Bustling streets, incredible hikes and picture perfect beaches- Sri Lanka is a country full of beauty and contrast. It has to be one of the most incredible destinations in South Asia, and its popularity as a top travel destination seems to be growing day by day.
Discover the top ten attractions that you absolutely must do when visiting Sri Lanka below!
1. Climb Pidurangala Rock
Pidurangala Rock offers the best view of the famous Sigiriya Rock, as well as of the stunning surrounding valley. The sunrise and sunset we saw here was unreal, the sky was seriously on fire.
The hike will only take 30 minutes, and runs though a small temple and lush jungle. Head up for Sunrise and then make a beeline to Sigiriya Rock to experience both of these beautiful attractions, minus the crowds.
Check out our detailed guide on how to climb Pidurangala here.
2. Hike Adams Peak
If you’re a fan of watching the sun rise above the clouds, and struggling up 5000 steps in the pitch black, then this one is for you!
Climbing Adams Peak, or Sri Pada, is considered a religious pilgrimage in Sri Lanka. To make it to the top by sunrise you will need to set out at around 2:00 am. During the pilgrimage season the path will be lit, and tea shops are dotted at regular intervals to offer you warm cups of tea.
Be prepared to shiver in the dark as you wait for the sun to rise above the horizon and illuminate the cloud filled valley below. It is a truly beautiful experience to watch the sky turn pink and realise that all of that hard work was worth it!
On the way back down you’ll be able to appreciate the lush green valley below that you missed in the dark. It was one of our favourite things to do in Sri Lanka and we promise it is worth the early wake up call (and the sore legs the next day).
3. Safari in Udawalawe National Park
Sri Lanka is home to an amazing variety of wildlife. A safari through one of the national parks is a perfect way to get up close to a huge number of animals, and makes for a fun and informative day trip.
There are two main National Parks in which you can take a safari through. Udawalawe National Park is located a couple hours south of Ella, and offers a great chance of spotting elephants. Yala National Park is another popular option. Whilst busier than Udawalawe, the park is known to have more leopards.
On our jeep ride though Udawalawe we spotted dozens of elephants, as well as exotic birds, crocodiles, monkeys and water buffalo.
4. Visit the Nine Arch Bridge
The Nine Arch Bridge in Ella sits amongst lush tea plantations and dense jungle. It is a well known Instagram spot, and we totally see why! We recommend that you arrive at the bridge early to capture that perfect photo without anyone else it in.
Walking on the famous train tracks and watching the trains fly by is the perfect way to spend a morning in Sri Lanka.
5. Go Beach Hopping
Grab a bike or hire a tuk tuk for the day and explore Sri Lanka’s many beautiful, rugged beaches.
From the sleepy beach of Tallella, to the backpacking hotspot of Mirissa, you can easily spend a day stopping at each beach that catches your eye.
Take a surfing lesson, grab a drink from one of the shacks that line the beach or just relax under a palm tree. Make sure you stay for a legendary Sri Lankan sunset too!
6. Visit a Coconut Tree Grove
This collection of Coconut Trees sit in a grove overlooking the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean in Mirissa. Despite the recent Instagram popularity of this spot, we still found it very peaceful and it makes for a relaxing way to spend a few hours.The spot is marked on Google Maps making it very easy to find.
7. Hike Little Adams Peak
Ella is home to some of the best hikes in Sri Lanka, and little Adams Peak is one not to be missed. The short hike gives you spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and tea plantations, and just so happens to be the spot where we got engaged!
The initial track is an easy walk along some well marked paths and steps. Once you reach the first view point, continue along the ridge until you reach the second peak. This will give you even more dramatic 360 degree views of the mountains. It is definitely worth the scramble down the rocks we promise.
8. Climb Sigiriya Rock
Sigiriya Rock is one of Sri Lanka’s most famous landmarks, offering stunning architecture and a rich history. The rock was once home to the King of Sri Lanka in the 5thCentury, and today you can climb the historic landmark and wander through the remaining ruins.
The climb consists of 1200 steps, some of which are through narrow twisting stairwells. We recommend coming as soon as the site opens to avoid queues along the stairs and to miss the worst of the Sri Lankan heat. Once you reach the top of Sigiriya you will be able to explore the site and appreciate the beautiful view over the Sri Lankan jungle.
9. Explore Galle Fort
Galle Fort offers an exotic mix of European style buildings and rich Sri Lankan culture. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is filled with old colonial buildings, small bustling lane ways and colourful shops.
Spend a few hours wandering through the narrow streets, stopping at the many boutiques and cafes. End the day by watching the stunning sunset along the fort wall.
10. Eat the best burgers of your life
This may seem like a strange activity to make an appearance here, but trust us, Hello Burgers in Hikkaduwa totally deserves a place on this list! Situated along the main road in Hikkaduwa, this super cute restaurant offers a huge range of both meat and vegetarian burgers.
We hope this list inspires you to explore this beautiful country!