poya, a celebration of Buddha, is in May.
So, pick the time that suits you best and don’t forget to get a visa if you need one. Byevisa can provide all the information on that and help you get your visa.
With more than 150,000 people, Kandy is not that big of a city, but it’s still the second-largest in the country. However, this place was the last capital city of old kings of Sri Lanka and actually stayed independent all the way until the early 19th century.
Many Buddhists undertake a pilgrimage to the city and its Temple of the Tooth, but the city is also famous for its role in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – most of the movie was shot here!
Your one day in Kandy is bound to be full of amazing things to experience and see. But plan your time carefully so that you can see as many places as possible. Here’s how you should go about that!
When in Sri Lanka, you simply must try the local breakfasts. They come in several different combinations, but they are very filling and consist of rice/coconut flour dough which you then use to dip into things like curries, sambol, or even hoppers (something similar to a pancake). The Kandy Garden Cafe is a great place to start your day the Sri Lankan way.
Once you’re done with the breakfast, you can inspect that big body of water in front of you better. That’s Kandy Lake, an incredible feat of engineering undertaken by the last Sri Lankan king. Many legends revolve around it, one of them saying that there is a secret tunnel in the lake, connecting the island with the royal palace. Loads of beautiful greenery make this a wonderful place for a breath of fresh air and just taking a stroll.
As you’re walking along the northern coast of the lake, you will eventually reach the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, but do try to come here earlier in the morning to avoid crowds.
The temple is a magnificent building from the end of the 16th century and houses the actual tooth of Buddha, which is a national treasure. This is pretty much a must for any visitor to Kandy, so even if you have one day in the city, you really should get here ASAP.
But the temple is just a part of a much greater complex, the Sacred City of Kandy, the former home of the local kings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It really is an extremely impressive place, and many buildings inside it have been turned into museums, most notable of which is the National Museum Kandy. So, you have a lot of exploring to do
After all of this, you deserve a break and a bite to eat. There are plenty of great restaurants in Kandy, but if you’re a seafood fan, you really should go to Kandyan King Seafood Restaurant. The food is delicious, and the prices are great.
Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar and Restaurant offers beautiful views from their terrace with your meals, so you can enjoy their Asian fusion dishes to the fullest, and if you need to grab something quickly, World Spice – KCC is the place to go.
Slightly west from the city center are the Royal Botanic Gardens, and a nice stroll there seems like a great way to start your afternoon. This is actually the largest botanic garden in Asia, so you know it’s going to be good.
Indeed, the beauty of the flowers is hard to describe, but the place is especially famous for its orchids. Literally thousands of different kinds of plants can be viewed, all just 15 minutes away by car.
Once you come back from the botanical garden, head to that giant Buddha statue that’s been towering over you the whole day. That’s Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha, a temple that offers a great view of the city.
It’s only a short ride away from the royal palace, and you can visit it easily, so why not get a panoramic view of Kandy while you still can. It’s a great place to snap some awesome pictures.
After your sightseeing tour is complete, go ahead and see what Kandy’s nightlife is like. You can head out to Le Garage, probably the most popular club in town, but be aware that you’ll need a ride to get there since it’s not exactly in the city center.
What is in the city center is The Pub, a nice place where you can just chill with the locals or cheer if the national cricket team is playing. Blackout is another very popular evening venue, with pretty good food if you feel hungry.
Golden Crown Hotel
322, Udagama Ampitiya, 20000 Kandy
For the ultimate luxury in Kandy, stay at the Golden Crown Hotel. This amazing place is surrounded by lush greenery and offers spectacular views, but it also has an infinity pool and a swim-up bar. We don’t have to emphasize that the rooms are excellent, and here you will be close to the city center, too.
The Radh Hotel
Another great place to stay is The Radh Hotel which has a fitness center, excellent rooms, and offers continental or buffet breakfast. But the most important advantage of this hotel is its location because it’s so very close to all the most important places in the city center. Very helpful staff only confirm that you’ve made the right choice when you decided to stay here.
Sevana City Hotel
84, Peradeniya Road, Kandy, 20000 Kandy
Sevana City Hotel offers great value for your money, especially when you consider its excellent location. You can also enjoy the hotel’s rooftop pool and the lovely view you get from it, plus there is a terrace and a snack bar, too. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the people working here are very kind, and the restaurant is great, too. Three-star hotels don’t get much better than this.
The Oasis Hostel
No. 114/1/1, Peradeniya road, Kandy 1st floor, 20000 Kandy
Traveling on a budget usually means staying in a hostel, but The Oasis Hostel will show you that this is not a bad thing at all! The hostel offers free cooking classes and several types of food in its restaurant, and the location is very convenient. Perfectly clean with a very kind owner and a nice balcony, this hostel will help make sure you enjoy your trip!
Spending more than one day in Kandy means you have a chance to explore this amazing country more thoroughly. If you have at least a day to spare, here are some of the trips you really should consider making.
Train from Kandy to Ella
Many consider this to be the most beautiful train ride in the world. It lasts seven hours (or four if you disembark in Nuwara Eliya) and takes you through mesmerizing tea plantations. There are scenic mountain views, there are locals waving to the train, and all of this seems a bit like a fairy tale.
Why not spend one day in Colombo if you have the time? The capital city is less than two hours away by car, and more and more people are discovering its charm every year. Bustling street life, wonderful Buddhis temples, and plenty of places where you can spend a nice evening make this a great choice for a day trip from Kandy.
An hour away by car from Kandy lies an absolutely spectacular place. Sigiriya is an ancient city built on a rock in the 5th century, and to say that the views from up there are breathtaking would be quite an understatement. Check out this UNESCO World Heritage Site and your life will be so much richer.
Kitulgala is a destination for those who are looking for some adrenaline and adventure on their vacation. From this small town, you can go whitewater rafting, kayaking, or maybe rent out a mountain bike and explore the forests all around you. Oh, and the remains of the bridge over the local river Kelani is the one used in the famous film The Bridge on the River Kwai.
– The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee, and one euro equals about 230 of them. One US dollar will get you about 190 rupees.
– You may feel the urge to go and visit one of the local “sanctuaries” for elephants. However, many organizations dedicated to helping animals have warned that these places are not real sanctuaries but actually use elephants for entertainment. So maybe just avoid them.
– Tuk-tuk is a common mode of transport here, and you can even book tuk-tuk tours if you so desire.
– Kandy is actually cooler than most of Sri Lanka, so you may want to pack something warmer, just in case.
– Some temples may ask you to remove your shoes when entering, it’s good to have a bag with you to put them in.
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).