Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Known as the ocean city, Colombo is reckoned as one of the must visit places in Sri Lanka. A sprawling city lined with touristy beaches, this destination should, and will make, an excellent start, or end, to your Sri Lankan escapade.

Spotted with elegant eateries, bountiful shops and artsy galleries, the cosmopolitan in you will be satiated as you walk through the colourful alleys of the city. Erstwhile known as the ‘Garden City of the East’, Colombo’s legacy is still intact, thanks to the restoration of many of its iconic architectures. Discover scrumptious food amongst tiny, warm cafés or gaze at the city’s skyline with the ocean breeze caressing your face in the city of Colombo, known as one of the many must visit places in Sri Lanka.

If you’re looking for places to go in Sri Lanka, you must visit the National Museum of Colombo, where a 9th century stone Buddha welcomes you with a charming smile. As one stumbles upon galleries dating back to 1877, they live through Sri Lanka’s glorious past in a room full of royal swords, guns and other ancient relics from the colonial period. 19th century reproductions of English paintings and antique demon masks lure you towards sacred knowledge. A must visit before roaming the other ancient cities and Kandy. Complete your tour with a good cup of coffee or local tea at the coffee shop on the grounds. 

Amongst the many places to visit in Sri Lanka is the Galle Face Green in Colombo. Early times witnessed this open clearing face a narrow beach and the sea, but it was soon cleared by the Dutch in order to provide a clear line of fire for the cannons of Fort. Today, as you visit this popular meeting spot, with its open horizon and seaside boulevard, you’ll notice kites and families dotting the skies and sandy beaches. 

A perfect evening would include trying out all sorts of deep fried, mouth-watering treats cooked up by food vendors at the southern end. Don’t miss out on the juicy isso wade, a kind of shrimp fritter and wash it down with a glass of popular icy cold fresh lime juice. 

Renamed in the 1950s, Colombo’s largest park, Viharamahadevi Park was earlier known as Victoria Park. Counted amongst one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka and named after the mother of Kind Dutugemunu, it is noted for its gorgeous speckling of spring flowers and ceremonial elephants, munching on palm branches. 

One of the many places to go in Sri Lanka is Pettah, where the concentration of commerce is unbelievable. Complete with the hustle and bustle of a busy market on a summer night; the crafty displays of fruits, vegetables and household items add to the charm. You won’t be able to miss this market stretch along 5th Cross Street, even if you were deliberately trying to.  

Originally occupied by the Dutch governor in the 17th century, the Dutch Period Museum should be on your list of places to visit in Sri Lanka. It has since housed a catholic seminary, a police station, a post office and a military hospital. Surrounded by a lush garden courtyard, its restoration has attached an old-world charm to its already colonial ambience. King Rajasinghe II of the Kingdom of Kandy signed the historic treaty that opened up the bays of Ceylon to the Dutch kingdom. 

If a city experience is not on your list of places to visit in Sri Lanka, the jungles of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country would be happy to welcome you. Amidst its emerald peaks and tremendous landscapes, the entire topography is dotted with majestic waterfalls and tea plantations. A perfect destination for warm souls, all you need is a light jacket during the day and a loved one to cuddle up with at night beside a bright bonfire. Jewelled with shrines dedicated to the Buddha, you can walk in his footsteps till your feet tire. Hike solo to the mountaintop, raft down the river or take a tour of the forests to meet wild elephants.  

Discover the World’s End, at the end of the Horton Plains plateau. A destination that should be on your list of places to visit in Sri Lanka, you can reach the marvellous cliff by walking about 3 hours through a magnificent trail. Early morning is the best time to visit, usually between 6am to 10am. The valley mist usually lifts around this time, making way for you to spot quaint towns, tea villages and an unfettered view of the south coast. Avoid trekking here on Sundays or public holidays as it can get a bit too crowded. If you’re a flora and fauna junkie, we’d advice hiring a tour guide who is well-informed and genuinely enthusiastic about the park, as is the case with many Sri Lanka tourist places. Carry a hat, sunglasses, a few layers of warm clothing and wear comfortable, walking shoes. Request your lodging manager to pack you a breakfast for the trek and nibble on it as you walk through the cool breeze and unparalleled beauty. Stick to the trail and always remember safety should always be your number one priority. 

The region’s biggest attraction is the majestic, 1000-year-old, rock-cut Buddha statues of Buduruwagala. Counted amongst one of the most famous Sri Lanka tourist places and surrounded by smaller figures, this gigantic statue of Buddha stands tall at 15m, making it the tallest on the island. Pass through scenic side roads, 9KM south of Wellawaya, to reach this location.  Hire a tour guide who would take you through this site’s magnificent history. You may travel here by a three-wheeler or cycle your way from the main road, passing the serene lakes dotted besides the track. 

Amongst the major Sri Lanka tourist places is the Uda Walawe National Park which is situated at the centre of the 308.2 sq. km Uda Walawe Reservoir. Home to the wild buffalo, sambar, elephants, spotted dear and giant squirrel, it is one of the finest parks in the nation for elephant watching, and it even surpasses a few of the most famous East African national parks. The sparse vegetation makes bird and game watching a delight. Organised tours with guides are great as they have a great eye for spotting wildlife and are rich sources of inside park trivia. With over 30 varieties of reptiles, 210 species of birdlife and the occasional leopard, it’s truly a wild place to lose yourselves in.

Whether it’s the history or the plentiful natural bounty, Sri Lanka will overwhelm you with its offerings. Plan your next Sri Lanka trip with SOTC.


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