In the northeast corner of Sri Lanka is the port town of Trincomalee. It is a bit of a mission to make your way up here but the time spent travelling is well worth it. There are loads of great places to visit in Trincomalee and lots of awesome things to do.

If you followed a similar itinerary to us, this will mark the end of your time in Sri Lanka. As it was the tail end of our trip, we enjoyed relaxing and really taking it easy when we were up here. It was the perfect place to unwind after a crazy few weeks of exploring with some of the nicest beaches and clearest water in the whole country.

When visiting the region, we recommend staying a few kilometres north of Trincomalee in the Uppuveli area. This area is better catered towards tourism with lots of great places to stay and loads of good restaurants. It also means you’ll be staying right by Uppuveli Beach, a beautiful stretch of golden sand.

Aerial photo of Nilaveli Beach

Getting to Trincomalee

From Sigiriya take a bus to Inamaluwa junction which costs around 40LKR ($0.23 USD) and takes 30 minutes. From this junction, you can catch a bus all the way to Trincomalee which takes around 2.5 hours and costs 150LKR ($0.85 USD). Lastly, from the bus station at Trinco we took a tuk tuk to Uppuveli for 300LKR ($1.70 USD).

If you are coming from Kandy, there are direct busses from the main bus station which take just over 5 hours and cost approximately 250LKR ($1.42 USD). Public busses are a great way to travel around Sri Lanka on a budget.

Places to Visit in Trincomalee (and a few things to do)

1. Uppuveli Beach

Such a sweet beach to hang out at. Due to its location, it never really gets any waves here making it a calm and peaceful place to go for a swim. If you stay in this area, you’ll be lucky enough to hang out at this beach every day. The golden sand stretches for miles so it’s easy to find a nice quiet spot to yourself or grab a drink at one of the many bars and restaurants that line the beach.

Aerial view of Uppuvelli Beach

2. Fernando’s Beach Bar

Our favourite place on Uppuveli Beach. Fernando’s Beach Bar just has a great atmosphere. It has a couple of beach bars, shaded huts to hang out in, swings and a super chilled upstairs lounge (where we spent most of our time). They also have a decent array of food and drinks. We pitched up here for the afternoon more days than not, going back and forth from the upstairs lounge to the sea.

3. Pathirakali Amman Temple

This is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Bhadrakhali. The temple is located near the bus station in Trinco and you actually pass by it on the bus journey in. It is an insanely unique and colourful set of buildings like nothing else we had seen in Sri Lanka. It is worth going back for a visit to take a walk around and admire the colourful sculptures that combine to create this stunning temple.

*Women are required to cover their shoulders and knees when visiting the temple so make sure you have appropriate clothing before visiting.

4. Nilaveli Beach

Nilaveli Beach might just be the nicest beach in Sri Lanka. It definitely has the cleanest and clearest water of the many beaches that we visited. and is just a 20-minute scooter ride from Uppuveli. It is a very popular beach with local tourists so we would advise visiting during the week if you are looking for a quieter experience as we went at the weekend and it was absolutely packed.

We also recommend staying towards the northern end of the beach as the southern end of the beach is unfortunately covered in rubbish. After a short walk down the beach we were shocked by the difference a few hundred metres made. Do your part and take three (pieces of rubbish) for the sea when you come to one of the best places to visit in Trincomalee.

Nilaveli Beach at sunset

5. Rent a scooter

Our favourite activity in almost any place we visit. Renting a scooter gives you the freedom to get out and explore all the best this region has to offer. Take random roads and see where they take you. We rented a scooter for the day in Uppuveli for 1100LKR ($6.24 USD).

6. Pigeon Island National Park

This is one of the two marine national parks in Sri Lanka and contains some of the best coral reefs in the country – making it amazing for snorkelling. Pigeon Island National Park is located about 1km off the coast of Nilaveli Beach. It is a bit of a pricier activity with a boat trip from Uppuveli to the National Park costing approximately 4000LKR ($22.68 USD) per person.

Boat to Pigeon Island National Park

7. Whale Watching

Whale watching season in Trincomalee runs from the end of March until the start of September. That being said, they can obviously be quite unpredictable. We were there at the start of April and whale sightings were still quite uncommon at this time.

8. Play Volleyball with the locals

Every evening before sunset the locals get together on Uppuveli beach and play some beach volleyball. There is a court located just out the front of Fernando’s Bar. They are more than happy to welcome new players in to come and have a couple of games. We ended up playing with them on a few different evenings and had a good laugh with them as they showed off their volleyball skills.

9. Relax, Read and Chill

If you followed a similar route to us this is the end of an action-packed trip around Sri Lanka. That means it’s the perfect time to do very little. Relax, reminisce about your awesome trip and recover your energy for the next adventure. We had a wicked few days lying on the beach, watching the world go by.

Relaxing at Nilaveli Beach

Where to Eat in Uppuvelli

Nina’s Restaurant – Amazing rice and curry. We ate here a couple of times and absolutely loved it. 300LKR ($1.70 USD) for rice and curry.

Fernando’s Beach Bar – A really relaxed beachfront restaurant. We had lunch here most days as they had simple and delicious bacon sandwiches for just 400LKR ($2.27 USD).

Be Cool Juice Bar – Sweet little place to grab a smoothie or fruit salad. A fresh fruit salad was 300LKR ($1.70 USD). Super friendly owners that kept us coming back.

Café on 18th – A trendy little café offering delicious paninis, smoothie bowls and brownies.

Restaurant Tuna – Very popular for their seafood curry and amazing service for a budget price. We paid 300LKR ($1.70 USD) for a veggie curry.

Where to Stay in Trincomalee

The best place to stay on a budget in Uppuveli is Blue Blu Resort. It is a new and modern homestay that has great Wi-Fi, is within easy walking distance to lots of great restaurants and is just a few steps away from the beach. We stayed in the budget double room which cost 1650LKR ($9.36 USD) per night.

Find other great places to stay in Trincomalee here.

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Nilaveli beach from above

This proved to be the ultimate way to end our month long trip around Sri Lanka. There were awesome places to visit in Trincomalee and Uppuvelli, lots of exploring to be done and we did a whole lot of relaxing as well. The beaches up here are about as good as it gets, making it an unreal spot to soak up the sun and chill out. Make the extra effort to come up here and escape the crowds and you won’t be disappointed!

*Please note, prices are a reflection of our experiences while traveling Sri Lanka in March 2019 and are subject to change. Prices quoted in LKR were the exact prices we paid and USD conversions are listed for your convenience.