21 Things to Do & Complete Travel Guide | Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Last Updated on by Teddy

If you enjoy culture, history, and spicy food Jaffna is the place to come.

Located on a peninsula on the northernmost tip of Sri Lanka, the city itself is one of the oldest human habitation sites in South Asia and is populated by Sri Lankan Tamils.

For travelers fascinated by different cultures and religions, Jaffna is a mecca! You could spend days exploring the many Kovils (Hindu temples), Catholic churches, mosques, and other religious sites.

The cuisine of Jaffna is unique and probably the best in the entire Sri Lanka.

On top of all these, Jaffna is best known for its friendly people.

After years of civil war (1983 – 2009), Jaffna has settled into a peaceful, tourist-friendly area with rapid developments.

Jaffna is truly a unique destination.

Places to Visit & Things to Do

1. Jaffna Food

Jaffna is a paradise for spicy food lovers.

When it comes to food, Sri Lanka is a melting pot of diverse culinary cultures. And Jaffna with its unique and authentic cuisine is, arguably, the crown jewel.

In Jaffna, locals use a unique blend of spices. Coconut also plays a significant role in almost all dishes. This make Jaffna food mouthwateringly delicious. It is close to South Indian food but different in taste.

The mains range from Thosai (a.k.a Dosa) to Pittu to Idly to Rice to Hoppers (Aapam). Vades are a snack that will go with any main meal or as a standalone snack.  

The famous dishes in Jaffna include the Mutton (goat) Curry, Crab Curry, Rasam, Brinjal and Drumstick Curry, and Kool Seafood Soup – an authentic Jaffna dish available only in Jaffna.

Jaffna excels in its vegetarian dishes, seafood dishes, and meat dishes. No matter what type of an eater you are, if you love spicy food, you will adore Jaffna.

Our recommendation is to try Mutta Thosai (Egg Thosai), Mutton Curry, Crab Curry and Ulundu Vade with Sambol as must eats. No need to have these together. Curries will go perfect with Rice or Pittu.

The city has many hotels and restaurants that serve authentic cuisine but places that serve crappy fast food are also mushrooming. Best way to find authentic places is to check with locals, ask your hotel reception or a tuk-tuk driver.

If you would like an upmarket place, the main restaurant of Jetwing Jaffna Hotel will be the best choice. Jetwing is a local luxury hotel chain in Sri Lanka and are known for their food for decades.

Mangos is a well-established name in the town located and offers South Indian vegetarian dishes at reasonable rates. Nallur Bhavan Vegetarian Restaurant is another prominent place to find cheap and authentic local vegetarian cuisines on a banana leaf.It will be among the best locations to try breakfast.

Some other honorable mentions include Hotel Green Grass (delicious Crab Curry and Mutton Curry), Malayan Café (Vegetarian), and Jaffna Heritage Hotel. The majority of the restaurants open at 7:00 am and close at 10:00 pm or 11.00 pm.

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (An ultimate must-do for any spicy food lover)

2. Worship at Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil

Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, with a history running back to 10th century, is one of the most important temples for Hindus of both Sri Lanka and Southern India.

This is a beautiful Hindu temple that came into being in 948, and it is only a kilometer away from the city. Unluckily, the Portuguese destroyed the kovil in the 16th century, and it went through numerous modifications afterwards and was entirely rebuilt in the 18th century.

Dedicated to Lord Kandaswamy (also referred to as Lord Murugan), the kovil is the most significant Hindu temple in Jaffna.

On the southern wing, you will see a holy pond and Thandayudhapaani shrine (dedicated to Lord Murugan) and the inner yard of the temple has different shrines for Lords Vairavar, Ganesh, Sun, and Sandana Gopala.

Nallur Kandasamy Temple is home for many Hindu festivals and worshippers perform daily religious rituals. Every day, Pooja are held at 5:00 am, then 10:00 am, 4:00 pm, and 5:00 pm (special Pooja).

Everyone is free to visit. Rules to follow when visiting the temple include taking off your shoes at the entrance, men should be bare-chested inside the temple, and women should cover their heads, shoulders, legs, etc. You are expected to be a vegetarian on the day you visit the temple and it is a sinful act to smoke or drink at the temple.

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (We think visiting Nallur Kandasamy Temple a must for any traveler to Jaffna)

Duration: 1-2 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 8:00 am-6:00 pm (Open only during Pooja times, and the temple is stict on hours)

How to get there: Grab a tuk-tuk (bit far from the city for a walk)

Website: http://www.nalluran.com

3. Ruins of Jaffna Fort

Jaffna Fort – a 62-acre area full of ancient colonial architectural ruins is the second-largest Dutch fort in Sri Lanka.

First erected in 1618 by Portuguese, the fort depicts the history of the landmark, and in 1658, the Dutch Government captured this site. The final construction completed in 1680 in a pentagon shape as they used Dutch architectural features for rebuilding.

With a 40-feet-tall wall, Jaffna Fort still looks eye-catchy and in shape from the outside even after the 30-years of civil war. Sadly, from inside, this archeological protected monument had faced severe damage, and lost most of its sites, but it is still worth visiting.

The most well-preserved monument in the fort, the Queen’s Palace, is a worthy landmark to explore. The short parapet wall built in front of it is still in a good structure.

Other noteworthy ruins in the fort include a Church that has lost its charm, a moat, rampart with five tunnels, a hospital, military barracks, warehouses, jail, and a courthouse.

Rating: 4.5/5.0

Duration: 1-2 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 8:00 am-6:00 pm

Address: Sea Street, Jaffna

How to get there: Grasp a three-wheeler to visit or you can even cover it in a city walk.

4. Nagadeepa Island

Nagadeepa Island, also known as Nainativu Island, with a history running back to the times of Lord Buddha and visited by Lord Buddha himself, is a stunning landmark located in the Jaffna Peninsula.

As per the stories, two Naga Kings (Naga is a tribe of people lived in ancient Sri Lanka) had been battling with each other over the throne, and Buddha visited the place in the 6th century BC to calm the situation. Then the kings offered the throne to Buddha as a gift, and they also erected a dagoba (stupa).

The surroundings of the island are remarkable. The sandy place with coconut palm groves makes the environment serene and charismatic.

Nainativu features two jetties set apart from each other, and one of them takes you to the Hindu Kovil. The other dock leads to Nagadeepa Viharaya Buddhist Temple near the beach.

Every year, thousands of tourists (mainly Buddhists) visit the place to worship and explore.

Nagadeepa Viharaya is a temple with an image museum and a stupa. It is a modern form of architecture because of renovations after the civil war. The temple has two shrine rooms and a beautiful silver-painted stupa. You will view a central shrine room behind the stupa. And a small one with a bronze Buddha statue.

The other highlight of the island, Naga Pooshani Amman Temple, is a Hindu Kovil dedicated to the goddess, Naga Pooshani Amman (goddess Durga). The Kovil features a unique décor that mesmerizes the visitors a lot. Both the façade and interior are vibrant and bright.

Rating: 4.3/5.0

Duration: half a day (including the journey)

Cost: Ferry (up to 100 LKR), Private Boat (up to 2000 LKR), Nagadeepa Buddhist Temple (donation 500 LKR)

Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Address: Nainativu Island, Jaffna

How to get there: You need to get a boat from Jaffna

5. Ancient Kadurugoda Temple

One of the very few Buddhist temples in Jaffna, Kadurugoda Temple is a fascinating religious site with a history dating back to Anuradhapura era (377 BC to 1017 AD).

The main attraction is the many small stupas made out of gray-colored coral stone, which is unseen anywhere else in the entire Sri Lanka.  The largest stupa is of 23-feet in width, and the tiniest one is around six feet. The umbrella-shaped arches look exceptional.

There is a well-maintained Bo Tree that enhances the atmosphere and appearance of the place. The interior of the temple offers colorful murals, images, and paintings.

Rating: 4.1/5.0

Duration: 30 minutes

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 8:30 am-5:00 pm

Address: Chunnakam-Manipai Road, Jaffna

How to get there: A 30-minute rickshaw ride will take you there (best to be covered in a round trip covering attractions outside the city)

6. Jaffna Public Library

The Jaffna Public Library is the phoenix of world’s public libraries.

It was one of the Asia’s largest libraries with a collection of more than 97,000 books an manuscripts, when it was burned to ashes.

The Library was first erected in 1933 and got burned in 1981 just before the start of civil war. After the battle ended, the library was the first landmark to be reconstructed showing its significance to the country.

This architectural masterpiece is an ultimate utopia for those who love to read and explore new facts. When you go to the entrance gate of the place, you will view a statue of Sri Saraswati – the goddess of education, music, and art.

The reconstructed library has a decent collection of 3500 books and periodicals. It is maintained well with a vibrant garden outside the library.

Rating: 4.4/5.0 (if you are interested in culture, this is a must visit)

Duration: 1-1.5 hours

Cost: Free (permission from the Librarian may be required to visit inside)

Opening Hours: 9:00 am-6:00 pm

How to get there: Get a tuk-tuk ride to visit the place (best to be covered as a part of a city tour)

7. St. Mary’s Cathedral

St. Mary’s Cathedral, is a white Catholic church constructed by Dutch in 1789, residing in the center of Jaffna town.

As per local stories, King of Jaffna, Cankili I, killed his son after he converted to Catholicism, and the prince was buried right at the spot where this cathedral is located today.

Interior of the site is jaw-dropping. If you take the aerial view of the building, you will see the church is in a cross shape.

This place is quiet, calm, and serene, and you will feel the spiritual vibes even from a distance.

Rating: 4.2/5.0

Duration: 1 hour

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 8:00 am-5:00 pm

How to get there: Hire a rickshaw driver to reach the church (best to be covered as a part of a city tour)

8. Jaffna Archaeological Museum

Jaffna Archeological Museum is a small yet informative museum in the city. The unusual fact about the place is you can view its exhibits even on the street.

Arumuga Navalar Foundation gave the land to the gallery, and there is a comprehensive compilation of artifacts with an iconic, heritage, and archeological values that belong to pre-Christian time.

The seven-mouthed pot and a pair of cannons of the Dutch Fort from the 14th century are among the highlights of the gallery.

There are also displays related to the British Colonial period together with Hindu and Buddhist cultural exhibits. There are coins from different time zones.

Rating: 4.2/5.0

Duration: 1 hour

Cost: Free (You have to make a donation of your choice)

Opening Hours: 8:00 am-4:45 pm

Address: Navalar Road, Jaffna

How to get there: Get a three-wheeler to visit the museum (best to be covered as a part of a city tour)

9. Miralliamman Kovil

The Miralliamman Kovil is an under-rated temple with Mesmerizing Scenery in Jaffna.

This Hindu temple has a towering gopuram, and its red-and-white striped walls enhance the appearance of the temple. Many statues of Hindu warriors are there that highlight the history but without any written inscription.

No doubt, Miralliamman Kovil is beautiful and worth exploring, but Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil overshadowed its presence because both are close to each other.

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Duration: 45 minutes-1 hour

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 5:00 am-7:00 pm

How to get there: Get a rickshaw to visit Miralliamman Kovil

10. Sri Nagavihara International Buddhist Center

Sri Nagavihara International Buddhist Center is an inspiring place to learn the history and past events about Buddha and his lifestyle.

If you look at the appearance of the center, you can view the factor of modesty and decency in the façade and surroundings of the place.

The white stupa looks elegantly beautiful even from a distance together with the holy Bodhi Tree.

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0

Duration: 1-1.5 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 8:00 am-5:00 pm

How to get there: Go to the center by hiring a three-wheeler rickshaw

11. Dambakola Patuna Sangamitta Temple

Dambakola Patuna is one of the most important landmarks of Sri Lanka’s history dating back to more than 2,500 years.

In the past, Dambakola Patuna was used as a port. It is believed that it’s the place where Theri Sangamitta landed with the Bo Sapling in 3rd century BC, and welcomed by King Devanampiyatissa.   

The Bo Sapling, known today as the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, was planted in Anuradhapura and is considered one of the most revered religious sites by Buddhists world over. The Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is also the world’s oldest known human planted tree.

According to folklores, Dambakola Patuna Sangamitta Temple was erected to commemorate this sacred event, but what you see in the Hindu Kovil here today is a modified version. All the Buddhist statues, paintings, sculptures that are there now have been built lately. As the civil war destroyed almost everything.

Impressively settled around 20 kilometers away from Jaffna, Dambakola Patuna Sangamitta Temple, welcomes tourists and devotees to the site whenever they want. The temple is elegant and modest with its white stupa, and remarkable surroundings.

Rating: 4.6/5.0

Duration: 1 hour

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk

How to get there: Get a taxi or hire a tuk-tuk

12. Kayts Causeway

The scenic drive through the Kayts Causeway is a journey to cherish!

Kayts Causeway is a road that connects Jaffna to islands nearby. It starts from Jaffna Fort and takes you across the Jaffna lagoon. It is crucial as it links significant parts of the peninsula with each other.

One should visit Kayts causeway either early morning or late evening to for breathtaking scenery.

The prominent highlight of the causeway is bird species. Some of them include oystercatcher, cormorants, gulls, herons, egrets, spoonbill, and waders. You can also view the Jaffna Fort, Kayts’ Portuguese Fort, and a Church.

Rating: 4.6/5.0

Duration: 30-45 minutes

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: round the clock (best to visit during sunset or sunrise)

How to get there: Have your own vehicle or get a tuk-tuk

13. Delft Island (Neduntheevu )

Delft Island is a gorgeous place to spend a day.

It is located only 30 kilometers off the mainland coast. It sits on coral and limestone, and its land is arid. It is a small place with a small population of around 2500 people.

Delft has Palmyra palms that make the location exotic and unique – perfect for capturing memorable moments.

Delft Island has houses and walls made out of coral. The natural setting encourages wild horses, cows, and goats to roam freely on the island. It is the most secluded place near Jaffna and best known for its wild horses.

One of the top highlights is the Growing Rock, which is a stone that grows naturally. The residents cover it in a shimmering cloth. They consider it a sacred stone.

Another attraction is the huge Baobab Tree with its un-stretched arms. And there is also large single Banyan tree which creates a small forest of its own.

The Old Dutch Fort and Queen’s Tower are noteworthy ruins on the island.

Rating: 4.6/5.0

Duration: 3-4 hours

Cost: Free (excluding transport cost)

Opening Hours: Dawn to Dusk

How to get there: Hire a three-wheeler to reach Kurikadduwan jetty, which is about one hour drive from Jaffna, and then take a boat from there to visit Delft Island

14. Yamuna Eri

Once the part of the Royal Palace, Yamuna Eri dating back to the 13th century, was used for bathing by the women of the Royal dynasty.

Even though the most structure is no more, the pool Yamuna is largely intact. It was added in the list of the protected archeological monuments in 1948.

As per the legends, the Queen of Jaffna used to bath here.

Carved into a large piece of rock, Yamuna Eri has had a garden in the center of the pool. People believe the water of the pond has magical and sacred healing powers.

It is quite close to Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, thus an easy visit.

Rating: 4.2/5.0

Duration: 1-2 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 24 hours

How to get there: It locates only two kilometers away from Jaffna, and you can visit the place by either taking a tuk-tuk or a bus

15. Nilavarai Bottomless Well

Nilavarai Bottomless Well, a well-preserved and famous site in Jaffna, is everyone’s favorite.

It is called bottomless because the water does not dry up even during droughts. But it is around 52.5 meters deep (nobody knows the accurate depth). Several tunnels have also been discovered to date. Those are all located at different levels and lead to distinct directions.

As per the research, water within the first 40 feet is fresh, but it turns salty afterward.

It is a hidden treasure for adventure lovers because the legends attached to the well make it more appealing.

If you love adventurous and mysterious places, this one is for you.

Rating: 4.3/5.0

Duration: 1-2 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 24 hours

How to get there: Take a cab or tuk-tuk

16. Keerimalai Hot Springs

A natural pool with springs by the sea for a refreshing bath in blistering Jaffna.

Situated next to the sea, west of Palaly, Keerimalai Hot Springs is a natural spring and a bathing pool. The walls separate the waters of the sea and spring.

Though the name of this stunning site is Hot Springs, however, the water is not hot, but fresh.

According to the sources, there is an underwater connection between Keerimalai Hot Springs and Nilavarai Bottomless Well, which is about 10 km away. Even though the site is quite near to the sea, still, it manages to get fresh water from some underground sources, which could be the reason for this story.

As per legends, this water has magical powers, and taking a bath in it can help a person in healing wounds. Encompassed by stone steps, it is safer for swimmers.

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0

Duration: 1-2 hours

Cost: 30 LKR (It may vary)

Opening Hours: 8:30 am-9:00 pm

How to get there: Take a bus to the Keerimalai temple, and then walk for a few minutes or hire a taxi

17. Casuarina Beach

A beautiful stretch of white sand, Casuarina beach is a stunning place to live some stress-free moments.

This is among the best beaches in Jaffna District (20 kilometers away from Jaffna Town). With the abundance of Casuarina trees, the area becomes 10x times appealing and charismatic.

Casuarina beach could be the best location in Jaffna if you’re looking for a serene, natural, and calm place.

The soft sand, crystal-clear blue water, Casuarina trees, wildlife, and perfect environment are enough to hang out at this beach. And yes, you can swim in the sea. Boat rides are available to the center of the ocean to explore corals.

Many small restaurants are there, but alcohol is not allowed at Casuarina Beach.

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0

Duration: 2-3 hours

Cost: 20 LKR

Opening Hours: 9:00 am-10:00 pm

Address: Beach Road, Karainagar, Jaffna

How to get there: Get a three-wheeler ride to reach the beach

18. Awe-inspiring Elephant Pass

A strip of land that links Jaffna Peninsula with the mainland, Elephant Pass, is a place where the biggest last war for control and power was fought between the government troops and Tamil Tigers (LTTE) during the Civil War.

The causeway, Elephant Pass, has been a military base since1760 when the Portuguese government erected a fort, but Dutch rebuilt it later, and then the British took over the control.

There are two memorials in the land, the first one is a mini-museum of Gamini Kularathna, named after a heroic soldier who lost his life to save his companions. The memorial exhibits a statue of Gamini with the armor-plated bulldozer (which was laden with explosives) that he stopped.

The other memorial is a reconciliation monument that highlights the resumption of free movement between south and north.

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0

Duration: 30 minutes-1hour

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: Round the clock

How to get there: Get a taxi or tuk-tuk ride to visit Elephant Pass (best is to visit on your way to or out of Jaffna)

19.The Naguleswaram Temple

Keerimalai Neguleswaram Kovil, which has been erected in the 6th or 7th century, is among the five ancient Shiva temples in Sri Lanka.

It was once the home for Sadhu Nagulaswami who worship lingam – an oblong-shaped stone that represents the creation and life.

The present form of the structure of Keerimalai Neguleswaram Temple is a modified version as the Portuguese destroyed the place. The current architecture belongs to 1859. There are various sculptures of the moorthies that adorned the sanctum.

A Shivarathri festival is held every February for fifteen days attracting not only devotees but travelers from all around the region.  

Rating: 4.3

Duration: 1-1.5 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: Daytime

Address: Kankesanturai, Sri Lanka

How to get there: A rickshaw driver will take you to the temple as it is only 20 kilometers north of Jaffna

20. Sakkotai Cape in Point Pedro

Sakkotai Cape is the northernmost point in Sri Lanka.

It is an hour away from Jaffna and sits on a rocky coast at the perimeter of Point Pedro village.

To the western edge of the cape, Point Pedro Lighthouse stands high in the shadow of a telecom tower, while a solid flag of Sri Lanka lies on the eastern side at the end of the shore.

It can be a perfect place to capture unforgettable snaps with your loved ones.

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0

Duration: 1-2 hours

Cost: Free

Opening Hours: 24 hours

Address: Point Pedro, Jaffna

How to get there: Take a taxi or tuk-tuk. Buses are plenty too.

21. Jaffna Markets

Like many other cultural cities in the world, Jaffna also has local markets that are quite traditional.

The town has three prominent markets.

The first one is the Main Market, where you can enjoy great South Indian food at local restaurants. Other than hotels, many souvenir & gift centers are also there.

The second one is the world famous Jaffna Fish Market, where you can not only buy but also learn the tricks to cut and clean seafood from skilled vendors.

Last but not least is the Jaffna Local Market. It is a place for fresh juice and fruit lovers.  You can also almost every vegetable and fruit in the region here. You can taste delicious street food like fried fish, spiced banana pancakes, and more.

All the items come directly from the farm, and the top-notch commodities include mangoes, jackfruits, grains, spices, brinjals, grapes, capsicum, pulses, and coconuts.

Interesting traditional utensils are available for sale too.

If you don’t like crowd areas visit the markets in the early morning. But it the chaos that bring life to the markets.

Rating: 4.5/5.0 (It really depend on whether you love crowded markets or not)

Duration: 2-3 hours

Cost: It depends on products to products but usually cheap

Opening Hours: Daytime

How to get there: Hire a tuk-tuk to visit the desired market

Foodies Guide

Did we say it before? Jaffna is the Holy Mecca of spicy food lovers.

In this section, we try our best to present the best food experiences or the best dishes to eat in Jaffna and the best places to eat based on your budget.

In Jaffna if you going to spend money on any one thing, spend it on food.

Best Food Experiences in Jaffna

As we said before, Jaffna is a bastion of Hindu tradition, art, and creative culture. And it is reflected in the food.

Highly inspired by the Tamil culture, most restaurants here serve Northern Sri Lankan cuisine as well as South Indian cuisine. Although both styles of cooking are largely similar, the food of Jaffna has its own distinctive taste.

Here we list a few of our favorite food experiences for the foodie in you:

1. Jaffna mutton curry

When people think of Jaffna food, the first dish that usually comes to mind is the celebrated Jaffna mutton curry.

This traditional curry holds true to the characteristics of Jaffna cuisine with its heavy spices and delectable flavors.

The mutton curry is essentially succulent chunks of mutton swimming in a gravy that is a delicious combination of fenugreek, cardamom, cumin, fennel seeds, cloves, coriander, garlic, ginger, turmeric, curry leaves and of course, cinnamon.

Prior to indulging in this dish, you will breathe in the rich aroma of all these spices which alone leaves your mouth watering.

For an amazing experience of the mutton curry, head to Green Grass restaurant that cooks up a storm with their mutton delicacy. Even better with a side of steam or fried rice.

2. Mattu (Egg) Thosai

Although the thosai (dosai) is popular throughout the island, this one’s a little identifiable to the Hindu tradition, thanks to the large influence of Tamil cuisine in Jaffna.

The addition of ghee when cooking it is a slight alteration that leaves you with an amazing aroma when served. Jaffna’s take on the thosai is based on a fermented batter made of rice flour and coconut milk with spices.

It comes in various shapes, sizes, and varieties but the classic thosai of Jaffna cuisine is the one with mattu (egg) and is a bowl-shaped crisp pancake with a soft center.

Served with a combination of sambol this traditional thosai leaves an after taste thanks to its deliciousness.

3. Jaffna cuisine at Green Grass restaurant

To get a taste of the best of both Jaffna and South Indian cuisine, head to the restaurant at Green Grass Hotel and dine under a mango tree.

A good spot for a Northern Lankan meal, Green Grass offers the best Jaffna special crab curries at fairly affordable prices.

Their best dishes include the crab curry and mutton curry. Both are rich in spices and delicious.

These curries are way different than the ones you’d have had in the South or the Eastern coast of Lanka. That’s the significance of Jaffna cuisine – it comprises of age old recipes loaded with heavy spices and delectable flavours.

4. Pittu at Kumarapavan Restaurant

This one’s another typical Jaffna specialty. A dinnertime specialty, pittu is majorly made of wheat flour or red rice-flour and is infused with desiccated coconut to add flavour.

The preparation involves steaming a mixture of ground rice with water that is layered with grated coconut, and sometimes also layers of shrimp or fish.

The classic Pittu is when meat and seafood are stirred in with the dish to make a type of pittu kotthu. This is the Jaffna style of taking leftovers and making it into a signature lip-smacking dish.

To get your hands on the best authentic Pittu, head to Kumarapavan restaurant where you will get different varities of Pittu. Try their Special Keeri (Spinach) Pittu and the Popeye lover in you will thank you for it.

5. Ice creams at Rio Icecream

The Jaffna weather is extremely dehydrating and what’s better than super cool ice cream in this weather.

Rio Ice Cream is a real stalwart of the North, and possibly one of Jaffna’s most famous culinary exports along with the Jaffna crab curry.

Before you think of images of a Brazilian fiesta or a seedy cinema, it turns out Rio actually stands for the Rathinam Industrial Organization. Rio is located next to the sprawling Nallur Temple making it a perfect destination to pop in for a sundae in the scorching mid-day heat after a tour of the temple.

Try their exotic flavours of ice creams from the usual fruity ones like mango and blueberry to a mix of all frozen cups packed into a sundae. 

Where to Eat

It won’t get any better than this. Vegan, non-vegan, or local restaurants are plentiful in Jaffna.

Here we list 3 of our trusted places for every budget.

You can also check our complete list of Jaffna’s best places to eat for some more mouth watering options.

1. Jetwing Jaffna (Fine-dining)

Eating at the main restaurant of Jetwing Jaffna Hotel is a truly cultural experience. A place to feel the essence of Jaffna in food.

Serving authentic Jaffna and south Indian food, this restaurant is both traditional and contemporary.

For the adventurous eaters out there, their fiery red Jaffna crab curry is a must-try.

2. Green Grass Hotel & Restaurant (Mid-range)

Green Grass is the place to have a meal under the swaying trees and gentle breeze.

The food is exquisite, the cost matches a mid-range budget, and the staff are amicable and charming. Their most raved about dishes are their mutton curry and crab curry.

3. Nallur Bhavan (Budget)

A small family restaurant with scrumptious vegetarian food. The place has an amazing ambiance for a budget restaurant.

Nallur Bhavan is a must-visit to try a variety of Jaffna dishes at a little cost.

Where to Sleep

There are several types of accommodation in Jaffna ranging from cheap budget rooms to more expensive options. Here are some suggestions:

1. Jetwing Jaffna (Luxury)

If you’re looking for luxury and tradition in one place, Jetwing Jaffna is the place to be.

You get authentic Jaffna experience, delicious food, and luxury service for almost bargain price.

Jetwing Jaffna is located in the heart of the city on Mahatma Gandhi Road, right next to Cargills Square.

The hotel is operated by the Jetwing group – a Sri Lankan hotel chain that is known for its authenticity and quality.

2. PJ Hotels (Mid-range)

This hotel is well maintained and very clean. It has a sprawling pool with a poolside bar and polite service staff.

3. Sarras Guest House (Budget)

Sarras is a beautiful heritage home with several rooms to rent.

It has been originally built more than a hundred and fifty years ago in the colonial Dutch style. The place is restored to suit modern travelers and is well maintained. The service is also above average for a budget stay together with decent free wi-fi.

It’s very economical but does not make you feel like staying at a cheap place.

How to dress in Jaffna

Jaffna is a traditional and conservative city. Residents take pride in their more than 2 millennia-old culture. Therefore it is important to pay attention to how you dress.

Be sure to cover your knees and shoulders when you are not at the beach. Take off your headwear and footwear when entering religious buildings.

Be respectful and courteous, you should be fine.

When to Go

Best Time to Go: The best weather is from September to April.

Time to Avoid: The temperature is highest after April, and it can be difficult to enjoy outdoor activities.

Getting-In and Around

For air travel, Jaffna’s Palaly Airport (upgraded to International status in 2019) is seventeen kilometers north of Jaffna. It has scheduled flights from Colombo and South India.

The bus stand in Jaffna town has both long-distance buses and local; most long-distance departures are in the morning or late afternoon. There are daily bus services connecting to important towns.

If you are traveling from Colombo, Anuradhapura, Sothern coastal areas (Galle, Hikkaduwa ets) or Hill Country (Ella, Kandy etc), the best option would be to take the train. Go for 2nd or 1st class. It is convenient and cheap.

You can also conveniently get around in rented bikes, or tuk-tuk’s.

For further clarity, go through or detailed posts on how best get-in from each of the main cities.

Budget

Jaffna has lots of budget priced rooms across a variety of venues form homesteads to guesthouses and small hotels, with rooms costing from as little as USD 10 to about USD 40.

For luxury hotel rooms you will be paying anywhere from USD 70 to over USD 130.

You can find plenty of cheap local eateries selling dishes from USD 5, although seafood items will cost more. For restaurants and bars within hotels, you will be more, but still cheaper than other popular tourist towns in the country.

Jaffna is a cultural hotspot just waiting for you to visit.

Not only can you get glimpses of recent history (the Civil War with the Tamil tigers and the Sri Lankan government), but there’s a unique mash up of cultural variations here. From Buddhist to Hindu temples, to beautiful beaches, Jaffna offers a wide variety of things to see.

Jaffna is a true gem for travelers seeking authenticity!