Sri Lanka is a small island in the heart of the Indian ocean. But despite its size, the island is home to many wonders. There are the misty mountains in the center to pristine beaches around the island. And it is a hot spot for wildlife and nature.
Sri Lanka offers adventure and bliss to all types of travellers. With so many activities, it is a massive task to list 10 best things to see and do while you are in Sri Lanka. However, here are some of the highlights you should not miss.
1. Kandy to Ella train ride
Trains are a great way to travel around Sri Lanka. They are spacious, cheap and above all, offer some of the best views you can imagine. Of all the train routes in Sri Lanka, the most scenic is the one between Kandy to Ella and is one of the most scenic train journeys in Asia, if not the world. On both sides, you can see green tea estates, blue mountains in the distance and experience long tunnels. The journey itself is around 7+ hours and tickets are reasonably priced. There are five trains each day – three in the morning at 03:30am, 08:47am and 11:10am and another at night at 17:00pm. You will not regret the money spent on this train ticket.
2. Safari in Yala
For those who are after wildlife, there is plenty to see in Sri Lanka. It offers sites of leopards, elephants, and colorful birds. All these are there at Yala national park – which is the most popular and most visited. It is one of the best spots to see wild leopards, anywhere in the world. If you are more into elephants than leopards, you can visit Udawalawe national park. And for those who are after birds, the Bundala national park is also a good option.
3. Hike up the Diyaluma Falls
If you wish to stretch your legs for a hike, Diyaluma fall is an ideal location for you. It is the second-highest waterfall in the country and is perfect for a day trip adventure. But the best part is that a short walk up the hills will get you to the top of the waterfall. You can camp on the top, and also dip in the pool right at the edge. This place offers the chance to take some stunning photographs which would form pride of place in your travel albums.
4. Sunset by the beach
Anywhere you go in Sri Lanka, you will see some of the most stunning sunsets. The western coastline is best for sunsets, from Unawatuna in the south up to Mannar islands in the north. Go to the beach and wait as the sun slowly moves down the horizon. It will paint the sky in all shades of red, orange, and yellow. There are many restaurants and bars spread throughout the west coast beaches where you can enjoy these beautiful sunsets over your favorite Sri Lanka meal and drinks of course!
5. Surf at Arugam bay
If you are into surfing, you cannot miss out on visiting the Arugam Bay on the eastern coast. It is one of the best surfing spots in the world. The best waves are there from May to September, but it goes till November in most years. Even during the offseason, Arugambay holds the chill backpacker vibe. That is something which brings many of the tourists to this area.
6. Climb Pidurangala and Sigiriya
Your Sri Lanka trip is not complete if you did not take a photo with Lion’s rock on the background. The Sigiriya rock is a true marvel of the ancient craftsmanship. It is a massive fortress with neatly built gardens, walls, and an entire palace built on top of an enormous rock. But the best view of this place is from the rock right next to it, Piduranagala. Thousands climb each day to the top of Pidurangala, to see the lion’s rock on the background.
7. Explore Colombo
The economic and commeRcial capital, Colombo, is not your typical tourist hotspot. It has loud traffic and is a bustling metropolitan. But it has its wow treasures. One such place is the Ganagarama temple and the Seemamalakaya across the street. Another great place to be is the Galle Face Green, which comes to life with the setting sun. The name of “Galle Face” is due to the esplanade facining the southern city of Galle. If you are into street photography or like to visit the busy markets, you cannot miss the Pettah market.
8. Cultural Triangle
For those who love history, the ruins of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa is a great place to start. These ruins tell a story of more than two millenniums old. You can see massive statues of Lord Buddha and great stupas. And then there are thousands of stone pillars and colorful murals. There are enough sites to explore for days.
9. Visit Galle Fort
The fort city of Galle offers some of the best examples for the colonial architecture in Sri Lanka. It is an entire city with a massive rampart. Then there is a lighthouse, a clock tower, and many Dutch era houses, and other buildings. This living and breathing city is a UNESCO world heritage site. That stands proud over the modern city on one side and the Galle harbor on the other. Walking down its narrow streets will take you back a few centuries.
10. Try Spicy Food
With all these great places to see, your Sri Lankan trip is not complete unless you try out some of the local cuisines. Rice and curry is the main meal of Sri Lanka, with local vegetables made in the spiciest style possible. Sri Lankans love their spices; it is no coincidence that this country called the spice island. Spices had been the main export of the country since the days of the ancient kings. Another unique food is hoppers. Hoppers add another nickname to the island as the hopper island. There are many street food types as well, including the noisy ‘Kottu’ made at every nook and corner of the county.
This article provides just a glimpse of Sri Lanka and is intended to provide potential visitors with a small taste of Paradise. Over the next few months, we will be published more detailed articles on specific places to visit including the best places to stay and enjoy the local brew and cuisine. Sri Lanka is a country that offers something to everyone. It does not matter whether you come here in search of some adrenal rush, or to relax and find your inner peace. No matter what you came for, you will find enough and more things to keep you occupied. There is no better place to visit than this tropical paradise full of hospitable locals.