15 Top Things To Do In Sri Lanka
- AADITEE KULKARNI
- UPDATED Nov 01, 2018
- 19 Views
Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka can easily be summed up in one word – Bliss! On the bucket list of many who love all things tropical, Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and formerly Ceylon, this country lies on the Indian Plate. An island country with history dating back as far as 500,000 years, Ceylon has its references even in the Hindu epic Ramayana.
Today’s modern-day Sri Lanka is quite a popular tourist destination. Reasons to visit Sri Lanka are many – get wild with the nature, walk through the amazingly atmospheric caves, hit the beaches offering parties galore (or not), and hike the gargantuan magna rocks. Want more reasons to visit Ceylon? You can drive past the modern metropolitan, go in search of waterfalls on forest walk, and even bathe the elephants (not the wild ones of course)
How to reach Sri Lanka - SriLankan Airlines is the national flagship carrier of Sri Lanka and has flights to and from the cities of Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, China, Japan, and the Middle East. Other major airlines like KLM and Emirates also fly in and out of Sri Lanka.
Best time to visit Sri Lanka - Since Sri Lanka is a tropical country, you can visit any time of the year. But the recommended time to visit is from November to March.
Hmm, it is kind of like an adventure with many surprises in a good way. Sri Lanka on your mind already? Here are some of the top things to do in Sri Lanka.
1. Surf the tropical waves of Indian Ocean - Hikkaduwa
As one of the best surf towns of Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa offers a combination of sand and reef and, as a result, has some of the best surfing and scuba diving spots in the country. Surfing along the peeling waves of the warm waters has to be one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. The vibe at Hikkaduwa is very chill. There are bars and huts lined along the beach that watch over surfers surfing the waves, making this ocean-side playground a must visit. Hikkaduwa is full of surf schools and eager instructors, making it ideal for beginners as well.
2. Get a glimpse of the incredibly green and lush Ceylon on a scenic train ride - Kandy to Ella
Dreaming about that epic train ride? Well, this tea country has one of the world’s best for you. An absolute bucket-list worthy, Sri Lanka’s most famous train route – Kandy to Ella is a must do. Also called the Eastern train route, this journey takes you from Kandy to Nanu Oya, on to Ella and Badulla. Also ride on the famous Demodara Nine Arch Bridge along the way. And the views? Oh, they will have you snapping photos at every turn you make. The insides of the train are equally exciting, with sellers hustling treats like crispy papadums and freshly cut pineapple.
3. Watch the ever smiling, mischievous dolphins nonchalantly glide past you – Mirissa
And also whales! These whale and dolphin watching tours in Mirissa are exhilarating, to say the least. Head on the south coast of Sri Lanka to catch a glimpse of the biggest mammals in the world. Settle aboard and sail onto the Indian Ocean to spot the blue, fin, and sperm whales, along with orcas and dolphins. The chance of spotting whales is very high as the Dondra Point falls along their migration path from Africa to Australia. Admire Sri Lanka’s palm-fringed coastline on these guided tours. Seen best from November till April.
4. Cruise through the jungles on this unmissable experience - Udawalawe National Park
While Sri Lanka itself feels like one big national park, did you know Sri Lanka has around 25 national parks? Udawalawe National Park is one of the best places to see wild elephants. The park is largely made of grasslands and bush forest and is located south-east of Colombo city. Come and check out huge herds of Asian elephants as they walk, bathe and chill under the sun. But beware! Do not get too close to them. You may not be really welcome in the group.
You can also visit parks like Wilpattu National Park and Yala National Park to see the leopards, Pigeon Island National Park to see some of the best marine life in the area, Kumana National Park to see the hawk eagles, Bundala National Park to check out the many migratory birds, and Oya National Park to see the toque and macaque monkeys among many more.
5. Head to the ‘Little England’ - Nuwara Eliya
Escape the whimsical heat of the coast and head straight to the hills. This part of Sri Lanka is also called the ‘Hill Country’ and is kinda, super romantic. The climate is cooler here, the architecture is colonial, you are surrounded by a hundred shades of greens, and many cute little waterfalls. Exploring the impressive lush tea plantations is definitely one of the must-do in Sri Lanka. Book yourself in a homestead, and pretend you are in old England. Spend your days sipping on hot teas and eating cakes.
6. Hike up the sacred mountain – Adam’s Peak
For those looking at getting some exercise while on a holiday, climb the famous Adam’s Peak on your next trip to Sri Lanka. Located in southwestern Sri Lanka, Sri Pada is the country’s most sacred mountain. This is a 1000 metre climb, but the what makes the climb easy is the presence of steps. Some 5000 steps and 2-5 hours later, you’ll have reached the top. If you think Adam’s Peak is too much for you, you can try scaling the Little Adam’s Peak.
7. Try the seafood-heavy, fiery curries and other Sri Lankan delicacies
Sri Lankan cuisine makes liberal use of local fruits and an arsenal of spices to dish out some of the most incredible dishes. Ever watched ‘My Sri Lanka with Peter Kuruvita’ on TLC? Well, now that you are in Sri Lanka, it’s time to taste some of those traditional dishes against the country’s spectacular scenery! Fish ambul thiyal (sour fish curry), Kottu (also, kottu roti), Kukul mas curry (chicken curry), Wambatu Moju (an eggplant pickle), Hoppers (appa or appam), Polos (green jackfruit curry), and Pol Sambol (coconut relish) are some of the most beloved dishes of Sri Lankan cuisine.
8. Tour the seaside capital of Sri Lanka – Colombo
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, boasts of a rich colonial heritage. The city is lucky to have a few stunning examples of Portuguese, Dutch and English architecture that the visitors can explore. Colombo with chaotic markets and crowded streets can sometimes be overwhelming, but a relaxing walk along one of its beaches is all you need to calm that worked up mind and body. It is multi-ethnic and has many things and places to visit. Some of the top Colombo attractions are shop at Pettah, stretch your legs at the Galle Face Green, check out the artefacts and statues at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, and walk through the many royal objects at the National Museum of Colombo.
9. Visit the most famous rock of Sri Lanka – Sigiriya
Sigiriya or Sinhagiri is an ancient rock fortress and one of the most famous sites of Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka's most popular attraction, Sigiriya is stunning in its own way. Rising dramatically 370 meters above the sea level., this rock was formed from magma of an extinct volcano. Also known as ‘Lion Rock’, this rock is particularly known for the fortress that was built here over 1000 years. Today a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site, you can visit Sigiriya and its neighbouring gardens.
10. Take a walk around Kandy Lake
Dominating the landscape of Kandy, the Kandy lake is the heart and soul of this pretty town. The lake is manmade and was created in 1807. It has a beautiful island in the middle of it which used to be the emperor’s personal harem. The surroundings of the lake are idyll, perfect for an evening stroll. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Peradeniya Botanic Garden, and Kandyan dance and drum show are some of the top Kandy attractions.
11. Take a road trip along the East Coast of Sri Lanka
This compact island country is packed with lovely cities, hillside tea plantations, wildlife sanctuaries and of course, golden beaches. And what better way to explore the country than hitting the roads? It’s easy to get around Sri Lanka, since there is not much ground to cover. East Coast of Sri Lanka is one such popular route. Places like Trincomalee, Nilaveli, and Pasikuda are waiting to be explored. Self-drive through country and pull-over as you will. Meet with the locals, walk through the rice fields, lay on untouched beaches, ride a tuk-tuk, or try local food. Planning a road trip in Sri Lanka already? You must possess a valid International Drivers’ License to be able to drive in Sri Lanka.
12. Curl up on the soft sands of this moon-shaped beach - Arugam Bay
Locally called “Arugam Kudah,” Arugam Bay is situated on Sri Lanka's southeast coast. A tiny place, Arugam Bay has one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka. The bay is trendy, with just one street running down its centre. Top experiences in Arugam Bay include relaxing at the Arugam Bay Beach, go searching for crocodiles among the mangroves, and explore the ancient ruins at Pottuvil.
13. Explore the temples of Sri Lanka
The temples of Sri Lanka are magically enchanting places. The spiritual island of Sri Lanka has countless number of incredible Hindu and Buddhist temples that just cannot be given a miss. Big or small, every temple has a legend associated with it. These temples and its pillars, the customs, the traditions, the carvings and the paintings still evoke a sense of wonder in the minds of its visitors. Dambulla Cave Temple, Rumassala Temple, Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), Seema Malaka Temple, and Mihintale Temple are some of the most beautiful temples of Sri Lanka.
14. Escape to Galle
Once the main port city of Sri Lanka, Galle sits on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. Galle’s Dutch colonial architecture against the stunning ocean views is hard not to miss days after you are back home. There are so many things to explore in Galle – you can walk through history at the Portuguese-built Galle Fort, watch stilt fishermen at work in Kogalla, jump off the ramparts at Flag Rock and straight into the ocean, watch a cricket game at the Galle International Stadium, wander through the Dutch markets, party at Unawatuna, and so much more.
15. Visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Situated northwest of the town of Kegalle, half way between the capital Colombo and the hills of Sri Lanka, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a perfect stop! Home to some 100 or more elephant orphans, this is one of the top Sri Lankan attractions that you cannot afford to miss. Come and interact with the little jumbos, feed them, watch their foster fathers bathe them, and even click pictures with them. If planning to visit, make sure you read up beforehand since the orphanage adheres to strict timings.
Ready to go to Sri Lanka? Keep your travel lists ready- with all the essential tick offs. We are already excited for you!