Sri Lanka, otherwise known as the Democratic Socialist Republic of the country of Sri Lanka, is one of the most sought-after holiday destinations in the world. It is a country on a single island in the southern region of Asia and shares maritime borders with India and Maldives. Sri Lanka is a land comprising various languages, cultures, and ethnicities. The country is known for its exceptional natural beauty and historical landmarks, which pique the interest of thousands of international visitors. The vibrant flora, exotic wildlife, local traditions, fine beaches, etc., are some of its main tourism highlights. Despite being a small country, Sri Lanka has a total of 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that also draw in a massive tourist crowd. In addition, its tranquil environment and picturesque elegance make it a prominent honeymoon destination in Asia.
Among the top attractions in Sri Lanka, you can find a long list of national parks, protected areas, and forests that offer a glimpse into the region’s distinct flora and fauna. Some examples include the Yala National Park, Sinharaja Forest Reserve and Udawalawe National Park. Sri Lanka is also known for housing some of the most noteworthy religious landmarks in Asia, like the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, St. Anthony’s Shrine, Isipathanaramaya Temple and Jami Ul-alfar Mosque. Besides sightseeing, tourists can also indulge in various thrilling adventures and activities in Sri Lanka, like scuba diving, camping, whale watching and more. Shopping for local handicrafts, trying out regional cuisine and experiencing the rich nightlife are some other fun things tourists can do during their Sri Lanka trip. These factors heavily influence Sri Lanka tourism, making it one of the most beloved holiday destinations on the continent.
From important religious and historical landmarks to regional events and festivals, there are a lot of popular tourist attractions in the country. Here are some famous examples of Sri Lanka tourist places and attractions that you can check out during your tour:
The temple is a popular tourist attraction and a crucial site for the people of the Buddhist faith. Located in Kandy, this iconic religious landmark holds the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. This relic has played a significant role in the region’s politics since ancient times and was historically held by the rulers of the Sinhalese monarchy. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka.
Adam’s Peak is one of the most well-known pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka. It is a beautiful mountain with an elevation of 7,359 feet and is believed to be sacred. Located about 35 kilometres from Hatton, the place is known for its natural elegance and housing a large boulder at the summit with an imprint that resembles footprints. The site is of spiritual importance to people of various faiths and is a must-visit tourist site in Sri Lanka.
When visiting Sri Lanka, check out Sigiriya in the Central Province. The site holds an ancient rock fortress that served the kingdom of King Kashyapa (AD 477-495). It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Sri Lanka, visited by thousands of tourists. The ruins of a palace lie at the summit of the rock formation, which is about 200 metres tall. The fortress complex also features fountains, alleys, gardens, ponds, remnants of fortification, etc.
The Dambulla Cave Temple is one of the most popular Sri Lanka tourist places. It is known for having the largest cave temple complex in the country. There are various statues of Buddha spread across the site. The cave walls of the temple are decorated with colourful wall murals, which have been conserved and kept in pristine condition. The temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 20 kilometres from Sigiriya.
Duruthu Poya is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. It is a festival that celebrates the historic first visit of Gautama Buddha to Sri Lanka about 25 centuries ago. The festival also marks the iconic initiation of Buddhism and its teachings on the island. Sri Lanka celebrates Duruthu Poya on the first full moon in the month of January. Tourists attend this event to learn more about Buddhism and the local culture of Sri Lanka.
Thai Pongal is one of the biggest festivals in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated in the month of Thai according to the Tamil calendar. It is a 2-day festival in honour of the Sun God, Suriya. During this time, the whole region is filled with a festive atmosphere and features exuberant displays of fireworks, songs, dance, festive cuisine, home decorations, etc. Tourists prefer visiting Sri Lanka during this festival to learn more about the local culture and tradition.
The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a grand event in the country. It is celebrated in the month of April and brings the Tamil and Sinhalese communities together. The festival marks the end of the harvesting season and features various local rituals, grand feasts, merrymaking, exciting games and events, music, dance, and lots more. It is a time when tourists can connect with the locals and get a glimpse of the regional celebrations.
Located in the Central Province region, Kandy is one of the most visited Sri Lanka tourist places. The city is a major religious hub in the country and has an interesting history. The natural beauty and distinct wildlife of the region also make it a prominent tourist attraction. Notable spots in and near Kandy include tea estates, Pinnawal Elephant Orphanage, Royal Botanical Gardens, Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue, Kandy Lake, Temple of Tooth Relic, Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, etc.
Besides being the judicial and executive capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the most famous tourist destination in the country. The city is a prominent location for sightseeing, fine dining, shopping and nightlife. It is one of the best places you can visit to get insights into colonial history and the urban life of the region. Some prominent tourist attractions in Colombo are Viharamahadevi Park, Galle Face Green, Gangaramaya Temple, Beira Lake, Colombo Lotus Tower, Pettah Floating Market, etc.
Nuwara Eliya is a serene getaway that will bring you closer to nature. The city is known for its soothing climate and local tea production. The region is surrounded by lush green vegetation and small slanting hills, offering picturesque views. Some of the most visited tourist attractions in and near Nuwara Eliya are Victoria Park, Gregory Lake, Moon Plains, Devon Falls, Ambewela Farm, etc. It is one of the best offbeat Sri Lanka tourist places you can check out during your trip.
Bentota is a famous coastal town in the Southern Province. Known for its calm weather, serene beach and natural flair, it is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for adventure activities. It is also considered the best honeymoon destination in the country. Some prominent tourist attractions in Bentota include Bentota Beach and Turtle Hatchery.
Ella is a small town in Uva Province, about 200 kilometres from Colombo. The place is known for its calm atmosphere, rich biodiversity and magnificent natural landscapes. Many visitors make a trip to Ella to escape from the busy city life. It is also one of the best Sri Lanka tourist places for picnics and hiking activities. Some of the most beautiful places you can check out in and near Ella include the Ella Rock, Nine Arches Bridge, Ellawala Waterfall, Ravana Falls, etc.
The Yala National Park is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for jungle safaris. The distinct flora and fauna of the place make it an ideal spot for wildlife photography. Located near Hambantota city, the park covers a massive area of about 979 square kilometres. Some of the major animals found in the park include elephants, crocodiles, leopards, etc. It is also home to more than 200 distinct bird species.
It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka that you can visit to learn more about the country’s rich history. Founded in 1877, the museum holds a vast collection of exhibits and documents related to the natural and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. You can also find artefacts like money, crafts, weapons, jewellery, etc., within the museum that belongs to the various monarchs of the region.
The Red Mosque, also known as the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, is an incredible religious landmark. Located on 2nd Cross Street in Colombo, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka. The red-white exterior, remarkable Indo-Saracenic architecture and tranquil atmosphere of the mosque draw in a massive pool of visitors every day.
There are a lot of things to do in Sri Lanka, ranging from slow-paced group activities to thrilling solo adventures. Here are some popular examples:
Colombo has numerous tea estates that offer guided tours to visitors. They are ideal spots for taking pictures and learning every minute detail about tea manufacturing, like the aspects of growing, harvesting, processing and so on. In addition, you will also be able to taste various kinds of teas and participate in blind tea tests. Colombo herb and tea tour is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka that tea lovers can consider
Whale watching is one of the most fun things to do in Sri Lanka. This activity involves observing majestic blue whales while they complete their routine splash and dive on the ocean surface. If you are looking for a thrilling family adventure during the trip, you can easily consider whale watching. Trincomalee and Mirissa are some of the best places in Sri Lanka for this activity. You may also be able to spot dolphins during your whale-watching trip if you are lucky.
There are various casinos in Colombo that offer games like slot machines, roulettes, blackjack and so on. If you are looking for a fun experience of this high-risk, high-reward nature, you can give it a try. Casinos are a place where you can make and lose money, all under one roof. Some well-known casinos in Colombo are Bally’s Casino, Casino Marina and Bellagio Colombo.
Camping is a slow-paced activity that you can do in Sri Lanka. It is a challenging yet calming experience that will help you reconnect with nature. The vast natural landscapes and serene atmosphere make it an ideal activity to do solo or with friends. Yala National Park, Kitulgala Forest Reserve and Udawalawe National Park are some of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for camping adventures.
As an island country, Sri Lanka is a major spot for watersports and water adventure activities. For instance, scuba diving is a popular underwater activity you can try during your holidays in Sri Lanka. There are various places that feature beautiful coral reefs and vibrant marine life, suitable for scuba diving. Some of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for this activity are Unawatuna, Mirissa and Trincomalee.
While on your trip, make sure to go for the shopping experience in Sri Lanka. There are various well-known stores and marketplaces across the country that you can visit, like:
Known for featuring a massive collection of designer clothing, impressive homeware and vibrant fabrics, Barefoot is one of the best stores for shopping in Sri Lanka. Founded in 1964 by artist Barbara Sansoni, Barefoot is a luxury shop serving three distinct locations across Sri Lanka. The products sold at this store are of premium quality and great examples of exceptional regional craftsmanship. If you are shopping in Colombo, make sure to check out their store at 704 Colombo-Galle Main Road.
As the 4th largest tea manufacturer in the world, Sri Lanka is a great place to go for tea shopping. During your trip, check out Mlesna Tea Centre on Galle Road in Colombo. It is one of the finest tea stores in the city, offering a wide selection of products to choose from. Some major tea flavours offered at this location include mint, jasmine, rose, chocolate, etc.
When visiting Sri Lanka, consider purchasing regional handicraft products. Lakpahana, in Colombo, is a famous store that sells local arts and crafts. The store offers an extensive collection of products, ranging from masks and statues to treasure boxes and jewellery. The materials commonly used for crafting these intricate pieces include ceramics, leather, wood, metal, and so on. It is a great place for souvenir shopping in Sri Lanka.
From luxurious restaurants to mouth-watering dishes, there are a lot of choices available to tourists to satisfy their hunger cravings in Sri Lanka. Here are some prominent local restaurants and dishes to consider during a trip to Sri Lanka:
Located close to the Colombo Lotus Tower, Iko Tei is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for a fine dining experience. It is a popular restaurant in the region, known for serving delectable Japanese cuisine. With affordable pricing, high-quality food and prompt service, Iko Tei is a great place to have a romantic dinner with your loved one. Some must-try dishes at this place are Jakoten, Tai-meshi and Sushi.
Located on Galle Road in Colombo, Hotel De Pilawoos is another popular location you can visit to try out delicious food. Both tourists and locals swarm this place for its exciting range of flavoursome snacks. It is quite budget-friendly and known for its Kothu, Pad Thai and String hoppers.
As mentioned in the name, the Ministry of Crab is one of the finest restaurants you can visit in Sri Lanka to try crab dishes. Besides being a go-to place for seafood lovers, the restaurant is also known for offering great service and an elegant ambience. Some of its must-try dishes include Pepper Crab, Garlic Chilli Prawns and Spicy Chicken Teriyaki.
Fish Ambul Thiyal is a curry-based dish made with fish, preferably tuna, cut into small, cube-shaped pieces. It is then sauteed in a mixture of various local spices, including garlic, black pepper and turmeric, and cooked with a bit of water. It is a flavourful regional delicacy and a must-try item in Sri Lanka.
Kottu is a popular street food item available across the region. The dish is prepared with chopped roti, egg, vegetables and stir-fried chicken. Some places may also use other ingredients when preparing Kottu to give it a signature taste. It is a spicy delight that you can go for during your Sri Lanka sightseeing.
When having lunch or dinner in Sri Lanka, make sure to conclude it with a local sweet dish. Asmi is a popular dessert which both looks and tastes phenomenal. It is prepared with rice flour, coconut milk and cinnamon. It is first deep-fried and then garnished with a thick coating of syrup.
The availability of casinos, bars, pubs and quality restaurants in Sri Lanka has made its nightlife quite exuberant. Here are some best places to visit in Sri Lanka to experience its nightlife:
Described as one of the most fashionable nightclubs in Sri Lanka, Le Garage’s retro-inspired styling and garage-themed setting offers a unique party experience. Located in Amaya Hills, Kandy, the place is known for its live music, spacious dance floor and signature cocktails. Le Garage remains open from 9 PM to 1 AM and is a great place for partying late.
The Barefoot Garden Cafe is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for spending a memorable evening. Located in Colombo, the place has a calm atmosphere and serves a huge range of delicious food and drinks. Its main highlights include comfortable seating arrangements, music performances and evening quiz events.
The open-air setting and beachside scenic beauty are the main highlights of the Yula Beach Bar. It is a great place where you can spend your evenings with drinks, good music and a beautiful view of the sunset. Located in Hikkaduwa, the nightlife experience in Yula Beach Bar is truly remarkable.
With an altitude of over 2,200 meters, Adam’s Peak in Sabaragamuwa holds religious significance to all the important religions followed in Sri Lanka. With a confluence of diverse religions, it is the place that attracts pilgrimage from people in Sri Lanka. It also stands out for its scenic beauty and magnificent views of the countryside of the country, making it a must-visit place for all tourists. It is also known as Sri Pada or the Butterfly Mountain.
Known For: It is multi-religious significance. For the Hindus, the rock formation on top of the mountain signifies the foot of Lord Shiva. For Buddhists, the footprint of the Buddha and for Christians and Muslims, the footprint stands for that of Adam’s. Hence the name! It has been a pilgrimage site for over 1000 years.
How to Reach: The place is well connected by road during the peak seasons and you can take direct buses from Kandy that will take you to the place after approximately 3 hours. You can also take taxis or tuk tuks from Hatton, which is the nearest railway station from the Adam’s Peak. You can take hire a cab for approximately Rs. 1,500 and tuk tuks for Rs. 600 approximately.
From its base at Dalhousie, there are 5,500 steps taking you to the top of the mountain. There are handrails for safety and is perfect for a day’s hike.
Approximate Cost: Free
Operating Hours: Being a mountain, it is best to trek Adam’s Peak during the day when it is sunny and the path is visible. So consider the timing between 7:00 AM and 5:30 PM. Make sure you get down by the time to avail transports to your respective hotels.
Any Precautions: Though the hike is safe, the sudden elevation can bring about changes in your health and body condition. So trek only if you have prior experience. You have to walk a really long way for close to three hours until you make it to the top. Also, do not visit the place during the monsoon and keep it to January for an uninterrupted hike. You will love this place if you are hiking with kids and family as the view from top is breathtaking. Carry enough water, snacks, hats, sunglasses, hiking sticks and wear shoes. Also carry windcheater because of the gushing winds on top. Do remember to follow only the trail.
Approximately 200 kilometers away from Colombo towards the east rests a land that is so serene and tranquil. From breathtaking views to offering a glimpse of mythology, Ella is considered a lonely planet that has countless waterfalls, hills, unending stretch of greenery and the place to forget everything else and just immerse yourself in nature. With tourism flourishing in Ella, most people head to the city for the best of nature and to see a very, very different face of Sri Lanka.
Attractions: Ravana Falls, Nine Arches Bridge, Dhowa Rock Temple, Ella Rock, Ravana Cave, Little Adam’s Peak, Porawagala
Activities: Trekking, hiking, birds spotting, spelunking, tea estate tours, mountain climbing, cycling
Shopping: T-Sips, Chaplon Tea Shop, VIBE Store, R.M.S Antiques and Brassware, Kandy City Center
Food: Café C Ella, Matey Hut, N2 Restaurant, Ak Ristoro, Art Café Umbrella, Grand 39, Adam’s Breeze, Café Guru, Jade Green, Ellement Hiking Bar
Nightlife: Café One Love, Ella View Restaurant and Bar, Café Guru, Hotel Laura, Ellement Hiking Bar
How to Reach: Being very close to India, Sri Lanka is well connected to major Indian cities by air and sea. Transportation within Sri Lanka is very convenient and you can find different types of commute like trains, buses and cabs to head from one city to another. However, all your journeys in Sri Lanka begin from Colombo, which is the gateway to all locations for tourism in Sri Lanka.
From India, you can either take a flight from a major south Indian city, which is perhaps the best way to reach Sri Lanka, or take a ferry or a cruise ship for a more exotic travel experience. There are several airliners that ply from Indian cities to Colombo on a daily basis and ships operating from prime port-hubs in south India. Depending on your budget, the time of your visit and your experience requirements, you can choose to reach Sri Lanka by one of the modes of commute
For those of you looking for that ideal beach spot to unwind and soak in some fresh sunshine and sand, all you have to do is head to Bentota. On the southwest region of Sri Lanka, Bentota is a resort island that gradually opens into a sandy stretch of beach known as the Paradise Island. The place is known for its lagoon, dive sites that offer the best views of coral reefs, century old Buddhist temples, gardens and long stretches of coconut trees. This is the place you loosen up, lay back and let laziness take over you. This is also the place for some water sports.
Attractions: Ventura beach, Lunuganga Garden, Kande Viharaya Temple, Diyakawa Water Sports Center, Brief Garden, and Barberyn Island.
Activities: Birds spotting, hiking, beach hopping, diving, cycling, parasailing, snorkeling, surfing, whale spotting, dolphin spotting and more
Shopping: LUV SL, Gemtrust, Themira Stores, Sunflower Arts and Crafts, Samadhi Souvneir Store, Bentota Bazaar, The Gift Bentota
Food: Malli’s Seafood Restaurant, Golden Grill Restaurant, Amal Restaurant, Randholee, Trax Garden Restaurant, Hotel Wunderbar, Ocean View Restaurant, and Aida Seafood Restaurant and Bar
Nightlife: Amal Shisha Bar, The Loft, Pier88 River Bar, The Kingsbury, In…on the Green, The Golden Grill Restaurant
Located at an altitude of over 1,800 meters, this scenic location in Sri Lanka is like a chateau in France but for tea! The name literally translates to the city of light and was discovered by British personnel who were on their way to hunt elephants. On the country’s central highlands, Nuwara Eliya is one of the world’s largest tea producing regions and home to the country’s tallest mountain – Pidurutalagala. You can find hotels and restaurants with a British décor and give you the feel of the colonial times. From bird spotting and hiking to golfing and connecting spiritually, Nuwara Eliya is also known as the Little England.
Attractions: Adam’s Peak, Hakgala Botanical Garden, Seetha Amman Temple, Devon Falls, Pidurutalagala, Galway’s Land National Park, Mackwoods Museum and more
Activities: Trekking, hiking, visiting tea plantations, birds spotting, culture studies and more
Shopping: Mayura Trade Centre, Queen Elizabeth Plaza, Orchid Plaza Textiles and Garments, Adma Agro Strawberry Farm Shop and more
Food: Grand Indian, Queenswood Restaurant, Salmiya Italian Restaurant, De Silva Food Center and the Magnolia.
Nightlife: The Pub, Lake View Pub, Alpine Hotel, Windsor Bar, Araliya Green Hills Hotel
The most famous Sri Lankan destination and the city tourists and travelers witness first on their arrival, Colombo is the capital for a reason. Ruled by the Portuguese, French and the British, Colombo reflects cultural and historic heritage in its architecture, administration, planning and even food. Colombo is a blend of both modern day urban life and natural wonders, where you will find attractions like museums, fine-dine restaurants, Buddhist temples and Beira Lake, the Galle Face Green and more in perfect harmony. From spots to picnic to getting to understand the country better, Colombo is the place where it all starts.
Attractions: Colombo is home to a range of tourist attractions that will keep you engaged throughout your stay here. When in Colombo, don’t forget to visit the Gangaramaya Buddhist temple, Galle Face Green, Independence Square, Viharamahadevi Park, Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, Mount Lavinia Beach, Colombo National Museum and Colombo Fort.
Activities: Besides, Colombo is also home to fun-filled activities. You can indulge in activities like golfing, picnicking, bird spotting, watching a live cricket match, kite flying and getting pampered with a massage.
Food: Sumptuous delicacies are everywhere. Eat to your heart’s content at the Lagoon, Ministry of Crab, Upali’s by Nawaloka, the Mango Tree, Semondu, and Hotel De Pilawoos.
Shopping: The shopping district in Colombo is concentrated in the House of Fashions, Majestic City, Barefoot, Lakpahana Handcraft, Liberty Plaza and Good Market.
Nightlife: For the best parties in Colombo, head to On 14 Roof Top Bar and Lounge, Sky Lounge, Sopranos, the Kingsbury, Bally’s Casino, Floor by O! and the Re.Pub.Lk.
What appears to be a land straight out of mythology or fantasy fictions is called Kandy. Considered one of the most serene and idyllic locations in Sri Lanka, Kandy arrives as Sri Lanka’s second largest city and home to all the marvels of nature. Be it the Bogambara Lake that is set in the heart of the city, the iconic tooth relic of the Buddha that reflects Buddhist culture in all its majesty or the botanical gardens which house diverse flora, some of which are over a century old, the city set on a plateau is truly magnificence personified.
Attractions: The range of attractions you can find in Kandy include Temple of the Tooth, Dambulla Cave temples, Horton Plains National Park, Temple of the Tooth, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy Lake and more.
Activities: Tea and Herb tours, hiking, trekking, taking part in the Esala Perahara Procession and walking in the Udawattakele forest reserve.
Food: Balaji Dosai, the Empire Café, Foodlands Restaurant, Café Aroma Inn, Devon Food Court, Café Divine Street, License to Grill and more.
Shopping: Kandy City Center, Waruna Antiques, Selyn, Avenue Clothing Store, Arabian Collection, Earth Bound Creations and more
Nightlife: THE PUB, Slightly Chilled Lounge bar and restaurant, Royal Bar and Hotel, HQ Kandy, Old Trinitian’s Sports Club and Tavern 29 Rooftop Bar.
Why you should attend: This happens every April and marks the end of the year’s harvesting season. This is the time the sun is directly above the island and signifies new beginnings. This festival also has a scientific and astrological significance the locals follow and have faith on. The day is marked by sumptuous meals, music, dance, games and other festivities.
Who should attend
It is an experience you shouldn’t miss. New Year signifies one common thing – hope and good things and it is an interesting opportunity to see how different parts of the world welcome them. In Sri Lanka, it happens as grandly as possible. Check out in person if you are here.
Why you should attend this festival: This is more like a thanksgiving for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Celebrated during mid-January, the festival is a way of showing gratitude to the sun god for the harvest. Thai is month in the Tamil Calendar and Pongal literally translate to overflow. This festival marks the onset of abundance and prosperity with all the harvest of the season and is a gathering of fun, good times and festivities.
Who should attend this event
For those of you looking for intricate details in cultures and traditions and want to know more about the origin of several practices, festivals like this will give you elaborate details. They also give insights on the evolution of culture across borders.
Why you should Attend this?
This festival marks the first entry of the Lord Buddha 25 centuries before. It also marks the initiation of Buddhism as a religion on this day. Poya refers to the day of fasting and this happens during every full moon night. The first full moon night during the month of Duruthu commemorates the festival. It is the time when businesses shut shops and followers engage in prayers and meditations.
Who should attend this event?
If you wanted to know more about Buddhism and its practices, this is the festival you should attend. Being historically significant, the festival will connect you spiritually.
If you believe some of the best things are kept secret from the world, you should visit the Dambulla cave temples. Tucked away from visibility, these temples inside the caves house some of the most beautiful paintings and scultptures of the Lord Buddha. Out of the documented 80, there are five caves open for tourists. Located at around 150 kilometers and 75 kilometers from Colombo and Kandy respectively, the cave temples are again UNESCO World Heritage Sites believed to be over 2,700 years old.
Known for: Murals, intricate paintings and sculptures of the Lord Buddha and his life. Spread over 23,000 square feet, the caves also house paintings on Lord Vishnu and Ganesha. It is also popular for offering the best of Sigiriya.
How to Reach: Located at around 20 kilometers from Sigiriya, you can hire a cab from Sigirya for a seamless ride. You can also take a bus from Sigiriya to Dambulla bus stand, from where a 15-minute walk can take you to the cave temple complex.
Approximate Cost: Rs. 700
Operating Hours: 7 :00 AM to 7:00 PM
Any Precautions: The tickets for the caves are available at the base of the hill. So make sure you grab one before you head for the climb because you might have to come all the way down if you don’t. Also carry water with you if you are not used to climbs. There are tons of monkeys there and it is best you let them be to themselves.
Activities: Sri Lanka is not just a place full of history, heritage and spirituality. It also has its immense share of adventure, fun and frolic. Some of the best things to do in Sri Lanka revolve around the range of activities the country has to offer and you can be sure that your short stay in Sri Lanka can never fully cover the countless things you can possibly do. From surfing along the Arugam bay and visiting elephant orphanages to winning some cash in casinos, this place is for everyone.
For those of you who want to take some time off exploring the culture and heritage of the country and indulge in lively experiences, here are a few activities we recommend
One of the most dramatic and iconic locations you will ever stumble upon in Sri Lanka is Sigirya – which literally translates to lion rock in Sinhalese. Standing tall amidst lush green landscapes with mysterious caves and water bodies, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the ruins of the kingdom of King Kashyapa, who ruled around AD 477. With the castle located on the upper rock, which is almost a vertical cliff, you can actually see the ruins when you make it to the top. On the slopes of the rock, you can find gardens, moats and walls that are covered with ancient paintings.
Known for: Being the ruins of a 1600-year-old kingdom that indigenously came up with sophisticated hydraulic systems, paintings and more. The lion’s foot at the entrance of the fortress gives the place its name. Also popular for housingwalls that were so smooth that the king used them as mirrors. The castles and all its remains still accessible.
How to Reach: Dambulla is the closest city located near Sigirya, at around 18 kilometers. You can reach Dambulla from your respective cities by buses or trains and then take tuk tuks, cabs or buses that will take you to Sigiriya. Buses will cost you around Rs. 100 approximately and tuk tuks can charge you Rs. 1000 approximately. Buses are frequent to Sigiriya, with one plying every 30 minutes.
Approximate Cost: Rs. 1000 per person
Operating Hours: 7:00 AM to 9:30 PM
Any Precautions: If you are planning to visit Sigiriya, you should buy your tickets from one of the Central Cultural Fund offices, located in Colombo and other important cities. The trek appears simple after climbing Adam’s Peak and should take you anywhere between 45 minutes to one hour to reach to the top. The stairs can induce vertigo and dizziness and go only if you are unaffected by heights and staircases. Since no cafes are available, stock yourself with enough snacks and water and carry a camera, sunglasses and a hat mandatorily. Your ticket allows you to enter the other World Heritage Sites located in proximity to Sigiriya.
Type: Historic Landmark
The most religiously significant place for Buddhists, the temple of the sacred tooth relic attracts tourists from around the world and monks and Buddhists from Thailand, China, Nepal and more. Located in Kandy, the temple houses one of the most important relics to have ever been conserved – the tooth of the Buddha! The world heritage site speaks an architectural language for itself and stands tall with its golden roof. The temple is highly guarded and is open for tourists and visitors. The tooth is conserved in an encasing that resembles a stupa, placed inside a series of similar diminishing encasements.
Apart from the tooth relic, the premises also houses several shrines, museums and temples tourists can visit. Though there are local guides who will charge you approximately Rs. 800 to take you around the place, there are free audio guides available in the counters you can use and get to understand the place better. It is locally called Sri Dalada Maligawa
Location: Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka
Known for: Housing the upper-canine tooth of the Lord Buddha and for being a heritage site. The temple was built during the 17th century.
How to reach: Located at a prime center, it will take you around 2 kilometers from the Kandy railway station to the temple. If you are reaching from Colombo, you can take buses (approximately 3 hours at Rs. 100 per person) or trains (at approximately Rs. 220 and faster) and reach the temple. Besides, you can also rent two-wheelers at approximately Rs. 1,000 per day and drive down through the scenic locations. Getting a taxi from Colombo is also a good option, where you can incur charges from anywhere between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 3000 approximately. This can increase or decrease depending on seasons.
Approximate Cost: Rs. 1,500 for adults and free for kids
Operating hours: The temple is open for tourists from 5: 30 AM to 8:00 PM. Pujas happen at three different timings – 5:30 AM to 6:45 AM, 9:30 AM to 11:45 AM, and 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM.
Any Precautions: Dress yourself conservatively and wear outfits that cover your shoulders and legs. Also remember to remove your footwear before you enter.
Type: Historic Site
One of the best things to do in Colombo is to make money in casinos and losing them in the same. The fun you will have and the moments of tension and desperation that fills the air temporarily is worth to be cherished for a lifetime. It also reminds you of the fact that everything is temporary and all you need is the mindset to handle victory and failure. Colombo is full of casinos, where you can win or lose cash on a range of games like blackjack, roulette, slot machines and more.
Location: Bally’s Casino, Casino Marina Colombo, Bellagio Colombo and more
For: Groups of friends and honeymoon couples
Difficulty level: Moderate
Why you should do it: To know how it feels to win lotteries and jackpots. Though most often you win, the simple fact of winning a few dollars is enough to make your holiday all the more special.
Tips: It is all luck and about having fun. Go grab a drink and have a great time inside.
If spotting dolphins and coral reefs seem to clichéd, try spotting the gigantic blue whales when in Sri Lanka. With excursions happening around the coasts of Dondra Point and Trincomalee, just sit back in your tour and enjoy the dolphins and whales soaring past you in their respective territories. With best sightings during summer, this is one of the most unique and best things to do in Sri Lanka.
Location: Trincomalee and Dondra Point
For: Family, kids, honeymoon couples and groups of friends
Difficulty level: Easy
Approximate Cost: Starting at Rs. 4,500 per adult
Why you should do it: You can’t always spot the mighty blue-whale swimming by you. It is one of the most amazing experiences in Sri Lanka and is highly recommended for all tourists. It is the only time what you see in movies actually comes true to life.
Tips: Talk to a number of tour operators before finalizing in on one. Summer is the best time for whale spotting so make your itineraries accordingly. The event is completely safe so do not get paranoid about the safety. Carry sunglasses, cameras, sunscreens, hats and wear comfortable clothing.
If you have done a wine tour in any of the vineyards, you will know how much fun and engaging it is at the same to know more about things you do almost every single day in your life. The Colombo Herb and Tea tour is for all tea lovers and aspiring tea connoisseurs, who would love to see the process of making tea – from growing tea plants, harvesting them and processing them to preparing tea. This place is a heaven for you.
Location: Tea Estates of the tea company you prefer to take the tour with
For: Family and Kids
Approximate Cost: Starting at Rs. 2,500 per person
Why you should do it
Sri Lanka ranks 4th in the largest tea producing countries of the world and has its fair share of tea heritage. With a strong culture of tea drinking and estates sprawling across thousands of hectares, you can find some of the finest produces of tea in this tour. Besides, you can also flavor and taste different types of teas the estates are known for and know more about their blends and experiments.
Or sips we would love to call it, check with a number of tea estates and brands for their tours and go for the one who take you inside the factories on a working day. It is always good to see tea leaves processing in person. Do check out for pick and drop and lunch deals when looking out.
The best of home décor and homeware you will find in Sri Lanka can be found in Barefoot. Located in three different places, Barefoot is a luxury store that fancies of designer clothes, textiles and homeware. From the mind and hands of the prominent designer – Barbara Soni – Barefoot either ends up being a treat for your eyes and home when you buy them. With vibrant colors and feel known for Soni’s style, this place will leave you in awe.
Location: 704 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Sri Lanka
Timing: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM in the mornings from Monday through Saturday and 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM on Sundays
Known for: Apparels and homeware like ceramic plates, cushion covers, bedspreads, table liners and more
Bargaining: It is a signature store so you might want to avoid bargaining.
As we mentioned, Sri Lanka is the fourth massive producer of magnificent tea so taking back home a few varieties and flavors makes complete sense. If you are a tea lover who loves to experiment with different flavors of tea, Mlesna is Disneyland for you. From unique blends and flavors from jasmine, cocoa, mint, rose and more, you cannot just be satisfied with a few.
Location: Shop No 1-08B, Majestic City, Galle Road, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Timing: From 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM all days
Known for: Distinct varieties of tea in leaves and bags
Bargaining: It follows a fixed-price policy.
The perfect place to pick handcrafted masks you can find typically in Sri Lanka. Probably, this is also the least expensive places to bag a few masks for your people back home. From elephant to demon masks, the vibrant pieces will make sure your friends and relatives are delighted and believe you actually went to Sri Lanka.
Location: 14, (Reid Avenue), Philip Gunewardena Mawatha, Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka
Timing: Open all days from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Known for: Handcratfed masks of elephants and demons
Bargaining: The prices are already cheap. You can bargain if you are planning to buy more pieces and not just one.
Probably the best Japanese cuisine restaurant you will find in Sri Lanka, Ikoi Tei is the place for all your celebrations. No matter if you are on your date, taking your friends for a treat or just intend to explore new cuisine, you are in for a delight at Ikoi Tei. With world class presentation, choice of ingredients and premium cooking techniques, you cannot miss dining when you are in Colombo.
Must Eat: Prawn tempura, spicy tuna roll, sushi
Approximate Cost for two: Rs. 1,200
Address: Ikoi Tei, Old Colombo Dutch Hospital, Fort, Colombo 01
Contact: +94 112 441 275
Opening Hours: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
If a place is popular among the locals than the tourists, consider it is the best. Though not that inviting on the first look, trust us, the food is everything beyond spectacular. From an evening snack to late night snacks, this place is where you should be for your appetite.
Must Eat: String hoppers, pad thai, kothu,
Approximate Cost for Two: Rs. 500
Address: 417, Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03
Contact: +94 777417417
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Such a majestic name is sure to be a crowd puller and it turns out that it is. Popular not just for the excellent service from the staff but the food too, the chefs at the Ministry of Crab go an extra mile to ensure the crabs in your plate and delicate, full of flavors and just the way you wanted them to be. The restaurant is co-owned by prominent Sri Lankan cricketers and is worth all the hype.
Must Eat: Prawns, seafood, pepper crab
Location: Old Dutch Hospital, Fort,, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Approximate Cost for Two: Rs. 2,000
Contact: +94 112 342 722
Opening hours: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM and between 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM
True to its name, the place is garage themed and is located in Kandy within the premises of the Amaya Hill Resort. The ambience of the place is filled with automobile spare parts, wires and car cables, silhouettes of cars all gradually making their way to the dance floor. And yes, their choices on music tracks are unbelievable!
Must Try: Finger food, barbecue and cocktail selections
Opening Hours: 9:00 PM to 3:00 AM
Location: No 16, Heerassagala 20000 Kandy
Just behind its signature store in Galle Road lies this chick place with handpicked interiors and decors. Decorated to sparkle the eyes, the place is known for its music gigs, quiz programs and endless hours of calmness and laidback vibes. Bring your friends or your date and ensure you cherish the moments forever.
Must Try: Spinach quiche, black pork curry
Opening hours: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM on weekdays and 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Sundays
Location: 704, Galle Rd, Colombo 00300, Sri Lanka
For those of you who prefer beach shacks and open world bars, the Yula Beach Bar is the place you need to go when you are in Galle. Known for its serene ambience and pocket friendly prices, the place ensures you have a great evening at affordable prices and make new friends over songs and beverages. The place is sure to scintillate in your mind for long after you leave for home.
Must Try: Finger food and seafood platters
Opening Hours: 4:00 PM to 3:00 AM
Location: AH43, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka