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Anuradhapura Travel Essentials


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Ideal duration: 2 days

Best Time: May - Sep Read More

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"Rejuvenating getaway!"

Anuradhapura Tourism

Anuradhapura, an ancient city nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka's North Central Province, stands as a living testament to the island's rich cultural and historical legacy. Revered as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Anuradhapura served as the capital of Sri Lanka for over a millennium, bearing witness to the rise and fall of several ancient kingdoms. It is known for its vast dagobas or brick stupas, ancient ponds and pools, and magnificent temples. 

Anuradhapura is not just historically important but also religiously significant, being a center of Buddhist pilgrimage and learning. The city's UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sacred City sprawls across an expansive area, offering visitors a captivating glimpse into ancient Sri Lanka's grandeur. Towering stupas, intricately carved monoliths, remnants of palaces, and colossal reservoirs speak volumes about the advanced civilization that thrived here centuries ago.

At the heart of Anuradhapura's allure lies its spiritual significance. The city embraces the Sri Maha Bodhi, a revered fig tree believed to have sprouted from a cutting of the Bodhi tree in India, under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. This sacred tree, enclosed within a serene garden, draws pilgrims and tourists alike, fostering an atmosphere of tranquility and reverence.

Authentic Buddhist traditions, archaeological ruins, lavish palaces, traditional monasteries, and informative museums define the grandeur of Anuradhapura. Even though it is a large town, Anuradhapura gives the feel of being in a village. With its well-preserved cultural sites, ponds, and monuments, Anuradhapura is a well-established tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Tourists visit this town for a rejuvenating getaway, to seek peace, and to satiate their inquisitiveness.

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Must Know Before You Travel to Anuradhapura

  • Entrance Fees: 
    Foreign Adults (Age 12 years and above 12 years): USD 25
    Foreign children (Age 6 years and between 6 years to 12 years): USD 12.5U
    Foreign infant and toddler (Bellow 6 years): Free entry
    -This ticket covers only 5 large monuments and will not include entry to Isurumuniya, Srimabodiya, and Mihinthalaya
    -The Mahavihara Complex is free to visit for all. It comprises Sri Maha Bodhi, Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba, The Brazen Palace and Thuparam Dagoba
    - Ticket for Isurumuniya Complex is LKR 200 per person
  • Where to Buy Tickets: The tickets can be purchased at the archaeological museum
  • Timings: Ruins are open daily from 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM
  • There is no actual entrance to the historical city, so the tickets are generally checked at random on the road
  • Getting Around: The old city is best explored on tuk-tuk with a driver or guide. Many people also choose to bicycle around the temples. Most hotels offer bicycle rental. 
  • Visit Early: Make sure to visit early morning, around 6:00 AM or 7:00 AM to avoid the tourist crowd
  • Where to Stay: Choose a hotel near the archaeological complex/old city if you want to explore on bicycle
  • Anuradhapura sees a huge crowd every month on poya day (full moon). If looking for a quiet experience and less crowd, avoid visiting on this day
  • Dress Moderately: Make sure to cover your shoulders and knees since most places in Anuradhapura are religious sites
  • Bring Socks: Since you will have to take off your shoes at each site and the ground is generally very hot for the most part of the day, carry socks with you

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History of Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura was established as the first capital of Sri Lanka in 377 BC. It was also at this time that it rose to prominence as a seat of political and economic importance. Anuradhapura was built around a cut piece from the Bodhi Tree, or the 'tree of enlightenment', which is considered sacred by Buddhists. This city was at the peak of political and religious activities for around 900 years. It was invaded in 998 AD, after which it lost its importance. After being overlooked for several years, this World Heritage Site is now accessible again. Currently, Anuradhapura is an important religious site and a popular tourist attraction.

Nightlife in Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura does not have much of a nightlife. Also drinking in public is unacceptable in Sri Lanka. However some hotels which have bars are - Milano Tourist Rest, Avasta Resort and Spa,Uga Ulagalla, Rajarata Hotel, Cottage Tourist Rest, Heritage Hotel, Hotel Shalini, Palm Garden Village, London Palace.

Shopping in Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura does not have much of shopping centres and stores but there is a market in the new town on weekdays which can be visited to get a touch of the local flavor.

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Anuradhapura Photos

Anuradhapura, Sri-Lanka
Jetavanaramaya monastery is one of the largest monasteries in the heritage city of Anuradhapura
The Ruwanweliseya stupa is one of the largest stupas or dagobas in Anuradhapura
View of Ruvanvalisaya, Maha Thupa

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FAQs on Anuradhapura

Who should visit Anuradhapura?

Founded by Minister Anuradhapura in the 6th century BC, Anuradhapura is one of the principal cities in Sri Lanka. It is the capital of North Central Province and Anuradhapura district. A town with strategic, historical, cultural and religious value, Anuradhapura is a majestic place. This city is known to have the reminiscences of the Sri Lankan civilization and is one of the eight World Heritage Sites in the country.

What are the places near Anuradhapura?

The top places near to Anuradhapura are Sigiriya which is 55 km from Anuradhapura, Colombo which is located 165 km from Anuradhapura, Kandy which is located 116 km from Anuradhapura, Nuwara eliya which is located 157 km from Anuradhapura, Galle which is located 251 km from Anuradhapura

What are the things to do in Anuradhapura?

The top things to do in Anuradhapura are Sri Maha Bodhi, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Ruwanweliseya, Jetavanaramaya Monastery, Thuparamaya, Abhayagiri Vihara. You can see all the places to visit in Anuradhapura here

What are the top hotels in Anuradhapura?

There are 316 in Anuradhapura which can be booked through Holidify. The most popular hotels in Anuradhapura are Niwahana Holiday Residence, Wenasa Hotel, Ceylonima Home Stay, Sidangana, Kulama, THE Lake Villa, Yaluwa Tourist Rest. You can see all the hotels in Anuradhapura here

What is the local food in Anuradhapura?

Mango Mango, Seedevi and Casserole restaurants are the recommended places for a taste of authentic Sri Lankan food in Anuradhapura. Pol Sambola and milk rice are some local dishes to try out.
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What is the best time to visit Anuradhapura?

July-September and December-January is the best time to visit Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. During these months, the weather is dry and comfortable for day trips. Also, the hotels and other accommodation options will be expensive during these peak months in the country. However, if planned early, you can save a few penny, nonetheless! Tourists keep off from Anuradhapura in March, the start of spring. The weather is too warm and humid during this month. The temperature ranges between 95.5°F (35.3°C) and 90.7°F (32.6°C), which is too much for the tourists to visit the places in the country. June-August is the summer season in Anuradhapura, and the weather is warm with the least precipitation. Also, as of July till September is the busiest in the country, the places are crowded. September-November is the fall season and the temperature ranges between 93.8°F (34.3°C) and 86°F (30°C). It rains significantly, and the weather is not too bad. December to February are the winter months, and the weather is pretty enjoyable for the travellers. The highest temperature goes up to 32°C.
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