Anuradhapura
Day Trips

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Our most recommended Anuradhapura Day Trips

From Negombo: Full-Day UNESCO City of Anuradhapura Trip

1. From Negombo: Full-Day UNESCO City of Anuradhapura Trip

Declared by UNESCO as a world heritage city, Anuradhapura is regarded as Sri Lanka’s first known kingdom and the capital of the island for many centuries. Being well known for its cultural and religious value, the city attracts many local and foreign visitors who want to explore the ancient history of Sri Lanka.  See the remains of the Brazen Palace, which was once 9 stories high, and the Sri Maha Bodhi a Bo Tree, which is over 2000 years old and grew from the branch of the very tree beneath which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Visit the ruins of the Ruwanweliseya Dagaba and see the 2nd-century BC shrine, containing the Buddha’s collarbone relic. Explore the Abhayagiriya temple and the Jetawanaramaya dagobas.

From Negombo: Minneriya National Park Safari Tour

2. From Negombo: Minneriya National Park Safari Tour

Your friendly driver will meet you at your hotel in Negombo at 8:00 AM. The park is a 30-minute drive away. Sit back and enjoy the ride and take in some of the stunning landscapes as you head there. At Minneriya National Park you'll enjoy a safari experience by Jeep as you explore the vast expanses of land. The park is famous for its Elephant population and hopefully you'll see many of them roaming by the lakes or exploring the jungles. You'll also likely catch glimpses of Wild Buffaloes, Boars, Spotted Deer, Sloth Bears, and even Leopards and Crocodiles. The park is also home to many amphibians, different kinds of reptiles and birds also. Your guide will point out the extraordinary wildlife to you. After the safari, you'll be taken back to your hotel.

From Kandy: Sigiriya Rock, Village Tour and Minneriya Park

3. From Kandy: Sigiriya Rock, Village Tour and Minneriya Park

Start your tour at 6:30 AM with pickup from your hotel in Kandy. The first stop on your itinerary will be the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. which you will reach at approximately 9:00 AM. Rising from the central plains, the iconic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka's single most dramatic sight. Near-vertical walls soar to a flat-topped summit that contains the ruins of an ancient civilization, where you will discover spellbinding vistas across mist-wrapped forests in the early morning. Climb a series of vertiginous staircases attached to sheer walls to reach the top of the ruins. Pass a series of frescoes and a pair of colossal lion's paws carved into the bedrock. Marvel at the surrounding landscape of lily-pad-covered moats, water gardens, and quiet shrines that surround the site. After visiting the fortress, proceed to a local village in Sigiriya to experience a village tour. Get a chance to go on an oxen cart ride, and experience the world from the view of a local farmer. Afterwards, take a relaxing catamaran safari through a calm lake. Stroll through the golden fields ripe with their harvest of paddy. Watch a traditional cooking demonstration, that teaches you the basics of Sri Lankan cuisine. Delight your taste buds with a home-cooked lunch; made over a wood-fire and served on fragrant lotus leaves placed over woven trays.  After experiencing the village life of Sri Lanka, travel onwards to Minneriya National Park to go on safari. See the famous Sri Lankan elephants, rare bird species, saltwater crocodiles, Indian pythons, and an abundance of flora and fauna. On completion of the jeep safari at approximately 6:00 PM and return to your hotel in Kandy, stopping along the way for dinner, at your own expense.

From Colombo: Anuradhapura Day Tour

4. From Colombo: Anuradhapura Day Tour

Following hotel pick-up by your driver and guide at 06:00 in the morning from Colombo City area, you'll start for Anuradhapura. On arrival at Anuradhapura your first stop will be the Anuradhapura World Heritage Site and ruins. Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its well-preserved ruins depicting the illustrious ancient Lankan civilization. There are several interesting locations one can visit, namely, the majestic Ruwanweliseya Stupa, one of the largest structures of the ancient world, Brazen Palace with its 1,600 stone columns showing the remnants of a multi-storied residence for monks, Isurumuniya rock carving of ‘The Two Lovers’, the twin ponds used by Buddhist monks as a bathing pool and Thuparama Dagoba, the oldest Dagoba in the country believed to enshrine the collarbone of the Buddha himself and several other dagobas. Next you'll head to explore Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. The Sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is reckoned as the oldest surviving historical tree in the world. It was brought to Sri Lanka by the Theri Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka and was planted in the Mahameghavana Park in Anuradhapura in 249 BC by King Devanampiyatissa. It is said to be the southern branch of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. Then start for Jethawanaramaya Stupa. The Jethawana stupa, the central ritual monument of the Jethawana monastery, had a diameter of 370 feet. Established in the 3rd century A.D., the monastery was the residence of 3,000 monks. Recent excavations confirm that the foundation of the stupa was 28 feet deep and rested on bedrock. This stupa, the tallest brick structure in the world, was built in keeping with engineering principles which are fol­lowed even today.  You'll explore Abhayagiri Dagoba. The Abhayagiri Dagoba is the second biggest brick structure in the world after the Jetavana Dagoba. It was built by King Gajabahu (114-136 AD) and reaches a height of 370 feet (115m). After lunch at local restaurant by your own cost proceed to Moonstone or Sandakada pahana. Sandakada pahana, also known as Moon-stone, is a unique feature of the Sri Lankan Buddhist architecture of ancient Sri Lanka.It is an elaborately carved semi-circular stone slab, usually placed at the bottom of staircases and entrances. First seen in the latter stage of the Anuradhapura period, the sandakada pahana evolved through the Polonnaruwa, Gampola and Kandy period. Later visit Mihintale. Mihintale hill is the spot where King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura met Mahinda, a Buddhist monk and son of the Indian Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka. Mahinda asked the king a riddle and when the king was able to solve it, Mahinda deemed him to be a worthy disciple and converted him to Buddhism. There are religious monuments all over the hill, and the ruins of a monastery and a hospital. At approximately 20:00, you'll arrive back at your hotel in Colombo where the tour will end.

Hurulu Eco Park: 3-Hour Morning or Evening Safari

5. Hurulu Eco Park: 3-Hour Morning or Evening Safari

Sneak along the narrow tracks of Hurulu Eco Park on a 3-hour morning or evening jeep safari searching for the best sights of majestic elephants and leopards. Overlooking the dense shrublands and forests, this is the ideal place for spotting wild animals in their natural habitat.  Each year during the months of July to September large groups of elephants are found in the Minneriya National Park. They then migrate to Kaudulla National Park during the months October to November due to high rains and lakes filling up. The elephants then move on to Hurulu Eco Park for the final leg of their migration during the months of December and January. Playing a dominant role in the park’s wildlife, see the majestic Sri Lankan elephants — a very common sighting that safari-goers never tire off. The Hurulu Eco Park assures you a feast of sightings of leopards, rusty-spotted cats, star tortoise, jungles fowl, parrots, and hawks. Explore the land of 10,000 hectares of mysterious wilderness that plays a precious role in the dry ecosystem in Sri Lanka, supporting the wildlife as an evergreen forest. Look for the phenomenal wildlife sightings around the scenic Hurulu Wewa reservoir, right in the heart of the park.

Wilpattu National Park: Leopard Safari Experience

6. Wilpattu National Park: Leopard Safari Experience

This tour starts with a pickup from the park entrance, where you'll then drive into Wilpattu National Park on a modified game viewing safari Jeep, then start your game drive at the National Park. Wilpattu is situated in North part of Sri Lanka, comprising a range of habitats including scrub jungles, water reservoirs, brackish lagoons, and riverine habitats. Wilpattu has one of the highest leopard sightings in the world. Its elephant heard is about 300-350. After a bit of exploring, your guide will deliver the picnic lunch to a location where you will enjoy a bite to eat. Unwind for a while after lunch and get ready to enjoy your second round of the game drive. Hop in to the Jeep and start the afternoon game drive by searching for leopards. If you are really lucky, you may be able to witness a few of them during this game drive. In addition to leopards, elephants, as well as mammals such as sloth, bears, black-naped hare, wild buffaloes, spotted deer, sambar deer, anuman, langur or toque monkeys, stripe-necked and ruddy mongooses, wild oar, and golden jackal can be found in Wilpattu National Park. You can also see reptiles like the water and land monitors and marsh crocodile.

Day Trip to UNESCO City Anuradhapura From Colombo

7. Day Trip to UNESCO City Anuradhapura From Colombo

Declared by UNESCO as a world heritage city, Anuradhapura is regarded as Sri Lanka’s first known kingdom and the capital of the island for many centuries. Being well known for cultural and religious value, the city attracts many local and foreign visitors who love to explore the ancient history of Sri Lanka. See the remains of the Brazen Palace, which was once 9 stories high, and the Sri Maha Bodhi a Bo Tree, which is over 2000 years old and grew from the branch of the very tree beneath which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Visit the ruins of the Ruwanweliseya Dagaba. See the 2nd-century shrine containing the Buddha’s collarbone relic, the Abhayagiriya temple, and the Jetawanaramaya dagobas. 

From Dambulla: Sigiriya Rock, Village, and Minneriya Tour

8. From Dambulla: Sigiriya Rock, Village, and Minneriya Tour

See Sigiriya Rock Fortress, visit a local village, and go on a two-hour safari ride: with this tour you’ll make the most of a full day in Sri Lanka.   Start your tour at 8:30 AM with pickup at your hotel in Dambulla and head to your first destination, Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Rising from the central plains, the iconic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most dramatic sight. Climb a series of narrow staircases to reach its top, passing frescoes and colossal statues of lion paws carved into the bedrock. At the top, you’ll be able to take in unforgettable views of the surrounding moats, water gardens, and quiet shrines.   Follow this experience with a tour of a local village, where you can take an oxen cart ride and experience the world from the view of a village farmer. Take a relaxing catamaran ride through a calm lake and walk through golden fields ripe with their harvest. Finally, watch a cooking demonstration that teaches you the basics of Sri Lankan cuisine, and taste the results for lunch if you choose.   Finish your day with a 2-hour safari ride through Minneriya National Park, home to elephants, 160 species of birds, deer, leopards, sloth bears, and more. At the end of a long but fulfilling day, you’ll be taken back to your hotel in Dambulla at around 6:00 PM.

From Dambulla: Sacred City of Anuradhapura Private Day Tour

9. From Dambulla: Sacred City of Anuradhapura Private Day Tour

Your tour begins at 8:00AM from your hotel in Dambulla, from where you will be taken to explore the most cultural sites in Anuradhapura. Ensure that you bring a packed breakfast with you if you are unable to have your meal at the hotel. Anuradhapura was first settled by Anuradha, a follower of Prince Vijaya and the founder of the Sinhala Race. It was later made the capital by King Pandukabhaya in about 380 B.C. Whilst there you will visit important landmarks such as Jetavanarama, which was one of the tallest buildings of the ancient world. You will also discover the Sri Maha Bodhi, as well as the ruins of the huge Abhayagiri Monastery. At approximately 12:00PM, you will enjoy lunch at a place of your choice (at your own expense), after which you will take a 30-minute drive to Mihintale, one of the most significant sites in the cultural triangle. Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, and is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa. You will eventually finish your tour at 3:00PM, at which point you will return to your hotel in Dambulla where you will arrive by 4:30PM.

Frequently asked questions about Anuradhapura Day Trips

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What people are saying about Anuradhapura

Overall rating

4.0 / 5

based on 2 reviews

The day was well organised. Transport to and from the park worked well. Our driver, in the park, was knowledgeable about a wide range of the wildlife and sensitive to our interests, meaning we saw and identified over forty species (mostly birds), but including elephant, leopard and sloth bear. A very good breakfast and lunch were provided. We ate breakfast in a peaceful spot with a panoramic view of one of the lakes. Would highly recommend this trip.

great day, had a very knowledgable driver, great food and learned a lot about the people and the country.