Sri Lanka is a country with everything: forested mountains, idyllic beaches, delicious food, enthusiastic people and rolling tea plantations. In addition, it is home to some of Asia’s most outstanding wildlife! Travel across the country by train, admire the diversity of scenery and enjoy one of our favourite countries. Read this complete travel guide to explore the 10 best attractions in Sri Lanka.
The Nine Arch Bridge is one of the most famous places in Sri Lanka. This huge bridge is located outside the beautiful town of Ella, deep in dense jungle, green tea plantations and bamboo forests. With a height of 25 meters and a length of 91 meters, the bridge is a model of excellence in architecture and engineering; it has stood without steel support for more than 100 years!
There is nothing better than walking through the woods and seeing the beautiful stone arches on the bridge appearing in the fog. Walking around, you may be lucky enough to see the famous train crossing the tracks on the way to Ella.
Experience nature’s own playground at Dialuma Falls! It is the second-highest waterfall in the country and one of the best attractions in Sri Lanka.
This wonderful nature is about 40 kilometres from Ella, so it is a great day trip for your vacation. Ask your tuk-tuk driver to take you off the track. From here, you can follow the trail from the bottom of the waterfall to the top of the mountain for about two hours.
Imagine you are holding a coconut in your hand, blowing your hair in the sea breeze, swaying under the shade of palm trees; the southern beaches of Sri Lanka are famous for this! Many beaches have a popular Instagram flip function, which is very popular with travellers who want to realize their beach vacation dreams.
One of the most popular is the hammocks on Dalawella Beach. It is located high above the curve of a curved palm tree, right in front of the Dream House, and is one of the best tourist attractions in Sri Lanka! It’s amazing to see a hammock at sunset. When you swing in the sky, watch the colour of the sun change. Nowadays, you may have to pay a small fee to use a hammock (for maintenance and upkeep). Also, be sure to stop to chat with the locals in the nearby lodges and bars and soak up the atmosphere of this lovely place.
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If you are not going to Dalawella Beach, you will find a second palm tree hammock in Dikwella, also on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Unlike Dalawella, this is a sitting hammock, so sitting up is easier. There are also fewer tourists, so you will have more time to enjoy the experience.
This beautiful palm tree emerges almost horizontally from its roots, providing an excellent background for sunset photos. You can find it outside the Dikwella Beach Hotel.
Sri Lanka is fortunate to have a wide variety of wild animals and marine life. You can see elephants, sloth bears, blue whales, dolphins, and even elusive tigers! These animals roam freely in the wild, and many animals live in 26 national parks scattered across the country. It is one of the best places for a safari in the world (outside Africa)!
Each national park has its own unique characteristics. For example, some are known for the herd of elephants, while others are known for the diversity of monkey species. No matter what you choose, there is no better experience than riding a jeep through the tall grass and jungle of Sri Lanka. This is a great opportunity to see these majestic animals in the wild, and you will always remember them.
The Red Mosque in Colombo is one of the most amazing buildings on your trip! This charming mosque with candy-like red and white stripes is called “Alva Mosque” and is located in the bustling Peta district (one of the oldest districts in Colombo). From the outside, this building is very special, with its minaret towering across the city, and its outer wall covered with red and white patterns, moving in all possible directions.
The inside is also beautiful, visitors can go in and take a look. However, know that this is a religious place of worship and you need to cover your hair, arms, and legs to show respect.
Nuwara Eliya is one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka, famous for its verdant hills and wonderful tea plantations. The region has a long history and is known as one of the most important tea producing areas in the world; this is also the origin of Lipton tea! The British brought tea here during the colonial era when they discovered that Nuwara Eliya’s cold climate and high altitude provided ideal conditions for agriculture. Sri Lanka’s tea production is still active, and the country remains today one of the largest exporters of the plant.
There are many factories, plantations and tea rooms in the area. Rent a tuk-tuk that day, let your driver take you in the car, stop in the beautiful scenery, and drink tea in the factory. You can also organize a factory tour to learn more about tea production and its history.
Tip: The area is also home to the amazing Ramboda Waterfall, well worth stopping during your trip.
Galle Fort is an ancient town on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, full of cultural, historical and architectural treasures. The history of the castle began when the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century (although the city had been an important trading centre for hundreds of years). However, in the 18th century, the Dutch occupied Galle Fort and rebuilt it as their headquarters.
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These buildings are of great cultural significance, so much so that UNESCO designated Galle Fort as a World Heritage Site to further protect the area. The turbulent history of conquest and colonization undoubtedly explains the unique European style of this tropical paradise!
Nowadays, tourists can visit the old castles, wander the charming streets, and the beautiful Dutch-style buildings on both sides have turned into fashionable shops, cafes and restaurants.
Tip: Be sure to go to the Galle Fort city wall at sunset to enjoy the view.
Sigiriya Lion Rock is known as one of the most famous natural phenomena in the world and one of the best tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. A huge square boulder (200 m) protrudes from the ground in the middle of the flat and strong landscape. The size of the stone is absolutely amazing, and it looks like it has appeared magically.
Lion Rock is one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. The most interesting thing is that this rock is a fortress designed by King Kassapa in 477 AD! He thinks this is the most strategic location because it can see the panoramic view of the land below. The garden he designed on the rock still exists today, as well as frescoes and cave paintings. It takes approximately 2-3 hours to explore the entire area around and above the Sigiriya Leon rock.
It is recommended to climb Lion Rock as soon as possible to avoid the heat and watch the epic sunrise from this high place.
Pidurangula Rock is the younger brother of Lion Rock. It may be smaller, but the view is as good as the Sigiriya Lion Rock. There is also the advantage of fewer tourists and fewer crowds! You also have a unique vantage point where you can look directly at the Lion Rock, allowing you more time to appreciate the big formation. This hike is definitely suitable for adventurers. Take your flashlight out before sunrise and push away the steep rocks before reaching the top.
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Walking on Pidurangula Rock is a magical experience, you must add it to Sri Lanka’s attractions! Its entrance fee is also cheaper than Lion Rock.
Kandy Botanical Garden is an ideal place to escape the heat of the city and enjoy the tropical natural beauty. The garden is very large and is home to hundreds of plants, trees and flowers. It is famous for its large variety of orchids in many colours.
You can spend an afternoon here, strolling among the plants, taking pictures and relaxing on the grass. You can also choose to sit and enjoy a refreshing drink in one of the garden cafes.