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Top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka

| Words by Insider Journeys |

From mighty elephants to misty mountains, Sri Lanka has a majestic past with many sites and scenes packed away on the tiny island country.

Sri Lanka is located off the coast of India and although there are similarities between the two, they couldn't be more different. Discover national parks filled with wonderful creatures and relax on the sandy beaches of the east coast. We've done the research to find you the top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka.

1. Watch the whales of Mirissa

The tropical beach resort of Mirissa has a mighty neighbour hiding in the waters off its coast. A pod of Blue Whales has made this town famous for being one of the best places in the world to spot the largest mammal. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and orcas too as they’re known to frequent the area.

Tea plantation

2. Enjoy a cuppa at Dambatenne Tea Factory

Visit the lush tea plantations of Sri Lanka and take a tour through the factory built in 1890 by Sir Thomas Lipton. Guides will walk you through the entire tea process from fermenting to grading, ending with a delicious cuppa you can try for yourself.

Yala National Park

3. Go on safari in Yala National Park

Yala National Park is an animal-lover’s paradise. Considered the best place in the world to spot a leopard, the park has the highest density of leopards out of any national park. The park is the second largest in the country and is also home to Asian elephants.

Colombo street scene

4. Explore the country’s capital in Colombo

Sri Lanka’s oceanfront capital city Colombo is a city of history and nature. Known as ‘the garden city of the East’ during the 19th century, the city has preserved its shaded boulevards and colonial architecture. The cosmopolitan city is alive with stores, restaurants and galleries.

Galle Lighthouse

5. Soak up the sun in Galle

The coastal fort town of Galle is a gateway to the beautiful beaches of the east coast. At the edge of the colonial town sits the Portuguese and Dutch fort the city is famous for. The lighthouse is the city’s main attraction with beautiful architecture and stunning scenery.

Temple of the Tooth

6. Get in touch with your spiritual side in Kandy

Situated on a plateau and surrounded by mountains, Kandy is home to tea plantations and a rainforest. Mist often clings to the green hills around the city. The main attraction is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, said to house the most sacred of sites, the relic of the tooth of the Buddha.

South coast beach

7. Spend the day at the beach

Sri Lanka is a tropical island, home to a number of white sandy beaches and shallow, turquoise water. Along the east coast, Bentota, Unawatuna and Mirissa lie in wait just some of the best beaches in the country.


8. Catch up on some R&R in Tangalle

Tangalle is considered the country’s best beach for escaping the popular beach resorts and crowded shores of more famous beaches along the east coast. Tangalle has wide-open shores lined with soft, white sand. The town of Tangalle sits atop a rock formation giving it a relaxing atmosphere.

Sigiriya Rock

9. Admire the beauty of Sigiriya Rock

An ancient rock fortress, Sigiriya Rock is often considered the eighth wonder of the world. Standing at a height of 180 metres, the ‘Lion Rock’ dominates the surrounding jungle. Climb to the top of the rock for views of the surrounding landscape.

Adam's Peak

10. Climb to the top of Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak is a conical mountain located in the central part of the country. The peak has been the focus for pilgrimage for more than 1,000 years. The peak is known as the place where Adam first stepped foot on Earth after being cast from heaven. It is also known as Sri Pada, the sacred footprint left by Buddha, and Samanalakande, Butterfly Mountain.

Visit Sri Lanka on one of our small group journeys or speak to our Asia experts about designing your own private itinerary.