40 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka


Sri Lan­ka is not a part of India at all, but an inde­pen­dent state with its own ancient his­to­ry. The unique cul­ture of this small coun­try is root­ed in antiq­ui­ty. The endem­ic flo­ra and fau­na of the island is care­ful­ly pre­served in nation­al parks.

sri lanka

Things to do in Sri Lanka

There is a beach hol­i­day in Sri Lan­ka, but not every­where. The island is not so big, and part of the coast is occu­pied by sea­ports, dams, mouths of local rivers and all kinds of build­ings.

There are quite a lot of nat­ur­al objects on such a small piece of land: moun­tains, trop­i­cal forests, water­falls (accord­ing to the lat­est data, there are more than 400 of them here).

Adher­ents of out­door activ­i­ties will enjoy cycling tours around the island, pass­ing by the most inter­est­ing sights of Sri Lan­ka, as well as raft­ing on moun­tain rivers.

Divers in Sri Lan­ka can explore the under­wa­ter world on coral reefs, grot­toes, caves and sunken ships, of which many have gath­ered near its shores over the long his­to­ry of the island.




The ancient city of Sigiriya appeared on the rock of the same name 200 m high in the 5th cen­tu­ry AD. Sigiriya means “lion rock” — the entrance to the fortress pass­es between two huge lion paws. There used to be a head, but it fell even under the British colo­nial­ists.

In addi­tion to the fortress of King Kashya­pa on the very top of the moun­tain, on the ter­ri­to­ry of Sigiriya there is a sum­mer roy­al palace, Cobra rock, pools, ter­races, ram­parts, water, cave and stone gar­dens.

Fort Galle

fort galle

The Dutch Fort in Galle was built in 1693 on the site of a Por­tuguese fortress that had been there since the 16th cen­tu­ry. For almost two hun­dred years, the citadel was the main port of the island and the only place where ships moored, sail­ing from Europe to Asia.

The fort is in good con­di­tion. On its ter­ri­to­ry there is a mar­itime muse­um, a light­house, two Catholic church­es, a his­toric man­sion, a bell tow­er and even a mosque.



The ancient cap­i­tal of the island is the sacred city of Anu­rad­ha­pu­ra. Its his­to­ry began in the 6th cen­tu­ry BC, and end­ed in the 9th cen­tu­ry, when it was destroyed by invaders from South India. The most inter­est­ing sights are the sacred Maha­bod­hi tree (the old­est of the trees plant­ed by man) and the Isu­ru­mu­niya cave tem­ple, built dur­ing the reign of King Devanampiya Tis­sa in the 3rd cen­tu­ry BC.

There are also quite a few dagob­as in the city: a giant Jeta­vana stu­pa with a Bud­dha belt inside, Thu­para­ma with Gau­ta­ma’s col­lar­bone, Raun­velisiya stu­pa, the ruins of the roy­al palace and the Abhaya­giri monastery com­plex.



The ancient city of Polon­naruwa, once the sec­ond cap­i­tal of the king­dom of Lan­ka, abounds in many well-main­tained his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments.

It is worth vis­it­ing the archae­o­log­i­cal park with ancient stu­pas, Hin­du and Bud­dhist tem­ples, the roy­al com­plex of Nis­sanka­mala, the man-made sea of ​​Parakra­ma, the ruins of the Coun­cil Hall, the monastery library and the house of Tuparam fres­coes.

Rock Budurvagala

skala budurvagala

Budur­va­gala means “the image of the Bud­dha on the rock.” There are nine of these images — huge fig­ures carved in stone. The cen­tral one is the high­est (15 m). This is an image of the Bud­dha on the throne. To the left and to the right of it is a low­er group of stat­ues — their height is 7 m.

Yapahuwa Fortress

krepost yapohuva

The Yapahu­va fortress com­plex was built on a high rock in the 13th cen­tu­ry. King Bhu­vanakabahu I moved the cap­i­tal of the state here in order to defend against invaders. This is where the tooth of the Bud­dha was kept.

But the loca­tion of the city did not save it from destruc­tion, and the tooth of the Bod­hisatt­va from theft. From the once majes­tic fortress, the main stair­case, a Bud­dhist tem­ple, rock caves, the remains of stu­pas and stat­ues of Yapahuwa lions remained.

Victoria Dam

Damba victoria

The dam on the Mahaweli Riv­er is a huge hydraulic struc­ture 122 m high. Peri­od­i­cal­ly, water is released on the dam, and the dam turns into a huge water­fall. Tourists are allowed to the dam only on bus­es or cars as part of an excur­sion — you can’t walk there on foot.


Colombo National Museum

nac musei

The Nation­al Muse­um of Colom­bo is con­sid­ered the largest muse­um in the coun­try. It presents exhibits illus­trat­ing the long and dif­fi­cult his­to­ry of the state of Cey­lon, start­ing from ancient times.

The most inter­est­ing arti­facts are: the throne of the last king of Lan­ka, gild­ed Bod­hisatt­va san­dals, bronze stat­ues of Aval­okitesh­vara, oth­er bronze and ivory items, man­u­scripts, as well as items relat­ed to the colo­nial past of the island.

Maritime Museum in Halle

sea ​​museum

The Nation­al Mar­itime Muse­um in Halle is an expo­si­tion of old Dutch ships, old can­nons, weapons and all sorts of valu­able items raised from the bot­tom of the sea. Among them are anchors, amphoras, coins and stat­ues.

natural attractions

Adam’s Peak

pik adama

Adam’s Peak is the Euro­pean name for Mount Sri Pada, where, accord­ing to leg­end, the Bod­hisatt­va him­self vis­it­ed on his third vis­it to Sri Lan­ka. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of oth­er faiths believe that on the top of this moun­tain there was an imprint of the foot of God. There are sev­er­al roads to the top — they all pass through well-equipped stairs. The climb up there is long and not par­tic­u­lar­ly easy, but worth it.



There are many water­falls in Sri Lan­ka. Let’s talk about the most inter­est­ing of them:

  • St. Clair, which is called the Sri Lankan Nia­gara;
  • Bam­barakan­da — the high­est water­fall (height 263 m);
  • Dun­hin­da — a low, but full-flow­ing and shroud­ed in water haze stream;
  • Gerandig­i­ni con­sists of sev­er­al water­falls — Ram­bo­da and Geran­di.

Each water­fall must have some kind of leg­end, which the guide will cer­tain­ly tell.

Travel Kandy-Ella by train

poesdka kandi ella

The train jour­ney from Kandy to Ella is con­sid­ered one of the most scenic train routes in the entire world. The train pass­es by tea plan­ta­tions, moun­tain val­leys, water­falls, forests.

At times, the train dives into man-made tun­nels and pass­es over ancient bridges. One of them is the Demodara stone 9‑arch bridge, 30 m high, built with­out the use of steel parts. Dur­ing the time of the Eng­lish colo­nial­ists, this road was used to deliv­er tea from high­land plan­ta­tions to the cap­i­tal.

Hot Springs of Madunagala

Goriachie sources

The sources of Maduna­gala are far from the trod­den routes by tourists. For the locals, they are almost holy. Accord­ing to leg­end, a monk of a local monastery dreamed about their loca­tion, whose novices suf­fered from a skin rash.

The springs con­tain 22 active ele­ments and do not have a pro­nounced smell. The tem­per­a­ture of ther­mal waters varies from 26 to 44 degrees. You can’t lie in the baths — vis­i­tors sim­ply draw water from there into buck­ets and douse them­selves right in their clothes.

Rock “Breath of the Whale”

skala dihanie kita

A rock 6 km from the vil­lage of Dik­wella is a gorge into which, at a cer­tain wind direc­tion, part of the tidal wave falls. This water, as if from a foun­tain, shoots up to a height of 20 m. You can not see such a spec­ta­cle every day.

There are many leg­ends among the local pop­u­la­tion about the ori­gin of this nat­ur­al phe­nom­e­non. One of them says that the spir­it of a blue whale is impris­oned in the gorge, into which the Gods turned one too lucky fish­er­man.

Reserves and parks

Kumana National Park

nac park kumana

This is the most impor­tant bird sanc­tu­ary in Sri Lan­ka. Part of the park is occu­pied by man­grove swamps, flood­ed by water from the ocean, where rare species of marsh birds live. Even on a vast ter­ri­to­ry of 36 hectares there are many reser­voirs where migra­to­ry birds set­tle. Rare species of tur­tles and croc­o­diles also live here.

Yala National Park

nac park yalla

The park in the south­east of the island is home to buf­faloes, wild boars, bears, mon­keys, deer, croc­o­diles and Cey­lon leop­ards. The coastal part of the reserve, washed by the Indi­an Ocean, is inhab­it­ed by var­i­ous species of birds and rep­tiles.

Uda Walawe National Park

nac park uda

Uda Walawe was cre­at­ed as a place for the relo­ca­tion of ani­mals from the area where it was planned to cre­ate a reser­voir in 1972. The park is home to a large num­ber of ele­phants, rep­tiles, amphib­ians, water­fowl and but­ter­flies. Inside the park you can only move around in jeeps.

Botanical Garden of Peradeniya

bot sad

The Roy­al Botan­i­cal Gar­den of Per­adeniya was found­ed in 1747 by decree of the then king. On a vast ter­ri­to­ry of 40 hectares, about 4,000 plant species grow, grouped into sep­a­rate gar­dens.

There is a gar­den of spices, cac­ti, palm trees, orchids, bam­boo trees. A sep­a­rate alley in the botan­i­cal gar­den was plant­ed by famous peo­ple — there are trees from Emper­or Nicholas II and Yuri Gagarin.

Sinharaja Game Reserve

sapovednik sinaharadga

The rain­for­est reserve is a habi­tat for var­i­ous ani­mals and birds that are not found in oth­er parts of the island. The primeval wet for­est has been pre­served untouched because it is locat­ed in a remote area. Mon­i­tor lizards, wild boars, leop­ards, mon­goos­es, many insects and about 20 species of birds live here.

Interesting places

Turtle Farms

cherepashiya ferma

There are tur­tle farms in Kos­god, Haraduv, Kog­gala, Bun­dal, Ben­to­ta. Five species of sea tur­tles live on the island. They lay their eggs in the coastal sand, from where they are then dug up by the locals and tak­en to farms. There, tur­tles are raised and then released into the ocean. Vis­i­tors can pick up pets and feed them. But you can’t buy tur­tles or their eggs — it’s against the law.

Mountain Park Mihintale

gorni park mihingalle

Mihin­tale Moun­tain Park is a place where Bud­dhism spread in Sri Lan­ka. On a hill called Aradana Gala, the son of an Indi­an king preached Bud­dhism. There you can see the ruins of the Medamalu­va monastery, Mahaseya dago­ba, Kan­takya Chetya, Mahin­da Seiya. It will be inter­est­ing to vis­it the cave where the pious monk lived before his death — it is worth pay­ing atten­tion to the rock slab, called Mahin­da’s bed.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

priut dlia elephant

The shel­ter was cre­at­ed as a place to keep baby ele­phants found in the jun­gle. More than 80 adult and small Asian ele­phants live in the nurs­ery. Some of them are giv­en to zoos, anoth­er part is on pub­lic works: it car­ries goods, par­tic­i­pates in tra­di­tion­al Bud­dhist cer­e­monies, and enter­tains tourists.

Horton Plateau

plateau horton

This nation­al park is famous not only for a vari­ety of plants and ani­mals, but also for the fact that there are two “edges of the world” at once — large and small. The first is a cliff with a height of 1200 m, from which dizzy­ing views of the sur­round­ings open up. His “younger broth­er” is not so grandiose and has a height of only 300 m.

Girihandu Seia Archaeological Park

archeology park

The archae­o­log­i­cal park in Trin­co­mal is the ruins of an ancient Bud­dhist tem­ple, found­ed in time immemo­r­i­al. They are so ancient that archae­ol­o­gists have not yet deter­mined their exact age. At least this hap­pened in 400 BC. — accord­ing to leg­end, the tem­ple was built by two dis­ci­ples of the Bud­dha, and the hair of the Bod­hisatt­va was walled up in its main stu­pa.



The resort of Hikkaduwa has sandy beach­es with clear water. But it is more val­ued as a place for surf­ing and div­ing. The waves here are not very high dur­ing the sea­son. Divers can dive to a depth of 40 m, look­ing at the coral reef and sunken ships on the seabed.

beach resorts



Beruwala is a resort on the south­west­ern coast of the island. The bot­tom near the shore is flat, the beach­es are sandy with an admix­ture of shells and corals, the water is clear. True, the beach­es do not stretch in a chain, but are sep­a­rat­ed from each oth­er by rivers, build­ings, and boat moor­ings.

In the city itself, the coast­line is almost com­plete­ly occu­pied, so for good beach­es you need to move to the south of Beruwala and beyond. The main beach activ­i­ties are surf­ing and snor­kel­ing.



The main beach of the Unawatu­na resort is locat­ed in a bay shel­tered from the winds by a coral reef, so the sea there is almost always calm. The waves there are low, so surfers will not be inter­est­ed. But the weath­er in the resort is almost always good, so here you can do beach hol­i­days, snor­kel­ing, fish­ing and div­ing.

There are three dive cen­ters in Unawatu­na. And besides the coral reef, you can swim to sunken ships and under­wa­ter caves.



A small resort town and the best place for surf­ing on the entire coast of Sri Lan­ka. There the sun shines all year round, and the waves are uni­form. The beach­es are wide, but the depth near the coast is shal­low.

One of the local attrac­tions of the resort is fish­er­men sit­ting on high poles near the shore. It is not known whether they have a catch, but they reg­u­lar­ly take mon­ey for pho­tograph­ing.



A qui­et resort town in the south of the island is ide­al for doing noth­ing under the warm sun. Even for shop­ping you need to go to neigh­bor­ing towns. You can watch how the sun sets in the Indi­an Ocean direct­ly from the beach or from a cliff called Par­rot Rock, where an obser­va­tion deck is equipped.

Miris­sa offers tours to watch blue whales, killer whales, sperm whales and dol­phins with ships or air­craft.



The resort of Tan­galle is beau­ti­ful gold­en beach­es with trop­i­cal palm trees, but rather tur­bu­lent seas. The main activ­i­ties here are snor­kel­ing, surf­ing, boat trips and shal­low snorkelling.

In Tan­galle, you can watch sea tur­tles as they come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. Pay­ment for this tour goes to the Tur­tle Con­ser­va­tion Project Fund.



A small resort that has become famous rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly. Its beach is quite long (about 3 km), gen­tly slop­ing, with light yel­low fine sand. From enter­tain­ment — surf­ing, div­ing, coastal fish­ing, as well as a tour of the local lake, where you can watch tra­di­tion­al pole fish­ing. In addi­tion, in Kog­gala you can vis­it cin­na­mon plan­ta­tions.



Trin­co­ma­lee is con­sid­ered a resort with the best beach­es — wide and long. There are not many of these on the island. The sand there is light and soft, the ocean is calm, with­out big waves. The weath­er is almost always sun­ny. From enter­tain­ment, boat trips to places where dol­phins live, as well as div­ing and snor­kel­ing on Pid­gin Island are offered.



The Kalpi­tiya Penin­su­la is not yet the most pro­mot­ed area of ​​Sri Lan­ka in terms of tourism. Peo­ple come here for kayak­ing, snor­kel­ing and div­ing. Not far from the penin­su­la is a coral reef, where 283 species of marine fish, 156 vari­eties of corals, sea tur­tles and reef sharks live.

religious objects



This cave tem­ple is men­tioned in the ancient chron­i­cle of Sri Lan­ka — Mahavam­sa. The height of the caves above the sur­round­ing plain is 107 meters. The tem­ple has 5 sanc­tu­ar­ies, which con­tain fres­coes from var­i­ous peri­ods of Sin­halese paint­ing. There are also more than 150 Bud­dha stat­ues, as well as stat­ues of Hin­du deities (Vish­nu, Sumana) and Sri Lankan kings. But the gold­en Bud­dha stat­ue above the muse­um is not a his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ment, but a remake.

Temple of the Tooth Relic

temple subba buddha

Sri Dala­va Mali­ga­da in the city of Kandy was erect­ed specif­i­cal­ly for the sacred rel­ic. Pri­or to this, the tooth of the Bud­dha was stored first in Anu­rad­ha­pu­ra, then in Polon­naruwa. First, they built a small sanc­tu­ary to store the shrine, which lies in sev­en gold­en cas­kets. Then an out­er tem­ple was erect­ed around it, a larg­er one.

It is believed that if the tooth of the Bud­dha dis­ap­pears, then the Bud­dhist faith on the island will come to an end. Some­one real­ly wants this, since they tried to blow up the tem­ple more than once.



The ancient cave tem­ple of Mulkiri­gala is locat­ed near the city of Tan­galle. These are sev­en caves on the slopes of a rock 270 m high. On the ter­ri­to­ry of the tem­ple there are ancient monas­tic cells, two Bod­hi trees, dagob­as and a small pond carved into the rock. In the caves there are stat­ues of Bud­dha, as well as paint­ings and fres­coes on the sub­jects of Bud­dhist mythol­o­gy.

Church of Saint Sebastian

cerkov st sebastiana

The church in Negom­bo is made in the best tra­di­tions of the Goth­ic style: grace­ful tow­ers with high spiers, lancet arch­es of win­dows. When cre­at­ing the project, the archi­tect was guid­ed by the famous Reims Cathe­dral in France.

The tem­ple was erect­ed in 1936 due to the fact that the old church build­ing could no longer accom­mo­date parish­ioners. But, despite its rel­a­tive­ly young age, the basil­i­ca is one of the most beau­ti­ful sights in the city.

Galapata Raja Maha Vihara


The tem­ple in Ben­to­ta is famous for the fact that the tooth of one of the fol­low­ers of the Bud­dha, Mahakashya­pa, is kept there. The shrine is immured in a huge stu­pa of the sanc­tu­ary. The time of con­struc­tion of this tem­ple is approx­i­mate­ly the XII cen­tu­ry.

Kande Vihara

kande vihara

The tem­ple in Alutga­mi hous­es the largest stat­ue of a seat­ed Bud­dha, 48 m high. There are many large and small shrines on the ter­ri­to­ry, includ­ing the orig­i­nal tree tem­ple grow­ing in the cen­ter of a small white pago­da shaped like an opened lotus.



The Hin­du sanc­tu­ary is locat­ed on the ter­ri­to­ry of Fort Fred­er­ick, a mon­u­ment of the colo­nial past. The age of this tem­ple, ded­i­cat­ed to one of the main Hin­du deities — Shi­va, is 2500 years. The tem­ple is very pic­turesque, with bright­ly col­ored stat­ues and fres­coes.


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