This guide provides you with a comprehensive overview of the most amazing things to do in Sri Lanka. A country that has loads to offer and has something suitable for all types of travellers. My detailed 2-week itinerary already provides you with a potential travel route, but on top of that, these are my top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka, to make your trip unforgettable!
The Sigiriya rock is one of the main sights of Sri Lanka. For many, visiting the Sigiriya Rock is on their Sri Lanka bucket list. However, what in my opinion is even better is climbing the Pidurangala Rock for the best views of the Sigiriya Rock. You save yourself quite some money (3 euros vs. 30 euros) and can admire the famous Sigiriya Rock from a distance.
The train journey from Kandy to Ella is said to be one of the most amazing train rides in the world. I can definitely admit, that the views along the train ride are more than stunning! Keep in mind though, that the train rides takes approximately 8 hours and there is not always a place to sit at the train or to enjoy the views from the open doors (photographers heaven and you won’t be the only one). Nevertheless, this train ride is something that you can’t miss when in Sri Lanka and definitely one of the top things to do!
This popular tourist attraction can be found near by Ella. You can take a tuk tuk to get there from Ella or take a beautiful walk along the train rails, which is an experience in itself. The bridge is 91 meters long and 24 meters high and has nine arches, hence the name. Well worth a visit, especially when a train is crossing the bridge!
You will find that most of the recommendations in this top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka guide can be found in Ella, which was 100% my favourite place. You can read all about Ella in my full In and Around Ella Guide. One of those top things to do is a day (or morning/afternoon) hike to Ella Rock. The peak of Ella Rock can be found slightly above 1000 meters above sea level. You will hike through tea fields, and dense forests and will make steep inclines. In total, the hike will take approximately 2 to 3 hours and can be easily done without a guide.
When in Ella, we took a cooking class at Matey Hut, however, many places and hotels across Sri Lanka offer traditional cooking classes. A great way to indulge in the local cuisine and take a little piece of Sri Lanka home.
My top tips for when visiting Lanzarote in more detail than just this hike. Read about my top 10 spots on the islands – a full guide of what you can’t miss when visiting this volcanic island.
Even though we decided not to stop in one of the most famous places for tea in Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya, you should at least explore a bit of the tea culture in Sri Lanka. When hiking to Ella Rock or to Little Adam’s Peak you will walk through the tea fields and if you are early in the morning, you will spot the tea workers starting their shift. We also went to Lipton’s Seat, which is about 1,5 hours from Ella. In my opinion, it wasn’t fully worth the trip. If you want to dive into the tea world, you can also book a tour to learn about all ins and outs and stick around in Nuwara Eliya for a day.
We chose to go on a safari in Uduwalawe National Park, a NP specifically known for the elephants. Even though, we might have spotted a leopard in the other known National Park called Yala, we decided to stay a little bit more en route (Yala would have been a bit of a detour going more east) and opt for the more quiet NP (still expect crowds though). We booked an Elephant excursion at our accommodation (Kottawatta Village), but you can also pre-book your trip here (a private safari starts at 20 euros per person). Read all about our experience in Udawalawe here.
Have you ever been to Sri Lanka without having seen the famous Palm Tree Hill near Mirissa? From the beach, you can easily walk to Palm Tree Hill (you have to walk on the road for a little bit). Shoot some photographs, take a book to relax or go swimming at the nearby beaches. Do you want to learn more about Mirissa? Check out my Mirissa guide here.
Near Sri Lanka’s coast line you can find the blue whale! I would recommend going on a tour with Raya and the Whales, as I had the feeling this is the company who treats the animals best. Unfortunately, there are also some tour companies going way to close.
In the south of Sri Lanka, you will find several great beaches, all with their own vibe. At some, you will find the stilt fishers, others are famous for the rope swing (Unawatuna, Dalawella) and others for surfing. The main places to visit are for example Tangalle, Unawatuna, Dalawella, HIkkaduwa, Mirissa or Hiriketiya (Dikwella).
Mirissa is a perfect base to explore the south. If you want to stay here, I highly recommend Morning Star! Find and book the rooms here.