Welcome to Sri Lanka! Endless tea plantations, beautiful, positive people on every corner, amazing wildlife, herds of elephants, monkey kingdom and spiritual energy are just some of the Sri Lankan wonders!
There is so much to do and see in this pearl of the Indian Ocean that it would be impossible to do it all in one trip. Sri Lanka seduces you and you keep coming back for more… and more! To narrow it down for you, here are 10 things you cannot miss when visiting Sri Lanka!
1. Go on safari
Don’t visit the elephant orphanages, go see them in the wild in one of many National Parks on the island! Udawalawe or Minneriya National Parks are best places on islands to spot wild elephants. Sri Lanka’s most popular national park is Yala, home to birds, monkeys, crocodiles, elephants as well as the world’s largest population of leopards.
Read more about my safari experience and elephants in Sri Lanka: Best place in Sri Lanka to see elephants?
2. Eat, eat & eat
Sri Lanka has one of the most delicious cuisines in the world. A hundred different and exotic flavours are the result of a unique fusion of local produce with recipes and spices brought to the island over the centuries by Indians, Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch and British. Rice & curry, hoppers, kottu rotty, lamprais, pittu… 1001 different kinds of fruits! Don’t count your calories! You are on vacation, lose yourself and eat!
3. Train travel
No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without train ride! A train ride through the central highlands of Sri Lanka is definitely one of the most scenic and beautiful journeys in the world! Trains are old and slow so you can easily enjoy the view on endless green tea plantations and local villages. You can also meet some interesting passengers in the train! Don’t miss it!
Read more about train ride in Sri Lanka: Tips for train ride in Sri Lanka
4. Hang out with locals
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society with two main ethnic groups – the Sinhalese and Tamils, both originally from the Indian subcontinent. Although 30 years war is behind them as well as horrible tsunami people of Sri Lanka are true and real treasure of the island. Warm, friendly, kind and positive they simply leave you speechless.
5. Visit Buddhist temples
As one of the world’s oldest Buddhist countries, the island is full of Buddhist temples, you can find them everywhere! Don’t miss Dambulla caves, best-preserved cave-temples on the island and Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites and houses the sacred tooth of Buddha.
6. Climb Sigiriya or Lion Rock
200 m above the surrounding countryside this World Heritage Site is the country’s most impressive and memorable attraction. Don’t miss to climb it! At the top you will find the foundations of the old Royal Palace and one of the most beautiful viewpoints on the island!
7. Visit Ella
Walk through endless tea plantations in the Sri Lanka’s most beautiful village. Ella is small, green, peaceful and positive place full of backpackers from all over the world. It is the best place on island to walk through tea plantations and to meet ‘tea Tamil ladies’ who work hard every day for a few dollars. Beside tea plantations you can enjoy in best street food on the island as well as Ayurveda massages.
8. Go for a hike
Central part of the country is full of green hills which call you to climb them. Adam’s Peak, Little Adam Peak or Ella Rock, to name a few. Adam’s Peak is one of Sri Lanka’s foremost pilgrimage sites and home to what is said to be the Buddha’s own footprint (5200 steps to the 2443 m summit). If If Adam Peak is too high for you can climb Little Adam Peak (45 minutes hike in one direction, very easy) or Ella Rock (app 2 hours hike in one way) beautiful hills near Ella village.
9. Relax in laid-back beach side village Mirissa
After the safari, hiking and exploring all the wonders of the island you need to relax in tropical paradise. The best place for that is in Mirissa, a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka. This small sandy tropical beach boasts some of Sri Lanka’s best and most stunning sunsets and sunrises. Mirissa is also the best place to spot magnificent blue and sperm whales or pods of playful spinner dolphins.
10. Be like Steve McCurry: take a photo of Stilt Fishermen of Sri Lanka
Stilt fishing is a method of fishing unique to Sri Lanka. The practice of stilt fishing started during World War II when food shortages and overcrowded fishing spots prompted some clever men to try fishing on the water. Nowadays ‘real’ fishermen rent their stilts to people who pose as ‘fishermen – actors’ for tourists. They’ve found that they can make a better living posing for the cameras than by fishing. How much longer will this interesting fishing method survive? Hmm…
Find out where to see stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka: Where To See Stilt Fishermen in Sri Lanka?