25 Things To Do In Sri Lanka

25 Things To Do In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a beautiful Island that carries a lot of historical and cultural significance. Its beauty, culture and history provide its beholder with plenty of activities to do while visiting the country for a vacation. Here are some of the things to do in Sri Lanka mentioned below:


1. Visit The Sacred Cities Of Anuradhapura And Polonnaruwa

1. Visit the sacred cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are not too far away from each other. However, there are many sites to observe within each city. Anuradhapura is one of the oldest inhabited cities of the world and has been recognized accordingly by UNESCO. It was the Island’s first capital founded in 380 BC. It hosts many Buddhist temples and veneration sites like Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Mirisawetiya and Ruwanwelisaya which identifies with the rich Buddhist culture of the Island. These have been built by the Kings that ruled from Anuradhapura. The city also shows the intelligent works of the ancient architects and engineers in their irrigation systems and buildings which stand strong even to date.

After Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is the oldest Kingdom of Sri Lanka. King Parakramabahu was a well-known and respected King that made this city his capital. He built an excellent irrigation system; Parakrama Samudra being one such creation, to provide water for paddy cultivation which was the main source of income in the country. It was also known as the ‘Monkey Kingdom’ as there are many toque macaques observed in here. The sites to be observed in here are many; Polonnaruwa Vatadage, Statue of King Parakramabahu and Gal Viharaya are just a few of them.

2. Explore The Rock Fortress Of Sigiriya And Rock Temple Of Dambulla

2. Explore the rock fortress of Sigiriya and Rock temple of Dambulla

The rock fortress of Sigirya is the 8th wonder of the world and was built by King Kashyapa to hide himself from the wrath of his brother. It is a rock which stands at 200 meters of height and a masterpiece of creativity and intelligent designing. Out of the various things to do in Sri Lanka, many people climb this rock, which can be a difficult but worthwhile task because the view from above is breath-taking. Sigiriya has many important sites to observe; the lion staircase, western wall of frescoes, mirror wall, water gardens, and many other. It is a popular site of attraction among both locals and tourists. Best to be avoided during weekends and Full-moon Poya days, which has a religious significance for people in the country.

The rock temple of Dambulla looks white from outside built on the side of Dambulla Rock and was the home for ancient Buddhist hermits. Here, there are four caves; The Deva Raja Viharaya (temple of King of Gods), Maha Raja Viharaya (temple of the Great King), Maha Alut Viharaya (Great new temple) and Paschima Viharaya (Western temple). Cave no. 1 is known for the statue of Lord Buddha’s Parinibanna or the last moment which is a 47 meters long statue. Cave no. 2 has a beautiful interior where the top arcs downwards towards the center. It has many paintings and statues of Buddha preserved well even to-date. Cave no. 3 has 50 Buddha statues and many of them are standing statues. Cave no. 4 is similar to other caves, but has a large Buddha statue in the meditation pose. All the roofs of these caves are painted with colorful ‘torana’ which adds to its beauty.


3. Get Blessings From The Temple Of The Sacred Tooth Relic

3. Get blessings from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

The temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, known as Sri Dalada Maligawa by locals, is situated in the city of Kandy and is known for containing a tooth of Lord Buddha in a stupa containing 6 stupas in decreasing size guarding it. The things to do in Sri Lanka are many but most locals and tourists visit the temple to catch a glimpse of this stupa, as it is considered to give you blessings. This holy place must be visited wearing an appropriate dress code. Shoulders, arms and legs must be covered and shoes removed when entering the temple. Interior architecture, shrines, paintings, and decoration should be appreciated.

Take a walk outside around the temple to enjoy its beautiful grounds and gardens as well. The temple is excellent for tourists as there are very descriptive information written on important sites almost making it seem like a museum. It is situated next to the Kandy Lake where you can take a boat ride. The temple is visited by school children on their trips and also by many other locals. As a tourist, it is best to visit it on a weekday when the crowd is less to experience a complete and peaceful tour of the temple.

4. Enjoy A Stay In The Hills Of Sri Lanka

4. Enjoy a stay in the hills of Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, towards the central province there are many iconic mountain ranges that you should explore and enjoy a stay at. Kandy is the largest and a major city of the central province. The sites to visit around here are many; Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy Lake, Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, Udawattekele Forest Reserve, National museum of Kandy and Hanthane mountain range are just a few of them. If you wish to catch a break from the hot weather of Sri Lanka, take a trip to NuwaraEliya or Bandarawella, where the temperature is around 16 degree Celsius. They are known for the vast amount of tea plantation and beautiful flower gardens like the Hakgala Botanical Gardens. Galway’s Land National park and Victoria Park should also be visited to enjoy the flora of NuwaraEliya. Visit the Ravana Falls, the widest waterfall of the country and enjoy a bath in its rivers.

Ella is a town that provides many activities for explorers; a hike to the Ella rock, little Adam’s Peak, Nine Arches Bridge Demodara are some of them. The Knuckles mountain range surrounds the town of Matale, where there are many rubber and tea plantations to observe. Choose to stay at a bungalow during your visit to the mountainous areas of the Island. Enjoy a fresh cup of hot Ceylon tea in the misty weather of the central province!

5. Feed The Elephants At Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

5. Feed the elephants at Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala elephant orphanage provides home for both elephant orphans and adult elephants that have lost their way in the wild. These elephants are left orphans either because of a natural incident where the parent elephant has fallen into a pit and died or after being hunted and killed. The orphanage provides a simulated environment for them to live in. Because it allows a free moving environment, the elephants have mated with each other and now consist of third and fourth generation of elephants. 

Elephants that are less than three years are bottle fed by the staff and you can take part in this activity too during your visit. It is a rewarding experience and a very fun activity to do, out of all the things to do in Sri Lanka. But make sure to find out the specific times of the day at which they feed the elephants to avoid any disappointment. Here, you can also see how the elephants, though large, are playful with each other. They love to take their river baths and might splash you with water in their playfulness. The elephants are well treated by the staff of this orphanage. Paying a visit to this place supports the movement that it represents which is to conserve the population of elephants in the country. 

6. Explore Flora And Fauna At Horton Plains And World’s End

6. Explore flora and fauna at Horton plains and World’s end

The Horton plains national park, which is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage is a mountainous area with a rich ecosystem of flora and fauna. The flora consists of montane evergreen forests, grasslands and marshy lands. And the fauna consists of leopards, deer, elk, wild boar and many others. Some of them are even endemic to the region, especially the birds. It is the perfect place to appreciate the beauty of nature.

While in Horton plains, you can also climb Kirigalpotta and Totapola which are two mountains that are known for their incredible heights. You will also see two waterfalls called the Baker’s falls and chimney falls. Once you reach the plateau, towards the edge of it you will find the World’s End which is a vertical drop of around 1200 meters. The view from above is incredible and one should consider themselves lucky to experience it in their lifetime. It is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Sri Lanka. The weather varies from 5 degree Celsius to 15 degree Celsius, so bring some extra pair of clothing. It is best visited with a clear sky so that the view below won’t be obstructed with mist.

7. Take A Boat Ride To View The Whales And Dolphins

7. Take a boat ride to view the Whales and Dolphins

The seas that surround Sri Lanka is home to many Dolphins and Whales. If you wish to catch a glimpse of them, take a boat ride to Dondra Point which can be reached from the Galle, Hikkaduwa and Mirissa beaches. Here, you will be able to observe both humpback and blue whales gliding past you. Occasionally, if you are lucky, you will be able to spot a sperm whale as well. These whales are easily viewed at Dondra Point as they pass it during their migration from Australia to Africa. There might be Dolphins as well but they are most commonly observed in the seas of Trincomalee and Kalpitiya. Dolphins are quite friendly and mischievous mammals who will put on a fun show for you. They will splash their fins in water and smile away.

You can organize a boat tour which will last 3 to 5 hours, where snacks and water will be provided for you. The boats are equipped with safety precautions including life jackets. However, beware! It is common to become nauseous during these rides, so take some antiemetic with you just in case.

8. Catch A Wave To Surf Away!

8. Catch a wave to Surf away!

There is no better place to spend a surfing holiday than in Sri Lanka. It is an island filled with beaches which are ideal to catch a good wave to surf. While some beaches are more suitable for beginner surfers, others for more experienced ones. The best beaches for beginner surfers are the Weligama, Arugam Bay, Mirissa, Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna beaches. In Weligama, the beach breaks in both right and left sides makes the waves very mellow. In Hikkaduwa, the beach break falls progressively and as it gets closer to the shore. In Mirissa, there is right side reef and the waves break when it gets closer to the deep waters making it safe for beginners.

In Arugam Bay, there are many right sided sand bottom pits making it all the more easier to surf. Tangalle and Unawatuna are better for experienced surfers. But each of these beaches have varying points and breaks, which can be used by both types of surfers. There are many surfing schools around these beaches. Visit them and get instructed on where to go, to catch the wave ideal for you.

9. Go On Safari To View Wild Animals In Their Natural Habitats

9. Go on safari to view wild animals in their natural habitats

The wildlife in Sri Lanka is vast and you can go on a safari to catch a glimpse of it. There are 14 national parks in this island and they cover 8% of the total area of land in the country.

The most popular national parks among tourists are Yala, Wilpattu, Minneriya and Udawalawe. Yala National Park is known around the world for having the largest amount of leopards. Some of these leopards are even endemic to the country. Wilpattu National Park is the oldest one in Sri Lanka and is quite large. Here too you will see leopards and bears drinking water from their natural lakes. Minneriya National Park is related to the Minneriya tank, a man-made lake in the third century during the rule of King Mahasen. Udawalawe National Park is known for their elephant population. These parks can be explored in safari jeeps, even during the evenings when the animals come out more often. The parks contain many species that are endemic to the Island. Some animals are so used to humans that they will try to even approach you out of curiosity.


10. Take A Hike To Catch A Breathtaking View Of Nature

10. Take a hike to catch a breathtaking view of nature

The places to take a hike in Sri Lanka are many and one of the favourite things to do in Sri Lanka by adrenaline junkies. Though all these places may give you a fantastic view of the hill country, not all can be attempted by everyone. Some hikes can be more challenging than others. Best hikes are done in the company of two or more, so pick a friend.

Riverston hike is a popular one among the tourists. It passes through paddy fields, forests and rivers with the view of the knuckles mountain range. At the end of the 5 km hike, there is sharp drop of around 300 m. It can be misty and windy, so avoid going closer to the edge. Horton’s plains is another hike that you can do, especially to the Kirigalpotta and Totalpola mountains and World’s end. Ella is ideal for an easy hike; there you can hike to the Mini Adam’s peak, Demodara Nine Arches Bridge and Ella Rock. Adam’s peak is a very difficult hike. Most people start the hike late in the night, so they could make it in time for the early morning sunrise which is a magnificent view. It can get quite chilly up here, so have extra pairs of clothing with you.