Sri Lanka is a tourist destination waiting to be discovered by travelers from all over the world. The island country has been evolving its reputation globally as a tourist destination for those desiring beaches, adventure, safari, culture, etc. Sri Lanka is an amazing travel destination offering a wide range of places to visit. This island, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India, presents visitors with an incredible array of environments to enjoy and experience. When planning a Sri Lankan adventure, keep in mind that the country experiences its rainy season from May through August, making December through April usually the best time to visit.
This country has it all – a balmy tropical climate, dramatic sandy beaches backed by lush deep green forests that sway to the sound of bird song, high-altitude hill-top hideaways, a diverse array of wildlife, and traditional working tea plantations. With cities and towns bursting with color, noise, and life, locals and visitors are well-preserved and enjoy Sri Lanka’s proud heritage. For example, pretty villages and small towns sit sprawling along the coast or hidden deep into the countryside. Its varied landscape has many important holy sites, temples, and ancient ruins that await you for exploring.
The shoulder season, September, October, and November, is a good time to visit as well. Marco Polo famously described Sri Lanka as one of the finest islands in the world. It has a history that dates back thousands of years and, although it’s small, there is so much history, nature, and beauty to see in this country. Explore its beaches, jungles, tea plantations, temples, and much more from the following list of the most beautiful places to visit in Srilanka.
The capital combines modern urban amenities with the country’s colorful indigenous and colonial history. As a key stop on the world spice trade routes, Sri Lanka has long held strategic importance for European trading powers. The country has been a colony of Portugal, the Netherlands, and most recently the British, and all these cultures blend with the native culture to form a wonderful hybrid. You can taste these influences in food, see them in architecture and the arts, and you can really feel them in Colombo.
The city is also filled with museums and other things to see and do that can help connect you with Sri Lankan culture. Colombo sits on the coast, and there’s a large green space and beach area right in the heart of the city separating an area called Fort from the Indian Ocean. It’s the city’s public playground and a fun place to visit, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Located in central Sri Lanka, Kandy is the former capital city of the Sri Lankan royal dynasty, the country’s main capital before the colonial period. The high point of what’s called the “Kandian Era” was between the 15th and 18th centuries, during this period the area was independent when the European powers colonized most of the coastal regions. Be sure to visit the city’s National Museum of Kandy, as it illustrates the story of the region and its people via exhibits and artifacts. Nearby, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a very holy Buddhist shrine, part of the royal palace complex.
Udawalawe National Park
This large wildlife park is in the southern part of the country, about an hour’s drive from the city of Hambantota. The park is on the border of the country’s wet and dry zones. Visitors to the park can see elephants, as there’s a large population of them, along with crocodiles, water buffalo, and more. In fact, it’s one of the best places in the world to see elephants in the wild.
There are so many leaoprds but even then they can be very hard to track or spot. There are also monkeys and a large assortment of deer and small mammals. It’s also an excellent place for bird-watching. There are some small accommodations and guesthouses across from and even inside Udawalawe. You can also visit as a day trip, the best times to visit are very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.
The city of Galle is about a two-hour drive from Colombo via one of the country’s first modern superhighways. This ancient trading port mainly reflects its colonial history and is focused around a large, 17th-century seafront fort. Galle Fort is an entire preserved walled town, now filled with boutique hotels, shops, and restaurants (along with real residents). The entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a great place to explore on foot — the entire Fort area is car-free. It’s hard to get lost, as you’re surrounded on three sides by the sea.
Beaches of Galle
Aside from and outside the fort, some amazing beaches surround this city. . Like others in the country, the wide sand beach leads into the clear, turquoise water. There’s even a beach right beneath the iconic Galle lighthouse. Sri Lanka’s version of LA’s Venice Beach is the place to relax, people watch and have some fun with other Sri Lankans whether it’s day or night. Aside from the beach, there’s a large grass area where people picnic and play games. For the best energy, visit on a Friday or Saturday night.
You can enjoy the beach and water or maybe fly a kite in the ever-present wind. You can play some football (soccer) or cricket as there are always pick-up games going on. Vendors and restaurants lie in front of the beach, and the area beyond it has hotels, budget to luxurious ones. Galle Face Green is in the heart of downtown Colombo, just in front of Fort. You have the skyline behind you and the beautiful sea in front of you. It’s the area between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean.
Only 90 minutes from Colombo, this beach is all about water sports, surfing, bodyboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. All the gear is easily available for rent from one of the beachfront stands. It’s one of the country’s best surfing areas, with the best waves between November and March.
The beach is large and that is why it never feels too crowded. There are a lot of beachfront stands selling all kinds of delicious local street food and a good number of small hotels and guesthouses if you want to stay overnight. The Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary is a preserved marine area and part of Hikkaduwa National Park, located just off the shoreline. It was created to protect the area’s coral reefs and educate visitors about coral.
Adam’s Peak is a tall, cone-shaped mountain in a diverse biological site in central Sri Lanka. The 2,243m (7,359ft) ascent is a common pilgrimage route in the Buddhist religion, as it’s said there is an impression of Buddha’s own footprint near the summit. It takes between two and four hours to climb; aim to arrive at the top of the mountain around dawn for an unforgettable sunrise.
Yala National Park
This park is located on the island’s southeast coast and is famous for leopard safaris. Though leopards are very rare, but the park has a large population and it’s possible to spot them even on a day trip. Also, a large population of Asian elephants, which are endemic to Sri Lanka, find this park as home . Aside from the fauna, the park is home to some incredible, varied environments and ecosystems. You can visit the marine and beach environment of the coastal areas, follow leopards across vast grasslands, or explore tropical rainforests.
A visit to Anuradhapura, one of the country’s ancient capitals, rewards visitors with a glimpse into the past. The area is unique, as there’s a thriving, modern little town adjacent to an ancient one, you’re not just visiting ruins. It’s a fun place to visit and stay for a night or two. The ruins are awesome, with many crumbling temples, statues, pools, and other structures. There are modern structures, too, and the temple remains an active place of worship. The core of the complex is a tree, a very old tree. The Sri Maha Bodhi is the world’s oldest living tree planted by a human.
This is an important ancient city ruin site, another one of the country’s World Heritage Sites. Pollonnaruwa was Sri Lanka’s second capital city, after Anuradhapura, thriving about a thousand years ago. Most of the garden city is composed of completely preserved ruins. You can get on your bicycle and explore the compact gardens, palaces, and temples. A bonus, the ruins are inhabited by a large troop of macaques, also residents of the area since ancient times.
Srilanka is an island that offers many beaches and other tourist resorts for everyone. For a diverse range of beach experiences, head to the Tangalle area. It’s in the center of the southern coast of the island and a popular resort destination. You’ll find a wide range of beaches in this area, from tropical coves to wide, windswept, seemingly endless stretches of open sand. You can also find beaches with services, vendors, and beachfront stands, as well as remote beaches where you’re almost certain to find yourself alone. At Rekawa Beach, just east of the town, there’s a big sea turtle nesting area and conservation center.
Written By: Aleen Tariq