Jaffna located in the Northernmost part of Sri Lanka will definitely envelop in many magnificent memories. This place never disappoints people of any age or interests. Explore the adventurous as well as historical places in this beautiful part of Sri Lanka.

Home to the majority of the Tamil population, this area is still largely unmodernized and recuperating after the Civil War that raged for almost 30 years. The destruction of the war is still evident but visitors will see how the community is bouncing back and rebuilding, while not losing their Tamil identity.

Photo: Sunset on the way to Jaffna/ CC0

Jaffna Travel Guide

When it comes to things to do in Jaffna, the list goes enthralling as well as endless. You will witness cultural, geographical and thrilling places of interest, especially in Jaffna. Jaffna is the best place to observe lagoons, serene ocean, and royal legacy of ancient cultures.

As this comes in the northern part of Sri Lanka and is very much different from its central and south parts of Sri Lanka and is worth a visit.

Photo: Ariel view of Jaffna Fort/ CC0

Things To Do In Jaffna

Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil

The Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil is the most important Hindu Temple in Jaffna. Located in the town of Nallur, the current building is the fourth construction of the temple, which was originally built in 948 AD.

If foreigners wish to visit the temple, it is expected that they follow modesty guidelines and women cover their shoulders and legs. Wearing white is suggested but not mandatory.

Photo: Famous Nallur Kovil/ CC0

Nainativu Island

This Island inhabited by the Portuguese first is one of the places you should visit while in Jaffna. Enjoy the double pleasure of being on the island and completing a boat trip while you visit this place.

P.s – Carry some food as well with you when you visit the most popular Delft island. There are few wild horses and an ancient Portuguese fort to welcome you here.

Photo: Visit one of the Islands off the coast of the island country!/ CC0

Elephant Pass

Elephant Pass is a strip of land that connects the mainland with the Jaffna Peninsula. Most visitors will enter Jaffna via the Elephant Pass and drive past the Elephant Pass War Memorial.

If you are interested in the history of the civil war, then stop here on your way into Jaffna.

Photo: Armoured bulldozer from the battle/ CC0

Kadurugoda Temple

One of the most famous Buddhist remains is Kadurugoda Temple in the Kadarodai region of Jaffna. It is believed that this temple dates back to the Anuradhapura Era. The complex has around 20 visible stupas that look like no other stupas in Sri Lanka.

The site of the Kadurugoda Raja Maha Vihara has been declared an archaeological site and is maintained by the Sri Lankan Army.

Public Library and Clock Tower

One of the amazing sightseeing places in Jaffna is the public library. This attractive architecture is in the center of the city. There is also a resplendent clock tower which is built by the British and still stand as an epitome. Besides the ancient architecture, there are even jungle vines and piles of rubble that grabs your attention.

Photo: The marvelous public library/ CC0

Dutch Fort

Built around 1618 by the Portuguese, this stunning Dutch fort is very near the public library. This fort is star-shaped in plan and mostly in ruins. One of the things you shouldn’t miss from this fort is catching the sunset. It can be magical some evenings.


Though Jaffna is predominantly Hindu, there are quite a few Roman Catholic churches especially around the beachside side area of town.

Some of the most famous cathedrals include St. John’s, St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Refuge Church, St. James’ and John the Baptist.

Photo: The beautiful St. Mary Catherdral/ CC0

War Ruins

As Jaffna was recently in the middle of long-running Sri Lankan civil war, there are lots and lots of empty fields and bombed out, decaying ruins. Everywhere you look around Jaffna there’s a pile of rubble and jungle vines starting to grow.

Taking a walk around town while checking out some of the ruins of Jaffna is one of the interesting things to do in Jaffna.  Little by little these remains will disappear, but there are still some places where the destruction of war is still apparent.

Photo: Ruins of war at Jaffna/ CC0

Jaffna Causeway

The northern part of Sri Lanka is made up of small low lying islands or which Jaffna is connected by causeway. You can walk a little down the causeway, and then take a rickshaw or a local bus to another island.

Photo:Causeway connecting islands/ CC0



Even though Jaffna is the busiest place, you will find yourself lost in the Kankesanthurai beach. You can get into peace terms with the crystalline clear blue waters. There is also a special Keerimalai pond famous here. It resembles a modern swimming pool, but a natural pond of ages old with clear and clean water.

Shop for

The central part of Jaffna is as busy these days as parts of Colombo. Near the bus station is a lively market that is stocked with all necessities one could possibly want.

From Tamil style clothing to tools and dvd’s and music cd’s, the market will always have you excited.

The Jaffna Market is a beautiful array of vegetables, fruit, clothing and home items. Every market has its own special something, including the Jaffna Market. Take a walk around and buy some spices to take home!

Experiences to have

  • Mangoes- People in Sri Lanka will tell you that the Jaffna mango (or Karutha Colomban) is the best on the island. Street vendors usually sell mango snacks with a sprinkling of chili, sugar, and salt. Only eat these street delicacies if your tummy is strong and can handle street
  • Rio Ice cream – The Rio Ice Cream Parlor is a favorite in the Jaffna community. Sweet and creamy, it’s a must-try when the sun is scorching. The sundaes and special treats really hit the sweet spot.
  • Local Football – If you happen to be awake early in the morning (about 6 am), you’ll find the kids out in the field enthusiastically playing a little football and sometimes cricket. Join them.

Photo: Mangoes are a must try here/ CC0

Best Time to Visit Jaffna

Jaffna is a year-round destination and can be visited at any time of the year. Apart from the heavy monsoons, which generally last between June and September. Summers can get warm and humid so visit post monsoon- December to March for the best experience.

Getting Around

Getting from Colombo to Jaffna is a long 8 hours + car drive. It is better to add one or two stops in between. The first stop can either be Dambulla or Sigiriya and the second stop Anuradhapura.
From Dambulla, it’s a 5-hour drive and from Anuradhapura for about 4 hours.

PickMe is an Uber-like service for long distances. Their prices can be directly calculated from their website.

Where to stay

Jetwing Hotels are one of the leading hotel branches in Sri Lanka. Their property in Jaffna is brand new. Apart from that you can check online for places that suit your budget. There will be different sites including airbnb.

March 20, 2019 12:46 am Published by

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