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Buddha statues inside Dambulla Cave

Things to do in Sri Lanka

An incredibly diverse but relatively small island nation, Sri Lanka offers magnificent wildlife, world-class cultural attractions and glorious beaches. With no long distances to cover, even a short trip can include a wide range of experiences and activities such as spotting leopards and elephants on safari, observing whales and dolphins off the south coast or marvelling at the wonders of the Golden Triangle.

Step back in time with a visit to the ancient capitals of Sigiriya and Polonnoruwa or the Dambulla cave temples. Visit colonial Galle or simply relax beneath swaying palms on the golden beaches of the southwest or less-visited northeast.

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Audley Travel specialist Matt

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Ideas for experiencing Sri Lanka

Experiences you have as you travel often hold the longest memories. As part of their research trips, our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know Sri Lanka, and the best local guides. These activities reflect some of their best-loved experiences.

  • Visit to a tea plantation, Hatton

    Tea Estate Visit

    Nuwara Eliya

    Driving through the twisting roads of the tea estate, you see the colourful women, mainly of Tamil origin, at work in the plantations.

  • Nallur Temple, Jaffna

    Jaffna and the Jaffna Peninsula

    Jaffna

    You will visit the Jaffna Fort and Kayts Island in the morning, with an afternoon spent at the Nallur Kovil Temple and Manthrimanai - the remains of the palace of King Sangilian.

  • Uda Walawe Elephant Transit Centre

    Visit to the Elephant Transit Home

    Uda Walawe National Park

    The Elephant Transit Home takes orphaned or sick elephants which are then fed and cared for until they are strong enough to be returned to the wild.

  • Hatton, Sri Lanka

    Kandy to Nuwara Eliya by train

    Kandy

    The picturesque railway to Nuwara Eliya passes waterfalls and tea plantations, as well as Adam's Peak in the distance.

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

    Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Polonnaruwa

    Sigiriya

    You will start your day by visiting the mighty Sigiriya Rock Fortress which dominates the surrounding landscape. For many visitors, this is the most impressive site in Sri Lanka with stunning views from the top.

  • Young blue whale breaching not far from Sri Lanka's southern beaches

    Whale watching

    Galle

    Sri Lanka is becoming one of the most successful places to see both Blue and Sperm Whales, which can be found off the island's southern coast.

  • Jungles at Sinharaja, Sri Lanka

    Sinharaja Biospheric Reserve

    Sinharaja Biosphere

    Sinharaja was declared a national park in 1978 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1989. The park is home to a wide range of birdlife including orioles, babblers, the orange minivets and rare Sri Lankan blue magpie.

  • World's End, Horton Plains,Nuwara Eliya

    Horton Plains Walk

    Nuwara Eliya

    Horton Plains was declared a National Park in 1988 and covers 3160 hectares of grasslands interspersed with forest and forms an undulating plateau more than 2000m high.

  • Temple of the Tooth

    Kandyan Dance Performance & Temple of the Tooth

    Kandy

    Traditional Kandyan dances include the cobra dance, mask dance, the Ginisila, showing power over fire. The entire frenetic and colourful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act.

  • Gate into Galle Fort

    Galle City Tour

    Galle

    Your guide will take you into the walled area of the town which consists of narrow streets lined with European style buildings, traditional churches and small shops selling lace and jewelery.

  • Bee-eater in the Yala National Park

    Yala National Park Jeep Safari

    Yala National Park

    You can hope to see many species of birds including storks, kingfishers and peacocks. The animals residing in the park include crocodiles, elephants and buffalo.