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10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka

When most people think of Sri Lanka, they probably think of the beach and tea. Of course, Sri Lanka does these very well but there’s so much more to the country than people realise. Here are a few of my favourite picturesque places on this gorgeous island…

Tangalle

Tangalle Beach

Tangalle is a big town in Hambantota District located in the Southern Province. Its beach is known to be a great surfer’s beach due to the magnificent waves. It is a typically picturesque place with long sandy shores, leaning palm trees and deep turquoise water. The Tangalle Bay Hotel (which is shaped like a cruise ship) also calls this beautiful corner of Sri Lanka home.

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya

Upcountry begins with the pretty city of Nuwara Eliya overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. With its bustling market and numerous waterfalls it is the heart of the tea country and is considered the most important location for tea production in the country.

Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak, is a tall conical mountain located in central Sri Lanka. Many climb the mountain as part of a religious pilgrimage as it’s believed to have Buddha’s footprint on a rock formation near the summit. It is climbed in the early hours of the morning to arrive at dawn and see the sunrise. At the top is a bell that you ring corresponding to how many times you have reached the summit.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya

If you only have time to see one ancient site in the country, then I would personally choose the UNESCO world heritage site Sigiriya – it’s a very beautiful and awe-inducing place to visit in Sri Lanka. Built by an eccentric monarch in the 5th century, a giant pair of stone lion’s paws still guards the staircase that leads to the summit, which was once occupied by a royal palace. There are also well-preserved fresco’s carved into the rock and the vast surrounding water gardens are also worth a visit.

Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa

Eight hundred years ago, Polonnaruwa was the bustling second capital of Sri Lanka and a thriving commercial and religious hub. Today it’s a site full of archaeological treasures where hundreds of ancient structures reside from tombs and temples to statues and stupas. Look out for the incredible Brahmanic monuments built by the Cholas and the monumental ruins of the amazing garden-city, which dates back to the 12th century.

Tea country

Ceylon tea country

You cannot visit Sri Lanka without exploring its beautiful tea plantations which seem endless and are often surrounded in a atmospheric mist. For starters try the Ceylon Tea Trails which are a collection of four colonial tea plantation houses set in gorgeous hill country, all offering impeccable service and fine cuisine. Also nearby are a network of walking and cycling trails which offer the perfect way of exploring.

Yala National Park

Yala National Park

Situated in the Southeast part of the island in the semi-arid climate region is the most popular National Park in Sri Lanka. It also happens to be the most beautiful. The park is known for its large variety of wild animals and is important for the conservation of Sri Lankan Elephants and aquatic birds. The western part of Yala has the highest leopard concentration in the world and is worth a visit for this alone.

Kandy

Kandy

This major city located in the Central Province, easily makes this list. It was the last capital of the ancient kings’ era of Sri Lanka and today its a important place to visit. Located in a valley surrounded by a huge lake it’s always a joy to wander around. The main attraction is the Temple of the Tooth which houses the sacred relic of Buddha’s tooth. It is a very spiritual place, even if you are not religious.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage

This important place is known for having the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. Established in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation, the orphanage was set up to care for baby elephants that have lost their mothers and have been found in the surrounding jungle. It’s a lovely and heartwarming place where you can even follow the elephants down to the river and watch them bathe – a truly beautiful sight!

The Hill Club

hill-club-1128a-092810_Snapseed

Situated on 26 acres of land at the base of a wooded hillside, the Hill Club looks over the town of Nuwara Eliya. It’s a left over relic from the colonial era which history fans are bound to love. It was founded in 1876 by a group of British coffee planters as a private club for gentlemen. As well as 39 cozily appointed bedrooms they also have a ladies lounge, a billiards room, bars and an elegant dining area.

I hope you enjoy visiting Sri Lank’s most beautiful places for yourself!

Michael Anderson

Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always been a sucker for an adventure. As a kid he was lucky enough to live for many years in some exotic far-flung locations and since then he’s developed a taste for new cultures. So much in fact he now travels the world as a trading digital nomad, exploring the sizzling street markets of Bangkok to yoga retreat dotted Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for exotic cuisine and fine wine and definitely knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Tanzania, Amsterdam, Laos and Cambodia as his favourite destinations.

33 Comments

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    Shikha (whywasteannualleave)

    16 February, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I love the diversity of Sri Lanka – there’s really something for everyone I think. I didn’t make it to the Hill Club but but managed to visit most of these other spots whilst I was there and particularly fell in love with the Pollonaruwa ruins and the tea regions. I’m not the best climber but the hike to the top of Sigiriya isn’t too bad actually and a couple of my friends actually got engaged at the top of it 🙂

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    Sofia

    16 February, 2015 at 6:53 am

    I haven’t been to Sri Lanka, and this list of wonderful places and is quite fascinating that I’m including it now to my bucket list.
    These are lovely shots, by the way!

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    Katie Featherstone

    15 February, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Oh wow, what an incredible country! I’ve never been, but your description and photos have definitely just put Sri Lanka onto my radar. Nuwara Eliya looks amazing- such beautiful landscapes! Thank-you for sharing. 🙂

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    Mike

    14 February, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    That beach at Tangalle is absolutely breathtaking…so I would most definitely want to go there! The elephant orphanage at Pinnawala would be a must see. But, my #1 would be Yala Nat’l Park because I would LOVE to see a spotted leopard! Awesome post, Becky!

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    Rahman @ Iran Travel Blog

    14 February, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Those photos are incredible! As always I fall in love with sunset photos, but other ones are also very beautiful.

    I think setting up a place called Elephant Orphanage site is a noble idea to protect these animals. I didn’t know Sri Lankans have gone so far to help the animals. Well done.

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