Things To Do in Sri Lanka For An Exciting Vacation

Adventure Art & Culture

Things To Do in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka as a country has much to explore - trying out its tasty cuisine, paying visits to holy temples, gazing at items in the museums, participating in water sports at beaches, going on treks and safaris in national parks, admiring nature's landscapes of hills, peaks, rocks, parks and so on. One gets to experience metro-fast lives in Colombo and historical suburbia in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. There is a never a limit for things to do in Sri Lanka as it has a rich repository of cultural, historical, adventurous and natural accumulations.

Here is the list of 21 Things To Do in Sri Lanka For An Exciting Vacation

1. Trekking Adam's Peak

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Considered to be the most sacred place in the whole of Sri Lanka, Adam’s Peak rests between a thick forest in Sabaragamuwa province. The peak is said to be of importance in every religion and is a pilgrimage destination for everyone alike. Thousands of devotees and travelers trek to the top  and consider it a spiritual thing to do in Sri Lanka. The peak is believed to have the footprint of Lord Buddha which is preserved at the Summit’s temple. The trail upwards will offer you breathtaking views and valleys with an amazing display of colours with the sun in the middle during sunset.

2. Kandy to Ella Train Ride

Often described as one of the most scenic train rides in the world, the train journey is a must things to do in Sri Lanka. The train ride between Kandy and Ella takes you 6 hours. The train takes you through tea plantations, waterfalls, mountains, clouds, mist and more, making you feel like you’re inside a fairy tale. The tickets are usually cheap but require reservation to travel comfortably but the money will be worth it.

3. Hikkaduwa - Water Sports

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Known For : Hikkaduwa National Park Hikkaduwa Lake Akurala Beach

Hikkaduwa finds itself nuzzled in the Galle district of South Western Sri Lanka, 2 hours away from Colombo. The beaches of Hikkaduwa have been visited since the 1970s for their vibrant nightlife and cuisine. The beaches make for a lots of things to do in Sri Lanka such as surfing along with other water sports. Hikkaduwa Beach also has a large coral reef, the Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary, which is favourable for scuba diving and snorkelling. 

Hikkaduwa has some of the best scuba diving in Sri Lanka with unique dive sites such as wreck dives and spectacular reef dives. It is also touted to have the second best surfing in Sri Lanka.

4. Climb Sigiriya Rock

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Sigiriya or the Lion Rock is an ancient fort located in the Matale District in central Sri Lanka. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site making it an interesting thing to do in Sri Lanka. It is in the Matale District of Central Sri Lanka and lies between the towns of Dambulla and Habarane at the height of 370 metres. It consists of a citadel and has ruins of palaces, the Lion Gate, gardens, moats, the Mirror Wall, and many beautiful frescoes (paintings made in wet plaster on walls). The place got its name from the Lion claws, carved at the entrance of the Lion Gate. You can reach the Sigiriya Fortress either by bus or by train, from the main towns of Dambulla or Habarane.

5. Nine Arches Bridge Visit

Nine Arches Bridge, also known as Ahas Namaye Palama or The Bridge in the Sky, is an iconic architectural structure located in the mountainous region of Ella in Sri Lanka. It is a magnificent stone bridge, built amidst lush green tea plantations, with stunning mountains in the backdrop. This ancient construction is 91 metres long and 24 metres high and never fails to leave tourists spellbound at its beauty.

6. Explore Colombo

4.5 /5 View 65+ photos

Known For : Gangaramaya Temple National Museum of Colombo Kelaniya Raj Maha Vihara

Colombo is Sri Lanka's prime city offering a lot of things to do in Sri Lanka. The official capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is also within the urban area of Colombo, so Colombo is often called the capital of Sri Lanka as well. The city has a rich colonial heritage, and also some very scenic and popular attractions.

Best Time: December to March

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7. Spot Exotic Animals at Yala National Park

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Yala National Park was originally a hunters arena during British colonial rule but now has the highest population of leopards on earth. Not only animals but it also provide a quaint environment for birds as well. It is one of the most adventurous things to do in Sri Lanka as it is the largest national park with a total area of 900 Sq Km. Yala National Park attracts a lot of tourists throughout the year due to its high density of leopards, sloth bears, crocodiles, and deers.

8. Turtle Hatchery Visit

One of the things to do in Sri Lanka is to visit the Sea Turtle Hatchery which is situated in Habaraduwa and was established in the year 1986. It has successfully rescued and taken care of more than 1,000,000 sea turtles. If you are someone who loves everything about nature, make it a point to visit the Sea turtle hatchery which takes tremendous efforts to nurture the sea turtles in a safe environment before releasing them into the sea. Sri Lanka is a place which is favourable for sea turtles, where many sea turtles lay their eggs on the sandy beach and later go back to the water

9. Visit the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

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Known For : The Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu Rankoth Vehera

Polonnaruwa, a marvel of a place, is in Northern Sri Lanka. The city once served as the capital of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa under the Chola Empire in the 10th century. This makes it the second most historic kingdom in Sri Lanka after Anuradhapura.

The entire town has two sections - the development and infrastructure part called the Polonnaruwa new town and the Old Site with ancient remains and monarchical structures.

The old part of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has numerous ruins dating back to 800 years comprising of tombs, temples, statues and stupas. Within the town, is the celebrated quadrangle, Gal Vihara – Buddhist 12th century rock temple, Archaeological museum, Polonnaruwa Vatadage – holds the relic of the tooth of Buddha, Rankot Vihara – a 12th century stupa, Hatadage - an ancient relic shrine and the Lankathilaka – a cathedral type Buddhist temple and many other statuettes dedicated to Lord Buddha.

10. Anuradhapura Visit

3.5 /5 View 8+ photos

Known For : Sri Maha Bodhi Sigiriya Rock Fortress Ruwanweliseya Jetavanaramaya Monastery

Anuradhapura is a historical paradise as it houses several heritage monasteries, palaces and monuments. Some of the things to do in Sri Lanka would be to visit Anuradhapura's vast dagobas or brick stupas, ancient ponds and pools and magnificent temples. The city was established as the first capital of Sri Lanka in 377 BC. It was also at this time that Anuradhapura rose to prominence as a seat of political and economic importance.

Best Time: April and September

11. Tea Plantations - Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya's hills are ripe for cultivating tea trees such that one of the most agrarian activities conducted on these lands is tea plantations. There are multiple tea plantations that tourists can get to visit and even taste their specially grown and brewed teas. One of the things to do in Sri Lanka is to visit the two most significant touristy tea plantations - Pedro Tea Estate and Blufield Tea Gardens. Take a stroll around and visit the tea estates and interact with the workers and they will allow you to taste different types of tea and even show you methods of tea extraction and more.

12. Whale Watching in Mirissa, Mirissa

Mirissa is hugely famous for its whale watching and dolphin watching activities. Whale watching in Mirissa allows visitors to enjoy watching them swim and play in their natural habitat. It is a completely unforgettable experience and a must-see for kids.

13. Hot Air Balloons

One of the things to do in Sri Lanka during the months of March and April is Hot Air Ballooning to swoon at the breathtaking views of rolling greens and rippling blues - the shades of Sri Lanka's evergreen forests and surrounding beaches. Though the ride is dependant on the wind timings, no other ride is the same as the route for hot air balloons can't be predicted.

14. Diyaluma Waterfall Hike

At a distance of an hour from Ella, Diyaluma Waterfalls provides for an engaging trail to hike as one of the things to do in Sri Lanka. Being the second tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka, rest assured that Diyaluma Waterfalls offers for a breathtaking view from the top. There are a lot of tiny pools along the hike where one can take a swim. While returning back there is a small local village where one can observe rubber production.

15. Try Sri Lankan Cuisine

Being a coastal country some of the staple items found in much of Sri Lankan cuisine are rice, coconuts and seafood. There is also a surprising use of species in preparing chutneys and so which leads back to Sri Lanka's history of spicies production. One of the must things to do in Sri Lanka is trying some of these dishes of Sri Lankan Cuisine - sour fish curry (malu ambul thiyal), Hoppers, Kottu roti, Kiri Bath, Lamprais and Wood Apple.

16. Find Peace in Temples

The influence of religion on Sri Lanka can be widely attested to the huge number of temples in Sri Lanka. Buddhism and Hinduism - the two major religious sects of the country - account to the multiple number of temples that reside in almost every nook and corner of the country. Most of the temples are extremely popular amongst pilgrimages and have even made it to UNESCO's Heritage Sites list. While visiting Sri Lanka, one should definitely pay these temples a visit to soak in the spirituality of the country.

17. Witness Stilt Fishing

A skilful traditional practice, Stilt Fishing is practised across the coastal towns of Sri Lanka by local fishermen. The idea is to sit perched on a long log embedded in the riverbed so as to cast little or no shadow on the sea while fishing. This ensures the sea life remains undisturbed and makes easier baits out of small fishes. One of the things to do in Sri Lanka for tourists is to participate in stilt fishing which seems easier by the fisherman but is a skill of honed balance.

18. Temple of the Tooth, Kandy

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Sri Dalada Maligawa is the Sinhalese name for this holy shrine. Famously called Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it is touted to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in the whole world. One thing to do in Sri Lanka is viewing the tooth of Buddha nestled in a golden chamber within the premises of the royal palace complex (formerly a princely state). Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is said that whichever state holds the tooth relic, maintains an essential place in the governance of the country.

19. Pidurangala Rock Hike

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The Pidurangala Rock is a few kilometres away from the famous UNESCO site, the Sigiriya Rock. It is known for the view on top of the rock, the white temple situated at the base of the cliff, and the enormous reclining Buddha statue located under an ancient boulder.

20. Wander around Galle - Colonial Town

3.9 /5 View 77+ photos

Known For : Old Dutch Market Flag Rock

The port city of Galle is situated along the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka and has quite a few things to do in Sri Lanka. Primarily known for the famous Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city has played a significant role in the country’s lengthy colonial history.

Best Time: February

21. Beach Hopping

One of the things to do in Sri Lanka is spending a day, wiggling your toes in the sand and sunbathing. This seems like the ideal vacation and you can get that in abundance if you decide to vacation in the Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Arugam Bay is the favorite of South East coast of Sri Lanka. It’s considered to be the best surfing spot. It is always usually breezy and attracts tourists and locals alike. Galle beach is always bustling with visitors all year around. The yellow sand, moon shaped coastline makes it a picture perfect destination. Hikkaduwa is just a two-hour drive from the capital of Colombo which is again an amazing destination for families who want to relax and play in the sand and water.

Now that you have a full list of all the things to do in Sri Lanka, why wait? Find the next best holiday week and jump on the bandwagon of happy and thrilled Sri Lankan tourists!

This post was published by Muhammed Salih

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