Where should I visit in Sri Lanka?
From the tea plantations to the pristine beaches, travellers can explore many interesting places while travelling around this amazing tropical nation- here are our top picks for travellers, who have the formidable question, where should I visit in Sri Lanka?
Where should I visit in Sri Lanka? A very difficult question to answer, however, this is one of the most common question asked by the travellers, especially during the planning stage of the Sri Lanka trip. The question is very tough because the straight forward answer for the question is simply many hundred places. Sri Lanka is a multi-faceted holiday destination with thousands of years of the historical monument, wildlife reserves, rainforests, beaches, mountains, adventure sites and many other important places.
It is very hard to narrow down a set of places to include in this post, so what we did was, we have to dig our past questionnaires and chose 10 best holiday attractions based on reviews. There are many epic tourist attractions in Sri Lanka that are really worth seeing but there are also many smaller but beautiful towns such as Ella that travellers love to explore.
It is not just about exploring the popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka, it is about seen the island like a local and experience the life locals do-take part in cooking classes, taking tours, trying Ayurveda Massages, all of it! You can fill your tour itinerary with palaces, temples, forts, and historical monuments in Sri Lanka but make sure you explore the places that you come across during the trip and see the beautiful places and go out and explore it!
From the tea plantations to the pristine beaches, travellers can explore many interesting places while travelling around this amazing tropical nation- here are our top picks for travellers, who have the formidable question, where should I visit in Sri Lanka? Same time we are giving you some travel tips towards the end of the page. You will not find a lengthy description of each place listed hereunder; however, you can click through on each one to read more details from my blog posts on them.
We start the list with Anuradhapura, which is the most ancient capital of Sri Lanka dating back to 3rd century BC. Anuradhapura is a unique place in many ways and has a fascinating blend of history and nature. Thousands of historical monuments sit amidst the natural vegetation and some of the monuments are still hidden under the trees and plants.
Anuradhapura is an archaeological zoo, where you can witness palaces, temples, statues, and many other monuments dating back to between 3rd century BC to 10 century AD. This is where Buddhist comes to see religious monuments. Some of the religious sites such as Srimaha Bodhi and Ruwanaweli Dagoba (Stupa) are must-visit places for Buddhists. More info on Anuradhapura Sri Lanka.
Polonnaruwa is another UNESCO world heritage site on the island and succeeded as the capital of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura lost its importance as the capital of Sri Lanka. The kings of Sri Lanka had chosen Polonnaruwa s the capital of Sri Lanka as an alternative to Anuradhapura because it was under the threat of invading armies from India. The monuments of Polonnaruwa are is very good shape compared to the monuments of Anuradhapura. Read more on Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka.
Hikkaduwa is the home for a large number of beach lovers and large numbers of them are budgets travellers and spend months in the coastal town. Hikkaduwa is a laid-back beachfront small city with hippie vibes and the end of the hippie trail in the early ’80s. Many foreign travellers arrived here and lived naked in the beach. Today you don’t see the naked tourist anymore and those days are gone now, but many fun-loving travellers are still here and parties, loud music, yoga centres, and laid-back attitude have stuck around, too. Hikkaduwa beach sri Lanka.
Sigiriya rock is one of the most popular iconic tourist attractions on the island and it is one of the most visited historical sites on the island. Sigiriya rock fortress is a UNESCO world heritage site featuring moats, landscaped gardens, fountains, swimming pools, granite caves, paintings and the ruins of a palace. Sigiriya considered being one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world, dating back to 5th century AD. Sigiriya is a must-visit tourist attraction on the island and which is given a prominent place in every Sri Lanka road trip itinerary. Read more on Sigiriya rock.
Dambulla golden cave temple
In Dambulla, you can visit the largest cave temple on the island, which is also one of the biggest cave temples in the world. A large number of Buddha statues, god figures and living size of figures of Sri Lankan kings are lodged here. Dambulla cave temple is also a UNESCO world heritage site and resides in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Thousands of sq meters of the ceiling and wall painting dating back to 1st century BC depict the scenery of Buddha’s life. Temple is hidden in the jungle and had been the hiding place of Sri Lankan king in 1st century BC. More info on Dambulla golden cave temple.
Yala national park
Yala national park sits near the southern tip of Sri Lanka; however, it is not lack of visitors, because 90% of foreign as well as local travellers who set on safari tours choose Yala as the venue. There are not many leopards left in the world (they are endangered according to IUCN) but the population of the leopard on the rise at Yala national park, thanks to the well-planned conservation effort and security keep them safe from poachers. Today Yala is the best national park to spot leopards in the world and many travellers do not miss the opportunity to spot a leopard. Some people using the skin of the leopards to make leather products, and poaching is a major issue. You can have a closer look into this big cat on a Yala national park jeep safari, try to make it a full day jeep safari, spotting a leopard is guaranteed. Read more on Yala national park.
Nuwara Eliya is known for many things such as rolling tea plantations, cascading waterfalls, misty hills and healing climate. Nuwara Eliya had been a holiday destination for many centuries and wealthy British planters developed it as a holiday destination in the early 18’s. This is where the Brits would come for vacation back when they were in control of India. Make sure that you make a train journey in the mountains; the best track is from Nuwara Eliya to Ella, which is simply breathtaking and considered being one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. Read more on Nuwara Eliya.
A visit to Sri Lanka is never completed if you miss this beautiful city. Kandy sits 500 meters above sea level and surrounded by mountains. Kandy is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites on the island due to the tooth relic temple, which considered being the most sacred Buddhist temple in the country. Kandy is also a UNESCO world heritage site and has a fascinating blend of historical monuments and colonial buildings. Would you like to see the traditional dance forms and listening to the traditional music of Sri Lanka, then drop-into the Kandyan cultural show. It is organized for foreign travellers and bit touristy, however, you can see young and energetic dancers in action.
Part of Kandy is about luxury, royalty, princes, elephants, jewels, rugs, and indulgence at the many amazing restaurants and bars. Travellers love going to Kandy. Kandy sri Lanka.
Ella is nestled into the southern slope of Sri Lankan central mountain range and spreads many kilometres along the Nuwara Eliya, Thanamalwila main road. Ella is a laid-back city with a calm and quiet surrounding. Ella is more like an eco-holiday destination and suitable for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. Here you get many beautiful temples to visit, trekking sites, rafts, or just stroll around in the cute little town. More info on Ella sri Lanka.
Galle is the capital of Southern Sri Lanka and Galle is most popular among the travellers Galle Fort, which is one of the best-preserved 15th century Forts in the world. The Fort is still in very good condition and almost every building occupied by the people. Galle is the tourist hub in southern Sri Lanka and most building in the fort is converted to hotels, guest houses, restaurants, cafes, museums, shops and galleries. Travellers love Galle most importantly due to its calm and quest atmosphere. I highly recommend visiting the Galle Fort on a tour to Sri Lanka. Read more about Galle.