Deciding to visit Sri Lanka is a very easy decision to make In fact the number of visitors has tripled in recent years. But which ones are considered the best places to go in Sri Lanka? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
The West Coast and Colombo
The West Coast of the island is the most heavily populated and also the most modern, as it’s where you’ll find the capital city of Colombo.
- North of the capital lies the Negombo resort and it’s usually the first or last stop for many tourists because it’s right by the airport.
- Go further up the coast and you’ll find the tranquil Kalpitiya peninsula, where the beaches are deserted. You can also see dolphins nearby.
- South of the capital is where you’ll find the main beach resort areas of the island, such as Bentota, Beruwala, and Kalutara. The hotels are huge and the guests are mostly Europeans on 2-week holidays.
- Go further south and you’ll get to the hippy Hikkaduwa hangout. Backpackers congregate here in large numbers, as the surf, sand, and sun can be enjoyed for less money.
Unlike the northern areas on the island that once experienced regular invasions from the Indian mainland, the south remains distinct and visitors can experience the unique traditional Sinhalese culture in this region.
- Here you can find the old Galle port, which is the best-preserved colonial town on the island.
- The country’s 2 best national parks are found here. the wetlands and lagoons of Bundala offer fascinating sights for bird lovers, while Yala offers leopards and elephants.
- Go past the national parks and you’ll find the Kataragama religious center, where the shrines are considered sacred by Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists.
- Beautiful beaches are also plentiful here, such as the Tangalla, Mirissa, Weligama, and Unawatuna.
The Hill Country and Kandy
From the sweltering urbanity of Colombo, you can travel by rail or road to the cooler peaks of the hill country.
- In the north, you can visit the Temple of the Tooth, which is the home of the most sacred Buddhist relic in the whole island.
- A visit to Kandy is also warranted especially during the spectacular festival of Kandy Esala Perahera. This is the largest Buddhist celebration in the world.
- You may also want to visit Uda Walawe National Park, where you can find one of the largest elephant populations on the island.
The Cultural Triangle
This is the area of the northern plains traditionally known as Rajarata. It’s the center of early Sinhalese civilization.
- A visit to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa will show you the great monuments that exemplify the golden age of Sinhalese civilization. Anuradhapura offers huge monasteries, complex palaces, and 3 large dagobas that are only surpassed by the pyramids in Egypt.
- Polonnaruwa is where you can climb Sigiraya, the rock citadel that’s perhaps the most memorable of all the attractions on the island.
During the civil war, tourists were rarely able to see or enjoy the eastern part of the island. But now that the war is over, tourists are coming back with major tourist development already underway.
- The beaches of Uppuveli and Nilaveli remain low-key and quiet, while the Passekudah and Kalkudah beaches are being developed for greater tourist access.
- For surfers, the Arugam Bay remains popular, and from here you can visit the national parks of Lahugala and Yala East.
With so many attractions and places to go in Sri Lanka, even a 2-week vacation may not be enough.