Sri Lanka’s 9 best places to visit

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Sri Lanka is a great tourist destination, where you can visit numerous locations. Located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India, this island provides a wide variety of environments to explore.

In cities such as Colombo and Kandy travelers can trace the fascinating past of the island, from ancient times to colonial periods. Eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites have been preserved on this relatively compact island.

Sri Lanka

Plan your trip with our list of Sri Lanka’s best places to visit.

1. Colombo

The capital blends the vivid indigenous and colonial past of the country with modern urban services. Sri Lanka has long held strategic significance for European trading authorities as a main stop on the global spice trading route. The nation has been a colony of Portugal, the Netherlands, and the British recently and, as a beautiful combination, all these cultures combine with the indigenous community. They are influences that you can taste, see and really feel in architecture and the arts in Colombo.

2. Kandy

Kandy is the former royal dynasty capital of Sri Lanka, the principal capital of the country before the colonial era. It is situated in central Sri Lanka. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, the high point of what is known as the “Kandian Era” was when the region stayed independent while most coastal regions were colonized by European authorities.

Visit Kandy National Museum in the district, as it shows with exhibits and objects the history of the area and its inhabitants. Nearby, a holy Buddhist Shrine, part of the royal palace complex, is situated in the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple.

3. Udawalawe National Park

In the south, about an hour’s drive from Hambantota city, this large wildlife park is situated. The terrain and the climate differ since it is situated at the edge of the wet and dry areas of the country.

The park visitors will see elephants, since there is a huge population, crocodiles, buffalo water, etc. It is actually one of the world’s best places to see wild elephants.

Leopards still exist, but it can be very difficult to track or locate. Ape and a wide variety of horses and small mammals are also available. It’s also great for seeing birds.

4. Galle

Galle is located approximately a two-hour drive from Colombo by one of the first modern highways in the world. This former commercial port represents primarily its colonial past and is focused on a large seaside fort of the 17th century.

Galle Fort is a walled town full of shopping and restaurants now, preserved in its entirety (along with real residents). The whole region is World Patrimony by UNESCO.

The whole Fort area is automobile-free and is a perfect place to explore on foot. You are surrounded by the sea on three sides, which is hard to lose.

5. Hikkaduwa Beach

This beach is only 90 minutes from the city of Colombo and includes water sports, surfing, bodyboarding, and snorkeling. The entire equipment is easy to hire from one of the stands on the beach. It is one of the best surfing areas in the world, with the best waves from November to March.

It’s a big beach, so it’s never too full. There are many beachfront stalls that offer all forms of exquisite local street meals and a lot of small hotels and guest houses for overnight stays.

6. Galle Face Green

The Sri Lankan version of the beach in Venice is not a place for everybody to get away, but it’s a place to relax, people see, and have fun, whether it’s day or night, with other Sri Lankan people. There is a wide grass area outside the beach where visitors picnic and have games. Visit a Friday or Saturday night to get the best energy.

You can take advantage of the beach and the water or fly dance in the ever-changing wind. You can play football (football) or cricket as pick-ups still happen. The beach is confronted by restaurants and stalls, and the beach is full of hotels with a budget and luxury prices.

7. Yala National Park

This national park is known for leopard safaris on the south-eastern coast of the island. Leopards are very uncommon, but the park is very populous and you can even spot them on a day trip. A large population of Asian elephants, endemic to Sri Lanka, is also in the park.

Apart from the fauna, there are unbelievable and complex habitats and ecosystems in the park. It helps you to visit the coastal areas’ marine and sea habitats, track leopards through vast pastures, or explore rainforests.

8. Anuradhapura

A visit to Anuradhapura, one of the old capital of the country, gives tourists an overview of the past. The region is special because you are not only visiting the remains of a wealthy, modern town next to an ancient one. It’s a nice spot to be there for one or two nights.

The ruins are stunning, with numerous decaying temples, sculptures, swimming pools, etc. The temple continues to be an active veneration. There are new structures. A tree, a very old tree is at the center of the complex. The Sri Maha Bodhi is considered to be the oldest human-planted living tree in the world.

9. Pollonnaruwa

The place, one of the country’s World Heritage Sites, is a significant ancient ruin city. After Anuradhapura of around a thousand years ago, Pollonnaruwa was Sri Lanka’s second capital city.

While most buildings are in ruins, the garden city is completely preserved. Gardens, palaces, and temples are situated, and although it is very small, it’s best explored by bike. A bonus, a huge army of Macaques, who have also lived in the region for ancient times, live in the ruins. The site will be remembered by Duran Duran fans as their Save a Prayer Video has been shot there in the 1980s.

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