A tropical climate, beautiful beaches, lush forests, and exotic locations— all understatements when describing Sri Lanka. The country is endowed with a flourishing culture, delicious cuisine, diverse wildlife, and underwater wonders. Right from its offbeat beaches to those ones with raving parties, Sri Lanka is a destination for all. There is a long and fun list of things to do in Sri Lanka that suits different types of people. 

Also read: Top 5 Places To Visit In Sri Lanka: Traveller’s Opinion

Immerse Yourselves In These Things To Do In Sri Lanka

1. To The Peak: Hiking And trekking

A stunning landscape surrounding the famous rock Sigiriya
Sigiriya Lion Rock, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has hills, forests, and waterfalls that make the country ideal for hiking and trekking. Jungle trekking is famous in Sri Lanka with lush forests like Kitulgala Rainforest and Sinharaja Forest Reserve. The Kitulgala Rainforest is the wettest region in the country, thereby providing dense vegetation and scenic landscapes with ample opportunity for activities like waterfall trekking, rappelling, and swimming with fish. Sinharaja Forest reserve is also described as a  tropical wet evergreen forest and is home to 95 per cent of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds. The forest is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Sigiriya Lion Rock, one of the best places to visit sri lanka, is a popular trekking spot with beautiful landscapes. As you reach the top you can view the ruins of an ancient fortress. As you hike up the rock, paintings of elegant women of Sri Lanka adorn the stones. Other places like Ella Rock, Adam’s Peak, Pidurangala Rock, and Knuckles Ranges offer good trekking opportunities too. 

2. Into The Wild: Safari At The National Parks

wildlife
Elephants on safari in National Nature Park Udawalawe in Sri Lanka

With an abundance of green foliage, Sri Lanka has many forest reserves and national parks. It has more than 400 species of birds and 16 per cent of its wildlife and 23 per cent of its vegetation are unique. Spread across 5,734 square kilometres, there are 26 national parks owned by different states. All of this contributes towards amazing safari experiences with animals like elephants, flamingos, leopards, sloth bears, and different birds waiting to be spotted. Elephants dominate national parks like Minneriya National Park, Wasgamuwa National Park, and Uda Walawe National Park.

A wildlife safari falls under the best things to do in Sri Lanka due to the different experiences it offers. There are different types of safaris to choose from. A jeep safari is the most common one, while you can also go on a walking safari that includes a ranger and tracker, that gets you closer to the animals. Boat safaris are available at Gal Oya National Park where you can view crocodiles that live in the Senanayake Samudraya reservoir. Another unique way is a hot-air balloon safari that is available only from December to March and depends on climatic conditions. 

3. Captivating Culture: Visiting Heritage Sites

Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, of which six are cultural and two are natural. The sites are cities like Kandy, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Galle and Polonnaruwa, Dambulla Cave Temple, and forests like Sinharaja Forest Reserve and Central Highlands. Kandy has the famous Temple of Tooth, which is home to an alleged tooth of the Buddha, and from 1592 to 1815 hosted Sinhalese kings. Sigiriya has cultural sites like King Kassapa’s palace and Lion Rock. The first capital of the country, Anuradhapura is visited by Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world. Among the best places to visit Sri lanka, Galle was built by the Dutch, so a lot of churches, buildings and remnants of the Dutch East India Company from the 17th and 18th centuries can be found here. Engaging in culture is a must among all things to do in Sri Lanka. 

4. Ceylon’s Pride: Tea Plantations And Tours

Tea plantation and Maskeliya Dam Lake or Maussakelle reservoir near Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is the most important place for tea production in Sri Lanka.
Tea plantation and Maskeliya Dam Lake or Maussakelle reservoir near Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is the most important place for tea production in Sri Lanka.

Famous for centuries, Sri Lanka’s tea plantations have a rich taste that is loved all around the world. Sri Lanka’s biggest tea producing region is Sabaragauwa in the Uva province. Lush tea plantations are located on the hills of Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, Dimbula, Uda Pussellawa, and more. The central region of Sri Lanka has some of the best tea plantations and estates, and is one of the best places to visit Sri Lanka. Some of the famous tea plantations are Mackwoods Labukele Factory, Handunugoda Estate, Blue Field Tea Factory, and Pedro Tea Factory. Some of the plantations also offer tours and are also tea plantation hotels where you can stay and breathe in the fresh air. 

5. Let The Waves Lead You: Water Activities

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33 meters down at black coral point 🤙

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The electric blue and turquoise waters allow for a wide range of water activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, windsurfing, whitewater rafting, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, canoeing, water skiing, and more. Water sports are one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. Places like Hikkaduwa, Kalpitiya Beach, Pigeon Island, and Arugam Bay are the prime destinations for snorkelling, scuba diving, and surfing. Poseidon Diving organises good dives and also offers certifications. Kitesurfing is most famous in Kalpitiya where you can visit Kitesurfing Lanka that has certified instructors that help you navigate. Kelani River provides rapid currents for whitewater rafting and you can try kayaking in Kalu Ganga. 

6. Journey To Remember: Train Rides

Scenic train routes, Train from Ella to Kandy, Sri Lanka
Train from Ella to Kandy, Sri Lanka

Train rides bring out the real beauty of the landscapes and amplify it. While the trains are old and not in great condition, the picturesque scenery you can see from the window is satisfying. Train journeys in East Sri Lanka with views of forests and tea plantations are experiences you must not miss. Train rides we recommend are from Kandy to Nanu Oya, Hill Country to Ella, and Ella to Badulla. 

7. Take That Wallet Out: Shopping Places

Cities like Kandy and Colombo have an array of shopping markets that sell everything from jewels to handicrafts. Sri Lanka is also famous for sapphires, moonstones, and handicrafts. If you want to shop for souvenirs like handloom saris and sarongs (traditional clothes for men) you can head to Barefoot and Selyn Fair Trade in Colombo. Laksala is the best place to buy handicrafts that sell figurines of the Buddha, elephants, and Sri Lankan artefacts made out of wood and marble. Tea and spices are best to buy at Pettah or Kandy’s street markets. Traditional Sri Lankan black tea can be bought at stores like Dilmah and TeaEli. Shopping is definitely among the best things to do in Sri Lanka, and other famous markets include Odel, Majestic City, Paradise Road, and Ratnapura. 

8. Rest From Being A Tourist: Visit Ayurvedic Spas

If you want to unwind, then an Ayurvedic spa experience is a must. Many wellness resorts in Sri Lanka are centred around Ayurveda. These resorts concentrate on aromatherapy, healing yoga, meditation, detox rituals, and treatments that help you rejuvenate your body and soul. Some of them are situated beside lakes like Tri and Santani Wellness Resort and some amidst the lush green hills like Kandy Samadhi Center and Kalundewa Retreat, so you feel one with nature. Include this in your list of things to do in Sri Lanka for a rejuvenating experience. 

9. Spot The Blue Whale: Dolphin And Whale Watching 

The whale watching season in Sri Lanka starts from November and ends in either April or May. The quaint town of Mirissa is perfect for whale and dolphin watching. While a lot of tour companies offer packages for the activity, not many are ethical and care about animals. So pick a company that avoids going too close and induce stress in the whales and dolphins. There is a certain criterion set for whale watching by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, so make sure your tour company adheres to it. 

Experience The Pearl Of The Ocean

Sri Lanka has a wide range of things to do that help bring out the tourist in you and then nurse your body to health and out of fatigue. Sri Lanka is also famous for its cuisine that is close to India with rice and curries, but uses different spices and a lot of coconut to bring a unique flavour. If you want a more authentic experience, stay in a homestay or a family guesthouse that allows you to interact with Sri Lankan tradition first hand. 

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