Occupying a rugged peninsula on Sri Lanka’s east coast, Trincomalee is a lively port city and a major hub for Tamil culture on the island. It is one of the oldest cities in Asia, with a fascinating history of international trade and many tumultuous years spent under Portuguese, Danish, Dutch and British rule.
Things to do in Trincomalee
Dominating Trincomalee’s peninsula is Fort Frederick, which was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century using debris from the ancient Koneswaram Temple. This holy complex has since been reconstructed, with a large, gilded statue of Shiva among its highlights. From Swami Rock, there are sweeping views across the Indian Ocean, making it a popular spot for whale watching.
You can spend your days relaxing on one of Trincomalee’s blissful beaches, which include the lively sands of Uppuveli. It’s backed by a handful of thatched-roof bars where you can grab drinks and snacks throughout the day while socialising with other travellers. Further north lies Nilaveli, a palm-lined stretch of sand renowned for its crystal-clear waters.
Boat excursions leave from both Uppuveli and Nilaveli to Pigeon Island, which offers some of the best snorkelling on Sri Lanka’s east coast. It takes its name from the rock pigeons that inhabit the island and is protected within a national park. In addition to marvelling at the colourful corals and 300+ reef fish that have been recorded here, you may encounter blacktip reef sharks and a variety of sea turtles.
Getting around Trincomalee
Batticaloa International Airport is just under three hours’ drive from Trincomalee and has regular flights to Colombo. Trains connect from the Sri Lankan capital to the Trincomalee railway station and buses travel throughout the city. Rickshaws are readily available for getting around.