10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Georgina Willcox | 07 December 2018
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Sri Lanka has stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, incredible wildlife, historical cities and ancient temples. It’s no wonder it was ranked as the top country for travel in Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel list for 2019.

There is so much to see and do in Sri Lanka; here are the best things recommended by Travel Department.

1. Explore Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its 1,500 year old ruins and grand dagobas, it’s famous for its temples, reservoirs and beautiful landscaped gardens. As one of the major highlights of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, it’s one of the best things to do here and explore by tuk-tuk or bicycle.

2. Take an Excursion to Polonnaruwa

Although Polonnaruwa is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the modern town is also known as New Town. The royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa includes the Royal Palace complex, a statue of the Buddhist king, Parakrama Bahu and Gal Vihara rock temple of the Buddha. There are also the extraordinary ruins of the garden city created in the 12th Century.

3. Discover Sigiriya, The Lion’s Rock Fortress

Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress and is another must see UNESCO World Heritage site of Sri Lanka. King Kasyapa (477 – 495 AD) built his palace on the top of this rocky plateau and the main entrance was designed in the form of a stone lion – which explains the name of the site. It’s understandable why locals refer to Sigiriya as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

4. Spot Wildlife in Yala National Park

You can enjoy seeing a diverse range of wildlife in Yala National Park as it is home to, elephants, crocodiles, sea turtles, water buffalo and hundreds of bird species. It is renowned for being the number one leopard sanctuary with the highest density of cats in the world, so it is near enough guaranteed you will spot one.

5. See Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple is one of the most phenomenal Buddhist complexes in the Southern and South Eastern Asian region. Also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the temple has been a sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries and is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. The temple encompasses five caves which are filled with Buddhist mural paintings covering 2,100m2 and 157 statues of Buddha.

6. Enjoy a Cup of Ceylon Tea

Nuwara Eliya is the home of the famous Ceylon Tea, a popular black tea, and you can explore its multiple tea plantations. Surrounded by rolling hills, an abundance of flora and colourful wildlife, it’s an experience for all the senses. Also, did you know that Sri Lanka used to be known as Ceylon? Hence the name ‘Ceylon’ Tea.

7. Encounter Magnificent Elephants

Opened in 1975, the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage was founded to care and protect wild and orphaned elephants who were found in nearby forests. This is a great opportunity to see the largest herd of captive Asian elephants in the world in their natural habitat.

8. Tour Through Galle

The impressive Galle fort was built by the Portuguese in 1588 and was further fortified by the Dutch in the 17th Century. The coastal town of Galle is a delight to explore; you can stroll through the streets to see the Dutch influenced architecture, old British residences and mosques.

9. Catch the Local Fishermen at Work in Negombo

Negombo is well known for their fishing industry. One of the best things to do in Sri Lanka is to visit their bustling fish markets and admire the colourful wooden boats. Early in the morning is the best time to see the locals selling their fresh catch and experience some of Sri Lanka’s traditional charm.

10. Relax on Unawatuna Beach

The south of Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful beaches, with Unawatuna beach being one of them. With its turquoise waters and golden sand lined with palm trees, it’s not surprising Unawatuna beach is one of the most popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka.

Join us on our guided Sri Lanka holiday and experience this incredible country where we fit all the best things to do in Sri Lanka into our itinerary, plus even more and your own leisure time.

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