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Photo of Kandy

About Kandy

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 best places to stay in Kandy

Chic boutique

  • 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. 

Out-of-town

  • 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. 

Spa break

  • 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.

Travel information

  • 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?

Best Hotels in Kandy

  • Victoria Golf and Country Resort Kandy (Digana) 17 rooms from £82

    Victoria Golf and Country Resort is just a short drive outside Kandy and enjoys luscious surroundings. This property offers 10 chalets, 2 cottages and 1 villa. Decorated in a chic, unfussy fashion and boasting splendid views. Car rental and BBQ facilities available. Great value!

    Active Holiday  -  Victoria Golf and Country Resort enjoys a wonderful location offering walking, golfing, swimming, and much more
    Value chic  -  A splendid retreat in a stunning rural setting, boasting fantastic views and prices!!
    Golf  -  Spend your days out on their 73 par award winning Donald Steel designed course
    Great walks  -  Head off on fantastic hikes through the beautiful Udawatta Kele Sanctuary
    Check Availability
  • Ashburnham Tea Estate Kandy 6 rooms from £112

    With just six bedrooms this 1930s tea planters bungalow, complete with stunning views, provides a charming stay. Explore the tea terraces, relax by the pool or enjoy a cooking lesson. Sri Lankan dishes can be enjoyed in the restaurant or al fresco. A quintessential tea estate experience.

    Total relaxation  -  Set within 98 acres of rolling tea plantations it is total escapism
    Romantic Break  -  Four posters and rooms with a view - a great couples getaway
    Cooking classes  -  Learn the art of Sri Lankan spices with a private cooking class
    Great walks  -  A guided tour of the working tea estate - and waterfalls!
    Check Availability
  • Villa Rosa, Kandy Kandy (Asgiriya) 8 rooms from £110

    Villa Rosa is one of Kandy’s hidden gems. A green oasis of calm perched 600m above sea level. Colonial styled rooms feature beamed ceilings, dark antique furniture, elegant four poster beds and warm hues. Feast on exemplary traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. The ideal spot to completely unwind.

    Hideaway  -  A tranquil rural retreat boasting stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Kandy's famed Temple of the Tooth and explore the botanical gardens.
    Views  -  Great views from hotel
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    Recommended by  -  I Escape
    Check Availability
  • Helga’s Folly Kandy 16 rooms from £129

    Basil Fawlty meets Kubla Khan in Helga Blow’s decadent chic home. A red 1930s building surrounded by jungle. Dark muralled rooms full of historical paintings, photographs and antiques. Home cooked food and a well stocked bar. A truly eccentric stay that should be on everyone's 'to visit' list.

    Writing a novel  -  Quirky and fascinating- every inch is covered in paintings, frescoes, sculptures etc reflecting the hotels artistic life.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
    Great walks  -  Wake up early and take a leisurely stroll aound Kandy Lake.
    Swimming Pool  -  Lovely Outdoor Pool
    Check Availability
  • Stone House Lodge Kandy 5 rooms from £164

    Delightful 1940s accommodation jam packed with period furnishings. Set amidst its peaceful surroundings it is a wonderful little retreat. Cosy rooms feature capacious four posters plus there is an inviting pool. Cooking classes or meals cooked by the head chef are a treat!

    Romantic Break  -  Stylish suites, spa treatments and private al fresco dining
    Families  -  Plenty of activities plus children under 10 stay free!
    Great walks  -  Embark on a guided nature trek through the surrounding tea plantations
    Cooking classes  -  Private cooking classes with the head chef can be arranged
    Check Availability
  • Taylor's Hill Kandy 5 rooms from £205

    A picturesque old colonial country house, in the Kandy mountains tea plantations. The five rooms have been lovingly decorated with a bold mix of antiques and modern design. Both the Sri Lankan and western food is exceptional. An enchanting and secluded spot surrounded by lush gardens.

    Families  -  Ideal for a spoiling family getaway with adjoining rooms, a kids games room, a pool and extensive gardens
    Hotel Entertainment  -  The hotel has it's own tennis and badminton courts as well as a fantastic Billiards room
    Croquet  -  The manicured lawns boast a croquet lawn- ideal entertainment for your predinner G&T
    Great walks  -  The surrounding tea plantations offer spectacular walks
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape
    Check Availability
  • The Kandy House Kandy (Gunnepana) 8 rooms from £294

    Kandy's first luxury boutique hotel, housed in an 1804 walauwa on 6-acres of lush gardens. Interiors have been beautifully restored, marrying traditional materials and features with contemporary minimalism and style. The food is haute-Sri Lankan cuisine crafted from local ingredients. Unbeatable.

    Hotel Entertainment  -  The hotel organises Kandyan dancers on request, they showcase traditional dances and costumes to the beat of tom-tom drums
    Total relaxation  -  You won't have to lift a finger- with personal butlers, lush gardens filled with wildlife and hammocks
    Sights nearby  -  Take a tuk-tuk into nearby Kandy and check out the botanical gardens and the Temple of the Tooth
    Honeymoons  -  Peaceful, enchanting, luxurious and indulgent- everything one expects from a honeymood hideaway
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet
    Check Availability
  • Santani Wellness Resort & Spa Kandy 20 rooms from £385

    A contemporary wellness centre situated in the picturesque hills above Kandy. The clean architecture is not only very pleasant on the eye but also helps create a zen like atmosphere. With healthy meal-plans and blissful wellness packages created for each guest this is a truly special place.

    Total relaxation  -  A mountain setting, first-class spa, minimilist design and child-free destination. What could be more relaxing?
    Spa breaks  -  A destination spa complete with with comprehensive hydrotherapy facilities.
    Sights nearby  -  Visit the golden-roofed Sri Dalada Maligawa temple which houses one of Buddha's teeth.
    Great walks  -  Take long walks through the properties 48 acres of jungle and rice fields.
    Recommended by  -  Tablet, Mr & Mrs Smith
    Check Availability
  • Clingendael Kandy (Coconut Hill) 5 rooms from £359

    An intimate, colonial hideaway located on the world famous Victoria Golf Course. Decorated with beautiful teak furniture and sumptuous fabrics for a traditional luxurious feel. Cuisine is classic Sri Lankan with Asian & European gourmet offerings too. Plus cocktails with a kick!

    Golf  -  The Victoria Golf course is a par 73 international championship course
    Sights nearby  -  Cars to 'The Temple of the Tooth' can be arranged
    Restrictions on children  -  No restrictions but it it geared towards adults
    Outstanding location  -  On The Victoria Golf Course
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
    Check Availability