Reasons to Visit
The Cultural Triangle contains some of Sri Lanka's finest historical sites, including the ancient capitals of Pollonaruwa and Anuradhapura. These vast complexes house temples, palaces, wonderful carvings and huge stupas. Equally jaw-dropping is the Rock Fort of Sigiriya which offers 360° views, more than justifying the climb to the top!
Sri Lanka is famous for its idyllic beaches which stretch from the undeveloped eastern coast all the way around to the west near Colombo. The beaches and the accommodation vary from small intimate boutiques to luxurious resorts on private beaches and larger hotels in more bustling places.
No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without seeing some of its abundant wildlife. The best places to enjoy this are Uda Walawe, Yala, and Minneriya National Park. Here you can enjoy an exciting jeep safari which takes you close to wild elephants, crocodiles and even the illusive leopard.
Sri Lanka rises up from the coast to the hills, a rolling landscape dotted with tea bushes, and interlaced with streams and waterfalls. The lush landscape and cool climate prove to be an ideal combination for tea and Sri Lanka has long been a pilgrimage site for tea planters and tourists looking for the perfect cuppa!
Brightly painted elephants, fireworks, beating drums, and twirling dancers - Sri Lanka's festivals are as colourful and elaborate as the temples they centre on. The country’s largest festival, the Kandy Perahera revolves around the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth which is a must-see on any visit to Sri Lanka.
Some of the country's finest sandy beaches and quiet coves are found along the southern coast. Palm trees and brightly painted fishing boats on the shoreline complete the idyllic scene.
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Our country specialists have travelled the length and breadth of Sri Lanka - here are a few of their favourite things to do
Sri Lanka is a truly remarkable country. Tiny in size when compared to its near neighbour, India, it contains a diverse landscape of golden beaches, rolling hills, forests, verdant tea plantations and rugged heathland.
The Cultural Triangle comprises a succession of ancient capitals and Buddhist sites where intricate carvings and towering stone monuments are scattered throughout the forests. Huge man-made lakes, tanks, have kept the area irrigated for millennia and continue to provide water for both the paddy fields and thirsty wild elephant who regularly leave the shelter of the jungle to drink.
The busy lakeside city of Kandy still attracts thousands of devotees to the Temple of the Tooth, while the island’s rich colonial legacy can be seen in Nuwara Eliya - the tea-growing country where the golf course has been challenging players for over a century - and fortified Galle where the Portuguese walls defend Dutch churches and the former homes of British merchants.
Diverse flora and fauna thrive in the plains, wetlands and rainforests, often protected in the national parks scattered throughout the island. Wild elephants are frequently sighted in the parks while the forests and scrub of Yala National Park provide a habitat for one of the world’s densest leopard populations.
Whether it is Adam's Peak (the place where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), Sri Pada (sacred footprint), or Samanalakande( Butterfly mountain, where butterflies go to die), Adam's Peak is a beautiful and fascinating place.
The entry and exit point for all visitors to Sri Lanka, Colombo is a small capital, divided by parks and wide streets with parliament and other government offices still housed in grand colonial buildings.
The tranquil atmosphere of the fortress area of Galle belies its turbulent past. Now a World Heritage Site, it is a lovely place to wander and explore the small shops, while outside the fortress area Galle is a bustling city with plenty of sandy coves nearby.
Stronghold of the Sinhala Kings and capital of Sri Lanka’s hill regions, Kandy is perhaps the most beautiful and romantic city in the island. Surrounded by green hills and with a large lake in the town centre, Kandy combines the sophistication of a modern city with the timeless appeal of ancient temples.
Designated a World Heritage Site for its extraordinary biodiversity and wealth of endemic species, Sinharaja is a truly amazing place for nature lovers and birdwatchers alike. The biosphere is best explored with a local guide.
Although Anuradhapura dates from the 4th century BC, Sri Lanka’s first Buddhist capital is more than just an ancient relic and still remains a devout holy city centred round the Sacred Bodhi Tree, believed to be grown from a cutting taken from the original Bodhi tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment.
One of the largest national parks in the country, the terrain at Yala is varied with grassy plains and forest, rocky scrubland, lagoons and a coastline. This multitude of environments supports a diverse range of animals and an abundance of birdlife.
11 1/2 hours (Colombo)
GMT+5 1/2 hours
The best time to travel.
A good time to travel, but there may be some factors to be aware of.
Travel is possible, but this is not the best time of year.
Travel is not recommended.
Snow or ski season.
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Further reading:Tours in Sri LankaWhen to GoItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout Sri LankaCountry Guides
Other countries in The Indian Subcontinent:BhutanIndiaNepalThe Maldives
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