There are so many things to do in Sri Lanka. It’s a country that’s so diverse and somewhere you’re almost guaranteed to find some places you love.
Whether you’re heading to the national parks on the search for elephants, exploring the incredible temples or enjoying some well-deserved rest on the best beaches, it’s an island country that’s filled with things to do.
Take a look at our complete guide to everything you should see, do and eat whilst in Sri Lanka. 🏝
How to get to Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is a pretty easy country to fly to, especially from Asia and Europe. If you’re travelling from further afield you’ll likely need to connect in places like India or the UAE, as an example. Flight time is approximately 10 hours from London, just to give you a rough idea of distance.
When you arrive in Sri Lanka, it’s likely you’ll fly straight into Columbo Airport. That’s where nearly all international flight arrive and a great place to start your adventure in Sri Lanka.
Where to stay in Sri Lanka?
Okay, now this is where the fun really starts. Sri Lanka has a whole heap of different accommodation to suit every budget and preference. If you want an indulgent, luxurious stay you’ll find it in Sri Lanka.
For a different type of experience, you might be looking for a homestay or an Airbnb. Best of all, you’ll find lots of options across the island, not just around Columbo. This means you can travel further inland and away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
For a luxurious stay, places like Ceylon Tea Trails are amazing. If you’re looking for a beach stay, Reef Village is beautiful. Alternatively, take a look at some unique Airbnb’s that are nestled in the most beautiful countryside.
What to eat in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lankan food is delicious and something you’ll gorge on when visiting the island. I swear you’ll be eating everything in sight. Some typical meals you have to try, are:
Dhal Curry: Make sure to try the Dhal Curry made from spices, coconut milk and lentils. Heated until piping hot, it’s often served with rice and meats.
Hoppers: For breakfast, a hopper is the most delicious choice (though, not served just for breakfasts). Imagine a hopper like a bowl like a pancake that’s filled with egg, spices that can be eaten with a curry.
Fish: If you’re next to the coast, make sure to visit one of the local fish restaurants too. You’ll be served the catch of the day that’s freshly caught and prepared right from the fisherman.
12 Things To Do In Sri Lanka
1.) Hike to the top of Sigiriya
Now, Sigiriya is one of the most special experiences in Sri Lanka. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka, especially to explore the culture and history of this iconic place.
Make sure to pack lots of water, good walking shoes and slap on lashings of sunscreen. The sun rays are unforgiving on this hike but it’s still one of the most impressive things to do in Sri Lanka.
2.) Spot elephants in Minneriya National Park
Minneriya National Park is a natural landscape and protected space that’s well worth a visit when in Sri Lanka. Home to literally hundreds of elephants, it’s one place where you can truly appreciate the beauty of nature with minimal interaction. It really is a special way to spend a day.
3.) Don’t visit the cruel Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Now, this was one of the biggest mistakes I think I’ve made whilst travelling and I wrote all about it here. This place is awful and a needlessly cruel place that doesn’t have any kind of welfare for animals. It’s a horrendous place that should be shut down.
Also, there’s a famous spot near Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where the elephants are brought down to bathe in the river. Be very careful. We arrived a few hours before the elephants and most of the visitors and saw the ‘handlers’ actually chaining many of the elephants with the lake. You can see the proof in our photos in this post.
4.) Go Stilt Fishing and visit the historic capital, Galle
5.) Visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura
So, there are some things to do in Sri Lanka that aren’t just beaches and wildlife. Ancient cities such as Anuradhapura is one of these. Once a thriving epicentre, Anuradhapura is still visited daily by locals and visitors alike. It really is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.
6.) Sail through the Madu Ganga River
Perched within the south-west of the country is the Madu Ganga River which is a great place to visit on a 1/2 day trip around the area.
Hop on one of the boats, discover a few of the island communities and try some of the cinnamon they grow in this region.
7.) Climb to the top of Pidurangala Rock
A few miles from, Sigiriya is the incredible Pidurangala Rock. Now, this is much less established and quite a hike to the top. Expect a little climbing over rocks, uneven footpaths and plenty of wildlife. Make sure to watch your step, we did come across a few snakes staying warm on the rocks.
8.) Explore Udawalawe National Park
This is one of the best places you should visit if you want to see elephants and the possibility to sea leopards. Now, leopards are much shyer than elephants and we didn’t get to see the latter but it’s still one of the best places to spot some totally wild animals. You might even see some crocodiles, too.
9.) Head to the Dambulla Cave Temple
The Dambulla Cave Temple is one of Sri Lanka’s most important religious sites. Make sure to visit for a few hours and head to the top of the cave temple itself. It really is a beautiful place to explore.
10.) Enjoy the beaches
Now, Sri Lanka has a whole host of beaches you should enjoy. It doesn’t matter what side of the island you’re visiting, you’re guaranteed to find one gorgeous spot. Take a look here at some of the very best beaches to enjoy during your visit.
I mean, you can’t go all that way without a little dip in the sea. It’s one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.
11.) Explore Kandy
Kandy is not too far from the Dambulla Cave Temple and an amazing place to visit if you want to explore some of the cultural aspects of Sri Lanka. It’s also a great region of the country to hop over to a tea plantation – one of the island’s most famous exports.
12.) Wander through the temples of Beruwala
Now, if you’re looking for some temples that are close to the beaches, then Beruwala is the place to go. Head inside some of the impressive temples that are just shy of the shore, all before heading to the waves for a little refreshing dip! I mean, you can’t get better than that.
Looking for more things to do in Sri Lanka?
Check out our post on 17 things you should definitely see on your trip to Sri Lanka, here.