9 Best Things To Do In Southern Sri Lanka

Table of Contents

What are the 9 best things to do in southern Sri Lanka?

  1. Hang out with rescued elephant babies in Udawalawe
  2. Explore Sri Lanka’s colonial splendour
  3. Hike to the Big Buddha
  4. Visit the most sacred multireligious temple in the country
  5. Sample delicious seafood
  6. Take a closer look into blue whales
  7. Discover the rich underwater world
  8. Enjoy a brilliant bargain massage
  9. Spot leopards in the jungle

As far as natural beauty is concerned, southern Sri Lanka is still ahead of most other Sri Lanka places and it is very appealing to tourists around the world. Things to do in southern Sri Lanka is endless from sunbath to sea bath and visiting the temples to Sri Lankan jungle tours to explore wildlife.

Palm-fringed beaches and the coastal belt of southern Sri Lanka make it a perfect playground for a memorable Sri Lanka beach tour. The lush green forests, never mind the wildlife reserves teeming with leopards, elephants and many other creatures- not only that but the cultural diversity is also a major hot topic – but electrifying modern city culture has always been a bit harder to find, though it is confined to few places.

Peel yourself off, lie on a sunbed and sip a glass of Arrack cocktail while basking in the sun or take a stroll around the mosaic-cobbled streets of Galle Fort. If you like to see the religious side of the people of Sri Lanka drop into Kataragama temple see how people march in a queue to offer their fruit plates to the might God is known as Murugan (but don’t forget to cover up).

Sri Lanka’s southern coast provides a fascinating blend of tourist attractions, therefore it is perfect for any type of Sri Lanka holiday package. It is perfect for kids, teenagers, as well as adults of any age. It means the Southern coast can accommodate Sri Lanka family tours, adventure travellers, honeymooners, leisure travellers and nature lovers.

Yala national park is one of the best places to sport Sri Lankan wildlife, and it includes in most Sri Lanak trip packages such as Sri Lanka 5 days southern tour.

Hang out with rescued elephant babies

Udawalwe elephant transit camp is the second of its kind on the island (the first elephant orphanage on the island started in Pinnawala, Kandy) and it is the first elephant orphanage established in southern Sri Lanka. This fabulous tourist attraction offers an antidote to most toxic tourist attractions on the island that involved animals. Udawalawe elephant transit camp is a popular one-day outing place for Sri Lankan travellers and can be easily reached from most hotels on the island.

No one is allowed to have elephant rides in this jungle hideaway; Instead, the visitors can witness the frolicking little jumbos from the distance. The visitors can witness the orphan elephant only during the feeding time, during which elephants show up for their dose of milk. The orphan elephants are fed 5 times a day, make sure you arrive at the orphanage ahead of the feeding hours.

If you are wondering where to get more information on the Elephant transit camp, please click, “Udawalawe elephant safari“.

Dutch reformed church of Galle fort, which is more than 250 years old

Explore Sri Lanka’s colonial splendour

Galle is one of the most popular tourist places in Sri Lanka and it is a popular spot for Sri Lanka day trips from most parts of Sri Lanka such as Negombo, Colombo and Bentota beach. If you need more information about Galle one-day tour, please click on “Galle city tour‘.

Many thousand years ago, foreign merchants arrived from across Arab, China, Greece and India to Galle in order to buy spices, gems and ivory from Sri Lankan kings. Later from 1505 to 1948 the southern coast including Galle was in the hands of colonial rules from Portuguese, Dutch and English respectively. During the colonial era, foreign rulers had a monopoly over the spice trade, therefore, local people were deprived of the benefits of a lucrative spices industry.

Galle Fort

The foreign rulers anchored on the Sri Lankan shores from 1505  to 1948 and deposited their religions, customs, languages, native architecture, customs and cuisines. The best colonial remnant can be witnessed in the old town of Galle better known as Galle Fort.  The narrow-cobbled streets are flanked by thousands of Dutch-styled houses, shops, churches and, many other buildings. A walking tour of the Fort is the best way of exploring this 15th-century old European city. 

Insider tip: The Galle Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site and the most important tourist hotspot in southern Sri Lanka. This old Dutch town is the best-preserved Dutch-built fort in Asia and is visited by thousands of travellers every day. The Dutch fort offers opportunities for shopping and dining. You’ll find thousands of shops, galleries, cafes, bars, restaurants, museums and fruit stalls offering many interesting things such as clothing, souvenir, woodcarvings, tea, jewellery and antiques.

In order to have a more detailed picture of Galle fort and Galle please read my article on “Galle Fort“.

Japanese peace Pagoda

Hike to the Japanese peace Pagoda

Sitting on the highest mountain along the beaches of Galle, Ruhmassala Japanese peace temple is not foreign to the citizen of Sri Lanka. The beautiful temple commands a breathtaking view of the surrounding jungle and the Indian Ocean. The temple is a hotspot for Japanese travellers. And it is included in most Day tours to Galle from Colombo. 

Insider tip: The hike to the temple may last about 30 minutes if you opt to go on foot and the narrow road that leads to the temple is very steep in some places. Therefore, it is recommended to hire a TUK TUK from the main, which saves a lot of time and helps to reach the temple without a long walk. It is easy to get a TUK TUK for the ride as a large number of TUK TUK drivers are waiting near the main road expecting travellers. The cost of the ride is around 500 Rs. 

Kataragama temple

Visit the most sacred multireligious temple in the country

Perhaps the spiritual side of Sri Lanka’s southern coast is not known to foreign travellers, that’s why most travellers miss Kataragama temple. Kataragama temple is very popular among the people of Sri Lanka but is not visited by many foreigners.

There are thousands of cultural places sprinkled across Sri Lanka. The temples in the cultural triangle, in the north-central province, are the most popular religious sites on the island while temples elsewhere do not get the attention of foreign travellers. However, the temple of Kataragama has many thousands of years old history, which is on par with its counterparts in ancient cities pertaining antiquity.

Insider tip: Kataragama temple is located near Tissamaharama in southern Sri Lanka. Tissamaharama is the gateway to Yala national park. The temple receives a large number of devotees every day, and on long weekends the number of devotees is usually doubled. Temple is open only during the pooja (ceremony) hours.

My article on Kataragama temple gives you more details about this historical religious site, please click “Kataragama temple“.

Seafood plates many varieties of fish such as Tuna fish, crabs, shrimps, cuttlefish etc

Sample delicious seafood

Eating delicious seafood is a must if you head on to southern Sri Lanka because the fishing industry is playing a major role in southern Sri Lanka’s economy and a large number of people are actively engaged in the fishing industry. It is very easy to get hold of various fish for delicious meals on the southern and western coast, especially in the resort areas. Hundreds of seafood restaurants line up along the coastal belt on the southern and western coast and offer delicious seafood specialities.

Insider tip: Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Mirissa, and Bentota are the most popular beach resorts on the western and southern coasts.

Take a closer look at blue whales

Sri Lanka is one of the most popular places in Asia to spot blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus). The whales can be spotted in the ocean around the island throughout the year.

Mirissa off the southern coast is the most popular whale-watching spot on the island. A dozen whales watching boats set sails daily from the Mirissa harbour and each of them carrying about 75 foreign travellers with them.

In the Ocean around Sri Lanka especially in Mirissa, it is very easy to spot blue whales due to the large concentration of them. Mirissa is a popular place that is included in most Sri Lanka trips such as 4-day Sri Lank trips.

Insider tip: All whale-watching boats leave the harbour before 06.30 to 07.00 AM Passengers should show up in the harbour before 07.00 AM. A prior reservation is very important to get a seat in a whale-watching boat because every boat can accommodate only a limited number of passengers (75). Due to the high demand, most boats get filled up a few days ahead of the trip.

If you are wondering how to get more information about the Sri Lanka whale watching trip, read my article, “Blue whale watching Sri Lanka“.

Things to do in southern Sri Lanka: Diving

Diving around the lurching coral stacks, exotic sea creatures, ancient shipwrecks, and swimming with sea turtles of Unawatuna bay is one of southern Sri Lanka’s most bewitching experiences. A large number of local tour operators offer boat tours, diving, and snorkelling tours to travellers at an affordable rate.

Insider tip: Diving, snorkelling and other saltwater-based activities are available only during the peak season, From November to April. During this period the sea off the south coast becomes very calm and the sea looks like a lake and the water visibility is also at its best.

Learn about diving in Sri Lanka by reading my article “diving in Sri Lanka“.

Things to do in southern Sri Lanka: Enjoy a brilliant bargain massage

Health tourism has been able to make huge progress over the last several years. The traditional healing system of Sri Lanka is known as “Ayurveda”. The root of Ayurveda goes back more than 5000 years and it is been widely practised among the local people.

A large number of Ayurveda hospitals, and massage parlours, are dotted along the coastal belt and serve the locals as well as foreigners. If you are not staying in an Ayurveda resort and not in the mood to go to the city and look for a massage parlour, ask the receptionist, where the Ayurveda healing centre is. Usually, every tourist hotel has its own Massage centre to serve the in-house customers. The therapist is well trained and speaks English very well. 

Various massages are on offer in hotels as well as massage parlours. However, 1-hour full body masse with sauna is the most popular among the travellers, which lasts around 1 hour and cost US$ 20 per person.

Insider tip: The guests need to remove all the jewellery and ornaments during the massage.

Learn about Sri Lanka Ayurveda treatment and about Ayurveda hotels in my article under the heading “Sri Lanka Ayurveda holidays “.

Things to do in southern Sri Lanka: Spot leopards in Yala

The 4 hours Yala safari introduced you to Sri Lanka’s biggest carnivore, the leopard. The chances of spotting leopard are very high at Yala national park due to the large concentration of this big cat. Yala is one of the best places for wildlife tours in Sri Lanka, where the travellers encounter elephants, leopards, crocodiles, wild buffalo, bears, deer and many other creatures.

However, spotting leopards is the main reason for travellers to visit the Yala national park. Yala national park is one of the best to see the natural beauty of Lanka. Yala is a place where nature appears to have been super-sized – gigantic trees, grass fields and lakes as big as cities.  

Yala is another popular place for Sri Lanka wildlife safari for travellers, who spend a beach holiday on the south and west coast.

Insider tip: Yala Safari is mainly available in 2 flavours, half-day Yala safari and full-day Yala safari. It is recommended to take full-day Yala safari if it is possible because it heavily increases the opportunity to see leopards and other animals.

Now you can book a Yala safari day tour from Colombo as well as Yala Safari 2 days trip from Colombo and 3 day Sri Lanka tour with Yala Safari and the south coast. Read my article on Yala safari and get to know the most essential information about Yala safari, “Yala safari“.

Watching whales on the south coast

Whale watching is one of the very popular activities on the island of Sri Lanka. Mirissa of southern Sri Lanka is especially popular among travellers as one of the best destinations for whale watching. There are about 80 different species of whales in the sea; out of that 80 species, the travellers can witness twenty-six species of whales in Sri Lankan waters. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries where travellers can witness the biggest creature in the sea and the biggest land animal in the world in a short interval. Southern Sri Lanka is an ideal destination to watch both Elephants and whales in Sri Lanka.