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Top 13 Places to Visit and Things to do in Sri Lanka

There are many places to visit and things to do in Sri Lanka, making it an amazing Asian country to visit. Whether it’s in the heart of the country surrounded by wildlife or on the beach with a tasty drink, the places to visit and things to do in Sri Lank make it a country worth visiting.

9 of the Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

1. Colombo

Places to see in Sri Lanka
Badulla train, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Top Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Hindu Temple Katiresan Kovil in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Things to do in Sri Lanka
Ceylon Tea Trails, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Best Things to do in Sri Lanka
Barefoot Garden Cafe, Colombo

The capital city of Sri Lanka is Colombo and it is home to over 5 million people. It is on the western coast of the island and is a mix of modern metropolis and tropical beaches. Throughout the city you can see evidence of British, Dutch and Portuguese occupation.

2. Yala National Park

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

If you love wild animals, then your next trip to Sri Lanka must include a visit to Yala National Park. On the southeast coast of the island you can find a protected area home to leopards, elephants and hundreds of species of birds. The surrounding nature is beautiful and calming and will transport you to another world.

3. Polonnaruwa

Located in the northern part of the island, this city was once the capital of Sri Lanka, over 1000 years ago. Because of its importance temples, monasteries and statues were built to honor Buddhism.

Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Seated Buddha, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

The city has actually been declared a World Heritage Site and as you walk through the many amazing ruins, you’ll understand why.

4. Sigiriya

Rising 200 meters above a forested plain, this ancient rock fortress is a true sight to behold. It can be found in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, near the town of Dambulla.

Sigiriya - The Lions Rock- Dambulla Town, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya – The Lions Rock- Dambulla Town, Sri Lanka

The rock formation is so immense that it caught the attention of King Kasyapa who, 1500 years ago, built his palace on the top of the rock. He then decorated the sides with colorful frescoes. Halfway up the side of the rock, on a small plateau, an enormous lion protrudes over a gateway, which inspire the name for the rock formation – The Lion Rock.

After King Kasyapa’s death the palace was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century and in the modern age has become the most visited historic sites in all of Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site.

5. Kandy

The second most populated city in Sri Lanka is Kandy, located in the heart of the country. The city is home to a number of Buddhist temples including the famed Temple of the Tooth, which houses a tooth relic from the Buddha. There are many tea plantations near Kandy, which make for a great experience to see how the famous drink is created.

Tea estates, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Tea estates, Kandy, Sri Lanka

6. Galle

On the southern tip of Sri Lanka you can find this city that blends the history of Sri Lanka with the colonization of the Dutch. Galle was also home to Portuguese explorers and as a result became a fortified city. The Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is the largest remaining fortress in Asia that was built by European occupiers.

7. Unawatuna

Located just east of the city of Galle you can find one of the best beaches in all of the world. Golden sans and clear blue water make it a tropical paradise. Just off the beach is a coral reef which not only makes for calm waters, but provides ample opportunity to snorkel. Relax on the beach and soak in the beauty that nature has to offer.

8. Dambulla Buddhist Cave

Filled with colorful statues carved into the surrounding rock, this series of five adjacent caves is one of the most amazing places to visit in Sri Lanka. The first cave was created more than 2000 years ago and to visit the caves is to really step back in time.

Without the caves you can find standing Buddhas and sitting Buddhas amongst different paintings. The caves are also hope to a functioning temple and its practices should be respected. Visitors to the temple are expected to remove their shoes and cover their knees and shoulders.

9. Bentota Turtle Sanctuary

After the 2004 tsunami, the turtles of Sri Lanka was almost wiped out. Because of this, turtle sanctuaries have emerged as a way of protecting the amphibian species. Along the southwest coast of Sri Lanka you can find Bentota, home to this large turtle sanctuary.

As you tour the sanctuary you’ll learn about turtles including the fact that most sanctuaries pay for turtle eggs in an attempt to stop people from selling them to restaurants to be eaten. The sanctuary is dependent on donations and tourism, so it is very worthwhile to stop by.

Best Things to do in Sri Lanka

10. See the wildlife

Sri Lanka is home to so many animals it’s amazing what you’ll see. Whether it’s on the coast or inland, the country will constantly provide some new animal to look at. You can visit the national parks where wildlife is protected, but you can also come across animals on your day to day journeys. Macaques are everywhere, eagerly waiting for even a morsel of food. Be careful not to feed them or they’ll follow you around forever.

11. A day at the beach

Sri Lanka is home to truly mesmerizing beaches. Golden sand and the reflected sunrise are a marvel to see. The coastline is also home to a number of fishing villages, as fishing is a major industry in Sri Lanka. Relax at a local restaurant or bring a picnic to the beach and get lost in its majesty.

12. Go shopping

Sri Lanka, like most destinations is an opportunity to purchase local goods. From local crafts to souvenirs to clothing and cloths, shopping in Sri Lanka is varied. While there are shopping malls, the best deals to be had are from street vendors who ply their local wares.

13. Eat a lot of food

If you love trying new culinary adventures, then Sri Lanka is the place for you. Some of its local cuisine is similar to Southern Indian cooking but Sri Lankans have their own spin on traditional dishes. Fish and meat can be found on menus next to a wide selection of vegetarian options. After enjoying your meal, be sure to order a cup of tea to wind down with.

The places to visit and things to do in Sri Lanka are varied and exciting. You can see wild elephants, visit ancient Buddhist temples and experience the modernity of large cities. Sri Lanka is a country not to be missed.

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About Chris

Chris had a passion to contribute to society especially to fellow travelers like himself. He also had a passion for Southeast Asia and frequently visited. While brainstorming ideas, he decided that a travel blog dedicated to his favorite countries, Thailand and Singapore, could be more beneficial than any guidebook. Only one year later did the blog’s success bring in more writers, more countries, and more readers.

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