"
  • The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
"

Visit Sri Lanka

COMPLETED BY 4

LISTED 69

Sri Lanka is known as the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean', and it is easy to see why. From beautiful scenery to friendly locals, great food and plenty of activities on offer, this little country never fails to enchant visitors.

Southern India meets Buddhist Asia; Sri Lanka is a land of ancient ruins and religious relics, palm-fringed beaches and colourful reefs, balmy rainforests and local legends.

With memories of civil war receding, and a new government intent on healing the scars of the past, this sun-kissed island nation looks set to regain its position as the holiday capital of the Indian Ocean.

Life in Sri Lanka is dictated by the sea. Monsoon winds create the seasons, rainbow-coloured fishing boats deliver the bounty of the Indian Ocean to the nation’s tables and tropical surf washes endlessly against the island’s golden beaches. For many, this is the perfect introduction to the Indian Subcontinent.

Things to see and do in Sri Lanka

Bask on Sri Lanka’s many Beaches

Sri Lanka has roughly 1,600km (1,000 miles) of beautiful palm-shaded beaches, and Negombo – conveniently close to the airport – boasts one of the best. Other popular resorts include Beruwela, Bentota, Mount Lavinia Negombo and Hikkaduwa. Meanwhile Unawatuna near Galle claims to be among the top 15 beaches in the world. The beaches of the south are less populated and often more beautiful, but be aware that swimming can be dangerous in many areas.

Explore ancient Anuradhapura

Wonder at the extraordinary civilization that ruled from the ancient capital of Anuradhapura thousands of years ago. Its majestic remains testify to an advanced city carefully planned and filled with beautiful palaces, temples and giant stupas.

Go diving around Pigeon Island

Off the northeastern shore of Sri Lanka, this island is surrounded by a limestone reef which harbours 100 species of coral and more than 300 different types of fish. Declared a marine sanctuary in 1963, it’s a prime destination for divers… and pigeons.

Take a hike in Knuckles Range

Shaped like a giant fist, this rugged mountain range in the central south of Sri Lanka experiences much cooler temperatures than the rest of the country, making it perfect for hiking. Don your all-terrain boots and head for the hidden village of Meemure, where the villagers will happily lend beds to visitors for a modest fee.

Visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

This orphanage for Asian elephants is one of the most popular tourism attractions in Sri Lanka, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Though there are ample opportunities to feed the beasts and watch them bathe in a nearby river, ultimately they are not wild animals and are handled firmly by the resident mahoots.

Wander around Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Be amazed by Sri Lanka's best-known attraction, UNESCO-listed Sigiriya Rock Fortress. This stunning fifth-century palace-fortress perches atop a towering rock outcrop above the plains in the country's centre. Steps lead up from water gardens below and past murals of heavenly nymphs.