Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions

Anuradhapura, which is one of the must visit cities in Sri Lanka is full of historical attractions. Anuradhapura as one of the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka own lot of heritage sites to show you how Sri Lanka was in the ancient times. Together with influences of Buddhism, Anuradhapura has to offer lot more information about its history, culture and traditions that was existed in Sri Lanka before thousand years ago. As one of the pilgrimage destinations for Sri Lankans, Anuradhapura is full of Buddhist temples which any visitor to Anuradhapura must have a look. In this post, I want to share some of the must visit attractions in Anuradhapura which can complete your holiday to Sri Lanka. Once you visit these places, I am sure you’ll be amazed with the rich history, heritage and culture which Sri Lanka owns!

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions
Ruwanwelisaya Stupa
Ruwanwelisaya Anuradhapura
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit Attractions

Built by king Dutugamunu in 140 B.C., this is one of the sacred places for Buddhists in Sri Lanka and all over the world. Also known as Rathnamali Dagaba,Swarnamali Chaithyaya or Ruwanwali Saya, this stupa (monument) is one of the must visit attractions in Anuradhapura.

Useful tips:

Usually it is best to visit in the evening as day time it can be really hot in the surrounding.

Remember to remove your shoes before entering to the temple premises. Also you need to wear appropriate clothes when you enter into the Ruwanweliseya premises.

Read more : Ruwanwelisaya

Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi Tree-Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Once you visit the Ruwanwelisaya, the next must visit location is Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree which is located in walking distance to Ruwanweliseya. As the oldest historically sacred tree in the world, Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree is a branch from the Bodhi tree of Buddha Gaya, India which Lord Buddha was enlightened.

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Lowamahapaya ,Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

When you walk to the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, from Ruwanwelisaya, you will find another historical building on the left side of you. This is called Lowamahapaya.

Although it is a ruined building now, it was a nine story building which was built by the king Dutugamunu. In ancient days, Lowamahapaya was used as a Uposathagara which also included a simamalakaya. A simamalakaya is a place where the Buddhist monks (sangha) assembled on the full moon days to recite the Buddhist sutra.(Buddhist chanting)

Read More about our travel post to Lowamahapaya Anuradhapura.

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Mirisawetiya ,Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Mirisawetiya is another sacred Buddhist place which is also one of the ‘Atamasthana’ which every Buddhists like to visit in their lifetime. This stupa is also built by the king Dutugamunu after defeating the king Elara.

Read more : Mirisawetiya Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Thuparamaya – Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

As the first dagaba built in Sri Lanka after introducing the Buddhism, Thuparamaya was built by the king Dewanampiyathissa in the 3rd century BC. Thuparamaya is also considered as the oldest dagaba in Sri Lanka which is another must visit place in Anuradhapura.

Read more about Thuparamaya

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Jethawanaramaya – Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

The Jethwanaramaya is another stupa in Anuradhapura which is another must visit heritage site of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Historical records say Jethawanaramaya was built by the king Mahasena as a stupa in the Jethawana Monastery. Once you visit this sacred place, you will be sure amazed with the historical architecture and culture!

See more pictures and read more about Anuradhapura Jethwanaramaya

Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Isurumuniya Vihara – Sri Lanka Anuradhapura

Although Isurumuniya temple is famous for the ‘Isurumuniya Lovers’ sculpture, you will be amazed with the beautiful views of this temple. After visiting above mentioned places in Anuradhapura, I found this Isurumuniya viharaya as a different place. It is different from other attractions in Anuradhapura in view and in location. It is a rock temple located in a calm environment. Don’t forget to visit Isuruminiya viharaya and also the museum next to it in your holiday in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka as this is one of the best places to visit.

Read more about our trip to Isurumuniya Vihara.

Samadhi Pilimaya
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Samadhi Buddha Statue -Anuradhapura

Situated in Mahamevnawa in Anuradhapura, Samadhi Buddha statue is a Buddhist sacred place which you need to visit in Sri Lanka. Peaceful environment, historical background and Dhyana Mudra meditation posture of Buddha statue will make you calm and relax. You will never regret of your visit here for your entire lifetime.

Read more about : Samadhi Buddha Statue


Abhayagiri Viharaya
Sri Lanka Anuradhapura – Must Visit attractions
Abhayagiri Viharaya

Next to Samadhi Pilimaya, you will see the views of Abhayagiriya. It is another Buddhist temple complex. Abhayagiriya viharaya is one of the ‘Atamasthana’ you must visit in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka in order to complete your satisfaction in holiday in Sri Lanka.

There are many other places and attractions in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka including Lankaramaya. As one of the UNESCO heritage sites of Sri Lanka, you’ll be amazed with views and attractions which you visit. Truly you will have a cultural and heritage tour which adds value for your Sri Lanka holiday.

Useful tips to Visit Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka

Above mentioned Anuradhapura attractions are Buddhist religious places. Therefore, always follow the steps not to disturb the others. Some of the places are full of Buddhist devotees who are participating in Buddhist meditation and other activities. You may need to stay silent or not to disturb them.

Also remember to wear appropriate clothes which are long below the knees. You can offer flowers and oil lamps. Usually it is easy to buy such offerings from the stalls near the temples.

Help locals by purchasing small things, offerings or souvenirs from them. This is not a must. But it will be always helpful if you support the locals of the area.

Here are more helpful tips about visiting temples in Sri Lanka.

Food in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

As there are hotels and restaurants available, you will not find difficult to find food of your choice. However, you can also try Sri Lankan food in Anuradhapura. There are various places which you can try Rice and Curry together with other Sri Lankan food.

Check this post about our food experience in Anuradhapura:

Along the way to Anuradhapura, you will also find people selling fresh fruits in small stalls along the road.

Accommodation in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

There are many types of accommodation available in Anuradhapura. However it is better to book before you reach there. We visited there as a pilgrimage tour, family trip. So, we rented whole house as it is the best way to spend with family and relatives.

There are also hotels available in Anuradhapura from Budget hotels to Luxury hotels. You can check these hotels in Anuradhapura and book before you reach there.

Remember, Anuradhapura is usually crowded on Full moon poya days. It is better to avoid such dates if your travel plan is flexible.




















  1. Anuradhapura looks wonderful Amila. I visited Sri Lanka a few years ago for my brother’s wedding in Galle. We didnt get to Anuradhapura but I hope to return soon. Thanks for the great tips

    • Hope you had great time in Sri Lanka.Anuradhapura is great for those who love historical places.Hope you’ll visit again soon.

  2. I have been seeing and reading a lot about Sri Lanka as a travel destination recently. My daughter’s friend has just been here and absolutely loved it. Now after reading your post I think I may have to plan a trip here. 🙂

  3. Sri Lanka has been on my radar for a while now, but somehow it always gets bumped in favor of another destination. I’ll have to get there someday. I wonder how the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree branch was brought from India. It must not have been easy.

    • Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and hope you’ll visit there one day!There are legends about bringing Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree from India.

  4. We’ve been lucky enough to see quite a bit of Asia, but have not yet gotten to Sri Lanka. It looks like it has a lot to offer, and is probably less overrun with tourists than some other parts. thanks for joining #wkendtravelinspiration

    • yes,in Sri Lanka there are many places to visit.Anuradhapura is just one district only.Hope you’ll visit Sri Lanka one day!

  5. Looks like some great places to visit. I just returned from a trip to Sri Lanka a couple of weeks ago but we did not make it to this area. But we loved our time in Sri Lanka seeing cultural sites and wildlife. It is amazing how many UNESCO sites are in the country! ~ Jessica

    • Glad to hear that you had nice experience in Sri Lanka.Yes,there are many cultural sites in Sri Lanka.Anuradhapura is just one district only.

  6. We traveled as a family to Sri Lanka when I was a child of about 11 years. It was most impressive as I saw for the first time huge amounts of begging children. I felt so bad as a spoiled girl having it all. That was in the end of the 70′, before the war. How is it nowadays with the begging? Strangely I didn’t see children begging in Thailand that much.

    • Actually still there are beggars,but I guess now there are no much.Anyway,for some people,it is a job.They continue begging although government take actions to stop them.

  7. I’ve never really thought to travel to Sri Lanka but I must say after reading your post I’m having second thoughts! Jethwanaramaya looks so intriguing along with the alternative food options! Thank you so much for your in-depth post! I’ve book-marked it as a possible (next) travel destination!

  8. The place really looks exquisite and oozing with so much culture. Staring at the photos is quite relaxing. Sri Lanka is such a beautiful country to go to.

  9. Youve given us a beautiful picture of Sri Lanka. Havent been there but contemplating on considering to include it on my bucket list. Love to see different structures and architectures. Thanks as well on the tip re rice and curry. Would love to sample that.

  10. I have never visited Sri Lanka before but if I do I will make sure to include Anuradhapura on my list of places to see. It’s incredible how many sacred temples are here and how much Buddhist culture. It definitely looks like a sacred place full of culture. It reminds me a little bit of Varanasi, in India, where I visited a stupa and a bhodi tree as well.

  11. I’ve never been to Sri Lanka but it’s definitely on my list of places to visit. That building (Lowamahapaya) looks so nice with the balcony on the 2nd floor. I really love it. You get to see the view from all angles of the house.

  12. Wow, I’m seeing unique and amazing building structures from this blog post. I’ve never been to Sri Lanka yet, but I’m planning to visit it soon. I will surely pen all these attractions in my bucket list for a future reference. I like how you captured all your photos as it rhyme to your words.

  13. Enjoy reading your sharing here, Amila 😉 Travelled to Sri Lanka by myself with public transport & enjoyed it as the people so friendly in helping, moreover love the nature & rich cultures there. Especially the tea plantations, so so beautiful 🙂 Will definitely revisit Sri Lanka again in the future, cheers SiennyLovesDrawing

  14. I am not familiar with Sri Lanka and wasn’t really interested in the place until I saw this. There’s more in their country than the regular information in history books. I want to see their culture and places personally. and have a hands-on experience on the place. Now, I am learning to appreciate more the beauty and tradition of such places.

  15. It’s my first time to read a review about Sri Lanka and I can say, there are more things to learn from this place! It’s nice to read an honest review about the place. I love how you tell everything in detail. Knowing the Anuradhapura comes with solemn temples, it’s quite difficult to visit there bringing kids, perhaps. Anyhoo, I find the place really interesting!

  16. Wow~ Those attractions are beautiful! I wish my family and I could get to visit Sri Lanka and if we ever do I will sure to suggest that we go here in Anuradhapura. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!

  17. I don’t see a lot of blog posts about Sri Lanka. This surely is refreshing. It looks very cultural as reflected by the architecture. I hope to see it in person… I’d love to wander around these streets!


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