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Top 5 Things to do in Sri Lanka

My personal top 5 Things to do in Sri Lanka shouldn’t be missed when visiting Sri Lanka as they represent what makes this country so special: exotic wildlife, impressive landscapes, places full of history and the popular Ceylon tea!

While traveling the country for more than 2 weeks I discovered a new side of the island almost every day. I have been in Sri Lanka for a video production and got to see and experience a lot in a comparably short amount of time.

Accompanied by local guides and wildlife experts I visited several places all over the country: from Colombo through the center to the north-east, afterwards I flew back and went to the south coast and continued to Yala as well as the highlands in Kandy. The following things to do in Sri Lanka are my personal top picks!

1) Sigiriya – the lion rock

Die Aussicht von Sigiriya ist atemberaubend!
The view from Sigiriya is breathtaking!

The rock fortress of Sigiriya is probably one of the most impressive sights in Sri Lanka. You can climb up to the top and explore the ruins of the UNESCO World Heritage site as well as admire the great view you have from there.
Beside the ruins you should also check out the paintings in the way up and go for a stroll through the surrounding parks. Another great option is to take a scenic flight with Cinnamon Air which ensures amazing photos!

2) Yala National Park – Leopards up close

Oh ja! Ein Foto auf das ich besonders stolz bin - ein Leopard im Yala Nationalpark
A Leopard inside the Yala National Park – I'm very proud of this shot 😉

Sure thing: wildlife safaris are the top things to do in Sri Lanka. A visit to one of the many national park is a must. The most diversity can be seen in the Yala Nationalpark which is also the second largest of the island.
The park is situated in the south of the island and divided into several blocks. Lala is considered to be one of the best spots in the world to observe leopards in the wild – the chances to spot a leopard on a safari are at round about 60%. I only got one chance but have been very lucky!

3) Pigeon Island – best spot for snorkeling in Sri Lanka

Pigeon Island vor der Küste Trincomalees im Nordosten ist definitiv eins von Sri Lankas Highlights!
Pigeon Island definitely is one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka!

Let’s head into the north east of the country to Trincomalee. Beside relaxing at the great beaches you are able to do whale watching and go on an expedition to the nearby coral reef.
Pigeon Island is one of 2 marine national parks with a beautiful coral reef located right at the shores of the island which is perfect for snorkeling. When I was there I was able to go to both sides of the island and spotted turtles, an octopus and even a reef shark beside the many colorful fishes.

4) Kaudulla Nationalpark – gathering of the elephants

Elefanten im Kaudulla Nationalpark - gelegen im nördlichen Zentrum der Insel
Elephants at the Kaudulla National Park

The Kaudulla National Park is also located close to Habarana which makes it possible to combine a trip with a visit to Sigiriya. The reason to visit the park are the elephant safaris where you can spot huge gatherings of elephants from your Jeep. Don’t forget to bring a long lens for the best shots!

5) Tea in the highlands of Nuwara Eliya

Die Hochebene im südlichen Zentrum - hier kommt der berühmte Ceylon Tee her!
The highlands – this is where the popular Ceylon tea grows

This should be on your list of things to do in Sri Lanka and you don’t need to be a tea lover to enjoy it as the surroundings are stunning too. The tea plantations and the fog create a very own peaceful mood.
Back in the days the British chose this place as one of the best places to grow tea. Today you can go for a tour in many of the tea factories along the way, e.g. at the one from Glenloch. The original Cylon tea tastes slightly different in this surrounding. I can tell! 😉

Preparation & Travel Guides

Make sure to checkout the main article about Backpacking in Sri Lanka where I summed up all information needed to travel this country independently.
If you want to come well prepared the following are great resources for your time in Sri Lanka:

sri lanka lonely planetLonely Planet Sri Lanka

The Lonely Planet Sri Lanka is the best sold guidebook for Sri Lanka. Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests. It comes also with more than 50 maps. Available for Kindle and as Paperback.

> buy it on Amazon

sri lanka rough guideThe rough guide to Sri Lanka

The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka is the most user-friendly travellers' guide to this fascinating country. Each chapter includes travel information, hotel and restaurant listings, sections on food and language to media and sport, and thoughtful background on the environment, politics, culture, music and history.

> buy it on Amazon

Pigeon Island liegt direkt vor der Küste Trinco's und ist ein wahres Schnorchelparadies!
Pigeon Island

Which are your top things to do in Sri Lanka?

Do you know more? Which is your favorite thing to do or place to see in Sri Lanka? Tell us your favorite spot in the comments below and feel free to share this article with your friends!
Disclaimer: This post contains Affiliate Links for services and products I’m using on my travels – therefore I can highly recommend using them. By using this links you won’t pay any additional fees!

8 thoughts on “Top 5 Things to do in Sri Lanka”

  1. Great piece Steve. As a Sri Lankan I suggest a few more to be added to this list:
    1) Cycling through the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa
    2) A stroll through the southern capital of Galle and it’s Dutch heritage sites
    3) The calm spirituality of Anuradhapura filled with ruins and Buddhist monasteries
    4) The beauty of the hill capital Kandy
    5) The Wilpattu National Park which gives a wilder, adventurous experience that goes beyond what you experience in Yala imo.
    6) The unique Delft island up north with its wild horses and isolated lifestyle!
    The list can go on…. but I stop it for now!

    Maybe places for you to consider in your next visit to Sri Lanka.

    1. Sebastian Wezel

      Niles hello,

      do you have any recommendation/people you know working as guide we can meet for tours? Greetings from Germany. Sebastian

      1. Niles Perera

        I don’t think you need a guide Sebastian. At certain places you may need to pick up a Tourist Board approved guide for a small fee to help you better understand things. But overall you should be able to get by on yourself! Buying a tour book might help you. Sri Lanka Tourist Board has a good handbook. You can back that up with information on the internet. 🙂
        Viele Gruesse and feel free to contact if you need more info.

  2. Sebastian Wezel

    Great impressions. We will visit Sri Lanka in the next days but I am not sure if travelling by ourselves or better have a guide (what is the best way to book a guide?). Perhaps you have some input. Many thanks

    1. කේ.කේ සමීර රුවන්ත

      Hy Mr No need guide enymore.i think you can manage yourself. go to some websites,use google map.very easy and very cheap.
      so many tourists manage .don t afraid. if you wanna get a guide you can very easily.

  3. Wow, nature looks so wild, untouched, and beautiful in Sri Lanka. I love that there are so much to do. Thanks for this list.

  4. Sri Lanka Traumurlaub

    Lassen Sie uns Ihnen helfen, die Einzelheiten Ihrer gesamten reiseroute Sri Lanka zu ermitteln. Lehnen Sie sich zurück, während alle Ihre Reise- und Sri Lanka aktivitäten bequem und mühelos geplant und abges chlossen werden. Oder, wenn Sie absolute Kontroll ehaben möchten und esvorziehen, die Wahl selbst zu treffen, freuen wir uns darauf als Ihr Buchun gsagent für den von Ihnenge wählten Transport, die Unterkunft und die Tour zu fungieren. Was immer Sie brauchen, wir sind für Sie da. Ihre Zufriedenheit ist unsere Garantie.

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