Sri Lanka has a lot of popular places to visit especially for its beautiful beaches, mountains, tea gardens, and many other natural attractions. Renowned travel guide company Lonely Planet conducted a survey to look for the best countries to visit in 2019 and the results of that survey named Sri Lanka as the number 1 country to visit in 2019.
Along with the beautiful natural attraction, Sri Lanka is very well known for its traditional value of Buddhism. Many popular Buddhist temples are located in this country. Many UNESCO accredited World Heritage Sites are also there. Those sacred and historically significant places attract people to visit this country.
Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for you if you are planning an exciting short trip to take a break from your regular life. Enticing places and very warm Sri Lankan people will surely captivate you. Read on to find out the top 30 places to visit in Sri Lanka.
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Top 30 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
1. Arugam Bay
To make a list of the top places to visit in Sri Lanka, first, we would recommend Arugam Bay. It is one of the most beautiful beaches and surfing destinations in the world. Sapphire blue waters and rows of palm trees make Arugam Bay one of the best places to visit.
In addition to natural beauty, it offers some interesting activities like surfing, speed-boating and other water activities. While visiting there you will find most of the travelers are going surfing because Arugam Bay provides best-surfing facilities along with many surfing schools near the beach.
2. Tea Garden at Nuwara Eliya
Tea gardens are one of the main attractions in Sri Lanka. The tea garden in Nuwara Eliya is widely popular among travelers for its stunning lush greenery gardens. If you ever visit Sri Lanka, spend some time visiting the tea garden in Nuwara Eliya so that you can take a closer encounter with the process of collecting tea leaves, packaging, etc.
Roaming around a tea garden, you will find that there are different types of tea available in Sri Lanka. You can taste some different types of tea on your tea garden tour. Thus, the tea garden at Nuwara Eliya is one of the must-visit places.
3. Temple of Tooth
The Temple of Tooth is one of the most ancient temples in Sri Lanka. The fascinating part of this temple is that it has housed the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Many Buddhist people, as well as curious travelers, visit this temple to see Buddha’s tooth relic.
It is situated in the royal palace of the preceding Kingdom of Kandy. Alongside the religious values, the beautiful decoration of the temple makes this temple one of the top places to visit.
4. Adam’s Peak
Adams Peak is one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka. It is a sacred place where you can see Adam’s first step as he descends from heaven. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment when you reach the summit of Adam.
To reach the summit of Adam, you have to hike through it. However, hiking this holy peak does not require a lot of technical skills. For a sneak peek of the Holy footprint, Adam’s Peak is certainly one of the important places to visit.
5. Pettah Floating Markets
The pettah floating market is a very remarkable place to explore and shop because of its unique environment. When you reach the floating markets of Pettah you will see several stalls are set up by boats there.
At these stalls, you will find many ethnic Sri Lankan products which are different types of jewelry, accessories, clothing, bags, footwear and this type of knick-knacks. For having a unique experience of boat shopping, Pettah Floating Market is one of the top places to visit on your trip to Sri Lanka.
6. Kandy Lake
The Kandy Lake is an alluring artificial lake situated in the hill city of Kandy. It is also known as the Sea of Milk for reflecting the colors around it. Particularly when the sun rises and the sun goes down, the lake provides striking imagery of clouds, sky, and sun.
A morning or evening walk around this beautiful lake will surely amaze you. You can also board a boat there to watch the sunrise or sunset from the boat. All these great offerings make Kandy Lake one of the best places to visit.
7. Dutch Fort
Dutch Fort is known for its architectural styles. The Portuguese built The Dutch Fort in the sixteenth century in the bay of Galle. Many people around the world visit Galle for having a tour of this beautiful fort.
In 1988 UNESCO declared this fort as a World Heritage Site as it preserved its Portuguese architectural style and local cultural heritage. If you walk through the streets there, you will be amazed at the battlements, the lighthouses, the old churches and temples, and the statues of Portuguese soldiers that appear on both sides of the road. Dutch Fort is definitely one of the best places to visit for sightseeing the historical heritages.
8. Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery
Turtles at the seashore are a common sight on Sri Lankan beaches. Lately, these beautiful little animals have been living under the threat of pollution, habitat loss and poaching. Turtle conservation projects in Sri Lanka are doing a great job of conserving turtles.
Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery is one of the best turtle research and conservation center. When traveling to Sri Lanka, be sure to visit this conservation center to see the different types of turtles in Sri Lanka.
9. Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya Rock Fortress is an ancient rock fort located almost about 180 meters above the surrounding plain. Sigiriya rock fortress mesmerizes its travelers with beauty and majesty. However, Sigiriya Rock Fortress looks a bit tough as you have to go up through rocky steps and steep metal stairs.
However, all the fatigue will go away when you reach the top of the rock as the top of the rock offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, forests, and lakes. Therefore, Sigiriya Rock Fortress is certainly among the top places to visit.
10. Japanese Peace Pagoda
Buddhist monks build Peace Pagoda to bring peace in the country. Japanese Peace Pagoda in Sri Lanka was made for the same purpose in 2005. This pearl white Buddhist temple is one of the most unique and beautiful temples in Sri Lanka.
Its architectural design is also very elegant and unique with an available circular deck with the amenities of remote viewing the sea and surrounding countryside. This charming Japanese peace pagoda is definitely one of the best places to visit.
11. Elephant Transit Home
Visit Elephant Transit Home to get a unique experience you’ve never had. In this Transit Home, you will see several elephants, either the baby elephant or injured elephants. The aim of this Transit Home is to rehabilitate them for ultimate release back into the wild.
Elephant Transit home is one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka. If you are traveling with your kids, then Elephant Transit Home is definitely one of the best places for you to visit in Sri Lanka.
12. Nine Arch Bridge
Nine arch bridge is a colonial-era railway construction which is another significant evidence of British architecture. This old fashioned viaduct bridge is one of the best places to visit.
This place offers great views that amaze its travelers. That’s why this place always remains full of travelers. While visiting there, you will find so many corners around the nine-arched bridge to take outstanding pictures. For this reason, this place is so famous among Instagrammers.
13. Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Garden is one of the most marvelous places to visit in Sri Lanka. This 250 years old garden is well known for its huge and rare collection of orchids. For having these rare collections, this garden is considered one of the most diverse gardens in Asia.
If you walk through this garden, you will surely be fascinated by the colorful displays of different types of flowers. So, while making the top places to visit list, make sure visiting this garden is listed.
Hikkaduwa is a small seaside city situated in the north of Galle. The beach of Hikkaduwa is one of the most visited beaches in Sri Lanka because of having a lovely view of the sea and mesmerizing lined up palm trees.
The beach town Hikkaduwa is, therefore, one of the top places to visit. Moreover, the town is full of cheap guest houses, tourist shops, and many restaurants. If you are planning to spend a few days near the sea, this might be the best place for you when you are in Sri Lanka
Ella is located in a beautiful environment with the lush greenery hills, sweeping valleys, and eye-soothing tree-plantations. Ella is definitely one of the best places to visit for having amazing hills, alluring waterfalls, and rocks. Climbing up to those will give you an incredible view of the city.
The train ride from Ella to Kandy is one of the popular attractions among the tourist. It offers the most beautiful train journey as the train takes you through the enchanting tea plantations, the cottony clouds, the waterfalls and the amazing scenery of hills.
Anuradhapura is an ancient sacred city in Sri Lanka. It is famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sinhala dynasty. Wonderful rock carvings, mesmerizing monuments, amazing stone cut swimming pools ruins of royal palaces enthralls the travelers.
This magnificent city flourished for 1300 hundred years but was abandoned after an invasion in the tenth century. It was rediscovered by the British around the nineteenth century. Since then, all the anomalous ruins exhibited and were accessible for the public to visit.
17. Dambulla Cave Temple
The Dambulla Cave Temple is another prominent World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka, which has preserved many Buddha statues and paintings and engravings in the cave for several hundred years. Locally known as the Golden Temple is one of the sacred places to visit in Sri Lanka.
The Cave Temple of Dambulla consists of 5 sanctuaries, each filled with several expertly carved Buddha statues. While exploring this magnificent temple, you will find several Buddha’s statues in various shapes and positions all around you. The walls and ceilings of the temples are also carved and decorated which offers a very exotic view.
18. Jathika Namal Uyana
Jathika Namal Uyana is a natural ironwood forest which is now an archaeological reserve. It is the biggest ironwood forest found in Sri Lanka and contains more than a hundred species of amazing tropical plants. Which makes this amazing forest one of the interesting places to visit in Sri Lanka.
South Asia’s largest rose quartz mountain is also located there. A Buddha statue is at the top of the mountain, which allures travelers. However, this place has not been a popular destination yet hence, you can enjoy some peaceful time there closer to nature.
The port city, Trincomalee is located on the northeast coast in Sri Lanka. This amazing land with myriad beautiful sites is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. The beach of Trincomalee is just not an eye-shooting beach but also a beach of wonders, it is the best destination for blue-whale watching.
It is visited by many religious folks for having a massive statue of Shiva along with a number of holy pilgrims. Another popular Gokanna Temple offers a panoramic view of the city and the coastline. Traveling to Trincomalee will thus definitely rejuvenate your mood.
Kalpitiya town is very popular among the visitor for its natural environment and fascinating view. Since there are 14 islands in this region, most of the people of Kalpitiya chose the profession of fishermen. Watching their fishing at sea is a very incredible view.
You can also go for Dolphin watching while visiting Kalpitia. Another most exciting fun activity to do in Kalpitiya is kite surfing. Kalpitiya Lagoon is considered as the best kitesurfing destination in Sri Lanka. The experience of kite surfing is so thrilling and exciting that it will surely make your Sri Lanka trip more amusing. It is one of the best places you can visit when you are in Sri Lanka.
21. Gangaramaya Temple
The glorious Gangaramaya Temple is the most visited temple in Sri Lanka. It is the most important temple in Sri Lanka, which is why it conducts many religious festivals, including the Vesak festival.
In addition to the spirit of religion, the temple reflects a marvelous combination of Indian, Chinese and Thai style architecture, which makes this gorgeous temple one of the splendid places to visit in Sri Lanka.
22. Bambarakanda Waterfalls
The waterfalls of Sri Lanka are popular across the world. Among the many waterfalls in Sri Lanka, we recommend you visit the Bambarakanda waterfalls because it is the most beautiful and the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka.
From there, you can see the beauty of nature and the waterfall very closely. Relaxing on the seashores will give you such a pleasant experience that you can cherish a lifetime. To enjoy a sense of serenity, the Bambarakanda waterfalls are one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka.
If you are looking for a short trip to a tropical paradise then Mirissa is the perfect place for you. A small town, Mirissa is situated on the south coast in Sri Lanka. Mirissa’s sapphire blue beach attracts travelers to visit this wonderful city.
The beautiful scenery of the sea, golden sand seashore, and delightful restaurants around the beach surely give a great experience there. Besides these, Mirissa is a perfect place to go for a dolphin or whale watching.
Kandy is a stunning hill city with many highland mountains. It is also renowned as the cultural capital of the country. Therefore, Kandy offers very beautiful and distinguishing cultural norms.
The lake of Kandy is popular for crystal clear waters that reflect the colors of surroundings. Kandy houses one of the most sacred Buddhist temple – the Temple of the Tooth. So whenever you will visit this aesthetic country Sri Lanka, spare some time to visit Kandy.
Bentota is a well-known tourist popular destination that you can consider it among the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. It is a wonderful resort town on the southwest coast in Sri Lanka. Sitting on the beaches of charming Bentota, you can see that the turquoise blue sea meets the sky.
Bentota Lake is also a fascinating place to visit. Apart from these, there is also a century-old Galpota Temple on the Bentota River, which is very captivating. It has a huge Buddha statue also attract visitors.
Polonnaruwa is an ancient province in Sri Lanka that has many well-preserved ruins of temples, tombs, statues, and other architectural sites. Thus, UNESCO has named Polonnaruwa as one of Sri Lanka’s seven heritage sites.
Polonnaruwa is one of the top places to visit in Sri Lanka. Intriguing civic and religious buildings and other archeological sites will take you on a great historical journey. Thus, it is one of the great places to visit in Sri Lanka.
27. Yala National Park
Yala National Park is a vast area of forest that is home to many wildlife, such as cheetahs, elephants, and crocodiles, as well as hundreds of birds. One of the amazing parts of this park is that it has the highest concentration of cheetahs around the world.
Must try to visit this park to get an exciting and enthralling experience. You can travel to this park with a local Tuk Tuk or a jeep. While traveling through the forest, you will get to see any kind of animal there. You will also find an ancient Buddhist temple built with granite rock hidden in the forest.
Colombo is the commercial capital in Sri Lanka. First ruled by the Portuguese and then Dutch and lastly by the British colonists and therefore its architecture, colonial buildings, and shopping malls reflect the traditional mix in the architectural styles.
Apart from great ancient architectural sights, Mount Lavinia and Talangama wetland of Colombo also attract the visitors. Colombo’s shopping centers are also popular among visitors. Many people travel Colombo for shopping. Hence, don’t miss visiting this amazing town.
Unawatuna is a coastal town in the southern part of Sri Lanka. This town is filled with a lot of exciting places to visit in Sri Lanka. The charming pearl white Japanese Peace Pagoda is located in this region. Another popular The Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery is also located here.
Unawatuna also has the most stunning Jungle Beach which offers an extremely enchanting view along with the fun activities. It has all the amenities for snorkeling; in fact, it is considered as the perfect place for snorkeling in Sri Lanka.
Negombo is a wonderful city situated on Sri Lanka’s west coast. The city is so lively for having a friendly local community where many of them are a fisherman. If you go to Negombo Lagoon, you will find that fishermen’s huts are lined up beside both sides of the road.
As well, there are also many restaurants available where you can try freshly cooked fish right away. Many tourists go there to taste freshly cooked seafood. During your trip to there, do not forget to taste some seafood.
Sri Lanka is a perfect destination for travelers who want to hop on an exciting short trip to take a break from the daily monotony. The very beautiful top 30 places to visit in Sri Lanka are discussed here for you, these will certainly add more enjoyment to your Sri Lanka trip.