Top 10 Things to Do in Sri Lanka
Image via Flickr – Kalzennyg
Top 10 Things to Do in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has it all! Golden beaches, misty mountains, sheltered bays, beautiful wildlife, rich culture, rolling tea plantations and warm smiles of the locals. We have gathered for you top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka. Hope you’ll enjoy reading this post!
It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to Sri Lanka, but I still have wonderful memories of my journey to this magnificent place. So, I must share my experience, of this beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, with you.
Sri Lanka is a tropical island, often described as the “teardrop island” because of its shape. The island offers a combination of stunning landscapes (tea plantations, botanical gardens, waterfalls), beautiful sandy beaches (1,330 kilometers of coastline), spiritual experiences, captivating cultural heritage (8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites), national parks (15 national parks), great food and friendly people.
So here are my top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka!
Image via Flickr – Hash Milhan
Sri Lanka has over 1,600 km of coast with brilliant golden sand beaches and azure blue water.
On the West Coast, you will find the most tourist-oriented beaches. Bentota Beach is the most famous beach on this part of the island. Here you will find water sports, hotels, restaurants and a lot of tourist attractions.
On the South Coast, you will find long golden beaches. The beaches here are far less touristy than on the west side.
On the East Coast, you will find country’s most breathtaking beaches. This part is an entirely new region for tourism, but you can also find beautiful hotels in this area.
You should be aware that Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, so the temperatures vary throughout the country. The sea is good for swimming on the south and west coast between January till March and on the east coast between May and September. The coast temperatures are around 27ºC and the sea stays around 27ºC all year. So, you can travel to Sri Lanka any month of the year because it is a year-round holiday destination.
Images via Flickr – Vilmos Vincze, Jan Arendtsz (from left to right)
02 Buddhist Culture
A tour of the country is not complete without a visit to Buddha statues and temples. Buddhism is widely practiced in most parts of Sri Lanka. 70% of the country is Buddhist.
On your journey, you should visit Kandy, home of the Dalada Maligawa or Sacred Temple of the Tooth. According to the legend, the Buddha’s tooth relic is stored here. The relic has played an important role in politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Monks conduct daily worship and rituals in the temple and the visitors can also join the daily praying ceremonies.
Once a year the largest Buddhist celebration in the world (Esala Perahera) is held up here. It is a 10-day parade full of musicians, jugglers, drummers, acrobats, dancers and 100 of dressed elephants.
Image via Flickr – César González Palomo
03 Ancient History
Cultural Triangle in the center of the island includes Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy.
Anuradhapura is famous for its well-preserved ruins. It is considered sacred to the Buddhist world and it is surrounded by many monasteries.
The ancient city of Polonnaruwa remains one of the best planned archeological relic sites in the country of Sri Lanka. Here you can see temples, religious buildings, palace buildings, the Lotus Bath, rock temple and many statues.
Dambulla Rock Cave Temple or the Golden Temple is the largest cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Here are more than 80 caves with paintings in vivid colors and statues of Buddha. The temples are reached by concrete steps, offering spectacular views of the country. Fascinating to see are also the monkeys, which abound around the temple.
The magnificent Sigiriya Rock Fortress (the Lion Rock) is visible for miles from all directions. Massive column rock rises abruptly 200 meters above the surrounding plain. King Kasyapa built his palace on the top of this rock. He decorated its sides with paintings and he built a gateway in the form of a lion. It takes about 90 minutes to climb to the top from where you will have beautiful views of the country. Sigiriya is the most visited historic site in Sri Lanka.
Kandy is the second largest city in the country and it lies at the beginning of the hills and tea plantations. It is called the Cultural Capital of Sri Lanka. Here you can find Buddhist monasteries and also the well-known Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Images via Flickr – Hassage, Brett Davies, Peyman Zehtab Fard (from left to right)
04 The People
The people of Sri Lanka are warm and friendly, their smiles and hospitality are legendary.
We have met a lot of locals and they were very nice and friendly. We also have been invited to local dinner, where we helped prepared the food and chatted with the whole family. They were happy to share their life stories with us.
People of Sri Lanka take pride in inviting people to their homes, so don’t be surprised if a driver or guide requests the pleasure of your company. The people there are so friendly that they will welcome you with open arms.
Image via Flickr – Dennis Candy
05 Wildlife & Nature
Sri Lanka is heaven for nature lovers. When you travel to Sri Lanka, you must visit elephant orphanage. Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is the world’s largest herd of captive elephants. You can visit the orphanage and get close to animals in their natural environment. The best place to spot different animals like monkey, wild buffalo, deer, bear, wild elephant and, if you are very lucky, leopard in their natural habitat is on a safari to Ruhana National Park better known as Yala.
Sri Lanka is the best place in Asia to see wildlife. Sri Lanka has 22 national parks which include two marine parks so you will have plenty to do on your visit there.
Huge areas of the island are protected as national parks and reserves. You will find elephants in virtually every national park in the country. Birdwatching is also well established in Sri Lanka. You can also take a whale-watching and dolphin-watching trips. Here is also an important nesting site for sea turtles.
Images via Flickr – Antony Stanley, JohnBWilson (from left to right)
One of the top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka is definitely to try their food. Sri Lankan food has parallels to South Indian food, yet is in many ways quite different.
Sri Lankans eat rice with every dish, they love spices, curries, coconut, deep-fried snacks, fish and they love food that explodes with different flavors. Fresh fruit, vegetables and spices are used in many ways. The nation’s cuisine consists of rice served with curry. Their dishes are incredibly colorful and desserts are very sweet.
Why not do it Sri Lankan style?
Typical meal consists of rice served with a variety of curries (chicken, fish, eggplant, potato…). The dishes are very spicy, so watch out! Side dishes include pickles and chutney. They love to drink fruit juices, tea or coffee and their popular drink called Faluda. Forget about forks and spoons… why not eat like a local? First, you need to mix all the curries and rice together with your right hand, then roll the rice up into a ball shape and simply pop the ball into your mouth. That’s it – you are a local now!
Image via Flickr – Patty Ho
07 The Hill Country
Sri Lanka stands as one of the world’s largest producer of tea. They became known for tea when Thomas Lipton started exporting the product to London in 1890. The country’s tea plantations offer incredibly beautiful scenery. You can book different tours which will take you to the plantations of tea, where you can admire beautiful nature, visit tea factories, walk through the fields and taste different types of tea.
But the captivating landscape offers so much more than tea plantations. You can also visit spice gardens, botanical gardens, cinnamon gardens, green mountains and beautiful waterfalls.
Image via Flickr – Malcolm Browne
08 Breathtaking sunsets
On our top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka are also the most amazing sunsets ever! Sri Lanka has one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. Sitting on the beach and watching the sun go down can be the most relaxing thing in the world. I think you will agree with me when you browse through these pictures of sunsets with spectacular colors.
Image via Flickr – Himash De Silva
09 Fishing and Markets
Fishing is a sacred ritual for the male population. Sri Lankan fishermen (stick fishermen) sit perched on stilts fixed into the ocean floor. Along Sri Lanka’s southern coast fishermen sit on wooden stilts for hours waiting for their catch. Nowadays they pose just for tourists and real stilt fishermen are long gone.
There are some great markets to be found all over Sri Lanka. You will find different kinds of fruits, vegetables, spices and delicious dishes prepared on the street. You can also find a lot of souvenirs and local crafts. The famous market in Colombo is Pettah Market. You can buy pretty much anything here from clothing, electronics, souvenirs, fruits, and vegetables to delicious local food.
Images via Flickr – llee_wu, Steve McCurry
Our journey to Sri Lanka was unforgettable and full of wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. If you travel to Sri Lanka, try to get the most of your trip. The country is beautiful and it is well worth visiting and we hope that our collection of top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka will help you plan your journey better.