1. Hike through the tea plantations – Anywhere up in the Hills
Sri Lanka is a very special hiking destination and a hike through the tea plantations is something not to be missed. The tea covered hills of Sri Lanka offer jaw dropping views of the surrounding valleys and vistas. The lush green landscapes are quite soothing to the eyes and the fresh air is ever so refreshing. It is an incredible experience to hike through these tea plantations knowing some of the world’s finest tea is produced using the tea leaves plucked from the tea bushes surrounding you.
Tip: Tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya, Hatton, Haputale area offer some of the best views! We also advice you get the help from a local guide in the area for assistance.
2. Catch a sunset at the beach
A beautiful sunset can happen just about anywhere but watching those last rays shine out over the ocean is one of our favorite things to do here in Sri Lanka. Hence, we suggest you travel to the Southern Coast of Sri Lanka, to witness some of the most epic sunsets you’ll ever see in your life. There are plenty of beach side cafés and restaurants you can visit in the evenings for a pint of beer, delicious cocktail or just a glass of coconut water and a quick swim and a swing from a coconut tree while you enjoy the stunning sunset views.
Here’s a list of places we suggest:
- Lookout point or the Moon pool at Cape Weligama
- Marriott Weligama Bay (All rooms have stunning views of the Indian Ocean)
- W15 Weligama
- Galle Fort & lighthouse
- Petti Petti Mirissa
- Salt Mirissa
- Doctor’s House – Madiha Surf Point
- Coconut Tree Hill – Mirissa
3. Watch the sunrise up from the hills
The best place to catch the most stunning sunrise here in Sri Lanka is from the top of Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada as the locals call it. Adam’s peak with 2243 meters of altitude is the second highest peak of the island.
The Buddhists believe the impression on the summit is the footprint of Lord Buddha himself while the Hindus believe that the footprint is Shivas and the Muslims and Christians believe that the footprint belongs to Adam where he first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven. Hence it is not just the incredible sunrise nor the beautiful views, but also the religious significance given to it by the locals that makes climbing to the top of Sri Pada all the more worth it.
There are up to six trails to climb to the top and it would take between 3-6 hours to reach the summit. We recommend you experience it during the pilgrimage season which starts on the first poya day in December and goes till May the following year.
If this sounds too much for you then while on your tour of Sri Lanka’s hill country, schedule a night or two in Ella Town, Haputale or Kandapola in Sri Lanka to catch a few stunning sunrise views from the hills.
4. Ride the train from Kandy to Ella
The Kandy to Ella train journey, or the other way around, is considered as one of the most scenic train rides in the world. The train ride is seven hours long and takes you through stunning landscapes of lush green tea plantations and mountain views.
5. Wildlife spotting at a National Park
Sri Lanka is one of the best places in Asia for seeing wildlife. According to research, Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is recognized as having the highest density of wild leopards in the world. Hence this is an amazing experience one must not miss out on while they tour in Sri Lanka. Apart from Yala, Wilpattu National park too is famous for Leopard spotting. If you’re more interested in seeing birds and elephants in their natural habitat, Udawalawe and Minneriya national parks are can be recommended as well.
- Yala National Park – Wild Coast Tented lodges, Leopard Trails Yala, Chenna Huts by Uga
- Wilpattu National Park – Governors Camp Wilpattu, Leopard Trails Wilpattu
- Udawalawe National Park – Mahoora Tented Safari Camps
- Minneriya National Park – WaterGarden Sigiriya, Vil Uyana Sigiriya
6. Swim, surf and chill along the Eastern coast
The wild waves of the East Coast of Sri Lanka welcome passionate surfers from all over the world. Come conquer the terrific waves in Arugam Bay, the hottest surfing destination in Sri Lanka right now. The season for surfing in Arugam Bay begins in April and continues till October. Arugam bay is not only about surfing, it has got beautiful sandy beaches, jaw dropping sunrise viewpoints and the close proximity to lesser known national parks.
Do keep in mind that your journey from Colombo to Arugam Bay would roughly take between 5-6 hours given that you take the newly built southern express way and the number of breaks you take.
Tip: Head to Elephant Rock Surf Point for stunning views of the bay itself, sunrise and even the sunset. Or head to Kumuna National Park bird reserve if you’re a bird lover.
7. Climb up the Sigiriya Rock
This natural wonder is a gigantic square shaped rock that is 200m high and looks like someone just dropped it there by mistake. Lion Rock or better known as Sigiriya Rock is one of the eight UNESCO world heritage sites in Sri Lanka and it is a must visit. It is thousands of years old and the site was chosen by King Kasyapa (477 – 495 CE) to be his capital because he was attracted to its beauty and grandeur. He built his palace on top of the rock and decorated it with colourful and elaborate frescoes.
Tip: We recommend you climb the rock around 7 am to avoid the crowds and also the heat. It would take about 45 minutes in total and make sure you don’t miss out on the Sigiriya Frescoes Paintings.
8. Visit the Nine Arch Bridge
This iconic bridge in Sri Lanka is located between Ella and Demodara Railway stations. It is called the “bridge in the sky” and is one of the best examples of the colonial era railway construction in Sri Lanka.
There are multiple ways to reach this location. We recommend you follow the road towards little Adam’s peak (Ella – Passara Road), then turn left into the jungle at the parking spots after Café Umbrella (Nine arch Bridge Path). From here you have to follow the path for about 10 minutes, and it gives you a unique view over the bridge through the tea plantations.
If you’re lazy you can just grab a tuk tuk from Ella town. This is the easiest way to reach the bridge.
Tip: It would be great to snap a click while a train passes the bridge. We recommend you visit around 9.00 am in the morning as there is a train passing the bridge between 9.15-9.45 in the morning.
9. Explore Galle Fort
Charming, exotic and full of history! Exploring Galle Fort is something you shouldn’t miss out on during your trip to Sri Lanka. Situated in the Bay of Galle, this architectural masterpiece was built in 1588 by Portuguese, and then extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century. Nowadays, the beautiful old buildings are transformed into trendy boutiques, cafés and restaurants giving it a European feel all around. UNESCO named the Galle Dutch Fort as a world heritage site in order to preserve the buildings.
Tip: Walk on the ramparts and catch the sunset or go for an afternoon tea at the luxurious Amangalla Hotel. The Amangalla Hotel is one of the Dutch buildings in the eighties, it was used in a music video by Duran Duran. The afternoon tea at the Amangalla Hotel is top notch and definitely worth a try.
Here’s a few other places you might want to try out at the Fort.
Places to eat
- Peddler’s Inn – Best place for a quick and delicious meal
- Isle of Gelato – The best ice cream in SL. Try their Puttalam salted caramel. You will not regret it!
- Aqua Forte – For a sophisticated Italian experience.
Places to Stay
- Taru Villas Rampart Street
- Fort Bazaar