Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an incredible tourist destination that offers a variety of tourist attractions. Located off the coast of India in the Indian Ocean, this island offers its visitors an incredible variety of environments and attractions to enjoy and experience.
Visitors can trace the fascinating history of the island from ancient times to colonial times and the present day in cities such as Colombo and Kandy. This relatively compact island is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites with preserved history.
Incredible outdoor sights and safari experiences can be found in the country’s major elephant and leopard national parks such as Yala, Minneriya, and Udawalawe. Surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and home to many luxury beach resorts, Sri Lanka is also a beach lover’s paradise.
When planning your Sri Lanka adventure, keep in mind that the country experiences a rainy season from May to August, so December to April is usually the best time to visit. The shoulder seasons of September, October and November are also good times to visit.
Plan your travel itinerary with our list of the Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka:
1. Udawalawe National Park
This large safari park is located in the south of the country, about an hour’s drive from the Hambantota resort area. The topography and environment variables, as the park is located on the border between the dry and wet regions of the country.
Visitors of the park can see many elephants as well as crocodiles, buffalo, etc. In fact, it is one of the best places in the world to see elephants in the wild outside of Africa.
There are leopards there too, but they are difficult to track or spot. There are also monkeys and various deer and small mammals. It is also a good place for bird watching.
2. Yala National Park
Located on the southeast coast of the island, this national park is famous for its cheetah safaris. Leopards are very rare, but the park is so crowded that it is possible to see them even on a day trip. The park is also home to a large number of Asian elephants endemic to Sri Lanka.
In addition to fauna, the park is home to incredibly diverse environments and ecosystems. Along the coast, you can visit marine and beach environments, track leopards in wide meadows, or explore the rainforest.
There are also some important Buddhist temples and shrines in Yala, not far from the city of Hambantota.
A visit to Anuradhapura, the country’s former capital and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, can give visitors a glimpse into the past. The area is unique in that it is a thriving modern city alongside an old city – you don’t just visit the ruins. The current population makes it one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on Earth (from the 4th century BC).
The ruins are wonderful with many crumbling temples, statues, pools and other structures. There are also modern buildings and the temple remains an active place of worship. At the heart of the complex is a very old tree. Sri Maha Bodhi is considered the world’s oldest living tree planted by humans.
Anuradhapura is an interesting place with many small hotels and cheap dining options, as well as bike rentals, tour guides, and other businesses catering to tourists.
This is an important ancient city site and another World Heritage Site in the country. The second capital city of Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa flourished about a thousand years ago.
Although most of the buildings are in ruins, the garden city is completely preserved. There are gardens, palaces and temples that are compact but best explored by bike. As an added bonus, the site is home to a large colony of macaque monkeys that have been residents of the area since ancient times. Duran Duran fans will recognize this site because Save a Prayer videos were filmed here in the 1980s.
A few miles from the ruins is a small modern town with hotels, bike rentals, cafes and other tourist services. The town is close to Minneriya National Park, which is a great place to see elephants.
The city of Galle is about two hours drive from Colombo on one of the first modern highways in the country. Reflecting its colonial past, this ancient trading port is centered around a large 17th-century seaside fort.
Galle Fort is now a well-preserved walled town filled with boutique hotels, shops and restaurants (as well as actual residents). The entire region is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
A great place to explore on foot – the entire castle is car-free. It is hard to get lost as it is surrounded by the sea on three sides.
In addition to the castle, the city is also surrounded by some stunning beaches. Like the rest of the country, wide sandy beaches give way to crystal clear turquoise waters. There is even a beach below the iconic Galle Lighthouse.
6. Hikkaduwa Beach
Just 90 minutes from Colombo, this beach is full of water sports, surfing, bodyboarding, snorkeling and scuba diving. All equipment can be easily rented from one of the stands on the beach. It is one of the most popular surfing areas in the country, with the best waves between November and March.
The beach is huge so it never feels too crowded. If you want to stay the night, there are plenty of waterfront stalls selling a variety of delicious local street food and many small hotels and guesthouses.
It is also famous for its corals. The Hikkaduwa Coral Reserve is a well-protected marine area that is part of the Hikkaduwa National Park located near the coastline. It was created to protect the coral reefs in the area and to educate visitors about corals.
7. Galle Face Green
Los Angeles’ Sri Lankan version of Venice Beach isn’t a great place to get away from it all, but it’s a place day and night to people relax, watch and have fun with other Sri Lankans. Besides the beach, there is a large grassy area where people can picnic and play. Visit on a Friday or Saturday night for the best energy.
You can enjoy the beach and the water or fly a kite in the constant wind. You can play some football (soccer) or cricket as it is always a collecting game. There are vendors and restaurants in front of the beach, and the area outside is full of hotels with prices ranging from budget to luxury.
Galle Face Green is located in the heart of Colombo, just in front of the fort. The skyline behind you, the sea in front of you. This is the area between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean.
As an island, Sri Lanka is surrounded by beaches and has something for everyone. Head to the Tangalle area for a variety of beach experiences. It is located in the center of the island’s south coast and is a popular holiday destination.
You’ll find a wide variety of beaches, from tropical coves to wide, windy, seemingly endless open sands. You’ll also find beaches with shuttles, vendors, and beach stalls, as well as remote beaches where you’ll almost certainly find yourself alone.
There is a large turtle nesting area and conservation center on Rekawa Beach, east of the city.
9. Adam’s Peak
Another great place to visit in Sri Lanka is Adam’s Peak. The summit of the mountain is a sacred rock formation, and pilgrims traditionally climb to the top in time to watch the sunrise at night.
The popular hike (which is also suitable for families and children) usually takes about three hours, with rest stops and food vendors along the way. After the hike, you’ll see a rock with a footprint-like indentation that some believe was Adam’s first step. Some believe it is Buddha’s footprint, while others believe it was created by Lord Shiva.
Adam’s Peak trek begins in the village of Nalatania in central Sri Lanka. The best time to climb is from December to May.
Sometimes the journey is as important as the destination. An example of this is Ella, a mountain town nestled among lush tea plantations in Sri Lanka. Small hotels are full of delicious food and very friendly people. It’s a fun getaway from the city or a way to enjoy a few days of leisurely walks in the countryside.
A big reason people visit Ella is to take the train from Kandy. He slowly climbs the mountain, down the mountain, through the town, through the green tea plantation, and finally arrives at this mountain town after about six hours. This journey is considered one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. You can also start your journey in Colombo, which adds three hours to your journey.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.