Sri Lanka has been luring travelers for centuries now. It has a lot of culture and variety to offer to visitors. Not only is it charming but also one of the finest islands all over the world. Beautiful beaches, picturesque cities, local temples, ancient ruins and the amazing wildlife of the country make it a place you must visit at least once in your lifetime. With that being said, below is a list of 12 best places in Sri Lanka you cannot afford to miss.
Being the commercial capital and the largest city of Sri Lanka, this is a worthy destination you must visit. The place has a rich history, beautiful culture, and a delicious culinary scene. The capital city of Sri Lanka is much more than being just a side note to the rest of the country. You could visit the National Museum, the Gangaramaya Temple or Beira Lake. There is more too and you have to visit the place to find out.
This is a coastal town famous for magnificent beaches, untouched natural beauty and various luxury hotels. You could bask under the sun at the Bentota beach or visit the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery located close or spend a peaceful time in the Galapatha Raja Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple. Bentota forms a popular tourist hot spot where you will enjoy the opportunity to indulge in water sports, helicopter rides and so on.
Also known as the Little England of Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya is a must-visit for every tourist. Located between Kandy and Ella, you have to take the famous Sri Lankan train ride to reach here. The architecture and the climate of the place are distinct from other villages. The cooler climate makes it the most important region for tea production in the island. There are many natural wonders here like the waterfalls, tea plantations, and hills including the Piduratalagala, tallest mountain in the country. Also, you wouldn’t want to miss a cup of tea here.
This is a large town that has the largest cave temple complex in the entire country. The Dambulla temple houses five caves along with 157 statues of Lord Buddha, several paintings and much more. This is a beautiful Royal Rock Temple complex which is situated around 160 m above the road in south Dambulla. The caves also give a majestic view of the surrounding countryside.
This place is renowned for housing big cats in Sri Lanka and is situated on the south-east coast of the island country. The Yala National Park houses the highest number of leopards in the world besides being a prominent sanctuary for the Sri Lankan elephants and other aquatic birds. The monkeys, birds, buffaloes, crocodiles and other wild creatures roam around in the park and the forest areas.
If you are a beach lover, then this beautiful bay is your place. Located in the dry region of Sri Lanka, this place is popular as one of the surfing zones in Sri Lanka. However, there is more to the place like a peaceful atmosphere, serene beaches, and a relaxing ambiance. You can also check out the historic temples and the Kumana National Park nearby.
A small beach village that has been called a paradise by many visitors. Mirissa is a carefree place that forms one of the best beach towns in Sri Lanka. You are sure to fall in love with the place with its clean beaches, watersports, tasty treats, and a thriving nightlife. Most importantly, you get the opportunity of Whale Watching here.
The central plains of Sri Lanka were ruled by kings from here about 800 years ago when it used to be a successful commercial and religious nook. There are archaeological treasures that will provide a decent idea of the design of this city from that time. You will find hundreds of ancient structures to explore including tombs, temples, statues, and stupas. If history has been your favorite subject, then this is a must on your list because it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This is a pointy tall mountain surrounded by a diverse biological site, in the heart of Sri Lanka. Legend has it that there is a footprint of Buddha near the summit. So, the 2,243 m ascent of the mountain has become a common pilgrimage route for the last 2000 years. You will witness an unforgettable sunrise at the top. For Christmas, it is said to be Adam’s first step after exile from the Eden Garden. On the other hand, Hindus believe it to be Lord Shiva’s footprint.
Kandy is located in the center of the island and remains hidden by the lush green hills. The second-largest city of Sri Lanka is also the last ancient capital of the Kingdom. It houses one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the world, which goes by the name ‘The Temple of the Tooth’. Between July and August, the amazing festival of the Tooth, also known as Kandy Perahera, is hosted by the city. The festival includes a colorful religious procession with decorated elephants, fire eaters, dancers, drummers, and stilt walkers. This is something you must not miss.
A colonial city to enjoy a relaxing break from city life, Galle is a well-preserved place. It is lined with enchanting Dutch villas and wonderful seaside views. The Galle Fort is a Dutch-built fort and now has become a World Heritage Site. It is also the largest existing sea fort in Asia which was built by the European occupants. Other sightseeing places are the natural harbor, Galle International Stadium which is one of the most beautiful cricket ground and St. Mary's Cathedral.
Sigiriya is an amazing ancient fortress built on a rock. It gets its name from the giant lion’s paws situated at its entrance and hence is also known as Lion’s Rock. This is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites and is often said to be the Eighth Wonder of the World. The view from the top of Sigiriya shows you the dramatic hills in the jungle below. Legend has it that in the 5th century, King Kashyapa usurped his father’s throne after killing him. He built this fortress and a palace on top for safety from the throne’s rightful heir. Sigiriya has some marvelous gardens and beautiful architecture which would be a treat to your senses.