Travel within the north of Sri Lanka is a true off-the-beaten-track adventure. The islands around the peninsula are fantastic and the intrepid traveller will be rewarded with a fascinating insight into this historically-rich region of the country. If you have already visited Sri Lanka and are looking for something more authentic, or maybe something just a little different to your previous trip, there are a range of really interesting things to do in north Sri Lanka.
The peninsula consists of Jaffna town, with its beautiful colonial-style buildings, the wider countryside, characterised by the Palmyra tree, and the unique agriculture and the islands of Kayts, Delft and Nainativu.
One of the best things to do in northern Sri Lanka is explore Jaffna city. Walking around the local fish and fruit markets is an unforgettable way to really get into the local culture. This northern town is vastly different when compared to the rest of Sri Lanka in regards to its food, religion and language. It's a great place to delve into the Tamil culture and ancient sights in an area that most tourists don't venture to. The local library, fort and famous Nallur Kandaswamy temple - one of the most impressive Hindu temples in Sri Lanka - are just some of the unmissable locations we recommend in Jaffna.
Nallur Kandaswamy temple is well-known as the home of the annual Nallur Festival. Taking place over 25 days, it finishes on a Buddhist festival day - Poya - in August each year. On the 24th day, an enormous chariot is pulled around town by large crowds of sarong-clad men - a real highlight. The following day, dedicated devotees drive skewers through their bodies in honour of the god Murugam. Those after a totally authentic yet unique cultural experience won’t be disappointed. It’s still worth a visit year-round though, as tourists are welcome to join the temple’s colourful daily puja.
For a taste of delicious local food, try some local fiery crab curry, or even stop by the iconic ice cream shop in Jaffna for a special treat. For an even more remote experience, the islands off the coast in northern Sri Lanka can be reached by small boats - this is a great way to take in the area’s wildlife, such as the wild horses of Delft.
If you’re searching for a slice of the world-famous and relaxing beaches of Sri Lanka, you won’t be disappointed by a trip to north Sri Lanka. Trincomalee is an incredible port city, and home to, without a doubt, one of the best beaches in north Sri Lanka. Trinco is also an excellent location to discover the surrounding water’s rich marine life aboard a boat trip or enjoy all forms of watersports.
The weather in north Sri Lanka varies from the rest of the country. The monsoon season in the north opposes that of the south, meaning that Jaffna and the rest of the northern peninsula are buffeted by bursts of rain from October until January. The best time to visit north Sri Lanka is from February until September; this is when temperatures soar and the weather is excellent for exploring what north Sri Lanka has to offer.
If you are wondering if north Sri Lanka is safe, then the answer is yes. The north of Sri Lanka was the area most affected by the country’s former conflict and remains, by far, the least developed by tourism - something at ETG we find very charming and a real reason to visit. However, with the advent of peace, the region is slowly becoming more accessible and tourists are being highly encouraged to visit - an almost royal welcome is extended to any interested visitors that venture this way. As a result, this area can offer a more ‘authentic’ experience of Sri Lankan food, people, history and culture. This is an important factor in choosing to book a trip to north or south Sri Lanka - and we can help to decide which is best for you.
If you want to visit this fascinating, vibrant and beautiful area, please contact us. We will be able to discuss all the options with you and help you discover the best of the region. There is a lot worth seeing!
Cultural North Sri Lanka Holiday Ideas:
The History & Culture of Sri Lanka
An in-depth journey through Sri Lanka's fascinating history, culture and scenic landscapes.
Digital Detox in Sri Lanka
Step away from the everyday for a one-of-a-kind holiday. Truly off-the-beaten-track with accommodation in our favourite "eco & unique" hotels.
Sri Lanka and the work of Geoffrey Bawa
This holiday takes in Sri Lanka's varied highlights with a focus on the work of its most famous architect Geoffrey Bawa.
The Undiscovered North & East
A comprehensive tour of Sri Lanka's North taking in The Jaffna Peninsula, Wilpattu National Park and beach time in Trincomalee.