Yapahuwa, Sri Lanka heritage tour

7 PLACES TO VISIT ON SRI LANKA HERITAGE TOURS

The Sri Lanka heritage tour, which is a 7 day Sri Lanka trip is a perfect opportunity to see many important heritage sites in Sri Lanka. Ancient temples, an advanced water management system that follows the principles of hydraulic and trigonometry, Palaces, Forts, stupendous pagodas (Stupa), beautiful paintings that depict various stories, intricate wood carvings, and Gigantic rock-cut Buddha statues are some of the evidence from the flourishing culture that managed by Sri Lankan kings; all boast with pride of Sri Lankan royal tradition backed by Buddhist ideology. From Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, and Tissamaharama to Jaffna and Trincomalee; every spot has its own cultural legacy and is worth exploring in the heritage expeditions of Sri Lanka.

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Sri Lanka is a country with one of the oldest cultures in the world and Sri Lanka has a large number of historical monuments that are included in most Sri Lanka heritage tours. Sri Lanka inherits a very colorful heritage of its own.

Ancient temples, an advanced water management system that follows the principles of hydraulic and trigonometry, Palaces, Forts, stupendous pagodas (Stupa), beautiful paintings that depict various stories, intricate wood carvings, and Gigantic rock-cut Buddha statues are some of the evidence from the flourishing culture that managed by Sri Lankan kings; all boast with pride of Sri Lankan royal tradition backed by Buddhist ideology. From Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, and Tissamaharama to Jaffna and Trincomalee; every spot has its own cultural legacy and is worth exploring in a heritage expedition of Sri Lanka.

What are the places to visit on Sri Lanka heritage tours?

  1. Anuradhapura…
  2. Polonnaruwa…
  3. Sigiriya…
  4. Dambulla…
  5. Kandy…
  6. Kataragama…
  7. Galle…

Sri Lanka heritage tours organized by Seerendipity tours are a part of our effort to showcase the rich Sri Lankan legacy to the locals as well as foreign travelers. Venturing on a Sri Lanka heritage tour is the best way to feel the grandeur of Sri Lankan culture, once echoed far and wide in the world. You can live up to the type of comfort level that the Royal family experienced with our luxury Sri Lanka heritage tour that includes five-star accommodation and transportation in a modern luxury vehicle.  

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Visiting Museums on Sri Lanka heritage tours

Even though visiting museums is part of the Sri Lanka heritage tours, some of the Sri Lanka heritage tours do not include museums, it is mainly due to time constraints. Usually, in most Sri Lanka heritage tours, the priority is given to visiting cultural monuments rather than visiting museums, therefore visiting museums is subject to the availability of time.

Entrance fees for Museums

Visiting the museums located within historical places does not cost you extra money, however, unavailability of time prevents you from visiting them. If you go for a short Sri Lanka heritage tour such as 2 days cultural triangle tour, or one day Sigiriya and Dambulla tour, it will be a daunting task to find time to visit museums. However, if you plan a one-week Sri Lanka heritage tour you will be able to find time to visit museums in cultural cities. 

Sri Lanka cultural triangle tour-4 days

Most monuments in the cultural sites are in dilapidated condition and difficult to ascertain how they appeared in the past. If you can find the time to visit the museum along with the monuments it is a wise decision as it allows you to witness the models of the monuments that sit in the cities. Don’t restrict the monuments to the stones and brick structures, they have much more important than that because they are examples of engineering skills and artistic value of ancient civilization. 

Thus, whatever you expect from your Sri Lanka heritage trip, Seerendipity tours offer you a personalized tour that is carefully crafted to meet your expectations. Just get in touch with our local staff, who are very knowledgeable about designing Sri Lanka tour packages, they are more than happy to help you. Most importantly we do not charge anything to help you to plan not only the Sri Lanka heritage trip but also any type of Sri Lanka tour.

Sri Lanka is a cultural melting pot with many cultures and religious groups, all of which enjoy a rich historical past. With diverse traditions and cultures in the hand, Sri Lanka lures travelers from all parts of the world. Sri Lanka heritage tours drive you beyond the luxurious façade of travel and into an authentic experience. Here is an 8-day Sri Lanka heritage tour that enables you to see the crumbling monuments in the culture along with many other unforgettable experiences.

Simply Sri Lanka 8 Days Private Tour with Luxury Accommodation- This eight-day private tour takes you to the most important tourist places on the island such as Sigiriya rock, Dambulla golden temple, and the tooth relic temple of Kandy, the national park of Udawalawe. Towards the end of the trip, you will be anchoring on the empty beaches of Mirissa.

What are the 7 Important places to visit with the Sri Lanka heritage tour?

Anuradhapura: First capital of Sri Lanka

If it is a Sri Lanka heritage tour it is difficult to forget this archaeological zoo. Anuradhapura is the most historical city on the island dating back to the 3rd century BC, it was the ruling capital of the Sri Lankan monarchy for more than 1000 years. The archaeological city occupies more than 40sq km in the dry north-central province of Sri Lanka.

Anuradhapura is a UNESCO world heritage site due to its historical value. Anuradhapura harbors some important historical and religious monuments such as Ruwanweli pagoda (stupa), the sacred Bo tree is better known as Sri Maha Bodhi as well as many other monuments. Some of the monuments are stupendous and they were among the biggest structures in the world, Eg. Jetawanarama had been the 3rd biggest structure in the world, which had been 122 meters (400 ft) in height, it was as big as the 3rd Pyramid in Giza, it was built by King Mahasen (273–301).    

How to reach: Anuradhapura lies in the north-central province of Sri Lanka about 200 km from Colombo. The journey from Colombo and many west coast beaches takes around 4 hours to reach the historical city. The Inland airport of Anuradhapura is the gateway to the historical site for passenger who travels to Anuradhapura by air. There is plenty of availability of buses from all parts of the island to Anuradhapura but train transport is available only from Colombo. 

Weather: Anuradhapura sits in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, where rainfall is scarce. The average temperature in Anuradhapura hovers around 35°C, but there can be warmer days during the drought and the temperature can go up to around 40°C.

Anuradhapura city tour
The Sri Lanak heritage tour includes an Anuradhapura city tour. This is a hop-on hop-off city tour that lasts about 3 hours. During the city tour, the travelers visit dozens of temples, palaces, garden, temples, stupas, and many ancient structures. Anuradhapura city tour is the first major activity on the heritage tour of Sri Lanka. During the city tour, the travelers visit 8 Buddhist religious sites in Anuradhapura and they considered to be s significant icons that represent Sri Lanka’s connection to Buddhism, these eight sites are called “Atamasthanaya,” meaning “eight sacred places.” Below are these 8 sacred Buddhist sites.

  • Ruwanwelisaya-It is a “stupa” that is built by King Dutugamunu and is one of the biggest completed ones to date.
  • Thuparamaya-It is the oldest ‘dagoba’ in Sri Lanka, and possibly the oldest visible one in the world.
  • Lovamahapaya-The significance of this building is that the roof was once covered in bronze tiles.
  • Abhayagiri-It is one of the biggest viharas in Anuradhapura. It was a monastery of 5000 monks.
  • Jethavanaramaya-It is a sacred world heritage site and accommodated some 3000 monks at the time. It is also quite similar to Abhayagiri.
  • Mirisavetiya-This stupa was built by King Dutugamunu after defeating King Elara.
  • Lankaramaya-This is also built by a king called King Valagamba in the Anuradhapura Kingdom times and is one of the eight sacred places in the city.
  • Sri Maha Bodhi- A sapling of sacred Bo-tree under which Buddha found enlightenment in India.
Sri Lanka grand tour, a 14-day private Sri Lanka tour offers the perfect introduction for visitors to Sri Lanka. Your customizable 14 days tour itinerary includes the cultural triangle, Sri Lanka hill country, wildlife safari, south coast and west coast beaches. From US$ 895 per person.

Polonnaruwa: Second capital of Sri Lanka

Polonnaruwa had been the second capital of Sri Lanka (1056 AD–1236 AD), and it is a place of some remarkable monuments belong places, audience halls, hospitals, parks, and temples. Unlike in Anuradhapura, here the visitors can see a few Hindu monuments along with Buddhist temples and other monuments and showing the influence of Hinduism prevailing in the city. The city is smaller pampered to Anuradhapura but packed with monuments, the majority of which are Buddhist religious sites.

What to explore- Polonnaruwa archaeological museum, Parakrama Samudra, Audience hall, Parakrama palace, Gal Viharaya, Vatadage, and Thuparama.

How to reach: Polonnaruwa can be easily reached from Colombo and all other major cities on the island. Plenty of buses are available to reach Polonnaruwa from Colombo but it would be a bit difficult to reach Polonnaruwa by train and only a few daily trains are available to reach it.  

Polonnaruwa city tour

The city tour of Polonnaruwa is part of every Sri Lanka heritage tour. The city tour of Polonnaruwa includes some of the most popular historical sites in Sri Lanka such as the Galvihara temple. Galvihara harbors some of the best preserved Buddha statues in Sri Lanka and they are dating back to the 10th century AD. The Polonnaruwa city tour includes temples, stupas, dagobas, palaces, gardens, and many other ancient monuments. The ancient constructions in the city are a testimony of Sri Lankan historical craftsmanship. In this 3-hour guided tour of the Ancient city of Polonnaruwa, you will cover mainly following attractions;
• Royal Palace (Palace of King Parakramabahu, the most prolific and gifted builder of the era)
• Nissankamulla Palace (Royal audience hall with impressive stonework)
• Gal Viharaya (Contains some of the best rock sculptures in the country)
• Thuparama & Lankathilaka Image Houses (Good examples of vaulted shrine rooms)
• Vatadage (Gives an idea of what a complete vatadage may have looked like)
• Rankoth Vehera (Largest stupa in Polonnaruwa)
• Parakramabahu Statue (Statue of one of the greatest kings of ancient Sri Lanka)

Sigiriya: One of the Oldest landscaped Gardens in the world

Visiting Sigiriya is on the bucket list of every foreign traveler in Sri Lanka and it is the most popular iconic tourist attraction the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. This UNESCO world heritage is one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world dating back to the 5th century AD. The art gallery with tempera paintings at Sigiriya depicting figures of ladies is very popular in the world, these paintings were invented by ancient artisans using natural paintings. A Large number of paintings were destroyed over the last several centuries due to the wrath of rain, wind, and sun rays. At present only, a few paintings are remaining and they are in good shape with bright colors.

What to explore- Sigiriya archaeological museum, Pidurangala temple, Sigiriya fortress.

How to reach: The easiest way to reach Sigiriya is by road, air transportation is also available on-demand with far higher rates compared to road transport.

Dambulla golden cave temple: one of the oldest cave temples in the world

Dambulla cave temple hides a large number of Buddhist religious paintings dating back to the 1st century BC. It is believed that temple had provided shelter to the Sri Lankan in the 1st century BC during an invasion. Later the King managed to get the throng back and converted the natural caves into an impressive Buddhist temple. There are 5 natural caves in the temple hidden in the rocky outcrop, where the visitors can see more than 150 Buddha statues, God figures, and a statue of a king. The temple is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is a must-visit place on the Sri Lanka heritage tour.

Explore: There are five caves to be visited at the site.

How to reach: The temple lies near Dambulla city and it is only a distance away from Dambulla. Road transport is the best way of reaching this historical temple. Air transportation is also available on request.

This 10-day private Colombo package includes 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Golden Temple of Dambulla, Galle Fort, and Temple of the tooth relic with Sri Lanka mountain resorts, southern national parks, and western and southern beach resorts.

Kandy: Tooth relic temple

The tooth relic temple of Kandy considered the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island, houses the left eye tooth of Buddha. The Annual Ceremony of Esala ceremony which takes place at the tooth relic temple is one of the biggest celebrations on the island. The yearly procession marks the arrival of the left eye tooth of Buddha in the country (2nd century AD). This is another religious event that was participated by half a million spectators from all around the world. The pageant hit the street for 10 consecutive nights in the month of July/August, which was participated by hundreds of elephants, drummers, flutists, and dancers. 

What to explore- Tooth relic temple, International Buddhist museum, Kandy lake, Royal botanical garden.

How to reach: Kandy is the hub of the Sri Lankan road network, it is well-connected with all parts of the island. Rail transportation from Colombo is also available and daily many trains ply between Kandy and Colombo.

Kataragama: God’s own country

Kataragama is popular among Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims but it is not a popular attraction for foreign travelers. However, it is well worth investing your time to explore this magnificent temple. It is one of the best places to see the devotion of Sri Lank people to its religion.

The temple is a classic example showing the religious harmony among the Hindus and Buddhists, where you see the Hindu temples, as well as Buddhist temples, brushing their shoulders with each other. However, this south coast locality is not only popular for cultural and historical wealth but also for natural wealth. It reflects many leading wildlife reserves for Sri Lanka jungle tours such as Yala national parks, Kumana national park and Udawalawe national park.

What to explore- Kataragama temple, Yala national park, Kumana national park, Kirinda temple.

How to reach: Kataragama can be conveniently reached from all major cities. Air transportation is also available on request however reach the temple by train as the southern railway track is not extended up to Kataragama, however, you can make ¾ of the journey by train and the rest by bus, by using the Matara bound trains from Colombo.

Galle: The city with Dutch colonial heritage

Galle is another UNESCO world heritage site due to the presence of Galle Fort. The fort is the most important historical monument in the city, dating back to the 15s. It is an architectural masterpiece, where you find thousands of structures in old Dutch architecture. The entire complex is turned into a small old European city by building a high-rise wall around it. 

The Dutch governor (1656-1796) and high-rank Dutch officials lived in the Fort. Today Dutch fort is the most important tourist attraction on the south coast and attracts thousands of visitors every day. From stunning palm-fringed beaches, colonial structures, flavorsome cuisines, and vibrant art, Galle has a lot to explore.

What to explore- Galle Fort, Hikkaduwa beach, Whale watching Mirissa, and the temples.

Food: southern Sri Lankan coastal cities such as Galle and Hikkaduwa are also popular for fishing and producing a large portion of the Sri Lankan fish plate. Local seafood specialties coming from the south coast are considered to be some of the most delicious recipes in the country and don’t fail to sample a seafood dish if you happen to travel to southern Sri Lanka.   

How to reach: Galle is well connected with all major cities on the island and can be reached by bus, train, or plane.

Sri Lanka heritage tour itinerary

Duration: 7 nights – 8 days
Locations: Colombo – Anuradhapura – Sigiriya – Polonnaruwa – Dambulla – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Katargama – Galle- Colombo

Detailed Itinerary of Sri Lanka heritage tour

Day 01: Arrive, Colombo – Jaipur (35 km- 45 minutes)
The tour starts in Colombo as with most Sri Lanka round tours, you will be welcome by your tour guide and take you to the Colombo hotel where you can take a rest after a long flight. Overnight Hotel- Colombo

Day 02: Arrive Colombo – Anuradhapura (200 km- 4 hours 30 minutes)
After breakfast starts the journey to Anuradhapura. You will reach Anuradhapura toward mid-day. Make the lunch break before proceeding to the historical city. After some rest & lunch start the Anuradhapura city tour and visit historical monuments. Later proceed to the hotel in Sigiriya for an overnight stay.

Overnight Hotel- Sigiriya

Day 03: Sigiriya-Polonnaruwa (58 km- 1 hour)
After early morning breakfast at the hotel leave for Sigiriya rock fortress before it is getting too hot and crowded. The Rock fortress is only 10 minutes away from your hotel. After the hike at Sigiriya rock make rest at your hotel. In the afternoon leave for Polonnaruwa historical city, where you explore historical monuments and visit the historical museum.

Overnight Hotel- Sigiriya

wildlife exploration with your heritage expeditions Sri Lanka

The Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks are very popular places for Sri Lanka wildlife tours and to spot wild elephants. Both national parks are located within the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka giving easy access to travelers, who stay in Sigiriya. You can make the evening jeep safari at one of the national parks mentioned above at your own cost.

Adding Village tour to your heritage expeditions in Sri Lanka

You also can take part in the village, which is also an optional excursion to the remote village of Hiriwadunna in Habarana. The tour includes a visit to a farm’s land, a paddleboat tour in the village lake, and a bullock cart ride. The tour also includes a cooking class with lunch, where you cook a delicious Sri Lankan meal with our female chef. You can move freely around the village and enjoy the evening.

Day 04: Sigiriya – Dambulla – Matale – Kandy (90 km / 2 hours)After leisurely breakfast leave for Kandy, En-route stop at Dambulla golden cave temple and spice garden. You will be making a stop at Matale Muttumari Amman temple, which is a modern Hindu temple. The temple does not have much historical value however it is a popular Hindu temple in the area. 

Overnight Hotel- Kandy

Day 05: Kandy
There is a lot to see and do in the city of Kandy and it has a very rich colonial heritage. After the leisurely breakfast in this beautiful city, you will be visiting Peradeniya’s botanical garden and downtown Kandy. Later after lunch visit Kandyan cultural show and the tooth relic temple. 

Overnight Hotel- Kandy

Day 06: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya (75 km / 3 hours
After breakfast proceeds to the Kandy railway station, where you board the Nuwara Eliya bound train. Today you are going to experience one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. The rail track from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is full of beautiful scenery and you can enjoy the beautiful scenery as the train slowly moves across the mountain valleys. In the afternoon visit the tea factory and Seetha temple, which is another historical city connected to Ramayana.

Overnight Hotel- Nuwara Eliya

Add a little bit of a touch of nature to your heritage expeditions in Sri Lanka

Visiting Horton plains national park is available as an optional activity today and you can explore this natural jewel after arriving at Nuwara Eliya. If you choose to visit Horton plains national you will be heading to the national park first and later proceed to the hotel.  Horton plains national park is one of the last remaining cloud forests on the island, and it has its own unique atmosphere. The park is considered to be a super biodiversity hotspot and a large number of Fauna and Flora in the park are endemic. Some of the rare animal species such as slender Lorries still can be spotted here.  

Day 07: Nuwara Eliya – Kataragama (140 km/ 03 hours)
After breakfast leave for the hotel in Kataragama, En-rouet visits the temple of Kataragama. Later in the day safari at Yala national park, is an optional activity, and the tour is arranged upon request.

Overnight Hotel- Kataragama

Day 08: Kataragama – Galle – Colombo (295 km/ 4 hours)
after breakfast hit the Colombo Kataragama main road which lies along the southern coast of Sri Lanka. You will be traveling along beautiful beaches of the southern coast, where you can make occasional stops to take photos and dip your foot in the warm water. You will reach the Galle Fort in just an afternoon, where you make the lunch break. After lunch, you are free to explore the Fort on your own with a walking tour of the fort. If you wish to accompany the guide, he will more than happy to do that. Later proceed to the hotel in Colombo or to the Colombo international airport.

Optional activities on the west coast for the heritage expeditions of Sri Lanka

Western coast beach areas are full of activities and sightseeing, you can also visit a few more interesting places on your journey to Colombo.  

Optional activity: Boat tour at Madu river estuary

This Ramsar wetland is located between Colombo and Galle near the km post of 118 from Colombo. Madu River estuary is one of the 2 Ramsar wetlands on the island and one of the best places for boating in Sri Lanka. Usually, the boat tour at Madhu lasts about 2 hours, during which you will encounter many avian fauna species and animals such as crocodiles, land monitors, and monkeys. Madu River estuary is also home to a large extent of mangrove forest.

Optional activity: Visiting Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary

Exploring Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary is another optional activity that can be done on this Sri Lanka heritage tour. Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary is a valuable ecological asset of Sri Lanka, where it is possible to see coral reefs, sea turtles, and a large number of exotic fish species with seagrass. Most importantly you do not need to jump into the water as you explore the underwater corals and fish species, because you can rent a glass-bottom boat at Hikkaduwa and conveniently explore the underwater world from the boat.   

Optional activity: Visiting mask museum

Mask Museum of Ambalangoda is located between Bentota and Hikkaduwa and is popular for wood carving in Sri Lanka. Ariyapala mask museum is a place to see many hundreds of masks and some of them are many centuries old.

End of Sri Lanka heritage tour

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