Best Places To Visit In Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka with its golden beaches, rugged mountains, cascading waterfalls, and terrain that varies from rainforests to jungles, it is easy to see how this island earned its nickname “Pearl of the Indian Ocean“.
Sri Lanka, a beautiful island nation in South Asia, presents a variety of things to do and see while visiting the country, and many Sri Lankan attractions reflect its diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.
Best Places To Visit In Sri Lanka
The island can be characterized by three regions – North Western, Central, and Eastern. These regions have many natural resources which have drawn foreigners in search of exotic fruit to find.
If lazing on sparkling sand being cooled by ocean breezes is your idea of the perfect vacation, the Sri Lankan beaches like Arugam Bay are everything you desire and more.
Located on the west coast of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city on the island.
A busy city, with a large natural harbor, there is always plenty going on in Colombo and it is a far cry from the lush green environment of countryside Sri Lanka or the pristine beaches.
Colombo houses many tourist attractions like Mount Lavinia Beach. The Dehiwala Zoo is a must-see, featuring unusual species like pygmy hippos, Sri Lanka sloth bears, Toque monkeys, and Sri Lankan leopards.
The butterfly garden supports over 248 resident species. Bird watching is a popular activity in Sri Lanka and the zoo has many beautiful birds.
However, there is city appeal with an interesting mix of colonial and modern buildings.
Many festivals take place in Colombo every year, the most noted being Vesak, a Buddhist festival during which the city is transformed with lanterns and light displays.
Colombo has several museums and historical sites with amazing architecture. It offers shopping in modern shopping centers and quaint street markets such as Pettah Market.
The city’s seafront is a great place to hang out – away from the frenetic crowds, it is where locals come to walk and meet, as well as fly kites.
The compact walled city of Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the capital of the southern province of Sri Lanka. The Galle Face Green is a long promenade along the Indian Ocean coast near the financial and business district that is a favorite place for locals.
It is a city that has resisted modernization and retained much of its character from Dutch colonial times when the Dutch invaded the Portuguese and captured the city.
The Dutch architecture is still in situ today, with the magnificent Dutch fort being the main attraction. Churches also are mainly Dutch in build and character. This fusion of European architectural style blending with South Asian ways of life is quite unique.
When Marco Polo sailed to Galle he described it as ‘better than any other island in the world’. This is a tough claim to live up to but Galle is certainly a very picturesque place to spend a few days.
Aside from the monsoon season, the climate is temperate and ideal for relaxation on the beautiful Unawatuna beach a short ride south of the city.
The best way to get a feel for the place is to merely observe the locals as they go about their daily routines. Fishing is one of the main sources of income in Galle, the fishermen have an unusual way of bringing in the day’s catch which is fascinating to visitors.
Called silt fishing, the men perch precariously on stilt with bait dangling in the sea beneath their feet, waiting for a bite. The silhouette of the men at sunset is quite incredible.
Attracting writers of great caliber from across the world the event is sure to see the city’s global profile increase as a result and it would be an excellent time of year to visit for those with a passion for writing and the arts.
With so much to do within close vicinity of this idyllic little city, Galle makes the perfect stopover for inquisitive travelers who may want to use it as a base for the tea estates, rainforest, beaches, and wildlife reserves in the southern coastal province, ideally one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka.
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Known as the ‘city of the hills’ and generally considered to be Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, centrally located Kandy is a city with great ambiance and many cultural attractions. Visitors to Kandy will be spoilt for choice with temples, museums, wildlife, and gardens.
Kandy is the second-largest city and is known for its beautiful landscape and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, this temple is a holy shrine for Buddhists as it houses a tooth relic from Lord Buddha.
The top festival in Sri Lanka is Kandy Esala Perahera, held in July and August, in honor of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Kandy. Another popular festival is Duruthu Perahera which commemorates Buddha’s arrival.
Each day, the temple sees a long queue of people line up to catch a glimpse of this holy relic. The grand and majestic temple is of itself a sight to see, especially when all lit up at night.
Another important Buddhist temple in Kandy is the Bahirawakanda temple, from where you can visit the famous Buddha statue that can be seen from just about anywhere in Kandy.
For more relaxation, pay a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens, allegedly the finest gardens in Sri Lanka. With a strong nod to the British colonial era, the gardens are beautiful to walk through and there is a fine orchid house.
As a country that is defined by its tea growing, it only seems right that Sri Lanka should have a Tea Museum and Kandy has come up with trumps.
The museum is located in the ancient tea factory at Hantana Estate and it is here that you will learn the delightful history of Sri Lankan tea. How very British! Great to regale to your friends back home over a cuppa!
Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage
Sri Lanka is famous for the most gentle of giants, the elephant. If you want to experience a close encounter with these beautiful creatures then a visit to Kandy’s Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a must and this is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka.
Set up in 1975 by the Sri Lankan Wildlife Department, Pinnawela Orphanage is home to around 70 semi-tame orphaned elephants.
In 25 acres of land, the elephants are allowed to roam freely and the baby orphans are in the main being readied to be released back into the wild. In that sense, the place acts as a rehabilitation center as well as a home to some orphaned elephants for whom they should remain in captivity.
Visitors can help with daily activities such as feeding and bathing of the elephants and it is a unique setting in which to see these animals closely whilst helping the sanctuary earn enough to maintain its good work.
Dambulla is located in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. It is one of the busiest and most densely populated towns in the district. The Dambulla area is noted for large production and export of tea and coffee beans as well as pineapple cultivation. The main economic activity that takes place in this town is farming.
Dambulla’s Golden Temple is another wonderful place in Sri Lanka to visit when you’re in-country. This temple holds some of the world’s most impressive frescoes and paintings. The Dambulla Cave Temple is a complex of caves with statues and paintings that related to Buddha and other gods.
Sigiriya Rock, which is a UNESCO world heritage site that has ancient ruins that date back to the 4th century BC.
It is located around 62km away from Colombo and has everything one would need for a relaxing vacation. There are beautiful waterfalls, lush green forests, and small lakes that are perfect for fishing. People who love to explore can trek along the mountain paths or walk through the surrounding tea plantations.
Negombo is a small town located approximately 40km north of Colombo, at the mouth of Negombo Lagoon. Its coastal location anchors its century’s old fishing industry and also places it on the tourist trail, although not to the extent of some of Sri Lanka’s better-known coastal spots.
Fishing is such a passion in Negombo that daily fish auctions are held and tourists can organize fishing trips out with the local fishermen in their boats to get a taste of real working life in Sri Lanka.
The popular beaches are: Negombo, Kalutara, Beruwela, Bentota, and Hikkaduwa. After a day in the sun, a visit to one of the famous Ayurveda spas is a treat. Enjoy a pampering massage in preparation for more sightseeing.
Negombo’s close proximity to Sri Lanka’s international airport is also another good reason to stay at this quaint little coastal town. With some of the best beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka and an abundance of water sports and diving opportunities, what other reason do you need to take a pit stop ?!
Anuradhapura is a historic site located in Sri Lanka. The name means “city of joy”. It was the capital city of Sri Lanka for over 1000 years. The site is not only rich with Buddhist heritage but also has an abundance of wildlife, including animals that are threatened or endangered.
Sri Lanka includes visiting world heritage sites such as the well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization in Anuradhapura; and the medieval city of Polonnaruwa that has statues and archaeological relics.
The city of Anuradhapura is an area rich in architectural, traditional, and cultural heritage. You will find the Sacred Bo-Tree and the Thuprama Dagoba (oldest temple) here, as well as many other architectural treasures.
Many tourists visit Anuradhapura for its temples, gardens, and wildlife. It is an enchanting place to enjoy peace and tranquility.
There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are worth visiting, the largest being the Ruwanwelisaya, which is one of the tallest temples in the world constructed in the 8th century. The other site is called Jetavanarama, which is a monastic complex with some still standing shrines.
Nuwara Eliya is a small hill station, an old British colonial town that sits just below the peak of Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, the Pidurutalagala. This hill country is known for its incredible views and beautiful gardens and has been a vacation spot for many since the early 1800s.
The city offers chilly days and cool nights for tourists to escape the heat in other parts of Sri Lanka. The citizens of Nuwara Eliya are actually ethnically Sinhalese but the language they speak, Sinhala, is not.
The Nuwara Eliya district was first settled by the British in the 1700s, who found the area to be perfect for tea plantations. Since then, many British settlers have immigrated to this area, and it has since become a central hub for tourism in Sri Lanka.
Located on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, Trincomalee is a coastal city and seaport. The city has a rich and colorful history dating back to the 2nd century BC and is also referred to as “Pearl of the East” or “Cinnamon City“. Over the years, it has served as an important trading post between India and Southeast Asia.
This area offers some of the most pristine beaches in all of Asia.
There are many religious sites in the city, including temples and churches. Some of the most popular temples include Ekala, Thirukoneswaram, and Naguleswaram. The site of the temple at Ekala is interesting because it stands on a large rock, giving it an almost fortress-like appearance.
Yala National Park
Yala National Park is located in the southern coastal part of Sri Lanka and is home to more than 200 species of trees and 1000 species of birds.
This south coast island of Yala has many birds not found in any other part of the world. The most popular bird is the Sri Lankan Roller, an endangered species.
Other birds residing in this national park are Kingfishers, Black-winged crows, and Bat hawks. The best time to visit the park is during the monsoon season which lasts from June through September.
Here, visitors can spot elephants, leopards, and deer among other animals. Yala National Park offers numerous activities such as elephant rides, boat safaris, and guided tours that you can book at the park’s reception.
In the Yala National Park of Sri Lanka, there is a variety of wildlife and natural beauty. The park is a haven for a range of species including elephants, lions, leopards, crocodiles, and more.
Tourists can visit the park to enjoy the scenery and wildlife – it also contains a safari drive where you can see animals in their natural habitat as well as watch daily animal feedings.
Udawalawe National Park
Sri Lanka, the island nation in the Indian Ocean, is home to three national parks: Udawalawe National Park, Wilpattu National Park, and Horton Plains National Park. Within Udawalawe’s borders, there are ruins of ancient Buddhist shrines and temples, as well as a host of natural attractions such as waterfalls and lakes.
Udawalawe National Park, known for its vast tropical forest and elephant population, is a must-visit for those interested in nature. Udawalawe National Park is located in the Central Province of Sri Lanka and covers an area of 365 sq km (141 sq mi). The park’s terrain includes dry and wet zones as well as several huge freshwater lakes.
Located 16 miles from the city of Kandy, Udawalawe National Park attracts both Sri Lankans and foreigners for a variety of reasons. The park offers a wide range of views and wildlife, as well as a slew of attractions.
One can walk through a dense jungle, see an array of different animals from the comfort of their own safari vehicle, or visit one of the many waterfalls available in the area.
The Jaffna district in Sri Lanka, located on the northern coast of the island, has many natural attractions that are popular with tourists. One of these is Dambulla Forest Waterfall that is a 10-mile drive from the city.
The waterfall measures about 115 feet tall and offers a great view of the surrounding mountains.
Ella, Sri Lanka is a small town, situated on the northern and eastern sides of Bentota Beach. It is beautiful and has gorgeous beaches for those who enjoy the beach.
Whether you would like to visit a temple or shop at the markets, Ella has it all, with its various waterfalls, flora, fauna, and amazing natural environment, it’s no wonder this place is so popular with tourists.
Hambantota is a port city in Southern Sri Lanka. It is located on the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka where it has one of the world’s most ancient natural harbors and the famous Bundala National Park, favorite for bird watchers.
It has its own administrative provincial status and became a major resort for tourists visiting Sri Lanka since it was established as an international port site in 2010.
Sri Lanka also offers a variety of outdoor and leisure activities such as diving, hiking, safari, rock climbing, whale watching, paragliding, and caving. Nature enthusiasts will find an amazing selection of adventures and things to see and do in Sri Lanka.
Guided tours are available for wildlife safaris, nature walks, caving, and sea turtle watching. Seeing the wildlife and flora of this tiny island is a unique experience.
Other cities of architectural and cultural interest are Mihintale and Aluvihara. Sri Lanka is a treasure trove of attractions, with something for everyone.
Roaring waterfalls such as Bambarakanda Falls and Diyalume Falls can be found in the country. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a biodiverse ecosystem that is an attraction for those interesting in amazing flora and fauna.
As there are many more best places to visit in Sri Lanka, visitors will agree that Sri Lanka is one of the most remarkable places on earth