Sri Lanka was my first international journey. The country is absolutely beautiful and the people are very friendly. The island nation is surrounded by gorgeous beaches, high mountain ranges, wildlife, and more. Sri Lanka was definitely my first choice to visit as it’s the neighboring country to my Homeland, India.
The culture and food of Sri Lanka are unique and will amaze you throughout your journey. The list is a mixture of things I wanted to do and the common touristy things. During my 7 days journey to the island country, this is my list of 18 amazing things to do in Sri Lanka.
After my visit to Sri Lanka, I noticed there are some things you need to take care of before traveling to the country. Click here to view my complete Sri Lanka tour guide.
Things I take on my Travels
Things to do in Sri Lanka
1 – Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Your visit to Sri Lanka would be incomplete without your visit to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The structure is the most famous monument of Sri Lanka. Many people around the world visit the fortress.
Sigiriya rock fortress is also one of the country’s 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is an absolute marvel and dates back to the 5th century AD.
Read the full blog post- Sigiriya Rock Fortress.
2 – Kandy to Ella Train Ride
One of my best memories from Sri Lanka would be the Kandy to Ella train ride. It is said to be the world’s most scenic train ride, and rightly so. The train ride from Kandy to Ella is one of the most amazing things you can do in Sri Lanka.
The journey would take around 5-7 hours to complete. The price of the ticket ranges from 2$ to 10$ depending on the coach you choose to travel with.
Read the full blog post: Kandy to Ella – Most Scenic train Journey in Asia
3 – Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
On my way to Dambulla, I visited the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. The government has put special focus on saving the wild elephants of Sri Lanka. Although, when I walked around the park I noticed numerous elephants chained in solitary confinement. (Maybe they were rescued from the wild).
Note that it might not be a pleasant sight to all of you to watch these beautiful animals chained. If you want to see elephants in the wild you can choose to visit the national parks of Sri Lanka.
You can watch the bathing of the elephants in the Pinnawala river early morning. There are luxurious places to stay by the river too.
4- Visit the National Parks of Sri Lanka
It is always an adventure to watch wild animals in their natural habitat. Sri Lanka is a country full of wildlife. Almost 70% of tourists around the world go on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka.
Here are some of the famous National Parks of Sri Lanka
- Kaudulla National Park
- Minneriya National Park
- Udawalawe National Park
- Yale National Park
- Gal Oya National Park
To see the world’s largest congregation of Asian elephants you should visit Kadulla or Minneriya National Park from June to September.
5 – Trek the Sri Lankan Mountains
There are some of the most scenic treks you can do in Sri Lanka. Some of the famous treks include hiking Little Adams Peak, Hiking to the top of Diyaluma Falls, climb the Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya, Hiking in the Knuckles Mountain Ranges, Visit the Nine Arch Bridge, and more.
Some of the treks might need a guide and are physically challenging. Although the views from the summit will definitely motivate you along your hike.
6 – A Road Trip along the South Coast
The South Coast of the country is perfect for a road trip. From Unawatuna to Mirissa up to Colombo the views alongside the highway are amazing. There are many small towns alongside the coast.
You can find many beaches throughout the road trip. You can stop for a surf, coffee/tea, or even a king coconut drink. Grab a bike or a car and hit the road along the south coast. It is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.
7 – Try out various Sri Lankan cuisines
Sri Lanka is famous for its fish, rice, and curries. Seafood plays an important role in the cuisine. I would recommend trying some of the dishes to try while you are in the country.
- Fish Ambul Thiya (Sour Fish Curry)
- Kottu Roti
- Parippu (Dal curry)
- Pol Sambol
- Wood Apple
These are some of the dishes which I loved during my visit to Sri Lanka
8 – Must try the King Coconut
The king coconut is the favorite beverage among the locals of Sri Lanka. The exquisite natural drink taste is surely different from the regular coconuts.
It is also called Thambili. Many tourists and backpackers can be seen sipping on king coconut, you can find many local vendors especially on the beaches, roadside kiosks during summers. It has grown increasingly famous with the tourists
9 – Beaches and Sunsets
The beaches of Sri Lanka have one of the world’s best sunset views. The south coast has some unique deserted and famous beaches. You can stop by for a beautiful sunset view or have a surf.
Some of my favorite surf spots are at Hikkaduwa beach, the warmest water, and endless waves to enjoy a surf time.
10 – Visit Turtle Conservation Centers
There are thousands of turtles that come to the beaches of Sri Lanka and lay eggs at the shore every year. The turtle conservation centers aim to monitor sea turtle activity and conserve local nesting on the south coast. The centers undertake the maintenance of a hatchery where the turtle eggs are collected and rescued in the sanctuary. Due to natural threats, very few turtles survive through adulthood.
You can visit these centers and know about turtle care, you could also get a chance to release young hatchets in the ocean. Turtles you could find around the Sri Lankan sea include Olive Ridley turtle, green turtle, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback turtles.
11 – Explore Sri Lanka in Tuk-Tuks
The most fun and convenient way to explore the island of Lanka would be in Tuk-Tuks. You could rent a tuk-tuk for a day or whole month and it’s very affordable. It is one of the easiest ways to travel in the country.
Most of the backpackers choose to travel in tuk-tuks. You can find tuk-tuk rentals in all the towns around the country.
12 – Waterfalls
Explore some of the best waterfalls in Sri Lanka. As a waterfall lover myself, I definitely recommend visiting some of the best waterfalls in Sri Lanka on your travels.
Some of the highest waterfalls would require guides and are physically challenging such as the hike to Diyaluma falls. Diyaluma falls is the 2nd biggest falls in the country. You will love Ramboda falls in Nuwara Eliya, as it is the easiest to visit.
Here is a list of the best waterfalls in Sri Lanka.
- Diyaluma Falls
- Ravana Falls, Ella
- Ramboda Falls
- Lovers Leap
- Glenn Waterfalls
- St. Claire’s Waterfall
- Aberdeen Falls
- Devon Falls
13- Take the Mangroves Boat Ride
You could take the amazing mangrove boat tour in Bentota. The tour takes about 3-4 hours. You can spot many different types of birds and reptiles during this tour. It’s an amazing thing to do in Sri Lanka.
Not many tourists know about these tours. It costs around 50$ for the complete tour depending on the tour operator. During the tour, you can visit different islands, a Buddhist temple, a cinnamon garden tour, and also a fish spa. It is totally value for money.
A beautiful and peaceful sail with interesting places to stop en-route is a Must-do in Sri Lanka.
14- Visit Tea Plantations
The tea industry is the heart of this country. About 70% of tea in the world is exported from here. The beautiful tea terraces in the hilly region of the country represent the rich heritage of the British rule.
You can visit many such tea plantation estates, especially in Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Tea lovers should definitely not miss this opportunity. The Lipton’s sit, Haputale Mountains are some of the must-visit places for amazing experiences.
15 – Explore the Capital city – Colombo
After an adventurous trip throughout the country, it is an amazing city to explore. The capital city of Colombo depicts rich ancient culture as well as modern architecture. The vibrant capital city is a very busy city, similar to other major metro cities in the world. Colombo is a modern city with a mix of luxury, history, and rich culture.
Whether you like it not, your trip is going to start or end in Colombo because that is where the airport is. Explore the city or just relax at some luxurious hotels in Colombo.
Read the Full Blog Post: 15 Places to Visit in Colombo, Sri Lanka
16 – Scuba Diving
Scuba Diving is one of the amazing things to do in Sri Lanka. The water clarity at the shores is truly wonderful. You can also spot whales and dolphins if you are lucky.
You could also choose for a glass-bottom boat ride to see the corals and sea life without jumping in the water. October to May is the best time for scuba diving on the west coast whereas May to October is the best time on the north-east coast.
17- Spice Garden
Sri Lanka is also well known for its spices. Visit a spice garden where you can smell the pepper, cinnamon, cardamon, and all other spices. More than 15 varieties of spices are homegrown in the country which are exported globally.
The guide introduces you to different types of spices along with their health benefits. Visiting the spice gardens you can see how the spices are grown, harvested, and produced. You can also buy body oils, spices, natural cosmetics, traditional remedies, and more at very fair prices.
18 – Shopping
Never miss out on shopping for souvenirs there are very few places where you can get antiques for memories. I made the mistake of not buying things while I had the opportunity. I waited to visit Colombo for shopping, which proved hefty. The cost is comparatively high in the capital city.
Sri Lanka is well known for jewelry and gems, handwoven items, Sarees, moonstone carvings, Buddha and elephant figurines, Tea and Spices, ayurvedic beauty products, and much more.
Wondering where to stay in Sri Lanka? Check out my full blog: Best Places to Stay in Sri Lanka.
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