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discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night
If you want to spend your next vacation on an island, Sri Lanka is perfect for you. Tucked in South Asia, this isle is ideal for spotting wildlife and exploring vibrant nature. And the best of all, you can explore a lot of this country in a very short span of time. What you can do and see in Sri Lanka is endless. The coastal area is abundant with scenic beaches for you to relax and have fun with your loved ones.

The choice of water sports available here will surely boost your spirits. If you are a nature lover, you can camp in a forest to get in touch with wildlife. Get into a safari ride and spot exotic species or immerse yourself in energizing adventure activities like hiking and mountain climbing. Simply, you will never go out of things to do in Sri Lanka during your visit here.

things to do in Sri Lanka

Learn about more off-the-beaten-path destinations in Sri Lanka and have a trip of your lifetime. Here's why I think you must visit Sri Lanka this year.

1. Exotic Wildlife in Yala National Park


Visit some of Sri Lanka’s lesser-known and quieter national parks and you’ll discover some incredible wildlife, including leopards, Asian elephants, sloth bears, Malabar pied hornbills and much more. Visit Yala National Park and get into a safari ride to watch how casually wild animals cross your path.

Sri Lanka is home to a number of exotic and endangered species. So if you love animals you will be fascinated when you sight many elephants, leopards, whales, and turtles in this small island. It is also considered as a perfect spot for bird lovers as it holds a good amount of bird species living in its rainforests.

Sri Lanka has made its mark with its lifestyle and boasts of having the highest density of leopards across the globe. That's not it, there are numerous other endangered and rare species of avifauna, flora, and fauna; such as fishing cat, water buffaloes, Sri Lankan elephant, Sri Lanka grey hornbill, night herons, egrets and purple swamphen.

2. Spend time with adorable elephants at Pinnawala


Sri Lanka is simply a paradise for animal enthusiasts. If you fancy spending time with elephants you can visit the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. It is a great place to snap pictures with them and also to feed and bathe the baby elephants. You cannot really say you have been to Sri Lanka if you haven’t spent time with adorable elephants at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.

Since elephants appear in almost all of Sri Lanka tourism brochures, you would know how much this country loves them. Here at Pinnawala not only you get to bathe and feed elephants, you can also ride them and explore the verdant locale. Try to target a a time when the elephants come down to do a bath at the river.

3. Befriend whales and dolphins in Mirissa


Have you ever wanted to befriend whales and dolphins? Well, then head to Mirissa and dive with them. You can get to Mirissa from Tissamaharama by local bus. Mirissa is a place to surf, to take a refreshing swim, to snorkel in isolated coves of the waves, there is an especially pleasant place to the left of a small island viewpoint.

In Mirissa there is a certain atmosphere, that by the music that sounds in its restaurants of the beach, it could seem that we are in a beach of Jamaica. You can enjoy one of the best Kottu in the country.

4. Get an insight into the history in Sigiriya Fortress


Sri Lanka is a country holding a vast number of historical monuments and artifacts. Use the morning session to tackle one of most famous tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. The Sigiriya Rock fortress. This is a solid 200m rock where king Kashyapa built his palace on. There is a nice museum there as well. a fee is levied to climb the rock (around 30$ for non SAARC and 15$ for SAARC).

On your tour around the island, you will come across some world heritage sites which have a history dating back up to 2500 years. You will be amused by the intricate architecture, beautiful paintings, and carvings of these ancient places.

Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Galle, and Kandy are some places to visit in Sri Lanka to get an insight into the Sri Lankan history. Do not forget to visit the Sigiriya rock fortress and the Temple of The Tooth Relic while you are here.

Sigiriya is the ancient rock fortress of Sri Lankan king Kashyapa. The rock is about 200 m high and you can easily climb it up to witness the ruins of the palace and understand the amazing technology used to built it up in such an ancient time period. Sigiriya is famous for its gigantic frescoes gallery. Also the Mirror wall and Water gardens are major highlights too.

Due to the historical and archaeological significance, Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed world heritage site and also renowned as the 8th wonder of the world.

Sigiriya, surrounded by jungle is the large granite rock 200 meters long, 120 meters wide and almost 200 meters high. The Palace of Sigiriya Fortress was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is currently one of the major tourist attractions that can be seen in Sri Lanka. It contains the ruins of an old palatial complex, built during the reign of King Kasyapa.

At the beginning of the climb there is a Buddhist temple and almost at the end of the climb is a reclining Buddha.

5. Timeless adventure in Unawatuna


A traveler cannot ask for a better place than Sri Lanka for a lifetime of adventure. The central province of Sri Lanka is where you can enjoy hiking and mountain trekking in the hills. The gushing rivers and waterfalls invite you to take part in thrilling water sports. You can go on white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking here.

As indicated by the Ramayana, during the fight between Rama and Ravana, Hanuman was sent to the Himalayas to bring back herbs to cure the injured Lakshmana, the sibling of Rama.The story proceeds to state that Hanuman lifted and carried one of the Himalayan mountains back to the nation, and dropped a huge lump of it on the Southern coast, which became Rumassala.

You can hike to this small mountain. Trek of the mountain and you can see the beautiful jungle beach. Go to Unawatuna beach, one of the best beaches in the country very close to Galle. The coastal area is even more interesting. Sri Lanka is a one of finest destination who loves spends time in sandy beaches.

There are good beaches at the down south and eastern coast. Jungle beach is a one of hideaway beach located between Galle and Unawatuna. This beach is less crowded compared to Unawatuna beach.

This sea shore is fundamentally exceptional for its area since it lies near the wilderness. The spotless and sandy sea shore gives an all-encompassing perspective on the city of Galle and an ideal spot to watch the sun rise and sun set. Recently jungle beach is famous due to Instagram photos.

Since the beach is quite decent and calm you can relax on the beach, swimming and snorkeling. If you’re from Colombo, you must come to the Unawatuna. From there you can reach to this place by tuk tuk. Its only takes 20 min reach to the beach. The best time to see the magnificence of the spot is between February to April when there is low humidity.

In any case, prefer not to visit Unawatuna in January as it is stuffed with numerous travelers from inside the nation, making it too swarmed for you to enjoy the spot. The reef and swimming start just 25-40 feet from the sea shore, straightforwardly in front. You can likewise swim around the stones on the two sides of the bay.

Waves regularly aren't sizable at Jungle Beach, yet consistently be aware of conditions. The reef at Jungle Beach is truly well dead. Sometimes you can discover apparatus to lease once there, however don't depend on the accessibility or quality; convey your own with you from Unawatuna. You'll still experience a lot of little marine life.

The Sunset Point, set apart by a sign headed straight toward Jungle Beach, offers obviously better evening views than those in Unawatuna. In the event that you intend to remain until dusk, you'll certainly require a torch light for the walk back. Start back well before everything gets dark or take a ride once back out and about; there will be transportation at intervals.

Permit a couple of moments in transit out for checking out the enormous Japanese Peace Pagoda found over the sea shore.

The deep sea and the rushing waves here will let you enjoy surfing, snorkeling, water skiing and many other adventures. If you are looking for more get into scuba diving and have a great time with turtles and dolphins.

6. Mouthwatering Cuisine in Galle


From Mirissa move onto Galle. On the way stop at Koggala turtle hatchery and then at Unawatuna beach. You can have lunch at Unawatuna. Next to Unawatuna beach there is a beautiful temple perched on the rocks known as the peace pagoda of Rumassala. The view is amazing there. You can also do snorkeling at the jungle beach which is next to Unawatuna and Rumassala.

Spend the afternoon session in Galle and Galle fort. Walk on the ramparts, see the churches and mosques, and walk on the very European like roads of the Galle fort. There are many restaurants where you can have a snack from.

Galle was for several centuries one of the most important ports of the road to Asia, in the heart of a prosperous trade. The Portuguese landed there as early as 1605 pursuing an Arab fleet that was trading spices to the Maldives. The Dutch stormed their fortress in 1640. Today it is a tropical port which, sheltered from its walls, is longing for a bygone era.

Galle Fort was built between 1588 and 1649 by the Portuguese and fortified by the Dutch. The lighthouse and the clock tower are the most photographed spots. The lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in Sri Lanka.

Wander in a labyrinth of lanes slumbering with ocher houses, turquoise or jade with faded shutters, traversed by nonchalant cyclists and in its shaded places by big banyans, where old people play backgammon.

From the Unuwatuna beach it is about 15 minutes by motorcycle to Dalawella beach. Just 5 minutes walk from Dalawella around the corner is the paradise of Wijaya Beach. There are several hotels (their terraces) arranged along the beach and a couple of beach clubs with lots of tourist and lots of parties.

Delicious food is something else Sri Lanka is famous for. Sri Lankan cuisine is rice based. If you are able to find the right places, you will get to taste some best meals prepared with freshly ground spices found here. Also, if you love seafood, head to the Old Dutch Fort to taste varieties of them. Finally, top it off with a cup of world famous Ceylon tea.

You will also find vendors offering you different kinds of food along the streets. If you are a street food lover who loves munching snacks along with your trip, go ahead! When Sri Lankan’s say add milk to any gravy curry, they mean coconut milk. Most of Sri Lankan desserts and food involve coconut. The milk, the water or grated fresh coconut itself.

One of the best comfort foods is pol sambol which is just a raw mix of grated coconut, lime, salt and chilli powder. You can head back to Colombo on the expressway after catching the sunset at Galle fort from the rampart.

7. Perfect beaches in Weligama


Go to Weligama to try to have some notions of surfing. Eat exquisite calamari in a restaurant next to the beach. If your idea of a perfect holiday is golden sandy beaches lined with palm trees, head to the coastal side of the island. The surrounding is ideal for you to relax all day long leaving your hectic life aside for a while. Some of the famous beaches on the island can be found in Trincomalee, Negombo, and Hikkaduwa.

8. Journey by train to Haputale


But, if what you want is a lush green environment all around you, head to the Hill Country. You will be surrounded by far stretched tea plantations, beautiful waterfalls and towering mountains here. A journey by train can make your visit to Sri Lanka unforgettable.

Haputale is at 1400 meters of altitude and is surrounded by mountains where Thomas Lipton took advantage of these conditions to invest in tea plantations. Go to the Dambatenne tea factory. It is the fourth producer of tea in the world.

9. Travel by train to Badulla


Travel by train to areas like Badulla and Bandarawela and witness how stunning the view gets along your journey. That ambiance can be a great environment for getting your business done. It’s not a strange thing that Sri Lanka is high on the list of destinations for digital nomads.

Continue the route to Bambarakanda Falls in Kalupahana in Badulla, the highest in Sri Lanka about 23 kms from Haputale. Return along the A4 road towards the Diyaluma waterfall. It is the second highest in the country with 220 meters and the sixth in the world. This waterfall has an absolutely majestic view as it acquire a horsetail shape after falling and jumping off a cliff.

It is 6 km from Koslanda in the Badulla district. The name in the Sinhalese language means fast flow of water. When talking about the most beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka it is impossible not to mention the Dunhinda Waterfall. Formed by a deviation of the Badulu Oya river, it gets its name from the dew that falls as if it were smoke or spray.

You can get to it from the city of Badula in a tuk-tuk traveling approximately 4 km, and then it is necessary to walk one more kilometer.

10. Colorful culture in Kandy


The rich culture is one prominent quality found in Sri Lanka. This ethnically diverse country celebrates all religious festivals with equal prominence. Visit Sri Lanka in August and watch an annual spectacular event that takes place here. The Kandy Esala Perahera is a procession where majestic tuskers clad in colorful clothes walk along the streets at night.

Along with them fire bearers, traditional drummers, dancers and many others perform their events elegantly. Witness this colorful festival and be fascinated with the beauty of the Sri Lankan culture.

The Kandy Esala Perahera is a colorful, lively and noisy Buddhist procession imbued with tradition and history. For more than ten nights between July and August, the procession is a tribute to the sacred relic of the Buddha's tooth, which is located in the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa). Every year, almost a million people go down to Kandy where bands perform dances, acrobatics always accompanied by elephants.

They are different pink pavilions with red slate roofs surrounded by a solid white wall. It was built between 1687 and 1782, under the reign of several monarchs. The main building, where the relic of Buddha's tooth is really located, is Vahahitina Maligawa. Other interesting buildings are the Alut Maligawa, the Sri Dalada Museum and the Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa).

The tooth is placed in a reliquary surrounded by six others and is located in a small sanctuary. Reach the botanical garden about 6 kms from Kandy. The garden has more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. It attracts about 2 million people each year. The house of the orchids with more than 300 varieties of orchids is the highlight of the garden.

Peace Pagoda is the stupa which was created by the Japanese. It is also called as Sama Chaitya. There is a staircase to the stupa and one can circumvent it. There are four Buddha Statues around it and they demonstrate the introduction of Prince Siddhartha, his Enlightenment and the achievement of Parinibbana.

This Peace Pagoda is intended to give a concentration to individuals everything being equal and doctrines and to help join them as they continued looking for world peace.

Kandy is known as the hill capitol and contains the most sacred temple for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Known as the dalada maligawa or the temple of the tooth its around 90km south of Sigiriya and on your way you can visit the Matale alu viharaya.

In Kandy visit the big temple and surrounding kovils. Relax a bit in kandy, take a walk around the lake in the evening and maybe grab a beer at the royal Kandy pub or the Kandy pub.

11. Indulge in the grandest amenities in Ella


Catch the 3 pm train from Nanuoya (around 15 minutes from Nuwara Eliya) to Ella. This is a 2.5 hour journey through one of the most beautiful upcountry scenery in Sri Lanka. As an added bonus the train ride would take you through the Horton plains national park and the Ambewela dairy farm.

The train line from Kandy towards Ella is known to be one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world. As the train winds its way through tea plantations and mountain passes breathtaking views unfold all around you. It's a lovely way to travel and gives you a real sense of the laid-back lifestyle found in these central highlands. It wont be a steam engine though.

You will reach Ella by evening and can easily find accommodation there. Ella is not the cheapest place in Sri Lanka. Ella itself has many little side trips such as little Adams peak, Ella rock, Ravanaella falls, Bandarawela, 9 arches bridge. Just being in ella is amazing enough though. Ella also has its share of adventure sports.

Go to a viewpoint to see Nine Arch bridge. It is one of the best English constructions of when Ceylon was a colony of the British Empire. A railway line was developed to be able to export tea to the outside of the country. In this viewpoint there is a small bar. In Ella there are two typical walks one is Ella Rock and the other the small Adam's Peak.

Very close to the southern population of Ella is the Ravana Falls divided into different smaller waterfalls that make the water slide over the rocks creating small calm pools that both locals and tourists use to cool off. Next to the waterfall you can visit the magnificent cave of Ravana Ella, one of the most popular tourist attractions.

Also, in places like Ravana Ella, Ussangoda and Konneswaram Kovil the oral tradition has its own stories whose central axis are the exploits of King Ravana who was possibly one of the greatest kings of ancient civilizations. The prowess of Ravana would turn him into the first king who managed to fly thanks to a flying machine that he had designed, known as Vimana that is connected to the famous Ramayana.

You will be able to find an assortment of choices when it comes to lodging in Sri Lanka. The five-star luxury hotels will let you indulge in the grandest amenities and comfort you in a cozy way. On the other hand, cottage style resorts are abundantly found near famous tourist destinations like Yala and Ella.

Here, you will get to experience a nature bound holiday as these places are surrounded by lush greenery and scenic landscapes. There is also a very interesting resort shaped like a giant elephant and also some cottages built on treetops. If you love spending time with nature, you cannot ask for better places.

So what are you waiting for? It is time you head to this beautiful island and experience all these amazing things. Sri Lanka is a tourist destination that is still new and is opening up to more visitors every day. So, visit Sri Lanka and explore the untouched, pure nature and interesting wildlife before it gets too crowded. Also, don’t forget to snap great pictures while you are here.
Kalyan Panja Kalyan Panja Author

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