Sri Lanka might be one of the most exotic travel destinations in the whole wide world. This island is home to gorgeous beaches, interesting cities with colonial heritage sites, ancient cities with temples and ruins, national parks with amazing wildlife and beautiful highlands with endless tea plantations. Truly an extraordinary place, easy to fall in love with! Here are 5 must-visit places in Sri Lanka:
Galle is a small, peaceful and colourful city with narrow streets, boutique shops selling antiques, cafes and a whole lot of charm, unlike any other city in Sri Lanka. The old part of town, Galle Fort, is marked by its colonial past and it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Within the ancient city walls, there are colonial mansions and churches to be admired, built by the Dutch, the British and the Portuguese centuries ago as Galle was the island’s main port for ships on the trading route between Europe and Asia. Visitors can walk along the fort’s walls, see the old lighthouse tower and take in the breathtaking sunset. Circling the whole fort is a walk of approximately 4 kilometres. Galle is a wonderful place to spend a day or two and while you are at it, why not stay in a private pool luxury villa. The perfect base from where to explore the city of Galle and its surroundings.
- Kandy & the Hill country
Kandy is another highlight of this rich exotic country, tucked away in the central highlands where the air is fresh and cool. Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage City and it is home to one of the most sacred places for Buddhists ‘The Temple of the tooth’ which is believed to have quite a special relic: an actual tooth of Lord Buddha himself. The city also features a beautiful man-made lake, wonderful for nature walks and picnics with loved ones. Around Kandy, you can see the inheritance of Britain; endless stunning tea plantations and charming towns such as Ella and Nuwara Eliya. In the southwest corner of Hill Country awaits the Uda Walawe national park, the place to spot wildlife, and it is also around this area that visitors can climb Adam’s Peak, another sacred pilgrimage place for Buddhists as the summit of this majestic mountain is imprinted with what is believed to be Lord Buddha’s footprint.
Mirissa is a popular beach town in Sri Lanka that still remains laid-back and beautiful despite its attraction to tourists and travellers. The long white sandy beach is not only great for swimming, sipping coconuts, lazing in a hammock and working on your holiday tan, but it is also perfect for snorkelling and even surfing. Something for everyone! Apart from that, Mirissa is the place to be for those travellers wanting to spot whales and dolphins early in the morning out at sea. Quite an amazing experience!
Anuradhapura is an ancient city in ruins and definitely one of the most interesting places to visit for those travellers into culture and history. Another UNESCO World Heritage site, the sacred city of Anuradhapura used to be the island’s sprawling capital city and in these modern these, you can walk through the city and admire all of the stupas and temples, palaces and sculptures that remain. The city was abandoned after an Indian invasion in 993 AD and got swallowed by the surrounding jungle until rediscovered in the 19th century by the British. In the new city of Anuradhapura, there are shops, hotels and lots of tuk tuk’s to get your around.
- Sigiriya Rock
One of the biggest tourist attractions of Sri Lanka is the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya. King Kassapa decided to build his palace on top of this giant 200-meter high rock but it was abandoned after his death in 495 AD. Nowadays, you can climb Sigiriya Rock to see the ruins of King Kasapa’s ancient rock palace. The entrance is guarded by two massive lion paws, which is why this UNESCO World Heritage site is also known as Lion’s Rock. On the way up, you will see ancient wall-carvings and paintings and the views from the top are breathtaking, overlooking the surrounding gardens and what lies beyond them. It sure is a fascinating historical site really worth a visit.
Written by Stephanie Peeters of Villa-Finder