A-Z of Bus routes
Disclaimer: Your use of this page is done with the knowledge that these bus routes have been put together through word of mouth and experience, are neither definitive, nor exhaustive, they may change without notice, and your own experiences may not be the same as anothers. We therefore take no liability for any differences you may experience to what is written here.
N.B. The number on the bus is the route number, not the bus number. You must therefore know your final destination to know which bus to catch. Route numbers of buses may be found here
All maps below are from Google Maps
All Routes shown on the maps below are for reference only, and these need to be cross checked with other information.
Anuradhapura to Arugam Bay
Journey length: approx 9 hours
Your journey begins 100 yards from the Fig and Gecko on the #75 bus to Pollonaruwa, which arrives at approx 05:25.
You'll arrive at the Pollonaruwa Bus Stand at approx 07:45, and then you need to get the #48 to Kalmunai, which leaves at 08:25, and arrives at Kalmunai around noon.
At 12:30, you leave on the bus to Pottuvil (# unknown), arriving there at about 14:00
Check the times of the return bus with the inspector's office before leaving the bus stand.
From there you get a tuk tuk to Arugam Bay (cost approx LKR 200)
Arugam Bay to Anuradahapura
Journey length: approx 9 hours
Reverse the journey. You could catch a bus from Pottuvil at about 09:00 ish.
Anuradhapura to CMB # 4
Journey length: 4 1/2 hours
From Anuradhapura's Long Service (long distance) / private bus stand/station Catch a #4, which originates inside the bus station, or a # 87, which stops briefly outside on the road, Both busses drop you at Junction 18, the airport junction at Negombo.
Bus #4 Departure times from A'pura Long Service, Old Bus Stand
08: 15 / 09:15 / 10:10 / 11:15 / 12:15 / 13:15 / 14:00 / 14:30 / 15:00 / 15:45
You can travel by bus on the same day to the airport, but leave earlier than you need to (this applies equally to trains, but if travelling by train, I would leave the day before). Usually, the bus journey goes without hitch, but if there is a hitch, you can always jump on the next bus. That is less easy with a train.
After 18:00, the # 4 starts from the Old Market, leaving there at 18:15,
Cost LKR 350
CMB to Anuradhapura
Leaving the airport, take a tuk tuk from outside on the main road (expect to pay approx LKR 300) to Junction 18, of the Colombo - Negombo Main Road, approx 2 KM,
At Junction 18, turn right to go north, under the flyover. Some tuk tuk drivers will try to take you to the left to a bus stop before the underpass. Going north, approximately 100, on the left you will see a green bus shelter, which is opposite Ranka Food, which has a rectangular white sign about 50 foot in the air.
Here you can catch the #87 to Jaffna (or other places north of Anuradhapura) or a # 4 (destination Mannar) via Anuradhapura. The cost is approx LKR 400 (£2). If the conductor says no, when you say 'Anuradhapura?' even though the bus is a # 04 or a #87 then wait for the next bus.
Both the # 4 and # 87 will drop you at Jaffna Junction, which is a 5 minute walk from the roundabout to our hostel.
Or from Jaffna Junction, get a tuk tuk at the roundabout to our Fig and Gecko Hostel - approx LKR 60-100
Anuradhapura to Habarana (for the afternoon elephant safari)
Journey length: allow 2 hours
At the bus stop close to the Fig and Gecko, catch the 11:30 bus to Polonnaruwa, and stop at Habarana.
There is a bus to Dambulla from the same stop, from where you can get a connecting bus to Habarana / Pollonaruwa / Trincomalee / Kandy / Colombo.
Regular buses from this stop take you to Kandy, and Colombo via Dambulla.
At the bus stop by the petrol shed, in Harbarana, you will see safari jeeps. You will need to be there - depending upon where the elephants are - from 13:30,
Habarana to Anuradhapura
Journey length: allow 2 hours
after 18:00, you will need to make your way by bus to Dambulla, as there are fewer buses to Anuradhapura in the evening from Habarana.
Then by bus from Dambulla to Anuradhapura
At times, the safari guide may drop you in Polonnaruwa, depending on where he is heading home, where you may be able to catch a bus to Anuradhapura.
Anuradhapura to Kandy: A/C Bus
The A/C bus to Kandy leaves the Long Service (Old) Bus Station every 30 minutes on the half, and on the hour, from 04:00 - 18:00
It stops at the bus stop opposite Mahinda School. Cost: LKR 350
Anuradhapura to Matara
You have 2 options
Private Gunesekara semi-luxury #69 bus leaving the Private Long Service Bus Stand 'each night at 22:00 arriving at 06:00 - taking about 8 hours
Cost? (Likely to be than Option 2)
Go to the Old Bus Stand and catch the red SLTB #69 bus
Leaving at 22:15 and taking up to 10 hours hours to reach Matara (about 07:00) via Colombo
Cost LKR 650
Anuradhapura To Polonnaruwa #75 Red Bus
The red #75 SLTB bus leaves the New Bus Stand /station at 11:00, and goes.to Polonnaruwa (arriving about 14:00) via the Fig and Gecko (at 11:20), Habarana, and Minneriya, .
Direct buses to Polonnaruwa leave from the stop on the main road opposite Mahinda School, 100 yards from the Fig and Gecko daily.
Buses leave the bus station at:
05:30, 08:30, and 11:00.
Be at the Fig and Gecko bus stop by 05:40, 08:40, and 11:10.
Anuradhapura to Thanthirimale
Thanthirimale is both a beautiful scenic site, as well as a religious and archaeological site, which is well worth going to. It is off the beaten track, and not on the tourist radar. You are able to step off the bus and into the site.
A blue private bus leaves the New Bus Station at 10am. (there are other buses, including SLTB red busses too, which we shall update as the information is clear) for Thanthirimale.
The journey takes 2 hours. The fare is LKR 100
Buses from Thanthirimale to Anuradhapura leave Thanthirimale at 13:30, 15:30, and I believe, 17:30.
Be at the bus stop at least 15 minutes before, as these times are approximate.
Anuradhapura to Trincomalee
Go out of the Fig and Gecko to the main road, and turn right. 50 yds down the road is a bus stand.
Direct buses to Trincomalee leave Anuradhapura New Town Bus station at 07:50, and 11:45 daily. Be at the bus stop / bus stand above before this time, just in case!
At other times catch the bus to Horowputhana (every 30 minutes) at the same bus stop, and on arrival, I have been told that yiu get on the Trincomalee, bus 200 metres down the road.
You can catch a bus at the same bus stand via Dambulla to Kandy / to Colombo), or to Polonnaruwa via Habaraba. You can then catch a bus to Trincomalee from Dambulla or Habarana.