The geographical diversity is stunning. Lowland and highland tropical rain forests teeming with many species, rolling lush hillsides high up in the mountains in a cool climate, where tea estates and golf clubs whisk you away to British colonial times, in addition to stunning beaches and outstanding seafood—just a small sample of what awaits you in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is so beautiful that it is said that when Portuguese explorers first arrived, they thought they had found paradise, such is the stunning natural beauty of the island.
Sri Lanka is home to a myriad of cultures and colourful traditions, influenced by everything from religion to neighbouring nations to European colonists.
Many influences over the centuries has left an indelible mark on Sri Lankan cuisine too.
Sri Lanka’s commercial capital Colombo is a bustling metropolis and the perfect place to begin your island adventure. A number of tourist-friendly establishments can be found along Colombo’s beaches.
[ Also read: 10 fun and interesting things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka ]
Cocktails and scrumptious eats on the beach, best enjoyed with a view of the sunset over the Indian Ocean, is a good way to unwind and get over any jet lag.
A fantastic array of restaurants and hotels that cater to all tastes and budgets await you in Colombo, along with cultural sites to snap some memorable photos and shops to pick up unique souvenirs. But, no visit to Colombo is complete without an evening stroll along Galle Face Green, a picturesque area directly across from the sea, where street-food vendors dish out spicy treats.
South of Colombo is Galle, a quaint town by the sea and sure to charm. Galle and neighbouring towns are famed for their beaches and excellent resorts.
The imposing 1600s Dutch fort in Galle overlooks the sea and provides a very pleasurable experience when explored by foot.
The Southern province, where Galle is located, has some of the country’s finest, freshest seafood and is full to the brim of charming, hidden-away restaurants, tea and coffee houses, and beach-front boutique hotels.
The area is popular amongst young travellers but still boasts unfrequented beaches and unparalleled privacy.
Visitors of all ages with a passion for photography adore the southern province for its scenic beaches.
From the south, head to the cooler climes of the mountainous central Sri Lanka. Stay in one of Nuwara Eliya’s elegant colonial-style hotels before heading to Kandy.
Offering unforgettable mountain views and several waterfalls, Sri Lanka’s hill country feels a world away from the rest of the island.
The tea estates here provide some of the world’s finest tea for lovers of the afternoon brew.
The city of Kandy is most-famous for the Temple of the Tooth, where the tooth of Buddha can be found. Take in a Kandyan dance performance; a twirling, drumming, stunning display of athleticism and finesse.
The drive north to Anuradhapura from Kandy or Nuwera Eliya can be long but it allows you to see much of the island’s breathtaking interior along the way.
The heartland of Sri Lanka’s ancient ruins, Anuradhapura and Sigiriya, offers tourists a rich glimpse into Sri Lanka’s past with a myriad of ancient sights. The greatest of these is undoubtedly the Sigiriya rock fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site built over 2000 years ago, which holds a mind-blowing irrigation system and a temple both at the summit.
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Before heading back to Colombo, tourists can now finally explore the wonders of the hitherto inaccessible northern and eastern provinces.
More of Sri Lanka’s best seafood and delicious curries, as well as fabulous white-sand beaches, await you in Trincomalee to the east and Jaffna to the north — both cities showcase the best of Sri Lankan Tamil culture and cuisine, with the iconic Jaffna Library and Pigeon Island National Park undoubtedly highlights.
The beaches here are some of the least-visited but leave visitors in awe.
Yet there is still much more Sri Lanka has to offer; no short stay can sufficiently expose you to all the marvels of this resplendent island nation.
Sri Lanka leaves even the most-seasoned traveller wishing they had come sooner.
A visit to Sri Lanka is more than just a beach vacation—it’s a positively profound and deeply enriching life experience.
© Island Life