This historical city was the first capital of Sri Lanka and was founded by a King’s minister during the 4th century B.C. The Sacred Bo Tree in Anuradhapura, also known as the Sri Maha Bodhi is the most popular historical Sri Lanka tourist attraction here. Additionally, the city is home to magnificient Dagobas (Temples) such as Ruwanweli, Lankarama, Jetavana, Abhayagiri, and Mirisaweti. An ancient Temple known for its beautiful stone carvings is the Isurumuniya while the Samadhi Buddha Statue is an exhibit of excellent sculpture work. Many Kings ruled in this ancient city of Anuradhapura which is now named as a UNESCO world heritage si
Another UNESCO world heritage site is the fortress of Sigiriya and is one of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. On top of the Lion’s Rock is a palace built by one of the ancient Kings of Sri Lanka. During your climb you will see well preserved frescoes engraved into the rock a Lion’s Paw which is the entrance to the palace. Once you reach the top you have a breathtaking view of the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka (Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla) as well as the remnants of the ancient Palace.
Polonnaruwa is the second largest kingdom of Sri Lanka. Till today, this ancient city is known as one of the best planned archealogical relic sites in the country that stood as testimony against the discipline and greatness of the first rulers of the kingdom of ancient Sri Lanka. The popular Sri Lanka tourist attractions here are the Lankathilaka Temple and a massive stone statue of Lord Buddha.
Dambulla should be on your list of places to visit in Sri Lanka as it is an important location for Buddhist pilgrimages and tourists. It is home to the largest cave complex in the country. Enclosed within a 160m high rock, the cave temple consists of several statues and paintings that depict the religion of Buddhism in a very basic level and can awe a viewer at first sight. With 153 Buddha statues in this cave complex, it is named a UNESCO world heritage site.
Kandy remains a legendary city in the list of places to visit in Sri Lanka. At present, it has developed into a busy yet romantic city that revolves around a picturesque lake. The kingdom of Kandy was attacked several times in the past by the Portuguese and the Dutch. Yet they held onto their independence strongly while other cities around the island were accepting defeat to the invading Europeans. This enduring position during colonial turbulence resulted in the city preserving several ancient traditions until they too surrendered to the British in 1815. Today, Kandy is the second-largest city in the island and is known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. At the centre of the city you will see a bunch of colonial-era buildings that retain its countrified charm along the busy roads of Kandy.
Also known as the “city of lights”, Nuwara Eliya is a beautiful town located on a large, green valley amidst the hills. Stationed at over 6000 feet above sea level, not only is the town blessed with the chilliest climate in all of Sri Lanka, it is also an unmatchable sight of mountains, meadows and greenery. Developed in the 19th century British era, the city has a feel of an English country town. Horton Plains A visit to the highest plateau in the island is a popular Sri Lanka tourist attraction. Here you will find a uniquely breathtaking view of grasslands mixed with patches of forests, high altitude vegetation and an ideal excursion for nature lovers, hikers and bird watchers. In addition to the popular leopards and samba deer, you will find over 400 species of birds and over 700 different types of flora in these grasslands
Arugam Bay & Passikudah
Starting from Arugam Bay, the eastern beaches stretch for about 275kms north along the coastline. Along this coast you will find wide stretches of sand and miles of clear, shallow water that is ideal for swimming. Deep natural harbours, still lagoons, pretty bays and coves, and beautiful underwater coral reefs are some of the major Sri Lanka tourist attractions along the south eastern beaches of Arugam Bay and Pasikudah.
Trincomalee is a harbor port city located 250 kms from Colombo. At one time, Trincomalee harbor was an important destination for sea traders and has been visited by many travelers such as Marco Polo. Uppuveli, Nilaveli, Marble Beach and the Dutch Bay are the famous beaches on the eastern coast of Trincomalee. While some of these beaches are more ideal for strolling and surfing, swimming is possible too. Scuba diving, fishing and whale watching are added activities that one can enjoy on these beaches.
Negombo & Chilaw
Located in close proximity to the Bandaranaike International Airport and just about 35kms north of the busy city of Colombo, is the city of Negombo, known for its sandy beaches and massive fishing industry. With hotels and restaurants to suit every budget, make Negombo a sure stop place to visit in Sri Lanka and enjoy the friendly life in Negombo while adoring the traditional canoes and wooden boats that go past the beaches every single day. In Negombo you can also explore the remnants of the Dutch rule, enjoy some bird watching and meet the age old fisherman at daily fish auctions. About an hour’s drive from Negombo is the romantic beach of Chilaw that is popular for its crabs, coconuts, authentic Sri Lankan curry and its beautiful sea pearls.
Unawatuna, Tangalle, Galle, Hikkaduwa, Bentota, Mirissa
The beaches in the southern coast are sandier than the western ones and do not drop deep into the sea, hence are ideal for indulging in swimming, snorkeling, surfing and other exciting water sports. In addition to the beaches, cities like Galle are popular Sri Lanka tourist attractions for their historical heritage. The drive along the southern coast also involves other activities such as batik factories, turtle hatcheries, stilt fishing, local temples and tasting fruits from the roadside. you can experience adventure, nightlife and international cuisines. Adventurous water sports include canoeing, boating, sailing, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, deep sea diving, river cruises, whale watching, water gymnastics, water polo, banana boat riding and jet skiing.
Yala National Park
Located in the south eastern region of the island, this is the second largest, yet most visited National Park and is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. The entrance to the park is from the city of Tissamaharama where a tracker is given to all entering vehicles along with detailed information for way-finding around the park. On your jeep safari to Yala National Park, you will see colorful storks, dozing crocodiles, fantailed peacocks, hanging monkeys, elephants wandering around and of course the popular leopard. The rich birdlife at Yala National Park includes about 130 species of birds. The park also provides for camping opportunities amidst the wildlife.
Wilpattu National Park
This is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka and is a major Sri Lanka tourist attraction. Wilpattu National Park is made up of a unique complex of over 50 wetlands known as “villu’s”. In addition to these, you will find varying natural habitats such as rocky outcrops, open grasslands, scrublands, dense forests, and coastal belts to provide for the wide variety of species that live here. The biggest attractions at Wilpattu are the leopards, sloth bears, asian elephants, spotted deer, barking deer, water buffalos, crocodiles, jackals, wild pig and samba.
Sinharaja Rain Forest is a UNESCO world heritage site and spans an area of 18900 hectares of tropical lowland rainforest. Located in the southern province of Sabaragamuwa, this rainforest has two main nature trails that begin at the same point but lead to two different peaks. Both are equally enjoyable for nature lovers. The forest has an abundance of tall green trees growing close together, small streams of clear water wear the water animals reside and a canopy of woods where the bird species are seen. The frequently seen animals here are some very unique ones including the giant squirrel, jungle squirrel, purple faced monkey, macaque and badger mongoose.
Colombo has the most westernized shopping and night life environment in all of Sri Lanka. This includes modern shopping malls, bustling markets, designer boutiques, cinemas, roadside restaurants, fine dining restaurants, clubs and much more. The Pettah Bazaar is the most commercialized area where you would find almost anything and everything. Apart from Colombo, almost every town around the island has its own markets that sell daily essentials as well as other items such as clay pots, hand-woven fabrics and traditional dresses.
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