Top 5 things to do in Matara

Top 5 things to do in Matara

Matara is one of the most prominent cities on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Panoramic beaches, incredible attractions as well as a charming culture are all here for you to discover and fall in love with. Your tour in this iconic city will surely be quite colorful and rich as there are plenty of things to do and see here. Read on and find out about the top five attractions in the city that you really should not miss!

01. Pigeon Island Matara

Known as “Paravi Duwa” (පරවී දුව පන්සල )

Featured photo credit: Sahan Perera.

This is a charming destination which should certainly be included in your travel itinerary! The picture perfect beauty of this place will surely blow your mind. There is a hanging bridge which connects the bridge to the mainland. The experience of walking on this beautiful bridge itself is quite enchanting. It offers incredible views of the oceans so be sure to pause and pose for a photo! Once you reach the island and reach the zenith of the rock, you will be rewarded with more spectacular views. The island also has a beautiful temple named Matara Paravi Duwa Temple. You should visit this temple too when you explore the enchanting territories of the island.  

02. Star Fort

The city of Matara boasts of a remarkable culture and heritage. The city has many wonderful remnants of the colonial era, which silently tell stories of long long ago. The beautiful Star Fort in Matara is one such attraction that you should visit, especially if you are interested in the colonial heritage of the country.

As the name implies, the Star Fort was built in the shape of a six-pointed star. This magnificent fort was built back in the year 1765. 12 large cannons were placed in the fort, enabling the Dutch to attach enemies with ease regardless of the direction they approached from. The fort was surrounded by a deep moat too. There are two prison cells and a well in the center of the fort.

It is said that the Star Fort of Matara was the very last defense post which was built by the Dutch. Soon enough the British troops were in Sri Lanka, capturing the strongholds of the Dutch, one by one. The British used the fort as a library. The fort was also used to house government officials back then.

Featured photo credit: Sahan Perera.

03. Dutch Reformed Church

The enchanting Dutch Reformed Church is Matara is a place that offers tranquillity to the often chaotic city. It was built by the Dutch back in the year 1706. A bigger version of the church can be found in the adjacent city of Galle. The Dutch Reformed Church in Matara is known to be one of the oldest Protestant churches which are still being used in Sri Lanka.

There is nothing pretentious in the design and architecture of the church. Indeed, the charm of the temple lies in its simplicity. The church can hold up to 200 people. You will find this idyllic church near the entrance of the Matara Fort.

Featured photo credit: Sahan Perera.

04. Dondara Lighthouse

Featured photo credit: Sahan Perera.

Dondara Lighthouse is a truly special attraction for a number of reasons. The lighthouse is situated in the Dondara Head, which is known to be the southernmost part in Sri Lanka. It is also known to be the tallest lighthouse in the country! It is a majestic monument which will create a perfect backdrop for your photos. The lighthouse is maintained and managed by Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

The lighthouse was designed by Sir James Nicholas Douglass. It was constructed by William Douglass of Imperial Lighthouse Service. The building material which was used to construct the Dondara Lighthouse was imported all the way from England. The completed lighthouse was commissioned back in the year 1890.

Dondara Lighthouse has a height of 49 meters. It has 7 floors as well as 196 steps which take you to the top. This lighthouse is one of the four international lighthouses in Sri Lanka. It was refurbished and modernized in the year 2000.

05. Weherahena Viharaya

Featured photo credit: Sahan Perera.

Weherahena Viharaya is one of the most prominent sites of worship in the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Unlike many other famous temples in the country, Weherahena Temple does not have a rich and colourful history to boast of. But it sure has a grand story to tell!

It is said that during the early part of the 20th century, the Most Reverend Parawahera Rewatha Thero was sent to the area as a punishment by his teacher. The region was nothing but a thick jungle back then and the Thero arrived with a mattress, blanket and a bowl! The brave Thero soon befriended the locals living in the village, who assisted him to build a small clay hut for shelter. But the Thero was not satisfied with this meagre construction as he had grand plans in mind. Soon enough, the largest and the very first tunnel temple in the world was created on this spot!