Anuradhapura is a small town that dates back to the ancient period. It is famous for its historiicity and gives one a feel of the past.
It is the oldest capital of Sri Lanka and is the cradle of Buddhism in the country. The place is a must-see for anyone in Sri Lanka.
Great City. Ancient Ruins will take you to a different world. Choose the AC Shuttle by CTB for shrine visits.
Excellent option if you dont like to drive.
Depending on your level of knowledge about Sri Lankan history and Buddhism the World Heritage site of Anuradhapura can be challenging.
I'd suggest a local guide if it's your first visit. The age of the remnants of the ancient city and environs means very little remains (compared to say the more recent sites of Angkor). Non-Buddhist visitors also need to understand that this is a sacred site not just a historical site. The great Stupas and associated places are holy and need to be respected as such. Expect a large number of pilgrims at these places especially during the Full Moon Festivals. Vehicular transport is essential at this site (which in terms of the management & conservation of the site is a bit unfortunate).
The old city is spectacular with centuries of history and culture and evidence of a civilisation more advanceed than the present one.
The archaeological ruins are phenominal and that these sites are still used today for workship makes it even more special. Engage a guide otherwise you will be lost!
Go early in the morning to visit the big white dagobas, later you will burn your feet on the white marble floors
Don't stay longer than 1-2 nights. Apart from the ancient ruins there is absolutely nothing to do. it was even difficult to find a decent place to eat.
The ruins themselves are not very well preserved and there is no information provided at the site so you have to rely on your driver, his guiding skills and hope he speaks good english. Unless you are really passionate about history and have your own, detailed guidebook it may be a very boring trip.I found Polonnaruwa much more rewarding.
There isn't very much in Anuradhapura, except for the sacred city- which you have to pay 25$ to enter if you are a foreign tourist.
There are ways to get around without paying, however they check tickets everywhere so this isn't advisable!
There are best temples in Sri Lanka, so I woud recomed everybody to visit the city. Also with children.
Try to use tuk-tuk to go around, because normaly is too hot to walk.
We could do most of the sights in 4-5 hours. Be prepared to leave your footwear behind in most places and spend $30-40 on entrance fees.
The Maha Bodhi has a separate charge from the temple board. Most temples don't have descriptions or other travel aids, so get a guide book so you know what you're looking at. They don't call it ruins for nothing, most of it IS ruined unfortunately:-( The Samadhi Buddha was my favorite and the Elephant Pond was peaceful and tranquil for a little nap on the park grass!!
The famous ruins where not as spectacular as we had anticipated, finding that Polonaruwa was a lot nicer.
You need at least a full day to enjoy the sights of the city itself and then another one or two days to see the sights of the surrounding areas.
Anuradhapura is all about temple visiting. So, during the trip, you will need to walk barefoot for most time, be aware! Also, it's important to hire a guide.
And hire a good one! Otherwise, you will feel your time is completely wasted.