10 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Are you looking for the top 10 places to visit Sri Lanka in the future? We should say that Sri Lanka is a nice destination to travel to in Asia. It is a small island in the Indian Ocean with an area of 65610 sq km. The island is rich in scenic mountains, beaches, wildlife, and cultural heritage. Therefore, approximately 2 million tourists visit this amazing destination each year to experience its beauty. There are so many places to visit in Sri Lanka.

The Southern and Eastern Provinces of the country are rich in so many beautiful beach locations. The central part of the country consists of a lot of mountains. The north-central part of Sri Lanka is famous for its many cultural sites. There you can see many wildlife sanctuaries all over the country. We should say that Sri Lanka is a superb destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

Among those lots of places, we have listed the top 10 places to visit in Sri Lanka. Those are as follows:

  1. Sigiriya
  2. Kandy
  3. Galle
  4. Ella
  5. Yala National Park
  6. Minneriya National Park
  7. Mirissa
  8. Adams Peak
  9. Anuradhapura
  10. Polonnaruwa 

More Details About those 10 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

10) The Ancient City of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa Ancient City
Image Source: Ancient Lost and Unknown Civilizations Of The World (Facebook Page)

Sri Lanka is a proud nation with over 2500 years of written history. Polonnaruwa was the second capital in Sri Lankan history after the Anuradhapura Kingdom. It was first established in 1070 BC and destroyed in 1255. The kingdom lasted more than 200 years before being destroyed by heavy attacks from South India. In the early days, it was named “Pulathisipura” and “Vijayarajapura”. King Vijayabahu and King Parakramabahu were the two greatest kings of the Polonnaruwa Kingdom.

Polonnaruwa is a city that is situated 227km away from Colombo. It belongs to the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. In today’s itself, you can see many ruins, relics, buildings, stupas, and temples of the ancient kingdom. This ancient city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its archaeological significance and amazing technology. Those ancient ruins and remains can’t be explored within a single day. 

Gal Viharaya, Lotus Pond, Kumara Pokuna, Sathmahal Prasadaya, Rankoth Vehera, Hatadage, Vatadage, and Nissanka Latha Mandapaya, and Parakrama Samudraya Tank are some of the best attractions in Polonnaruwa. Apart from those places, the Archeological Museum, Monkey Conservation Center, and Parakrama Samudraya Tank are some of the other places to visit around Polonnaruwa. King Parakramabahu I built the Parkrama Samudraya tank, which is considered one of the best places to see the power of water technology in ancient Sri Lankans.

You can also ride a bicycle through the ancient city, and it is another nice experience to take. There are many star-class hotels and guest houses available as accommodation. So, we believe Polonnaruwa should be on your list of the top 10 places to visit Sri Lanka.

09) Anuradhapura Ancient City

Anuradhapura Ancient City
Anuradhapura Image Source: Magma Travels (Facebook)

Anuradhapura was the first kingdom in Sri Lanka’s history. The kingdom continued for over 1400 years, where it was ruled by 125+ kings. It started in the 5th century BC and survived until the 10th century AD. The kingdom was destroyed due to heavy attacks from the South India. You can see the ruins and remaining parts of that kingdom once you visit Anuradhapura Ancient City. You should note that we cover this historical site during all of our cultural tour packages. 

King Dutugemunu, King Dathusena, King Mahasen, King Devanampiyathissa, King Pandukabhaya, and King Wasaba were some of the greatest kings in the Ancient Anuradhapura Kingdom. In those days, the entire country was so powerful and people lived in great prosperity.

This is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka that was designated in 1982. You can see the parks, temples, stupas, stratus, relics, ponds, sculptures and many other archaeologically significant sites in the Anuradhapura ancient city today. These things elaborate on the ancient technology of the Sri Lankans in those days. Ancient urban technology is massive and amazing to watch. There you can also see many lakes and tanks that were built by the ancient kings for agriculture.

The key tourist attractions in the Anuradhapura Ancient City are Ruwanweliseya, Thuparamaya, Abayagiriya, Jethawanaramaya, Thissa Wewa Tank, Srimaha Bodiya, Lovamahapaya, and Mirisiwetiya. Mihintale is another historical site near Anuradhapura.

Polonnaruwa, Kandy, and Anuradhapura connect to make the Sri Lankan Cultural Triangle, and it is the place where you should definitely visit to explore Sri Lankan culture and history. 

08) Adams Peak

Adams Peak is Top Place to visit Sri Lanka
Adam's Peak Image Source: Senehase Nawatheana (සෙනෙහසේ නවාතැන)

Adams Peak is the 4th highest mountain in Sri Lanka with an elevation of 2243m. The mountain is situated on the boundary between Rathnapura and Nuwara Eliya districts. Locals call this mountain “Samanala Kanda”. This is a significant location for all the religions in Sri Lanka. Buddhists believe that the Lord Buddha visited this location and left his footprint on the summit. But all the other religious devotees also believed it to be the footprint of their religious leader. As a result, many devotees climb Adams Peak each year. The season starts on the poya day of December and ends on the Vesak Full Moon Poya day of May. 

There are two major routes to reach the mountain. One from the Rathnapura side and the other one from the Hatton side. On average, it takes 5 hours to come to the top of the peak. Climbing Adam’s peak is a fantastic experience for tourists. We should say that it is a superb place for hiking in Sri Lanka too. The sunrise from the top is absolutely amazing to watch. Therefore, most of them climb the mountain in the middle of the night to experience the colorful sunrise in the morning. The view also looks fantastic, and you can see central hills, tanks, forests, waterfalls and many more It is the place from where you can explore most parts of the island. 

Without any doubts and hesitations, we can definitely add Adam’s peak to our list of the Top 10 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka.

07) Mirissa (Top beach destination to visit Sri Lanka)

Mirissa is a nice beach destination to visit Sri lanka
Mirissa Photo Source: The TukTuk Trip - fb page

Mirissa is one of the must-visit beach destinations in Sri Lanka and should be in your top 10 places to visit Sri Lanka list . The place belongs to the Matara district of the Southern Province. It is 170 km away from Colombo and 33 km from Galle. Mirissa is a recently famous attraction where a lot of international tourists visit. The beautiful palm tree lined streets with a stunning view attract visitors from all over the world to go there. This is certainly a great spot to explore marine life, do surfing and do water activities. As well, Mirissa is a nice place for whale watching. You can go to the deep Indian Ocean where you can watch the world’s largest blue whales. You can also watch dolphins and sea turtles. Whale watching is a nice thing to do in Sri Lanka for anyone. 

Secret Beach, Parrot Rock, Mirissa Beach, and Coconut Tree Hills are the must-visit places for tourists in Mirissa. Weligama Beach is another fabulous beach which is situated nearby. All of those beaches are included in our beach tour packages where you can choose one of them. 

06) Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park Elephants
Minneriya N.P Image Source: SRI NAADA (fb)

This is another popular tourist destination that is situated in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. Minneriya National Park is widely popular for its largest elephant gatherings. You can see 150-300 elephants together in the dry season of June to September. This is considered one of Asia’s finest wildlife experiences. Most of the elephants gather near the Minneriya Tank in the forest, which was built by King Mahasen in the 3rd century AD. In the dry season, a lot of wild animals come to the tank looking for water. That has created great opportunities for visitors to see them near the tank. Wasgamuwa and Kaudulla are two other national parks close to Minneriya National Park. So, the elephants in those wildlife sanctuaries come to the Minneriya to seek fresh grass to eat. 

A safari to the Minneriya National Park is a fabulous experience to take for anyone. There are so many safari tour providers, and you can pick one of them to plan your safari. Apart from elephants, the place is superb for watching leopards, sloth bears, and jungle fowl. The place is not far away from Sigiriya or Polonnaruwa. Therefore, you can visit this place during your cultural triangle tour.

We should say that this is a nice place to visit in Sri Lanka if you are a wildlife enthusiast.

05) Yala National Park

Sri Lankan Leopard in Yala National Park
Photographer: Dinupa De Silva

Yala is the most popular and most visited wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka. Annually, thousands of visitors come to the area to take in an unforgettable wildlife experience in Sri Lanka. Yala National Park is situated on the south-eastern side of Sri Lanka. It is the second largest national park in the country, while Wilpattu is the biggest. There are five blocks in Yala, and two are open to visitors. The distance to Yala from Colombo is 300km, and many of them come here when they travel to the southern province from Ella city.

You can watch a wide variety of wildlife in this national park. It is the habitat for many endemic and non-endemic animals. Most of the people who come to Yala National Park to watch leopards are It is the major attraction, where visitors have been waiting to see leopards for a long time. Apart from the leopards, you can see elephants, water buffaloes, wild boar, spotted deer, sambar, crocodiles, and golden jackals. Kumana National Park is the easternmost part of the Yala, which is superb for bird watching in Sri Lanka. You can watch so many different kinds of birds there.

A Safari to Yala National Park is another fantastic activity that you should try out. We have covered it on most of our round tour packages.

04) Ella City (Best Hiilcountry Place to visit Sri Lanka)

Visit Ella Sri Lanka
(Ella Image Credit: 𝐋𝐢𝐮𝐛𝐨𝐯 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐚 from Instagram)

Ella is a mountainous city in the Badulla district of Sri Lanka. The city’s elevation is 1041m above sea level. Ella is a paradise for tourists. There are many hiking trails, trekking, and adventure activities available for visitors. The distance to Ella from Colombo is 225km. Its surrounding area is rich in bio-diversity, tea plantations, and hills.

In Ella, Little Adams Peak is a fantastic place to visit. It is a nice little hike of around one hour. Apart from that, climbing Ella Rock is another superb experience to take. It is much more difficult. But you will see a breathtaking view after climbing it. Rawana Ella and Diyaluma Falls are the two scenic waterfalls that are situated nearby. Rawana Ella waterfall will meet you when you travel to the southern province from Ella City. It is a nice little waterfall with a 25m height. At 220m in height, Diyaluma Ella in Koslanda is the second tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka.

There are so many hotels, guest houses, and restaurants available for tourists nearby. Nine Arch Bridge is another popular tourist attraction where you can see an ancient bridge. Its architecture will definitely amaze you. Lipton Seat is another nice viewpoint in the region from where you can observe five major provinces in Sri Lanka. The Kandy to Ella train ride is very popular among tourists because of its scenic view. All in all, you must add Ella city to your list of the top 10 places to visit Sri Lanka.

03) Galle Fort and Galle City

Visit Galle City Sri Lanka
Galle Image Credit: Trip 2 Lanka travel

Galle Fort is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. It was initially built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. They used this fort for their military purposes. Laterally, it was further developed by the Dutch in the 18th century.

Galle is a beautiful coastal city in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. It is an economically important place which is situated 116km away from Colombo. Galle harbor was a significant place in the Portuguese and Dutch eras. They used the port to export spices from Sri Lanka to Europe. Galle is another historically significant place where the Portuguese first landed in Sri Lanka in 1505.

Today, Galle is a must-visit place in the country. Most tourists must visit Galle Fort to experience its historical value and scenic view. The Galle Lighthouse and the old clock tower add additional beauty to the Galle Fort. There are many restaurants, cafes, and shops available inside the fort.

Tip to try out: Walk around Galle Fort with your loved ones while eating a piece of pineapple in the evening. That will give you an amazing feeling with flowing waves and cool winds. It is a nice activity to try out in Galle. 

Anyhow, Galle and its surroundings are also fantastic if you are a beach lover. There are so many beautiful beaches nearby. Unawatuna, and Hikkaduwa are some of the popular beaches to visit near Galle city. Apart from those two, Dalawella, Dewata, Jungle Beach, and Koggala are some of the other best beaches to visit. The Sea Turtle Hatchery Farm is another fabulous place to visit near Galle. Once, you can visit the Bentota area, where you can participate in water activities on the Madu River. 

02) Kandy City & Temple of the Tooth Relic

Kandy View Point
Kandy Image Credit: Nisal Shaminda

Kandy is the capital of the Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is a popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka, with many beautiful places to visit. Kandy is very famous due to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. It is an important place for Buddhists in the whole world. The left canine of the Buddha was enshrined in the Temple of the Tooth Relic. So, a lot of local and foreign devotees come here regularly for worship.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The relic was established in Kandy because it was the last Sinhala kingdom in Sri Lanka. In historical times, the Sri Lankan kings fought for the relic. It was the symbol of his being declared the King of the country. Kandy Esala Perahera is a famous cultural festival that is held every August in Kandy City. It is a must-see festival in Sri Lanka.

Apart from the Temple of the Tooth Relic, there are many places to visit in Kandy. Kandy Lake is nearby, and the Tooth Relic Temple is a nice attraction. You can walk around the lake. The Kandy View Point is not far from Kandy Lake, where you can observe the whole city with a panoramic view. Udawattakale is a wildlife sanctuary near the city where you can trek through the forest and observe flora and fauna. Peradeniya Botanical Garden is located 5km away from the city. It is a fantastic place to take a break and enjoy nature. There are so many plant species in the botanical garden, including many beautiful flower collections. 

Nelligala Temple, Gadaladeniya Temple, Ambekka Devalaya, and Lankathilake Viharaya are some of the Buddhist temples situated near Kandy City. Those places are superb for exploring ancient architecture, culture, paintings, and history. Anyhow, there are so many places to visit around Kandy. You should definitely add Kandy to the top 10 places to visit in Sri Lanka. 

Related Post: Best Places to Visit in Kandy 

1) Sigiriya Rock Fortress (Top World Heritage Place to visit in Sri Lanka)

Sigiriya is the Top Place to Visit Sri Lanka

According to us, we have listed Sigiriya Rock Fortress as the best place to visit in Sri Lanka. It is a rock fortress that is situated in the Matale District of Central Province. Sigiriya is a historically and archaeologically important place in Sri Lanka. Some sources have mentioned Sigiriya as the 8th world wonder. This is another wonderful place that has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in Sri Lanka. If you visit there, there is no question that you will also be amazed. 

History says that Sigiriya was built by King Kashyapa in the 5th century AD. He chose this location as his capital to keep enemies at bay. King Kashyapa killed his own father and then became king of the country. For protection from his brother and other enemies, he moved to Sigiriya. His palace was constructed on the Sigiriya rock. 

The vast gardens, ponds, fortifications, canals, and alleys are wonderful to see. That shows the ancient technology of the Sri Lankans. The mirror wall and paintings are key things to look at further. The ruins of the palace can be seen on top of the mountain. Climbing Sigiriya Rock is another nice experience to get as a tourist. 

Pidurangala Rock is another beautiful rock near Sigiriya. It is the place from where you can observe an amazing view of Sigiriya Rock. It is another nice place to visit in the area.

We recommend this as a must-visit place if you love to explore Sri Lankan history and culture. Therefore, you should definitely add Sigiriya to the front of your list of the Top 10 Places to Visit Sri Lanka.

Read More: Day Tour to Sigiriya

Conclusion about top 10 places to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination to travel to in Asia. There are so many places to visit in Sri Lanka. Among those places, Lanka Safe Tours has listed the top 10 places to visit Sri Lanka. This is our choice, and your choice can vary. Here are the other nice travel destinations that are not added to the above list.

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Other top places to visit Sri Lanka include:

  • Bentota
  • Arugambay Beach
  • Nilaveli Beach
  • Weligama
  • Hikkaduwa
  • Dambulla Cave Temple
  • Horton Plains National Park
  • Nuwara Eliya
  • Tangalle Beach
  • Udawalawe National Park.
  • Wilpattu National Park.
  • Sinharaja Forest Reserve
  • The Knuckles Mountain Range

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( Feauted Image Credit: Stephi Wimalasinghe from Instagram)