Kandy, the second largest city of Sri Lanka, is located in the central province of Sri Lanka. Situated in a plateau surrounded by mountains, Kandy is considered as the capital of Sri Lanka’s hill country, and it is just a 3-hour drive (approx. 115 km) away from Colombo. Trains are also available from Colombo to Kandy, which takes about 4.5 hours, and it is considered as one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Kandy is one of the top tourist destinations in Sri Lanka, popular for its acres and acres of lush tea plantations, endless views of the encircling mountains, and its many tourist hot spots. The Temple of the Tooth Relic, Peradeniya Botanical Garden and the Kandy Lake, are some of the best places to visit in Kandy.
Apart from that, exploring the Kandy city is a unique experience of its own. Kandy was the last capital of the king’s era of Sri Lanka, and most buildings and structures of the city have been maintained to date since the ancient times, so they still bare the trademark ancient architectural style. Kandy city and the Temple of the Tooth Relic both have also been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Our guarantee is that you will not run out of places to visit in Kandy.
Here’s your ultimate travel guide to Kandy, Sri Lanka!
Best Time to Visit Kandy, Sri Lanka
The weather in Kandy is pleasant all year around, but December to April would be the best time to visit Kandy since it is the dry season. Also, the famous Esala Perahera and related festivities fall on July or August, depending on the full moon. Many foreign, as well as local, tourists flock to Kandy annually, to see this grand event.
How to Get to Kandy from Colombo/BIA
- Duration: 2.5 – 3.5 hours
- Fee: $$
You can take a scheduled domestic flight or a private charter flight to Kandy straight from Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo, and it takes only one hour. This is the most expensive but the fastest travel option to Kandy, with the upper hand of an unbeatable aerial view of the island. A scheduled flight ticket from BIA to Kandy costs approximately USD 170, and the prices may change for the seasons.
Check out Cinnamon Air air-taxi for daily scheduled flights and private charters to Kandy.
- Duration: 2.5 – 3.5 hours
- Fee: $$
Most people opt for this option as the train ride to Kandy offers unmatched views of the hill country, and it is very convenient than driving or taking the bus. Daily scheduled intercity trains to Kandy are available from the central train station in Colombo Fort. It is recommended that you reserve your seats in advance since it tends to get crowded, even on weekdays. There are 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class saloons on the trains, with an observation deck. You can find the train timetable here, and the ticket fares here.
- Duration: 3 – 4.5 hours
- Fee: $
If you don’t mind the traffic and have time to spare to indulge the experience of taking a local public transport mode, take the bus to Kandy. Buses from Colombo Central Bus Station to Kandy are common and frequent, and both normal buses to air-conditioned buses are operated. While the fare for the normal bus is around Rs.160/= (less than USD 1), and A/C bus would cost you about Rs.350/= (approx. USD 2). Also note that buses might get crowded during weekends, so if you plan to take the bus to Kandy, better make it a weekday.
Taxi / Drive
- Duration: 3 – 4 hours
- Fee: $$$
Ready to splurge on a comfortable vehicle all to yourself? Then go on ahead and book yourself a taxi. You can also rent a vehicle if you want to drive to Kandy by yourself. Eitherway, the fares would be quite steep. Uber, and local taxi services like PickMe and Kangaroo Cabs, offer intercity cab services to Kandy. You can also ask to arrange transportation from the hotel you’re staying at. But be aware of the normal rates so you would not be paying more than necessary.
Getting Around Kandy, Sri Lanka
Unfortunately, unlike other popular tourist destinations, it is a little harder to navigate within the Kandy city limits. Even scooter rentals are scarce and expensive, so we would recommend buses or Tuk Tuks to getting around Kandy.
The central bus station of Kandy is located at the center of the city, and there are frequent buses that would take you to almost all tourist hotspots in Kandy. You can ask for directions or bus routes from the information counters in the bus station as well as the railway station.
Other than that, you can take Tuk-Tuks, but Tuks in Kandy are known for notorious drivers misleading and overcharging tourists, among other things. If you are brave enough to handle that, you can find a Tuk to hire anywhere off the street. We recommend hiring a Tuk or a cab from PickMe (since PickMe is the only local taxi service that operates within Kandy at the moment), since it would be more reliable and hassle-free. Read our guide on how to deal with Tuk Tuks in Sri Lanka!
Top 8 Things to Do in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Want to find out what are the must-see places in and around Kandy Sri Lanka? Read our guide on Top 8 Things to Do in Kandy Sri Lanka!
Where to Eat in Kandy, Sri Lanka
- Cafe Secret Alley – A popular vegetarian/vegan restaurant (yes, those are very hard to come by) in Kandy.
- Helga’s Folly – A quirky eatery that’s worth a visit.
- Empire Cafe – A luxury cafe with western and eastern cuisines served with a local twist.
- Devon Bakery & Restaurant – Locally famous bakery for delicious short-eats.
- Slightly Chilled Lounge & Bar – An up and coming lounge and bar with a view to die for.