Things to do in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a country with very high diversity. Sri Lanka offers countless tourist attractions from historical temples to rolling tea plantations, colonial heritage sites, wildlife reserves, amazing beaches, scenic landscapes, and many more. When it comes to interesting activities to do, Sri Lanka offers many dozens, from visiting ancient temples to doing safaris, beach hopping, engaging in water sports, doing adventure activities, and many more.  We have summed up below the things to do in Sri Lanka, however, the duration of your trip is a critical factor that decides how many and what places you can visit on your Sri Lanka trip.

Here are the 18 best things to do in Sri Lanka

  1. Wildlife safari
  2. Visiting Anuradhapura ancient city
  3. Visiting Sigiriya rock fortress
  4. Climbing Sigiriya rock
  5. Visiting the temple of the tooth relic
  6. Exploring the Royal botanical garden
  7. Tea factory visit
  8. Exploring Galle Fort
  9. Colombo city tour
  10. Sampling delicious fresh fruit
  11. Taking a hill country train trip
  12. Visiting Ella
  13. Visiting the golden temple of Dambulla
  14. Visiting Pidurangala Ancient temple
  15. Visiting Mirissa Beach
  16. Visiting red mosque
  17. Safari at Yala National Park
  18. Climbing Adam’s peak
  19. Exploring Mihintale
  20. Take in little Adam’s peak at sunrise
  21. Visit Bundala National ParkVisit Ganduwa Island
  22. Visit Bundala National Park
  23. Ascend Pidurangala
  24. Visit the isolated Kalpitiya Peninsula
  25. Make camp in the highlands of Haputale
  26. Travel from Colombo via train
  27. Savor Sri Lankan rice and curry
  28. Visit Wilpattu National Park
  29. Take in the world’s largest gathering of wild Asian elephants
  30. Visit Unawatuna
  31. Get to know the indigenous people of Sri Lanka
  32. Sample some street cuisine, kottu roti
  33. Stroll through the peculiar alleyways of Galle Fort
  34. Ride the waves at the first female-run surf club in Sri Lanka
  35. Ride around the Polonnaruwa old kingdom
  36. Spend time in a treehouse to get in touch with nature
  37. Enjoy a hopper snack

1. Things to do in Sri Lanka: Wildlife Safari

Sri Lanka is one of the best places for wildlife safari. Sri Lanka is considered the best safari destination in the world, outside of Africa. Sri Lanka has one of the highest numbers of indigenous fauna and flora in the world. There are two dozen national parks in Sri Lanka, and travellers can choose one of them to do a safari in. The variety of wildlife observed in the national park varied depending on the national park. If you choose Yala National Park on the south coast of Sri Lanka, you can witness a wide range of wild animals, including elephants, leopards, bears, crocodiles, jackals, wild buffaloes, and many more. Spotting leopards and bears can be difficult in the national park; however, spotting a wild elephant is fairly easy. Some of the popular places for safaris in Sri Lanka are Yala national park, Minneriya national park, Udawalawe national park and Wilpattu National Park.

What are the best places for a Sri Lanka safari?

  • Yala national park
  • Wilpattu national park
  • Minneriya national park
  • Udawalawe national park

2. Things to do in Sri Lanka: exploring the ancient city of Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is the first recorded capital on the island of Sri Lanka. The city can be explored on foot, by bike, or by private taxi. The ancient city’s history dates back to the 3rd century BC, and Anuradhapura is one of the most ancient capitals in the world. The ancient city was home to hundreds of Buddhist temples, palaces, gardens, monasteries, stupas, and other historic buildings during its heyday. According to the historical notes, tens of thousands of monks lived in the ancient city. The travellers can cycle through the ancient city while exploring archaeological sites. Visiting the three largest man-made stupas on the city tour is a main highlight for most travellers. Jetawanaram Stupa was the biggest Stupa found in Anuradhapura, and it was the 3rd largest man-made ancient structure in the world after the 2 pyramids in Giza.

3. Things to do in Sri Lanka: visiting Ritigala monastery

Ritigala monastery can be classified as a rare gem tucked away about 200 km from Colombo. This forest monastery is visited by very few travellers, and it is frequented by Buddhist monks and devotees. Ritigala is one of the oldest monasteries in Sri Lanka; it is as old as the ancient city of Anuradhapura. This off-the-beaten-track forest monastery is huge, spreads over 700 acres, and was occupied by Buddhist monks. The monks lived in the forest and had a very modest lifestyle while practising the teachings of Buddha. Today, the forest monastery is abandoned, and a large part of the monastery is taken over by the jungle.

4. Climbing Sigiriya rock

Sigiriya rock fortress is one of the most important tourist attractions in Sri Lanka and included in most Sri Lanka tour packages. Sigiriya Rock Climb is about conquering 12,000 steps along with a walk of many hundreds of metres through the ancient city. However, most travellers say that it is 100% worth the time and calories spent at the ancient site. Sigiriya is one of the most beautiful historical sites in the world, and it is surrounded by patches of forest, isolated villages, beautiful countryside, rice paddies, lakes, and crumbling monuments. The Sigiriya rock fortress is involved with a rich historical past; it shows very high knowledge of the ancient people on engineering, water management, as well as arts and crafts.

5. Visiting the temple of the tooth relic

Sri Lanka is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic country. Many religious and ethnic groups live in this cultural melting pot. However, Buddhism is the most popular religion on the island, and about 69% of the population adheres to Buddhism. Many thousands of temples are dotted throughout the island, and they are to be discovered in all parts of the country. The Temple of the Tooth Relic is the holiest and most sacred Buddhist temple on the island, and visiting this ancient temple is on the bucket list of all Buddhists around the world. The temple houses one of the most important and sacred elements for Buddhists; it is the left eye tooth of Buddha, which was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD from India.  Being the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island, it is visited by tens of thousands of locals and travellers every day. The best time to visit the temple is during the ritual hours, which happen three times a day. To enter the tooth relic temple, visitors should wear an appropriate dress and remove shoes and head covers too.

6. Explore the Royal Botanical Garden

The Peradeniya Botanical Garden, better known as Peradeniya Botanical Garden, is the largest of its kind on the island and is located only a few kilometres from the ancient city of Kandy. This is heaven for anyone who is obsessed with trees, plants, orchids, and other flowering plants.

7. Visit a tea factory

Sri Lanka is one of the largest tea producers in the world, and the tea industry helps the island earn a large amount of foreign currency. The tea industry is the third-most important foreign exchange earner for the island after textiles. A tea factory visit includes both a tour of the tea plantation and a factory visit.

8. Explore Galle Fort

Exploring Galle Fort is on the bucket list of most foreign travellers in Sri Lanka. Galle Fort is a huge contrast to most things that visitors see on their Sri Lanka trip. The Galle Fort is purely about the colonial past. The Galle City is located towards the southern tip of Sri Lanka, and it hosts the best preserved colonial city in Sri Lanka. The Galle Fort is the best preserved colonial city in Asia. The Portuguese built it first in 1505, and the Dutch East Indian Company later widened it. Explore the ancient fort on a walk along the cobble-stoned pathways and visit its museums, galleries, temples, and churches to learn about the rich historical past of this fortified city. See the many ethnic and religious groups living in the city while rubbing their shoulders.

9. Explore Colombo

Colombo provides a different experience to the travellers; here you see a bustling metropolis against the charming remote village and lush jungle landscape that you see mostly in other parts of the country. In Colombo, you encounter high-rise buildings, a lot of Tuk Tuks, packed streets, and urban temples. Colombo is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious city with hundreds of Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Islamic religious sites throughout the city. Colombo can be explored on a 4-hour city tour or a full-day city tour, depending on the time you can dedicate to it. With other interesting temples, parks, beaches, and historical monuments, Colombo also offers a wide range of restaurants and eateries; therefore, Colombo can be considered one of the best places to enjoy typical Sri Lankan food varieties.

10. Eating fresh fruit

Sri Lanka is a tropical country and offers dozens of delicious fruit varieties. Fruit stalls can be found everywhere on the island. They are selling fresh fruits at a low cost.

11. Taking a hill country train journey

The train trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and Ella is considered to be one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The hill country blue train on the rail track while passing the green-capped mountain, tea plantations, patches of forests, and gorges Sri Lanka hill country train trip offers a good opportunity for travellers to witness the breathtaking scenery in the hill country. The train trip is also a perfect opportunity to interact with the local community and taste delicious Sri Lanka local food.

12. Things to do in Sri Lanka: Explore Ella

Ella is one of the most popular hill country resorts in Sri Lanka. Ella is set amidst lush tea plantations and patches of forests. If you look for stunning mountain scenery, natural scenery, and a couple of interesting hikes and treks, Ella is the best bet for you. The travellers spend some time exploring the gorgeous natural forest covered by mountains in Ella, and it is on the bucket list of most travellers. There are numerous guest houses, cafes, galleries, and cosy corners nestled in the hills for a peaceful getaway. Some of the most popular places to visit in Ella are the Nine Arch Bridge, Ella Rock, Mini Adams Peak, Tea Factory, Ravana Waterfall, and Spice Garden.

13. Things to do in Sri Lanka: visiting Golden Temple Dambulla

Dambulla is a charming city in the north-central province of Sri Lanka. Dambulla is one of the popular cities in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka due to the epic golden temple of Dambulla. Dambulla Golden Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical and religious importance to the world. This ancient temple has been a sacred place of worship for Buddhists for more than 2000 years. The temple consists of five natural granite caves. They are filled with giant Buddha statues and wall paintings. The dress code plays an important role in visiting this ancient temple and read our article about visiting Sri Lanka Buddhist temple.

14. Things to do in Sri Lanka: visiting Pidurangala Temple

A kind of off-beaten-track tourist attraction in Sri Lanka in the past. But now it is gaining popularity among travellers. Pidurangala is another ancient temple, and historical notes suggest this ancient temple functioned as the official Buddhist temple of the nearby Sigiriya rock fortress. The rock cave temple has one natural cave with many Buddha statues and Buddhist paintings. Part of the cave temple is found on top of the Pidurangala rock, while the image house, dwelling houses of monks, and sacred bo tree are found at the foothills of the rock. Climbing the Pidurangala rock is not a tedious task if you have already climbed the Sigiriya rock fortress. Plan your Pidurangala temple visit early in the morning so that you can also witness the sunrise from the top of the rock.

15. Things to do in Sri Lanka: visiting Mirissa

Mirissa is a beach town on the south coast of Sri Lanka and offers pristine beaches for swimming, surfing, diving, and whale watching. Mirissa has become a popular whale-watching destination in Asia, and Mirissa attracts a large number of travellers every year to its pristine beaches. Whale watching is a seasonal adventure in most places around the world; however, whale watching is a year-round activity in Mirissa, and there is a very good chance of spotting a couple of blue whales on your whale-watching trip. Mirissa is tucked away about 150 km from Colombo. The beach of Mirissa is dotted with hundreds of beach restaurants, cafes, and bars, making it ideal for nighttime activities.

16. Things to do in Sri Lanka: visit Red Mosque

Located in the busiest part of Colombo, the red mosque is one of the most visited Muslim religious sites in Sri Lanka. The mosque was originally built in 1908; initially, it was small, but now it is enlarged and is one of the biggest mosques in Sri Lanka. The mosque has unique architecture, and its walls are painted red and white. In the early days, the mosque was used by the Arab traders who arrived at Colombo port.

17. Things to do in Sri Lanka: Safari at Yala national park

For wildlife enthusiasts, it is highly recommended to visit Yala National Park. Yala National Park allows travellers to have a top-notch wildlife experience, and Yala is the most popular safari destination in Sri Lanka. The travellers can witness a wide range of wild animals in Yala National Park, including leopards, panthers, elephants, crocodiles, bears, and many other creatures. Yala is the second-biggest national park in Sri Lanka and is considered one of the best national parks in the world to spot leopards due to the high density of leopards. Many archaeological sites are also to be found within the national park, including the Situlpawwa ancient temple, which dates back to the 2nd century BC.

18. Things to do in Sri Lanka-Adams peak hike

The Adams Peak hike is popular among pilgrims and adventure seekers. Adams Peak hike is an adventure activity with a twist of cultural and religious significance. The sacred mountain in Rathnapura is popular as a pilgrimage site among local travellers. At the pinnacle of the mountain is the shrine with a footprint, and this footprint is important for the main three religions in Sri Lanka. Buddhists say that the footprint belongs to Buddha, while Hindu claim that it is the footprint of Adam, Catholics say that it is the footprint of St. Thomas

Adam’s Peak is the 3rd tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, and it is 2300 metres high. Apart from religious reasons, many travellers climb the mountain as an adventure activity.  Hiking at Adams Peak is perhaps the most challenging hike in Sri Lanka. The hike at Adams Peak lasts about 5 hours. Usually, the pilgrims take the arduous journey during the night to escape from the heat of the sun; however, some are choosing the day hike. The Adams Peak hike allows the hikers to have spectacular views of the surrounding lowland and the mountains.

18. Exploring Mihintale

Located near the oldest capital of Sri Lanka Mihintale is visited by most travellers who arrive at Anuradhapura. Mihintale is considered the cradle of Buddhism, where the first Buddhist king embraced Buddhism from Arahat Mahinda, who arrived in Sri Lanka from India in the 2nd century BC. There are many historically important monuments in Mihintale, like stupas, hospitals, and Buddha statues.

19. Take in Little Adam’s Peak at sunrise.

Exploring the hill country resort of Ella is a one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka, especially among the foregn travellers. Little Adam’s Peak is a well-liked, short trip for visitors to Ella, the popular tourist destination. In order to catch the sunrise from the peak, begin your hour-long climb early in the morning when it is still dark outside. If they still have more to hike, they can walk Ella Rock and take a path that leads to Nine Arch Bridge. It should not be mistaken with Adam’s Peak. Climbing the Adams peak is also a very popular things to do in Sri Lanka for buddhist devotees. This holy mountain next to Hatton that requires a strenuous 5000-step climb.

The city of Ella is a relaxed environment. Travelers should immerse themselves in the cafe atmosphere at a local cafe, even if many choose to remain outside of town. Fans of adventure can go ziplining. Although Ella is deserving of all the attention, Ohiya, Idalgashinna, Haputale, and Wellawaya are additional charming mountain towns that are well worth a visit.

20. Visit Ganduwa Island to experience the greatest cinnamon on the planet.

Venturing on a Sri Lanka boat tour is one of the popular things to do in Sri Lanka. There are many places where travellers can engage in a slow travel on Sri Lankan waterways. Some of the most popular palces for Sri Lanka boat tours are Bentota river, Madu river, Negombo lagoon and Muthurajawela.

Some of the best cinnamon in the world is grown in southern Sri Lanka; it’s a sweeter, lighter kind than what’s grown in Vietnam and Indonesia. Travelers can take a boat to Ganduwa Island on Koggala Lake, which is located just south of Galle, and learn about the highly valued Ceylon cinnamon.

Here, peelers who have been in the family for generations carefully shave tiny layers of the inner bark of the tree to produce cinnamon quills. For roughly US$2, you may purchase them along with tiny sachets of cinnamon oil and powder. After that, the boat transports the passengers to a few more islands. As you head off, pick up a glass of fresh mangrove apple (kirala) juice from a local vendor on the jetty.

21. Visit Bundala National Park to observe birds

Wildlife watching is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. There are many wildlife parks in Sri Lanka for travellers to choose from for their safaris, such as Bundala, Udawalae and Yala. In the southern part of the nation, Bundala National Park is a Ramsar-recognized wetland that is home to about 200 species of migratory and native birds. The park comes alive with brahminy kites, hundreds of storks, families of whistling wild ducks, Asian green bee-eaters, dancing peacocks, and resting crocodiles during the three- to four hour bird-watching tours, which begin at 6 a.m. In the afternoon, among the Weera, Neem, and Palu trees, walk wild Asian elephants, spotted deer, and wild boar.

Planning advice: Make reservations for a 4WD safari with a tour operator to increase your chances of seeing wildlife. In Bundala Junction, look for offices right outside the park.

22. Ascend Pidurangala to witness the jungle sunrise.

Visiting the iconic Sigiriya Rock fortress is one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka. Therefore, a large number of travellers take part in the trip to Sigiriya. A vacation to Sri Lanka would not be complete without seeing the Sigiriya, a gigantic rock stronghold near the enormous rock Pidurangala that has frescoes, water gardens, and the remains of an ancient palace. For those who like to see the sunset before the ticket office shuts at 6pm, pack your hiking shoes and trek up Pidurangala before 5am to witness the dawn.

Planning advice: This 45-minute hike has an admission fee of $30 USD. From the summit, you can see the magnificent Sigiriya rock, formed like a lion and encircled by man-made lakes and lush woods. You’ll be passing through a Buddhist temple on your way to the summit, so bring a shawl or sarong to protect yourself.

23. Visit the isolated Kalpitiya Peninsula and go kitesurfing.

The northwestern coast of Sri Lanka provides some of the world’s best kitesurfing conditions thanks to its abundance of flatwater lagoons and constant wind. The less visited Kalpitiya Peninsula, which is still relatively unknown to many foreign visitors, is located 3.5 hours’ drive north of Colombo. Numerous wild donkeys can be seen wandering across vast grasslands in the area, which also has little fishing villages and sandy beaches.

Visit Kite Center Sri Lanka at Kappalady on the Indian Ocean to take kitesurfing instruction from local experts. For more experienced kiteboarders, the kite school may organize kitesurfing safaris (tours) to neighboring locations like Donkey Point, Dutch Bay, and Vella Island. Kayaking through the lagoons and taking an ethical dolphin-watching excursion, where hundreds of spinner dolphins swim in enormous groups, are two other things to do in Kappalady. Reputable operators will only rent out tiny boats, stay out of the pods, and refrain from giving the animals any food. In Kappalady, there are also a few places to stay by the beach.

24. Make camp in the highlands of Haputale

Exploring Haputale is another popular things to do in Sri Lanka similar to exploring Ella. The foggy highlands of Haputale, filled with tea plantations and freezing streams, are an hour’s drive from Ella by bus. Choose to stay in a family-run campground in the area, like the Dias family’s Eco Lodge Haputale. They will bring you through a tea garden to their campground, which consists of multiple tents with a dining area that overlooks the Haputale mountains and a tiny kitchen, after you’ve had a few cups of sugary milk tea at their house. The best part of a visit here is witnessing the sunrise while waking up to the sound of chirping.

25. Travel from Colombo via train

Experiencing Sri Lanka through train travel is an absolute must. Take the train from Colombo to Ella, which also crosses the Instagram-famous Nine Arch Bridge, for vistas of the mountains mixed with tea gardens, railway stations dating back to the British colonial era, and gushing water bodies. The route is traversed by a number of trains, but because it’s well-liked by tourists, be sure to reserve your tickets in advance.

Don’t, however, stop there. For vistas of the Indian Ocean and swaying palms, take a coastal train from Colombo that heads south towards Galle. After that, take a train north to Jaffna. As you pass Anuradhapura, the scenery changes to palmyra palms, bushes, and arid soil in place of the verdant rice fields and coconut trees.

Planning tip: There are lots of vendors on the trains, in addition to local families, tourists, and everyday commuters, offering tea cups, instant coffee, fresh fruits dusted with chili, roasted peanuts, yogurt, and even cellphone top-up cards.

26. Savor the Sri Lankan rice and curry

Sampling delicious Sri Lanka rie and curry is one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan rice and curry are in high demand among the foreign travellers and are hardly found on menus in most countries around the world. However, this is about to change. Visit one of the local restaurants in Colombo, Kandy or on the beach, for a classy sample in Colombo.

Planning tip: If you’re in the north of the nation, you have to eat the spicy, pungent Jaffna crab curry at Cosy Restaurant, which is located close to the Jaffna Railway Station.

27. Visit Wilpattu National Park to search for the elusive Sri Lankan leopard.

Wildlife watching at Wilpattu national park is one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka. See the endangered Sri Lankan leopard is the primary reason for most tourists to Yala National Park. Nevertheless, congestion is frequent, and safari 4WDs have a history of frightening off wildlife.

Make reservations with a responsible operator and travel to the northwest of the island’s Wilpattu National Park for a better and more ethical safari experience. Although their guides don’t pursue potential sightings, they do switch off their cars’ engines when they get close to any animals. Moreover, they will whisper close to any sighting to avoid upsetting the animals. The park is home to Asian elephants, sloth bears, and bark deer in their natural habitats, in addition to leopards.

As an alternative, birdwatchers should visit Kumana National Park, which is located in Yala’s eastern region. With any luck, you might even spot a leopard curled up on a jagged rock.

28. Take in the world’s largest gathering of wild Asian elephants

An estimated 4,000 wild Asian elephants can be found in Sri Lanka; these animals are best viewed in the national parks that make up the nation. Herds of wild Asian elephants congregate in Kaudulla and Minneriya National Parks’ enormous reservoirs during the dry months of July through September to graze on grass, take baths, and play with one another. Elephants hide in the surrounding jungles on hot days, but they slowly come out around 4 p.m. This is your chance to witness the world’s greatest gathering of wild elephants—thousands of them lounging around the lakes.

A helpful travel suggestion is to avoid areas that house elephants in captivity, with the exception of Udawalawe’s Elephant Transit Home. This halfway house, which is managed by the government’s wildlife department and receives funding from the Born Free Foundation, takes in injured or abandoned elephant calves and releases them back into the wild after they have healed.

29. Visit Unawatuna and enjiy the sea.

Beach hopping is one of the most exiting and loved things to do in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka harbours many dozens of coastal villages that can be suitable for beach holidays. Unawatuna, is among the best beaches for beach holidays. This year round holiday destination offers pristin beaches and sandy beaches with wide range of accommodation fascilities.

30. Get to know the indigenous people of Sri Lanka.

Learnign the culture of Sri Lanakn aborigines is not very popular things to do in Sri Lanka. Only a fraction of travellers engage in the opportunity to visit dambana, where the aborigines of Sri Lanka are living. The native inhabitants of Sri Lanka are known as the Vedda. Their numbers have decreased over time as a result of migration, habitat loss, and absorption into the country’s predominant Sinhala-Buddhist culture. Originally, they lived in forests. Some Vedda families are now dispersed over the island in small groups, but they are still able to maintain their traditional customs, language, and cuisine in places like Dambana, an indigenous village and museum in the southern region of Maduru Oya National Park.

Planning advice: Go east to Gal Oya to visit the Vedda’s old caverns and hunting grounds with guided tours for a more immersive experience. To arrange moral meetings, Wild Glamping Gal Oya collaborates closely with the Vedda community.

31. Sample some street cuisine, such as kottu roti.

Eating Kottu can be a very exiting things to do in Sri Lanka. Kottu roti embodies Sri Lanka unlike any other dish. This well-known street dish consists of leftover roti (flatbread), eggs, fresh veggies, and your choice of meat or seafood. It’s high in carbohydrates. When combined, placed on a metal griddle, and cut into small pieces with two metal blades, the unique sound of metal on metal can frequently be heard from a distance of several hundred feet. You can find kottu roti all around the island, but in Colombo, try it at Hotel de Pilawoos or Hotel de Plaza (note: Sri Lankan eateries go by the term “hotels” a lot).

Planning advice: Beware of being duped by any Pilawoos or Hotel de Plaza, as there are other shady establishments using the same name. The authentic establishments may be found on Galle Road in Colombo 03. Get yours with an iced glass of Milo, a well-known chocolate malt beverage that pairs well with a hot kottu.

32. Stroll through the peculiar alleyways of Galle Fort

Learnign the rich historical past of Sri Lanka is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. Ther are many placesw, where the travellers can see ancient monuments. Galle Fort is one of the popular site that showcases the remnants of colonial history of sri Lanka.

A unique blend of Portuguese, Dutch, and British architectural styles, Galle Fort is encircled by spas, five-star hotels, ice cream shops, souvenir shops, and gem boutiques. Arrive as the Fort lanes gradually open in the morning. First stop: National Tea Rooms, the oldest cafe still standing in Galle Fort and owned by a welcoming Sri Lankan family since 1932, serves you a delicious Sri Lankan breakfast.

At Stick No Bills, you may purchase retro maps, tuk-tuks, and postcards featuring quirky Sri Lankan designs. Don’t miss Church Street Social’s spicy black pork curry for lunch. Especially around sunset, the view from the ramparts is not to be missed.

33. Ride the waves at the first female-run surf club in Sri Lanka

Beach hopping is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka and Arugambay is one of the most popular beach holday destination on the island. However, aurgambay is also popular for surfing in Sri Lanka. On the east coast, surfers of all skill levels go to Arugam Bay. This curly, ocher sand beach comes alive at night with parties, alcohol, and live music from April to August. Arugam Bay Girls Surf Club, the first all-women club in Sri Lanka, offers swimming, surfing, and yoga lessons to the local community. It also boasts a laid-back surf culture.

Planning tip: For a post-surf pick-me-up, try the delectable Sri Lankan roti that are packed with chocolate, banana, chicken, cheese, and vegetables from the beach shacks that line the beachfront.

34. Ride around the Polonnaruwa old kingdom

From 1070 until 1232, Polonnaruwa served as Sri Lanka’s second capital when Anuradhapura fell, and its ruins are currently recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Vatadage, a circular relic house featuring a big Buddha statue, is not to be missed. After that, take a bike tour of the historic city and stop by the historic Royal Palace.

Additional striking artifacts from the archaeology are the standing Buddha in Lankatilaka Vihara and the granite-carved Buddha statues in Gal Vihara. Because the old kingdom was subject to multiple South Indian invasions during the time, you may detect the impact of South India in some of the remnants.

Planning advice: Get here early in the morning to avoid the intense heat and to have the entire amazing archaeological park to yourself. On weekends, during school breaks, and during full moons, crowds of people visit the Polonnaruwa ruins.

35. Spend time in a treehouse to get in touch with nature.

Sleeping in a treehouse is an experience that nature lovers will cherish. It is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanak for nature lovers. Situated atop a wooden platform, these dwellings are encircled by the neighboring jungle. If you don’t mind spending time with monkeys and lizards, reserve a treehouse at Back of Beyond in Sigiriya.

Tangalle, in Sri Lanka’s extreme south, features a mixture of rocky sandy beaches, lagoons, and shrublands. Jaywa Lanka has a treehouse here, close to the mangroves; the only sounds around you are the twittering of birds and the soft murmur of breaking waves. Occasionally, wild peacocks may stop by to try to win over their peahens.

36. Enjoy a hopper snack

Eating local delicious food is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. If there’s one dish you should taste before you depart Sri Lanka, it’s hoppers (appam in Tamil; aappa in Sinhala), which are rice flour pancakes shaped like bowls. Plain hoppers are served with curries or a spicy sambal (chile sauce) called lunu miris, which is made with onions and dried red chili. The hoppers have crispy edges and fluffy centers.

When you enter a street joint in the evening, plain hoppers with an egg on top are frequently served. For some exquisite Sri Lankan cuisine, visit Palmyrah Restaurant in the Renuka Hotel in Colombo. The evening menu include savory and sweet hoppers with milk or jaggery. Alternatively, try some hoppers from Aunty Radhika in the Wellawatta neighborhood if you don’t mind standing in line. Go beside the bank on WA Silva Mawatha and you’ll come upon this little yet well-liked hopper stand.