Sri Lanka is a popular destination for travellers wanting to visit an ancient World Heritage site, enjoy an enchanting train journey or see some of the country’s wildlife. However, navigating the frenetic public transport system and cultural sensitivities can be a challenge for first time visitors.
Read on for practical tips and inspiration.
Known as the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is a bustling city that brims with a mix of cultures and religions. Its mesmerizing attractions range from ancient temples to modern skyscrapers. Whether you wish to explore its cultural side through museums and galleries or tap into its spiritual side at the Gangaramaya Temple, there’s something for everyone.
To learn more about the country’s rich history, head to the Colombo National Museum to browse its extensive collection of exhibits. You can also visit the Ape Gama open-air folk museum that showcases traditional village customs through mock rural scenes and the Independence Memorial Hall that commemorates the nation breaking free from British rule.
When you’re in the mood to shop, there are plenty of malls, including the Colombo City Centre and One Galle Face, to cater to your needs. Alternatively, you can head to the Pettah Floating Market to purchase local souvenirs or Good Market for organic products.
Whether you want the roar of the city or quiet solitude, there is something for everyone in Kandy. Explore the downtown area in search of museums, boutiques and that delectable meal.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth is Kandy’s top attraction and holds a lot of significance in Buddhist culture. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and hosts rituals thrice a day. Make sure to dress appropriately, covering your legs and shoulders.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is a great place to visit if you’re an animal lover or want to learn more about the local wildlife. Besides meeting cute baby elephants, you can also shop for unique elephant-motif souvenirs at the gift shop.
The National Railway Museum is a fascinating collection of locomotives, carriages and rail cars from various eras. You can also visit the Sri Dalada Maligawa, which displays a number of gifts presented to the sacred Tooth Relic temple. The World Buddhism Museum is another must-visit destination, displaying a variety of statues and paintings related to the religion.
From easy hikes and a world-class train ride to the mystical Nine Arch Bridge and stunning mountain scenery, Ella is a must-see for anyone who Srilanka travel You’ll also find plenty of cosy hotels and homestays, many offering incredible views over the lush green landscape!
One of the most popular activities in Ella is visiting the Nine Arch Bridge, which is famous for its unique vantage point. It’s around a 30-minute walk from Ella town and you can catch a tuk-tuk for 200-300 LKR, or just follow the Ella-Passara Road, turn left onto Nine Arch Bridge Road and follow the signs.
Another cool thing to do in Ella is visit a tea factory. The highlands are known for producing some of the best quality tea in the world and a tour is an excellent way to learn more about this famous industry!
Nuwara Eliya is a great place for families because of its many outdoor activities. Kids love the water park and wildlife sanctuary, while older kids enjoy exploring the town’s colonial architecture (such as the quaint clock tower and red brick post office).
A visit to Nuwara Eliya isn’t complete without visiting a tea factory. Learn all about the process of making that iconic beverage while being dazzled by nimble fingers sifting through leaves with a dexterity that no machine can match.
Another must-do is hopping between waterfalls in the area. One of the most popular is Devon Falls, which drops from a height of 318 feet and is known as the “Veil of the Valley.” Make sure to pack your waterproof shoes. The rainy season can also bring leeches and it’s best to wear a leech socks or spray to prevent bites.