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Matara is a city in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. The Southern Province consists of three districts and the city of Matara lies between Galle and Hambantota which are the other districts of Southern Province. It is 160 km (99 mi) from the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo.


Matara is a coastal town on a lovely beach, its main attraction. The city has a population of about 76,493 and the mean annual temperature is 30°C.

The River Nilwala runs through the town and into the sea. The river has fertilized the whole area as evidenced by the paddy fields, tea estates, and spice plantations.

Just west of Matara is the popular seaside town of Polhena, famous for turtle spotting just off Polhena Beach and other nearby spots such as opposite The Doctors House restaurant.

Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

It's a 2 1/2-hour journey from Colombo via Southern Express Way or a 4-hour journey by the Galle Road. It is possible, but expensive, to hire a vehicle.

By train[edit]

From Colombo it's approximately 5 hours by train. There are 8 trains a day on weekdays, 6 on Saturdays and 5 on Sundays. There are express trains which go directly to Matara, but other trains will make many stops. The price is below LKR 280 in 2nd class or LKR 155 in 3rd class. Timetable

By bus[edit]

Buses are the most common method to get to Matara. 1 Bus stand. is located right in the center outside the Dutch rampart. As the main transport hub in the south it offers connections to all major towns in the area (e.g. Ratnapura, Kandy, Badulla, Ella, Pottuvil, Kataragama, Yala N.P.). Highway buses go to several locations in the Colombo area including C-Fort, C-Kaduruwela, C-Maharagama, as well as Negombo (40km north or Colombo) and Panadura (40km south of Colombo). You can also take a regular non-AC service to Colombo taking the coastal road, but it almost costs the same and takes two or three times as long. However, it can be handy if you want to reach Hikkaduwa or Bentota areas on the west coast.

Get around[edit]


Giant Buddha statue at Weherahena Temple
  • 1 Weherahena Temple. It's famous for its huge Buddha statue and underground caves filled with coloured statues and painting depicting the lives of Buddha
  • 2 Dondra Lighthouse. The southernmost point of Sri Lanka. Dondra Head Lighthouse (Q5295579) on Wikidata Dondra Head Lighthouse on Wikipedia
  • 3 Matara Fort. Rampart built by the Dutch in 1640. Nowadays it's a protected monument. However there's not much to see.
  • 4 Polhena Beach. A popular safe swimming beach where turtles are often seen.


  • 1 New Laksana. A good rate money changer.


  • 1 The Doctor's House, 87, Beach Road, Madiha, Matara. Popular restaurant by beach, directly opposite a popular turtle spotting beach.
  • 2 Swell Cafe.
  • 3 Sea Cafe Vibes. Located right next to the rocky coastline, this low key caravan style coffee shop is a lovely spot to sit under the shady trees and watch turtles swim by and surface for air.
  • 4 The Dutchman's Street.



Cheap, safe tourist hotels abound.

  • Surya Lanka Ayurveda Retreat, Old Talalla Road, +112667039, . Surya Lanka was the first Ayurveda Retreat in Sri Lanka to serve Panchakarma guests only. It offers its guests three different Ayurveda Retreats, Yoga and meditation.
  • 1 Sea Dina Coral Home, Polhena Beach Road, +94 715782577. Super friendly run accommodation with 4 rooms set in nice garden. Free bicycles, snorkelling gear, laundry, water bottle refills, coffee and tea. $4 huge Sri Lankan breakfast. $20.

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