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THINGS TO DO IN SRI LANKA

The island of Sri Lanka with its location in the Indian Ocean is one of the world's most undiscovered hidden gems. Millions of travellers over the years have passed over Sri Lanka on their way to other destinations, possibly due to the war. The civil war, which ended in 2009 is well over and what is left, is one of the worlds most beautiful unspoilt island countries waiting for discovery. Here are just some of the wonderful things to do in Sri Lanka and to be discovered.


  1. Exploring the stunning beaches
  2. Uda Walawe National Park
  3. Ancient Anuradhapura
  4. Soaring Sigiriya Rock
  5. Bundala National Park
  6. Kandy Cultural Capital
  7. Galle Fort
  8. Surfing
  9. Experience the healing effects of Ayuerveda
  10. Whale Watching
  11. Visiting Tea Plantations
  12. Horton Plains and World's End
  13. Sri Lankan Food and Markets
  14. Colonial History
  15. Polonnaruwa
  16. Shopping in Columbo
  17. Jaffna
  18. Adams Peak
  19. Old City Hall Colombo
  20. National Museum Colombo
  21. Turtle Watching
  22. Koggala Lake
  23. Mulkirgala
  24. Kandy Lake
  25. Kandy Tea Museum
  26. Kandyan Dancers and Drummers
  27. Watch Sri Lankan Elephants
  28. Aluvihara Monastery

28 Things to do in Sri Lanka


1.EXPLORING THE STUNNING BEACHES

Sri Lanka's beaches are wonderfully diverse. With everything from Robinson Crusoe type beaches with soft white sands and calm turquoise waters to wild, rugged and naturally beautiful beaches perfect for nature lovers.

On of the best things to do in Sri Lanka is to explore he stunning beaches - like this one

Exploring some of Sri Lanka's most undiscovered beaches is a highlight of a visit to the country. There are many reasons why Sri Lanka has so many undiscovered places which are not yet on the map. The primary reason being the civil war which ended in 2009 and a subsequent lack of infrastructure to enable these beauty spots to be accessible. For some, this may sound like a disadvantage, but everyone soon changes their minds when they stumble across one of these genuinely magnificent beaches.

Once you arrive at one of these pieces of paradise, you won't want to leave. Some of the best areas to explore beaches include Navalady, Vakarai, Batticaloa Lighthouse, Uppuveli and Nilaveli.


2.UDA WALAWE NATIONAL PARK

Uda Walawe National Park is a vast chunk of savannah grassland located roughly sixty kilometers from Tangalle on the South Coast of Sri Lanka. Uda Walawe is like being in East Africa. Expect to see herds of buffalo, sambar deer, crocodiles, wild elephants and masses of tropical birds of all colours of the rainbow.

A parakeet forages for food in a tree at Uda Alawe National Park

We would go as far as to say that Und Walawe National Park is one of the best places in the world to see elephants in their natural environment.


3.ANCIENT ANURADHAPURA

Anuradhapura is one of the islands’ most interesting cultural and religious heritage centres. It was the seat of power in Sri Lanka for over one thousand years. In the centre of this heritage gem, the oldest tree in the world has its location. It is called the Sri Maha Bodhi, and it is estimated to be over two thousand years old.

Alex Baradi at Anuradhapura

This incredible Maha Bodhi tree came from the original Bodhi tree underneath which the Buddha himself first reached enlightenment. Tens of thousands of people come from all over the country and world each year to pray and meditate under this tree.

Surrounding the tree and spanning over three square kilometers are fields of ancient monasteries and enormous dagobas or Buddhist Stupas.


4.SOARING SIGIRIYA ROCK

Sigiriya Rock is one of the most interesting cultural sites in Sri Lanka.

The rock sores 370 meters into the sky, creating a jaw-dropping sight. The history of the rock is equally jawdropping. Between 477 and 495 AD, the King of Sri Lanka built an exquisite palace and garden at the base of the rock and the summit. King Kassapa built his palace as an unassailable residence on the rock after overthrowing his father King Dhatusena from the reign.

The sigiriya rock in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya Rock features many interesting sites. The first area of interest is the Royal Gardens at the base of the rock. These gardens include water features, boulders and terraced gardens. Halfway up Sigiriya Rock, there is an overhanging niche full of ancient frescoes providing the visitor with a fascinating insight into life during that time. The overhang has happily protected these national treasures from the sun.

Ancient Frescoes at Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

The summit of the rock is the highlight. It spans 1.6 hectares. The top which was at one time full of buildings is now in ruins, but it still gives an excellent indication of life for its occupants during ancient times in Sri Lanka. There is a 27-meter by 21-meter pond which is for all the world like a modern swimming pool.


5.BUNDALA NATIONAL PARK

Bundala National Park is located about 55 kilometers to the west of Tangalle and is quieter than the nearby Yala National Park. The park has vast areas of shimmering waters surrounded by tropical birdsong. Bundala has a beauty that other parks can only dream of and we highly recommend a visit if you are in the area.


6.KANDY CULTURAL CAPITAL

Kandy is considered the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, which for a country that is full of ancient treasures says a lot. Kandy is the location for the Sacred Tooth Relic and rumoured to contain one of the Buddha’s actual teeth.

A visit to the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the things to do in Sri Lanka if you are visiting the area. Local Sri Lankans consider the relic to be the most sacred place on the island. Other areas of interest in Kandy are the old quarter with its fascinating museums and a beautiful central lake.


7.GALLE FORT

Galle Fort is one of the most interesting UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka. Galle is a town where man and nature joined forces to create a breathtaking architectural work of art. The Dutch built the streets of Galle. The Sri Lankans added excellent style and colour whilst nature added tropical atmosphere. Contemporary additions to this ancient town include dozens of art galleries, interesting shops and boutique cafes.


8.SURFING

Sri Lanka is home to some of the world's best surfing.

Unusually, the country has different weather patterns on different sides of the island at different times of the year. The result is the year-round availability of good surfing.

A surfer in Sri Lanka

Arugam Bay is considered to be the area for Sri Lanka's best surfing. High season at Arugam is between April to September. The area has a great surfers vibe with laid back hangouts and board rental shops. For surfers who like surfing in solitude, breaks are available at nearby Lighthouse and Okanda.


9.AYURVEDA

Ayurveda is an ancient 5000-year-old healing system.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems in the world, originating in India approximately 5,000 years ago. The word Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit terms: ayus, which means "life," and Veda, which means "knowledge" or "science." Ayurveda is, therefore, the science of life, and it offers a rich perspective and practical tools for leading a long, healthy, happy life.

Oils, herbs and spices are used all over the body producing balance and homeostasis in the body. Expect to leave a Sri Lanka Ayurveda spa feeling calm, rested and revived.


10.WHALE WATCHING

Mirissa is the location for some of the worlds best whale watching. The Blue Whale, which are the planets biggest creatures, are regularly spotted off the coast of Mirissa.

A massive whale cruises through the sea near Sri Lanka

Likewise, slightly smaller Sperm Whales are an equally heartstopping site.


11.TEA PLANTATIONS

Sri Lanka tea also called Ceylon tea, is famous across the world. Before the arrival of the British, Sri Lanka was primarily tropical rain forest and jungle-clad mountains.

A tea tasting in Sri Lanka

The British discovered that the conditions of warm climate, altitude and sloping terrain in Sri Lanka are the perfect conditions for growing tea. Loolecondera Estate is the location for the first tea first produced in Sri Lanka in 1867.


12.HORTON PLAINS AND WORLDS END

Hortons Plains is one of the remotest places in Sri Lanka, famous for its excellent hikes and breathtaking scenery. The Plains form an undulating plateau at over 2000 meters in altitude. The plateaus covered in wild grassland interspersed with thick forest, rocky outcrops, thundering waterfalls and mystical lakes are astonishing.

The Plateau finishes suddenly at World's End which is a stunning escarpment plunging 800 meters in altitude. The best time to visit the area is between 6 am and 10 am, before the clouds roll in.


13.SRI LANKAN FOOD AND MARKETS

A visit to a local Sri Lankan market is an experience of all the senses. Rich in flavours, smells, colours and sounds, Sri Lankan markets are pandemonia and entertaining.

Many of the chefs in our best villas in Sri Lanka will bring their clients to the markets to both experience the awesome atmosphere and choose the daily supplies.

A table laden with the rich and delicious food of sri lanka

Sri Lankan chefs spend much time tirelessly roasting and grinding spices for their intricately prepared dishes. They pride themselves in using the freshest of produce that can, at times, be quite fiery.

Think rice, curry, fish, vegetables and seafood, prepared with spices such as chilli, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, tamarind and coconut milk.


14.COLONIAL HISTORY

Sri Lanka has a rich colonial history. The first conquerors came from Portugal in 1505. In 1658, a treaty between the Kandyan Kingdom resulted in the Dutch taking control of the spice market and coastal areas of Sri Lanka.

Following the decline of the Dutch empire in 1802, the British took over the ruling of the colony of Ceylon. They quickly recognized the commercial potential of the island. The time between 1815 and 1948 when Sri Lanka gained its freedom was a period of significant British influence that is still seen throughout the country today.

One of these changes took place in 1832 when English became the official language.


15.POLONNARUWA'S STUPENDOUS STRUCTURES

Polonnaruwa was the centre of the Kingdom about a thousand years ago. During that time, it was a thriving commercial and religious centre. During the reign of King Parakramabahu between 1153 and 1568, Polonnaruwa reached its Zenith with the erection of huge buildings, beautifully planned parks and a vast 25-sq-km tank named the Parakrama Samudra (Sea of Parakrama)


16.SHOPPING IN COLOMBO

Colombo's markets located in Pettah heave and hurl with colour, life and general chaos. Pettah is one of Colombo's oldest districts and a great place to spend a few hours. The market stalls and shops sell simply everything. Expect the streets to be thronged with people and carts piled high with impossible loads.

Colombo city centre is growing more stylish each year and with that also comes a good selection of chic boutiques and shops.


17.JAFFNA AND THE NORTH OF SRI LANKA

For guests who love an adventure off the beaten track, Jaffna is an excellent option. Everything in Jaffna appears different. The spoken language is unique and sounds like a rapid-fire staccato Tamil compared with the singsong sounds of Sinhala.

The food is also different in Jaffna with distinctive spices complimented by delicious mangoes which grow abundantly in the area. Last but not least, the Hindu temples are incredibly unique and ornate and stunningly beautiful.


18.ADAMS PEAK

Adams Peak is one of the worlds most popular pilgrimages and has been for over 1000 years. Every year thousands of people climb the peak via candlelight to stand in the footprints of the Buddha and breath the air where Adam first set foot. Today, thousands of visitors to Sri Lanka join locals on the procession to the summit before sunrise. The sense of magic is bewitching as it must have been for Adam as the sun rises above the mountains.


19.OLD CITY HALL COLOMBO

One of the top things to do in Colombo Sri Lanka is a visit to the Old City Hall which dates back to 1865. Built during the British Colonial times, The Old City Hall is a fascinating historic building with relics of a bygone age.


20.NATIONAL MUSEUM COLOMBO

Dating back to 1876, The National Museum in Colombo has its location in one of the cities most beautiful buildings. It is most definitely at the top of most visitors bucket lists when visiting Colombo. Surrounded by a breathtaking and peaceful park, it is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. The museum is full of exhibits and statues which tell the story of Sri Lanka history. The museum also displays a lot of items from the Royal Sri Lankan family.


21.TURTLE WATCHING

Sri Lanka is one of the worlds best countries for observing these magnificent creatures, possibly as a consequence of the undeveloped nature of the country. There are five different species of sea turtles laying their eggs around the Sri Lankan coastline.

The most common species is the Green Turtle, followed by the Ridley and then the Hawksbill Turtle. Those lucky enough to witness the Leatherback and the loggerhead Turtles will see magnificent creatures of up to two meters in length.


22.KOGGALA LAKE

Located close to Unawatuna and some of our best villas such as The Cloisters Villa and Sielen Diva, Koggala Lake is alive with birdlife and dotted with pretty islands. One of the islands is home to a Buddhist temple. The temple attracts many visitors on the full moon days. There is another island that contains an exciting cinnamon plantation.


23.MULKIRIGALA

Located 16 kilometers northwest of the town of Tangalla, Mulkirigala is home to some beautiful and peaceful Buddhist Rock Temples. Within a series of cleft like caves, visitors love the set of reclining and sitting Buddhas.

Massive recumbent buddha at mulkirigala

The area dates back over 2000 years, however most of the current re-incarnation dates from the 18th Century. Close to the top is a small Dagoba with a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside.


24.KANDY LAKE

The Kandy Lake dominates the town of Kandy. It was created in 1807 by Sri Wickrama Rajasinha who was the last ruler of the Kingdom of Kandy.

The lakes have quite a colourful history. In their making, any locals who objected to working on the project were put to death. There is a central island which was where Sri Wickrama Rajasinha kept his Harem.

Later on in history, the British used the island to store their ammunition. A Leisurely stroll around the lake is one of the recommended things to do in Kandy Sri Lanka.


25.KANDY TEA MUSEUM

As we know, tea is an essential part of Sri Lanka history and culture. Therefore a stop at the Kandy Tea Museum is one of the most worthwhile and exciting things to do in Sri Lanka. The museum has its location in the 1925 Hanthana Tea Factory. The museum which was refurbished by the Sri Lanka Tea board houses exhibits from tea pioneers such as Thomas Lipton and James Taylor.


26.KANDYAN DANCERS AND DRUMMERS

A Kandyan dance performance is one of the defining experiences of a visit to Kandy. Imagine elaborate costumes, fire breathing and gyrating dance moves. Claughton House, which is one of our Luxury Sri Lankan Villas, provides guests with a private Kandyan Dance Performance.


27.SRI LANKAN ELEPHANTS

Elephants are a core part of Sri Lankan culture and occupy an extraordinary place in the minds of the local people. The best place to see these magnificent, intelligent creatures in their natural environments are at one of the beautiful national parks dotted around the country.

A group of three elephants in Sri Lanka

The best national parks for elephants include Uda Walawe National Park, Minneriya National Park, Kaudulla National Park, Bundala National Park, Yala National Park and Gal Oya National Park.


28.ALUVIHARA MONASTERY

Aluvihara is an intriguing monastery built from a sheer rock wall. The monastery comprises of a series of monastic caves located amongst rocks which have fallen from higher up mountains. The first cave is home to a massive 10 meter reclining Buddha with impressive lotus flower murals. There are many exciting parts of Aluvihara Monastery, but one of the most exciting is the cave dedicated to an Indian scholar named Buddhaghosa. Man-made steps bring you to the summit from where there are sweeping views of the countryside.

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