Jaffna, the capital of northern Sri Lanka, has been isolated for decades from the rest of the country. It is rustic, raw and quite different to the rest of Sri Lanka and remains on the backroads. Genuine smiles, warm hospitality, unique cuisine and colourful personalities amongst ruins of a past are just waiting to be discovered.

Jaffna is the capital of Northern Sri Lanka. Situated 400km north of Colombo on the northern peninsular, Jaffna has experienced a disturbing history with three decades of civil war and displacement. A sad past, that has made this city and the entire Jaffna Peninsula remote and distant from the rest of the country. Isolation has its benefits, which is what a traveller will experience on a visit to this region. Jaffna’s culture, cuisine and people remain authentic and ready to be explored. This is a busy city with vehicles, people and lots of bicycles, making it colourful and somewhat chaotic. Still, Jaffna is relatively small by most standards and easy to explore. It is also a place where an experienced traveller will enjoy time exploring the ruins of colonial times, remnants of civil war and the buzz of colourful life that dominates the city today.

Cycling is the most preferred form of commuting in Jaffna. As such cyclists are many and for travellers it is a great way of to get around the city. Unlike the south, few people communicate in English and have less exposure with foreign travellers, nevertheless they are hospitable. Historical events and isolation from the rest of country has created an absolutely delicious cuisine truly unique to the region. Jaffna’s cuisine is heavily influenced by seafood and complimented by diverse and deep flavours of spices, some particularly found only in this region. There is fair amount of influence of south Indian cuisine as historically Jaffna has been a strong hold of South Indian kings.

Jaffna is also rich in cultural heritage. The town has many of its own important and interesting sites, including Nallur Kandasamy Temple and the Fort. Jaffna Fort was built by the Portuguese, later rebuilt by the Dutch and British, and quietly faces the picturesque Indian Ocean. The town’s market is yet another interesting place that reveals the culture of the locals. It is rustic with colourful regionally grown vegetables, legumes and pulses with dried fish on hanging on bars. A visit to the market is a must while foodies and culinary enthusiasts are liked to be awed by the colourful range of offerings. Jaffna is still an upcoming city for travellers with limited accommodation, restaurants and entertainment. However it is certainly a perfect place to explore for ardent travellers.


Here are sample itineraries featuring Jaffna, the capital of Sri Lanka’s north. Click below to read more about Jaffna or get in touch to receive a detailed, tailor made itinerary for your Sri Lanka holiday.


Amazing trip! We absolutely loved it. Sri Lanka is now a country we would definitely like to go back to and explore further.Thank you so much for all the work you did in putting the trip together for us. It was a great mix of places for us to get a good feel of the country. We will be encouraging all our friends to go to Sri Lanka.