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
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
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
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
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
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:
- My Universal Packing List for long-term trips
- WorldNomads – Travel Insurance for normal and active travelers (extension possible)
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
The 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.
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!