10 Best Things To Do in Sri Lanka

by Khoni
10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation in South Asia, known for its stunning beaches, ancient ruins, and diverse wildlife. Tourists planning a trip to Sri Lanka have plenty of amazing things to see and do, including the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, with breathtaking views and impressive gardens and water features, and Yala National Park, home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, and crocodiles, where visitors can take a safari tour.

1. Explore the Ancient City of Anuradhapura

10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

If you’re interested in history and culture, a visit to the ancient city of Anuradhapura is a must-do activity when you’re in Sri Lanka. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest and most sacred cities in the country, dating back to the 4th century BC.

As you explore the ancient city, you’ll come across several impressive ruins and monuments, including the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree, which is said to be the oldest living tree in the world. This tree is believed to have been grown from a cutting of the Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment.

Another must-see attraction in Anuradhapura is the Ruwanwelisaya, a stupa that stands over 300 feet tall and is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka. It’s said to contain relics of the Buddha and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike to come and meditate.

In addition to these major attractions, there are also several smaller ruins and temples scattered throughout the ancient city that are worth exploring. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as Sri Lanka can get quite hot and humid.

2. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Sacred Tooth Relic

If you are looking for a spiritual and cultural experience in Sri Lanka, then visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a must-do. Located in the city of Kandy, this temple is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.

The temple is home to the tooth relic of the Buddha, which is believed to be the left upper canine tooth of Lord Buddha himself. The tooth is kept in a gold casket and is only displayed to the public a few times a day.

When you visit the temple, you will be amazed by the stunning architecture and intricate details of the temple. You will also get to witness the daily rituals performed by the temple monks, which include offerings of flowers, incense, and chanting.

Make sure to dress appropriately when visiting the temple, as it is a sacred site. You should cover your shoulders and knees, and remove your shoes before entering the temple.

3. Relax on the Beaches of Mirissa

If you’re looking for a place to unwind and soak up the sun, Mirissa is the perfect destination for you. This charming coastal town is located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

The beaches in Mirissa are known for their soft, golden sand and crystal-clear waters. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, or simply relax with a good book, there’s a beach in Mirissa that’s perfect for you.

One of the most popular beaches in Mirissa is Mirissa Beach. This long, wide beach is perfect for swimming and sunbathing, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby where you can grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.

If you’re looking for something a little more secluded, head to Secret Beach. This hidden gem is tucked away in a cove and is only accessible by foot. The beach is surrounded by lush greenery and offers stunning views of the ocean.

Another great beach to visit in Mirissa is Coconut Tree Hill Beach. This beach is known for its picturesque palm trees and stunning sunsets. It’s the perfect place to relax and take in the natural beauty of Sri Lanka,

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4. Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress

10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

If you’re looking for a truly breathtaking experience in Sri Lanka, climbing the Sigiriya Rock Fortress should be at the top of your list. This ancient rock fortress, located in the central Matale District, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most iconic attractions in Sri Lanka.

Discover Frescoes and Mirror Wall

The climb up to the top of the fortress is no easy feat, but it is well worth the effort. Along the way, you’ll discover ancient frescoes that have been preserved for centuries. These paintings depict beautiful women in vibrant colours and are truly a sight to behold.

As you continue your climb, you’ll come across the Mirror Wall, a polished surface that was used to reflect the surrounding scenery. Today, the wall is covered in graffiti from visitors over the years, but it still provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.

View the Royal Gardens from the Summit

At the summit of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. You’ll also be able to see the remains of the ancient royal palace, which was built in the 5th century.

But perhaps the most impressive sight from the summit is the Royal Gardens, which are spread out in front of you. These gardens were once filled with exotic plants, ponds, and fountains, and were considered some of the most beautiful in the world.

5. Witness the Wildlife at Yala National Park

If you’re a nature lover and want to experience Sri Lanka’s wildlife, Yala National Park is a must-visit destination. It is the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka and home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Spot Leopards and Elephants

Yala National Park is famous for its leopard population, and it’s one of the best places in the world to spot these elusive big cats. You can take a jeep safari with an experienced guide to explore the park and increase your chances of seeing leopards. Apart from leopards, you can also spot elephants, sloth bears, deer, wild boars, and many other animals.

Birdwatching Opportunities

Yala National Park is also a paradise for birdwatchers. With over 200 bird species, including the Sri Lankan junglefowl, painted stork, and black-necked stork, you can spend hours watching these beautiful creatures. The park is also home to several endemic bird species, such as Sri Lanka grey hornbill and Sri Lanka wood pigeon.

6. Take a Scenic Train Ride to Ella

If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the beauty of Sri Lanka, consider taking a scenic train ride to Ella. The journey takes you through stunning landscapes, including tea plantations, waterfalls, and lush green hills.

The train ride from Kandy to Ella is particularly popular, as it’s considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. You’ll pass through the stunning Hill Country, with its rolling hills and endless tea plantations. Keep your camera handy, as you’ll want to capture the breathtaking views.

The train journey takes around 7 hours, but it’s worth it for the stunning scenery. You can choose to sit in either first or second class, with first-class offering more comfortable seating and air conditioning. However, the second class is a more authentic experience, with open windows and the opportunity to interact with locals.

Once you arrive in Ella, take some time to explore the town and its surroundings. You can hike to Little Adam’s Peak for panoramic views of the area, or visit the Ravana Falls for a refreshing dip. And don’t forget to sample some of the delicious local cuisine, such as hoppers or kottu roti.

7. Experience the Tea Country in Nuwara Eliya

10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya is a beautiful city located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. It is known for its cool climate, picturesque landscapes, and tea plantations. If you are a tea lover, then visiting Nuwara Eliya is a must-do activity in Sri Lanka.

The tea country in Nuwara Eliya is a scenic area with vast tea plantations. The lush green tea fields are a treat to the eyes and the air is filled with the aroma of fresh tea leaves. You can take a guided tour of the tea factories and learn about the tea-making process. The tea factories offer a variety of tea flavours, and you can taste and buy the tea of your choice.

Apart from tea, Nuwara Eliya has many other attractions. You can visit Victoria Park, which is a beautiful garden with a variety of plants and flowers. The park is an ideal place for a picnic or a leisurely walk. You can also visit the Gregory Lake, which is a man-made lake surrounded by mountains. You can enjoy boating or fishing in the lake.

If you are an adventure lover, Nuwara Eliya has many activities to offer. You can go hiking in the Horton Plains National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park has many trails that lead to waterfalls, viewpoints, and other attractions. You can also go on a jeep safari in the park and spot wildlife such as sambar deer, leopards, and endemic birds.

8. Indulge in Sri Lankan Cuisine

When it comes to Sri Lankan cuisine, your taste buds are in for a treat. The island nation has a rich culinary tradition that blends flavours from India, Malaysia, and other nearby countries. Here are two must-try culinary experiences to indulge in during your visit:

Savor Local Street Food

One of the best ways to experience Sri Lankan cuisine is through its street food. You’ll find vendors selling an array of savoury snacks and sweet treats throughout the country. Some popular options include “kottu roti,” a stir-fried dish made with shredded roti, vegetables, and your choice of meat or seafood. Another favourite is “isso vade,” a deep-fried lentil cake topped with spicy prawns.

Enjoy a Traditional Rice and Curry

Rice and curry is a staple dish in Sri Lankan cuisine, and you’ll find it on menus at restaurants across the country. The dish typically consists of rice served with a variety of curries, such as dhal, potato, and fish, along with sides like sambol (a spicy relish) and papadums (thin and crispy crackers). Be sure to try it at a local restaurant or even in a home-cooked meal for an authentic experience.

9. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple

10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience in Sri Lanka, you can’t miss the Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most impressive cave temples in the country and is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, religion, and art.

The temple complex is made up of five caves, each containing a collection of stunning Buddhist statues and paintings. As you explore the caves, you’ll be amazed by the intricate details and vibrant colours of the artwork. The largest cave, known as the Great New Temple, is particularly impressive, with a 14-meter-long reclining Buddha statue and over 1,500 paintings on the ceiling.

In addition to the caves, the temple complex also includes a museum and a golden temple on the hilltop. From the top of the hill, you’ll get a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.

To fully appreciate the Dambulla Cave Temple, it’s best to visit with a guide who can explain the history and significance of the site. You should also be prepared to climb some stairs and walk on uneven surfaces, so wear comfortable shoes and bring water.

10. Engage with Local Culture in Kandy

Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to engage with the local culture. Here are some of the best ways to do so:

Visit the Temple of the Tooth

The Temple of the Tooth, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world. It houses the tooth relic of the Buddha and is a significant pilgrimage site for Buddhists. You can witness the daily rituals and ceremonies performed by the resident monks and immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of the temple.

Attend a Cultural Show

Kandy is known for its vibrant cultural shows that showcase the traditional dance forms, music, and costumes of Sri Lanka. You can witness performances of Kandyan dance, fire walking, and other folk dances at the Kandyan Art Association and Cultural Centre.

Explore the Kandy Market

The Kandy Market is a bustling hub of activity where you can find a variety of local produce, spices, handicrafts, and souvenirs. You can interact with the friendly vendors and learn about the local cuisine and culture.

Take a Cooking Class

If you want to learn how to cook authentic Sri Lankan dishes, sign up for a cooking class in Kandy. You can visit a local home, learn about the ingredients and techniques, and prepare a delicious meal with the guidance of a local chef.

Participate in a Traditional Ceremony

Kandy hosts several traditional ceremonies throughout the year, such as the Esala Perahera and the Kandy Perehera. You can witness the colourful processions, decorated elephants, and traditional costumes and be a part of the celebrations.

Engaging with the local culture in Kandy is a unique and enriching experience that you should not miss.

10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

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