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 160km 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.
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.
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
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.
- 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.
- 3 Matara Fort. Rampart built by the Dutch in 1640. Nowadays it's a protected monument. However there's not much to see
Cheap, safe tourist hotels abound.
- Kalutara Temple
- Hikkaduwa coral gardens
- Ambalangoda antique shops
- Galle fortress
- Unawatuna, Mirissa, Tangalle & Weligama beaches