Points of Interest: Top 13 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka (Best Cities in Sri Lanka)

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There are so many places to visit in Sri Lanka due to which it has become the most celebrated tourist destinations in the world, and it is witnessing significant growth in tourism. The country’s capital, Colombo was announced as the rapidly growing tourist city across the globe.

The government is also taking several steps to promote and develop tourism in Sri Lanka, and the Ceylon Tourist Board was established for doing the same. For tourists interested in the rich history of Sri Lanka, they can visit the cultural triangle of the country: Kandy, Anuradhapura, Dambulla, the eight kingdoms of the golden era, rich colonial architecture, UNESCO world heritage sites, and Sigriya’s medieval rock fortress.

Even though you are not a history kind of person, be ready to remain awestruck by the remains of ancient civilization. Whether you are going to witness the religious influences or traditional lifestyle of the locals, you can visit these places to travel in Sri Lanka.

This lovely country is also famous for its blissful beaches an do not miss the golden sunsets and sunrise overlooking the Indian Ocean as it is perhaps one of the most stunning things you’ll see, and it is for free! Other than that, you can also learn how to dive, surf the waves, and have the best times while relaxing on the beach on your Sri Lanka trip.

There are so many places to visit in Sri Lanka and that includes visiting some of its pristine national parks, including Bundala, Yala National Park, Minneriya, Wilpattu, and Horton Planes. You may visit these Sri Lanka tourist places for fun and adventurous experience while witnessing the wildlife of the nation.

If you still have the question as to what places to visit in Sri Lanka, then please read more of this post and learn more about this amazing country!

What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

Since the country of Sri Lanka is located close to the Equator, the temperature remains quite constant all the year round. On average, the daytime temperatures remain 26 to 30 degrees Celsius in coastal and lowland areas. Simply put, it is up to the route you choose to decide when to visit Sri Lanka. If you are going to the south and west coast as well as hill country, you can visit from December to March. If you are heading to the east coast, April/May to September is the best time to visit Sri Lanka.

Find cheap flights to Sri Lanka

You check out our handy guide on how to find cheap flights everywhere, click here.

Apply for your Sri Lanka visa online 

It is very easy to apply for a tourist visa for Sri Lanka visa online. However, it is important to travel with your Sri Lanka visa so that when you get to Colombo, it would be easy for you to get out of the airport without going through immigration. That said, make sure that you leave enough room between applying for a visa as processing time depends on the volume of queries they get per day. Alternatively, you can get your visa from the airport but you’ll have to wait in line for a long time, I’d say it is worth it to get the visa online to save you some troubles.

Get the best travel insurance for Sri Lanka

If there’s one thing you should not travel without other than your passport and money, it is travel insurance. You can check our post as to why you should always have travel insurance when you travel, click here.

Book your accommodation in Sri Lanka

Points of Interest: Top 13 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka (Best Cities in Sri Lanka)

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya is one of the top Sri Lanka destinations that are flocked with visitors and still remains a must not miss place to visit!

1. Sigiriya

It is one of the best places to travel in Sri Lanka because of its ancient Sigiriya Fortress which dates back 1600 years old built by King Kasyapa. Three ramparts and two moats secure this massive structured, and it was once the home to King Kasyapa.

It is a famous historical place in Sri Lanka for the murals which are painted by the legendary king, itself. It is advised to visit this stunning place very early in the morning or late in the afternoon so you can spot the said mural without fighting for a spot in the crowd. It opens every day from 7 AM to 5.30PM.

If you want to visit Sigiriya, you can take a Sigiriya Rock Fortress and Cave Temple tour from Kandy.

 
Kandy, Sri Lanka

One of Sri Lanka tourist places, Kandy still remains a lovely place to visit if you want a bit laid-back city feeling.

2. Kandy

Kandy is a holy and pious city to awake your spiritual senses. The evergreen Hill Country surrounds this city in the center of Sri Lanka. It is covered by hill stations and tea plantations and is dominated by a central and large lake. You can visit several shrines here by strolling here.

Do not miss the Temple of Tooth, which is well revered by many tourists. This Buddhist temple belongs to the royal palace.

 
Ella, Sri Lanka

A train ride to Ella from Kandy is perhaps one of the best of Sri Lanka!

3. Ella

The mesmerizing views of Ella Gap facing the gap in the southern wall of the mountain will leave you stunned. Located in the heart of the peaceful countryside, Ella is a hill station with several tea plantations on hill slopes, small vegetable plots, and forests on the tops. The views here are no less than spell bounding. There is no denying that Ella is one of the most exotic Sri Lanka tourist places.

 
Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Adam’s Peak, one of Sri Lanka tourist spots. Photo by Ameen Fahmy.

4. Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak Summit is undoubtedly one of the exotic natural landmarks to make your Sri Lanka trip memorable. You can enjoy the challenging trek to this colossal peak. Along with being a nature’s paradise, this peak is also known as a holy pilgrimage site due to curious depression on the summit. It is painted in the gold term as Sacred Footprint of Buddha or Sri Pada.

You can start your climb from the far side of Dalhousie Village and reach the giant standing statue of Lord Buddha. It is 5,500 steps to make the trekking very tiring. However, you should wear warm clothes, as the temperature is cold when you climb.

It is located around 5 hours away from Colombo, and you should start your trek at night so you can get there by dawn and December and January are the best time to visit.

 
Capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo.

Colombo is one of Sri Lanka tourist places and a must visit capital for culture and traditions.

5. Colombo

Next in this list of best places to visit in Sri Lanka is none other than Sri Lankan capital. Many people skip the capital all in all, but we suggest to spend a couple of nights to see the place and visit some of its famous landmarks such as Galle Face, the National Museum, and various temples located around the city.

This capital is a small city but if you’re visiting just for a few days, we suggest going on a full-day sightseeing tour in Colombo!

 
Negombo, Sri Lanka

Negombo houses some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka.

6. Negombo

Located only 10 km from Bandaranaike International Airport, Negombo is a sleepy beach town, and it is a lot easier to discover your Sri Lankan soul in Negombo than in Colombo.

It has a range of decent restaurants and hotels for all budgets, a charming old quarter, a local community, and a decent beach.

The Dutch and the Portuguese captured the town in the year 1640 and again in 1644, which you’ll see much evidence from the surrounding architecture. It was among the most prominent cinnamon sources in the Dutch era, and you can still find the ruins of the European period here.

 
Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Dambulla is one of the top places to visit in Sri Lanka.

7. Dambulla

The cave temple of Dambulla is also called as the Golden Rock temple and is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage City. The temple is made with giant granite outcrop.

The term ‘Damba’ refers to rock, and ‘Ulla’ refers to the fountain. You can spot the drip of water coming from the main house. It also has some historical paintings showing the serene manifestation of Buddha’s first sermon. Be sure to visit the Buddhist Golden temple museum with a jaw-dropping golden mouth of a beast like a lion, which serves as an entrance.

You can get here via Kurunegala and Ambepussa, which is around 4 hours from Colombo. That said, there are many tours going to Dambulla and Sigiriya for a day trip and this will save you time and leaves you stress-free!

 
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka

What to see in Sri Lanka? How about going on the most scenic train ride to Nuwara Eliya! Photo by Eddy Billard.

8. Nuwara Eliya

If you are in Sri Lanka, be sure to visit the World’s End, Nuwara Eliya on the Horton Plains to have the unique and exciting experience. It is best to come early in the morning or before 10 AM as it gets too cloudy after that and you won’t see anything. Once you’re there, make sure to keep an eye on its flora and fauna and surrounding areas as you might be lucky and even spot local animals!

The best route to get to Nuwara Eliya is visa Kandy, and it is considered the most scenic train ride in Sri Lanka, a must not miss that’s for sure!

 
Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Mirissa is the place to go to experience some of Sri Lanka beaches!

9. Mirissa

At the small village of Mirissa, you can spend your days at leisure, watch whales, watch the sunset, or even soak in the sun on the hammock. It is one of the most stunning beach getaways in Sri Lanka, and once you visit this beach paradise, you will forget the real world, and that’s why it deserves to be listed among the best places to see in Sri Lanka. Not everyone wants to stay in the crowd and rush of the city.

Most of us prefer spending our holidays in quiet places in peace. If you are visiting Sri Lanka to find some peace from hectic life, this paradise is definitely for you.

 
Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Do no miss Jaffna during your Sri Lanka trip!

10. Jaffna

Also known as the City of Temples, Jaffna is home to some of the most stunning temples in Sri Lanka. Nallur Kovil is one of the most famous temples here, and most of the visitors flock here; thus it can get crowded at times. Well, Jaffna is unlimited to temples only.

Jaffna is not limited to temples only, but it also has very beautiful and also plays a vital role in the history of Sri Lanka. If you are a little bit into culture and history, you may consider visiting this lovely Sri Lankan city and know a bit more about the country’s traditions.

 
Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

For some Sri Lanka sightseeing, don’t forget to check out the amazing nature at Yala National Park!

11. Yala National Park

Yala National Park is known for having the world’s highest density of leopards. Well, it is full of lush forest, plains, coastline, and lagoons. It is no less than a paradise for big cats, and it is an absolute package of heritage and natural beauty.

Visit all these beautiful spots to make a trip for a memorable experience. It is around 200 km from Bentota town. It is among the most stunning wildlife sanctuaries not only in that area but also all the sanctuaries in the country. You can take a jeep ride to spot many leopards and elephants here.

If you really want to maximize your trip and have one amazing overall experience, you should do an all-inclusive 2-day safari in Yala National Park!

 
Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Visit Sri Lanka’s beautiful temples in Polonnaruwa.

12. Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is yet another popular city among the tourists for temples. This city has no lack of architectural treasures and is well preserved with plenty of ancient structures like temples and tombs, stupas and statues.

Sri Lanka is well known as the nation of temples, and it also has a lot of heritage and monuments depicting its culture and history. You can experience the past life of Sri Lanka in this spiritual place where you can get insight into the culture and history of this country.

 
Tricomalee, Sri Lanka

Do not miss Trincomalee during your Sri Lanka vacation!

13. Trincomalee

If you want to experience marine life and love water sports, you should visit Trincomalee. It has one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka, and you can enjoy everything that comes along with it. You can learn scuba diving from well-trained instructors and experience the true underwater life. Alternatively, enjoy beach life and not care about the world for a few hours, up to you!

Other than that, it also has a few temples to visit and explore. These temples are not just the home of gods, but also the stunning manufactured marvels. You will be amazed by the rich architecture of these temples. If you are in Sri Lanka, be sure to visit some of these temples, even if you are not a spiritual kind of person.

 

F.A.Q

What is the most beautiful place in Sri Lanka?

Most people who have visited Sri Lanka swears by not missing out on its famous scenic train ride between Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Ella. These three places are also stunning on their own so not only you get to see a lot of the country but also see some of its beautiful places.

What is popular in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is popular for many things from temples to its world-class cuisine. However, what the country really is known for worldwide is for its various spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, and pepper. Other than this, the country also produces precious gems such as blue sapphire, ruby, quartz, and many more.

MV

What is the best city in Sri Lanka?

A lot of people who have visited Sri Lanka has mentioned that they enjoyed Kandy very much in comparison to Colombo. That said, the answer to this question depends on each individual.

How many days is enough to visit Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is not that big of an island and to see the whole country won’t take you that long but most travelers who have time on their favor stay in here for at least a month so they can have the opportunity to visit most of its main attractions.

If you’re pinching on time, we suggest visiting not shorter than one week as anything less than that will leave you no wiggle time to explore other places.

What should I buy in Sri Lanka?

Definitely buy some Ceylon tea, spices, and if you have some money, precious gems!

Can you wear shorts in Sri Lanka?

Generally, the public doesn’t mind what you wear but you do need to cover up if you want to visit temples so please plan your attire accordingly and be respectful to the local culture.

Can I drink the water in Sri Lanka?

It is best if you don’t and rather buy bottled water or refill your reusable bottle from your hotel/hostels.

Is Sri Lanka safe to travel alone?

This totally depends on each person but from personal experience as a solo female traveler, Sri Lanka is a safe country to travel alone especially as a woman. That said, it is very important to be cautious and wary of your surroundings at all times.

Is Sri Lanka expensive to visit?

To give you an idea from personal experience, two weeks of non-stop travel in Sri Lanka, I’ve spent about 250USD and that includes accommodation, transport, and food.

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