Jaffna

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Photo of Jaffna

About Jaffna

Perched right at Sri Lanka’s northern tip, laid-back Jaffna feels a million miles from the chaotic bustle of the island’s commercial capital, Colombo. Largely closed to visitors until the end of the 26-year civil war in 2009, a small hospitality industry has emerged in recent years. There is a range of accommodation for all budgets, from cheap and cheerful hostels and B&Bs to luxury hotels. Finding the best places to stay in Jaffna remains a real art — there are a lot of samey, corporate style offerings in the top of the range properties — but scratch below the surface and you can uncover hidden gems in charming heritage houses.

Foodies will be pleased to hear that the region is famous for several seafood specialities, sourced from the nearby saltwater lagoon — most notably the ever-popular Jaffna Crab Curry. There’s heaps of history here, too, from the remains of a star-shaped Portuguese and Dutch-era Fort, to the beautifully rebuilt Jaffna Public Library; the red-and-white Nallur Kandaswamy temple to striking St Mary’s Cathedral. Keerimalai Hot Springs or Kankesanthurai Beach are also a short drive away.

Trundle along the causeway connecting nearby islands to the mainland, with fishermen wading in the shallows and birds circling overhead. The sacred sites of Nagadipa and the former Dutch settlement on Delft Island, where wild ponies roam, are both accessible by ferry.

There are limited options when it comes to bars and restaurants, but this does mean that Jaffna’s balmy evenings are quiet and calm. Nab a spot at one of the best places to stay in Jaffna, and soak up some culture without the crowds; with relatively few tourists, this northern city makes for seriously special off-the-beaten-track exploring.

For city style

  • Jetwing Jaffna is easily the smartest place to stay in town. A slick, super-central modern structure, the hotel boasts contemporary rooms with traditional touches and impressive city views. Sample local delicacies at the hotel restaurant and admire the sunset from the panoramic rooftop bar.

For a boutique stay

  • Thambu Illam, a recently renovated heritage home in a leafy residential area, has just four ensuite bedrooms, ensuring a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of privacy. Friendly staff are on-hand to help and this secret spot feels like a real retreat.

For an apartment or villa

  • If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private villa we recommend that you visit our online partner booking.com.

Travel Information

  • The simplest way to reach Jaffna is by train from Colombo or Anuradhapura. Tickets are best booked at the train station, a few days in advance if possible. Reserved seats do sell out! The latest information about train times can be found here.
  • Jaffna is a year-round destination but temperatures hit their peak in April and May, making for a very sticky stay. The monsoon rains usually fall from October to December. With the high season lasting from May to September, book early to avoid being disappointed!

Still not sure?

Weather

Monthly Weather in Jaffna

Best Hotels in Jaffna

  • Jetwing Jaffna Jaffna 55 rooms from £65

    City Style  -  Undoubtedly Jaffna's smartest hotel. Expect superlative service and chic design
    Sights nearby  -  Explore Jaffna: from the Fort to the Public Library, the Keerimalai Hot Springs to Point Pedro and more
    Designer  -  Uniquely designed interiors.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel

    A modern city hotel in the heart of Jaffna — ideal for those eager to rest in contemporary comfort whilst exploring the fascinating northern tip of the teardrop island. See More

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  • Thambu Illam Jaffna 4 rooms from £73

    Groups  -  With just four rooms this is the ideal place to rent for groups or large families
    Local exploring  -  Well positioned in a quiet spot with easy access to the city's main attractions
    Sights nearby  -  Explore Jaffna town on foot or by three-wheeler: visit Jaffna Public Library, see the clock tower and wander around the market
    Sailing  -  Catch the ferry from the causeway to nearby islands Nagadipa and Delft, home to wild ponies and the remnants of a fort

    Calm and serenity in a traditional property in the centre of Jaffna. The four cosy bedrooms are simple and stylish with dark wooden furniture and crisp white linen. A tropical garden houses a neat swimming pool. Expect warm hospitality and a superb location from which to explore the area. See More

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