Matara is located 160km away from Colombo and is one of the major commercial hubs of the country. The culture of Matara is a mixer of colonialism, life on the shore, fishing and Buddhism. Of course, 24 hours isn’t enough to explore everything. Unless you pick and choose from below.
1. Visit a Temple
Good start to a day is the morning prayer – since you are in Sri Lanka how about starting the day in a temple? Matara is densely populated with practicing Buddhist community, therefore, you will find more temples than any other religious structures. Parave Dupatha is a temple on a small island which is connected to the mainland with a cable-style footbridge, it is right next to the Matara Bus station. Matara Bhodiya – a temple located in the middle of the town is a must visit temple and biggest in Matara. Weragampita Rajamaha Vihara is the temple where a poetess named Gajamaon Nona stayed as a monk in the temple premise to study poetry- this is located a little far from the town. Reminder tourists are advised to wear decent clothing if they are entering any temple in Sri Lanka.
2. Climb a Lighthouse
Lighthouse beaches are anyone’s favorite- luckily we have one in Matara- the Dondra lighthouse beach. This lighthouse with a well-maintained lawn around is located at the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka. To witness the magnificent view of three water bodies meeting at one single point costs your energy of climbing 220 steps vertically. Trust us description will not do justice to the view so we suggest you to try!
3. Visit Colonial Buildings/ Monuments
Matara is also blessed with colonial monuments like any other colonial masters’ favorite cities. the positive thing about Matara, unlike other cities, is you do not have to travel around that saves time! Must visit sites are Star fort and the small fort with the cathedral and Old Nupe Dutch market, Star fort is of the typical Dutch construction of with a garrison, cells, and a drainage system. Today it is a museum which showcases the history of Matara – that will provide you with the rest of the information.
4. Learn Surfing
Matara has something special for surf enthusiasts. It’s home to 2 beaches, famous for surfing in the island. Mirissa and Weligama Bay. Mirissa is for professional surfers since the waves are high and the sea is a little rough, whereas Weligama bay is definitely for beginners. There is an array of surfing schools on the golden sandy stretch of Weligama with very friendly instructors. So don’t waste your holiday, learn something new. If you’re really good you can be a surfer in 2 hours.
5. Shop for Family and Friends
Matara It has plenty of money exchangers, shopping complexes and since the tourist arrival is quite obvious in this area there are plenty of souvenir shops. Most of the tourists are fond of buying cotton stitched clothes on which patterns like Elephants and leaves embroidered and printed on them. Sri Lankan Batik is also quite famous among the tourists. Try to bargain and get a lesser price!
6. Watch Stilt-fishing
Termed as ritipanna, stilt fishing is the traditional fishing method practiced by fishermen in the South. This is basically where fishermen engage in fishing on a long narrow pole tied to a stick on the seabed. As a result of the scenic view it creates, today its one of the key attractions of Sri Lanka. So if you’re heading this way, then don’t miss it! Take a 30 minutes tuk-tuk ride to Weligama!
7. Relax on the Beach
Relax on a beach in Matara. Take a sip of king coconut and just sit back on your sundeck when your eyes are fixed on the horizon. If that is boring take a long walk on the seashore to merge with sunset. After all, there’s no shortage of amazing beaches here. Whether it’s enjoying the sunset on the calm Polehena beach, or among the busy surfers at Mirissa, Matara has a lot to offer.
Backpackers, there’s no Tourist Information Centre in Matara – master google and go!