Nicknamed the “Teardrop of India”, Sri Lanka packs a lot of punch into its tiny island home. It boasts captivating cultural and historical attractions, wildlife-rich national parks and tea-swathed highlands, not to mention stunning beaches that just lure you to relax. While it’s often overlooked for its northern neighbour, there are plenty of reasons why Sri Lanka should be on your “must visit” list and here are just five.


1. UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Sri Lanka is home a fascinating collection of historic ruins, colonial forts and sacred temples, many of which have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From the ruins of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa (both historic Ceylon capitals) to the Golden Temple of Dambulla and “Sky Palace” of Sigriya, the country’s cultural legacy is both rich and rewarding. You can wander along the colonial ramparts of Galle’s Old Town or experience all the colour and celebration of the annual Esala Perahera parade at the Temple of the Tooth Relic in the Sacred City of Kandy.

“Looking towards the “Sky Palace” of Sigriya, one of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites”


2. Stunning beaches

Ringed by idyllic Indian Ocean beaches, Sri Lanka is a destination where you can kick back on picture-perfect white sands, surf legendary breaks or delve into the local culture in traditional fishing villages. It’s home to numerous turtle hatcheries around the town of Bentota where you can play an important role in ensuring the long-term survival of sea turtles, as well as being on the route of migrating whales. Whether you want to indulge in the luxury beach resorts of Tangalle or escape to the remote stretches of sand around Trincomalee, Sri Lanka offers it all.

“A stunning stretch of sand on Sri Lanka’s west coast”


3. Tea-blanketed highlands

Despite its tropical coastline, the interior of Sri Lanka is home to cool-climate highlands where rolling hills blanketed in tea plantations are interspersed with forested plateaus. Spend your days discovering the secrets behind some of the world’s best teas and enjoying the colonial British atmosphere of Nuwara Eliya or soak up the breathtaking views while hiking to Ella Rock. Alternatively, embark on a trek through lush cloud forests to the dramatically sheer cliff of World’s End in Horton Plains National Park.

“Riding a train through the tea plantations of Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands”


4. Safari-style wildlife sightings

While you might think spotting elephants in the wild is more synonymous with Africa, Sri Lanka offers its own take on the safari in the national parks of Yala and Udawalawe. Both are home to large herds of elephants, not to mention water buffalo and Sri Lankan leopards, as well as luxury lodges where you can base yourself. If you’re more into birdwatching, head to the dense rainforest of Sinharaja or the jungles of Kitulgala to spot a range of exotic species. For those wanting to get up close to baby elephants, there’s no better place to visit than the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where you can assist in the rehabilitation of these gentle giants.

“Two young elephants playing during bath time at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage”


5. Cuisine

If you needed just one reason to visit Sri Lanka, then it would be the cuisine, which combines rich coconut milk curries with spicy sambals and a vast range of tropical fruits. Begin the day with “string hopper” steamed noodles, snack on rotis packed full with curry and indulge in banana leaf-wrapped lamprais. One of the best parts about eating in Sri Lanka is that you’re never served just one dish but a myriad choice of curries and accompaniments to feast on.

“A spread of Sri Lankan curries dished up at lunchtime”

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