If the thought of impossibly striking views, breath-taking beaches and a landscape steeped in ancient history is enough to make you want to hop straight on a plane, make sure you head for the cultural gem that is Sri Lanka.
With so many tourist attractions in Sri Lanka and unique experiences to take in (did we mention the magnificent elephants and glorious leopards?) it’s a unique island and one that is absolutely deserving of a thorough exploration!
This small island has so much to offer that pulling together your must-do list may be a little tricky. That’s why we’ve hand-picked the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka so that all you have left to do is explore.
Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
The National Museum
Wondering where to go first? Hail a tuk-tuk and head to the capital of Colombo. With so many places to visit in Colombo and often so little time, it’s worth heading straight to the National Museum, which takes you through the history of Sri Lanka. Built in 1876, the building itself will take centre stage on your Instagram feed, not to mention help you get acquainted with the country’s rich culture and traditions.
If your idea of a perfect day is a long stroll, look no further. As far as Sri Lankan attractions go, Colombo’s only public park is truly breath taking. There is greenery in every step and with ceremonies often taking place in the park, sometimes the elephants used will linger in the evenings. How’s that for an intro to Sri Lanka?
Regarded as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka, the name doesn’t really do this peak much justice, but its variations do just the trick. Also known as Sri Pada – Sacred footprint, or Samanalakande – Butterfly Mountain, it’s a slice of climbing heaven.
Standing tall on the southern hill country, the views make for one of the best tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. Make sure you bring a warm jacket as you can expect a chill the closer you get to the summit.
Temple of The Tooth
In central Sri Lanka, the city of Kandy will provide you with the best kind of sugar rush. Home to the Temple of the Tooth – a golden-roofed temple where Sri Lanka’s most cherished artefact – the Buddha’s tooth – resides.
The interior structures of the temple are awe-inspiring, with a mix of ornate carvings and painted ceilings. The best time to visit Kandy is during the 10 day torchlit parade; Esala Perahera in July. It is one of the most famous Buddhist festivals in the world.
Our Favourite Things to Do in Sri Lanka
Fill Your Stomach with Cultural Delights
Starting at the Colombo Fort Railway Station, why not try a walking food tour? Here, you’ll be transported into a Sri Lankan food coma, taking in the bustling markets and local snack joints. Tuck into some of Sri Lanka’s most famous food, such as hoppers (a delicious crepe-crumpet combination) and the ultimate in comfort food; kottu, a carb-lovers dream.
Take A Scenic Train
Fancy a morning commute with a bit of a difference? Sri Lankan travel has got you covered.
This picturesque train journey will take you from the city of Kandy to the town of Ella, where you can pay the reasonable fee of $1.50 (yep, that’s right). To appreciate the hillsides and quaint villages at their best, make sure you get a window seat.
Grab a Cuppa and A View
This is more than just putting the kettle on. Celebrated worldwide, Ceylon Tea is a primary export of Sri Lanka. In fact, it was developed by British-born James Taylor in 1867 at the country’s first tea estate, Loolecondera.
So, grab your most trusty waterproof jacket, and head for the luscious, leafy tea plantations in the highlands of Sri Lanka. Tea will never taste the same again.
Don’t Forget the Elephants
If there’s one thing to tick off your Sri Lankan travel list, pencil in a visit the local elephants. With sanctuaries dotted around the island, you could even show some love by volunteering. Check out the Pinnawala elephant Orphanage, which was established in 1975 by the Department of Wildlife Conservation.
To take your elephant admiration to the next level and for an exciting option of where to stay in Sri Lanka, you could even look to sleep in a giant elephant. Nope, not a real one. But this exquisite eco-lodge located at KumbukRiver, on the banks of Yala National Park. Now, that’s one extraordinary hideaway!