As a land of lush rainforests, timeless ruins, and wildlife galore, there are so many reasons to visit Sri Lanka! Formerly known as Ceylon, this teardrop-shaped island located south of India is blessed with a diverse array of landscapes and sightseeing opportunities.
Wander through bustling cities and UNESCO World Heritage Sites as you learn stories of war, history, tradition and culture from expert local guides. Alternatively, head off the beaten track into the highlands for a truly authentic taste of Sri Lanka. Here’s 7 must-see spots in Sri Lanka.
One of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this rock-top fortress dates back to the fifth century AD. In its time, it has acted as a royal palace and a Buddhist monastery.
Furthermore, Sigiriya is regarded as one of the most important urban planning projects of the first millennium, and is home to some of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world. Above all, look out for the mirror wall, a masonry structure so well-polished that the king could see his reflection in it.
2. The Golden Temple of Dambulla
Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave-temple complex in the country. In fact, this cave monastery has been a sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries.
The temple’s unique structures are embellished with magnificent drawings and cave paintings which tell the fascinating stories that shape Sri Lankan history.
3. Minneriya National Park
Visit the Minneriya National Park to witness the incredible migration of over 300 elephants! Simply park your Jeep on the bank of the reservoir and watch carefully as herds of elephants descend onto the grass-covered banks to feed.
You will undoubtedly be in awe as one of the largest elephant gatherings in the world unfolds before your eyes. The park is famed for hosting this incredible sight on a regular basis. Subsequently, Minneriya has become a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts across the globe.
4. Wilpattu Jeep Safari
The Wilpattu National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest reserves. It has earned the name ‘Land of Lakes’ thanks to the serene natural bodies of water found across the vast park.
Jump in the Jeep for a wildlife safari and keep your eyes peeled for a healthy population of Sri Lankan leopards, elephants, sloth bears, spotted deer, mongoose, and water buffalo too! You might even get the chance to observe mother nature taking its course as predators and prey fight for survival.
5. Discover Colombo and Kandy
The city of Kandy is famous for being the home of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. This Buddhist temple within Kandy’s royal palace complex houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Besides this, Kandy has an unforgettable culture, history and heritage which draws in visitors from all four corners of the world.
However, it is also a place where you can simply slow down the pace of your trip and unwind. As you stroll through this lakeside town cradled among the misty hills, you can explore an arts and crafts centre, browse the bazaars, or shop for fresh fruit and vegetables from the markets. Kandy is also the place to begin one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world to Ella. This train journey is definitely one to add to the list!
In comparison, the capital city of Colombo is a cosmopolitan gateway to the wonders of Sri Lanka, boasting a rich colonial heritage. This city is a melting pot of races, religions, and cultures.
The famous neighbourhood of Pettah is worth a visit for its open-air, floating markets and bazaars. Additionally, check out the beautiful red Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque and Independence Square to contemplate Sri Lanka’s colonial past. Finally, complete your city tour in the central, trendiest part of town for a spot of shopping for souvenirs and designer goods.
6. Take a tour of the famous tea plantations
A trip to Sri Lanka wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its famed tea plantations! First and foremost, take a tour of the neatly-terraced tea estates, watch pickers at work, and buy your own samples to take home.
Tea lovers will also want to visit the Hill Country’s Haputale Mountains, where Sir Thomas Lipton launched his tea empire. To see where it all began, organise transport to Lipton’s Seat – Mr Lipton’s favourite spot to sit and watch over his enormous estate. Head out early before the afternoon fog cloaks the surrounding mountains, clouding the awe-inspiring views.
Another incredible way to see these tea plantations is on the incredible and iconic Kandy to Ella train journey.
7. Go off the beaten track in the Sri Lankan Highlands
Last but not least, prepare yourself for plenty of ‘wow’ moments as you venture into the central highlands of Sri Lanka! Head towards the Horton Plains National Park to trek the endless stretches of beautiful green pastures.
Sitting at an altitude of 7,000ft, the plateau is an eco-tourism haven, covered in flora and fauna varieties that may be found nowhere else on Earth. During the trek, watch out for the thundering Bakers Falls, and catch a glimpse of the ‘World’s End’ lookout too!
Eager to explore the hidden gem of South-East Asia? Check out our Sri Lanka tours now!