Anuradhapura is the repository of several priceless treasures of Buddhism and as a World Heritage site definitely a MUST to every visitor to Sri Lanka. Read our detailed Anuradhapura Guide, including the best things to do in Anuradhapura, below…


Anuradhapura – Sri Lanka

The Sinhalese Buddhist civilization was born in Anuradhapura, a former royal city dotted with ancient stupas and ancient reservoirs. The temples & monumental dagobas, amongst greatest architectural feats of its age, have been surpassed only in scale by the great pyramids of Khufu & Khafra at Giza.

Anuradhapura was the very first capital of ancient Sri Lanka, founded on the banks of River Malwatu Oya. It was once the greatest monastic city of the world, lasting for nearly a millennium and a half, until the rise of the kingdom of Polonnaruwa.

Today, Anuradhapura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to preserved ruins, renovated Buddhist monuments and massive rainwater reservoirs that continue to supply water for the irrigation of the agricultural district as they did for centuries.

Another remarkable treasure in Anuradhapura is the sacred Bo Tree said to have been grown from a branch of the tree under which Siddhartha Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. As the story goes, a sapling of the ficus religioso that sheltered the Buddha was brought from the Magadha Kingdom of ancient India to Sri Lanka in a golden bowl 2,250 years ago and planted on this spot in Sri Lanka, bowl and all. It is said to be the oldest authenticated tree in the world.

For the Best Things To Do In Anuradhapura, please scroll further down this Anuradhapura Guide.


Anuradhapura Guide
Bodi Tree
Asokarama Pankuliya
Anuradhapura Map

The Best Things To Do In Anuradhapura


Cycling in Anuradhapura

Discover Sri Lanka’s oldest city at your own pace with a bicycle tour. Either on your own or on a guided Anuradhapura bicycle tour. For a 1/2 day tour we recommend the following itinerary for visiting the main sites in Anuradhapura: Start after breakfast from Tissa Wewa Reservoir (transfer provided) and proceed to the old part of Anuradhapura City. En-route you visit the Isurumuniya Temple which was built by King Devanampiyatissa in the 3rd century BC. At the Anuradhapura Ruins the first stop will be at the Abhayagiri Stupa, a part of the Abhayagiri Monastery.T he Stupa was the second-largest brick structure in the world after the Jetavanaramaya. Another important part of the Abhayagiri Monastery is the Lankarama Stupa. The ancient ruins show the remains of pillars and the stupa house. Next is the Jetavana Pagoda. Jetavanaramaya was built in the 4th century AD and was the largest brick structure of the ancient world. Jetavana remains an impressive sight with carved bas reliefs, high arches and beautifully shaped lotus pedestals. At the Ruwanwelisaya Pagoda, you can see pilgrims worshipping surrounded by elephant sculptures; from full-sized elephant sculptures on the outer wall to the old stone elephants in the base of the stupa. Guided Anuradhapura Bicycle Tours can be part of your itinerary or booked separately.

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Encompassing everything in between Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Dambulla, Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is a treasure trove of ruins, rocks, and wildlife. Both ancient cities – Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa – offer a wealth of historical and religious sites, whilst the cave temples of Dambulla make up the third point of the triangle.

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