Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city and generally thought of as the island’s cultural capital. It’s grown up around a misty hill in lush tea plantation country and is artfully arranged around a central lake. Many of the best places to stay in Kandy can be found in the mountains surrounding the city. These often charming guesthouses benefit from panoramic views of this photogenic city.
This was the capital of the last Sinhalese Kingdom, which defied the Dutch and the Portuguese for three centuries until it finally fell to the British in the 19th century. And there’s something proud, defiant and regal about this city still, from the carefully displayed national treasures to the beautiful architecture of the colourful houses. The Royal Palace is one such example, a gorgeous piece of architecture. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture and history, be sure to check out the World Buddhist Museum and the National Museum of Kandy.
Busy and colourful, in Kandy you’ll be surprised by impromptu street markets, sudden tropical rain storms and the deliciousness of the food. Kandy is also one of the best places to stay in Sri Lanka if you want to get close to an elephant. There are numerous elephant spotting tours and safaris, and you can get closer still at an elephant orphanage, like the one at Pinnawala. It’s also close to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, one of the most sacred places in the Buddhist world.
What not to miss
- Explore the city’s amazing street markets.
- Go on an elephant-spotting safari.
- Immerse yourself in regional history at the National Museum of Kandy.
- Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, one of the most sacred places in the Buddhist world.
- Check out the World Buddhist Museum, a fantastic charting and detailing of the religion through the ages.
- Go for a round of golf at the world-famous Victoria Golf Course on the outskirts of town.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Kandy includes a couple of options in the city itself, plus a colonial hideaway located by the famous Victoria Golf Course.
- The Kandy House: in a beautiful location and truly authentic, this luxury boutique is set in an 1804 walauwa on 6-acres of lush gardens. The gorgeous interiors blend traditional materials and features with contemporary minimalism and style. The restaurant serves haute-Sri Lankan cuisine made from locally-sourced produce.
- Victoria Golf and Country Club: boasting villas, cottages and chalets, this hotel is in a beautiful location swamped by exotic trees and on the edge of a golf course. Decorated in chic styles and offering gorgeous views, it is amazing value for money.
- Ashburnham Tea Estate: an authentic and intimate stay, this charming little boutique is set in a 1930s tea plantation. Explore the tea terraces, relax by the pool or enjoy a cooking lesson at the restaurant. Great for couples looking for a true experience.
- Stone House Lodge: a charming 1940s accommodation adorned with period furnishings. Perched amidst its peaceful surroundings it is a wonderful little retreat, boasting cosy rooms with four posters and a refreshing swimming pool for those scorching tropical days. Plus, there are cooking classes and meals cooked by the chef. A real delight.
For central location
- Helga’s Folly: Helga’s home was built in the decadent 1930s, and she’s retained many of the original features, including the building’s particular shade of red, both inside and out. She’s also added murals and historic paintings, photographs and a collection of unusual antiques – that kind of original. Helga swans around day and night, accompanied by jazz and swing music, watching over the visitors staying in her 40 rooms. You’ll love it or loathe it, so even though it’s really close to the Golden Temple, make sure you look at the photos before you book.
For colonial grandeur
- Clingendael: For a spot of pure luxury, look no further than here. There’s only four rooms, so it feels like your very own piece of paradise! Located on the Victoria Golf Course, it offers rooms decorated lovingly with sumptuous traditional fabrics and teak furniture.
- Taylor’s Hill: in an enchanting spot in the tea plantation mountains, this wonderful colonial house is decorated with a bold mix of antiques and modern design. Surrounded by beautiful and lush gardens, it is ideal for couples looking for intimacy.
- Villa Rosa: a lovely green nest that’s perfect to unwind in after a long, hot day of sightseeing, perched 600m above sea level. The colonial-esque rooms boast beamed ceilings, dark antique furniture and elegant four poster beds. Feast on exemplary traditional Sri Lankan cuisine at the delightful restaurant.
- Santani Wellness Resort & Spa: a beautiful and modern wellness centre standing high on the hills above Kandy. Guests are given a specialised, uniquely-designed health plan, the rooms’ clean and minimalist design, much like the exterior architecture, creates calm and intimacy.
For an apartment or villa
- Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.
- Visit between December and April when the weather is at its driest and warmest – otherwise you will be in the raging heart of a monsoon.
- Fly to Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, get a train from Colombo Railway Station to Kandy.
- If you want to rent a car we recommend contacting our partner Rentalcars.
Still not sure?
Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Kandy,
- or contact one of our friendly Gurus for advice.
- Alternatively widen the net and check out all our recommendations in Sri Lanka.