Travel Guide to Anuradhapura

The complete tour guide to Anuradhapura, find information about the city's famous attractions, a list of things to do and much more. Book hotels at the best price and reserve your table at the top restaurants.

Anuradhapura Overview

Images of Anuradhapura

About Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is one of Sri Lanka's most treasured historical sites. As you explore this ancient city you will discover majestic palaces, and grand stupas which left a powerful mark on Sri Lanka's history. Anuradhapura can be viewed as a historical city and is definitely a must for those who are a bit of a history buff! The architecture and engineering behind these beautiful structures speak of the ingenuity of the civilization that existed during that era.

According to local tales King Pandukabhaya deemed Anuradhapura as a capital in 380BC. Thereafter the reign of several powerful Kings brought glory and fame to the capital in different ways. It was under the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa that Anuradhapura became the first city in Sri Lanka to which Buddhism was introduced and practiced. Thus Anuradhapura is considered a sacred city for the Buddhists. King Dutugemunu on the other hand set about developing the city, building beautiful monuments, several tanks and impressive structures. The city you see today is the echo of a glorious civilization that once walked this soil.

The history of Anuradhapura takes a significant place in the history of the world too. So it's fitting that the ancient city be included as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.


Getting into Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is easily accessible by train, bus and a private vehicle. Both buses and trains leave from the Colombo Fort railways station. The drive to the ancient city from Colombo Fort takes about 4 hours for a private hire and 5 hours by bus where you can get a glimpse of Sri Lanka's rural areas. There are also plenty of trains both luxury and normal leaving Colombo Fort railway station to Anuradhapura. Check for times and the schedule.

If you are going to Anuradhapura directly from the airport then it's easier to hire a taxi from the airport itself. Check for more information on rates.


Getting around Anuradhapura

Most Sri Lankans travel around cities and towns by tuk tuk aka three wheelers. Note that it's a rule of thumb to fix the price before getting into a tuk tuk to avoid paying more than required unless of course the tuk has a meter. It will also help if you can ask locals how much it’s to get to your destination just to be sure you are paying the right amount. Having said that you can also travel by bus which is the most affordable way and you can ask locals to help you. The bus conductors will also be able to help you in any way that they can. Make sure you have small change in the form of coins and notes when going by bus instead of large notes. For example Rs.50, 20, 10 and a few coins. 


Where to go and things to do in Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura 1300 years of history is today hidden behind thick jungles, waiting to be explored. You will stumble upon many beautiful dagobas such as Mihintale and Ruwanwelisseya, each of which carry a significant meaning and an interesting story. You will also fine a special tree called the Bo tree. This tree is an off-shoot of the tree in India under which it's said that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. This tree was brought as a plant to Sri Lanka by Princess Sangamita and planted at Anuradhapura. Scroll above and click on our 'What to see' section to discover and explore more of Anuradhapura.