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Sri Lanka is a great country that has countless beautiful sights! Set in the Indian Ocean just off the south of India, this is a country of contrasts and surprises. From the lush green tea plantations of the hill country through to the much warmer and blissfully peaceful beaches of the south and old forts, impressive archaeological sites, and wildlife safaris, makes Sri Lanka a country that you cannot miss! Dive into its rich history and culture or laze on the azure beaches, Sri Lanka has it all!

I love how the 3 colors are blended together so well. Travel inspired me. What inspires you?…
Photo by Road Trip with Raj / Unsplash

Moreover, it is super affordable making it the perfect island getaway for vacationers looking to splurge or explore the country on a shoestring budget! If Sri Lanka isn’t on your bucket list yet, add it real quick, because it is absolutely worth it! Now, if you’re wondering about all the places that you must visit and experiences that you must have, fret no more, we’ve got you covered! Without any further delay, let’s get started with the most exciting part of this blog, presenting to you – The Ultimate Sri Lankan Travel Guide.

1. NEGOMBO OR COLOMBO

A photo of Marine Drive, Colombo. A train track lies between the sea and a road. Cars and a train drive by while people sit by the train tracks. The sky is light blue and the waves are calm.
Photo by Farhath Firows / Unsplash

Start your Sri Lankan adventures from the capital city of Colombo or the laid back city of Negombo which is closer to the airport as compared to the capital! Spend a day or two exploring all that these two cities have to offer.

In the sleepy fishing town of Negombo, opt for a cycling tour which will take you to all the beautiful spots around town such as the famous Angurukaramulla Temple, St. Mary’s Church and the Dutch Fort that was built in the 1670s! Another favorite activity that you must not miss would be to take a boat trip in the Hamilton Canal, along the banks of which you can spot a number of houses where most of the fishermen live. Apart from this you can also book a fishing tour in the Negombo Lagoon followed by a lunch in a catamaran while floating in the middle of the lagoon! Spend your evening walking down the clean sandy shore of the Negombo beach and experience your first Sri Lankan sunset!

Sunset at Colombo, Sri Lanka
Photo by Tharindu Madusanka Perera / Unsplash

If you are staying in the buzzing city of Colombo, be sure to start your exploration at the beautiful white building that houses the National Museum, which will take you for a ride through the rich Sri Lankan history. From here walk around admiring the colonial buildings in the Fort Area that will give you the feeling of being transported back in time to the British Era. Also visit the Buddhist Gangaramaya Temple and the enormous Beira Lake that is a short walk away from the temple. You can hire peddle boats and visit the Simamalaka Shrine that is situated in the middle of the lake!

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque In Colombo, Sri Lanka
Photo by Brian Kyed / Unsplash

Before you end your day with a delicious Sri Lankan dinner at the Old Dutch Hospital, do visit the peaceful Independence Memorial Hall. The following morning, walk through the crowded streets of Pettah which has numerous street shops that offer great deals on souvenirs and jewelry. Walking around in this area is a real adventure full of sound, smells, and people watching. Here you can also visit the Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque and the Wolvendaal Church. Spend your evening watching the sun set from the Galle Face Green gardens!

After spending a day or two, take a bus, train or taxi to your next destination – Kandy.

2.     KANDY

Photo by Supun Batagoda / Unsplash

Start your first morning in Kandy with a visit to the Royal Botanical Garden which has over 4000 species of plants and trees! After a refreshing morning stroll through the garden, continue exploring the town starting with the center square. The streets of Kandy have a number of old colonial buildings that are an absolute delight to look at! Munch on some fresh tropical fruits as you get lost in these colonial streets and eventually find your way to the golden-roofed Temple of Tooth which has preserved a legendary tooth relic of Buddha!Another spot that you must visit would be The Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue which is an 88-foot high statue from where you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the city. In the evening, head over to the Kandy Lake which is considered as the heart of the city due to its central location and breathtaking beauty!

3.     SIGIRIYA

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Photo by Yves Alarie / Unsplash

After spending a day exploring Kandy, take a day trip to Sigiriya that is famous for the Lion’s Rock which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!The Lion’s Rock is an enormous square-shaped rock which was a former fortress of King Kassapa. It is home to murals, gardens, and on top of the rock is also a swimming pool and palace! You would have to climb about 1200 steps to get to the top, from where you can a enjoy a picturesque panoramic view of the whole area! Another attraction in Sigiriya which is lesser known is the Piduranagala Rock that lies about 2 km north from the Lion’s Rock. The climb to Pidurangala is a bit more treacherous, but it is worth every bit of the effort as from the top of this rock you can see the famous Lion’s Rock in all its glory! It is especially best to visit at dawn to enjoy the sunrise and to avoid crowds! Spend the night at one of the hotels in Sigiriya and the next morning boarda train that will get you to your next destination –Nuwara Eliya.

4.     NUWARA ELIYA

Tea plantation
Photo by Rowan Heuvel / Unsplash

The train ride to Nuwara Eliya is said to be one of the most scenic routes as it runs through beautiful, lush tea plantations on both sides! Nuwara Eliya is better known as the Little England of Sri Lanka because of the unending tea plantations in town. You will be greeted with a chilly weather and crisp, fresh mountain air! Spend your time here walking through tea plantations and taking tours of tea factories. Apart from this you can visit and take a dip in the multi-level Ramboda Falls. The next morning, rise up really early and walk or catch a ride to World’s End that is located in Horton Plains National Park. This location will present you with views that will blow your mind! Spend the rest of the day walking around town with views of terraced tea plantations as far as the eye can see and in the evening spend time relaxing near Gregory Lake.

5.     ELLA

Nine Arches Bridge, Ella, Sri Lanka
Photo by Hendrik Cornelissen / Unsplash

This place is as beautiful as its name! One of the most chilled out towns of Sri Lanka that has absolutely gorgeous beaches, delicious food and is surrounded by beautiful tea plantations. The train ride from Nuwara Eliya to Ella is even more beautiful than the previous one! In the morning of your first day in Ella, pack a small picnic and hike up 1 hour to reach the top of the Little Adam’s Peak which offers views of verdant green valleys with winding roads built along its side. Find a good spot and enjoy your picnic with a great view. After your hike down you can visit the famous Nine Arches Bridge! This beautifully constructed bridge is set amidst lush tea plantations and you can even walk and take pictures standing on the rail bridge! A gorgeous viewpoint awaits you at Haputale, which is a short train ride away from Ella. A 10 minute tuk- tuk ride from the station, through winding roads that present absolutely picturesque views will get you to Lipton’s Seat. Enjoy the view of unending terraced tea plantations along all hills in this scenic valley! Spend the next day visiting the Diyaluma Falls which is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. This multi-level waterfall is an hour’s drive from Ella after which you would have to hike another hour to reach the top. Another waterfall that is quite popular among the locals is the Ravana Falls which is just as beautiful, but is only a 10 minute drive from town.

6.     ARUGAM BAY

Photo by Tomáš Malík / Unsplash

A 2.5 hour journey from the quaint town of Ella will get you to the popular beachside town of Arugam Bay which is home to some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka, known for being a surfer’s paradise and is also a neighbor to the world famous Yala National Park! Climb up the Elephant Rock to catch a view of the turquoise blue waters in the bay below, and then head over to Muhudu Maha Viharaya which is a beautiful white temple located on the sand dunes of Pottuvil. The high season here lasts from June to August when numerous surfing competitions are held. During this time you could hire a surf board, watch the sunset and then attend some amazing night parties on the Arugam Bay beach! Another thing that you can do here is to go on a 2 hour lagoon safari! One of the most looked forward to activity in Arugam Bay would be glamping in the cocoon shaped tents in Yala National Park! At this park you could go on safaris to spot elephants during the day and leopards at night!

7.     MIRISSA

Tropical paradise at Coconut Tree Hill
Photo by Kon Karampelas / Unsplash

Situated in the southern part of Sri Lanka is this cozy beach town of Mirissa! Mirissa is the place where you should head to for sipping some pina coladas while you lounge on a hammock strung over palm trees on the beach! The best beaches are Mirissa Beach and Secret Beach as they are less crowded! Mirissa Beach has some good waves and hence people do come here to surf! In front of the Mirissa beach is Parrot rock which towers over the beach and gives a scenic panoramic view of the whole area. A 15 minute walk from Mirissa Beach will lead to what is known as the Coconut Tree Spot, which is a coconut farm located atop a hill, which is one of the best places in town to enjoy a beautiful sunset! Another interesting activity for your afternoon in Mirissa can be to book a whale watching tour! You’ve heard us right! This tour will take you into the Indian Ocean to spot whales, dolphins and turtles! The best time to spot whales is from November to March. This is not all. If you wish to join some midafternoon beach parties- head over to The Doctor’s House that has some seriously delicious food paired with great music!

8.     UNAWATUNA

Unawatuna beach in Sri Lanka
Photo by Alex Azabache / Unsplash

Welcome to Unawatuna which is just another one of Sri Lanka’s amazing beachside towns that has some spectacular beaches, trendy restaurants and cute street side shops! The town is most popular for its Unawatuna Beach which has crystal clear waters which is great for swimming and a part of the shore is lined with bars and restaurants that serve delicious Sri Lankan meals! Perhaps the most instagrammed part of Sri Lanka is the beach swing at Wijaya Beach. Swing into the pristine water at the beach just as the sun sets for some amazing pictures! Another beach which is a little hidden from the tourist eye is the Jungle Beach which is absolutely stunning and is a must visit place! Apart from beaches, do visit the Galle Fort, the architecture of which has drawn influence from British, Portuguese and Dutch styles. Explore the fort and do make sure to head to the upper floors to enjoy a beautiful sunset!

Photo by Tharaka Jayasuriya / Unsplash

Apart from this, if time does permit, do visit Jaffna in the north for its beach and natural pool, Dambulla for its cave temple, giant Buddha statue and Minneriya National Park and Trincomalee for its pristine beaches and temples! There’s so much that you can explore in the beautiful country of Sri Lanka if you have the time! But the one thing that you MUST not miss out on is to take some amazing pictures of your incredible Sri Lankan vacation and we recommend that you book your travel and vacation photographers from Travographer. Our photographers are the best at what they do and are locals; hence they’ll know all there is to know about the best locations for an incredible photo shoot! So go on and hire one of our photographers to follow you around as you create beautiful memories in the vibrant country of Sri Lanka!