Tourist Destinations in Sri Lanka
The name itself translates into ‘resplendent land’, a title worthy of itself. You will think no less once you have admired its many colors and gazed at its many hues. Your heart will be painted with love for this rich land. Blessed with history worthy of a whole series of books, nature that’s gifted with the only kind in the world, a culture that sings praise to unity, cuisine that is a symphony of spices and people that are nothing but friendly and helpful, Sri Lanka will win your heart over in a holiday. With so much to see and so many places to go, let me break it down for you easily.
The West Coast
Best for: Beaches / Shopping
Closer to the island’s Bandaranaike International Airport, the West Coast should definitely be your first stop. Negombo, the Little Rome of Sri Lanka, thanks to the many church spires that are visible in its skyline and majority of the locals converting to Christianity, is a beach town lined with a splendid coast. It is also the place to taste some of the best seafood in the island, so stop by. The West boasts a string of shorelines of varying personalities and played a crucial role in the island’s trade history, especially the city of Colombo. The city is one of the most famed tourist destinations in Sri Lanka and is the island’s most modernized and liberal, boasting posh hotels, top-notch shopping opportunities, from international brands to creative antiquities and colonial landmarks that have stood the test of time. Your holiday to Sri Lanka would be incomplete without a visit to this colorful city. Bentota and Kalutara, just a few kilometers away from each other have evolved over time to provide its visitors with a stylish experience of the world-class beaches. From boutique hotels to five-star ones lining the beach, they have got it all. During your stop in Kalutara, make sure to head over to the Kalutara Temple for a bit of a religious experience. But if you are on the lookout for a perfect photograph then head over to the bridge that’s at near proximity to the temple at night time and you can steal a vibrant capture of the temple at its grandest with all its lights. Next up, Hikkaduwa, the backpacker city, is famous for its diversity of corals. Hire a glass-bottomed boat or better yet, rent some snorkeling gear to admire the magnificent undersea life.
The South Coast
Best for: Beaches / Wildlife
Galle, a town that shows off the island’s centuries of colonial influence with boutique hotels, antique shops and quaint cafes making good use of Dutch and British architecture-styled buildings. The city is not limited to just that, its outskirts, like Unawatuna also offers visitors with a range of hotel options, multiple hours of sunshine and breathtaking coast. Further down south are the beaches of Weligama and Mirissa. Weligama’s stilt fisherman are a sight symbolic of Sri Lanka, showing up in many a brochures and posters, whereas, the fishing town of Mirissa is now one of the world’s best spots to observe different species of whales and dolphins. Tangalle’s half-moon cove ensures its white-sanded beaches are always calm. Just a short drive away from the city is the bird watcher’s heaven; Bundala Bird Sanctuary which boasts bird life that is rare and the possible sighting of elephants and crocodiles. The country’s most famous; Yala National Park is the best place to see leopards whereas Uda Walawe houses roughly 500 elephants within its territory along with an elephant orphanage.
Best for: Culture / Tea estates / Waterfalls
Consisting mostly of Kandy & the tea country, this is the most elevated part of the island, the Tea country being at a higher altitude than Kandy. Steeped in a good cup of history, it’s no surprise that Kandy is regarded as the cultural capital of the country. Famed for its colorful procession or ‘Perahara’ that comes usually in August, the city is also home to the Temple of the tooth Relic that houses Buddha’s Tooth. A light trek throughout the thriving landscapes, a walk through the city or a visit to the breathtaking Royal Botanical Gardens will definitely be worth your time. Higher up, the city of Nuwara Eliya which was lovingly nicknamed as Little England by the British because of its climate being reminiscent of the climate in Britain is dotted with tea estates, villas with Victorian-style architecture and some awesome bird watching possibilities. Ella is a picturesque train ride away from Kandy with breathtaking scenery and sparkling waterfalls.
The Cultural Triangle
Best for: History / Ruins / Culture / Wildlife
This area wasn’t named as Cultural Triangle for no reason. Within its territory lays five of the island’s seven UNESCO world heritage sites; the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Cave Temples of Dambulla, Ancient capital of Anuradhapura (first of Sri Lanka), ancient capital of Polonnaruwa (second) and the Sacred city of Kandy (third). The area is peppered with other dagobas, ruins and temples which are well worth a visit. Once you have drunk in all the culture and history of the area stop by at the Minneriya National Park. There’s no better way to gulp in all the history than watching a herd of elephants roaming about or a leopard pouncing up a tree.
There might be many tourist destinations in Sri Lanka, but with its size and diversity there could not be any tourist destination better than the resplendent island.