Matara, a bustling coastal town located 160 kilometers from Colombo, might not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a trip to Sri Lanka. However, this vibrant town holds a treasure trove of hidden tourist gems waiting to be explored. From stunning river views to picturesque beaches, Matara has something for everyone. In this article, we will take you on a virtual tour of Matara’s best attractions. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready for an unforgettable journey!
Unveiling Matara’s Top Tourist Destinations
Matara is a city immersed in rich history and culture, reflecting Sri Lanka’s past. To truly understand the essence of this beautiful country, a visit to Matara is a must. Here are the top places you should include in your Matara itinerary:
As its name suggests, the Star Fort is a remarkable structure shaped like a star. Built by the Dutch to fend off external attacks, this fort features six points, each facing a different direction. The fortified walls surround a central well that once provided water to the inhabitants. Walking through the fort, you can still sense the echoes of colonialism that once prevailed in Sri Lanka.
Famous for: Its unique star-shaped design. Entry Fee: Free
Old Dutch Trade Center (Nupe Market)
Architecture enthusiasts will be captivated by the T-shaped Old Dutch Trade Center. This historic market, located in the western part of Matara, was once a bustling hub of trade activities. The distinctive steep roofs, conical towers, and open-sided structure supported by wooden beams and columns make it a truly remarkable sight. As you explore its grandeur, you’ll witness the fusion of Dutch and British architectural influences.
Famous for: Its marvelous T-shaped architecture.
Located in the eastern part of Matara, the Weherahena Temple is a feast for the eyes. Its artificial cave adorned with intricate scenes from the life of Buddha leads you to a colossal Buddha statue towering over 25 meters in height. While photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple, the sheer beauty of its architecture and the vibrant procession celebrations during late-November or early December will leave you awe-inspired.
Famous for: Its awe-inspiring architecture.
While Matara’s beaches are not as crowded as some of the popular tourist spots in Sri Lanka, Polhena Beach stands out as an exception. This hidden gem offers calm waters perfect for a relaxing swim. The offshore coral reefs create a tranquil environment, making it a popular destination for honeymooners and a beloved weekend getaway for locals.
Famous for: Its tranquil setting.
Located adjacent to Polhena Beach, Crow Island showcases the meeting point of the Nilwala Ganga River and the Indian Ocean. With its lush greenery, mangrove plantations, and freshwater lakes, this island is a paradise for nature lovers. The island also features a beach park with various recreational facilities, making it an ideal spot for family outings.
Famous for: Its paradise-like surroundings.
Dondra Head Lighthouse
Situated at the southern tip of Sri Lanka, the Dondra Head Lighthouse is an architectural marvel. Standing tall at 160 feet, it is the tallest lighthouse in the country. The whitewashed structure, conceptualized by Sir James Nicholas Douglass, offers panoramic views of the Indian Ocean and the Bulutota Mountain Range. Climbing to its top through a spiral staircase will reward you with breathtaking vistas.
Famous for: Being the tallest lighthouse.
Matara Paravi Duwa Temple
Situated on a small island, Matara Paravi Duwa Temple is a serene Buddhist temple surrounded by the ocean. Its peaceful ambiance is perfect for soulful introspection. As you cross the bridge, the sound of crashing waves creates a meditative atmosphere. If you’re seeking tranquility away from the hustle and bustle, this is the place to be.
Famous for: Its soulful ambiance.
Matara Beach itself is a must-visit destination. Unlike other crowded beaches, Matara Beach offers a serene environment where you can take long walks, go beachcombing, or simply relax under a tree and enjoy the soothing ocean views. When the tides are calm, take a refreshing dip in the sea.
Famous for: Its picturesque environment and marvelous views.
Matara boasts several picturesque beaches, and Medawatta Beach is one of the finest. Its tranquil atmosphere and stunning ocean views attract visitors seeking relaxation. Although reaching this beach requires a little effort due to the surrounding hillocks, the experience is well worth it. Medawatta Beach is also popular among surfers, and you can find good hotels nearby.
Famous for: Glistening waters, sandy beach amid an eye-pleasing landscape.
How to Reach Matara
The quickest way to reach Matara is via the Southern Expressway, which connects Colombo to Matara. This route bypasses the Galle Road, known for its picturesque coastal views. For a more scenic drive, you can travel along the Galle Road and explore the charming southern towns of Galle, Matara, and Hikkaduwa.
To book your trip to Matara and discover its hidden gems, visit DHPL Travels now!
Matara, with its rich historical sites, stunning riverside views, and picturesque beaches, offers a unique blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty. A trip to Matara is an opportunity to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of this coastal gem. So pack your bags, embark on an adventure to Matara, and create memories that will last a lifetime!
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