Northern Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s north is unique and characterised by its past and remoteness. Isolated from the rest of the country, northern Sri Lanka is where authentic experiences are plenty coupled with laidback life, old traditions, flavourful cuisine and rustic journeys.

Northern Sri Lanka is truly unique with its own character and unusual charm. A past full of richness in culture and opulence is still visible amidst decades of destruction and turmoil of a civil war. This is a region that has seen it all – mostly unthinkable – from the early onset of South Indian invasions dating back to 1st century AD to Portuguese, Dutch and British colonisation to over three decades of civil war and the wrath of nature with 2004 Tsunami. Nevertheless, it has held on to its traditions and unique way of life with resilience right throughout making the region a special place to explore for avid travellers. Remote and distinct to the rest of the country, surrounded by dry, barren landscapes with keenly distributed palm trees and dry bushland, Sri Lanka’s north is a place of character and surprise. While the average temperature is hovers around 29°C, daytime temperatures soar to the mid-30’s and warmer during March and April.

While the region is dotted with a number of small villages, the landscape changed dramatically during the 26 years of civil war as people relocated and moved to the east and south. Today, most people live close to the region’s capital Jaffna making it colourful and vibrant. Jaffna is certainly for a seasoned travellers seeking a more authentic and somewhat, raw experience. People here are more reserved although warm. Jaffna and the surrounding region are greatly influenced by South Indian culture and traditions. Stunning Hindu Kovils and colourful sarees take precedence while old buildings and rugged countryside are a good indication of how different this region is from the rest of the country. Unlike the south, few people communicate in English and have less exposure with foreign travellers, though are nevertheless welcoming.

Such diverse influence and isolation from the rest of country have given birth to an absolutely delicious cuisine that must be experienced by any traveller. Surrounded by the sea, this cuisine is heavily influenced with seafood and complimented by diverse and deep flavours. The region is rich in cultural heritage. Jaffna town has much of its own heritage, including Nallur Kandasamy Temple and the Fort. Jaffna Fort was built by the Portuguese, and 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 hanging on bars. Cyclists are many in the town as it is a favourite mode of transport.

Outside Jaffna town is another world with unique landscapes, silent beaches, poignant reminders of the civil war coupled with newly built houses. Keeramalai and Kankesanthurai (KKS) are the most visited beaches in this region that are popular with the locals. Travelling around Jaffna Peninsula is never dull as the roads are dotted with Hindu temples, locals and occasional herds of cows that roam freely. There are number of other interesting places that can be visited in this region including Delft Island and hot wells. To explore Sri Lanka’s north requires a week on its own. The northern region is likely to be the central focus of a travel itinerary coupled with wildlife sightings at Wilpattu National Park, the Cultural Triangle and the beaches of the east coast if you have adequate time. While it is not for the faint-hearted traveller, the region offers rich travel experiences for those who want to explore the less travelled paths in Sri Lanka.


Here are sample itineraries featuring the Northern coast of Sri Lanka. Click below to read more about accommodation on the Northern coast of Sri Lanka 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.