Ratnapura is a bustling city surrounded by emerald-green tea plantations and jungle-covered mountains. The city has a long history of gemstone trading and is filled with shops selling shimmering rubies, garnets and sapphires. Day trips outside the city take you to cascading waterfalls, hidden cave temples and one of the most important Hindu pilgrim sites in Sri Lanka.
Things to do in Ratnapura
Ratnapura is brimming with restaurants where you can enjoy mouth-watering Sri Lankan cuisine. For breakfast, fill up on crispy “hoper” pancakes topped with sweet onion chutney and creamy dahl. Dinner often features multiple curries made with eggplant, green beans, pumpkin and other local vegetables. “Jaggery” candy made from palm sugar is a great pick-me-up.
Strolling around the city centre, you’ll be dazzled by stores selling precious gemstones. Jewellery featuring cobalt-blue Sri Lankan sapphires is the perfect souvenir. Visit the Gemmological Museum to find out more about the history of gemstone mining in Ratnapura. It’s also possible to organise guided tours of local gem mines.
For many travellers, Ratnapura is a launchpad to Adam’s Peak, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. A steep staircase winds up the conical-shaped mountain, which soars more than 2,200 metres above sea level. Pilgrims traditionally climb in the dark to enjoy spectacular sunrises from the summit.
A short drive out the city, Katugas Falls cascades six metres down a rocky ravine. At the foot of the falls is a natural pool surrounded by lush greenery. Enjoy a picnic on the rocks and cool off in the water.
Getting around Ratnapura
Autorickshaws are a fast and affordable way to get around Ratnapura while taxis are a comfortable alternative. Hiring a driver for the day is a good way to explore surrounding sights and attractions. Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo is a 2.5-hour drive away.