A world of ancient kings, ornate temples, lush gardens and vibrant traditions – Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka and its cultural capital.

Nestled in the midst of hills and surrounded by tropical paddy fields and tea plantations, the town is the home of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), the country’s most important religious shrine.

At the heart of the city is the man-made Kandy Lake, where a scenic shaded path offers views of the surrounding hills and town, ideal for walkers, joggers and bird spotters. Browse bustling market places with bright, fresh produce, local delicacies and fragrant spices, or spend the day exploring the opulent temples and learning about the city’s rich history. The dense downtown area is surrounded by tropical rainforest, so look out for exotic monkeys swinging overhead.

Kandy served as the capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom, before falling to the British in 1815 and navigating its streets reveals an intriguing mix of old Kandyan and colonial buildings. With the vibrant green of the highlands as a backdrop, Kandy is not only Sri Lanka‘s most cultural city, but one of its most beautiful.

Kandy feels more like a town than one of Sri Lanka’s biggest cities, with its low-rise buildings, narrow streets and abundant greenery. I really enjoyed wandering through the peaceful Botanical Gardens – a lovely start to the day before the heat took hold.

Rachel O'Leary
Travel Designer

What to do

  • Visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic, the country's most important religious shrine
  • Hike through the surroundings hills

When to go

The best time to visit Kandy is between December and April. The wet season falls between May and August, with October being another wet month. Average temperatures in Kandy are 20-22°C.