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5 Remarkable Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Nelusha enjoys sharing information about beautiful Sri Lanka.


Sri Lanka, described by Marco Polo as being "for its size, better circumstanced than any island in the world", is undeniably one of the most beautiful places you can visit. Within its tiny 65,610km2 of land area, the country hosts a diverse range of landscapes from mist-covered mountain tops, rolling hills with acres of tea plantations, spectacular beaches and extensive biodiversity, not to mention the rich documented history dating back 3000 years.

All this makes it seem challenging to plan your trip around Sri Lanka when you cannot possibly see everything the country has to offer. To make your travel plans that much easier, we have curated the 5 most remarkable places to visit in Sri Lanka if you, like most others, have limited time to travel.

Fun Fact: This list includes a couple of the sites that appeared on the 1980s music video 'Save a Prayer' by Duran Duran!

1. Pollonnaruwa

The ancient city of Pollonnaruwa is one of the many World Heritage Sites found in the country. Pollonnaruwa stood as the second oldest kingdom of the island after Anuradhapura. Exploring this ancient garden city with its completely preserved 12thcentury ruins helps you picture what the thriving capital would have appeared to be during its peak.

The best way to explore Pollonnaruwa is by renting a bicycle as the garden city with a multitude of structures from royal palaces to temples is spread out over 3000km2.

Begin your tour at the Archaeological Museum and proceed to the immense Royal Palace complex comprising of over 50 buildings. The well-preserved audience hall and the spectacular Sacred Quadrangle are must-visits in the area.

Also, watch out for the large troop of macaques that call the historic site their home, having resided there since ancient times.


2. Yala

Situated on the island's southeast coast, Yala National Park is a renowned destination for wildlife safaris. The park has incredibly varied environments and ecosystems, from coastal beach areas to vast grasslands, making it a thriving hotspot for a variety of fauna and flora.

Home to a very high population of leopards, you can hope to spot this apex predator on a daytime game drive at Yala National Park. The park is also home to a large population of elephants in addition to water buffalo, sloth bears and over 200 bird species, of which seven are native to the island.

Immerse yourself even further in the surrounding landscape of Yala by staying at Wild Coast Tented Lodge that sits adjacent to the park.

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It is a remarkable luxury tented camp built to blend into its landscape. Located on a jagged, bare beach overlooking the Indian Ocean, the resort comprises 28 luxury tents to choose from.

Besides wildlife, you can also find some historical sites within Yala. Sithulpawwa, an ancient Buddhist rock temple that was known to house 12,000 monks in its hay day and the Magul Maha Viharaya, which once stood as the setting for a royal wedding, are interesting venues to visit if you're in the area.

3. Tangalle

As an island surrounded by golden sandy beaches framed in tall palms, there's quite the pick to choose from when searching for a destination with tropical beach vibes. While some of them cater to the surfing and diving enthusiasts and others carry the slogan of 'beach party' towns, Tangalle falls in the quieter and more serene spectrum.

Situated at the centre of the southern coast, it is a popular tourist destination where you can find endless stretches of open sand to laze about and take in the sun.

If you fancy a bit of activity, head out to Rekawa beach situated east of Tangalle to observe the giant sea turtle nesting area, at the Turtle Conservation Centre.


4. Ella

They say it's the journey, not the destination, that counts, but in Ella, it's pretty literally both! The trip to this small hill country town is best experienced by train as this ride is considered one of the most highly rated train journeys in the world.

It's a slow ride as the train winds its way up and down hilltops, across fields and through rural towns providing quite the variance in the landscape to feast your eyes. It takes approximately 8 hours if you commence your journey from Colombo, but it's worth every second.

Once in Ella, you can find quite a number of leisurely hiking trails and nature treks to tackle from Little Adam's Peak to Ella Rock, where you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the hillside. Do not miss out on the scenic trek along the railway lines starting from Ella railway station, taking you across pine forests and teas plantations to get the majestic Nine Arch Bridge dating back to the colonial rule of the land.

The Ravana Falls and the legendary Ravana Cave are a few of the other iconic places you must visit while in Ella.


5. Sigiriya

Sigiriya is an impressive free-standing rock formation that once housed the palace of King Kashyapa atop its 220-meter structure. To date, engineers and archaeologists are marvelled by the construction, which dates back to 477 AD.


The ancient rock walls feature elaborate murals of the King's harem. That, together with the giant gateway carved from the rock in the shape of lion paws, makes Sigiriya one iconic work of art.

A 2 to 3-hour climb will take you to its summit, from which you can take in the vast city complex and the gardens that surround it.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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