Soaking up the sun on sandy beaches, going for a swim in clear blue waters, and surrounded by lush coconut trees waving about due to ocean breeze, these are all the things that one can experience on their Sri Lanka holiday. Moreover, it is also one of the easiest destinations to visit, thanks to its easy online Sri Lanka visa process. But that’s not all; despite being an island nation it is much more than just beaches, it’s a junction of historical importance, natural wonders with some of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka which makes it much more than just a tropical island nation.

Forts from the colonial era, ruins from ancient civilisations, stunning natural beauty and wildlife with such diversity that you can spot any species from birds to elephants and whales to leopards, there are many beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka that lets you experience the history and the natural beauty of the land like never before.

Let us have a look at 10 best places to visit in Sri Lanka:

1. The Dambulla Cave Temple

The Dambulla Cave Temple
The Dambulla Cave Temple

Sri Lanka’s largest temple complex definitely comes first in our list. A stark contrast from the hustling and bustling city of Dambulla, Dambulla Cave Temple is a perfect picture of peace and serenity. Offering beautiful views from the terraces on top, the temple is equally beautiful inside as its surrounding. With statues and paintings dating back to the 12th century, it is quite popular among archaeology enthusiasts as one of the places to visit in Sri Lanka. Easily accessible from Kandy and Colombo, the temple has five rooms of varying sizes filled with art forms such as statues and paintings depicting a calm and peaceful Buddha.  

2. Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya Rock Fortress

One of the ancient ruins that highlight the history of the country, Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a big crowd puller and also one of the famous sightseeing places to visit in Sri Lanka. With its construction dating back to 1500 years ago, this vast fortress situated at the height of 660 feet is a great example of city planning from that time. It is also known as the lion rock because of lions carved in several points through the gateways and staircases and also because the rock resembles a lion looking over his pride. The surrounding area of this rock fortress shows signs of a city complex properly planned to include commercial, residential and recreational areas.

3. Pollonnaruwa

Pollonnaruwa
Pollonnaruwa

Also called Petra of Asia, this ancient city is full of historic ruins and archaeological wonders. Counted among the top places to visit in Sri Lanka for its historical importance which has gardens, palaces, temples, stupas, and tombs that go over a 100 in count, this ruined city is beautifully preserved by nature. This ancient city not only holds memoirs of the past but is also the home to a group of macaque monkeys whose ancestors are believed to be a part of the ancient civilisation. Easily accessible from Dambulla and Sirigiya, this ruined city is a hidden gem of Sri Lanka which you must not miss.

4. Arugam Bay

Surfers at Arugam Bay
Surfers at Arugam Bay

One of the main reasons as to why so many travellers flock towards Sri Lanka could be the country’s 1600 km long shoreline that attracts Thalassophiles (ocean lovers) from all over the world. Sunny skies and white sand beaches, Arugam Bay is a pretty piece of paradise where water sport enthusiasts rush for their next dose of adrenaline. With activities ranging from speed boating, and snorkelling to surfing, the crystal clear waters of Arugam Bay are a welcoming delight. Surely amongst the interesting places to visit in Sri Lanka with family if you have kids who would enjoy watching marine life under the sea.

5. Temple Of Tooth At Kandy

Temple of Tooth
Temple of Tooth

This most holy Buddhist shrine in the country is situated in Kandy. Also called the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the temple is home to Buddha’s tooth, which is believed to be acquired when Buddha was on his deathbed. Every Wednesday a special ritual of bathing the tooth is performed and the holy water from the bath, which is believed to have healing properties, is distributed among the devotees who are present in the temple. Near the temple there is the National Museum of Kandy where you can visit and learn more about the history of the land.

6. Nine Arch Bridge

Aerial view of the famous Nine Arch Bridge
Aerial view of the famous Nine Arch Bridge

Sometimes the journey is equally important as the destination, and in case of Ella, this is 100% true. One of the major reasons why Ella is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka is the train route from Kandy to Ella. It is one of the most scenic train routes in the world and the views are just breathtakingly beautiful. The train rides over a bridge of nine arches called Nine Arch Bridge or Bridge in the sky. The bridge was built without any steel and using only stones, cement and bricks by the British, which makes this breathtaking journey all the more impressive.

7. Ravana Cave and Falls

Ravana Falls
Ravana Falls

Located just 2 kms away from the town of Ella in a hilly region is a cave with big demonic faces imprinted on its entrance and the walls of the cave as well. This cave is known as Ravana Cave and legends state that this where Ravana hid Sita after abducting her. One of the most fascinating places to visit in Sri Lanka, this cave has tunnels and hidden passages that pass through hill, which would have aided Ravana to make a quick escape if needed. Ravana falls are easily accessible from the cave as it is just a little bit far from it. The falls are frequently visited by the locals in the hot summer months to find some escape from the scorching heat of the sun.

8. Adam’s Peak

Adam's Peak
Adam’s Peak

Holding religious importance for major religions in the land, this sacred mountain is famous amongst hikers and history buffs alike. After a three hour hike, with rest stops and food stalls scattered along the way, the hikers are blessed with a view of a foot-print in a rock at the summit. This indentation is believed to be the place where Adam landed on the earth (hence the name of the mountain), while some believe it belongs to Buddha and others believe its Lord Shiva’s footprint. It definitely is one of the noteworthy places to visit in Sri Lanka if you love hiking, or interested in religion aspect of the rock or simply want to admire the view from the top. Visiting early in the morning is highly suggested if you want to escape the rush of tourist and witness breath taking views of the rising sun over the horizon.

9. Yala National Park

Leopard spotting in Yala National Park
Leopard spotting in Yala National Park

Located in the southern eastern part of the country close to Indian Ocean and a nature lover’s delight, Yala National Park is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka and most famous amongst all the national parks located in the country – 26 in total! With the high number of leopards residing in the park, you may get lucky and be able to spot the magnificent animal in its natural environment. Apart from leopards, there is always a chance to spot other residents of the parks like civets, sambar, elephants, spotted dear, etc. With amazing beaches surrounding the park and grasslands and tropical forests within, that add to the diverse environment and ecosystem, there’s no wonder as to why it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.

10. Galle Dutch Fort

Aerial view of Galle Dutch Fort
Aerial view of Galle Dutch Fort

One of the finest places to visit in Sri Lanka, Galle showcases its colonised past for all to see. Visitors often feel as if they were visiting a European country due the heavy presence of Portuguese and the Dutch influence that is still noticeable in the fortified city’s architecture and infrastructure. The Galle Fort is a landmark monument in the city of Galle. This cultural world heritage site was first being constructed by the Portuguese but it was later taken over by the Dutch who completed the construction. Recent developments made by the Sri Lankan authorities have added an Asian touch to this European construction.

People who think there are just beaches in Sri Lanka must plan a vacation in Sri Lanka and come face to face with history, wildlife and witness how deep spirituality is rooted in the Sri Lanka’s culture, you will be thoroughly surprised just how incredible and unique experiences such a small country can offer.

This small island of Sri Lanka is filled with sights that will leave everyone awestruck with wonder. These are just some of the top places to visit in Sri Lanka but be assured; they barely cover the basic of what all the country has to offer, for that you might have to visit the country and see for yourself the many wonders hidden in the country of Sri Lanka.

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