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Polonnaruwa

(4.1/5 based on 2,600+ reviews for top 20 attractions)
Things to do: historic sites, sightseeing, religious sites
Lying 216 km (134 mi) from Colombo, Polonnaruwa offers a rich history second in Sri Lanka only to Arunadhapura. The major attraction in Polonnaruwa is a packed archeological park protecting the ruins of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, a World Heritage Site. Its masterful stone carvings, palace complexes, and temples dating back to the 11th century testify to splendor and grandeur of the former kingdom. Two nearby national parks, both centered around large ponds, provide a sanctuary for Sri Lanka's most iconic animals: elephants. Many visitors also choose to head to an 800-year-old reservoir complex to enjoy a nice picnic site and explore wildlife reserves. Plan your tour of Polonnaruwa and Sri Lanka travel itinerary using our Sri Lanka holiday planner.
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Where to stay

Famous for its UNESCO-protected and often-visited complex of ruins, Polonnaruwa caters to its visitors with dozens of guesthouses, the majority situated along Batticaloa Road. A number of mid-range and four-star hotels sit on Parakrama Samundra and the shores of Bendiwewa reservoir. Nearby Giritale village, some 7 km (4.3 mi) away, also offers nice alternatives as a rural base. A number of budget-friendly bed & breakfasts can be found near the lake.
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