Many visitors to Sri Lanka only have the time or the archeological enthusiasm to visit one of the island’s two great ruined cities, but as the two are significantly different it’s difficult to call decisively in favour of either. The ruins at Polonnaruwa cover a smaller area, are better preserved and offer a more digestible and satisfying bite of ancient Sinhalese culture – and there’s nowhere at Anuradhapura to match the artistry of the Quadrangle and Gal Vihara. Having said that, Anuradhapura has its own distinct magic. The sheer scale of the site and the number of remains means that, although much harder to get to grips with, it preserves a mystery that much of Polonnaruwa has lost – and it’s far easier to escape the coach parties. In addition, the city’s status as a major pilgrimage centre lends it a vibrancy lacking at Polonnaruwa.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Sri Lanka features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: 5 reasons to visit Sri Lanka

Video: 5 reasons to visit Sri Lanka

From remote, palm-dotted beaches to ancient temples and some of Asia's best wildlife-watching opportunities, Sri Lanka has something to offer every kind of trav…

19 Jan 2018 • Olivia Rawes videocam Video
Your Sri Lanka itinerary: 5 trip ideas to explore the country

Your Sri Lanka itinerary: 5 trip ideas to explore the country

Sri Lanka is deceptive. On a map of the world it appears to be tiny, but the moment you arrive you’ll realise that within its diminutive borders it packs in a…

18 Jan 2018 • Stuart Butler insert_drive_file Article
10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

10 Sri Lankan foods you need to try

The tear-shaped Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka is a true culinary treat. Through years of colonisation and trade, many cultures have influenced its cuisine, c…

17 Jan 2018 • Sarah Gilbert insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right