15 of the Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Track

Turtles in Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary

Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Track

Sri Lanka is a cultural melting point and home for a number of ethnic groups. Whether you have explored enough of Sri Lanka popular tourist attractions, or just keen to drop into several less touristy places, there is an interesting blend of places to visit in Sri Lanka that are off the beaten track. Here are the 15 of the Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Track.

What are the best places to visit Sri Lanka off the beaten track?

  • Sinharaja rainforest. …
  • Southern Sri Lanka. …
  • Haputale. …
  • Madu river wetland. …
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress. …
  • Kataragama. …
  • Dova cave temple. …
  • Mulgirigala Buddhist temple. …
  • Negombo Lagoon. …
  • Bundala national park. …
  • Muthurajawela. …
  • Pigeon Island Marine Sanctuary. …
  • Udawalawe. …
  • Wilpattu National Park. …
  • Kitulgala. …

9 Off the beaten track tours Sri Lanka

Visit off the beaten path hotspots with Sri Lanka adventure tour

What is this program like?
Day 1 Colombo-Kandy
Day 2 Kandy-Nuwara Eliya
Day 3 Nuwara Eliya-Kitulgala_Sinharaja
Day 4 Sinharaja-Udawalawe
Day 5 Udawalawe-Galle-Bentota
Day 6 Bentota-Colombo

What are the inclusions of the tour?

Pinnawala elephant orphanage
Horton Plains national park
Udawattekele rainforest
Royal botanical garden
Galway’s bird sanctuary
White water rafting
Sinharaja forest reserve
Udawalawe national park
Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary
Madu river estuary
and many other sites.
5 nights accommodation with daily breakfast and dinner
Entire ground transportation in a modern, air-conditioned vehicle
All taxes

Sri Lanka off the beaten track tours at Sinharaja rainforest

Being a tropical country Sri Lanka has the natural wealth at its best. Sinharaja rainforest is undoubtedly the most renowned and valuable natural wealth of Sri Lanka. Sinharaja rainforest is comparable to forests such as Amason and Kingo, it has breathtaking and fascinated landscapes as well as rich fauna and flora within its realm, in fact, sinharaja is the only Gondwanaland patch of forest in Asia. Therefore Sinharaja offers many opportunities for off the beaten track tours in Sri Lanka.

From the thousands of years of old giant trees and fascinated wildlife to rugged high rise mountains, there is a lot to explore in this tropical heaven. Sinharaja is one of the most important Sri Lanka off the beaten track attraction and should be in the bucket list of every nature lover. The sinharaja rainforest stands from the plethora of sites for adventure tours in Sri Lanka due to its high biodiversity.

Sri Lanka off the beaten track Southern province

The vast southern coastal region is another Off the Beaten Track attraction in Sri Lanka and it can be best described as Sri Lanka’s “wild south”. Much of this region is consisting of the thickly forested countryside that dominated with thorn bushes and species of dry zone trees and plants. The extensive, pristine beaches of southern Sri Lanka are largely unexplored and untouched by the tourist traffic.

Sri Lanka off the beaten track attraction – Haputale

When it comes to the places in high altitude areas for holiday in Sri Lanka, you would most likely opt for Nuwara Eliya. But what about quite unpopular Haputale? Tucked away from Nuwara Eliya in the western slope of the central mountain range, this untouched wilderness lies 1431 meters above the sea level. This mountain resort is scattered with patches of forests, tea gardens, cascading waterfalls, small villages, and enclosed by soaring mountains crowned with a green blanket.

Madu river wetland-Sri Lanka off the beaten track tour

Madu river wetland, Sri Lanka’s largest inhabited island complex, lies in the imposing Madu river estuary in Bentota beach. This Ramsar wetland is a heaven of natural wealth. A world within a world, boating, and canoeing, in the wetland of Madu river, are the best way to explore rich green cover and animal world of Madu River.

The wetland of Madu offers a plethora of off the beaten track activities and most of them are waterbased activities such as bird watching, fishing, exploring mangrove forests, kayaking and visit historical Buddhist temples all are on the bucket list of the visitors of this off the beaten track attraction. Madu river estuary ios one of the most popular places for Sri Lanka off the beaten track tour and mainly attracts the travellers from southern and west coast beaches, due to its close proximity to travellers spend beach holidays in south and west coast of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya rock fortress is one of the most popular off the beaten track tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. For those who enjoy the mountain climbing and feel not fit enough to climb Mt Everest, then it is the time to consider the Sigiriya rock fortress. It is a lot more easy to climb Sigiriya rock fortress than gigantic mountains such as Mt Everest. This adventure does not last more than two hours and it is suitable for young and old as well. Sigiriya important is not only as an adventure destination but also due to the historical factors.

Sigiriya is a world heritage site and one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world originated in the 5th century AD. At present, there is only one route to go in the upward direction of the rock. The steps provide a very easy climb for the novices and experienced mountain climbers. Every climber is rewarded with a breathtaking view from the summit of the rock and some of the oldest paintings known as Sigiriya Apsaras on the halfway up the rock.


If the hustle of Kandy is too much, Kataragama is a more peaceful alternative for you. The regions are often referred that abode by God Kataragama or Murugan and this is the Gods own country. This holy off the beaten track village is sitting along the banks of Holy River known as “Menik Ganga”. The popular temple of Kataragama is visited by the believers of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. If you plan to visit the temple in the month of July, August you are very lucky to witness one of the most colourful pageants on the island known as the Esala ceremony of Kataragama temple.

Dova cave temple-unknown off the beaten track attraction Sri Lanka

Dova cave temple, situated about 10 km south of Bandarawela on the way to Kataragama and Yala from Nuwara Eliya, often referred as a part of the underground tunnel network of Ravana, existed about 7000 years back. Today the temple is purely a Buddhist religious site with beautifully painted image house and dozens of Buddha statues.

The present temple is dating back to the Polonnaruwa period (11th Century). The temple is an unknown historical site in Sri Lanka and even it is not known to most people in other parts of the island. The temple has a natural cave, which is the most important attraction at the site. The spacious cave showcases a large number of Buddha statues and ancient paintings depicting scenes from the life of Buddha.

buddha statue

Mulgirigala Buddhist temple

Mulgirigala is one of the oldest temples on the island near Tangalle. This historical temple is dating back to the pre-Christian era (2nd Century BC). It had been a Buddhist temple complex, learning centre as well as a library. There had been a large number of books and manuscripts, including many original version of books, in the ancient library. The books were written by the scholarly monks of the monastery. The monks have copied every book written on the island, pertaining to religious or secular.

Scholars around the world had come to the library to get copies of the valuable writings. The caves in the lower part of the temple had been used as the shelters for the meditating monks. Scholars from all over the island had gathered here to study Buddhism and meditation. Today Mulgirigala is a valuable archaeological site and been visited by foreigners and Sri Lankans.

The temple is located in four levels and at the most lover level of the ground is several caves that housed the library in the ancient time. The second level is about 10 meters above the first level. Sacred Bo-tree, ancient granite caves that turned to image houses can be seen here. There are several caves with valuable Buddha statues at this level. The statues are dating back to several centuries from the present.

The trail up to the summit or the highest level is about 500m long, but the climb is very steep. The climb gets steeped gradually and towards the end of the climb is the most difficult part, where the steps are carved on to the solid rock. The third level of the climb houses several granite caves and you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the surrounding lush green vegetation.

The third level skirts the edge of more than 1000ft sheer cliff. A large number of ancient Buddha statues and painting can be seen here. Some of the statues are renovated and they are in very good condition. But paintings are in a dilapidated condition, while they are not conserved during the last several centuries.

The last portion of the climb is the most difficult party to climb due to the narrowness and steepness of the climb, in some places, there is hardly any room to move your body, during the climb. The climb culminated with the view of the historical Stupa and patches of dry zone evergreen in southern Sri Lanka.

Negombo Lagoon

You can be forgiven if you had no idea about the Negombo lagoon and its mangrove vegetation. Negombo lagoon has a large extent of mangrove forest and it is one of the largest mangrove forests in the country. Despite its importance as one of the last remaining mangrove forests in the country, it is not on the most Sri Lanka tour itineraries. However, this fascinating and remarkable natural forest definitely worth a visit.

Bundala national park – a top-notch Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Track

Are you hoping to visit Yala national park but like to avoid the crowd? It is only 1-hour drive to Bundala national park from Yale wildlife reserve. Bundala national park is located adjoining the Yala wildlife reserve and in Bundala also visitors can see the most animal that roams in the Yala national park. Bundala is rank among the best places to spot a large number of bird species. Bundala is included in every bird watching tour in Sri Lanka. Bundala is the resting place of bird that migrates to the southern hemisphere in the months of October to March from Europe.

Muthurajawela – Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Track attraction near Colombo

Muthurajawela wetland is located about 20 km from the commercial centre, Colombo of Sri Lanka. It is a heaven for nature lovers. Muthurajawela is abundant of various species of mangroves and its inhabitants. It is inhabited by a large number of fish species, animals such as Crocodile, monitors, monkeys, deer, reptiles, birds and insects. It can be described as a must visited place for bird watchers, animal lovers and nature enthusiasts.

A large number of shallow waterways flow into the wetland, nourishing it with the earth residue. Hence it is very rich in various types of mangroves. Muthurajawela acts as a floodwater trapper, allowing the excess water flows into it during the heavy rain. It can be best explored by a boat; a boat tour through the wetland on the shallow waterways allows you to enjoy the riverine environment of this natural wetland.

Make sure you have an experienced tour guide to guide you and explain to you the vast diverse wildlife that includes long-tail leaf monkey, Crocodiles and a large array of aquatic bird species. The boat tour usually starts early in the morning or in the evening and lasts about four hours. During this time the animals are most active and the birds also can be best observed.

Diving Sri Lanka

Pigeon Island Marine Sanctuary

Pigeon island marine sanctuary is located some 20 km away from the main city of Trincomalee in the east coast of Sri Lanka. it is a world-class diving spot and attracts a large number of divers every year. Pigeon island marine sanctuary is very rich in marine life and very suitable for experienced and novice divers alike. It has a large number of coral reefs starting from the shallow waters and spreads to the Deep Ocean.

The marine park covers the pigeon island and its surrounding. Pigeon Island is about 5 nautical miles from the east coast beach holiday destination Nilaweli. Large numbers of people come here for Snorkeling and diving and they are fascinated by the diversity of exotic fish species living around the reefs. The waters around the pigeon island are also suitable for whale watching, dolphin watching, fishing and shipwrecks exploration.

Udawalawe-Sri Lanka off the beaten track attraction to encounter wildlife

The Udawalawe national park is one of the most popular national parks in the west coast of Sri Lanka.  It can be easily reached from the beach holiday destinations on the west coast of the island. Udawalawe is one of the most visited national parks in the country. Udawalawe offers many possibilities for off the beaten track tours in Sri Lanka such as trekking, caving, rainforest exploration tour, kayaking and Sri Lanka wildlife tours.

The national park was established in the 1960s and popular for elephant watching. There are large numbers of elephants in Udawalawe national park due to the abundance of elephant foods, water tanks and small land area compared to other national parks provides better chances of spotting large herds of jumbos. This national park spread over the dry zone of Sri Lanka and located adjoining the Udawalawe reservoir. The national park is inhabited by a large number of animals such as elephants, leopards, bear, and crocodiles.

Sri Lanka off the beaten track safari at -Wilpattu National Park

One of the distinct features of the park is the existence “Willus” (Natural lakes), these are sand rimmed natural basins, that filled up with the rainwater. The number of Willus, as well as tanks, exceeds many dozens and they are important water storage facilities in the park

The national park is located in north-east Sri Lanka near the cultural triangle. The park can be added to the tours and excursions aimed at visiting Anuradhapura because it is located on the main road from Colombo to Anuradhapura. It provides easy access for travellers who visit historical sites such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Yapahuwa. Wilpattu national park is one of the most popular spots for watching leopards in Asia. It is inhabited by a large number of leopards and was closed for more than 30 years due to the security reasons. Wilpattu is the largest national park in the country and spread over 1317 square kilometre.

Kitulgala-Sri Lanka off the beaten track adventure tours

Kitulgala in the Sabaragamuwa province is very popular Sri Lanka off the beaten track holiday destination, which attracts most adventure holiday seekers, who come to engage in adrenaline-pumping activities such as mountain climbing, rock climbing, waterfall abseiling, white water rafting etc. Kitulgala is also a very popular place for rainforest exploration, where you encounter a large tract of secondary rainforest cover. This tiny remote village lies on the Awissawella-Nuwara Eliya main road and travellers can easily reach Kitulgala By road.

If you wish to take any of the above mentioned  Sri Lanka off the beaten track tours, Seerendipity tours are ready to make a suitable package for your Sri Lanka off the beaten track tour. Please get in touch with us for more information on 0094-77-4440977 or admin@seerendipitytours.com.