🇱🇰 Sri Lanka
Explore Ancient Ruins and Rich History

Polonnaruwa - Vacation Briefing

Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for history lovers. This ancient city was once the capital of Sri Lanka and is home to well-preserved ruins of palaces, temples, and statues that date back to the 12th century. Immerse yourself in the rich history of the region as you wander through magnificent structures such as the Gal Vihara and the Royal Palace. Beyond its historical significance, Polonnaruwa offers beautiful landscapes, including scenic lakes and lush greenery that add to its charm.

Popular Sights in Polonnaruwa

Things to do during your Polonnaruwa vacation

Polonnaruwa is a historic city located in Sri Lanka, renowned for its well-preserved ancient ruins and rich cultural heritage. This destination guide provides you with a list of must-visit attractions and activities in Polonnaruwa.

  • Explore Polonnaruwa Archaeological Site: Discover the magnificent ruins of ancient palaces, temples, and other structures that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Visit the Gal Vihara: Admire the breathtaking giant Buddha statues carved in granite at this sacred Buddhist site.
  • Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress: Embark on a thrilling adventure to reach the top of this ancient rock fortress and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Go on a Wildlife Safari in Minneriya National Park: Witness the majestic gatherings of elephants during the annual 'The Gathering' where hundreds of elephants come to drink at the Minneriya Tank.
  • Visit the Polonnaruwa Museum: Explore the museum exhibits showcasing artifacts, statues, and archaeological finds from the Polonnaruwa Kingdom.
  • Take a Meditation Retreat at Rankot Vihara: Engage in a serene and introspective experience by participating in a meditation retreat at this ancient Buddhist temple.
  • Cycle around Polonnaruwa: Rent a bike and ride through the ancient city, enjoying the picturesque views and historical landmarks along the way.
  • Experience a Traditional Village Tour: Immerse yourself in the local culture and explore rural life in Polonnaruwa by participating in a traditional village tour.
  • Admire the Lotus Pond of Nissanka Malla: Marvel at the beautiful landscaped pond adorned with lotus flowers, a reflection of the architectural brilliance of ancient Sri Lanka.
  • Enjoy Water Sports at Parakrama Samudra: Engage in thrilling water activities such as jet skiing, boating, and kayaking at the scenic Parakrama Samudra reservoir.
  • Visit the Tivanka Image House: Witness the impressive murals and the iconic standing Buddha statue housed within the Tivanka Image House.

Why you should visit Polonnaruwa


Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka is a fascinating destination with a rich historical and cultural heritage. It offers a unique experience to explore ancient ruins and archaeological sites. However, it may not be suitable for all individuals due to its limited nightlife options and opportunities for adventure activities.


Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka has an average safety rating. While the destination is generally safe, it is essential to take necessary precautions and be mindful of your belongings, especially in crowded areas or tourist sites.


Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka is a culturally rich destination with a plethora of historical sites, ancient temples, and traditional festivals. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture, explore impressive architecture, and indulge in delicious Sri Lankan cuisine.


Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka has limited nightlife options. It is not known for its vibrant nightlife scene, and visitors seeking lively entertainment and vibrant nightlife may be disappointed.


Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka offers limited adventure activities. While there are opportunities for exploring nature trails and wildlife sanctuaries, it may not be the best destination for adrenaline junkies seeking extreme adventure sports or thrilling experiences.


Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka offers a relaxing atmosphere with its serene surroundings and beautiful landscapes. Visitors can enjoy peaceful walks, tranquil lakes, and lush greenery, providing an ideal setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Best time to visit Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka is best visited between January and April. These months offer pleasant weather, with warm temperatures and little rain. However, expect higher crowds and prices during this time.

best weather but crowded
22°C - 28°C
favorable weather conditions
22°C - 29°C
ideal weather for sightseeing
23°C - 30°C
good weather but increasing crowds
24°C - 31°C
increased rainfall and humidity
24°C - 32°C
more rain and fewer tourists
24°C - 31°C
intermittent rain but fewer crowds
24°C - 31°C
rainy season with fewer tourists
24°C - 31°C
lower rainfall and pleasant temperatures
24°C - 31°C
comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds
23°C - 31°C
pleasant weather with manageable crowds
23°C - 30°C
comfortable temperatures but increasing crowds
22°C - 29°C
December offers comfortable temperatures, but the holiday season brings an increase in crowds. If you don't mind the higher number of tourists, December can still be an enjoyable time to visit.

A guide To your first day of Polonnaruwa vacation


  • Start your day with a visit to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Explore the ruins and marvel at the historical significance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Rent a bicycle and take a leisurely ride around the ruins, enjoying the scenic views and getting a closer look at the ancient architecture.


  • Take a break from the heat and visit the Gal Vihara, a rock temple with beautifully carved statues of the Buddha. Admire the craftsmanship and find peace in the serene surroundings.
  • Visit the Polonnaruwa Archaeological Museum to learn more about the history and culture of the ancient city. The museum houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the golden age of Polonnaruwa.


  • Head to the Parakrama Samudra, a massive man-made reservoir, for a peaceful sunset boat ride. Enjoy the tranquility of the water and witness the vibrant colors of the sunset reflecting on the surface.
  • Attend a traditional cultural show in Polonnaruwa. Immerse yourself in the local music, dance, and performances that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka.


  • Indulge in a delicious Sri Lankan dinner at one of the local restaurants in Polonnaruwa. Try traditional dishes like rice and curry or hoppers, and savor the flavors of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine.
  • Take a night stroll through the illuminated ruins of Polonnaruwa. The ancient structures look even more enchanting under the moonlight, creating a magical atmosphere.

How to get to Polonnaruwa

By Plane

Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo is the main gateway to Sri Lanka, offering frequent international flights. From there, the most convenient way to reach Polonnaruwa is by private car or hired taxi, taking approximately 4-5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a domestic flight from CMB to Sigiriya Airport (GIU), which is closer to Polonnaruwa.

By other means

Reaching Polonnaruwa by public transport is possible, but it requires multiple transfers and can be time-consuming. From Colombo, take a train to either Habarana or Anuradhapura, and then continue the journey by bus or hired taxi. Buses are also available directly from Kandy and Trincomalee to Polonnaruwa.

Tips for Booking Your Trip

Planning a trip can get tricky, right? Don't worry, we've got some solid advice to make your life easier. Here's how you can find flights and accommodations without a hitch.

Flights: How to Score the Best Deal

First things first, check out Google Flights. Their price calendar and nearby airport options are really useful. Found a good deal? Great, but hang on a sec—make sure you compare it with prices on Kayak, Skyscanner, Momondo, and Kiwi. A little research can go a long way.

Accommodation: Find Your Ideal Spot

For places to stay, start by scanning Booking.com and Airbnb to get an idea of what's out there. Then, level up your search by looking at Hostelworld and Agoda. Oh, and a quick tip: the hotel's own website might have some special offers, so give that a look too.

Ready to make some moves? The links you need are right below. Happy booking!



Best for travelers who are ...

History enthusiasts, cultural explorers, and nature lovers

How long to stay in Polonnaruwa?

A recommended stay of 2-3 days to fully explore and appreciate the historical and natural attractions of Polonnaruwa.

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