When it comes to exploring the island of Sri Lanka, all corners of the island (north, east, west and south) have been able to attract a large number of visitors every year. You will feel the rush in most major cities like Colombo, Kandy, Trincomalee, Sigiriya, Galle etc. Most travellers fell in love with these enchanting cities. This post is about top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka, with its colourful history, culture, tradition and its people. We have lined-up below mentioned top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka based on customer reviews and recommendations we received in the past. But there are many other activities that can be included in this top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka such as watersport, boating, whale watching, hot air ballooning etc. We are hoping to line up another set of activities in a future article on another episode of top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka.
Don’t miss an opportunity to visit some of the cultural hot-spots like Kandy, Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Trincomalee to see the true picture of Sri Lanka’s culture and history. Sri Lanka beach resorts are the places that enchant you with peace and serenity. From delicious fresh seafood to some amazing natural attractions these beach resorts have been calling the travellers to explore it more and more. Get soaked on the beauty of Sri Lanka natural wealth with the rain forests, waterfalls, and amazing rivers. So just pack your case and head out for a wonderful Sri Lanka trip.
1.Colombo-Nuwara Eliya Rail/Road trip
We start our list top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka with a rail/road trip to the mountains because the demand for upcountry rail journey is very high. The ‘Mecca’ of all Sri Lanka road trips, the Colombo-Nuwara Eliya on Railway or Highway, this has always been one of the favourite rail and road trips in Sri Lanka. Whether it is a group tour or a solo travel, this trip outshines all other trips in Sri Lanka.
The rail journey from Kandy to Ella considered being one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. This rail journey lasts around 4 hours and allows the passengers to experience one of the most scenic regions in the island. The guests who are on a road trip also have the option to book this scenic rail journey. Tour operators such as seerendipity tours arrange the train for this sector while rest of the tour is done by a private taxi. If you plan to have the train trip it is always recommended to book seats either in the 2nd or 1st class compartments. It will be much more comfortable in the 2nd or 1st class compartments than the 3rd class carriage.
All you need is to get ready and up for some exciting adventure. Passing patches of forests, mountains, villages, passing village folk who are on the move about their daily business with much ease and simple way what will make you appreciate both simplicity and nature.
2. Ella trek
Ella is chosen to the 2nd places of top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka, by the author. Going on a trek is one of the best activities to think of when we feel like to have a break from the daily routine. So while you are visiting Sri Lanka hill country (Ella) there are plenty of treks through the mountains, tea gardens, and patches of forests. But a trek along the leeward side of the Ella gap it is the most favoured trek. This trek allows you to experience a fascinating blend of trees, plants and many bird species. But the breathtaking scenery across the Ella gap is the most beautiful reward you get.
Absorb the natural beauty and scenic greenery of this region. Breath the chilled morning air and hear the birds songs as you continue your trek. Climb one of the highest points of Ella, known as little Adam’s peak and appreciate the dazzling perspective from the pinnacles of the mountain. This hill country resort attracts a large number of travellers every year and most of them are individual travellers that looking for affordable holidays. Ella is the backpacker’s heaven in the mountain and deserves a spot in top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka. There are only few star class hotels here and most of the properties are not categorized by the Sri Lanka tourist board, hence most accommodation providers do not have star ratings.
3. Whitewater rafting kitulgala
Popular as the playground of adventure travellers, this is one of the main places for adventure activities in Sri Lanka. This adventure site offers a lot of activities such as white water rafting for adventure junkies, therefore, we have given it a place in our top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka. Kitulgala is dominated by tropical rainforests and one of the places in Sri Lanka that records more than 5000mm of annual rainfall. There is a large number of waterfalls, rivers and streams, jungle tracks, and a large tract of rainforest in Kitulagala.
The landscape of Kitulgala has a huge diversity. Mountains, escapements, rivers, waterfalls, forests, boulders, plantations are the main contributors to the varying landscape here. Dut to variation Kitulagal has a become a place for activities such as mountain climbing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, waterfall abseiling, kayaking, trekking etc.
In Kitulgala the population is much lower than many other regions in the island, which means the human impact on nature is at its lowest. Due to this reason, kitulgala is one of the best places for activities coming under eco-holidays such as jungle treks, bird watching tours etc. Kitulkgala is located at the foothills of the central mountain range and has a bountiful beauty, adventure options and a magnificent place to visit in Sri Lanka. Kitulgala is blessed with one of the main rivers in the island, Kelaniya river. It is the main source of water resource in the region. Talking about the interesting places in Kitulagala, the laidback remote city has a myriad and engrossing line-up for visitors to explore.
Whitewater rafting is the leading activity for travellers of any age and Kitulagal is most famous for its white water rafting. Jotted with several historical places such as Batadomba Lena, and temples as well as evergreen rain forests, this serene city has something for everyone.
4. Exploring Haputale
This is one of the kinds of places that most travellers are searching for. Well, here it is, lush green mountains with misty-capped tops, cascading waterfalls, serene valleys Haputale is one of the most isolated holiday destinations in Sri Lanka. Haputale is largely unspoilt and unexplored compared to overcrowded Nuwara Eliya. Haputale might be the place that you have not heard of despite its presence in the list of top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka.
Whether it is a group of friends and family or solo traveller, tour to Haputale surpasses some other trekking trips in Sri Lanka! passing well-groomed tea gardens, mountains and isolated cities, passing plantation workers who are marching on ahead in a more calm manner what will convince you both on nature and straightforwardness.
5. Udawalawe wildlife safari
You must have come across the cultural sites, explored malls, and tasted delicious seafood and experienced some adventures in Sri Lanka. Now it is the time to explore some wildlife of Sri Lanka. To hug the mother nature and its mesmerizing inventions and strengthen the bond with nature, visit the Udalawe national park. Experience the exhilarating Udawalawe safari and enjoy a wide range of wildlife.
Closely admire the fascinating blend or Fauna and Flora of which Sri Lankan elephants is the most prominent, they are gathering in the park in many hundreds. It is also abode to Sri Lankan leopards and sloth bear, both are listed in the red list of IUCN. The sighting of sloth bear and leopards cannot be guaranteed but there are instances that travellers see leopard and bear during the safari. So get ready and pack your bag it is time to embark on this marvellous expedition and tag it as a jungle diary.
6. Sinharaja rain forest trek
who does not like to explore a virgin rainforest? And when we talk about the Sri Lanka rainforest the first thing that strikes the mind is a Sinharaja rainforest trek. the experience of Sinharaja rainforest could never be finished without a trek in the rainforest, keep in mind this is one of the oldest rainforest in the world (originated millions of years ago) this is certainly worth your attention. Known for its rich Fauna and flora, Sinharaja trek is a standout amongst the popular trekking sites in Sri Lanka. Nestled in the western part of Sri Lanka, this rainforest offers the best rainforest experience. trek through the verdant hills, valleys, bushes, fragrant orchids and grasslands. what’s more, yes, this is a very valuable opportunity that you can’t simply neglect.
7. Exploring historical past of Anuradhapura
Regarded as the oldest city in Sri Lanka this archaeological zoo consist of the fascinating collection of leftovers of a past time, Anuradhapura is a part of Sri Lanka cultural triangle and includes in most Sri lank road trips. Make your trip more interesting as you explore the oldest civilized city on the island.
This is very much large compared to most cultural and historical sites on the island and there are lost of temples, palaces, and many other monuments to explore. Anuradhapura is a world heritage site and includes top-notch religious sites such as Sri Maha Bodhi (oldest documented tree in the world) and Ruwamweli dagoba. Maybe you’re visiting Anuradhapura to learn about the ancient Sri Lankan culture or recess time, you will not be disappointed.
8. Visiting the cultural city of Kandy
Looking for a destination with a mild climate and wish to immerse in the Sri Lankan culture while enjoying natural wealth of Sri Lanka. Well, Kandy is the best place for you. At the heart of the central mountain range lies this beautiful city and surrounded by dozens of mountains. kandy is the cultural centre of the Buddhist community and most important left eye tooth of Buddha is residing here. Therefore Kandy is one of the most popular places on the island and one of the top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka
The city is encompassed by the mountains with lush green vegetation. Kandy is one solid destination that holds the typical Sri Lankan tradition. It was the seat of last Sri Lankan king, who was arrested by British in 1796. There are a large number of interesting places to visit in this UNESCO world heritage site and surrounding area. Temples, botanical garden, tea museum, cultural museums, and many other historical places await the travellers. “Kiri muhuda” or Kandy lake is situated near the tooth relic temple and harbours many aquatic animal and bird species.
The mild climate, historical monuments, colonial mansions and the rainforest at the southern end of the city makes the appealing environment for visitors in Kandy. Even though the city is brimming with life it is very quiet. Kandy is the perfect holiday destination for many travellers who wish to have peace of mind while exploring the history, culture and nature of Sri Lanka.
9. Exploring the Colonial heritage in Galle
Exploring Galle is the only activity from Southern Sri Lanka included in the top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka. Every traveller has a history buff which is difficult to hide and come out at one point of the other. Let the glimpse of rich historical past to touch your soul, the colonial heritage of Galle entice you and the winds of southern Sri Lanka tingle your spine. If your travel to Sri Lanka with your friends and family then here you go. Galle is one of the best places for you to explore in Sri Lanka.
A large number of places in Galle will not only keep you glued to its territory but will marvel you with its rich colonial heritage. A number of places to explore in Kandy are large. If Galle is a kingdom, Galle fortress is the king of it, because Galle fortress is the lifeblood of Galle. There are a large number of places to visit within the Galle fortress alone. Museums, galleries, Restaurants, shops, hotels are abundant here. Galle fortress is a heaven for shoppers where you can buy most typical Sri Lanka products such as artefacts, handicrafts, gems and jewellery, and clothing.
Galle is the only city on the list where you can have a beach holiday. Galle is a city by the water and a large number of travellers choose Galle as the place for beach hopping. Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, is the most popular beach resorts in Galle. Unawatuna is one of the best places for beach holidays and you can have a year-round sea bath here.
10. Trekking through the Horton plains national park
trek to the Horton plains national park is one of the top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka. Horton Plains, as the name denotes is a huge grassland with a cloud forest, word will fall short if you try to put the beauty of this national park into a verbal language. If you plan an offbeat jungle trek this is the perfect place for you. Horton plains national park is a fascinating natural attraction and differs in many ways from its counterparts in rest of the country. Trees, plants, animals and the entire setting is unique to Horton Plains. this is indeed a treasure trove with a large number of endemic fauna and Flora.
A large number of perennial waterways, lakes, waterfalls quench the thirst of mother nature and keep everything alive. Horton plains national park is resided by a large number of endemic fish and amphibian species. Horton plains is another best places in the country to spot birds and visited by ornithologists very often. If you head to the hill country this is a must visit place for you.