Sunheron logoSunheron
About SunheronFAQContactBlog
Find destination...
  • About Sunheron
  • FAQ
  • Contact
  • Blog
  • °C


    Guide to Ceylon cities: Colombo, Ella and Kandy


    Guide to Ceylon cities: Colombo, Ella and Kandy


    Although Sri Lanka is known for its picturesque beaches, stunning scenery and exotic animals, it would be a shame to miss out on some historic or otherwise interesting cities such as the capital Colombo or Kandy, a city full of culture. After all, city life is also part of the Sri Lankan cultural puzzle.

    Explore more about:

      Jaffna, a former Tamil centre with war scars

      The city of Jaffna lies in the north of the island and years of war and unrest have taken their toll here. The scars are evident throughout the city and its inhabitants. However, thanks to its rich history and many valuable Hindu buildings, tourism is slowly increasing here.

      Jaffna has a rich history, having been a Tamil Hindu centre for centuries, which the Portuguese tried to destroy after 1600, forcing the inhabitants to convert to Christianity. There are a large number of religious buildings from both periods, and the vast star-shaped fort, the royal palace and, most importantly, the Hindu temple of Kovil Nallur Kandaswamy are worth seeing. An interesting (if cheerless) tour is of the war ruins in the government quarter, which are slowly becoming overgrown with vegetation.

      View of the Jaffna fort and clear sky in background

      The wars of the late 20th and early 21st centuries only finally ended in 2009, and although the region is at peace, not all the minefields have been destroyed, not all unexploded ordnance removed and locals are sensitive about the subject of war. Don't go off marked trails and roads, don't just wander on deserted beaches and countryside (minefields are not marked) and don't take photos of soldiers and military objects. Always enquire about the current security situation before travelling.

      Capital Colombo

      Don't skip the capital once you arrive in the country. In Colombo you can admire the colonial architecture, walk along Galle Road and see the Fort. In the Pétta district, shop for typical Sri Lankan products and souvenirs in the bustling markets and watch the street bustle from stylish cafes.

      The city's history dates back to the 5th century, when it served as a seaport for trade between Asia and the West. Although today it lacks the grandeur and appeal of its first sights, it still retains a unique charm. It's best experienced by joining the locals to enjoy a coastal sunset on Galle Face Green, watching the stunts of local artists and sampling delicacies from street stalls.

      Aerial view of the capital of Sri Lanka - Colombo

      Colonial Fort Galle

      Galle is a former Dutch fortified town full of colonial buildings that have been bitten by the ravages of time and the gusts of salty sea winds. The site of the old fort, marked by the ravages of time, is rightly said to be the most interesting urban monument on the island. It was built by the Dutch in 1663 and occupies most of the historic part of the town. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is filled with many small shops, cafes and street artists' stalls. Old buildings interspersed with vegetation make for a picturesque spectacle.

      View of coast, fort and nature of Galle city

      Ella, the centre of the highlands

      Ella lies at an altitude of over 1,000 metres and offers a breathtaking view of the Ella Gap, a plateau 1 km below and leading down to the seashore. Relax at the view with a good cup of tea, walk among the tea plantations to the top of Little Adam's Mountain or visit a tea processing factory and watch Tamil leaf pickers at work on the plantations. On another day, visit Ella Rock or the nearby Ravana Falls. Expect crowds (mainly locals) swimming, fighting and making fun of your amazement at the falls.

      View of a Ella Waterfall surrounded by nature and mountains

      Kandy, Capital of Culture

      Kandy is one of Sri Lanka's most important cities and the second largest on the island. It was founded in around the 14th century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. It is also the last capital of the Sinhala Kingdom still with a symbol of Sinhala culture today. It is home to the very important Buddhist temple of Sri Dalada Maligawa, which is said to contain a valuable relic – a tooth of Buddha. In addition, you can admire the colonial architecture or attend a traditional dance performance.

      Buddhist temple of Sri Dalada Maligawa with trees in the background

      Other Sunheron blog posts