Welcome to Anuradhapura


Current-day Anuradhapura is a pleasant albeit sprawling city; a small town that feels more like a large village. There's loads of good budget accommodation, easy bike hire and a relaxed pace, making it a good place to spend an extra day.


Top experiences in Anuradhapura

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Anuradhapura activities

$547 Multi-day & Extended Tours

3-Day Sri Lanka Cultural Tour: Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla including Jeep Safari at Minneriya National Park

Day 01: Colombo - Sigiriya (approx. 4.5 hrs) [D]Morning pickup from your hotel in Colombo or Bandaranaike International Airport by 9am and leave for Sigiriya. Upon arrival, check in at the hotel in Sigiriya and later spend the rest of the day at Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The 5th-century rock citadel of King Kasyapa and World Heritage Site - Sigiriya -boasts of ancient Sri Lankan engineering and urban planning supremacy acclaiming to be one of the finest monuments of art and culture. Surrounded by ramparts and moats, the Lion Rock, resembling the mythological 'City of Gods', is coated by frescoes that relate to Gupta style paintings found in the Ajanta caves of India. Walk in the shade of an eminent 'mirror wall' embracing the Western face of Sigiriya representing an artistic hundred meters laminated with graffiti. Dinner and overnight stay at Fresco Water Villa.Day 02: Sigiriya - Polonnaruwa - Minneriya - Sigiriya [B, D]After breakfast transfer to Polonnaruwa (approximately 1.5 hrs.). Rising with the decline of Anuradhapura, the city of Polonnaruwa, the medieval capital and crown jewel of King Parakramabahu, remains superior proof of ancient culture and heritage blended with religious beliefs. Walk across its scattered walls of the World Heritage Site that is blessed by stupas resting Buddha statues, irrigation canals and fantastically carved Hindu sculptures while observing the relic house Watadage that boasts of beautiful stone carvings. The Nissankamalla Council Chamber is, however, a head-spinning beauty to just sit back and observe with its swaying pillars reminding the aesthetics of a powerful kingdom which rests beside Parakrama Samudraya - sea of Parakramabahu & masterpiece of irrigation.Later transfer from Polonnaruwa to Minneriya and explore Minneriya National Park by a Jeep Safari (approx. 3 hrs). If you're up for a serious rumble in the jungle, Minneriya is your Colosseum! Spreading over 8800 hectares, this is a sanctuary for elephants. Minneriya is home to herds of deer and ample bird-life, but its spotlight remains between swaying trunks & flapping ears. In fact, depending on the season, this is the largest elephant gathering in the world - over 700 at a time - which has garnished the park to become a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts across the globe. Return to the hotel in Sigiriya. Dinner and overnight stay at Fresco Water Villa.Day 03: Sigiriya - Dambulla - Colombo [B]After breakfast proceed to Dambulla and visit the famous Dambulla Cave Temple (approx. 30 mins). As an icon in the face of Sri Lanka, Dambulla Rock Temple houses some of the most unique drawings in magnificently constructed 5 cave temples flanking the golden temple of Dambulla. Afterwards return to Colombo and transfer you to your hotel in Colombo or Bandaranaike International Airport.

$115 Private & Custom Tours

Anuradhapura Private Tour from Colombo, Negombo, or Katunayaka

At around 6am begin your private tour with hotel pickup in Colombo, Katunayake, or Nebgombo. Leave for eight sacred places in Anuradhapura. On the way, visit Negombo Chilaw and the Puttalam area. Your stops will also include: Jayasiri Maha Bodhi ancient tree Brazen Palace Monastery Thuparamaya Pagoda Ruwanwelisaya Thuparamaya Lankaramaya Abayagiriya Jethawanaramaya Mirisawetiya Enjoy lunch in a restaurant in Anuradhapura and then proceed to Isurumuniya, Anuradhapura New Town, and Old Town. Finish this tour back at your hotel at around 9pm

$122 Walking & Biking Tours

Private Tour: The Sacred City of Anuradhapura Cycling Tour

Your tour will be starting at the embankment of Tissa Wewa, at 8:00 am. You will be met by your cycling guide and provided with bicycles and helmets as well as refreshments for the ride. The artificial reservoirs were created in the 3rd century BC by King Devanampiyatissa and are the third oldest manmade reservoir in Sri Lanka. The embankment of Tissa Wewa is 2 miles long and 25 feet tall. You will be able to cycle along the embankment enjoying the view. From Tissa Wewa you will be biking to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Anuradhapura City, where all the ancient monuments and ruins are. Your guide will tell you many native stories and legends about Anuradhapura along the way. En route to the city, you will be stopping by the Isurumuniya Temple which was also built by King Devanampiyatissa in the 3rd century BC. This temple is the location of many famous stone carvings that you will get to see; including the Isurumuniya Lovers, the Royal Family, and the Elephant Bathing carving by the pond outside. The carvings range from various centuries, showing this to have been a place where art and religion combined. Once you get to the Anuradhapura Ruins you will first view the Abhayagiri Stupa, which was part of massive Abhayagiri Monastery.The Stupa was the second largest brick structure in the world after Jetavanaramaya. You will be able to see the elaborate moonstones and the reclining buddha. You will also be able to see the famous giant Samadhi Buddha statue and the beautifully designed Twin Ponds (Kuttam Pokuna) which were also part of the Abhayagiri Monastery. Another important part of the Abhayagiri Monastery that you will be seeing is the Lankarama Stupa. The ancient ruins show that it would have been a vatadage, based on the evidence of pillars and a stupa house. Nothing else is known about this stupa that was built in the 1st century BC. You will see the site marked by a small stupa built fairly recently. After the Abhayagiri monastery area, you will be visiting Jetavana Pagoda. Jetavanaramaya was built in the 4th century AD and was the largest brick structure of the ancient world. Jetavana remains an impressive sight with carved bas-reliefs, high arches and beautifully shaped lotus pedestals. The next sight to see is the Ruwanwelisaya Pagoda which was built in the end century BC. It was the second largest stupa after the above mentioned two stupas. The pagoda is the oldest that is still in use, and you can see pilgrims worshipping here. You will see plenty of elephant sculptures here; from the full sized elephant sculptures in the outer wall to the old stone elephants in the bas of the stupa. There are also many other monuments that you may visit in Anuradhapura based on time constraints. Your tour will be concluded outside the ancient city by 12 pm.

$97 Day Trips & Excursions

Private Day Tour: Anuradhapura and Mihintale from Sigiriya

Meet your guide at your Sigiriya accommodat8 am at 8am for your 10-hour tour of Anuradhapura and Mihintale (own expense). Traveling in a private vehicle, drive 1.5 hours to Anuradhapura. Follow your guide on a walk through the city, passing ancient monuments such as Sri Maha Bodhi and Thuparamaya.After visiting Anuradhapura, pause for one hour for lunch at a local restaurant (at your own expense).Drive on 30 minutes to Mihintale, one of the most significant sites in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle. Learn the history and significance of Mihintale, a mountain peak that is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.At the conclusion of your tour, your vehicle will return you to your Sigiriya hotel.SKU: LK60060100

$56 Outdoor Activities

Private Tour: Wilpattu National Park Safari

Meet up with your driver at the gate of Wilpattu National Park in Anuradhapura at approximately 5:30am or 2:30pm to start your exciting safari tour in Wilpattu National Park.Wilpattu National Park, the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka, spans an area of approx. 131,693 hectares with altitude ranging between the sea-level and 152 meters. It was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1905 and in 1938 elevated to the status of National Wildlife Park. On November 7th, 1947, the northern area of Wilpattu was declared as Wilpattu North Sanctuary. Wilpattu National Park is situated in the dry zone and is unlike any other wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. A unique complex of over 50 wetlands called “Villu” is the most prominent topographical feature of the national park. ‘Villu’ are shallow natural lakes filled with rainwater surrounded by open grassy plains amidst the dense scrub jungle. The presence of these Villus with an abundance of water can best be explained in the weather patterns that prevail over the park: while the period of drought is only during the months of May to early September, the main rainy season is during September to December with the heavy downpours of north eastern monsoon; inter monsoon season visits the park March and April. Annual temperature in the Park is around 27.2 Celsius and its annual rainfall is approximately 1000 mm.Wilpattu National Park has various natural habitats - coastal belt, natural lakes (villus), rocky outcrops, scrublands, open grasslands and dense forest provide for numerous species of animals. Among the species are 31 mammals. The biggest draws in Wilpattu are Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) and Sloth bears (Melursus ursinus). Apart from those two mammals are Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus), Spotted Deer, Barking Deer, jackals, sambhur, barking deer, mouse deer Wild Pig, Water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) and Mugger Crocodiles. Butterflies recorded include the Great Eggfly, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose Great Orange Tip, Glad-eye Bushbrown, Blue Mormon, Common Mormon, Common Rose and Crimson Rose.Countless species of birds can also be found and the park plays host to numerous winter migrants from November to March, while menacing crocodiles top the list of reptiles. Also roaming on the grasslands are Star tortoises (Geochelone elegans) at Wilpattu. In the large Villus are Pond turtle (Melanonchelys trijuga) and the Soft shelled turtle (Lissemys punctata). The tour ends at the original departure point.

$403 Outdoor Activities

1 Night Camping in Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu National Park (Willu-pattu) Located in the Northwest coast lowland dry zone of Sri Lanka. The unique feature of this park is the existence of "Willus" (Natural lakes) - Natural, sand-rimmed water basins or depressions that fill with rainwater. The park is located 30 km west  Anuradhapura and located  26 km north of  Puttalam  (approximately  204 km north of Colombo). The park is 131, 693 hectares and ranges from 0 to 152 meters above sea level. Nearly sixty lakes (Willu) and tanks are found spread throughout Wilpattu. Wilpattu is the largest and one of the oldest National Parks in Sri Lanka. Wilpattu is among the top national parks world renowned for its Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population.  The Leopard population in Wilpattu is still not yet known. 41 species of Mammals (4 endemics), 149 Bird species including 3 endemic species, 57 Reptile species (8 Endemic species) have been identified within Wilpattu national park. Mammals that are identified as threatened species living within the Wilpattu National Park are the elephant (Elephas maximus), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) and water Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis). Sambhur, spotted deer, mongoose, mouse and shrew are more of Wilpattu residents. The Safari & Camping Experience Anyone visiting Wilpattu National Park will experience wildlife safaris that will surely make their stay something memorable and unique. Given a choice between standard camping and premium camping services, the options available are designed to suit almost any type of wildlife enthusiast or visitor. With a two safari sessions that are available for 1 Night 2 Days, in the Wilpattu National Park, this wildlife safari and camping tour caters to the visitor’s needs, either providing an all-out experience of the park, or the must-experience 1-day tour that will cover most of the park’s features and must-see locations.