how to explore Kandy Sri Lanka

How to Explore Kandy on Your Solo Trip to Sri Lanka

Whenever we travel to a country, most of us make sure that we explore the famous cities first. Sometimes, we hear many good things about a place, but the expectations don’t match reality. And more often than not, we just want to explore it in the initial days of our itinerary because of sheer excitement. If things don’t turn out as well as we wanted them to, the ‘bad start’ can totally ruin the trip. Usually, such setbacks happen due to a lack of knowledge and proper planning. And it is pretty common if you haven’t solo travelled a lot.

One such famous place in Sri Lanka is Kandy. It is one of the most visited places in the country and for good reasons. It was once the capital of the ancient kings and is famous for the ‘Kandy to Ella’ train ride. Not only that, but many more things make it unique. Spending at least a day in Kandy is a must on your solo trip to Sri Lanka. And spending anything more than that is totally your choice. If not, you will miss out on a lot.

During my solo trip to Sri Lanka, I spent a couple of days in Kandy and had a great time in the city. There are so many things to do and so much to see and explore here. Due to its popularity, there is a truckload of information on the internet regarding what to do and what not to do in Kandy. In this blog, I would like to make things simpler for you and explain how you can explore the city of Kandy on your solo trip to Sri Lanka without missing out on anything.

How to reach Kandy?

You can fly to the Bandaranaike International Airport (aka Colombo International Airport) from your home city and take a taxi to reach Kandy. Do note that it is not easy to find a single flight, so you might have to look for a connecting flight. It will take you approximately three hours to reach Kandy from the airport as it is around 100kms away. If possible, you should try to hire a private cab so you can explore the place at your will and save a lot of money.

When should you visit Kandy?

The best part about Sri Lanka is that it is a year-round destination. But December to April is considered the peak season and is the best time to enjoy a holiday here. The weather is pleasant during these months. You can experience the monsoon season from May to November. Yes, that’s almost half of the year! In my opinion, this is the best time to visit Kandy. Do not worry about the rain as it will not be a hindrance to your travel plans. You can also visit Kandy during any time of the year as it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Where to stay in Kandy?

There are a lot of places to choose from where you can spend your nights. You can choose a hotel if you wish to have security and great amenities, or choose a hostel or Airbnb if you do not like to stay in boring rooms. Here are some of my suggestions.

1. Kandy City Hotel by Earl’s

For as little as $22/night, you can have a fantastic hotel right in the centre of the city. Located on Yatinuwara Street, Kandy City Hotel is less than half a kilometre from the bus and tuk-tuk stops. Along with that, all the essential amenities like Wi-Fi, air conditioner, complimentary breakfast are accounted for. If you are looking for a cheap hotel, with all the facilities, this should be your first choice.

2. Clock Inn Kandy

Located on Hills Street, Clock Inn Kandy is probably the cheapest hostel that you can come across. You can choose from dorms or private rooms, as per your liking. Prices start from as little as $10/night, something that is unmatched in Kandy. They must have cut down on the amenities, isn’t it? Not at all! You have everything that you ever need to stay comfortably. If you want to stay in a hostel, this is the best that Kandy has to offer at a low price.

3. Kandy Cottage

Exploring Kandy is not complete without checking out some not-so-famous places. One such place is Kandy Cottage. It is not a tourist attraction but definitely one of the unique Airbnb that I have ever spent my time in. This private cottage is only ten minutes away from the city and provides all the modern facilities. For only $20/night, you can relax at a private cottage after a tiring day of exploring the city.

4. Kandy City Stay

If you don’t like fancy hotels, Kandy City Stay is the place for you. A simple room with free Wi-Fi and breakfast, a locker, a television, great views, and minimalistic furniture. Even though it costs only around $18/night, the security and hospitality are top-notch! Not only that, but the ambience and the overall comfort of the place are great too. I totally enjoyed my time here and would highly recommend this hotel to solo female travellers.

What to see in Kandy?

Even though Kandy is just a city, you can explore a lot of places here. Be it the world-famous tourist attractions or some hidden treasures. You will never fall short of places to explore during your visit. Here’s a list of my top recommendations.

1. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

It is one of the most important and sacred temples for Buddhists in the country. The reason it attracts a lot of tourists is the tooth of Buddha preserved in the golden casket inside the temple. While nobody is allowed to see the tooth, you are allowed to spend some time and explore this beautiful temple to your heart’s content. While you are in Kandy, you cannot choose to skip on this as your trip to Kandy would be incomplete without this!

2. Kandy Lake

This is an artificial lake surrounded by major tourist attractions. Even though it is located right in the centre of the city and surrounded by busy and noisy roads, it is a place where you can go to relax and calm yourself. You can visit the lake multiple times during your trip, preferably in the morning when everything is dead silent. Walking around the lake and meditating here are your best options to relax.

3. Kandyan Dance

As the name suggests, Kandyan Dance is a dance form native to Kandy. It is one of the many forms of art that represent the rich culture of the country. It is performed at different places in the city. Still, I visited the Kandy Lake Club to watch the show. It costs only $5 per show and is totally worth it. The colourful costume, the moves, and the overall performance is something that you shouldn’t miss!

4. Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya

It is one of the biggest botanical gardens in the country, but not very famous. There are thousands of plants here, and you can explore the place for as long as you want. If you do not have a time constraint, I recommend that you spend as much as 4-5 hours here. If you are in a hurry, you can wind up exploring the garden within an hour or so, but make sure you check it out. You can also buy some plants for yourself from the market nearby. The fastest way to reach here is to take a tuk-tuk.

5. Huluganga Falls

Located around 30kms from the centre of the city, Huluganga Falls is a relatively unknown tourist destination. It is 75-metre high and looks breathtaking! You can click a lot of pictures, and they are extremely Instagrammable too! I would recommend that you keep this at the end of your Kandy itinerary so that you can move to the next city after visiting Huluganga Falls and avoid unnecessary wastage of time during the trip.

Delectable delicacies to devour on…

No, Sri Lanka is not all about tea! While it is one of the best things for sure, there are other cuisines that you can choose from. Even though there is a wide variety of cuisines to choose from, traditional Sri Lankan food is all about rice, curry, seafood, and many spices. And that doesn’t necessarily make the food spicier, but only more delicious. While you can have your favourite cuisines, traditional Sri Lankan food shouldn’t be missed out in Kandy.

1. Fish ambul thiyal

Sour Fish Curry is one of the most loved dishes in Sri Lanka. It is prepared by cutting the fishes into cubes and then lightly frying them in a pan. A bunch of spices is used for the preparation, and it goes well with rice. It is a perfect meal for lunch, and you should have it at least once on your solo trip. You can choose to go to almost any restaurant in the country, and you’ll find this dish there.

2. Kukul mas curry

The name sounds interesting, isn’t it? Well, this is the Sri Lankan version of chicken curry, and it is pretty common. And the use of coconut milk and tomato puree makes this dish stand apart from the regular chicken curry. It is relatively easy to prepare, and you can learn to cook it on your own. Because it is very common, you can easily find a restaurant that serves a tasty kukul mas curry and be a highlight of your entire trip. I would recommend that you check out Open Rice Sri Lanka and Green Park Restaurants for the best in Kandy.

3. Kottu

Most people would say that Kottu is nothing but pasta. It is prepared using a flat crispy bread known as godamba roti locally. It is then deep-fried and chopped, making it look like pasta with all that tasty mix of spices. If you are looking for some fast-food options, ditch the pasta and go for Kottu.

4. Hoppers

Also known as appa or appam, hoppers resemble pancakes. However, the batter is made of fermented rice flour, coconut milk, and a bit of sugar. A popular type of hopper is the egg hopper. After the batter is poured into the round pan, an egg is cracked into it and seasoned with salt, chillies, onions, and lemon juice. Locals have it for breakfast, and I recommend you do the same too.

5. Balaji Dosai

If you love Indian food and miss it in Sri Lanka, Balaji Dosai has got you covered. Located on Peradeniya Road, it serves the best of South Indian dishes. Plain dosa, masala dosa, paper dosa, cheese dosa, you name it, and they serve it! It is a simple restaurant with top-class service. And it’s okay if you have never had South Indian food before. You must still check out Balaji Dosai at least once while you’re soloing in Kandy. It is finger-licking good! 

What to expect from Kandy?

So that is how you can explore Kandy on your solo trip to Sri Lanka. I would say a couple of days is good enough for exploring the city to a great extent. If you are looking for tips in general for your solo trip to Sri Lanka, make sure to check my blog out. Also, don’t forget to book your hotels in advance to avoid any unnecessary problems upon reaching Sri Lanka. You can also get the best prices for advance booking.

If you are looking for other tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, you can click here and check them out. But make sure that you include Kandy in your itinerary without fail, as it is the missing piece of the bigger puzzle of your solo trip to Sri Lanka. I promise it will make your trip much better and allow you to explore some of the best places that Sri Lanka has to offer. If you have any doubts, you can feel free to reach out to me using the comments section. Happy travelling!


An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.

Leave a Reply