Holidays to Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa was once Sri Lanka’s second capital, from where Kings ruled the central plains over 800 years ago. It was first declared the capital city by King Vijayabahu I, and it still remains one of the best planned archaeological relic cities in Sri Lanka. 

Polonnaruwa is a famous World Heritage Site and a fascinating place of archaeological intrigue, filled with ancient ruins, tombs, temples, statues and stupas. Many of the ruins and temples are in a relatively compact area, making them easier to explore, and while you could theoretically see them all in a single day, there are a few in particular that are well worth spending a little extra time. The most important is the Royal Palace. It’s also the hardest to miss as it’s the first group of ruins you will see as you enter the ancient city. This massive structure measure 31 x 13 metres and it once housed between 40-50 individual, interconnected rooms supported by 30 tall columns. The ruins are incredibly impressive but when you consider that they were once seven stories tall it adds to the drama of them all the more.

Continuing into the grounds of the ancient city you can find the King’s swimming pool, a jungle-covered stone bathing pool with crocodile-mouth spouts that once led fresh water into the pool. Close to the pool and hidden within shaded trees at the end of a dirt path is the oldest building in Polonnaruwa, Shiva Devale No.2, which is one of the only Hindu temples on the grounds and is largely in the same condition it was when it was built, due to its being constructed entirely of stone.

Polonnaruwa offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and can be explored by people of all ages and levels of fitness. Seeing the ruins at your own pace by bicycle is highly recommended, but you could also walk, or travel around by tuk-tuk. Whatever you choose, remember to take your camera and be prepared for a truly unforgettable experience.


  • Stand in the remains of the massive Royal Palace, which once stood at seven storeys high!

  • Venture into the jungle to see the King’s swimming pool with its crocodile-mouth spouts

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Polonnaruwa trip ideas

Here are some trip ideas that include Polonnaruwa. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we’ll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we’ve created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 020 3510 5777

Things to do in Polonnaruwa

Here are some of the things you can do in Polonnaruwa. When you've chosen your favourite experiences, just give our Travel Designers a call and they'll put a trip together for you. If you need help choosing an experience, or if you want to learn more about it, our Travel Designers will be more than happy to talk to you. Just call them on: 020 3510 5777

Map of Polonnaruwa