Matara, Sri Lanka: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

Matara is a commercial town at the South of Sri Lanka. As it was under Dutch and Portuguese rule, the ramparts and forts are still standing for a tourist to see. There are many Buddhist temples and Buddha statues surrounding the town and there is a star shaped fort for enthusiasts. The star shaped fort is built by the Portuguese but after its partial destruction it was rebuilt by the Dutch. The fort is shaped as a star to provide a strategic advantage. Around the fort there was a moat that was filled but fortunately moat and the drawbridge is restored. Although there are many other buildings that are constructed by the Portuguese and Dutch, many of them didn’t last and renovated.

Places to Visit

Dutch Rampart

The rampart is situated on top of the land mass that separates the river Nilwala Ganga from the sea. It was constructed by the Portuguese in 1595 but after it is captured by the Dutch it was restored. The construction has been overseen by the Dutch East India Company and as it is finished Matara became an important center for elephant and cinnamon trading.

Star Fort

After passing through the rampart, it is possible to reach the star fort. The fort is established to secure key bureaucrats from danger in the case of an emergency. The fort also provides a strategic support to the rampart due to its location.

Parey Dewa

Parey Dewa is a little island with a Buddhist temple on it. In order to reach the island, crossing a delicate bridge is necessary. As the nature is beautiful and the island has a beach, it is always possible to visit the island to take a stroll through the nature.

Polhena Beach

As Matara is not landlocked, it is always possible to go to the Polhena Beach to swim and surf. It is located approximately 2 kilometers away from the city center. The area that is open for swimmers are cordoned in order to protect locals and tourists to swim into coral reefs and hurt themselves.

Taprobane

Taprobane is a small island with an authentic hotel. Reserving places beforehand is recommended. As the island is too small, there aren’t many things to do but this place is for the ones who wants a vacation consisting of enjoying the tranquility of the nature and the sea.

Weherahena Temple

Weherahena is a Buddhist Temple featuring hundreds of hand-painted scenes depicting the Buddha’s life. In front of the temple there is a huge Buddha statue with a small decorative pool in front of it.

Dondra Head Lighthouse

Near Matara, there is town called Dondra. Dondra is famous with its lighthouse. It is completed in 1890 and is the tallest lighthouse in Sri Lanka. One can climb the lighthouse to enjoy the scenery. The lighthouse has 7 floors and its 196 steps to the top.

Wewurukannala Vihara

Wewurukannala Vihara is a Buddhist temple famous with its Buddha statue, it is the largest Buddha statue in the Sri Lanka, accompanied by a collection of real-scale statue depictions of demons and sinful creatures and their punishments according to their sins.

Hundungoda Tea Estate

Hundungoda Tea Estate is one of the outdoor tea factories in Sri Lanka. The tea production includes the famous “Virgin White Tea” which is traditionally can only be picked by the virgins, of course nowadays it can be picked by anyone while wearing gloves. The plantation is 200 acres wide and 100 of its acres are of tea. The factory and the machinery itself is at least 100 years old. There is no entrance fee to the factory.

Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum

The museum contains the arts of the famous author Martin Wickramesinghe. The exhibits are displayed with English explanations about them. The exhibits include various exotic clothes locals wear and folk music instruments, puppets, kitchen goods and various everyday tools. It is also possible to find Wickramasinghe’s books on sale in the local shop near the museum. The history of the museum is interesting as there would be more houses nearby but they were vacated in 2nd World War to build an airstrip for the Royal Airforce. The museum fortunately was able to escape this fate and is still standing since its construction in 1890.

Koggala Lake

Koggala Lake is situated between cinnamon plantation and a Buddhist temple, thus it provides a beautiful and tranquil natural experience. Travellers can traverse the lake in a boat by renting them. There is also a Bird island nearby which you can get access via joining to Bird island boat tours and enjoy wide variety of birds in the environment.

Kataluwa Purwarama Temple

The history of Kataluwa Purwarama Temple dates back to the 13th century. There are many paintings and murals in exhibition which are over 200 years old. Aside from traditional murals, one can see the effects of colonialism in the paintings and most of them are in western style.

Mulkirigala

The rock temples of Mulkirigala are situated in a green dense and tranquil forest. There are many Buddha statues surrounding the temple. Also in order to reach the temple, travellers will need to climb a path of stair surrounded by trees. Inside the temple there are many Buddha figures inside in various sizes. The paintings also depict how the sinners eat the forbidden fruit in Earth and being tortured eventually at the afterlife. Although the paintings date back to 18th century, some of the temples are of 2000 years old.

Turtle Watch Rekawa

In Rekawa, starting from Spring to Autumn, one can watch turtles coming to the lake and laying laying their eggs. Unfortunately, the transportation is unavailable to the lake so it would be best to rent a car or a means of transport to the lake. The lake is run by a non-profit organization which aims to protect turtles and their habitats. Thus it is forbidden to disturb turtles, including utilizing camera flashes and other bright light sources.

Kottawa Conservation Forest

Kottawa forest is approximately 15 hectares with a waterfall and a swimming lake. The forest contains strolling paths but entrance is by permit by the security office. There are many types of trees and many types of plants which are identified via their own names in the literature.

Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya

Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya temple can also be reached via climbing large number of stairs. Although long, the climb is worth the effort as the view of rice fields from above are beautiful. The place is secluded and the monks are living in the temple for more than thousand years. The place is, as with all other temples, are tranquil and situated in a lush green nature.

Where to Stay

Villa Way to Freedom

This guest house is located a 15 minute drive from Mirissa. Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the property. Rooms come with air conditioning, private bathroom with a shower, a hairdryer and free toiletries. Guests can enjoy the garden, terrace and shared kitchen. The property offers a shared lounge, an ironing service, laundry facilities and an array of activities. Address: Beach Road, Polhena, Matara, Sri Lanka.

Turtle Eco Beach

This resort is located 4 km away from Mirissa. The resort features an outdoor swimming pool and snorkelling activities. Free Wi-Fi access is available in its public areas. Rooms are furnished with a personal safe, work desk and wardrobe. Private bathrooms feature and outdoor shower area. The resort offers traditional massages. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. The hotel can also arrange for dolphin and whale watching trips. Guests can enjoy a diverse menu of local Sri Lankan dishes and European delights at Olive Ridley Restaurant. Address: Beach Road, Batala Watta, Madiha, Matara, Sri Lanka.

Guest House Pradeep Fun and Beach

The guest house is located 35 km from Galle. It features air conditioned rooms. Free private parking is available on site. Rooms come with a private bathroom equipped with a bath. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. There is a 24 hour front desk at the property. Address: 95/33, Matara, Sri Lanka.

Surf Lanka Hotel

The hotel offers barbecue and sun terrace. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Certain rooms come with a seating area. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property. A flat screen TV is offered. There is a room service at the property. The hotel also offers car hire and bike hire. It is located 1.6 km from Weherahena Buddhist Temple and 2.5 km from Matara Fort. Address: SK Town, Maddawatta, Matara, Sri Lanka.

Beach Inns Holiday Resort

This guest house offers a private beach and beach side restaurant. Guests can find various activities such as diving, fishing, cycling and turtle watching from the on-site terrace. Free Wi-Fi is available in its public areas. Rooms come with linen, towels, a mosquito net and a private bathroom. Some rooms have sea views and some rooms are equipped with air conditioning. Guests can enjoy the garden and the terrace. Car hire, scooters and bikes are available on rent. Address: Beach Road, Madiha, Matara, Sri Lanka.

Culture Resort

This hotel features an outdoor pool and barbecue. It has a sun terrace and views of the sea. Guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant or a drink at the bar. Free Wi-Fi is available and free private parking is available on site. All rooms come with a private bathroom that is equipped with a bath. Free use of bicycles and car hire are available at the hotel. 24 Beach Road, Polhena, Matara, Sri Lanka.

Amaloh by Jetwing

The hotel features an in-house restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi access at all public areas. The hotel is located 2 km away from Matara. Rooms come with a DVD player, private balcony and a seating area. En suite bathrooms come with a bathtub, rain-shower facilities and free toiletries. Guests can enjoy traditional Ayurvedic amssages, kayaking and snorkelling activities. There is a 24 hour reception at the property. Address: Polhena, Matara, Sri Lanka.

Sayuri Beach Hotel

This guest house features free Wi-Fi throughout the property. It offers pet-friendly accommodation in Matara. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free private parking is available on site. Rooms come with a private bathroom that is equipped with a bath and bidet. Guests can engage in various activities such as snorkelling and diving. Bike car and car hire are available at the property. Address: 57/1, Beach Road, Polhena, Matara, Sri Lanka.