- Jaffna is the capital city located on the Northern province of Sri Lanka.
- It’s one of the oldest places inhabited in lower South Asia.
- Jaffna is Sri Lanka’s 12th most populous city wherein the majority of the city’s population consists of Sri Lankan Tamils with a significant number of Sri Lankan Moors, Indian Tamils, and other ethnic groups.
- Jaffna has been a contested city from 1983 to 2009, the city was engulfed in war which led to extensive damage but in 2009, the people began returning to their homes and government and private sector reconstruction started to take place.
Why visit Jaffna?
Why visit Jaffna? What’s so special about Jaffna? What’s there in Jaffna? These are the questions some of you might ask yourselves when thinking about going to the city of Jaffna. Not only does the city offer temples and beaches to you but also a bunch of other amazing places to visit and many must-try things to see and do! In Jaffna, the city has no bars, no tourist restaurants, you eat where the locals eat! Tourists don’t have to worry about getting a permit or papers for you to visit Jaffna, as the government allows tourist in their city.
How to get to Jaffna?
Jaffna is a city located on the Northern tip of Sri Lanka. There are 3 main ways to get there, by train, by bus, by plane. You can also check out the Sri Lankan train app and Sri Lankan Railways website. It’s also not a bad idea to buy a Sri Lankan SIM card, it’s cheap and could come quite handy in the trip.
The quickest and most scenic way to get to Jaffna!
If you’re in Anuradhapura
There are 2 train stations in Anuradhapura, ride the bigger one to go directly to Jaffna station, takes about 3 hours to get there. Don’t worry! The train ride is not an experience to be missed!
If you’re in Colombo
Go to Colombo Fort, there are several direct train services going to Jaffna there, departure time are as follows 5:45 am, 6:35, 9:40, 11:50, 20:30. The trip takes about 7 to 8 hours and you also get to pass Elephant Pass, the land which connects Jaffna Peninsula to the rest of Sri Lanka. 600r per person for 2nd class and 350 per person for the 3rd class.
Get a Sri Lankan tourist sim card so you can always be updated with the train schedules.
If you’re in Kandy
After touring Kandy, you can Either change trains or ride a bus to the train station, takes about an hour.
If you’re in South of Sri Lanka
Get a train going to Colombo and on to Jaffna.
You can also ride a bus from Colombo to Jaffna overnight, it takes around 7 hours but be wary of the hard wooden seats. Cost around 400r to 500r per person.
Jaffna Airport which is nearby Palali (town in Jaffna) but due to current circumstances, there are no international flights going to Palali, however, you can always fly to Colombo and get a domestic flight to Palali which cost around 4150Rs to 8750Rs or take the train or bus.
Or rent a car and just drive all the way there
Where to stay?
In Jaffna, you can stay in different places like hotels, guesthouses, or even rental homes, it really depends on where you want to stay. Airbnb, HotelsCombined, Agoda, and many more! Choose whatever you want! For luxury lovers, we recommend the most famed 5 star hotel Jetwing Jaffna hotel, North Gate by Jetwing, (check rates here) the Peninsula Hotel. For those on a medium budget, you can always go to the D’ Villa Garden House and other guesthouses. You can make discounts at Booking, HotelsCombined, Agoda, and other sites, so what are you waiting for? Book now!
North Gate by Jetwing
Located around the heart of the city is the most famed hotel North Gate by Jetwing! Not only does it have a great location but the service they provide is impeccable! Air-conditioned rooms with a 24-hour room service, a flat screen TV, minibar, and last but not the least free Wi-Fi! They have their own restaurant, bar, pool, fitness center, dry cleaning or laundry, self-service breakfast for a fee, and free parking. I mean, if you ask me, what’s not to like about this place? The place has a cute lobby, the rooms are comfortable enough and the location is great, all for the price of 52USD to 82USD depending on the suite.
Best Time to Visit Jaffna
The best time to visit Jaffna is through January to September wherein the weather is warm and less rainfall to occur. Jaffna has the kind of tropical climate feel to it, that every month is warm with both a wet and dry season. Ranging from October to December, the weather is much more humid and more rainfall to occur during these months. The hottest months to visit Jaffna would be in April, June, and May, April being the hottest time of the year.
Things to do in Jaffna
The most awaited list we’ve all been waiting to read is here! Here are things you have to do and the places you have to see whilst your in the city!
Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil
The most important and significant Hindu temple in Jaffna. The temple is located at the town of Nallur, Northern province, Sri Lanka and also just outside the central hub where Jetwing Jaffna resides. The current building is the fourth construction of the temple, which was originally built in 948 AD. The temple is open to visitors from 4 am to 7 pm, you can also visit on your own or with a guide. Puja (worship) times are 5 am, 10 am, noon, 4:15 pm, 4:30 pm, 5 pm, 6:45 pm. Tourists are expected to follow the temple’s guidelines like women should cover their shoulders and legs, shoes must not be worn inside the temple and how it’s best to be respectful.
It’s a small but notable island off the coast of Jaffna Peninsula in the Northern province, Sri Lanka. It is one of the 16 pilgrimage sites of Sri Lanka and home to the most famous Hindu Shrine of Nagapooshani Amman Temple; one of the 64 Shakti Peethas, and the Buddhist shrine Nagadeepa Purana Viharaya. Up until 2011, the island was unreachable due to war i the region but now it’s possible to reach the island. The only way to travel there is by a 15 minute boat ride which cost rs 60 per person and from Jaffna, you need to take the local bus heading to Nagadeepa which then leads to the ferry. It’s only 45 minutes to an hour from North Gate by Jetwings.
Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple
An ancient and historic Hindu temple located on the Palk Strait on the island of Nainativu, Sri Lanka. Dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Parvati and God Shiva and is considered to be one of the most ancient places to worship in Sri Lanka. A very popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka.
Nagadeepa Purana Viharaya
Among Sri Lanka’s 16 holiest Buddhist shrines, it’s also a testimony to the island’s Buddhist heritage. It is decorated with stunning wall art, statues of animals and various depictions of Buddha in a style very peculiar to the local art. The Buddhist temple is also famous for being visited by Gautama Buddha after five years of attaining Enlightenment to settle the dispute between the two Naga kings. An ideal place to visit and be amazed by the stunning scenery!
Located at the heart of the city is the Jaffna Market, famous for being bustled with crowds every single day, interested by the goods they offer. The market spreads along the road but there are also shops hidden within like a maze waiting to be discovered! Vendors sell all kinds of products such as fresh fruit and vegetables, spices, sweet treats, traditional utensils, apparel, gold, food, and so much more! It’s an experience not to be missed!
Jaffna Public Library
One of Jaffna’s most notable landmarks and is also considered to be one of the biggest libraries in Asia during the early 1980’s, containing over 97,000 books and manuscripts. A very elegant, spacious, and architectural building, but before all this, the library had been burned down in 1981, it has since been rebuilt but it doesn’t house nearly the collection it had before.
Built by the Portugese in 1618 following the Portugese invasion of Jaffna. The fort is rich in history and you can be amazed at it’s view and be shocked because of the how it’s still standing even though it sustained much damage during war. With a shape of a star, it offers a great view of the sunset and is just near the public library.
Try the Jaffna mango
The Kathurakolamban or Jaffna mango is exceptionally one of a kind! Grown mainly in the drier parts of the island, the fruit’s sweet tropical scent and distinctive taste is something many have savoured through generations. Best tasted during the season which starts in April and last for about four months thereafter. The mangos can be bought at any local vendor and can also be sold at the market! A fruit that is definitely worth trying when you’re in the city.
Eat at the Hotel Rolex
Planning to get a rich and savory meal in the city? Hotel Rolex is an excellent restaurant to get a satisfying cheap Jaffna style meal! Hotel Rolex is neither a hotel nor does it have anything to do with Rolex, but it holds up to a big reputation in the city where you can get hearty meals. Located near the hospital and open for just about everyone.