Jaffna, the far north of Sri Lanka

When planning our trip around Sri Lanka it was clear we wanted to see Jaffna. I don’t want to discuss here all the details about the war, which influenced so many lives in this part of the country, but instead let’s concentrate on the things you can see and do here.

If you are more into videos, scroll down and at the end of this article you can find our VLOG from Jaffna.

This is a list of sights you can easily see in one day if you rent a scooter.

  1. First thing in the morning go to the Jaffna fort

Jaffna fort was built by the Dutch and Portuguese, but in modern history it played an important role in the Tamil Tiger war. Today you can wander around this historic site overlooking the Jaffna lagoon, climb the walls, study church ruins and see how it’s being rebuilt. Entrance is free and don’t miss the interesting exhibit at the entrance gate. Oh, and look how stunning it looks from above – like a star.

jaffna fort
jaffna fort by drone
  1. Drive over the Pannai causeway to Velanai island

The drive itself was beautiful – right and left was turquoise water, traffic was almost nonexistent. Once on the island we stopped for a colorful hindu temple and were shocked by all the beautiful but falling apart colonial houses. We drove all the way to Kayts from where elephants were shipped to India. From the shore you can see Fort Hammenhiel, a tiny fort island built by the Portuguese. From here we drove to Chatty beach, but were quite disappointed. Along the way we also saw many churches.

jaffna islands

jaffna (8 of 1)
Fort Hammenhiel


  1. Back on the mainland it was time to drive up to Keerimalai spring

This spring is supposed to be healing, but seeing the water in the men’s pool gave us doubts. Women have a separate area surrounded by high walls. Jure was quite eager to take a dip, but then changed his mind. We walked around a little bit, took a look at the nearby temple and drove back to Jaffna.

Jaffna Keerimalai spring
Keerimalai spring Jaffna


  1. Have your eyes peeled for a giant green monkey

When driving on the AB16 you can’t miss the giant green monkey next to a temple.

jaffna (13 of 1)


  1. Back to the city and hungry? Try Mangos

This Indian restaurant is very near to the next sight so we chose to eat here. They had only 2 choices for lunch, but it was still tasty.

Mangos, Jaffna
Indian food at Mangos, Jaffna
  1. With a full tummy head to Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil

This huge and beautiful Hindu temple is one of the most important Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, photography inside is not allowed, but it is really beautiful. Also a weird thing – men have to take off their t-shirts before entering.

  1. Time for some dessert at Rio Ice Cream

We had to check out what was the fuss about this place – we read about it in blogs, Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet. And it’s again very near the big Hindu temple. The place was packed and the variety of ice cream satisfying.

Jaffna Rio Ice Cream
Jaffna Rio Ice Cream
  1. Public library

The building is really beautiful and visitors are allowed inside only in late afternoon. I was quite shocked by the sign for men only study room. Wtf?!

jaffna (5 of 1)

  1. Finish the day at the market

We walked around the market area mostly for people watching. There are some spices, fruits and veggies you may want to buy, but don’t expect markets like in SE Asia.

This was our day in Jaffna. We were happy we came here to see and feel it with our own senses, but if you are limited with time, don’t try to sqeeze it in, as the drive up is loooong. There is also no main attraction (ok, maybe the Hindu temple, which is really nice), but it’s more about the feeling here. Honestly, I didn’t like it that much, mainly because the people were not as friendly and smiling as they were in the rest of the country. But hey, I know they have a difficult history and I feel sorry for them.

If you visited Jaffna, how did you like it?

Here’s our VLOG from Jaffna 🙂 If you like it, we’ll be super happy if you like and subscribe 😉


2 thoughts on “Jaffna, the far north of Sri Lanka

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