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Sri Lanka might be small next to neighbouring India, but the variety of places you can visit here is endless. Whether you’re after serene rural countryside and mountain hikes, dreamy days at tropical beaches, top-notch wildlife or being right in the hub of a city, Sri Lanka has something for everyone.
To help you get your bearings, the North is bordered by the Palk Strait and Palk Bay, to the West the Gulf of Mannar, and to the South you’ll find the warm waters of the big, blue Indian Ocean. Kandy is right in the centre of Sri Lanka, and Colombo, the capital, is on the South-Western coast. Each region brings its own unique personality, however you’ll find warm-hearted people, changing landscapes, deep red sunsets, peaceful Buddhist temples and rare endangered wildlife all across this magical country. So, sit down with a cuppa and enjoy our top tips for the best places to go in Sri Lanka…
Wilpattu National Park
Take in the sights at Sri Lanka’s largest National Park for an unmissable experience. The natural rainwater lakes and rich plains attract an array of creatures, including deer and water buffalo. If you’re lucky, you’ll even do some leopard spotting (see what we did there?)
Sri Lanka’s famed cultural triangle boasts ancient monuments, royal cities and Buddhist temples and was once the bedrock of early Sinhalese civilisation. While your experience will vary depending on how long you stay, and how much you explore, it’s sure to take your breath away. If you want to squeeze in a bit of cardio, you can even make your way around the complex on a bicycle.
For a truly authentic Sri Lankan experience, a visit to the rural community of Digana is a must. Our three-day trip lets you roam amongst the rice paddies and rainforest, teach English in a local school and amble past the water buffalo in the wetlands. A world away from the bustling city of Kandy, Digana offers the perfect immersive countryside retreat.
Sri Lanka is known for its wild and beautiful beaches and it doesn’t get much better than the turquoise bay of Unawatuna. Not only does this beach hold the title of our all-time favourite place name, but it’s also a delightful spot to take a barefoot stroll along the calm bay and sample freshly caught fish. Dreamy!
Yala National Park
If you’re after a wildlife-packed adventure that even Attenborough would be proud of, then you’ve come to the right place. Monkeys, elephants and leopards await you, and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll see them all. Our trip to Yala takes a slight detour via the Elephant transit home, where you can observe injured babies and orphans being cared for at feeding time.
Ready to explore one of Sri Lanka’s last remaining rainforests? Twitchers take note because Sinharaja is home to over 200 species of breathtaking birdlife, not to mention plenty of exotic insects, lizards, and verdant green canopies. The sights and sounds you’ll experience here simply can’t be put into words!
This is Sri Lanka’s capital city, and although it might not be an obvious highlight, it’s full of rich cultural history and has some amazing museums and brightly coloured Buddhist temples. One of our favourite things to do in Colombo is amble through the fruit and veg street food markets in Pettah.
If you’re searching for spectacular views, look no further than Lipton’s Seat. It’s the famous lookout of tea pioneer Sir Thomas Lipton, who had tea plantations that stretched for miles and miles. From this stunning landmark, you can see Handapanagala lake, over the rural countryside to Chandrika lake, and the glistening Udawalawe lake.
For even more Sri Lanka travel tips, head to our travel guide below.
View our top itineraries
From 15 days / 14 nights (flexible)
Sri Lanka, Colombo - Negombo - Wilpattu National Park - Ancient Capitals of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa - Outskirts of Kandy - Ella - Sinharaja Rainforest - Mirissa - Colombo