What are some of the popular places to visit in Sri Lanka?by Pancho Barranco | August 28, 2020
Nestled in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island nation that should be in every traveller’s bucket list. Wondering why?
Blessed with a long-standing history, charming tropical weather, and stunning biodiversity, there are lots of places to visit in Sri Lanka. The island boasts of a stunning coastline filled with magnificent beaches, dense forests that are home to exotic and endangered wildlife, and panoramic landscapes dotted with gushing waterfalls, melodious rivers, and towering mountains. The diverse culture, rich heritage, and delicious cuisine also add to the undisputed popularity of the things to do in Sri Lanka.
If you are heading to this country for your next vacation, you are in for an unforgettable experience. Here’s a list of places to visit in Sri Lanka that have captured every traveller’s heart with their spellbinding appeal.
The commercial capital of the country, Colombo, is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. Colombo is a city of modernity with sky-scraping buildings, international shopping malls, and high-end restaurants dominating its ambience.
Some of the most interesting places to visit in Sri Lanka are in Colombo. For example, the Colombo National Museum here is the largest in the country, covering an extensive range of subjects.
You can also visit the Independence Memorial Hall and its underground museum. The historic Beira Lake, Gangaramaya Temple, and Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque are also impressive places to visit.
Although not so secluded at present, Ella is one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka if you wish to relax and unwind in a serene ambience. It’s a dramatic setting of lush greenery jewelled with magnificent waterfalls, and towering peaks are a feast for the eyes.
The train ride to Ella is considered one of the most scenic rides in the entire world, definitely one of the famous places in Sri Lanka. Ella is also a playground for adventure seekers. You can go zip lining in Flying Ravana, trek Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak, and hunt for waterfalls and caves.
If you want to explore the rich colonial heritage of the island, Galle should be one of the must-visit places in your list. The Galle Fort, the largest fortification in Asia built during colonization and a UNESCO World Heritage Site today, is particularly interesting to explore. Walk along its ramparts, visit its lighthouse, and snap great pictures! Galle is also filled with an eclectic choice of delis and cafés.
Tucked in the hill capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy is a peaceful city with historical and cultural sites, one of the important tourist places in Sri Lanka. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and Kandy National Museum are attractions worth your attention as they give an insight into the city’s treasured past. For great views of the city, head to Arthur’s Seat or climb to the summit of Bahiwarakanda.
You can also take a walk in the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, which exhibits over 4000 plant varieties or trek the Knuckles Mountain Range nearby for an adventurous experience.
Dambulla in Central Province is a city that’s home to some of the most ancient places to visit in Sri Lanka. Its rock cave temple complex, the largest in the island, houses an impressive collection of Buddha statues.
There’s also a Buddhist Museum featuring a large, golden statue of Buddha. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you can pay a visit to the Minneriya National Park that’s just a 30-minute drive from Dambulla. The park is famous for spotting large herds of elephants along with other interesting animal and bird species.
Sigiriya has to be on your list of places to visit in Sri Lanka: your eyes may not have witnessed anything as spectacular as this before! On the summit of a 660-feet high rock, lies the relics of a 5th-century rock fortress that served as a sanctuary to a king in the past. The breathtaking views you get from the top perfectly make up for the tedious climb.
Halfway through the climb, you will come across beautiful frescos believed to be depictions of divine women or princesses. A carved structure of a pair of lion paws marks the entrance to the rock and there are also pools along the path that leads to the giant rock.
Mirissa would make your ideal dream vacation on an island come true. The Mirissa Beach, with its golden sandy shore and pristine waters, is a paradise for beach lovers.
You can also go snorkelling to explore impressive marine life. If you want a more secluded spot, head to the Secret Beach. The town is also a hotspot for whale and dolphin watching. Mirissa is world-famous as a destination to spot the Blue Whale –a rare and endangered species today.
No trip to Sri Lanka will be perfect without a trip to the “Little England” that used to be the holiday home of the elite British during the colonial times. With a cosy climate, rugged mountains, beautiful tea plantations, and an array of waterfalls, Nuwara Eliya has everything to spoil nature lovers. The Gregory Lake, Hakgala Botanical Gardens, and Victoria Park are some sights not to be missed here.
You can trek in its Horton’s Plains National Park and visit its famous “World’s End” sheer cliff with breathtaking views of the surrounding.
Anuradhapura is an important city for the Buddhist population of the country as it consists of the eight sacred places known as “atamasthana”, believed to have been visited by Lord Buddha. This includes many ancient stupas built under the patronage of kings who ruled the city.
Do you like to explore the diverse wildlife of the island? Pay a visit to the Wilpattu National Park nearby that features a range of interesting animal species like elephants, leopards, crocodiles, and buffalos.
The historic city of Polonnaruwa is a treasure trove for those who love archaeology as it is home to some of the best-preserved ancient sites on the island. It has an archaeological park that contains the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa.
Envision the life led by monarchs as you walk on the Royal Palace Complex, Quadrangle, and other sites here. The moonstone is a noteworthy structure with beautiful carvings on it signifying the influence of different reigns.
Tangalle is an ideal place for those who are looking for a more secluded beach spot than Mirissa. Beaches here are perfect for some peaceful time lying on the shore or swim to your heart’s content.
You can pick an accommodation option facing the ocean and enjoy beautiful views of the sunset. This little town on the Southern Coast is one of the few places to watch turtles wandering in their natural habitat.
The first sight of this little fishing town might be too chaotic for you, but dive deep, and you will realize it’s a haven of glorious beaches. Weligama Bay and its surrounding area is a perfect spot for diving, snorkelling, kayaking, and surfing.
A bit further is a tiny island known as “Taprobane Island” that you can visit by boat, exploring small coves along the way. The popularity of whale and dolphin watching tours is also on the rise in Weligama.