Anuradhapura
Religious & Spiritual Activities

Enter your dates to find available activities

Our most recommended Anuradhapura Religious & Spiritual Activities

From Negombo: Full-Day UNESCO City of Anuradhapura Trip

1. From Negombo: Full-Day UNESCO City of Anuradhapura Trip

Declared by UNESCO as a world heritage city, Anuradhapura is regarded as Sri Lanka’s first known kingdom and the capital of the island for many centuries. Being well known for its cultural and religious value, the city attracts many local and foreign visitors who want to explore the ancient history of Sri Lanka.  See the remains of the Brazen Palace, which was once 9 stories high, and the Sri Maha Bodhi a Bo Tree, which is over 2000 years old and grew from the branch of the very tree beneath which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Visit the ruins of the Ruwanweliseya Dagaba and see the 2nd-century BC shrine, containing the Buddha’s collarbone relic. Explore the Abhayagiriya temple and the Jetawanaramaya dagobas.

From Colombo: Anuradhapura Day Tour

2. From Colombo: Anuradhapura Day Tour

Following hotel pick-up by your driver and guide at 06:00 in the morning from Colombo City area, you'll start for Anuradhapura. On arrival at Anuradhapura your first stop will be the Anuradhapura World Heritage Site and ruins. Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its well-preserved ruins depicting the illustrious ancient Lankan civilization. There are several interesting locations one can visit, namely, the majestic Ruwanweliseya Stupa, one of the largest structures of the ancient world, Brazen Palace with its 1,600 stone columns showing the remnants of a multi-storied residence for monks, Isurumuniya rock carving of ‘The Two Lovers’, the twin ponds used by Buddhist monks as a bathing pool and Thuparama Dagoba, the oldest Dagoba in the country believed to enshrine the collarbone of the Buddha himself and several other dagobas. Next you'll head to explore Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. The Sacred Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura is reckoned as the oldest surviving historical tree in the world. It was brought to Sri Lanka by the Theri Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Asoka and was planted in the Mahameghavana Park in Anuradhapura in 249 BC by King Devanampiyatissa. It is said to be the southern branch of the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. Then start for Jethawanaramaya Stupa. The Jethawana stupa, the central ritual monument of the Jethawana monastery, had a diameter of 370 feet. Established in the 3rd century A.D., the monastery was the residence of 3,000 monks. Recent excavations confirm that the foundation of the stupa was 28 feet deep and rested on bedrock. This stupa, the tallest brick structure in the world, was built in keeping with engineering principles which are fol­lowed even today.  You'll explore Abhayagiri Dagoba. The Abhayagiri Dagoba is the second biggest brick structure in the world after the Jetavana Dagoba. It was built by King Gajabahu (114-136 AD) and reaches a height of 370 feet (115m). After lunch at local restaurant by your own cost proceed to Moonstone or Sandakada pahana. Sandakada pahana, also known as Moon-stone, is a unique feature of the Sri Lankan Buddhist architecture of ancient Sri Lanka.It is an elaborately carved semi-circular stone slab, usually placed at the bottom of staircases and entrances. First seen in the latter stage of the Anuradhapura period, the sandakada pahana evolved through the Polonnaruwa, Gampola and Kandy period. Later visit Mihintale. Mihintale hill is the spot where King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura met Mahinda, a Buddhist monk and son of the Indian Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka. Mahinda asked the king a riddle and when the king was able to solve it, Mahinda deemed him to be a worthy disciple and converted him to Buddhism. There are religious monuments all over the hill, and the ruins of a monastery and a hospital. At approximately 20:00, you'll arrive back at your hotel in Colombo where the tour will end.

From Dambulla: Sigiriya Rock, Village, and Minneriya Tour

3. From Dambulla: Sigiriya Rock, Village, and Minneriya Tour

See Sigiriya Rock Fortress, visit a local village, and go on a two-hour safari ride: with this tour you’ll make the most of a full day in Sri Lanka.   Start your tour at 8:30 AM with pickup at your hotel in Dambulla and head to your first destination, Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Rising from the central plains, the iconic rocky outcrop of Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most dramatic sight. Climb a series of narrow staircases to reach its top, passing frescoes and colossal statues of lion paws carved into the bedrock. At the top, you’ll be able to take in unforgettable views of the surrounding moats, water gardens, and quiet shrines.   Follow this experience with a tour of a local village, where you can take an oxen cart ride and experience the world from the view of a village farmer. Take a relaxing catamaran ride through a calm lake and walk through golden fields ripe with their harvest. Finally, watch a cooking demonstration that teaches you the basics of Sri Lankan cuisine, and taste the results for lunch if you choose.   Finish your day with a 2-hour safari ride through Minneriya National Park, home to elephants, 160 species of birds, deer, leopards, sloth bears, and more. At the end of a long but fulfilling day, you’ll be taken back to your hotel in Dambulla at around 6:00 PM.

Colombo: 3-Day Cultural Triangle 5 UNESCO Heritage Site Tour

4. Colombo: 3-Day Cultural Triangle 5 UNESCO Heritage Site Tour

Embark on an exciting 3-day tour of Sri Lanka's holiest area, the Cultural Triangle. See 5 UNESCO-listed sites including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy. Stay overnight at a hotel in Sigiriya between private-guided sightseeing ventures. Get picked up in Colombo and head to your hotel in Sigiriya via Anuradhapura, the oldest city in Sri Lanka. Imposing Buddhist temples, dagobas, palaces, gardens, and other remarkable structures in the city testify to the grandeur of ancient civilization. Settle in for a good night's sleep at your hotel in Sigiriya. After breakfast at the hotel, leave for Sigiriya rock fortress, home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the world, and then to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Witness massive stone-cut Buddha statues, dagobas, an audience hall, and much more at the cultural museum of Polonnaruwa. Opt to enhance your experience with a wildlife safari at Minneriya National Park. Spot wild elephants, bears, wild boar, deer, buffalo, monkeys, and maybe even a leopard. Stay overnight in Sigiriya. Depart early for Colombo via Kandy, visiting a spice garden en-route. In Matale, spices and herbs are used for Sri Lankan cuisine and medicine. Hear about this history as you explore the site. The Dambulla Golden Temple and Tooth Relic Temple are sure to add another level of sacrosanctity to your experience. Dambulla hosts more than 150 Buddha statues and a large number of ancient murals. The next stop will be Kandy city. Today Kandy is one of Sri Lanka's most important cities because of the presence of the temple of the sacred tooth of the Buddha. This is the most visited Buddhist temple on the island, frequented by thousands of devotees every day. Return to your hotel in Colombo.

Colombo: 8-Day Private Cultural Triangle & Wildlife Trip

5. Colombo: 8-Day Private Cultural Triangle & Wildlife Trip

Discover the best of Sri Lanka on an 8-day private trip to the Cultural Triangle. Experience game drives in Wilpattu and Minneriya National Park, visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura, and experience the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple complex. Day 1:Get picked up from Colombo, Negombo, or Bandaranaike International Airport and admire the beautiful scenery of Sri Lanka's North Western Province as you drive to Chilaw. Arrive in the coastal town of Chilaw, known for its stretching beaches and tall coconut trees, and spend the night in a 4-star hotel. Day 2:Wake up early in the morning with the sunrise and drive to Wilpattu National park. Spend a full day exploring one of the largest and oldest parks in Sri Lanka, world-renowned for its leopard population. Benefit from the expertise of the safari team as you go on a game drive through the park, observing rare animals in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for leopards, mongooses, and water buffalo. Leave the national park and set off for Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka. Check into your 4-star hotel when you arrive in the city. Day 3:Take a little more time to relax in bed this morning, before getting up for a delicious breakfast, traditionally made up of kiribath, hoppers, and pani pol. Depart from the hotel and set off into the ancient city of Anuradhapura, making a visit to the well-preserved ruins of a Sinhala civilization. In the afternoon, climb up to Mihintale, once a dense jungle that was reserved by the royals as a hunting ground. Learn why the mountain peak is now referred to as the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, as you enter a Buddhist monastery. Return to your hotel in Anuradhapura and settle down for the evening. Day 4: Tuck into another Sri Lankan breakfast in the morning and get ready for an adventure to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Polonnaruwa Ancient City. Arrive at the archaeological site and discover the monumental ruins of the stunning garden city, created in the 12th century. Drive on from Polonnaruwa, making a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress of great historical significance. Rest for the night at a 4-star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 5: Enjoy a late breakfast, then be driven to a rural village for an authentic experience of traditional Sri Lankan life. Take in scenic views on a short walk, before getting into a bullock cart for a ride across the countryside. Arrive at a picturesque lake and trade off the wheels for a sail as you cruise across the waters on a catamaran tour. Disembark from the boat in the afternoon and get driven to Minneriya National Park. See Sri Lankan wildlife in a different light on an evening game drive, with "oohs" and "ahhs" as Asian elephants stomp by the 4x4 in the sunset. Return to your 4-star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 6: Finish off your breakfast and make your way to Dambulla. Be absolutely blown away as you delve into the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple complex. Explore this cave temple complex, the largest and best-preserved in Sri Lanka, containing five caves with 157 statues and over 2000 meters of intricately painted walls and ceilings. Make a visit to Pidurangala, the tallest mountain in the country, and view the Buddhist monastery settled upon the slopes. Learn about the history of the monastery and how monks have made use of the sacred site. Return to your 4-star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 7: Try something new this morning at breakfast and fuel up for your day. Leave Sigiriya and drive to Matale to observe a wood carving demonstration at a local factory. Discover more local traditions as you make a visit to the spice garden. Watch a live cooking demonstration with fresh spices and learn about how they are grown. Join a guided tour of Kandy in the afternoon, home to many tea plantations, sacred Buddhist sites, and biodiverse rainforest land. Finish your tour and check into a 4-star hotel in Kandy for the night. Day 8:Think back on your memories of the trip over a final Sri Lankan breakfast. Say goodbye to your new friends and helpful guides, before being transferred back to your accommodations.

Day Trip to UNESCO City Anuradhapura From Colombo

6. Day Trip to UNESCO City Anuradhapura From Colombo

Declared by UNESCO as a world heritage city, Anuradhapura is regarded as Sri Lanka’s first known kingdom and the capital of the island for many centuries. Being well known for cultural and religious value, the city attracts many local and foreign visitors who love to explore the ancient history of Sri Lanka. See the remains of the Brazen Palace, which was once 9 stories high, and the Sri Maha Bodhi a Bo Tree, which is over 2000 years old and grew from the branch of the very tree beneath which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Visit the ruins of the Ruwanweliseya Dagaba. See the 2nd-century shrine containing the Buddha’s collarbone relic, the Abhayagiriya temple, and the Jetawanaramaya dagobas. 

Sri Lanka: 7-Day Culture and Heritage Tour

7. Sri Lanka: 7-Day Culture and Heritage Tour

Discover historic ruins and temples on this 7-day trip from Colombo, Mount Lavina, Negombo, or Bandaranaike International airport. Stay overnight in 4-star hotels with complementary breakfast. Watch a cultural show and partake in a woodcarving experience. Day 1: Select to be picked up from at your accommodation in Colombo, Mount Lavina, or Negombo, or be picked up from Bandaranaike International airport. Be greeted by your driver and sit back and relax on the drive to Kandy. Check into your 4-star hotel and relax for the evening. Day 2: Enjoy breakfast the the hotel before embarking on a trip to the see the 500-year-old wood carvings at the temple of Embekke, the Buddhist temple of Lankathilaka, and the ancient temple of Gadaladeniya.  Stop at the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha and view the large Buddha statue at Bahirawakanda Buddha. Make your way to Kandy lake for a scenic drive along the upper lake. Dive into a cultural show before returning to your hotel for the night. Day 3: Admire the Buddhist and Hindu architecture at the temple ruins of Nalanda Gedige. Travel to a factory in the village of Matale for a live wood carving experience. In the afternoon, visit the well-preserved Dambulla rock cave temple. Drive back to your hotel to rest for the evening. Day 4: Explore the ruins and monuments of the ancient capital of Polonnaruwa. Next, head to a UNESCO World Heritage 5th century fortress at Sigiriya. Climb up 1200 steps to the top where a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape awaits you. Go back to your hotel for the evening. Day 5: Journey to Anuradhapura to see an extensive complex of monasteries, temples, buildings, bathing pools, and a complex irrigation system. Uncover the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka at the Minintale mountain peak. Rest at your hotel for the remainder of the evening. Day 6: Make your way to the capital of medieval Sri Lanka in Yapahuwa where you can admire architecture from the 4th Kingdom of Sri Lanka. View an an enormous rock fortress which housed the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha for 11 Years. Afterwards, spend the night at a hotel in Negombo. Day 7: Let your driver take you back to your accommodation in Colombo, Mount Lavina, or Negombo, or be dropped off at the Bandaranaike International airport.

From Kandy: Ancient Heritage of Sri Lanka 2-Day Guided Tour

8. From Kandy: Ancient Heritage of Sri Lanka 2-Day Guided Tour

Embark on a 2-day tour of Sri Lanka’s cultural history, including one of its most famous National Parks. Explore the sacred city of Anuradhapura, Dambulla Golden Cave Temple, and Wilpattu National Park.   Day 1: Kandy – Dambulla – Anuradhapura Start your journey at 7:00 AM with hotel pickup in Kandy. Hop into an air-conditioned vehicle and head for Dambulla to your first stop: the historic caves of the Golden Temple of Dambulla, dating back to the 1st century BC. View the ancient murals depicting the life story of Lord Gautama Buddha. Marvel at the hundreds of Buddha figurines and other deities scattered across the 5 main caves. You’ll also see the giant golden Buddha statue just a little distance outside the cave complex and hear the tales of this ancient kingdom.   Afterwards, head to Anuradhapura where you’ll check into your hotel for a short rest. In the evening, explore the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, which served as the country’s capital for over a millennium until the 10th century AD. See its pagodas, monastic buildings, and ponds scattered over a vast area. Visit important landmarks, like Jetavanarama, one of the tallest buildings of the ancient world; the Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment; and the huge Abhayagiri Monastery. Learn about the fascinating history of this region as you walk in the footsteps of kings.   Day 2: Anuradhapura – Wilpattu – Kandy Early in the morning, head to Wilpattu National Park for a jeep safari. Feel the call of the wild as you catch sight of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard—this National Park is believed to have the highest concentration of leopards in the entire world. See hundreds of other types of wildlife such as deer, buffalo, monkeys, crocodiles, and rare birds. Get the photographs of a lifetime of these curious creatures.   After the safari, return to your hotel for a short rest before setting off again for a visit to Mihintale Rock. This is the place where Buddhism began in Sri Lanka, the spot where King Devanampiyatissa and Monk Mahina met. View the monastic ruins at the foot of the mountain and walk in the footsteps of Mahina as you visit the cave where he lived. See historic stupas (commemorative monuments) as you wander the ruins of an age long past, helping you to understand its impact on the history and current state of Sri Lanka. After this final visit, you’ll head back to your hotel in Kandy.

From Negombo: Anuradhapura to Wilpattu National Park 2-Day

9. From Negombo: Anuradhapura to Wilpattu National Park 2-Day

Visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura, explore its ruins, and visit the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. Stay overnight at a 3-star Hotel on a Bed and Breakfast basis. Then, discover the unique landscape of the Wilpattu National Park as you look out for its resident leopards and other wildlife on an adventurous game drive. After a pickup from your hotel in Negombo and a 4-hour transfer onboard a luxury vehicle, arrive in Anuradhapura. Visit the oldest historically documented tree on earth, The Sacred Bo tree over 2000 years old, grown from a branch of the very tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Admire the relic chambers like Ruwanveliseya, Abhayagiriya, and Jetavanaramaya. Visit the remains of the Brazen Palace, The Twin Ponds, and the Samadhi Buddha. See the Isurumuniya temple, The Moonstone, The Guard stones, or Thuparama and Lankaramaya Dagobas. The following morning, drive to Wilpattu National Park for a thrilling Game drive. Uncover huge swathes of dense, dry country woodland. See a variety of birds, and with a bit of luck, an impressive array of wildlife including leopards, sloth bears, spotted deer, wild pigs, and crocodiles. Conclude your trip with a transfer back to Negombo.

Anuradhapura: Archaeological Site Guided Tuk-Tuk Tour

10. Anuradhapura: Archaeological Site Guided Tuk-Tuk Tour

Admire the wonders of the Anuradhapura archaeological site on a guided tuk-tuk tour. See palaces, religious sites, artwork, and more. Get picked up at your hotel in Anuradhapura and take a tuk-tuk to the archaeological site. Explore this sacred pilgrimage spot and admire the monuments. See the sacred Bo tree, where the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment. It was brought to Sri Lanka by a princess in the year 228 BC. Next, visit the Ruwanvelisaya stupa, which houses many Buddhist relics. After, see the Abhayagiri Vihara monastery and Thuparamaya Temple. Learn about the craftsmanship and artistry that went into creating the palaces and works of art and have a look at the impressive irrigation system that once served Anuradhapura. Get dropped off back at your hotel at the end of your tour.

Frequently asked questions about Anuradhapura Religious & Spiritual Activities

What are other things to do than Religious & Spiritual Activities that are worth visiting in Anuradhapura?

What are the best Anuradhapura Religious & Spiritual Activities?

Which Anuradhapura Religious & Spiritual Activities are taking additional COVID-19 precautions?

These Anuradhapura Religious & Spiritual Activities are taking additional COVID-19 precautions:

Other Sightseeing Options in Anuradhapura

Want to discover all there is to do in Anuradhapura? Click here for a full list.