Things to do in Trincomalee

Sitting prettily on a remarkable natural harbour on the north-east coast of Sri Lanka, this charming town with oodles of history and interesting sites is a great escape from the touristy south. From ancient temples & forts to breathtaking beaches, coves and a maritime museum, Trincomalee has lots to offer to the discerning travellers. Whether you seek solace at the tranquil Buddhist viharas & Hindu temples or unravel marine mysteries at the fascinating Pigeon Island, there is no dearth of places to visit in Trincomalee. So, put on your travelling boots, sprinkle some wanderlust and join us on a sojourn to explore the best places to visit in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka.


Koneswaram Temple

Undoubtedly one of the first sites to be ticked off the Trincomalee tourist map is this revered temple located atop a cliff inside Fort Fredrick. This important Hindu pilgrimage site displaying Darvidian architectural style is believed to be one of the Panch Ishwarams(five abodes of Shiva) with a swayambhu lingam. The shrine exudes sacred vibes and is a wonderful place for seeking solace in the divine presence. Surrounded by magnificent views of the Indian Ocean, this fabulous temple tops our list of places to visit in Trincomalee.

Fort Frederick

This important historical landmark with an imposing entrance is a must-do for history and nature enthusiasts when you visit Trincomalee. While the history is interesting, the presence of freely-roaming spotted deer adds charm to the stroll through this fort. Built by the Portuguese, Fort Fredrick is partly under military occupation and also houses a famous Buddhist vihara and sacred Hindu temple. Breathtaking sunsets and sweeping views of Trincomalee bay and town make the visit truly rewarding. You can take a tuk-tuk to the fort and also buy some trinkets from the stalls inside.

Uppuveli & Nilaveli Beaches

North of Trincomalee, are these two pristine palm-fringed beaches perfect for a lazy, rejuvenating day by the sea. Uppuveli has powdery white sand, clear emerald waters and a lovely beach vibe with restaurants offering delicious  Sri Lankan cuisine. This laidback paradise is perfect for swimming, whale watching, volley-ball or simply relaxing by the sea. Nilaveli beach is further north, bigger, calmer and totally unspoilt by the onslaught of tourism. When you’ve covered all places to visit in Trincomalee map, head to these beautiful beaches to steal some relaxing moments.

Pigeon Island National Park

Undoubtedly one of the best places to visit near Trincomalee, the pristine and beautiful Pigeon Island National Park off the coast of Nilaveli is a great getaway from the city. Comprising of two small islands, the national park is home to the endangered rock pigeons, vibrant marine life and stunning rock formations. The powdery white sands, glittering rock pools and the shallow turquoise waters make this a memorable trip, along with ample snorkeling opportunities right off the beach.

Trincomalee War Cemetery

This final resting place of the British and local soldiers who laid down their lives during World War II, is a quiet solemn place. Set in a well-maintained garden, this is one of the six Commonwealth war cemeteries in Sri Lanka. As you pay homage to the fallen soldiers and sailors and walk through the poignant place, you gain insight into what price we pay for wars. One of the most humbling places to visit in Trincomalee, the war cemetery is also a place for quiet contemplation

St Mary’s Cathedral

Tucked away in a quiet part of the city, this beautiful small Catholic Cathedral is just a walking distance away from the beach. Built in 1852, the attractive blue and white facade of the cathedral exudes warmth and tranquility. The well-maintained site also houses a small school with young children who are happy to interact with visitors.


Relax at the beautiful Marble Beach

The beach is on Sri Lankan navy land and there are two parts, the public side, and the navy-owned restaurant/resort side. The public side is a popular area for locals as it’s free to enter this area without buying anything. However, the restaurant/ resort side does require you to make a purchase at the restaurant or be a guest at the resort. Of course, the resort side is much nicer in my opinion, so my recommendation is the head here for a meal on the beach.

Go Whale Watching/ swim with whales

From June to August, whale watching on the east coast of Sri Lanka is a popular activity. On these once-in-a-lifetime tours, you can head out and see these majestic animals in their natural habitat – it’s mesmerizing! The whale watching season in Trincomalee technically starts in May and finishes at the end of October. However, it’s a very hit-and-miss at the start and end of the season. Luckily, most tour providers give you a 50% discount on another tour if you don’t see a whale. Regardless of which experience you choose, whales are a part of Sri Lanka and a must-see, in my opinion!