The island country of Sri Lanka is known as the perl of the Indian Ocean. With varied landscapes and cultures spread across different regions of Sri Lanka, there really is something for everyone. This list is quite adventurous and features some hikes and some action! Sri Lankan culture and food are incredibly unique and will captivate you on your adventures.
Sri Lanka is a beginner surfers paradise. Hikkaduwa on Sri Lanka's southwest coast is the popular spot where we tried surfing. The sandy break cushions your fall and the waves are not the gigantic intimidating pipes seen in Hawaii or Australia. Even expert surfers can enjoy themselves in Sri Lanka though. On the west coast, there is a popular beach that offers bigger and better waves called Aragum Bay. This is where you'll find a lot of surfers hanging out waiting to catch a wave. The season is different than Hikkaduwa's however, so make sure to check when surfing on the west coast is popular.
Aragum Bay was one of our favorite places to chill out in Sri Lanka. It has that old time backpackers feel where you can chill on a hammock, drink cheap whiskey and get to know the locals. It's also a surfing mecca. Hikkaduwa was where we learned, but Aragum Bay is where the serious surfers stop. If you have never surfed before Sri Lanka is the place to do it. It is very easy to learn here and the conditions are perfect for the first timer. So if you are looking for something to do in Sri Lanka, give surfing a try!
Sri Lanka is one of the most important tea producers in the world and its hill country is stunning. Colonial towns dot the landscape surrounded by tea plantations. One of the best places to sip tea is in Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. The vegetation is lush and green and the rolling hills make for an awesome site. Pretend you are in jolly old England for a few days. Stay in old plantation homes, drink tea and eat baked goods. It doesn't get any more civilized than this. Don't miss going to Ella and Nuwara Eliya to see the tea plantations of Sri Lanka. Exploring the scenery of the hills is a must do when visit visiting Sri Lanka. It's absolutely beautiful and you feel as if you are in another world.
In common opinion, the top attraction of Sri Lanka is Adams Peak. Climb to the top was one of the best experiences you've ever had in the country. Adams Peak is Sri Lanka's most sacred site and you can join thousands of pilgrims for 2 months of the year as they pay homage to the first place that Adam stepped foot on earth when he was cast down from Heaven. It is a climb that doesn't require any technical skill, but it is a workout. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment taking part in this spiritual journey. This is by far our top recommendation of things that you should make sure to do when visiting the country. This climb is what drew us to visit Sri Lanka.
One of the things you must things to do in Sri Lanka is to ride the trains. Sri Lanka's trains are like stepping back in time. They chug slowly along through hills and valleys. It is the slow journey that makes it special. Looking out over the mountains and tea plantations rival any view in the world and the people that you meet on the train will be remembered forever. So if you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka make sure this makes your to do list and take the time to travel by train. It will be an experience you will remember and cherish forever. A top train journey in Sri Lanka is to Ella.
Yala National Park is one of the few places in the world that you can spot a leopard. I put Yala up there as one of our top things to do in Sri Lanka. You can have so much fun looking at all the wildlife and four wheeling through the park in your safari truck. Hanging out and making new friends was part of the fun! Yala is an incredible park filled with wildlife. Elephants, peacocks, monkeys, jackals, crocodiles and monitor lizards to name a few. You won't be disappointed on a jeep safari here even if you don't see a leopard, you will see a beautiful landscape and an abundance of wild animals. However, chances are pretty good that you will see a leopard and prices are so reasonable, that even if you don't, you can try to see one again on another safari.
Sri Lanka is filled with national parks and trekking through Uda Walawe is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the towns. What is special about this park however is the Elephant Transfer Home an orphanage and rehabilitation centre for orphaned and injured elephants supported by the Born Free Foundation. You can watch elephants being fed, but unlike the Pinawale Orphanage, the ETH cares only for the elephants well being. They have as little interaction with humans as possible. So far 65 elephants have been rehabilitated and let back into the wild. If you have your heart set on seeing and helping elephants, we suggest going to Udawalwe over the other Elephant Rehabilitation Centres. They are doing a great job.
Our next suggestion for things to do in Sri Lana is to visit a Turtle hatchery. Turtles are under great threat due to fishing, pollution, habitat loss and hunting. Turtle Hatcheries are doing their best to keep the turtle numbers alive and well. One of the best is The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. He loves turtles and lets them into the ocean nightly. You can even take part in their release if you go at sunset. A person can't go to Sri Lanka without visiting a turtle hatchery. It is a right of passage of visiting the country.
Visiting Sigiriya is probably the most famous thing to do in Sri Lanka. The important archeological site is very impressive. Gracing the covers of many Sri Lankan Guide books, hanging in the office of tour companies and standing proud on the cover of several coffee table books, it just may be Sri Lanka's most recognizable site. It is also set in a beautiful location. Surrounded by jungle, villages and farmland, Sigiriya is a location set back in time. Monkeys play on the trails and crocodiles dwell in its moat. The entry price is steep, but it is a beautiful view with an impressive museum as well. If you love history and archeology, Sigiriya is for you.
We liked hiking Pidurangala more than visiting Sigiriya. It is a great sunset hike that takes you up a mountain adjacent to Sigiriya, offering amazing views of the giant rock.
Hurulu Eco Park is another excellent place to view wildlife. We saw elephants and monkeys and what makes this park special, is that you can get out of the jeep and hike up to a high lookout. Designated a biosphere reserve in 1977, Hurulu is an important habitat for Sri Lanka's Elephants.
Farm visit to help keep farm animals safe from leopards, which in turn saves the leopards of Sri Lanka. They provide fences and safety for the cattle so that leopards do not snatch the calves. In the past when leopards killed the livestock, farmers would retaliate and kill the leopards. Now that they have fences and are secure from the leopards, they can thrive and co-exist in the wild. A farm visit is a wonderful way to learn and understand what it is like to live in rural Sri Lanka.
One of the best hikes in Sri Lanka is the hike to Ella Rock. The town of Ella feels like an English Country village complete with red phone booths, a horse track and even fine white glove dining. The popular trek here is to Ella Rock located 5km outside of town. It offers great panoramic views of the hill country and tea terraces and is a good day trip if you are up for a steep and challenging hike.
Ancient City of Polonnaruwa - UNESCO World Heritage site is Sri Lanka's second oldest kingdom dating back to 1070. It is a World Heritage Site and people still inhabit the land all around it. It's in great shape with many monuments still standing. It's not as large as many of the other ruins we visited around Asia, but it is a fascinating walk through time.
Sacred City of Anuradhapura - UNESCO World Heritage site. A Modern civilization lives in harmony with its ancient past. Anuradhapura is the capital fo the North Central Province, but also the capital of the ancient cities of Sri Lanka. Its ruins are well- preserved and a good way to learn about ancient Sri Lanka civilization.
Galle is located on the southern tip of Sri Lanka. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle is a picturesque city surrounded by a wall built by the Dutch in the 17th Century.Take a walk around the city to explore the colonial buildings. Colonial customs are still strong in Galle and you can have afternoon tea at one of the high-end hotels. If you are lucky, you may see some locals cliff diving from the high walls.
Crowned as the royal home of Sinhala monarchs, the palace's history buffs have a chance to do things here. The Queen's Bathing Pavilion, the Royal Seat, the Royal Palace, the Royal Palace and the Royal Audience Hall are some of the main attractions of this palace. In 1942, what remains of the original structure of the Kandy Royal Palace was converted into the Kandy National Museum, so what you see there today is actually a museum with all the galleries displaying chambers containing artifacts from the British era. It was and the Kingdom of Kandy.
Unawatuna is a beach town in the south of Sri Lanka. What makes it special is the fact that the highway bypasses the town making walking through the narrow lanes easy and free from traffic. There are picturesque beaches and it is here that you can see fishermen still fishing from stilts. Located around 15 minutes from Galle and Galle Fort, Unawatuna is a popular seaside town that has attracted beach lovers over the years. A perfectly alluring stretch of the Golden Coast lined with restaurants, bars and beach hotels, Unawatuna Beach is absolutely what you are looking to relax and enjoy in this coastal town.
Nothing feels better than being invited to someone's house for dinner. The Sri Lankan people are a giving bunch. They are the friendliest people you will met in South Asia. You can make great friends by travelling in local places. What a wonderful experience getting a glimpse of local life in the country. If you are privileged enough to be invited to dinner, take it. It is a heartwarming evening filled with genuine hospitality.
Colombo, city, executive and judicial capital of Sri Lanka. (Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, a capital of Sri Lanka suburb, is the legislative capital.) set on the West Coast of the island, simply south of the Kelani River, Colombo could be a principal port of the Indian Ocean. it's one of the largest artificial harbors in the world and handles the majority of Sri Lanka’s foreign trade. The earliest written mention of the port is also that of Faxian, a Chinese traveler of the 5th century CE (Common Era) who referred to the port as Gaolanbu. The Sinhalese called the port Kolamba, that the Portuguese thought was derived from the Sinhalese word for mango trees (kola, “leaves”; amba, “mango”). A more seemingly clarification is that kolamba was an old Sinhalese acceptation “port” or “ferry.”
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