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one day trip places in Sri Lanka

There are plenty of one day trip places in Sri Lanka that can help you explore the famed Teardrop of India to the full. From wave-washed surf beaches with pearly swells and palm trees to enthralling historic sites with ancient castles perched above the jungles, there really is something to suit a whole host of travelers.

Of course, whether or not it’s a suitable day-trip location depends on where you’re coming in from. Thankfully, Sri Lanka isn’t too big (like, it’s not India big). That means a lot of the mainstay places on this list are within a two- or three-hour transfer from Colombo , the popular south-coast beach resorts, the tea area of Ella, or the honeymoon resorts of the east coast.

This guide to the top one day trip places in Sri Lanka runs through just nine of the most incredible outings on offer in this land of roaming elephants and stalking leopards. It’s packed with options for surfers, safari goers, adrenaline seekers, and those on the hunt of hard-earned R&R.

Table of Contents

Kandy is the cultural capital of the island, set beneath the lush hills of the Central Highlands a couple of hours’ drive (and a little longer by train) to the east of Colombo. It’s one of the most popular one day trip places in Sri Lanka, mainly thanks to its totemic Buddhist temple complex: The Temple of the Tooth, which hosts a revered artifact that, legend has it, determines who controls the country.

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But Kandy is also a fun-filled and pretty place with lookout points that take in the glimmering waters of Kandy Lake, cafés that serve fresh highland teas to a view, and a bustling marketplace where you can shop for spices, veggie curries, loose tea, Sri Lankan folk trinkets – the list goes on.

Now, when you’re done exploring the little city in the hills, you could high-tail it back to the west coast beaches if you like. Or you could push on deeper into the mountains. Kandy happens to be the starting point of the iconic train journey through to Ella, the tea town. It’s an epic undertaking that last six or eight hours and means riding a snaking locomotive through emerald-green tea paddies and rising peaks.

Wilpattu National Park

The Wilpattu National Park is one of the more off-the-beaten-track nature reserves on the island. It’s quite a distance from the beaches where most people go, sat about 4.5 hours north of the capital of Colombo. For that reason, it’s best to launch day trips here from the historic city of Anuradhapura, the capital of the North Central Province.

Wilpattu itself is characterized by seemingly endless swathes of scrubby monsoon forest and palu woods, interspersed with big sand depressions that turn into lakes when the rains come in May. These are what help support the big populations of Sri Lankan elephants, along with herds of water buffalo, and even the rare leopard and sloth bear.

The best way to see all the above is on an open-top jeep safari. They can last 12 hours or go on for days on end. Again, the best ones – that is, the ones with the most chance of yielding sightings of incredible wildlife – are the ones that take place early on, around 5am or 6am, so be sure to pick a package that leaves early.

Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak might not be the highest in the country (that honor goes to Pidurutalagala at a cloud-shattering 2,524 meters above sea level) but it’s probably the best-known mountain in Sri Lanka. Also known as Sri Pada, it pinnacles its way atop the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary on the southwestern haunch of the Central Highlands.

You can’t really miss it. It looks like something out of a fantasy novel, twisted and twirled like the mountain from The Grinch . The fabled appearance of Adam’s Peak has given it a central place in the mythology of the island. It’s considered sacred by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike, and is said to be topped by a boulder that contains the outline of the Buddha’s footprint, no less!

The hike to the top is a popular pilgrimage route. It’s no walk in the park, but there are more than seven ways to get there, on trails that make use of concrete staircases cut straight into the side of the summit. You can even do this one in a day from Colombo, since the trailhead at Erathna is just 3.5 hours outside of the capital.

Calling all culture and history buffs – this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must. Day trips can be done from Colombo, Kandy, and even the beaches of Bentota, although the transfer from there is a hefty 3-4 hours or more. Still, it’s worth it, because what awaits is one of the most breathtaking sites on the island.

An ancient rock citadel that soars more than 400 meters over the jungles and woods of central Sri Lanka, it was built way back in the 5 th century AD by King Kashyapa I. Over the centuries it grew and grew, as elaborate water gardens and fresco-covered terraces were added. Later, it was transformed into a Buddhist temple and worshipping site, which continued on until the 14 th century.

Today, there are oodles of different tours you can do of Sigiraya. We’d recommend one that includes a dedicated guide, because there are some seriously enthralling historical narratives to spin here (think pitched elephant battles and the like). Alternative options include hikes up to peaks around Sigiraya itself, where sweeping views of the island unfold all around.

There’s certainly no shortage of stunning beaches on the Teardrop of India, from the surf-washed coral gardens of Hikkaduwa to the long bays of Bentota. However, we’ve got a real soft spot for the as-yet untouched south coast region, which is where you find the trio of bays that make up Tangalle. Our advice? Get here quick. The area is fast becoming a hotspot for get-away-from-it-all holidays, and there are plots of land on the shoreline that are just crying out to be developed.

But, for now at least, the Tangalle of old remains. It’s a hefty day trip to get down here from Colombo, but it’s still doable. More likely are day outings to Tangalle from the resorts of Mirissa and Midigama, which involve a transfer of about two hours tops.

Visitors to this lovely corner of the island will be treated to long scythes of golden sand bashed by shorebreaks, all threaded by endless groves of palm trees that periodically drop uber-fresh coconuts. We’d also recommend popping into Rekawa Beach, a well-known and protected turtle nesting place in the monsoon months. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing to witness if you’re lucky enough to catch it happening.

Hiriketiya Beach

Hidden down between the wave-pounded beaches of the Sri Lanka south coast, little Hiriketiya Beach is a secret paradise where the sands are a glimmering white and the palm trees stoop close to the shoreline. It’s become WAY busier in the last five years or so, but still has that chilled-out, tropical vibe about it. Only now there’s a few more cafés and breakfast spots to pick from.

You can get day trips to Hiriketiya from loads of the resorts on the southwestern side of Sri Lanka – places like Tangalle, Matara, Weligama, and Mirissa. They mainly revolve around one thing and one thing only: Surfing. Mhmm…tiny little Hiri boasts one of the best beginner and improver waves on the whole island. It’s a mellow beach break but is joined at the hip to a more challenging left-hand reef break for the better riders.

If you did decide to stick around for a couple of days, then you can pick from an ever-growing cohort of surfer shacks and hotels – Salt House ($$) and the Hiriketiya Beach Hotel ($$) are two of the best located. There’s also a neat array of Ayurveda spas offering relaxation and Sri Lankan kitchens to taste your way through.

Udawalawe National Park

A three-hour drive from Colombo but much less from the smaller beach towns of the south coast, the Udawalawe National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated wildernesses. Covering a whopping 31,000 hectares of land just south of the mountains and the Ella tea fields, it encompasses swaying grasslands and vast tracts of wetland habitat.

The star of the show here is the booming herd of over 250 Sri Lankan elephants that can be seen stalking the park. But they aren’t the only thing to look out for on an Udawalawe safari, though. There are also elusive leopards, water buffalo, monitor lizards, and formidable mugger crocodiles.

Most jaunts into the protected reserve take all day long and start real early. That means you’ll need to be based close to the entrance to start things off, as the best time for viewing the wildlife is just before dawn. Expect to pay around $100 per person for a good tour, which should include all entry fees and a dedicated safari guide.

The train ride up to Ella is famous in itself. It’s a 7-hour romp through emerald-green rice paddies as you rise and rise into the heart of the Central Highlands. That’s really the only way to arrive – the train leaves daily in the morning from the cultural hub of Kandy. You have to book tickets in advance to secure the best seats.

You’ll arrive late in the evening, so technically Ella itself is more of a two-day-trip destination, though you can come on organized tours that take less than 24 hours if you absolutely must. The reason it’s worth a mention is because it’s the trekking capital of the whole island. Day-long walking routes weave out from the town up to Ella Rock and to Little Adam’s Peak, offering sweeping views of jungles and canyons carved by waterfalls. Try to leave as early as you can for hikes, since the weather changes fast in the early afternoon when storms sweep up the valley from the south coast.

Ella also has one or two sights and draws for those who aren’t so fussed about hiking. It’s the capital of the tea-growing region, so come to buy your local leaves. It’s also home to one or two gorgeous colonial-era ruins, like the much-photographed Nine Arch Bridge.

The town of Galle is a fantastic day-trip opportunity from pretty much any of the beach resorts around the southwest coast of the island. It’s now a fully designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed for its historic fortifications, most of which were raised between the 15 th and 17 th centuries by the Portuguese and the Dutch.

You can walk the whole length of the walls to this day. It’s a wonderful experience, as you pass white-sand beaches here and see colonial-era lighthouses there. Dive into the center of the city and you’ll wander the most European of all the Sri Lankan cities. It’s a place replete with narrow cobbled lanes and roadside cafés, shaded arcades and looming churches.

These days, the Fort area of Galle – the place where you’ll spend most of your time – is a bit of an artsy hub. You’ve got concept art stores, boutique B&Bs, even Neapolitan pizza restaurants. The beach on the southwest side of the town – known as Galle Fort Swiming Beach – is the best in the area for when it’s time to cool off.

One day trip places in Sri Lanka – a conclusion

There are loads and loads of one day trip places in Sri Lanka. In fact, the island is packed to bursting with enthralling history sights and glimmering beaches that beckon globetrotters of all stripes. This guide touches on just a few, including the totemic historic relics of Sigiriya and the famous Buddhist shrines of Kandy, surf beaches on the south coast and national parks that are filled with elephants. Some of them might require a bit more effort to reach than others, but, as ever on the Teardrop of India, the journey is part of the fun, especially if it’s that day-long romp on the heritage train from Kandy to Ella!

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The Best 12 Places for One-Day Trips in Sri Lanka

The charming coast with the ocean, shore, and the greenery at Arugam Bay

Sri Lanka, the paradise in the Indian ocean, the tiny island full of beauty and fortune has become a tourist landmark on the world map. With its mostly known natural beauty which extends up to historical values along with its man-made monuments, the island indeed is a paradise hidden in the enormous Indian ocean. Hence, Sri Lanka has been the finest place for travelers all over the world where one can get all opportunities in one place. The most important thing is that there are dozens of places to visit and some of them do not belong to the one-day trip category as well. Yet, despite the fact whether you are a foreigner or a local, having a plan for one-day trips in Sri Lanka before starting to travel around will make you travel throughout the island in a brief time.

So, we thought of helping you out with some of the best suggestions for one-day trips to Sri Lanka. Continue reading for a full overview with regard!

Best Places for One-Day Trips in Sri Lanka

Our suggestion for one-day trips in Sri Lanka covers a wide range of places starting from nature visits to mountain hiking extending up to ancient places and city tours. Here is a list of such places that you can explore within a single day!

  • Yala National Park
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Nuwara Eliya
  • Adam’s Peak
  • Anuradhapura
  • Polonnaruwa

Excited to know more about these places? Continue reading!

Surrounded by green hills and a blue water body, Kandy remains highly significant in Central Sri Lanka. Besides, the charming scenic surroundings and the relaxing climate out there attract tourists in thousands each day. However, if you are planning a one-day trip to beautiful Kandy, there are a few places that you should certainly visit. The most important among them is the Temple of the Tooth Relic and the Royal Botanical Garden of Peradeniya .

The white building complex of the Temple of the Tooth Relic stands with majesty in the town. Further, this palace enshrines the left tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. Hence, Buddhists consider this one of their main religious attractions. Besides, its architectural features, statues, paintings, and murals, which belong to the Kandyan Era , make it more special. Owing to these reasons the Temple of the Tooth Relic gets a huge crowd daily.

However, the best time to visit this sacred place is between July and August. The reason why we say so is that there is this vibrant procession of the temple – Esala Peradera festival , during that period.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic is indeed an ideal place for a one-day trip, and a few hours would be sufficient for you to explore this place. Next, you can visit the Royal Botanical Garden, if you wish to.

The Royal Botanical Garden is situated just a few miles away from Kandy, and it is simply a land of natural beauty. The colorful blossoms, huge trees, and the beautiful landscapes out there are sure to fascinate your eyes. You can spend a few hours amidst the nature in this place, and end your one-day tour in Kandy with a city tour around this bustling, yet charming area.

2. Yala National Park

Nature is one of the most integral parts of the Sri Lankan territories. Being a justice to this statement, one can find numerous wildlife and nature-preserved areas all around the country. Among these dozens of wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Sri Lanka , Yala is the most famous wildlife hotspot. In fact, one can find a wide array of animals, birds, and reptile species endemic to Sri Lanka along with a larger variety of migrant species within its territories. 

You may wonder how this becomes the best place for one-day trips in Sri Lanka. Keep calm, we are ready to explain to you why!

Yala National Park is the best place to have a full day safari through the woods of its area in order to explore the beautiful nature in Southern Sri Lanka. Besides, this national park is well-known for Leopards, hence spotting leopards is obvious. However, the true fun is in exploring Yala three times a day. It allows you to spot every single animal in the jungle including buffalos, elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, and birds. The bottom line is it is the ideal place for nature and wildlife lovers to witness what they adore within a day. 

3. Arugam Bay

Being an island surrounded by the Indian ocean indeed makes Sri Lanka special beyond a doubt. Also, without just having the sea, but with bays, lagoons, and everything related to the sea it has become more alluring.

However, one of the most significant and charming shores that Sri Lanka has is Arugam Bay. It is located towards the dry part of the island. The splendid environment, vibrant beach, and chilling vibe it provides are equally incredible. Besides, Arugam Bay is known for surfing more than anything. It has perfect surfing points for both beginners and experts.

Further, the presence of Kumana National Park within the vicinity of its location is an added advantage. So, Arugamy bay is the right place to enjoy the beach vibe to its fullest within one whole day. If you need a break from your busy day, get a day off, and visit this incredible place. Then breathe to let out all your stress while hearing the song that the ocean sings. 

4. Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Have you heard about the UNESCO world heritage sites ? Do you believe that Sri Lanka has its eighth heritage? Yes, it is true! Sri Lanka has its eighth heritage towards the Northern Central part of the country. This place is known as the Sigiriya Lion Fortress and it had been a castle back in the past.

The fortress is on the top of a huge rock that has the entrance of a giant lion’s paw. Being a creation that combines natural and man-made amazement is the specialty of Sigiriya. Climbing the Sigiriya rock would approximately take around one and half hours, and the views it offers at the top are simply impressive. Besides, the world-famous Sigiriya frescoes, the mirror wall, ancient palace ruins on the top, and the water garden further enhance the significance of this wonderful place. Moreover, it is an incredible creation that reveals the cultural heritage, as well as the advanced architectural and drainage systems of ancient times.

Hence, this is a place where one can have a vintage vibe while exploring the beauty of ancient garden and pool structures. Most people dedicate half of their day to exploring the Sigiriya world heritage site and choose to hike Pidurangala in the evening hours, which is just a few miles away from Sigiriya. However, Sigiriya is an ideal place for a one-day trip in Sri Lanka, for anyone who loves history and hiking!

5. Nuwara Eliya

Moving a little bit from the Sri Lankans and history, now we have come to a destination where people do not believe their eyes seeing in Sri Lanka. To prove that point, locals call this area, ‘Little London’.

Nuwara Eliya is the coldest part of the country. However, the beauty of the city is in its climate, surrounding, and architecture. Believe us, you will be in another world after reaching Nuwara Eliya.

This city has a strong bond with colonizers since it has ancient European building structures and city formations. Still, the natural beauty of Sri Lanka with its waterfalls , hills, and tea plantations have marked the ownership of the country. Further, the city is surrounded by many more landmarks. Therefore, it is indeed a must-visit. Read our article on ‘ Nuwara Eliya, the Fascinating Misty Mountain Town of Sri Lanka! ‘, to get to know about the best places to visit in this charming town. Above all, remember to take a train ride to Nuwara Eliya since it adds up to the vibe that the city gives even before arriving. 

6. Galle Fort

Every corner of Sri Lanka is filled with wonders. From North to South, from East to West, it is filled with beauty and splendor in its own way. Galle Dutch fort provides evidence to the above statement since it has its own beauty while being a part of the history of the country. It is also one of the places where you can find colonizer reminiscence but in a positive way.

The fort is very old yet stands still. The area is structured according to Dutch architecture and still gives out the feeling of Sri Lanka. The delightful sea view and the washing-out waves add more glamour to the vintage picture it gives while making visitors more than satisfied. The fascinating atmosphere impresses the visitors and makes them live a quality moment there. 

Including this incredible monument, the Galle city is a place full of beauty with many more landmarks around. Also, do not forget to have a set of quality photos there since Galle Fort is a place that photographers often choose.

After all, it indeed is best for a one-day trip where you can have a variety of experiences related to the sea and nature. Read our article on ‘ Galle, the Most Surprising Paradise of Southern Sri Lanka ‘ to get to know more about this wonderful city.

7. Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak or the Sri Padaya is one of the important religious places that thousands of pilgrims visit per year. To be specific, it is a mountain that goes up to a great height and preserves a huge footprint that each religion believed to be their own religious leader’s. Hence, without an exception, every single individual in the country is determined to visit the place even once in their lifetime. So, it is also a place of unity and harmony, and that fact makes it more special.

Being an exceptionally significant religious place for more than a thousand years, Adam’s Peak has become an important landmark in Sri Lanka. The journey up to the mountain is no less than a hike where you can find a proper path.

However, it is said that choosing nighttime to make this journey is more effective. It will take around 2-4 hours to reach the summit and then 1-2 hours for the way back. So, be ready to face any hardship during this period since it is not worth returning before reaching the summit. Therefore this is a journey that one can make within even less than a day. If you are willing to visit, remember to go during the Adam’s Peak season, which is from December to April.

Now, we are ready to take you once again to the Down South area of Sri Lanka in order to show you another wonder. As you might already know, the southern sea is associated with many beauties and thus there are dozens of places to visit. And yes, one of them is Mirissa which is a place that makes you forget the rest of the world.

In fact, Mirissa is a small village with wonders and many consider it a paradise for travelers. It is a place that stops both breath and heartbeat for a few seconds due to the incredible beauty it possesses. Since this is one of the best beach areas in Sri Lanka there are many reasons why you should visit Mirissa . Here are some of them!

This beach area is very clean and geographically beautifully formed. Other than that, this area is famous for water sports and delicious seafood items as well. Besides, the most important thing that this beachside offers you is whale watching and that is simply a super amazing experience. How could someone come back from a place like that? So, remember to leave your footprints there, not your heart!

9. Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is the capital city of the ancient Anuradhapura kingdom , and thus, a city with a bunch of historical values. Once you arrive at this ancient town, you can either use private transportation or hire a bicycle and roam around. Many of the attractions are located closer to each other. Owing to this reason exploring the city is never an issue. Besides, since the city houses several religious and cultural attractions , you can choose what to visit according to your preferences, and the time available.

You can read our article on ‘ The Most Significant Places to Visit in Anuradhapura ‘ to get to know about the attractions out there. However, most of the people definitely choose to visit the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi , Ruwanweli Seya , the Samadhi Statue, and climb the Mihintale rock or relax by a lake in the evening hours, if they go on a one-day trip to Anuradhapura.

10. Polonnaruwa

Sri Lanka is an island that shifts from beauty to history and then to nature. Among many, Polonnaruwa is a city filled with historical monuments and ruins that have been preserved thousands of years back. This is one of the best places where one can learn about the history of Sri Lanka , particularly the kingdoms, kings ruled, and their contribution to the development of certain sectors. Other than that, the Polonnaruwa city is filled with prosperous lakes, chains of paddy fields, and lush greenery. So, this city takes you to heaven of peace with its atmosphere.

One day will serve you a full tour around the city along with the knowledge and amazement. The best thing one can find among the ruins belongs to the glorious history of the island, is the archaeological system prevailed at the time. It is an unbelievable meticulous technology that no one believes to be there. You will realize it by exploring the dozens of ancient structures, tombs and temples, and stupas in Polonnaruwa. So, if you are a person who has an urge to walk through the pages of history, this is an ideal place for you to explore!

11. Dambulla

Located in Central Sri Lanka, Dambulla is a charming city with many historical values. And yes, many consider it a cultural treasure trove owing to the rich heritage it reveals to the world.

However, the most significant attraction in the city of Dambulla is its cave temple. This temple consists of five caves, and it is believed to be the best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka as well. The murals and paintings, statues of Lord Buddha, and the rest of the statues of the deities in these caves hold amazing artistic and historical values. Hence, many visitors spend some good hours studying these valuable artifacts in these caves.

Apart from that, the Dambulla area is very famous among travelers for village tours and hot air balloon rides. So, after exploring the cave temple, many dedicate their day to such activities. Meanwhile, some choose to head to Sigiriya to climb the rock fortress as well. All in all, Dambulla is one of the best places for a one-day trip in Sri Lanka, that would delight you with many amazing experiences!

12. Colombo

Sri Lanka is not all about culture, heritage, nature, and history. Yes, it is about modernization and development as well. It is evident through the largest city of Sri Lanka, Colombo .

As you may know, Colombo is the most developed, most crowded, and most urbanized city in the country. It is still under development, yet sophisticated. However, the city houses several important landmarks that are not second to world landmarks. Therefore, it is a great place to have a tour around and explore both new and old monuments. 

Colombo has been famous as the all-to-go option for all matters of the country for so long. Besides, it is also considered the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. It is not that the city does not value nature, but it preserves the value of both the country and nature. The full city tour is worth having in order to explore the diversity and the lifestyle of the Sri Lankans. So, without a doubt, Colombo is one of the best places for one-day trips in Sri Lanka!

The Bottom Line

The world knows Sri Lanka especially due to its attraction. In fact, every inch of the country is filled with a different specialty. Thus, it as a whole is a paradise full of wonders. Owing to these reasons, Sri Lanka has now become a place that one should visit to witness its beauty and culture even once in a lifetime. Besides, even the locals have so much to explore on this island. Therefore, traveling in Sri Lanka is a favorite of many. However, when planning a trip, many prefer to go on one-day trips. Hence, we believe that this read gave you some perfect suggestions to plan your one-day trips, here in Sri Lanka. Explore this island, and delight yourself. Happy and safe traveling!  

You may be excited for a tranquil beach vacation along a gorgeous stretch of golden sand. If not, you might be thrilled to experience the exhilaration and thrill of the incredible wildlife among the breathtaking scenery. Going further, you can even be anticipating learning about the splendor of the historical tales entwined with the island's customs. Similarly, your dream could be anywhere in these boundaries or outside of them. Nevertheless, we cherish your dream and pledge to turn it into a reality. Indeed, the Customized Tour Packages we provide serve as evidence that we honor our commitments.

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12 AWESOME Places For A One-Day Trip Near Colombo

Colombo is the biggest city in Sri Lanka, and there are 12 really fun of places that make exciting one day trips from Colombo Sri Lanka!

Wondering where you can go on a one-day trip from Colombo, Sri Lanka?

Colombo is the largest city in Sri Lanka, and while there are a few things to see in the capital city, you do not necessarily need a significant amount of time in Colombo to see everything.

Instead of spending all of your time exploring the city, you should consider taking one of these one-day trips from Colombo!

In this post, we are going to tell you about 12 beautiful places in Sri Lanka for a one-day trip from Colombo, explain which months of the year are the best time to go, and finally, we will show you where to find the best tours for each day trip from Colombo.

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Some of these one-day trip places near Colombo are adventurous, some are historically interesting, and others are just beautiful landmarks of Sri Lanka that would be worth a visit.

13 Best One-Day Trips from Colombo

When narrowing down these day trips from Colombo, we chose not to include some beautiful places in Sri Lanka that were more than 4 hours away from the city. This amount of time in the car, in our opinion, is not worth a day trip but rather a multi-day excursion.

Jump to “Multi-day trips from Colombo”

We also left out some popular day trips in Sri Lanka for ethical reasons (like Pinnawala Elephant Sanctuary) or because we feel that they are slightly overrated (like Unawatuna Beach & Negombo).

We hope that narrowing down these excursions makes it easier for you to decide what is worth your time and energy!

So without further ado, here are 12 of the best one-day trip places near Colo mbo :

#1 – Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya Rock Fortress - one day trip places near colombo

Book a tour of Sigiriya Rock Fortress HERE!

Sigiriya Rock Fortress (Also known as Lion’s Rock) is a massive monolith dropped right in the center of the Sri Lankan plains. This phenomenon is understandably one of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. It is great for adventure travelers, hikers, and history buffs.

At the top of Sigiriya Rock, you can experience stunning views and the ancient ruins of a 5th-century royal palace. The ancient city has lots of other preserved ruins, but this massive granite rock palace is the main attraction.

The climb to the top of Sigiriya takes roughly one hour to complete, and the entrance fee is about $30/per person.

Sigiriya is quite a far distance from Colombo, at 180 kilometers (3.5 hours by car). You can read more about how to get from Colombo to Sigiriya here, in case you want to visit for a couple of days!

Best Time To Visit Sigiriya Rock

The best time to visit Sigiriya and Dambulla is between January and September. This is when the cultural triangle (Sigiriya, Dambulla, & Anuradhapura) experiences the least amount of rainfall.

If you travel in June or July, it will be HOT. Bring lots of water on the hike and try to get to Sigiriya as early as possible.

How to Book a Tour

The best value for your money would be to Book this Colombo to Sigiriya Day Tour , which is a little more expensive, but it includes your tickets to Lion’s Rock and included a village cultural experience, where you will participate in a fishing boat ride, bullock cart ride, and a Sri Lankan cooking class in one trip!

#2 – Temple of the Sacred Tooth & Kandy Town

Temple of the Sacred Tooth - Kandy

Book a tour of Temple of the Sacred Tooth HERE!

Kandy is a popular tourist city in the foothills of Sri Lanka’s hill country. It is much cooler than Colombo (in temperature and scenery), making it a popular city for tourists to spend a few days and digital nomads to base themselves on for a few months.

If you do not have time to actually stay the night in Kandy, it is only 3 hours from Colombo by car or train. You should absolutely take a day trip to go and see the highlights of Kandy, including the Royal Botanical Gardens, Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy Lake, shopping, and tons of delicious cafes and restaurants .

day trips from Kandy, Sri Lanka - Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens are wonderful. We did not expect to enjoy them as much as we did, but we spent all morning in the gardens without getting bored. They have a huge variety of plant species and flower gardens, but the most beautiful sections of all were the three palm groves. It is 100% worth the time and effort to come here!

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the most famous part of Kandy. It is believed that the temple holds the actual tooth of The Buddha, kept safe in a seven-layer, two-story casket inside the temple.

While this is the most significant part of the temple, the grounds are also beautiful to explore, and the exterior makes for great photos!

The Queens Hotel & Kandy Lake: The Queens Hotel is a colonial-era historical hotel that sits across from the Temple of the Scared Tooth Relic. The temple is fully functional and a very popular place to photograph in Kandy.

Adjacent to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the Queens Hotel is Kandy Lake. The lake is a nice place to take a stroll and has some nice viewpoints along the way.

Best Time to Visit Kandy

Kandy, Sri Lanka, is affected moderately by both monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka. You can expect some rain during all months of the year, but the driest season tends to be from December to May . Kandy is also at a higher elevation, so you should pack a long-sleeved shirt and pants for the cooler evenings in Kandy.

The best tour from Kandy is this Kandy Day Tour From Colombo . It includes a guided tour of the Royal Botanical Gardens, shopping district, and Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, as well as complete transportation to and from the city of Kandy from Colombo.

If you want to save some money, you can consider finding your own transportation to/from Kandy and book this Full-Day Tour starting in Kandy.

#3 – Galle, Fort & Stilt Fishing

Book a trip to Galle Fort HERE!

The historic city of Galle and Galle Fort are some of the best places to visit from Colombo City. The Galle Fort is over 400 years old and is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sights in Sri Lanka.

The city of Galle is also famous for European-influenced architecture, great shopping, and wonderful restaurants on the coast. If you are interested in Ceylon gems and jewelry, Galle would be a great place to shop for a piece to take home.

Stilt-fishing is a famed local profession in Galle. While it is no longer used in a practical sense, today, stilt-fishing in Sri Lanka is a performance for travelers, providing insight into the history of traditional Sri Lankan fishing.

Best Time to Visit Galle Fort

The best time of year to take a day trip from Colombo to Galle is from late December to April, but the shoulder seasons (May and November) can be a decent time to visit, depending on the year.

This is the highest-rated day tour from Colombo by a long shot . You will spend time at Bentota Beach, see the Turtle Hatchery in Hikkaduwa, explore Galle Fort, and see the historic art of stilt-fishing in Ahanagama.

#4 – Dambulla Cave Temple And Royal Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple - day trip from Kandy and day trip from Colombo

Book a day trip to Dambulla Cave Temple HERE!

The town of Dambulla is famous for its two gorgeous temples.

The Dambulla Cave Temple is an amazing temple complex built into a cave on the outskirts of Dambulla. The entrance fee to the temple is only a few dollars, and after climbing the stairs up to the temple entrance, visitors are rewarded with an intricate architectural complex to walk around.

At the base of the small mountain below the cave is the Golden Temple in Dambulla . The Golden Temple is known for its massive, golden Buddha statue and colorful palace at its foot. This temple is in the same complex (and therefore included in the price) as the Dambulla Cave Temple.

Best time to Visit Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla is one point of the cultural triangle, and therefore (similar to Sigiriya), there is no BAD time to visit. However, the best time is between January – April.

There are several day tours that visit the Dambulla/Sigiriya area from Colombo. Many, but not all, include Dambulla Cave and Royal Temple. We recommend pairing the temple with Lion’s Rock in this awesome day tour with Viator . This allows you to see three of the coolest attractions in this part of the country!

#5 – Kitugala White Water Rafting

Book a white water rafting trip in Kitugala HERE!

Kitugala is one of the adventure capitals of Sri Lanka, and it is only 2.5 hours from Colombo. In Kituagala, you are able to find tours that will take you hiking through the rainforest or trekking to waterfalls, but the most popular reason people go to Kitugala is for White Water Rafting!

Best Time to Visit Kitugala

The Kitugala region is the wettest region of Sri Lanka because the town is heavily affected by both monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka. For the very best chance of good weather, try to come during late winter (January to March) .

We found the most affordable and highly-rated white water rafting tours in Kitugala on Viator. Feel free to click the link for our recommended tour or explore Viator for more options.

#6 – The Ancient City of Anuradhapura

stupas in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Book a day trip to Anuradhapura HERE!

Another amazing historical sight that you can visit on a day trip from Colombo is the ancient capital city of Anuradhapura.

This city is home to some of the largest stupas in the world, as well as an entire ancient city that has been excavated and preserved. You can rent a bicycle and explore miles of building foundations, bathhouses, moonstones, religious monuments, wells, and more.

The entry fee for Anuradhapura is $25 , and most people take the whole day to learn about the history of the city first-hand.

Slightly northeast of the city is a famous peak called Mintahale. This is considered to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and it is a popular pairing for day trips from Colombo to Anuradhapura .

Best Time to Visit Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is the third point in the Sri Lankan cultural triangle (with Sigiriya and Dambulla). Any time between January and September would be a great time to visit, with the exception of June and July, as they are the hottest months of the year.

You can check the prices of a day trip from Colombo to Anuradhapura here . Most tours include transportation and meals, but unfortunately, they usually do not include the entrance fee to the ruins.

#7 – Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex

places to visit in sri lanka one day

You may have already seen some of the jaw-dropping pictures on Instagram of people climbing the stairs to the top of Ambuluwawa Tower . We can assure you that it is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka for a one-day trip.

The multi-religious complex is dominated by a spiraling staircase that comes to a point that is thousands of feet above the Gampola. The actual structure itself is not quite as tall as we thought it would be, but the views surpassed all our expectations.

Ambuluwawa Tower is a long drive from Colombo, at 3 hours, but it ended up being one of the best experiences we had in the country. It’s absolutely worth a day trip if you will be staying in Colombo for a few days.

Best Time to Visit Ambuluwawa Tower

Ambuluwawa is affected by the same climate and seasons as Kandy. You can expect it to be temperate throughout the year, with the best weather from December to April and the most rainfall coming between June and October.

There are no day tours to book online for Ambuluwawa Tower, but if you day a tour to Kandy and rent a motorbike, you can visit very easily on your own!

#8 – Pidurangala Rock

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Book a day trip to Pidurangala Rock HERE!

Earlier, we talked about the Lion’s Rock Fortress in Sigiriya, which is an astounding place to see up close at the top. However, the BEST view of Lion’s Rock is actually from the top of Pidurangala Rock.

This was definitely the highlight of Dambulla/Sigiriya for us. Our advice is to give Pidurangala Rock a definite spot in your itinerary while traveling in Sri Lanka.

Most travelers hike to the top of Pidurangala Rock to watch the sunrise over Sigiriya. The rock is not too hard of a climb, and once you are finished, you have the entire day to explore the rest of Sigiriya!

Best Time to Visit Pidurangala Rock

Pidurangala Rock is in Sigiriya, so the best time to visit is between January and October, just like Lion’s Rock Fortress and Dambulla Cave Temple.

This Sigiriya + & Pidurangala Rock tour is an excellent tour option from Colombo if you are interested in visiting Pidurangala Rock!

#9 – Take a National Park Safari

Wilpatu Safari - Day trips from Colombo

Book a Safari day trip from Colombo HERE!

Another popular thing to do in Sri Lanka is to take a wildlife safari at one of the national parks! There are so many national parks throughout the country!

Unfortunately, some of the most popular safaris in Sri Lanka—Yala and Uduwalawe National Park—are over 5 hours from Colombo. This is a little too far for a day trip… unless you are willing to drive a whole 10 hours for a one-day trip, It’s not worth it.

No worries! Fortunately, there are 4 other National Parks in Sri Lanka located just a few hours north and east of Colombo! These national parks would easily make a fun one-day trip from Colombo .

Minneriya National Park / Kaudulla National Park / Habarana National Park

Heading towards Sigiriya, there are 3 national parks close together; Kaudulla National Park, Minneriya National Park , and Habarana National Parks . These parks actually have the densest population of elephants in the country. Visit these parks between J uly through October to witness ‘the gathering’. At this time of year, all of the elephants migrate to Minneriya National Park as other water sources in the area dry up.

Pazook Tip: Be sure to ask around to see which national park has the most wildlife action. This changes throughout the year, but it’s unpredictable. The local tour guides will be able to tell you which tour is best whenever you are actually in Sri Lanka.

Wilpattu National Park

Wilpattu is another really popular national park not too far from Colombo. This park is becoming more popular as an alternative to the busy national parks in the South and around Sigiriya. This is actually the only place outside of Yala National Park where you can see leopards in their natural habitat.

If you take a safari through Wilpattu, you will also see peacocks, foxes, water buffalo, and a variety of beautiful birds!

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Best Time To Take A Safari

The best time to visit is between July and October when hundreds of elephants gather in Minneriya/Kaudulla National Park. Northern Sri Lanka is affected by the northeast monsoon, so it is best to avoid this region between October and January. The weather at the northern national parks is similar to Wilpattu National Park.

The cheapest tours to these three national parks are from Sigiriya. However, you can book a day trip from Colombo as well. These tours include transportation, a meal, and usually a couple of other stops along the way.

Minneriya National Park Safari (unavailable for the summer) – The most well-known National Park and home to ‘the gathering’ of elephants each summer in Sri Lanka is Minneriya National Park. This national park is one of the few reservoirs that stays green throughout the dry season.

Kaudulla National Park Safari – This national park is right next to Minneriya National Park, and elephants frequently travel between the two parks throughout the year. Ask locals for advice on which park to visit to see the elephants since they migrate back and forth.

Habarana National Park (Hurulu Eco Park) – At certain times of the year, the elephants will migrate away from Minneriya and Kaudulla National Parks to a third National Park nearby called Habarana National Park. There is a section of Habarana National Park called Hurulu Eco Park, which is where we took a safari and saw tons of elephants, birds, and peacocks.

Willpattu National Park – If you want to take a safari at Wilpattu National Park, you should book with Big Game Camp. This is a super unique experience where you get to go glamping in the National Park! They will take you on a half-day safari and a night walk throughout your luxury camping experience.

We actually had a poor experience on our day tour of Wilpattu National Park because of a bad tour guide. Later on, we discovered that the best safari experience in Wilpattu is with Big Game Camp . So now we are recommending them to you!

Interested in an OVERNIGHT safari in Wilpatu National Park?

—> Book your experience with Big Game Camp HERE! <—

#10 – Adam’s Peak Sunrise Hike (overnight)

Adam's Peak- Day trips from Colombo

Book a day trip to Adam’s Peak HERE!

Adam’s Peak is one of the most sacred places in all Sri Lanka. It is a coveted pilgrimage that has made it onto a lot of Sri Lanka bucket lists over the years.

Although the hike is extremely popular, it is also very difficult. The hike for sunrise involves starting around 2:00 am and hiking over 5000 steps to the top.

The entirety of the hike takes between 4-6 hours, depending on your experience. It takes 3-4 hours to get to the top, then 1-2 hours to get down.

Most hikers try to get down the mountain by 9 am before the heat of the day sets in.

The hike is well-lit and easy to follow, so you do not necessarily need a tour guide to lead you up the mountain, just a ride to the base of the hike and someone to wait on you for the morning, so you have a ride back to Colombo.

The ‘night trips’ begin around 10 pm from Colombo. The drive to Nallathaniya is slightly over 4 hours.

When you get to the base of the mountain, you can eat a late meal and begin hiking straight away. The tour driver will find a place to sleep for the night (or maybe he will hike along with you), then drive you back the next morning when you get back down the mountain.

Even though the hike is rigorous, it is SO worth it. The sunrise from the top of Adam’s Peak was the most beautiful sunrise we have ever seen! We would consider this one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka for a one-day trip!

Pazook Tip: you can also travel to Adam’s Peak as a one-day trip from Kandy .

Best Time to Visit Adam’s Peak

You can only hike Adam’s Peak safely between December – April . This is the pilgrimage season. Outside of these months, it is too rainy to safely climb to the top of the peak.

Adam’s Peak is 147 kilometers from Colombo. By car, this is about 4-5 hours. When looking for a day trip, it is worth taking a day tour that includes transportation.

This day trip from Colombo to Adam’s Peak is the best we could find!

#11 – Hikkaduwa Beach & Sea Turtles

Book a day trip to Hikkaduwa HERE!

The best place to go swimming and snorkeling on the east coast of Sri Lanka is Hikkaduwa Beach. It is also a great place to go surfing or simply relax in the sun.

Hikkaduwa is also widely known for its Turtle Hatchery & Rescue Center . You can visit the hatchery to learn about sea turtles and even watch them be released back into the ocean once they are old enough.

This is not necessarily the best beach in Sri Lanka (like the beaches in Trincomalee ), but it is very laid-back, really beautiful, and easily one of the most accessible beaches from Colombo.

Best Time to Visit Hikkaduwa Beach

The best time to visit Hikkaduwa is when the southeast monsoon season is over. The monsoon ends in mid-December, and Hikkaduwa stays sunny and dry until mid-May. Therefore, visiting the beach town in the early spring is best for surfing, sunbathing, and snorkeling.

If you want the complete experience of Hikkaduwa, then this day tour from Colombo will hit all the major places in the town, from a boat trip on Hikkaduwa Lagoon in the morning to a Seafood BBQ buffet in the evening.

For travelers most interested in the Turtle Hatchery, the best bang for your buck is to book the Day Tour from Colombo to Galle with a pit stop at the Turtle Hatchery in Hikkaduwa and a River Cruise in Bentota.

These two tours are great, but if you want to save some money, consider taking the train to Hikkaduwa and booking a simple snorkeling tour for just $30 (not bookable in the summer).

#12 – Laxapana & Aberdeen Waterfalls

Laxapana Falls - day trips from Colombo

Two of the best waterfalls in Sri Lanka were actually fairly close to Colombo.

Laxapana Falls and Aberdeen Waterfall are both only a couple of hours from Colombo (near Adam’s Peak). These waterfalls are two of our personal favorites in Sri Lanka, and the best part is that they are practically crowd-free!

The hike is not easy for either of the waterfalls, but they are also not too difficult for someone who is in decent shape. If you have time, you should definitely take a day tour of Laxapana and Aberdeen Waterfall.

Best Time to Visit Laxapana & Aberdeen Falls

Like most of the day trips near Colombo, the best weather is from December to April.

There really are no official tours from Colombo to Laxapana Falls or Aberdeen Waterfall, but you can hire a private car charter from Colombo or rent a Tuk-Tuk and visit these waterfalls on a private day trip of your own.

How to Book One-Day Tours from Colombo

When scanning through the popular one-day trips from Colombo, you will find that there are very few one-off tours. Most day tours will try to combine multiple excursions into one tour in order to make the most of the trip.

Most travelers are excited about this, and it gives them an opportunity to see more of the island without extra time commuting.

If you do not want to book a tour that only goes to one destination, we recommend hiring a private driver for the day . This way, you can create your own itinerary and can come and go as you wish.

Interested in hiring a private driver in Sri Lanka?

—> See prices and hire HERE <—

Our Top Tour Booking Sites

If you are interested in booking a proper day tour, here are three quality companies to consider doing business with;

Viator – Viator is owned and operated by TripAdvisor, the largest travel company on the market. As you may expect, this means that Viator has the largest variety of tours and operators to choose from. There are countless options for day tours around Colombo for all different budgets.

Get Your Guide – We actually did not start using this website until recently because it tends to be more expensive than the other tour guide websites on the market. However, this is probably because they are a bit more selective on which tours they will promote on their website. Ultimately, you will get more for the value. You can be sure that any tour found on Get Your Guide is from one of the best tour groups in Sri Lanka.

Klook.com – Klook used to be our go-to tour guide booking platform. However, this company is based out of Hong Kong, and unfortunately, we have noticed increasingly less variety on the website over the past few years.

Colombo Multi-Day Tours

If you are up for it, you can travel to farther parts of Sri Lanka or see a bunch of different places in one trip on a Multi-Day Tour from Colombo. The nice part about this is that they are all-inclusive, so you do not have to worry about finding a place to stay, preparing meals, or having to book tickets train/bus around the country.

Here are a few of the best multi-day tours from Colombo:

All-Inclusive 2-Day Sri Lanka Tour – This overnight experience includes one jeep safari in Yala National Park, Rawana Falls, Nine Arches Bridge, Little Adam’s Peak, a Tea Garden tour, and a stop at Ramboda Falls on your way back to Colombo!

4-Day Cultural Heritage Tour from Colombo (not bookable in summer) – Visit Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy in 4 days on this all-inclusive multi-day tour from Colombo.

Complete Sri Lanka 8-Day Tour – This tour has everything. You will visit Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella, Yala National Park, and Mirissa Beach before concluding the trip back to Colombo!

Protect Yourself

*affordable travel insurance*.

Travel insurance is becoming much more affordable these days and also much more necessary after the effects of the pandemic on global travel.

Get quality travel insurance with Safety wing for just $40/month .

–> CLICK HERE For More Information! <—

Where to stay in colombo.

If you are going to base yourself in Colombo, you are going to need to know where to stay in Colombo . The best area to be in is near Viharamhadevi Park. This is also referred to as District 7, and it is the nicest area in Colombo. It is also where the government leaders live, so the streets are kept clean, and during the power cuts of early 2022, it was the only place in the city that never lost power.

Colombo government building

Almost all of the places worth visiting in Colombo are within walking distance (or a short drive) from this area, as well as the best cafes in Colombo to find coffee and brunch each day.

Here are three great hotels in Colombo for every travel budget :

Budget Hotel in Colombo – New Colombo Guest Hotel

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Check Availability and Current Prices HERE!

C1 Colombo Fort Hotel is at the heart of Colombo, in a perfect location for exploring the best parts of the city, and also within walking distance from the train station, where you can take day trips to places all around Sri Lanka!

This hotel is usually between $20-40 per night (depending on the season), making it one of the most affordable places for budget travelers in Sri Lanka. The rooms are spacious and clean, and there are hostel beds for ultra-budget travelers.

Mid-Range Hotel in Colombo- Wonder Hotel

places to visit in sri lanka one day

If you have a little more to budget for a stay in Colombo, then we would recommend booking a room at Wonder Hotel . There is a rooftop pool, lounge chairs, and even a sky bar for guests to enjoy.

Additionally, Wonder Hotel is in the perfect location for Colombo. It is close to the Galle Face, for a view of the ocean, yet still walking distance from all of the best parts of the city.

The only negative feedback that this hotel receives is that it does not offer free breakfast. That said, it is actually hard to find a quality hotel in Colombo that does.

Luxury Hotel in Colombo – Movenpick Hotel Colombo

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Movenpick Hotel in Colombo might be the best place to stay in the city for under $100/night. This beautiful hotel has rooms with a view, professional staff, and four delicious restaurants to choose from if you want to eat at the hotel or order room service.

The rooftop is equipped with an infinity pool, and it is also just two blocks from the ocean. This is the best place to splurge in Colombo.

Hostel in Colombo – Hostel at Galle Face

places to visit in sri lanka one day

For solo travelers taking one-day trips from Colombo, you should consider grabbing a bunk at the Hostel at Galle Face . This hostel is only $11/night and puts you in a prime location to explore Colombo, as well as the rest of the island nation.

The Hostel at Galle Face has free breakfast, A/C, and even free Wi-fi throughout the property. You will also have access to a kitchen area if you want to cook your own food and a terrace with a comfortable lounge space for relaxing.

Colombo FAQS

To be honest, Colombo is not worth visiting unless you have extended time in Sri Lanka. The main reason for this is that we believe that there are much better things to do and see in other areas of Sri Lanka.

There truly is not a whole lot to do in the city, and the best things to see in Sri Lanka are in other parts of the country. Consider only spending about 1-2 days in Colombo (or none at all) if you are interested in the city.

Yes, you can wear shorts in Colombo. However, it is respectful to cover your knees (and shoulders) when entering sacred historical sites and temples around Sri Lanka.

Although Colombo has seen some recent civil unrest, overall, it is a safe place for tourists to visit. There are some areas that felt less safe (such as the neighborhood northeast of Pettah), but the main sections of the city and tourist centers are safe.

Colombo is not a very expensive city. Generally, you can find all of the food you need, plus a decent guesthouse for less than $50 per day. Transportation is also inexpensive if you walk or take tuk-tuks around the city.

How to Get Around Colombo

Colombo is a very busy city with a ton of traffic. So much so that we do not recommend renting a car in Colombo . It would take too long to get around and may stress you out to the max.

To get around Colombo City, you should consider walking or calling a tuk-tuk driver to get from one place to another.

tuk-tuk in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Hail a Tuk-tuk Around Colombo

Tuk-tuks are everywhere in Colombo. You can hail a driver by holding your arm out toward the street like a taxi. The base rate for tuk-tuks is usually 50 LKR per Kilometer . This will be higher if there is excessive traffic, but make sure to agree on a price before stepping into the tuk-tuk. Drivers often overcharge tourists.

If you want to skip the haggling and stress altogether, there is a local ride-sharing app called Pick.me . This app is similar to Uber, so you can call a taxi to come and pick you up for a set price from anywhere in Colombo. This app is very user-friendly, but you do need a Sri Lankan phone number to sign up.

We highly recommend getting a SIM card for your phone in Sri Lanka so that you have access to data usage around the island as well. They do not cost very much and are very simple to activate.

Drive your own tuk-tuk

If you are interested in taking any of these day trips from Colombo and want to drive yourself, then consider renting a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka. Driving your own tuk-tuk is a super unique experience, and it was super fun to travel from one city to the next by driving a Tuk-tuk on our own!

Renting a Tuk-tuk for yourself! (discount code)

If you are interested in renting your own tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka, do not hesitate to visit tuktukrental.com!

Use Discount Code: PAZOOKTRAVEL for 5% off your booking.

Weather in colombo, sri lanka.

Since Colombo is on the east coast of Sri Lanka, the monsoon season comes from late April to early November. It is not ideal to travel to Colombo during this time. Some day trips like Adam’s Peak and Kitugala would be difficult to visit during these months.

If you will be visiting Colombo, it is best to come between December and April to avoid the rainy monsoon season, but this does not mean that the city is any less hot! Colombo is exceptionally hot and humid for the majority of the year.

In fact, many of the day trips from Colombo mentioned above are going to be just as hot during this time.

The only exception to this is Adam’s Peak, Kandy , and Ambuluwawa Tower . These places are far enough in the hills of Sri Lanka that they cool off quite a bit. Make sure to bring a jacket (a rain jacket would be best) if you plan to take one of these day trips from Colombo.

Packing for Colombo Day Trips

Sri lanka weather and how to pack.

Since the weather is different in various regions of the country, packing for Sri Lanka can be confusing. It is hot at the beach but can be chilly in the mountains. You might pack differently depending on where you are planning to go and when.

special items to pack for Sri Lanka

  • Hiking Sandals or Hiking Boots – We use Chaco’s Sandals for easy hikes, but you might want to bring some proper hiking boots! Our recommendations: Oboz Sawtooth X Mid B-Dry Hiking Boots or Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Hiking Boot – Men’s
  • Universal Plug Adaptor – Sometimes Sri Lanka hotels have universal adaptors, but we HIGHLY recommend that you have one on hand for when this isn’t the case.
  • External Battery Pack – This is absolutely essential. You do NOT want to get stuck with a dead phone in Sri Lanka. This Belkin Battery works really well.
  • GRAYL Water Purifying Bottle – This water-purifying bottle is perfect for filtering tap water
  • Quick-dry Towel – Quick-dry towels are very useful for hiking, snorkeling, camping, or just to use around the hotel.

Our Camera Gear

Traveling through Sri Lanka was absolutely amazing! We are so glad that we invested in nice camera gear so that we could beautifully capture all of the memories. For photos and video in Sri Lanka, we used a Sony A7rii Mirrorless Camera, GoPro Hero 7, and DJI Mini 2 Drone.

Sony A7rii Mirrorless Camera – If you love travel photography and are sick of using your iPhone, this camera is truly a game-changer.

GoPro Hero 8 Black – GoPro just keeps getting better with its action camera features. The most recent editions are UNREAL.

DJI Mini 4 – The drone has been one of the coolest progressions of travel video and photography. While drones can be incredibly expensive, the DJI Mini 2 is a great affordable option for beautiful imaging.

Sri Lanka does require that you register your drone if it is over 250 grams , but the DJI Mini 2 is just below this threshold! It is a very affordable drone and has wonderful video quality that can be downloaded straight to your phone!

Final Thoughts…

There are so many awesome day trips to take from Colombo. If you find yourself stationed in the nation’s Capital for a while, consider exploring some other areas of Sri Lanka through one of these awesome tours!

As always, if you have any questions about Colombo travel, feel free to get in touch with us through our CONTACT page .

SAFE TRAVELS!

Caleb & Sarah

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Caleb & Sarah Pasiuk (PAZOOK) are the founders and creators of The Pazook Travel Journal. They worked as English Teachers in South Korea for 2.5 years, have traveled to over 20 countries, and are experts in traveling to tropical destinations like Bali, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea, Greece, and Puerto Rico!

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11 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka for First-time Visitors

Traditional Fishermen in Sri Lanka / Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

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Defined by many as one of the finest islands in the world, Sri Lanka has seduced travelers for centuries. It has so much variety to offer and is definitely a place you must visit once in a lifetime. In this charming island, you will have the opportunity to experience and see so many different things. From beautiful beaches to ancient ruins, from picturesque cities to local temples, not to mention the amazing diversity of its wildlife. The good news is that  Sri Lanka entered in travelers radar only lately. It means that now is the perfect time to get on a plane and go there! Here is a list of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for first-time visitors that will transform your travel into a life-changing experience.

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1 – Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Sigiriya Lion Rock VIew - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Check out the recommended hotels in Sigiriya

?  Sigiriya and the Lion Rock

2 – Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth

Kandy Lake City - Places to visit in Sri Lanka

Check out the recommended hotels in Kandy

Directions to Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth

3 – Adam’s Peak

Adams Peak View - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

According to the Buddhist tradition, it is a footprint of Lord Buddha. For Christians instead, it is Adam’s first step after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. Hindus believe, on the other hand, that is Lord Shiva’s footprint.

Adams Peak Aerial View - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Check out the recommended hotels near Adam’s Peak

?  Adam’s Peak

4 – Yala National Park

Yala National Park Elephants - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Yala National Park

Check out the recommended hotels in Yala National Park

5 – Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay Sunset Waves - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Check out the recommended hotels in Arugam Bay

6 – Galle and his Dutch Fort

Traditional Fishermen Silhouettes - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

The city hosts another Unesco World Heritage , Galle Dutch Fort, a walled enclave surrounded on three sides by the ocean. Built by the Portuguese and finished by the Dutch in the 17th century, this fort really deserves his reputation!

Galle Lighthouse Fort - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Check out the recommended hotels in Galle

7 – Mirissa

Mirissa Tropical Beach - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Check out the recommended hotels in Mirissa

8 – Nuwara Eliya and Tea Plantations

Nuwara Eliya Gregory Lake - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya

Check out the recommended hotels in Nuwara Eliya

9 – Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa Ancient City - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

?  Polonnaruwa

Check out the recommended hotels in Polonnaruwa

10 – Dambulla Golden Cave Temple

Dambulla Golden Temple - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

This beautiful Royal Rock Temple complex sits about 160m above the road in the southern part of Dambulla. From the caves there are superb views over the surrounding countryside; Sigiriya is clearly visible some 20km distant.

?  Dambulla

Check out the recommended hotels in Dambulla

11 – Colombo

Colombo Malaka Temple - Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Rich history, eclectic culture and buzzy culinary scene, the Sri Lankan capital deserve to be more than just a side note to the rest of the country. Discover all the activities and tours of Colombo . Visit the National Museum, grab a tuk-tuk, go to the spectacular Gangaramaya Temple and to the Beira Lake. These are just a few things you can do to visit this beautiful and controversial city where you never get bored!

  • Recommended Hotels in Colombo

We hope this list of places to visit in Sri Lanka has inspired you. Did we miss something? Please do not hesitate to leave a comment if you know more wonderful places to visit! Enjoy your Trip!

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Jamie Hergenrader is the Commerce Director of the Travel Group at Dotdash Meredith where she leads the content strategy of product reviews and recommendations for the company's travel brands. She joined the company in 2018 and has nearly a decade of experience writing and editing for travel and lifestyle publications.

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Sri Lanka’s rich culture and history, gorgeous landscape and scenery, and plentiful wildlife-spotting opportunities are the main reasons the country tops many travelers’ bucket lists. And due to its relatively small size, many of the best attractions and destinations are within only a couple of hours of each other. In one day, if you’re on a tight schedule, you could spend the morning at one of the country’s eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, go on a safari in the afternoon, and then in the evening, relax and enjoy a cup of tea from one of the hill country plantations. Or, with more time, allow the opportunity for spontaneous exploration—road tripping throughout the country offers scenic views almost everywhere, and you might pull over for an elephant sighting or two along the way!

 Jamie Hergenrader

Kandy, a major city in Sri Lanka’s hill country, is one of the most popular tourist destinations and one corner of the country’s Cultural Triangle. It’s surrounded by mountains of rainforest and tea plantations and is home to a beautiful lake within the city. Visit the Temple of the Tooth, a sacred temple that houses Buddha’s tooth; wander the city’s colorful streets, and admire the architecture while sampling food from the many street vendors; walk around the lake for scenic views of the lake itself and also the colorful buildings that dot the hillsides around it; and make the quick drive outside of the city to the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens to visit its orchid house and its spice garden, the latter of which will take you on an olfactory tour of the country’s native spices. 

This massive rock formation is not only a breathtaking sight to take in as you approach, jutting up from the flat lands that surround it but also a place of cultural and historical significance. The UNESCO World Heritage site was a fort and palace that dates back to the fifth century. A network of winding staircases and paths will lead you to the top of the rock if you’re game to do the 1,217-step climb. Along the way, you’ll get panoramic views of the valley around you, you’ll pass ancient paintings by monks on the rock walls, and learn about the kingdom that once called this rock home. If you plan on making the entire climb (which we highly recommend), arrive at the park at opening time—you’ll avoid the afternoon heat and beat most of the crowds.

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura, one of the three corners of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle and the current capital city of the North Central Province, was the first ancient capital in Sri Lanka, thriving for more than 1,300 years until it was abandoned in 993. Tourists visit this UNESCO World Heritage site to explore the well-preserved ruins and significant Buddhist history. Several dagobas, distinctive dome-shaped memorials, remain in the city, one of which is said to house Buddha’s collarbone. Another important site is the Bodhi tree found in the Mahamewna Gardens —it’s the oldest known human-planted tree in the world, and it grew from the southern branch of a sacred fig tree in India, the tree under which Gautama Buddha was said to have gained enlightenment.

Polonnaruwa

Jamie Hergenrader 

The third corner of the Cultural Triangle , Polonnaruwa became the second capital after Anuradhapura was abandoned. Like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is a draw for visitors interested in touring the city’s history and ruins, including those of the royal palace and other royal spaces, the quadrangle (a raised, walled-off area of monuments and Buddha statues), and dagobas. You’ll undoubtedly spot many monkeys (toque macaques) in the area, and that population of native, endangered monkeys was featured in Disney’s nature documentary, “Monkey Kingdom.” 

Yala National Park

Yala National Park, located along the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, is the most visited national park in the country, primarily because of the chance to spot the leopards in the area—it is home to one of the largest concentrations of leopards in the world. (The land became a wildlife sanctuary in 1900 and then a national park in 1938.) Although it comprises five blocks, only two of them are open to the public for safari to preserve and protect the majority of the land. Between February and July is the best time to visit; during these months, the lower water levels bring more animals out in the open searching for water. However, the park can get crowded in these peak months, and higher traffic through the park can lessen your chances of spotting one of the elusive leopards. Even so, you’ll still have the opportunity to see elephants, crocodiles, and water buffaloes.

Minneriya National Park

TripSavvy / Lauren Breedlove

Sri Lanka has plenty of safari opportunities, but Minneriya National Park is known for having the world's largest gatherings of Asian elephants. Previously an elephant sanctuary, the land was converted to a national park in 1997, and Asian elephants still freely roam the grounds in large herds. While you'll likely get a glimpse of several whenever you visit, the dry season from June to September is the best time to visit. This is when the elephants (sometimes as many as 300) will congregate around the reservoir. It might be most famous for these elephant sightings, but the park is also home to more than 170 species of birds, leopards, monkeys, and other wildlife.

Many tourists skip Colombo to set off for the country’s beautiful nature destinations, but the capital city deserves some of your time . Colombo comprises several distinct neighborhoods that showcase the old and new—from ancient temples and colonial architecture to modern skyscrapers and city parks. It’s easy (and recommended) to wander and simply take in the sights as you go. One impressive architectural sight you won’t be able to miss is the Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid (also known as the Red Mosque), a red and white mosque in Colombo’s Pettah neighborhood. Admiring it from the outside is intriguing enough, but if you want to go inside, ensure you’ve dressed appropriately; women need to cover their hair, arms, and legs. 

This fortified old city on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka is another of the country’s impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the best things to do is walk along the fort’s ramparts that give you a view out to the water and inward toward the fort and city. You can also take a self-guided tour of the fort to learn about its history and architecture. Although the fort is the main attraction for visitors to the area, Galle is a prime destination for shopping as well; wander the pedestrian-friendly streets to check out the many art galleries, upscale markets, and boutique stores selling clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, and home goods.

Nuwara Eliya

Tea is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest exports, so a trip to the rolling hills of tea country is well worth your time. Nuwara Eliya boasts hundreds of acres of tea plantations and several tea production facilities you can visit to learn about the entire tea-making process, from planting to picking and steeping at home. Once you’ve had your fill of tea, be sure to explore the other gorgeous surroundings of Nuwara Eliya, such as the manicured and well-maintained Victoria Park, Lake Gregory for a day on the water, or a lakeside picnic, or the beautiful, 350-foot tall Ramboda Falls.

As one of the main beach destinations in the country, Mirissa attracts those looking for a laid-back, leisurely vacation of days lounging on the sand and nights out on the town. Among the gorgeous beaches in Mirissa, Mirissa Beach and Secret Beach are two of the best for their beauty and seclusion, but neither one gets too crowded. If you’d rather be out on the water, Mirissa is a surfer’s paradise, especially from October to April, and it’s also a popular destination for whale watching tours to spot blue whales. After a day in the sun, hit some of the casual but lively restaurants and bars, some of which are right along the beach, making them a perfect setting for a sunset cocktail. 

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10 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

By Carl Austin · Last updated on June 17, 2024

Sri Lanka may be a small island in the Indian Ocean but that’s the only thing small about it. The country, formerly known as Ceylon, boasts an ancient civilization, golden sandy beaches with their swaying coconut palms, mountains, and rubber and tea plantations.

While visiting the island, you’ll see colonial architecture from the days when the Portuguese, Dutch and English ruled. You’ll see lots of elephants, some of which participate in local festivals and, if you’re lucky, perhaps a leopard or two at a wildlife sanctuary. An overview of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka:

10. Bentota [SEE MAP]

Bentota

With coconut palms swaying in the breeze, Bentota is a multi-tasking tourist town on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. One of Sri Lanka’s most popular beaches, Bentota is first an Indian Ocean beach resort where water activities, such as surfing, sailing and snorkeling, abound.

When it’s time for a change of pace, you can visit a sea turtle hatchery and conservation center, which monitors five of the seven species of sea turtles in the world. You can also take in a 17th century fortress, lush gardens and an old Buddhist temple that dates from medieval times.

9. Nuwara Eliya [SEE MAP]

Nuwara Eliya

Sri Lanka is famous for its tea. What better place to learn more about tea than the source itself: Nuwara Eliya. With a temperate climate and elevation of 1,900 meters (6,100 feet), Nuwara Eliya is the country’s tea production capital.

You can tour a tea plantation and see how tea is made. Founded in the 19th century, this hill country town soon became a retreat for British colonists, earning the nickname Little England.

April is a good time to visit, when visitors flock here to see the blossoms and celebrate Sri Lanka New Year. Other sights include Lake Gregory and Laxapana, Sri Lanka’s most famous waterfalls.

8. Anuradhapura [SEE MAP]

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura is an ancient sacred city that was established around a cutting from Buddha’s fig tree. Dating back to the third century BC, Anuradhapura was established by the founder of an order of Buddhist nuns.

This magnificent city of palaces, temples and monuments flourished for 1,300 years but was abandoned after it was invaded in the late 10th century. Much like Peru’s Machu Picchu, locals were aware of it but not many others until it was “discovered” by Europeans many centuries later. These fantastic ruins have since been excavated and are accessible for the public to enjoy.

7. Colombo [SEE MAP]

Colombo

Colombo has been the commercial capital of Sri Lanka for more than 2,000 years when its large natural harbor made it popular with ancient trades from Italy to China. It’s often referred to as the country’s capital, though the legislative capital is located in a nearby city.

Ruled over by first Portuguese and then British colonists, Colombo is a popular tourist destination. One of the most popular attractions is Galle Face Green, a strip park along the Indian Ocean. Also not to be missed is Gangaramaya Temple, which is known for its mix of ethnic architectural styles.

6. Yala National Park [SEE MAP]

Yala National Park

Animals rule the roost, the ground and the sky at Yala National Park, a wildlife sanctuary about 240 km (150 miles) from Colombo. Yala offers a plethora of things to do. Your visit begins with a safari to see animals, including elephants, water buffalo and leopards, found here in higher density than any other place in the world. Note: the park closes for September’s leopard breeding season.

The park also is home to 215 bird species, of which seven are native to the park. Top sights, besides wild animals, are Sithulpauwwa, an ancient rock temple that once housed 12,000 monks, and Magul Maha Viharaya, once the setting for a royal marriage.

5. Mirissa [SEE MAP]

Mirissa

If you’re looking to holiday in a tropical paradise, Mirissa just might be the answer to your dreams: swaying coconut palms, beautiful golden sand beaches, days spent rocking away in a hammock. It doesn’t get much better than this.

This crescent-shaped piece of paradise is famous for having the most stunning sunsets and sunrises in Sri Lanka. There are no luxury resorts to mar the landscape, so it’s just you, the beach, and quiet during the day. The pace picks up at night. Mirissa is the largest fishing port on the south coast and is a good place to go dolphin and whale watching.

4. Polonnaruwa [SEE MAP]

Polonnaruwa

The terms “beauty” and “beast” usually go together well, except at Polonnaruwa where beauty goes better with “ruins.” The second oldest kingdom in Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa is known for the ruins of this ancient garden city.

The 12th century ruins are some of the best preserved in the country. Polonnaruwa was a place where traders of exotic goods mingled with worshippers in the many temples.

Start your tour of Polonnaruwa at the Archaeological Museum, then proceed to the massive (50 buildings) Royal Palace with its well-preserved audience hall. The stunningly decorated Sacred Quadrangle is another must-see here.

3. Kandy [SEE MAP]

Kandy

Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka, is the gateway to the Central Highlands and its tropical plantations that grow both tea and rubber. If you’re driving from Colombo, you’ll pass by rubber plantations on a road that is considered one of the country’s most scenic.

The last capital of the ancient kingdoms, Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the world. A major, colorful festival involves taking the tooth relic around the city. Movie buffs may be interested to know Kandy was a chief location in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

2. Galle [SEE MAP]

Galle

Galle’s most famous attraction is its 17th century fort built by Dutch colonists. Sitting on a promontory overlooking the Indian ocean, the fort is known for its architectural style. Galle is considered a prime example of a fortified city.

The fortress is not just another pretty place, however; today the fort houses courts and businesses. Galle is becoming known as an arts colony and its expat community – about a third of the city’s homes are owned by foreigners.

Other top sights include a natural harbor, Sri Lanka’s oldest lighthouse, a maritime museum, a key Shiva temple and the Jesuit built St. Mary’s Cathedral.

1. Sigiriya [SEE MAP]

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Sri Lanka

Wannabe archaeologists need to put Sigiriya on their list of must-see places to visit in Sri Lanka. This ancient city is built on a steep slope, topped by a plateau almost 180 meters (600 feet) high.

This plateau is known as Lion’s Rock as it oversees the jungles below. Access to the site is through staircases and rooms emanating from the lion’s mouth. You’ll also see ponds, gardens and fountains. Pretty cool!

Locals consider the site the eighth wonder of the world. This ancient rock fortress dates back to the third century BC when it was a monastery. It was later turned into a royal residence.

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Sri Lanka map

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One day in Kandy Itinerary – Top things to do in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Should your travels ever lead you to the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka, even if you’re there just for one day, you can consider yourself very fortunate indeed. This incredible city right in the middle of the island has quite a glorious history and sights that will leave you speechless. Add to that amazing parks and interesting cuisine, and you get a place where you will create incredible memories that will last you a lifetime. The one day you have in Kandy will be one of the best days of your life.

One day in Kandy Itinerary

Plan your trip to Kandy

1. What’s the best time to visit Kandy? 2. A few facts about Kandy 3. One day in Kandy itinerary 3.1. Start with a traditional breakfast 3.2. Take a stroll around the lake 3.3. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth… 3.4. … and the rest of the royal palace 3.5. Stop for lunch 3.6. Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens 3.7. Check out the massive Buddha 3.8. Enjoy a night out 4. Where to stay in Kandy? 5. Day trips from Kandy 6. Extra tips for visiting Kandy

What’s the best time to visit Kandy?

When it comes to the temperatures in Kandy, they are pretty consistent throughout the year. It’s always quite warm here since this is a tropical climate after all, but it needs to be said that there is significantly less precipitation during January, February, and March . So if you want good weather, that’s when you need to come.

Streets of Kandy

However, you may also want to visit in July/August because of The Esala Perahera , also known as The Festival of Tooth , where the locals ask gods for a bountiful harvest. Additionally, the locals celebrate New Year in April, and Vesak Poya , a celebration of Buddha, is in May.

So, pick the time that suits you best and don’t forget to get a visa if you need one. Byevisa can provide all the information on that and help you get your visa.

Flower Shop in Kandy

A few facts about Kandy

With more than 150,000 people, Kandy is not that big of a city, but it’s still the second-largest in the country. However, this place was the last capital city of old kings of Sri Lanka and actually stayed independent all the way until the early 19th century.

Many Buddhists undertake a pilgrimage to the city and its Temple of the Tooth, but the city is also famous for its role in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – most of the movie was shot here!

Buddhist, Kandy

One day in Kandy itinerary

Your one day in Kandy is bound to be full of amazing things to experience and see. But plan your time carefully so that you can see as many places as possible. Here’s how you should go about that!

Start with a traditional breakfast

When in Sri Lanka, you simply must try the local breakfasts. They come in several different combinations, but they are very filling and consist of rice/coconut flour dough which you then use to dip into things like curries, sambol, or even hoppers (something similar to a pancake). The Kandy Garden Cafe is a great place to start your day the Sri Lankan way.

Take a stroll around the lake

Once you’re done with the breakfast, you can inspect that big body of water in front of you better. That’s Kandy Lake , an incredible feat of engineering undertaken by the last Sri Lankan king. Many legends revolve around it, one of them saying that there is a secret tunnel in the lake, connecting the island with the royal palace. Loads of beautiful greenery make this a wonderful place for a breath of fresh air and just taking a stroll.

Kandy Lake

Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth…

As you’re walking along the northern coast of the lake, you will eventually reach the Temple of the Sacred Tooth , but do try to come here earlier in the morning to avoid crowds.

Temple of the Sacred Tooth, Kandy

The temple is a magnificent building from the end of the 16th century and houses the actual tooth of Buddha, which is a national treasure. This is pretty much a must for any visitor to Kandy, so even if you have one day in the city, you really should get here ASAP.

Buddha’s tooth, Kandy

… and the rest of the royal palace

But the temple is just a part of a much greater complex, the Sacred City of Kandy , the former home of the local kings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Palace grounds, Kandy

It really is an extremely impressive place, and many buildings inside it have been turned into museums, most notable of which is the National Museum Kandy . So, you have a lot of exploring to do

Stop for lunch

After all of this, you deserve a break and a bite to eat. There are plenty of great restaurants in Kandy, but if you’re a seafood fan, you really should go to Kandyan King Seafood Restaurant . The food is delicious, and the prices are great.

Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar and Restaurant offers beautiful views from their terrace with your meals, so you can enjoy their Asian fusion dishes to the fullest, and if you need to grab something quickly, World Spice – KCC is the place to go.

Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar and Restaurant, Kandy

Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens

Slightly west from the city center are the Royal Botanic Gardens , and a nice stroll there seems like a great way to start your afternoon. This is actually the largest botanic garden in Asia , so you know it’s going to be good.

Royal Botanical Gardens Peradeniya, Kandy

Indeed, the beauty of the flowers is hard to describe, but the place is especially famous for its orchids. Literally thousands of different kinds of plants can be viewed, all just 15 minutes away by car.

Royal Botanical Gardens Flowers, Kandy

Check out the massive Buddha

Once you come back from the botanical garden, head to that giant Buddha statue that’s been towering over you the whole day. That’s Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha, a temple that offers a great view of the city.

Giant Buddha statue, Kandy

It’s only a short ride away from the royal palace, and you can visit it easily, so why not get a panoramic view of Kandy while you still can. It’s a great place to snap some awesome pictures.

Kandy from the big Buddha statue

Enjoy a night out

After your sightseeing tour is complete, go ahead and see what Kandy’s nightlife is like. You can head out to Le Garage , probably the most popular club in town, but be aware that you’ll need a ride to get there since it’s not exactly in the city center.

What is in the city center is The Pub , a nice place where you can just chill with the locals or cheer if the national cricket team is playing. Blackout is another very popular evening venue, with pretty good food if you feel hungry.

Where to stay in Kandy?

The Golden Crown Hotel, Kandy

Golden Crown Hotel

322, Udagama Ampitiya, 20000 Kandy

For the ultimate luxury in Kandy, stay at the Golden Crown Hotel . This amazing place is surrounded by lush greenery and offers spectacular views, but it also has an infinity pool and a swim-up bar. We don’t have to emphasize that the rooms are excellent, and here you will be close to the city center, too.

BOOK A ROOM HERE

The Radh Hotel, Kandy

The Radh Hotel

  30 Colombo Street, 20000 Kandy

Another great place to stay is The Radh Hotel which has a fitness center, excellent rooms, and offers continental or buffet breakfast. But the most important advantage of this hotel is its location because it’s so very close to all the most important places in the city center. Very helpful staff only confirm that you’ve made the right choice when you decided to stay here.

Sevana City Hotel, Kandy

Sevana City Hotel

84, Peradeniya Road, Kandy, 20000 Kandy

Sevana City Hotel offers great value for your money, especially when you consider its excellent location. You can also enjoy the hotel’s rooftop pool and the lovely view you get from it, plus there is a terrace and a snack bar, too. The rooms are clean and comfortable, the people working here are very kind, and the restaurant is great, too. Three-star hotels don’t get much better than this.

The Oasis Hostel, Kandy

The Oasis Hostel

No. 114/1/1, Peradeniya road, Kandy 1st floor, 20000 Kandy

Traveling on a budget usually means staying in a hostel, but The Oasis Hostel will show you that this is not a bad thing at all! The hostel offers free cooking classes and several types of food in its restaurant, and the location is very convenient. Perfectly clean with a very kind owner and a nice balcony, this hostel will help make sure you enjoy your trip!

Day trips from Kandy

Spending more than one day in Kandy means you have a chance to explore this amazing country more thoroughly. If you have at least a day to spare, here are some of the trips you really should consider making.

Train from Kandy to Ella

Many consider this to be the most beautiful train ride in the world. It lasts seven hours (or four if you disembark in Nuwara Eliya) and takes you through mesmerizing tea plantations. There are scenic mountain views, there are locals waving to the train, and all of this seems a bit like a fairy tale.

Why not spend one day in Colombo if you have the time? The capital city is less than two hours away by car, and more and more people are discovering its charm every year. Bustling street life, wonderful Buddhis temples, and plenty of places where you can spend a nice evening make this a great choice for a day trip from Kandy.

An hour away by car from Kandy lies an absolutely spectacular place. Sigiriya is an ancient city built on a rock in the 5th century, and to say that the views from up there are breathtaking would be quite an understatement. Check out this UNESCO World Heritage Site and your life will be so much richer.

Kitulgala is a destination for those who are looking for some adrenaline and adventure on their vacation. From this small town, you can go whitewater rafting, kayaking, or maybe rent out a mountain bike and explore the forests all around you. Oh, and the remains of the bridge over the local river Kelani is the one used in the famous film The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Extra tips for visiting Kandy

– The currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee, and one euro equals about 230 of them. One US dollar will get you about 190 rupees.    

– You may feel the urge to go and visit one of the local “sanctuaries” for elephants. However, many organizations dedicated to helping animals have warned that these places are not real sanctuaries but     actually use elephants for entertainment. So maybe just avoid them.    

– Tuk-tuk is a common mode of transport here, and you can even book tuk-tuk     tours if you so desire.    

– Kandy is actually cooler than most of Sri Lanka, so you may want to pack something warmer, just in case.    

– Some temples may ask you to remove your shoes when entering, it’s good to have a bag with you to put them in.

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If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Kandy Itinerary, feel free to share it in the comments below!

Make sure you have everything you need

What to pack for your next trip.

Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully. Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times. Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.

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Anca One Day Itinerary

Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).

[…] How to spend a perfect day in Kandy, Sri Lanka. (Blog, Asia, Sri Lanka)Source:  One Day Itinerary […]

Coined as the second city to Colombo, Kandy is full of culture and life. Its elevation in the green peaks gives this city a much more small-town feel. You won’t have any issue escaping the commotion of the city centre if you want to relax and properly enjoy all the best places to visit in Kandy.

Putting your shoes in a bag and bringing them in with you to the temple is considered disrespectful. If they see you they will tell you to put them outside.

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The 12 best places to visit in Sri Lanka

Demi Perera

Nov 9, 2023 • 9 min read

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Polonnaruwa is famed for its ancient ruins, rock temples and Buddhist heritage © leodaphne / Getty Images

With rugged mountains, untouched beaches and fertile soil that grows coconuts, tea and spices, Sri Lanka offers travelers a wondrous mix of experiences unmatched for an island of its size.

Today the country’s rich heritage, delectable cuisine and astonishing wildlife are more accessible than ever, thanks to an ever-improving public transport system. Trains, buses, coaches and tuk-tuks carry visitors to all parts of the island at various price points. But with so many charming places to choose from, where does one start?

Depending on what you’re looking for – art, culture, history – what you put down on your Sri Lanka itinerary is bound to change. Still, here’s our selection of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka to get you started. 

A red auto rickshaw, a pedestrian, and a vendor setting up in front of the decorative red-and-white patterned facade of Jamiul Alfar Mosque, built in 1908, in the heart of the bazaar of Pettah, one of the oldest districts in Colombo

Best for exploring on foot

No Sri Lanka itinerary is complete without Colombo , the country’s culturally diverse hub. An ideal first taste of Sri Lanka, with tuk-tuks, cars and buses rushing through busy lanes, Colombo is renowned for its landmark buildings around the cosmopolitan Fort district, including the terracotta-roofed Dutch Hospital . 

Be sure to spend some time at Galle Face Green , a seaside promenade where hundreds of families gather to dip their toes in the sea at sunset and children fly kites overhead. Order yourself isso wade , deep-fried prawn and lentil cakes, topped with spicy sambol , and people-watch. 

Planning tip: While Colombo is a safe and walkable city, tuk-tuks are inexpensive and convenient for getting around. Always check that your tuk-tuk has a working meter before you get in to ensure you pay the correct fare for your ride. 

Above the Lion Gate, many tourists ascend and descend the steep stairs to the top of the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya or Lion Rock in central Sri Lanka

2. Sigiriya

Best for history buffs and art aficionados 

With ornate ponds, royal sleeping chambers and majestic lion paws carved into the base of the rock, the colossal granite fortress of Sigiriya  is easily Sri Lanka’s most recognizable site, peeking out of a thick jungle canopy for a glimpse of the ancient kingdom of Kassapa.

Although its frescoes – images of bare-breasted women adorned in jewelry with flowers in their hair – are famous, the view from the top of the rock is unparalleled. A hush of calm echoes over the terraced summit, which covers 1.6 hectares (4 acres). 

Planning tip: Get here around 7am – the cooler morning air makes for a pleasant walk up the 1200 steps to the top. Aim to head back down before noon (before the rock surface gets too hot), stay hydrated and wear soft shoes with tread.

A woman shot from behind on a stone path, approaching a tipped-dome shrine (dagaba) ringed by columns in Sri Lanka

3. Anuradhapura

Best for experiencing Buddhist culture

Anuradhapura looks misleadingly like any other Sri Lankan town when you arrive: an unremarkable clock tower, a single train station and small shops lining a busy main road. But the town's simple facade gives nothing away regarding the enormous scale of its heritage as the heartland of Sri Lankan Buddhist culture.

The main feature of this area remains the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree, believed to have been planted from a cutting from the tree Buddha attained enlightenment under in Bodhgaya, India. Beyond this, Anuradhapura is bursting with archaeological wonders: colossal dagobas (stupas), temples, palaces and venerable Buddhist sites scattered among the jungles and villages of the area. 

Planning tip: Comfortable shoes are a must for walking between sites. Buddhist temples, even as ruins, are still places of worship, and footwear must be removed before entering. Carrying a scarf to cover legs and shoulders is always a good idea.

4. Polonnaruwa

Best for ancient archaeological wonders

Often twinned with a visit to Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa is also famed for its ancient ruins, rock temples and Buddhist heritage. 

As you gaze upon the 14m (46ft) reclining Buddha in Gal Viharaya and its surrounding carvings, you can’t help but imagine what went into creating these figures. The white, grey and black granite softens the details of these intricate carvings, and the scent of fresh flowers and incense, offered to the statues by devotees, floats through the temple's air. 

Don’t skip the remaining archaeological sites in the area, including the Royal Ruins , which can be visited in a day and contain closely grouped temples and stupas. 

Planning tip: If traveling toward Jaffna in the north of Sri Lanka, both Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are great places to stay and break up the journey.

Two young boys ride a bike along a street in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The one boy sits on the seat and pedals, while the other sits above the back wheel.

Best for a taste of Tamil culture

From the Jaffna Fort  to the architecturally marvelous Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil , a Hindu temple adorned with brasswork and staggering murals, Jaffna is a relaxed change from the rest of the country. Here you can immerse yourself in the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka’s largest ethnic minority: the Tamil people.

Once under Portuguese and Dutch occupation, today’s Jaffna is revitalized with up-and-coming restaurants. Of the several islands off the coast of Jaffna accessible by roads and ferries, Kayts – a hauntingly beautiful, quiet island of fishing communities – and Delft, with its wild ponies descended from horses abandoned by Dutch colonists, are worth a visit.

Planning tip: The Tamil-centric culture in Jaffna differs from the rest of the island. Be mindful of local customs, such as removing footwear when entering certain sites. This includes the Jaffna Public Librar y, where footwear is removed as a means of respecting the knowledge within the building.

A scenic aerial shot of a mostly empty beach with palm trees, golden sand and gentle turquoise waves, two couples walking by the water and a small boat on the sand in the foreground

6. Trincomalee

Best for an unspoiled beach vacation

Stretches of powdery soft beaches and calm waters meld with dramatic cliffside Hindu temples – among them the famous Kandasamy Kovil , with unmistakable ornamental architecture and a monumental statue of Shiva looking out to sea – for a touch of Sri Lanka that remains off most tourists’ radars. 

The coastline here is only disturbed by the occasional bit of driftwood or coconut husk washing ashore in the shallow waters, ripe for snorkeling, where miles of coral reefs and marine life thrive.

Planning tip: Public beaches here do not have lifeguards, and swimming and snorkeling should only be undertaken with a guide.

Buddha statues and colorful religious art in the dimly lit caves at Dambulla

7. Dambulla

Best for pilgrim trails 

An important part of the country’s pilgrim trail, set within a quiet jungle that's home to the native toque macaque (aka toque monkey), Rangiri Cave Temple in Dambulla is the most visited place in Sri Lanka.

Expect troops of monkeys to accompany you on the walk up to the temple, inside which you'll find a series of five caves containing 150 well-preserved statues of Buddha alongside religious art, sculpted and painted into the rock.

Planning tip: Wear white or soft colors as a mark of respect, and expect crowds on full-moon days, which are holy days in the Buddhist calendar. While toque macaques are delightful to watch, they are wild and should never be approached.

8. Minneriya National Park

Best for witnessing the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world

Herds of wild elephants – around 300 in number – graze nearly 9000 hectares (22,240 acres) of Minneriya National Park, where life centers around Minneriya Lake. Watch in awe (cameras at the ready, naturally!) as long trunks draw water and calves roll around on the banks in wet mud.  

Once a year, during the dry season, all 300 elephants gather around the banks of the lake to graze in a marvelous natural event known as "the Gathering." This also happens to be the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world.

Planning tip: April to October is the best time to see the Gathering. Prebooking your safari and sharing jeeps helps to reduce the number of vehicles entering the park during this busy period.

Crowds of people pay respect to the Buddhist relic in Temple of the Buddha Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Best for experiencing Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

An ideal day trip from Colombo, the train departs the city’s Fort Railway Station and pulls into the heritage town of Kandy in under four hours. As the train curves and winds around mountains to connect rural towns, wide windows frame the view of deep ravines and hillsides densely covered in emerald-green tea bushes. 

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and Kandy Lake , both must-do attractions for anyone visiting Sri Lanka, are easily reached via tuk-tuk from the station. 

Planning tip: Visitors are required to cover their arms, legs and shoulders when visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The Kandy-to-Colombo train is an alternative way to experience Sri Lanka’s railway journeys, as popular towns such as Ella are 10 hours away from Colombo.

10. Kalpitiya 

Best for surfing enthusiasts

Despite attracting thrill-seekers from around the world, Kalpitiya retains most of its quaint coastal charm, with the exception of a Dutch-era fort that is occupied by the Sri Lankan navy. Cows, goats and donkeys stroll across the villages. Thatched-roof beach huts with outdoor showers offer that stereotypically pleasing surf-shack vibe, and most mornings you’ll wake to a crowing rooster. Most important, just 30km (19 miles) north of here at Vella Island, a narrow sandbar, you’re surrounded by tall, clear waves – kitesurfing heaven. 

Planning tip: The weather for kitesurfing is ideal between October to May, and there are several kitesurfing schools around Kalpitiya.

A mugger crocodile (Crocodilus palustris) with its jaws wide open in green marshland

11. Kumana National Park

Best for spotting birds 

Known for its 200-hectare (494-acre) bird reserve, Kumana National Park is a birder’s dream, home to throngs of vibrant kingfishers and jungle fowl alongside 255 recorded species of endemic and migrating birds, all of which find sanctuary in the park's mangrove swamps and lagoons.

Expect to spot falcons and eagles as they soar above or peacocks shimmying on the ground. Also frequently spotted here: cleverly camouflaged crocodiles lying in wait on the sandy banks of the lake for a chance encounter with buffalo.

Cap off your trip here with a visit to the coastal village of Panama, which many visitors bypass in favor of bigger towns, such as Pottuvil and Arugam Bay . Between the tiny monastery under a rock, thatched-roof homes and dirt tracks through paddy fields, Panama is one of the most remote places to see.

Planning tip: Entrance to Kumana National Park is through the village of Okanda. Prearranging a guided jeep safari is best for enjoying the park. 

12. Adam’s Peak

Best for experiencing a night hike

Adam’s Peak (the footprint of Prophet Adam, in Islam), Sri Pada (the sacred foot of Buddha) and Samanala Kanda (the mountain of the butterflies and a reference to the local deity Saman) are multiple names given to Sri Lanka’s holiest peak, considered sacred by all religions on the island. 

Join thousands of pilgrims, dressed in white, in the early hours of the morning to hike slowly and quietly to the little temple at the top . Humble teahouses, resting places and shrines dot the landscape as you ascend. Pilgrims greet each other through blessings for a good climb. The hike to the top takes three to four hours, depending on the trail you choose. Aim to summit at dawn to catch the first rays of the sun wrapping around the mountain.

Planning tip: Adam’s Peak is 2243m (7359ft) high and a moderate climb. Ascending via Hatton and descending via Ratnapura is the shortest route, although steeper.

The full-moon days in December and May mark the beginning and end of the climbing season. During this period, set off earlier to sidestep the crowds, or expect slow and packed trails. Climbing in the offseason is not recommended, as it coincides with the southeastern monsoon.

This article was first published Apr 9, 2021 and updated Nov 9, 2023.

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Journey Era

15 Awesome Things To Do In Sri Lanka: The Ultimate Guide

Jackson Groves

Posted on Last updated: August 3, 2023

Categories SRI LANKA

15 Awesome Things To Do In Sri Lanka: The Ultimate Guide

The island country of Sri Lanka is known as the gem of the Indian Ocean. With diverse landscapes and cultures spread across the different regions of Sri Lanka, there really is something for everyone. This list is quite adventurous and involves a few hikes and all things action! The culture and food of Sri Lanka are incredibly unique and will captivate you throughout your adventures. During two trips to the tropical island, these are my favorite things to do in Sri Lanka.

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THREE TOURS I RECOMMEND IN SRI LANKA

Before we get into the list of the top things to do in Sri Lanka, I wanted to share with you three of my favorite tours in Sri Lanka.

Golden Hour Safari:  The most popular safari tour is the Golden Hour Safari Experience in Yala National Park

Whale Watching: The Morning Whale Watching Tour from Mirissa Beach is one of the most popular activities in the entire country. See a variety of animals including blue whales, sperm whales, and dolphins from the observation deck.

Sigiriya Rock Tour:  Discover the Sigirya rock fortress on a 2-3-hour walking trip which will provide an insight into the art, tradition, and history of Sri Lanka. Book your tour: Sigiriya Rock Climb Guided Tour

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MY TOP PLACES TO STAY IN SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka is a huge region so it depends on where you are and which of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka are on your list as to which accommodation will be the best. For example, when you are visiting Sigiriya Rock, Hotel Sigiriya is clearly the best choice!

  • Top pick : A stunning estate in the Tea Country:  Thotalagala
  • Best overall experience -(with Sigiriya Rock): Hotel Sigiriya
  • Best for heritage in Galle :  Galle Fort Hotel
  • Best for elephant safaris:   Cinnamon Lodge Habarana
  • Best for beachfront bliss in Tangalle:   Buckingham Place
  • Best for exploring Colombo :  The Kingsbury or the Movenpick
  • Best for home-cooked food in Kandy:   Green View Boutique

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Table of Contents

15 Awesome Things to do in Sri Lanka

Hike little adams peak.

If you want to enjoy some of the best views in Ella without needing to hike for hours, Little Adam’s Peak is an awesome adventure. It’s best enjoyed during sunrise or sunset and is a must-see in Sri Lanka. It’s one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka if you enjoy hiking!

The trail begins with a moderate incline as it winds through tea plantations. It will lead you up to 1141m above sea level although you already begin at a high elevation so you will only hike up a few hundred meters. There are multiple platforms, rocks, and viewpoints perfect for photos once you hit the top of Little Adam’s Peak.

If you are in Ella and looking to visit Little Adam’s Peak but also want to see Ella Rock and the Famous Nine Arch Bridge, there is a great day tour that packs it all in. It’s extremely good value considering you can tick off all three attractions in just one day for about $55. It is called the Ella Three Icons Day Tour .

Read my full blog post: Little Adam’s Peak in Ella

Book this tour: Ella Three Icons Day Tour

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Ride the Kandy to Ella Train

The Kandy to Ella train journey is said to be one of the most scenic, epic train journeys in not only just Sri Lanka but the world. So with a few days to spare in Sri Lanka, I decided to purchase a ticket for $1.50 and climb aboard for the 5-hour journey. Yes, the train really does cost just $1.50.

I have now taken the train in both directions. From Kandy to Ella and in reverse from Ella to Kandy. On both occasions, I just arrived at the train station and bought the cheapest ticket and walked on. I didn’t sit in a seat, I preferred to an open door and hang my legs over the edge for the entire journey.

There is another option, which is actually quite useful. You can do a tour where you take the train from Kandy to Ella and do a tea-plantation visit. It includes lunch and they take care of all the ticketing and organization so it’s a pretty relaxing journey. Riding this train was definitely one of my favorite things to do in Sri Lanka.

Read the full blog post: Kandy to Ella – Most Scenic Train Journey in Asia

Book your tour: Kandy to Ella Train with Tea Plantation Visit

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BEST INSURANCE FOR TRAVELERS

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You can click to read my Full Review of the Best Travel Insurance .

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Trek through a Tea Plantation in Nuwara Eliya

Lipton Tea is a staple item in the cupboard of most families around the world. Never did I expect to be trekking with a 60-yr-old local Sri Lankan up and down the steep mountains home amongst the famous Lipton Tea and other highly lauded tea estates. If you are looking to gain historical context and perspective this is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.

There’s this great value tour that visits the Dambatenne Tea Factory, and then heads over to Lipton’s Seat for magnificent views.

Book your tour: Lipton Seat & Dambatenne Tea Factory Day Tour

The Royal Tea Trail begins innocuously by the roadside before beginning to the wind between steep tea terraces. Although unlike the rice terraces in Bali these are not tiered. There are no steps and the tea-pluckers must scale the sharp incline. The tea plants are scattered with no particular pattern although they are often layered creating a beautiful linear design on the side of the mountains. If you only do one guided tour is activity is one of the must-do in Sri Lanka!

Read the full blog post: Trekking through a tea plantation in Sri Lanka

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Go on Safari in Sri Lanka

It is an unmissable experience to go on a safari while in Sri Lanka. There are many national parks with great experiences including Yala and Kaudulla. I ended up choosing Kaudulla National Park and I was amazed at what we saw. Our group got into an open-top jeep and began cruising through the jungle. Keep your eyes out for elephants, leopards, sloths, turtles, and more amazing wildlife. On my safari, we came across a massive herd of 100+ elephants drinking at a lake. We cruised slowly, letting the elephants go about their business as we watched calves follow their mothers while males were fighting.

It was truly an immersive wildlife experience and one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka for photographers! You can actually do a safari, which is surprisingly affordable with a 3-hour experience but the 2-Day All-Inclusive Safari option allows you to sleep in a luxury accommodation amongst the wilderness with better chances of spotting leopards at dawn and dusk.

Book your tour: 2-day all-inclusive Safari Tour or the 3-hour Safari Experience

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Visit Nine Arch Bridge in Ella

The Nine Arch Bridge in Ella is on the Demodara loop and spans 91 meters at a height of 24m. The beautiful nine arches make it a very picturesque spot especially as it is located in a dense jungle and agricultural setting. Behind the railway, a forest is booming, and below, tea leaves are being cultivated.

The bridge was built at Gotuwala between the Ella and Demodara stations during the British Colonial period. Locally it is known as ‘Ahas Namaye Palama’ meaning  nine skies bridge  in Sinhala. The name derives from the visual experience. When you stand below the bridge and look up you can see the sky through the nine arches.

The unique part about this bridge is that it is built entirely from rocks, bricks, and cement with no use of steel or metals throughout the structure. The bridge was commissioned in 1941 and the story goes that as the bridge was being planned World War I broke out.

There are a number of cafes in the hills with vantage points of the bridge but down at the bridge is where you want to be. The Nine Arch Bridge has a huge bend in it so in my opinion standing on the side the bridge bends away from makes for the best photos and accentuates the arch. Watching a train come around the bend on this bridge was one of my favorite things to do in Sri Lanka.

If you are in Ella and looking to visit Little Adam’s Peak but also want to see Ella Rock and the Famous Nine Arch Bridge, there is a great day-tour that packs it all in. It’s extremely good value considering you can tick off all three attractions in just one day for about $55. It is called the Ella Three Icons Day Tour .

Read the full blog post here: Nine Arch Bridge in Ella

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Sunset at the Famous Rope swing in Dalawella

There are plenty of places around the world that have become viral travel hotspots overnight. A few popular Instagrammers or vloggers blow a place up and all of a sudden it becomes a must-do activity while you visit a region. The palm tree rope swing at Dalawella Beach is a prime example of a social media hotspot. Having said that it’s an awesome spot for a fun afternoon or a sunset and chill place to hang out whether you intend on getting that ‘Instagrammable’ travel shot or not.

The location of the swing is on Dalawella Beach, which is in the south of Sri Lanka near the popular town of Unawatuna. It takes about two hours to get to Dalawella Beach by train from Colombo and will cost a couple of bucks for the ticket. Once you are at Dalawella Beach the exact location is actually in front of a guesthouse called Dream Cabana.

The guys at Dream Cabana built the swing as something fun for themselves and it is evolved into one of the most talked-about spots in Sri Lanka. It’s crazy how something a few mates built has become one of the most popular things to do in Sri Lanka.

Read the full blog post: The Palm Tree Rope Swing in Dalawella

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Surf at Hikkaduwa

The south coast of Sri Lanka is a surfers paradise. Around each corner is a new break being enjoyed by only a handful. A searing sun, the warmest water, and endless waves make the south the perfect surfari destination. What makes it a surfari? No matter where you travel along the coast you are never far from the jungle, monkeys, peacocks, and jungle bliss. There really aren’t too many places in the world that combine both the jungle and surf in such close proximity.

Read the full blog post: Sunset Surf Session at Hikkaduwa

Hike to the top of Diyaluma Falls

Diyaluma Falls is the 2nd biggest waterfall in Sri Lanka and is the perfect spot for a full day adventure. There are multiple falls and natural pools throughout this hike in the Badulla region. I could’ve spent days here.

The hike was almost entirely downhill and led us through the long grass but the trail was marked the whole way. It appeared that the trail wasn’t used too often as the trail was quite overgrown in many parts.

There’s a day tour that runs from Ella and takes you on the hike to Diyaluma Falls that I can recommend below. This was one of the best-unexpected adventures in Sri Lanka during my trip!

Read my full blog post: Hiking to Diyaluma Falls

Book your tour: Diyaluma Falls Adventure from Ella

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Go Hiking in Riverston

Hiking in Riverston Sri Lanka was an unexpected highlight of my journey throughout the island. Riverston is a region best defined by the popular term, ‘off the beaten path’. We drove for several hours, parked in the middle of nowhere, and then embarked on a hike. If you want something unique and to get away from the crowds, this is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka

The hike doesn’t have a specific name according to the locals other than the Riverston Hike. The hike looks out over the Knuckles mountain range and the surrounding highlands. It’s one of the short day trip hikes in the area. The end of the hike ends with a sharp 300m drop, which made for some pretty epic photos. From here you can chill and take in the views of the Thelgamuwa Valley, the terraced rice fields, and the Knuckles mountain range. This spot is called ‘The Worlds End’. The hike is 5km long but not incredibly difficult.

If you would like to organize a tour there is actually a really cool tour that takes you from Kandy on a hike to see the ‘Knuckles’ at World’s End. The tour takes you along the ridges of the Knuckles mountain range as you enjoy the beautiful views during this full-day adventure that includes pick-up and drop-off from Kandy.

Book the tour: Knuckles Hiking day tour from Kandy

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Get a Tattoo in Galle

Getting a tattoo in a developing country is always an interesting experience. In Sri Lanka, there are plenty of different tattoo studios to choose from. I was in Unawatuna in the south of the country and found a tattoo artist called Sajee in the nearby city of Galle.

I visited the studio to meet Sajee and check out some of his work. The studio wasn’t spotless but it was fairly clean and the photos of his previous work filled me with confidence.  A few hours later I had a tiger on my arm. You might call it risky but this was one of my best memories and one of the epic things to do in Sri Lanka that I definitely don’t regret!

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Explore the Markets

There are markets all over Sri Lanka, all of which will be great to explore. Try new fruits, taste some local dishes and of course meet the local vendors. I visited a small market in Nuwara Eliya and met some beautiful grocers and vendors who loved having their portraits taken as I wandered throughout the stalls.

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Hike to the Top of Pidurangala Rock

While Sigiriya Rock is rich in history and has some pretty dramatic features such as the lion’s paw and the mirror wall, Pidurangala Rock has a much more natural feel, despite also housing a temple.

Pidurangala Rock is adjacent to Sigiriya Rock and is the best viewing spot of Sigiriya Rock as it is only slightly lower. Pidurangala is a popular spot for sunrise as you can enjoy 360-degree views of not only the valleys but also Sigiriya Rock.

There is no need to choose between the two. Many travelers wake up for the sunrise at Pidurangala and then head to sunset on top of Sigiriya Rock. This is exactly what I did and I highly recommend it.

Read the full blog post: Pidurangala Rock Hike

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Climb Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya Rock is referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. It is a truly astonishing feat of architecture. The fortress at the top has been subjected to many wars and invasions, making this a very historic site. It’s one of the most popular tourist things to do in Sri Lanka.

370 meters above sea level and 200 meters higher than the jungle below is the top of Sigiriya Rock. The fortress is comprised of abandoned palaces, ponds, waterways, canals, stairs, and walls. We climbed all the way to the top for sunset and witnessed Sri Lanka’s most popular site during one of the best sunsets of the year.

If you are in Colombo, there’s a great full-day tour including climbing to the top of Sigiriya Rock that you should definitely check out at the link below.

Book your tour: Sigirya Rock Climb Guided Tour

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A road trip along the South Coast

From Unawatuna to Mirissa to Tangalle, the south coast of Sri Lanka is perfect for a road trip. You can grab a bike and cruise your way through each town stopping for a surf or a coffee at every new beach. Palm trees and epic beaches line the coast. There are so many awesome, tropical beaches along this coastline that it gets repetitive in a good way. So grab a bike hit the road and enjoy one of the top things to do in Sri Lanka!

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Explore Colombo City

After all of your adventurous travels throughout Sri Lanka, a night in a hotel might be warranted in Colombo. During my trip with the tourism board, we were lucky enough to stay at the Movenpick Colombo , which had an infinity pool looking out over the city to the ocean. It was a perfect spot for sunset. Whether you like it or not, your trip is likely to begin or end in Colombo as that is where the airport is. Exploring the city with a tour or hanging out at the hotels is one of the relaxing things to do in Sri Lanka after your big adventure!

One of the best ways to see Colombo is on this top-rated half-day tour of Colombo City with an English-speaking guide who knows all of the best spots and places to eat.

Book your tour: Half-Day Tour of Colombo City (Top-rated)

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What are my favorite pieces of travel gear?

There are four pieces of gear that I simply never travel without. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my travel essentials.

  • Packing Cube Set : Once you cube you’ll never go back. Organize your clothes within your luggage with these smart mesh containers. It will revolutionize your packing.
  • Quick-Dry Towel : A quick-dry towel is a must for travelers. It hardly takes up any room and dries in seconds.
  • Travel Wallet : Keep your passport, wallet, and vaccine card safe as well as any forms and important documents you need to store.
  • Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle : I’ve used this for three years. It filters your water with one press and you can drink directly from it. Never buy a plastic water bottle again!

READ MORE SRI LANKA BLOG POSTS

  • Ultimate Guide: 15 BEST THINGS TO DO IN SRI LANKA
  • Hiking in Ella:   LITTLE ADAM’S PEAK HIKE IN ELLA
  • Riding the Train: Kandy to Ella by Train
  • The famous Sri Lanka rope swing:   THE PALM TREE ROPE SWING AT DALAWELLA
  • The famous bridge: NINE ARCH BRIDGE IN ELLA
  • Getting a tattoo in Sri Lanka:   MY EXPERIENCE GETTING A TATTOO IN SRI LANKA
  • Where to stay: 20 BEST ECO LODGES IN SRI LANKA
  • Sri Lanka Packing List:   THE ULTIMATE SRI LANKA PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY

Tuesday 31st of October 2023

Thursday 19th of May 2022

This SRI LANKA guide is incredibly helpful. Before planning a trip, you’ve carefully thought of everything you need to know. Thank you for providing this useful resource. I’m bookmarking this page for later!

Tuesday 26th of April 2022

Wow, I dream of visiting Sri Lanka one day. Thanks for such a great post. https://www.arcadiavacations.in/SriLanka.html

Monday 7th of March 2022

Love your Blog! Wish some day could travel with you some where...! regards from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Hassan Zafar

Monday 28th of February 2022

Thanks for sharing this. I am going to Sri Lanka next week this guide will help me.

Srii lanka travel buddy

Sri Lanka Travel Blog - Travel Guide & Advise by a Local Blogger

Don’t be a tourist, be a local traveler

One Day Trip Places in Galle & Nearby Attractions

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By Mani Mughal

one day trip places in galle

Table of Contents

Galle, a beautiful coastal city in Sri Lanka, offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Known for its colonial architecture and stunning beaches, Galle is an excellent destination for a day trip. The city’s rich history is evident in its well-preserved Dutch fort, charming streets, and vibrant local life. A day trip to Galle and its nearby attractions offers a perfect mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Each destination has its own unique charm, making the Galle region a versatile and memorable travel experienc

Galle Fort is a historic gem that stands as a testament to the city’s colonial past. Built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later fortified by the Dutch, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit. The fort’s cobblestone streets, ancient ramparts, and colonial-era buildings provide a glimpse into the past. Visitors can explore the various museums, art galleries, and boutiques within the fort. The lighthouse offers a stunning view of the ocean, making it a perfect spot for photography. Walking along the ramparts during sunset is a magical experience, as the golden hues reflect off the fort walls and the sea.

Unawatuna Beach

Unawatuna Beach, located just a short drive from Galle, is one of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka . Known for its golden sands and clear blue waters, it’s a great place to relax and enjoy the sun. The beach is lined with palm trees and has a variety of beachfront cafes and restaurants. Snorkeling and diving are popular activities here, thanks to the vibrant coral reefs and abundant marine life. The nearby Japanese Peace Pagoda, situated on a hill, offers a panoramic view of the coastline and is a serene spot for meditation.

Jungle Beach

Jungle Beach is a hidden paradise near Unawatuna, offering a more secluded and tranquil experience. To reach this beach, visitors must take a short hike through a lush forest, adding a sense of adventure to the trip. The beach itself is small and pristine, with calm waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The surrounding greenery and rocky outcrops create a picturesque setting, perfect for a peaceful day by the sea. Jungle Beach is less crowded than Unawatuna, making it a great choice for those seeking a quieter escape.

Hikkaduwa is another coastal town close to Galle, famous for its vibrant beach scene and lively nightlife. The beach here is known for its large waves, making it a popular spot for surfing. Hikkaduwa is also home to a coral sanctuary, where visitors can snorkel and witness the colorful underwater world. The town’s main street is lined with shops, cafes, and bars, offering a lively atmosphere day and night. The Hikkaduwa Beach Festival, held annually, attracts both locals and tourists with its music, dance, and entertainment.

hikkaduwa beach

Koggala Lake

Koggala Lake is a large freshwater lake located a short distance from Galle. Surrounded by lush mangrove forests and dotted with small islands, the lake offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Boat rides on the lake are a popular activity, allowing visitors to explore the islands and observe the diverse birdlife. One of the notable islands is Madol Duwa, made famous by Sri Lankan author Martin Wickramasinghe’s novel of the same name. The island’s rich flora and fauna provide a tranquil setting for a relaxing day out.

Mirissa, located about 30 kilometers from Galle, is a charming coastal town known for its beautiful beach and whale watching tours. The crescent-shaped beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying fresh seafood at the beachfront restaurants. Mirissa is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see blue whales and dolphins, with boat tours operating daily during the season. The nearby Parrot Rock offers a fantastic viewpoint of the coastline and is a great spot to watch the sunset. Mirissa’s laid-back vibe and natural beauty make it a favorite among travelers.

Kanneliya Forest Reserve

For nature lovers, the Kanneliya Forest Reserve, located about an hour’s drive from Galle, is a must-visit. This biodiversity hotspot is part of Sri Lanka’s rainforest network and offers a range of trekking trails through dense forests. Visitors can explore the rich flora and fauna, including many endemic species of plants and animals. The forest is home to numerous waterfalls and streams, providing refreshing stops along the way. A guided tour is recommended to fully appreciate the ecological significance of the reserve and its unique features.

Weligama is a bustling town known for its wide bay and excellent surfing conditions. The sandy beach and gentle waves make it an ideal spot for beginner surfers. Surf schools and rental shops are abundant, providing everything needed for a day on the waves. Weligama is also famous for its stilt fishermen, who can be seen balancing on poles in the shallow waters, a traditional fishing method unique to this area. The town’s vibrant market and numerous eateries offer a taste of local life and cuisine, adding to the charm of this coastal destination.

Ahangama is a quiet coastal village located between Galle and Matara. Known for its pristine beaches and surfing spots, it offers a peaceful retreat from the busier tourist areas. The village is also famous for its traditional stilt fishermen, who continue to practice this unique fishing technique. Ahangama’s beaches are less crowded, providing a serene environment for relaxation and leisure. The surrounding coconut plantations and small coves add to the picturesque scenery, making it a perfect place to unwind.

Talpe, a small coastal town near Galle, is known for its stunning beaches and luxury villas. The beaches here are less crowded, offering a peaceful escape with crystal-clear waters and soft sands. Talpe is ideal for those looking to relax in a more upscale setting, with several high-end resorts and private villas available for rent. The nearby rock pools, formed by natural coral formations, are a unique feature of Talpe’s coastline, providing a perfect spot for a refreshing dip. The tranquil atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make Talpe a hidden gem on the southern coast.

With a background in electrical engineering and a love for travel, I've created this blog to share my adventures and correct the misinformation surrounding Sri Lanka.

Related Post

6 must things to do in galle for an unforgettable trip, jungle beach unawatuna sri lanka – a great spot for swimming, exploring the colombo national museum, bomburu ella falls: trek to sri lanka’s ten waterfalls, easy ella rock hiking to view point (perfect for beginners).

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  • 18 Amazing And Most-Visited Sri Lanka Tourist Places For Your 2024 Trip

23 Jan 2024

Do you want to leave behind all your work deadlines and travel to a distant land far away from all maddening rush? Are you looking to relax lazily on a hammock? Do you want to let go of all anxieties? Well, then a trip to Sri Lanka is all that your ultimate healer. With its pristine beaches, mosaic landscape and picturesque topography, Sri Lanka has so much to offer. So back your virtual bag and let’s run through the best Sri Lanka tourist places .

Before we move forward with this blog post, let us first get an idea of the essentials. Sri Lanka boasts of some of the world’s best beaches, and the interiors of the island nation also have a lot to offer. Here are some of the must-see tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.

18 Best Sri Lanka Tourist Places 

While planning your next vacation to this serene country, do check out these amazing Sri Lanka tourist places . Here is a complete list of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka where one can enjoy a great time away from the hustle-bustle. 

  • The Dambulla Cave Temple – The Largest Temple Complex In Sri Lanka
  • Yala National Park – Home To A Host Of Wildlife And Birds
  • Arugam Bay – Turquoise Heaven For Adrenaline-Junkies
  • Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa – Ruggedness Amidst The Greenery
  • Galle – A 16th Century Marvel
  • Jaffna – Peep Into The Past
  • The Commonwealth War Cemetery At Kandy – Remember The Brave Martyrs
  • Temple Of Tooth At Kandy – Treat To The Eyes And Soul
  • Nuwara Eliya – Get Closer To Pristine Nature
  • Trincomalee – An Unmissable Beach Getaway
  • Polonnaruwa Sacred City – Explore The Golden Past Of Sri Lanka
  • Anuradhapura – The Greatest Monastic City Of Ancient World
  • Nine Arch Bridge – Bridge In The Sky
  • Mihintale – The Birth Place Of Buddhism
  • Udawalawe National Park – Must-Visit Place For Wildlife Enthusiasts
  • Ravana Falls – Enjoy The Impressive Sight Of The Magnificent Fall
  • Adam’s Peak – An Important Pilgrim Site
  • Mount Lavinia – Popular Neighborhood

1. The Dambulla Cave Temple – The Largest Temple Complex In Sri Lanka

Dambulla-Cave-Temple_23rd oct

The most popular among the best places to visit in Sri Lanka is the Dambulla cave temple . It tops the Sri Lanka tourist destinations. The largest temple complex in Sri Lanka, its statues and paintings date back to the 12th Century AD. The temple complex has five rooms of different sizes; all rooms have Buddha in a different position looking calm and peaceful. The temple is built on a black rocky mountain which serves as a nice contrast with the white walls of the temple. Don't miss the view from the top. The temple can be easily accessed from both Colombo and Kandy.

Famous For: Historic significance Things To Do: Architectural tour, Sightseeing

Must Read: 31 Reasons Why You Should Never Visit Sri Lanka For A Vacation!

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2. Yala National Park - Home To A Host Of Wildlife And Birds

Yala-National-Park-in-Sri-Lanka_23rd oct

Missing Yala National Park while Sri Lanka sightseeing might bring regret to wildlife lovers. It is home to a host of wildlife and birds you are bound to run into a group of elephants bathing in streams, tossing their trunks wildly or leopards nestling lazily on tree branches. You could opt for the safari drives or a nature trail among the thick green foliage of the forest. Some tourists also camp at Yala and enjoy a barbeque under the stars. With so much to see and do here, Yala is indeed one of the best tourist places in Sri Lanka . Yala is the perfect place to try your hand at wildlife photography.

Getting to Yala National Park is quite simple. All you will have to do is drive down to the Park from Colombo. Another way is by taking a bus to Tissamaharama.

Famous For: Wildlife, Flora & Fauna Things To Do: Wildlife Safari, Trekking Location: Katagamuwa, Yala, Sri Lanka Timings : 6 am to 6 pm

3. Arugam Bay - Turquoise Heaven For Adrenaline-Junkies

A professional sea surfing at Arugam Bay on a Sri Lankan beach

Sri Lanka has a coastline of over 1600 km and is ideally suited for windsurfing, speed boating, and other water sports. Arugam Bay has azure skies and slanting coconut trees. If you are looking to surf in turquoise waters, Arugam Bay must be in your list of must-see tourist places in Sri Lanka . It is on the southeast coast around 320 km from Colombo.

It is the ideal place to sip coconut water, take in the scent of jasmine and allow the southern sun to tan your skin.

Besides Arugam bay, other beaches among best places to visit in Sri Lanka are Unawatuna in the South; and Tangalla again in the south around 195 km south of Colombo.

How to get there- Colombo has an international airport and is strategically located. So if you fly to Colombo, you are pretty much in close proximity to the best beaches.

Famous For: Seashore Destinations Things To Do: Surfing, Snorkeling Flight Charges from India: INR 15,000 for an adult if booked two months in advance Best beaches around Colombo: Benota, Mirissa, Koggala, Trincomalee, Pasikudah, Unawatuna, Tangalla and Arugam Bay Best time to visit: Between November and March Best Hotels to stay: Weligama Bay resort, The Fortress Resort Galle, Palace Mirissa, and Number One Mirissa

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka In August: A Guide To Treat Yourself With The Magic Of Monsoon!

4. Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa - Ruggedness Amidst The Greenery

Sigiriya is one of the popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka

Sigiriya or the mount of remembrance is a World Heritage Site and one of the most stunning places to see in Sri Lanka. This giant formation of rock rises out of nowhere towering over everything in its vicinity. It is quite a climb to the top but once up there you will get to see a panoramic view of the nearby sights and the Sigiriya fort. The rock fortress is a slice of history perched on a rock and is really worth a visit.

Not much is heard and said about Polonnaruwa, but this ancient city is no less than the Petra of the south. A gem among Sri Lanka tourist attractions, this ancient ruined city stands amidst its erstwhile sturdy columns and architecture. The best way to explore this ancient city is to hire a bike and zoom around the ruins. The site is well maintained and is a telling example of Sri Lankas history and culture. Polonnaruwa can be easily accessed via Sigiriya. You can take a tuk-tuk or a bus from Sigiriya. Or you can take a bus from Dambulla to Polonnaruwa.

Best Hotels to Stay: Jetwing Vil Uyana, Camelia Resort and Spa, Hotel Sigiriya, Camellia Resort and Spa, and Lal Homestay

Suggested Read: Ramayana Tour In Sri Lanka: Exploring The Religious Trail In The Island Nation

5. Galle - A 16th Century Marvel

Galle-Fort_24th oct

Galle is an important city in Sri Lanka and is a one-stop destination wherein you can take in all sights and sounds. One of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka is the Galle Fort. The Galle Fort area has wide cobblestoned roads and a number of eateries and cafes. Try and catch the sunset while you are there. There are a number of trinket shops and galleries that you can visit. It is among the most visited places in Sri Lanka. 

Another picturesque destination for sightseeing in Sri Lanka is the Japanese Peace Pagoda. Quite close to the Unawatuna beach, it is a white dome of serenity.

Best Hotels to Sty: Jetwing Lighthouse, Amangalla, Tamarind Hill, Apa Villa Thalpe, and The Fortress

6. Jaffna - Peep Into The Past

Jaffna fort is one of the key tourist spots in Sri Lanka

Although a bit crowded, the temple Nallur Kovil is a nice pick among the best places to see in Sri Lanka. Another place of interest is the Jaffna Fort. This fort is in the center of the city and is a tourist hub. If youre in Jaffna, you cannot miss the Nagadipa Purana Vihara, the temple can be accessed by boat. One of calmest among Sri Lanka tourist attractions, the temple is surreal and a wonderful place to meditate.

Best Hotels to Stay: PJ Hotels, and Morgans

Suggested Read: 19 Photos That Will Make You Wish You Were In Sri Lanka Right Now!

7. The Commonwealth War Cemetery At Kandy - Remember The Brave Martyrs

The Commonwealth War Cemetery in Sri Lanka

Yes, a weird one in the list of best places to visit in Sri Lanka, the war cemetery is well maintained and the grounds are well kept. Overall it is a very humbling experience. This cemetery is hard to find without a guide, but once you get there, it is worth the effort.

Location: Kandy, Sri Lanka Timings: 7 am to 4 pm

Suggested Read: 30 Best Beaches In Sri Lanka 

8. Temple Of Tooth At Kandy - Treat To The Eyes And Soul

Temple of Tooth in Kandy

The temple of the tooth is again a popular one among tourist places in Sri Lanka. This temple in Kandy is iconic because of the history attached to it. With a quaint setup and interesting artifacts, this temple is worth a visit.

Location: Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy 20000, Sri Lanka Timings: 5.30 am to 8 pm

9. Nuwara Eliya - Get Closer To Pristine Nature

The lush green hill station of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya is most famous for its tea gardens and scenery. It is a perfect place to visit for a romantic vacation or for someone who is looking for a relaxing trip. With misty clouds, lush green sloping hills and a train that looks that it has come out of the Harry Potter films, Nuwara Eliya is a hilly paradise and another great addition to Sri Lankas tourist attractions. The popular places to visit in Nuwara Eliya include Victoria Park, Bale Bazaar, Moon Plains, Ramboda Falls and St. Clair’s Falls.

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka Travel Tips: 21 Dos And Don’ts For A Memorable Vacation

10. Trincomalee- An Unmissable Beach Getaway

The beautiful beach at Trincomalee in Sri Lanka

Trincomalee, among many similar Sri Lanka tourist spots, is blessed with a beautiful beach. If you are up for an underwater diving tour, then SLDT (Sri Lanka Diving Tours) will give you the best experience. Besides water sports, there are also many temples and beaches in Trincomalee. There's also a war cemetery which is surrounded by lush gardens, which makes it one of the best places to see in Sri Lanka.

11. Polonnaruwa Sacred City – Explore The Golden Past Of Sri Lanka

Pollonnaruwa

Image Source

This city was once the ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka and walking into this still gives a feeling of the Golden Age. Inside one of the most popular Sri Lanka tourist spots, there are still ruins of palaces, shrines and stupas which makes it one of the top tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. All these landmarks give closure to the historical remains which hold a glorious past. This place has a lot to explore and gives a peek to the golden past of this side of Sri Lanka. It is among the best Sri Lanka tourist places. 

Main Highlights: One shouldn’t miss witnessing the statue of Parakramabahu I who ruled during the golden age. Alongside that one can also see the magnificent view of the Lotus Pond which is made in lotus-shaped petals and built on 4-tiers.

Suggested Read: Sri Lanka In January

12. Anuradhapura – The Greatest Monastic City Of Ancient World

Anuradhapura

This is one of the top Sri Lanka tourist spots which is also claimed to be one of the world heritage sites. The place gained its importance after the arrival of the Bodhi Tree which is also called the “tree of enlightenment”. The place protects the tree and keeps it away from the wild elephants during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rangasingha.

Best Time To Visit: April and September Location: It is approximately hours from Anuradhapura-Padeniya highway Price: $25 (INR – 1781)

13. Nine Arch Bridge – Bridge In The Sky

bridge in sri lanka

Nine Arch Bridge is also called the Bridge in the sky and is among the iconic Sri Lanka tourism places . It is in the small mountain town of Ella and offers visitors with splendid view of the surrounding area which comprises of lush greenery and tea fields. What makes the bridge unique is that it is made up of stone, brick and cement. There is no use of any steel. It is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka for a memorable holiday. 

Best Time To Visit: Sunrise

Suggested Read: Ekansh’s Anniversary Trip To Sri Lanka In April Was A Bouquet Of Beautiful Memories

14. Mihintale – The Birth Place Of Buddhism

Mihintale, monastic city of Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Mihintale is among the top Sri Lanka tourist attractions . It is a birth place of Buddhism attracting hundreds of pilgrims to this site every year. It is a mountain located near the town of Anuradhapura where you can visit many religious and historical structures. 

Suggested Read : Keep This Ultimate Sri Lanka Honeymoon Guide Handy For Your Tropical Vacation

15. Udawalawe National Park – Must-Visit Place For Wildlife Enthusiasts

Udawalawe National Park Cover

Udawalawe National Park is a must-visit place for wildlife lovers. It is one of those few places where elephant sightings are quite frequent. Not only elephant, you get a chance to get a glimpse of many animals including peacocks, water buffalo, crocodiles, jackals, monkeys and deer. For the best experience of this top attractions in Sri Lanka , take a safari early morning when the animals are most active. 

Location : Udawalawa, Sri Lanka Timings: 6.00 AM to 6.00 PM

Suggested Read: 45 Best Places To Visit In Colombo

16. Ravana Falls – Enjoy The Impressive Sight Of The Magnificent Fall

A shot of the Ravana Falls in Ella region in Sri Lanka

The beautiful Ravana falls is one of the famous Sri Lanka attractions . The majestic and magnificent fall is an impressive sight especially during the rainy season. Located on the main road to Ella, it is a common stop for the visitors during their journey. During the hot summer months, the falls are used for bathing. It is among the most stunning waterfalls in Sri Lanka.

Location : Colombo – Galle – Hambantota – Wellawaya Rd, Ella 90900, Sri Lanka Timings: Open 24 hours

Suggested Read:   Top 10 Things To Do In Kandy For Couples That Assure Ultimate Fun In Sri Lanka!

17. Adam’s Peak – An Important Pilgrim Site

sri pada sri lanka

Adam’s Peak is another famous tourist attractions in Sri Lanka . The topmost point of the peak has a footprint cast in stone which has spiritual significance to different religions. Many pilgrimage trek to the top on full moon nights. Most of them also start hiking around 3 AM to reach the summit by sunrise for a splendid view. It is also one of the most popular honeymoon places in Sri Lanka .

Location: Sabaragamuwa, Sri Lanka

18. Mount Lavinia – Popular Neighborhood

places to visit in sri lanka one day

Image Credit: honeplus for Wikimedia

Mount Lavinia is one of the most romantic tourist places in Sri Lanka . It is popular among the tourists for its vibrant nightlife and Golden Mile Beach. On your visit to this place, make sure to stay at the deluxe Mount Lavinia Hotel for an amazing experience. Located centrally, enjoy the gorgeous view of Colombo’s skyline and have the best seafood at Mount Lavinia beach and a lot more. This is one of the Sri Lanka tourism places you must not miss. It is also surrounded by some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka . 

Timings: 7 am to 7 pm

Suggested Read:   Koggala Beach: An Ultimate Guide To Explore This Hidden Paradise In Sri Lanka 

Best Time To Visit Sri Lanka

Best Time To Visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka doesn’t experience extremes when it comes to weather conditions. The best time to visit Sri Lanka depends upon the region you’re keen to visit. December to March is the perfect time for visiting most of the country (Highlands, West Coast, and South coast). May to September is ideal for visiting the Eastern Coasts.

Further Read: Beyond Thailand: 10 Alternate Travel Destinations in Asia

If you want to make a trip abroad and benefit from the exchange rate, then book your trip to Sri Lanka. So pamper yourself and indulge your senses in the rich heritage and diverse beauty by visiting these top Sri Lanka tourist places. 

Disclaimer: TravelTriangle claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on TravelTriangle, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

Please Note:  Any information published by TravelTriangle in any form of content is not intended to be a substitute for any kind of medical advice, and one must not take any action before consulting a professional medical expert of their own choice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sri Lanka Tourist Places

How safe is sri lanka from the coronavirus epidemic.

The Sri Lankan government and the tourist department are taking strict measures to curb the situation related to the Coronavirus outbreak. Visa-on-arrival has been prohibited to tourists from China and screening tests are in effect at the international airports.

What are the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka?

There are various places in the country of Sri Lanka that are considered to be quite beautiful. Some of them are: 1. Polonnaruwa 2. Yala National Park 3. Temple of the Tooth Relic 4. Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage 5. Adams Peak 6. Nuwara Eliya 7. Beira Lake

What is Sri Lanka famous for?

Sri Lanka is known for its culture. There’s a lot to explore and experience in this country. You can even go shopping at this place for a great experience. You can buy gems, tea, fabrics, handicrafts, antiques, ceramics, leather products, and more.

How many days are enough for Sri Lanka?

To cover maximum places in the country of Sri Lanka during your vacay and make the most of it, you need to plan a trip for at least 5 days and 4 nights.

What are the best Buddhist places in Sri Lanka?

The best Buddhist places in Sri Lanka are Mirisawetiya Stupa, Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, and Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara.

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Seerendipity Tours and Travels

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Best of Sri Lanka holidays

ONE DAY TRIP PLACES FROM COLOMBO: EASY DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO

Looking to get out of Colombo during your short stay in Sri Lanka? Here are eight killer ideas to organise your day trips from Colombo. These 8-day tours from Colombo introduce you to the 8 best one-day trip places from Colombo by considering many factors such as connectivity from Colombo, distance to cover on the trip, and importance as a tourist attraction. Most importantly, these eight trip destinations can be easily reached from any beach resort on the west coast of Sri Lanka. These eight one-day trip places feature wildlife reserves, seaside towns, cultural and historical places, and adventure sites in the beautiful countryside of Sri Lanka.  

Table of Contents

Click here to see 15 one-day trips from colombo, prices starting from us$ 55 p.p., 1. kitulgala, 2. yala national park, 3. mirissa south coast beach, 6. hikkaduwa, 7. rathnapura, 8. sinharaja rainforest, 9. sigiriya rock fortress, 10. bentota beach, what are the most popular one day trips from colombo, 6 easy one-day trip places from colombo opened up due to the central expressway, 6 places in the cultural triangle for one-day trips from colombo, when is the best time to visit the above-mentioned one-day trip destinations from colombo, what time should i start my day trip from colombo, places to visit on the kitulgala day tour from colombo, what are the places to visit on the nuwara eliya day trip from colombo, whale-watching in mirissa, beach hopping in mirissa, what are the places to visit on the mirissa day trip from colombo, one-day trips from colombo, places to visit in kandy, 5 places to visit on galle city tour, 10 places to on one day trips from colombo >> galle, what are the places to visit on the hikkaduwa day trip from colombo, what are the places to visit on the rathnapura day trip from colombo, places to visit in sinharaja on day trips from colombo, places to visit on a day trip to sigiriya from colombo, places to visit on a day trip to bentota from colombo, the best price guaranteed for your sri lanka trip, plan your best sri lanka trip with-expert, one-day trips from colombo.

Are you tired of Colombo? This is the perfect moment to leave behind the hustle and bustle of Colombo and head to a perfect spot, where you can enjoy peace and serenity, of course, with a few activities. From time to time, everyone needs a change of scene but definitely without too much faffing.

So, it is immaterial whether you are in the mood for a forest frolic or embracing the sea breeze. Here are 8 sweet spots for unforgettable one-day trips from Colombo, complete with plenty of activities, restaurants, and pubs, that are close to Colombo to get there and back in a day.   

Sri Lanka one day tour Udawalawe national park, Sri Lanka day tour to Sinharaja rainforest, One day Sri Lanka trip to Sigiriya

WHAT ARE THE 10 BEST PLACES FOR ONE-DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO?

If you are looking for interesting places for one-day trips from Colombo and are exploring some interesting places, I highly recommend the below-mentioned 8 trip places. Most of these places can be reached within 3 hours of driving from Colombo, except Yala and Kandy. All these places are not only reachable within a short period of time, but there are also many other places to see on your way there, such as forts, beaches, temples, stupas, museums, shopping and many other things.

Kitulgala is located in the western province of Sri Lanka and is just a 2-hour drive from Colombo

Yala National Park offers top-notch wildlife holidays and is included in Sri Lanka’s south coast itinerary. A four-hour drive from Colombo.

Mirissa is a popular beach holiday destination on the South Coast. This south coast beach holiday destination offers opportunities for whale and dolphin watching

Kandy is located in the central province and offers a wide range of tourist attractions, from temples to botanical gardens, tea plantations and many more

Galle is a popular tourist attraction in the south, with pristine beaches and an old fort

Hikkaduwa is located on the south coast and offers the opportunity for watersports, diving, snorkelling, boating and many other activities

Rathnapura is located near Colombo and can be reached within two-hour drive from Colombo, offers rainforests, waterfalls, rivers and many ancient sites

Sinharaja rainforest is popular for its rainforest and it is very popular among nature lovers

Sigiriya is tucked away in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka and well over 170 km from Colombo.

better known as a golden mile in Sri Lanka, Bentota is the most popular beach holiday destination in Sri Lanka, with gold-colored sandy beaches, swaying palms and torque of the Indian Ocean.

  • Kandy one day tour from Colombo with Pinnawala
  • One day trip to Sigiriy and dambulla
  • Galle one day tour
  • Bentota beach and river safari from Colombo
  • Udawalawe safari from Colombo
  • Colombo city tour with gangarama
  • One day whale-watching tour with Galle Fort
  • White water-rafting in kitulgala with jungle trekking
  • Sinharaja rainforest tour from Colombo
  • One day trip to Nuwara eliya from Colombo

The infrastructure is been improved rapidly in Sri Lanka, especially the road network. With the improved road network, especially with newly built highways, it has become easier to reach far-flung places from Colombo. Yala and many other tourist places, such as Kataragama, were not viable day trips from Colombo in the past, due to the long drive, however, Yala and all other tourist attractions in the southern province are now just a 2-hour drive away from Colombo, due to the newly opened southern expressway.

A large number of important historical and natural tourist attractions in the north-central province have become convenient one-day trip places from Colombo with the opening of a part of the central expressway (Mirigama to Kurunegala, 40km) in January 2021. Using Mirigama to Kurunegala on the central expressway, travellers can save as much as 1 hour on their trip from Colombo to Sigiriya and the cultural triangle. Iconic tourist attractions Sigiriya rock fortress, Dambulla golden temple, Pidurangala, and Minneriya national park are some of the important places that have become easy one-day trips from Colombo due to the central expressway. Earlier, it took around 5 hours to travel from Colombo to Sigiriya. With the new expressway, travelers can now reach Sigiriya within 4 hours from Colombo. However, if you start the trip early in the morning from Colombo at around 05.00 (Am), you are able to reach Sigiriya, Dambulla, within 3 hours.

  • Sigiriya rock fortress
  • Dambulla golden temple
  • Pidurangala temple
  • Minneriya national park
  • Ibbankatuwa ancient site
  • Pinnawala elephant orphanage

The above-mentioned 8 one-day trip places in Sri Lanka are located in the western province, the southern province and the central hill country of Sri Lanka. These regions are coming under the wet zone, which is under the influence of the southwest monsoon. The southwest monsoon brings heavy rain from April to November over most parts of Sri Lanka, including the west zone. Therefore, travelling to the above-mentioned places from April to November may affect your holiday activities, specifically, it may obstruct outdoor activities with sudden heavy rain.

A large part of the wet zone sees bright and sunny weather during the north-east monsoon (from November to April), therefore, 6 months from April to November is the best time of the year to visit these 8 places from Colombo, which is also the peak holiday season on the island. Most beach resorts in Sri Lanka attract a large number of travellers from November to April and therefore the cost of holidays in Sri Lanka is also considerably heightened during this period due to the increasing demand for accommodation, transport and other facilities.

The unprecedented impact incurred on the tourism industry due to COVID-19 has been able to reduce holiday costs in Sri Lanka by more than 50% for a short period of time. However, by the time this article is published, the cost of travel in Sri Lanka is back to its usual level and in some areas, it has been pushed upward due to the high demand.

one-day trips from Colombo

Goooooood question, because it is very important to save time for the interesting activities that you plan on the trip. Reducing the time spent on travel is one of the best ways to save time for activities. Having private transport (a private vehicle with a local driver) is strongly recommended to save time on travel. Never resort to public transport; it really sucks your time. Public buses and trains are behind schedule most of the time.

Even with your private vehicle, it is recommended to start the day trip from Colombo as early as possible. If you can start the trip at around 04.00 or 05.00 AM, it is better because you can avoid traffic along the way and reach the destination early.

It is highly important to start the trip early from Colombo if you are visiting faraway tourist attractions like Kandy, Sigiriya, and Dambulla. Usually, it takes a few hours to reach the most leading tourist attractions in Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and southern Sri Lanka, as well as the cultural triangle.

As per my experience, the early start of the trip from Colombo is always rewarded, It allows you to save a lot of time because you can curtail the travel time as you drive on roads with less traffic congestion. For example, if you start the 1-day Sigiriya trip from Colombo at around 04.00 a.m, it takes only 3 hours to reach Sigiriya. But if you start the journey after 6 a.m., it takes around 5 hours to reach Sigiriya.

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  • 6 Places to Visit on a Colombo walking tour

1-DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> KITULGALA

Kitulgala lies at the foothills of the central mountain range, towards the western slope of the hill country. It lies on the Colombo-Nuwara Eliya main road and you come across Kitulgala as you travel to Nuwara Eliya from Colombo via Hatton or vice versa. Kitulgala is laid back city with a calm and quiet neighbourhood, Kitulgala is ranked among the best places for a peaceful holiday with a twist of adventure .

The most striking natural attraction of Kitulgala is undoubtedly the Kelaniya River, which is the main reason for its popularity among travelers. The river keeps the adjoining forest alive and maintains the healthy green cover by supplying plenty of water. the rugged terrain of Kitulagla supports many adrenaline-pumping activities such as hiking, trekking, mountain climbing and jungle trekking. Kiutlgala is also popular for rainforest exploration due to the Makandawa rainforest. Kitulgala is home to a number of waterfalls, some of which support waterfalls abseiling and many travellers venture into this exciting activity every day.

Kitulgala one day tour, two day trip places in Sri Lanka, 2 day trip in Sri Lanka

  • Kelaniya River (Kitulgal water rafting)
  • Rain forest

Transportation: The travel time between Colombo and Kitulgala would be around 2 hours if you had your own transport. If you travel to Kitulgala from the west coast, southern, coast or Kandy, it might take around 3 hours. You can reach Kitulgala only by road, and the road that leads to Kitulgala is in very good condition and there is not much traffic on the road as well.

Things to do in Kitulgala: most things that you can do in Kitulgala are adventure activities such as Whitewater rafting, Kayaking, mountain climbing, trekking, rainforest exploration, etc. Therefore, if you are a traveller fond of beaches, city life, cultural sites, etc., there is no point in going there. On the other hand, if you like to experience some adrenaline-pumping activities and live in a place, where you are fondled in the lap of mother nature, there is no better place than Kitulgala.

How much does cost this trip:  Approx. US$ 250 per couple

Interesting Tips:   The cost of this largely varies depending on the activities you do. Usually, the accommodation in Kitulgala is not that costly but the activities are. Usually, most activities cost between 10 and 40 dollars per person.

one-day trips from Colombo

Sri Lanka 3-day tour with Sigiriya rock fortress, Dambulla golden temple Kandy, and Nuwara Eliya

2-DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> NUWARA ELIYA

Nuwara Eliya is the hill-country capital of Sri Lanka, which sits 1800 meters above sea level. Nuwara Eliya is one of the most beautiful cities on the island and is surrounded by tea plantations and green-capped mountains. Nuwara Eliya is one of the most visited cities on the island and it attracts many thousands of travellers every day. Nuwara Eliya offers many interesting places to visit, such as historical sites, rainforests, trekking sites and temples.

Nuwara Eliya is a historical city closely connected to Ramayana. Nuwara Eliya is only 175 km from Colombo and usually, travellers need only 4 hours to reach Nuwara Eliya from Colombo. A one-day trip to Nuwara Eliya from Colombo is well worth money and time as it allows travellers to visit many interesting places.

  • Spice garden
  • Tooth relic temple
  • Tea plantations
  • Lakes, rivers
  • Botanical gardens

Transportation: The travel time between Colombo and Nuwara Eliya will be around 4 hours with private transport. The duration of the journey from Colombo to Kandy can last between 5 and 6 hours if you opt for public transport such as trains and buses. If you travel to Nuwara Eliya from the west coast or southern, coast, it might take around 5 hours.

Things to do in Nuwara Eliya: There are many dozens of interesting things to do and see in Nuwara Eliya. Visiting temples, and historical monuments, visiting botanical gardens, exploring wildlife, visiting waterfalls, trekking in the rain forest, and hiking and trekking through the tea plantations are some of the main activities.

Mountains surround Nuwara Eliya, making it an intriguing playground for adventure seekers. Some of the popular adventure activities in Nuwara Eliya are mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, and whitewater rafting.

How much does cost this trip:  Approx. USD 250 per couple

Interesting Tips:   The cost of the Nuwara Eliya one-day trip from Colombo largely varied depending on the activities included in the trip. However, Nuwara Eliya one day trip includes only a few important activities due to time constraints. If you wish to have a more lengthy trip and visit other interesting places that are not included in the one-day trip, it is recommended to take the 2-day Nuwara Eliya trip or the 3-day Nuwara Eliya trip.

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3- ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> MIRISSA

Watching blue whales is the talk of the town, watching whales has become a novel experience for travellers who spend holidays in Sri Lanka. The whale-watching day tour is a very easy, short trip for travelers who stay on the west coast and southern coast. Therefore, this one-day trip from Colombo is mostly booked by beach holiday lovers, who stay in beach areas such as Colombo, Negombo, Kalutara, Bentota, Hikkaduwa and Galle.

Sri Lanka is the best whale-watching spot in the region and allows you to see blue whales off the southern coast at any time of the year. Unlike most other whale-watching destinations, where you can see whales only during a few months of the year (during the season), in Sri Lanka, you can spot whales throughout the year. It is due to the resident whales, which live permanently in the Sri Lankan water. So, you have the opportunity to be close to the largest sea creature in the ocean, which can be as big as a multi-day fishing craft.

Mirissa is also one of the best beach holiday destinations on the island, with the water temperature averaging 27 Celsius all year long, allowing you to stick your toes in the sea on Mirissa’s powdery sandy beaches. In Mirissa, you can take advantage of the sun, sea, and sand while unwinding at a secluded, less crowded beach or swimming in the pristine, turquoise-blue waters with magnificent, swaying palms lining the shore.

If you like swimming with sea turtles around a multitude of tropical fish, it’s turtle beach, which is only a few kilometres from Mirissa you need to reach. But it is not only the seafront activities that you can perform.

The beachfront locality around Mirissa is home to one of the biggest fishing harbours on the island and the locality around Mirissa produces the raw material for the most popular alcoholic drink on the island, which is known as toddy, extracted from the coconut bud. Make sure you tingle your taste buds with a plate of fresh seafood and a glass of arrack.

  • Mirissa Beach
  • Turtle Beach
  • Sea turtle conservation project
  • Madu estuary

Transportation: The beaches of Mirissa can be easily reached from most cities on the island as it is located close to the city of Matara. You can use public buses, trains or a private transport mode such as a taxi to reach Mirissa. Mirissa is one of the most popular beach resorts on the island and here you get plenty of accommodation facilities. However, Matara is popular as a destination for budget travellers, where you get a large number of guest houses, rest houses, and dormitories, as well as a few middle-class-star hotels.

Things to do in Mirissa: Most importantly, Mirissa is a beach holiday destination, therefore, most travellers are glued to the beaches of Mirissa. Whale watching, visiting a natural fountain known as the blowhole, the Matara star fort (built by the Dutch in the 18th century), and the Weherahena Buddhist temple are noteworthy activities for tourists here.

How much does cost this trip:  Approx. US$ 200 per couple

Interesting Tips:   The period from October to May is considered the best time to travel to Matara and Mirissa. During this period, you get very good weather for outdoor activities with only casual rain, The sea is also calm and safe for a sea bath.

So pack yourself and join the ride and take in some of the most incredible sights, from adventurous whitewater rafting to religious rituals. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on any of the above-mentioned tours and activities.

4. ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> KANDY

Kandy is one of the best cities for travellers in Sri Lanka, surrounded by lofty peaks, tea plantations and patches of forests; Kandy offers some of the most scenic landscapes on the island. Kandy is a beautiful city with many leading tourist attractions, such as a tooth relic temple, the Royal Botanical Garden, and the Elephant Orphanage Pinnawala .

  • Royal botanical garden
  • Udawattekele sanctuary

Transportation: Land transportation, air travel and land travel are viable options for every traveler who wishes to travel to Kandy. The city lies 115km from Colombo and it takes around 5 hours to reach Kandy by public bus or trail. Having private transportation, such as taxis, can cut travel time by about an hour.

Places to visit: Kandy is on the bucket list of every traveller in Sri Lanka, due to the large concentration of tourist attractions in the city. A trip to Kandy allows you to explore many must-visit places for tourists on the island. Important places include the tooth relic temple, the Royal botanical garden, the Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Kandyan cultural show , tea plantations, Embekke, Gadaladeniya, and Udawattakele  Sanctuary.

Travel Calculation:  Approx. US$ 230 per couple

Interesting Tips: Stroll across the Kandy market to experience the typical Sri Lanka shopping culture and buy some of the exquisite Sri Lankan handicrafts, gems and jewelry, batik, spices and textiles.

Galle one day tour banner, one-day trips from Colombo

5. ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> GALLE

By far, Galle City is the most popular destination for tourists on the island, who are heading to the southern coast. If you wish to experience a bit of the colonial heritage of Sri Lanka, there is no better place than Galle Fort. The Dutch built Galle Fort, a colonial city, in the 16th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a heaven for tourists. The setting within the Galle Fort is very suitable for holiday lovers, which features restaurants, bars, pubs, shops, galleries, museums, hotels, dormitories and great beaches. Venturing on a Galle city tour is the best way to start the exploration of the Galle.

  • Spice/herbal garden
  • Koggala wetland
  • Turtle conservation project
  • Unawatuna beach

Here are the 10 best places to visit on a one day trip to Galle from Colombo. However, it may not be possible to visit all these 10 places on a one day trip to Galle from Colombo due to a lack of time. Therefore, it is advisable to prioritize the places to visit if you undertake a one day trip to Galle from Colombo. Thereby, you visit the most important places and leave the least important places.

  • Gangatilaka temple Kalutara
  • Kande Vihara temple Aluthgama
  • Spice garden Bentota
  • Madu River estuary
  • Sea turtle conservation centre
  • Bentota beach
  • Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary
  • Mask Museum
  • Moonstone mines

Transportation: Galle Fort lies 100 km south of Colombo, near the Galle harbour. The travel time from Colombo to Galle would be between 2 and 5 hours, depending on the transport. If you travel by private vehicle, it will take around 2 hours to reach Galle, with the train, it will be around 4 hours; and if you travel by public bus, it will take around 5 hours.

Things to do: visiting the Martin Vikramsinghe Museum, visiting the maritime museum, taking a boat tour in the Koggala lagoon and watching stilt fishermen can be recommended to visitors of the Galle Fort. All of these places are in the immediate surrounding area of the fort and it does not take much time to reach any of them.

Travel Calculation:  Approx. US$ 300 per couple

bentota sri lanka one day tour, one-day trips from Colombo

6. ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> HIKKADUWA BEACH

Hikkaduwa Beach is topping the chart due to its pristine beaches, water sports centres, luxurious hotels, pubs, bars, seafood restaurants and many many more. There is no other beach on the island so popular among beach holiday lovers. Most importantly, Hikkaduwa is a beach resort for any type of budget, with a wide range of accommodation facilities; here you find accommodation facilities from cheap dormitories to luxurious boutique hotels. Therefore, Hikkaduwa is not only a popular beach resort but it is also one of the most affordable beach resorts in Sri Lanka and fits within the budget of all.

Transport: the cost of the up-and-down journey differs based on the way you travel. Even though it is a bit expensive, a taxi might be the best option to travel to Hikkaduwa. Train and Public buses are the next viable option for you to reach Hikkaduwa. The journey from Colombo to Hikkaduwa takes around 2-3 hours and it would cost around US$ 1 on Public transport the up-and-down journey will cost around US$ 80 by Taxi.

  • Hikkaduwa beach

Hikkaduwa is very popular as a destination for seafood. So, there are a large number of restaurants selling seafood dishes at an affordable rate. A good budget seafood meal would cost here around $5.

Activities: There are many things to do and see in Hikkaduwa, but most activities are closely associated with the ocean. Out of all activities, exploring the Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary would be the favourite of all visitors. And you simply can’t miss this ecological habitat, because it is one of the 2 marine sanctuaries on the island and gives you the opportunity to look into a wide range of exotic fish species, endangered sea turtles, coralreefs,s etc. Boating, fishing, visiting Buddhist temples, beach hopping and sampling fresh seafood are some of the other things to do here.

Travel Calculation:  Approx. US$ 250per couple

Interesting Tips:  Explore the “Marine Sanctuary”, make a boat tour, visit Hikkaduwa fishing harbour during the early hours, and sample fresh seafood.

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7. ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> RATHNAPURA

This will be one of the cheapest Sri Lanka Budget tour packages from Colombo. Ratnapura is one of the closest trip places for travellers that reside in Colombo. Ratnapura is a beautiful hill station located at the foothills of the central mountain range. Ratnapura is the most popular locality on the island for the gem industry, with hundreds of gem mines to be seen in paddy fields and valleys.

Rathnapura offers a wide range of tourist attractions, from ancient temples to museums, rainforests, waterfalls and magical countryside with opportunities for trekking, hiking, caving, and mountain biking. A large tract of this rain-rich region is bestowed with very high yearly rainfall, therefore, Ratnaoura possesses large tracts of green cover. Recently (Jan 2022), the Warnagala forest was declared a conservation zone by the Ministry of Environment, due to its importance.

Warnagala forest is a lowland evergreen rainforest and has very high ecological importance. The forest is located in Kuruvita. The Warnagala forest harbours a wide range of fauna and flora. It is reported that there are 383 species of plants and animals in this forest reserve, consisting of 219 species of animals and 164 flowering plants. Podochilus warnagalensis, an endemic species in our country, has also been recorded in this reserve. It is reported that there are 383 species of plants and animals in this forest reserve, consisting of 219 species of animals and 164 flowering plants. Podochilus warnagalensis, an endemic species in our country, has also been recorded in this reserve.

Ratnapura is the starting point of the popular Admas peak trek, which is a well-known pilgrimage among Sri Lankan Buddhists. A large number of foreign travellers are also making the pilgrimage, not because of the religious significance but due to the magical views that they can have from the pinnacle of Adam’s Peak on the surrounding hills, valleys and jungle. One of the most visited temples on the island, known as Samana Devala, is also located here. Museums, gem galleries, temples, waterfalls, and rainforests are among other popular places to visit in Ratnapura. Trekking and mountain climbing are activities that can be performed in Ratnapura. There is a distance of 31 km to cover from Ratnapura in order to reach the starting point of the Adam’s Peak trek. Usually, the upward journey starts at around midnight due to 2 reasons.

  • In order to avoid the heat of the sun.
  • In order to catch a glimpse of the rising sun

A four- to five-hour trek is on the cards for any person who undertakes this long trek. You will finish your trek at an elevation of 2300 meters above sea level. The temperature is low on top of the mountain, so prepare your journey with the necessary things that you need when it is cold.

  • Saman Devala temple
  • Bopath Ella Waterfalls
  • Warnagala Forest

Transportation: Rathnapura lies 113km eastward from Colombo. The travel time from Colombo to Ratnapura will be around 2–3 hours, depending on the mode of transport. If you travel by private taxi, it will take around 2 hours, and with the public bus, it will be around 3 hours.

Things to do: Exploring the fascinating mountains, patches of forests, rivers, lakes and waterfalls are the most popular activities to do in Ratnapura. The rugged terrain with green-capped mountains and rain forests of Ratnapura offers a large number of places that are suitable for trekking, hiking, rainforest exploration, bird watching, mountain climbing, water rafting and many other adrenaline-pumping activities.

places to visit in sri lanka one day

8. ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> SINHARAJA RAINFOREST

The travellers do not need to go far from Colombo to find a fascinating landscape, decorated with evergreen rainforests and some trekking sites with a green canopy. Sinharaja rain forest fulfils all conditions elaborated in the previous paragraph and Sinharaja rain forest offers many dozens of different trekking conditions. The rain forest resides on the border of Sabaragamuwa and the western province, giving easy access to travellers from all major tourist resorts on the west coast, south coast and Sri Lanka’s hill country.

Sinharaja Rainforest is warm and greener, but it offers great trekking routes in a magical setting where isolated mountains, huge boulders, waterfalls, and streams mix with the evergreen rainforest. The buffer zone of the rain forest is equally beautiful, with considerable forest cover mixed with the fertile valley of rubber, tea, coconut, pepper, and many varieties of spices and remote small hamlets.

The terrain may vary depending on the route chosen; however, if you wish to take a Sinharaja rainforest tour, it is highly recommended to start the trek from the Weddagala entrance, which is also the most popular route. This trekking makes for gentle trekking, but it still offers some challenges and plenty of rewards.

  • Sinharaja rain forest

Traveling on a one day trip to Sinharaja: Sinharaja Rainforest is tucked about 160 km away from Colombo. It is easy to reach from Colombo and it is just a 2-hour journey in a private vehicle. However, if you stick to public transport like buses, you may have to spend 4-5 hours on the road. Rail transport is not available on this one-day tour from Colombo.

Things to do on the day trip: explore one of the oldest rain forests in the world; at the same time, Sinharaja Rainforest is a biodiversity hot spot on a global level. Sinharaja also offers opportunities for bird lovers and the rainforest harbours hundreds of avian fauna species and dozens of endemic bird species.

9. ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> SIGIRIYA ROCK FORTRESS

The iconic historical monument Sigiriya rock fortress is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. perhaps Sigiriya is the most popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. Sigiriya is tucked away in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka, about 170 km from Colombo. Most tour operators like Seerendipity Tours offer one day trip to Sigiriya from Colombo. However, this trip starts early from Colombo (around 05.00). This fascinating one-day trip not only includes Sigiriya rock Fort but also many other interesting places such as Dambulla golden temple, Monneriya Safari and Pidurangala Temple. Unlike most other day trip, this one-day trip to Sigiriya is packed with many interesting places, therefore, it has become a very popular activity among travellers, especially among foreign travellers.

The places to visit on a day trip to Sigiriya from Colombo are endless. However, you may be able to visit only a few of them due to the time restriction. Here is a list of places that you can visit on a day trip to Sigiriya from Colombo.

  • Pinnawala Elephant orphanage
  • Dambulla Megalithic tomb
  • Pidurangala ancient temple
  • Spice/Herbal garden
  • Habarana village

10. ONE DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO >> BENTOTA BEACH

Bentota is a coastal town in the western province of Sri Lanka. A beach holiday is an integral part of every trip to Sri Lanka and rarely does a guest miss the palm-fringed beaches during their Sri Lanka trip. Bentota Beach is the most popular beach in Sri Lanka and the majority of beach holiday lovers choose Bentota Beach as their destination for beach holidays. Bentota is not only ideal for beach stays; it also offers many interesting activities for travelers, such as watersports, boat tours, and visiting national parks and historical monuments.

  • Bentota river
  • Kande vihara ancient Buddhist temple
  • Moonstone mine

WHY BOOK YOUR ONE-DAY COLOMBO TRIP WITH SEERENDIPITY?

Seerendipity Tour is an entirely locally owned travel company with a head office in Colombo. The highly experienced local staff is a key strength of Seerendipity Tours, and they can plan your dream holiday to Sri Lanka .

When you book a tour with Seerendipity Tours, you directly book the tour with the local company, which means there are no middlemen and therefore you can guarantee the best price. Simply get in touch with us and let us know when you travel and what you like to see.

Our staff makes a personalised programme for you, which you can change until you find the best Sri Lanka trip package for you. You can also browse our existing tour packages for inspiration (www.sirilaktours.com); all our ready-made tour packages are customizable and can be tailored to meet all your expectations. Write to us at [email protected] , tel. 0094-77-440977, WhatsApp 0094-77-4440977

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21 thoughts on “ ONE DAY TRIP PLACES FROM COLOMBO: EASY DAY TRIPS FROM COLOMBO ”

It seems a lot of people have enjoyed your article on Sri Lanka one day trip places. So, I thought I should also leave some comments. Very nice article and full of information. Thanks.

We undertook a Sri Lanka trip few years back with our kids. We had the opportunity to visit many places that you mentioned in the article about “ONE DAY TRIP PLACES FROM COLOMBO: EASY DRIVE TO 8 PLACES FROM COLOMBO”. All the places that we visited were very impressive tourist places.

We like surfing and diving. Can you recommend us few places for one day tour for diving/snorkeling from our hotel in Colombo? We stay in Colombo for another 5 days

Dear Mr ricardo Please drop us an email at [email protected] Thanks

Wonderful article and helped us to plan many Sri Lanak day trips during our stay in Sri Lanak last month

Wonderful article. We will be heading to Sri Lanka for 2 weeks tour in the near future. The article gave us a good idea about planning a few Sri Lanka one-day trips from our beach hotel.

Wonderful piece of information, great work. We will be traveling to Sri Lanka in October and your article “one day Trips places Sri Lanka”, gave us a good idea of how to plan activities for our upcoming Sri Lanka.

Nice article and we are ready to take couple this day trips from Colombo, but how? we are stranded at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.

What is better, doing a trip around the island while exploring different parts of the country along the way or stay in Colombo and plan few one day trips from the hotel in Colombo.

Thanks for the comment. My recommendation is to plan a tour, so-called Sri Lanka round tours. It allows you to cover more ground within a short period of time. With day tours from Colombo, you spend a lot of time travelling, a lot more time than you required on a round tour.

Very well written article, thank you for sharing

We booked Sinharaja day trip from Colombo on our 2nd day of Sri Lanka tour. Never been to such a fantastic forest. It was an amazing experience.

I travelled to Kandy last month on a day trip from our beach hotel (Bentota). But it was very tiring, I feel Kandy is a bit far for day trip from Colombo. Infact there are many places to visit on the way, therefore it is best make a 2 days trip to Kandy from Colombo.

Dear Ms Belinda I agree with you. It is better if you can visit Kandy on a 2-day trip rather than on a day trip. However, Kandy day trip is available from Colombo and you should start the trip early morning (05.00) if you start the trip before the traffic build-up, you can save a lot of time travelling.

We are still planning our trip to Colombo in the next year. This post is very useful. very nicely done.

After reading this article we decided to take the day trip to Mirissa from Colombo. It was a nice excursion with a lot to see. The whale watching trip was the best.

The article suggests a couple of good places for a Day trip from Colombo. Nice article for a traveller to arrange few intersting trips in Sri Lanka

Very useful article, it helped us a lot planning our day trips in Sri Lanka

The article makes the clear picture on Sri Lanka day trip from Colombo. The suggested day trips are very easy to do and we have done some of them already.

We did not book any of the day trips from Colombo suggested in this article. but, the article led us to find a fantastic Sri Lanka trip organizer. Thanks.

The article makes a clear picture about Sri Lanka day trips from Colombo, it is not only suggesting a few best trips to do in Sri Lanka but also give all essential information that travellers should know about.

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places to visit in sri lanka one day

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places to visit in sri lanka one day

USA TODAY is joining broadcast, streaming, and cable networks like Fox News and ABC to show the CNN Presidential Debate Simulcast next Thursday.

The first presidential debate of the 2024 cycle is breaking with tradition: Instead of being organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) and presented across different networks, the candidates decided to bypass the commission and instead participate in two network-produced debates.

Tune into the ‘ CNN Presidential Debate ’ on Thursday, June 27, at 9 p.m. ET on CNN, or watch it simulcast on USA TODAY via YouTube .

Fox News announced it would present “ extensive live coverage ” of the CNN presidential debate across all its platforms, including the “FOX News Democracy 2024: CNN Presidential Debate” from 9–11 p.m./Eastern Daylight Saving Time. ABC News announced it would be showing “‘Battle for the White House’ and ABC News’ Presentation of the CNN Presidential Debate” on ABC New Live and streamed on Hulu on Thursday from 7 p.m.-12 a.m. Other networks like  NewsNation  will also show the debate with pre- and post-debate analysis. 

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  3. 10 Of The Best Places To Visit In Sri Lanka (Inc Map!)

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  4. 11 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka for First-time Visitors

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  5. 9 Most Exciting One Day Trip Places To Explore In Sri Lanka

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  6. Best places to visit in Sri Lanka

    places to visit in sri lanka one day

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  4. Beautiful day in Colombo Sri Lanka #colombo #visitsrilanka #shorts

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  6. Top Places You Must Visit In Srilanka 🇱🇰❤️✈️ #srilanka #travel #nature #tourism

COMMENTS

  1. Exploring 30 Amazing One-Day Trip Places in Sri Lanka

    This guide covers 30 incredible one day trip places in sri lanka, providing a snapshot of what each place has to offer. 1. Galle Fort. Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located on the southwestern coast. This fortified city was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and later expanded by the Dutch.

  2. 9 Most Exciting One Day Trip Places To Explore In Sri Lanka

    You can get day trips to Hiriketiya from loads of the resorts on the southwestern side of Sri Lanka - places like Tangalle, Matara, Weligama, and Mirissa. They mainly revolve around one thing and one thing only: Surfing. Mhmm…tiny little Hiri boasts one of the best beginner and improver waves on the whole island.

  3. One-day Trips in Sri Lanka

    All in all, Dambulla is one of the best places for a one-day trip in Sri Lanka, that would delight you with many amazing experiences! 12. Colombo. Sri Lanka is not all about culture, heritage, nature, and history. Yes, it is about modernization and development as well. It is evident through the largest city of Sri Lanka, Colombo.

  4. 12 AWESOME Places For A One-Day Trip Near Colombo

    The climb to the top of Sigiriya takes roughly one hour to complete, and the entrance fee is about $30/per person. Sigiriya is quite a far distance from Colombo, at 180 kilometers (3.5 hours by car). You can read more about how to get from Colombo to Sigiriya here, in case you want to visit for a couple of days!

  5. One day in Colombo (Guide)

    Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil, Author: Sarah Crake. Another interesting place to visit in Colombo is the famous Catholic Shrine of St Antony; it's well-known for miracles and draws crowds of devotees. Just round the corner is the unique Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque with its tiers of candy-striped arches.

  6. THE TOP 10 Sri Lanka Day Trips (w/Prices)

    This is one of the popular day excursions in Sri Lanka. Attractions & Activities: • Enjoy Udawalawe National Park Jeep Safari (3 Hours) • Visit Elephant Transit Home (ETH) Inclusions: • Free Pick-up & Drop-off • Private Transportation with Experienced Driver-Guide • All Entry Fees • Safari Jeep • Lunch • Mineral Water Key Points ...

  7. Discover Amazing One-Day Trip Destinations in Sri Lanka

    This diverse range of experiences makes Dambulla an exceptional destination for a one-day trip in Sri Lanka. 12. Colombo: The Dynamic Capital. Colombo, the largest and most urbanized city in Sri Lanka, showcases the country's modernity and development. It is a bustling metropolis that blends seamlessly with the country's natural beauty.

  8. 18 of the best things to do in Sri Lanka

    While Ella deserves the hype, there are other quaint mountain towns that are also worth visiting: Ohiya, Idalgashinna, Haputale, and Wellawaya. 2. Taste the world's best cinnamon on Ganduwa Island. Southern Sri Lanka produces some of the world's best cinnamon, a lighter, more sweeter variety than is found in Indonesia and Vietnam.

  9. The 20 BEST Places to Visit in Sri Lanka (+ what to see & do there!)

    Knuckles Mountain Range. Knuckles Mountain Range (also known as the Dumbara Mountain Range) is one of the best places in Sri Lanka for hiking and is approximately 3 hours drive South of Kandy City. With multiple trails of varying lengths it is a great way to get back to nature, although be warned: you will be required to wear leech socks, and ...

  10. 11 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka for First-time Visitors

    3 - Adam's Peak. Adam's Peak, Sri Pada for the locals, is a 2.243 m mountain in the central region of Sri Lanka. This beautiful peak has been an important pilgrimage site for the last 2 thousand years. According to the Buddhist tradition, it is a footprint of Lord Buddha. For Christians instead, it is Adam's first step after being ...

  11. THE 30 BEST Places to Visit in Sri Lanka (UPDATED 2024)

    2024. 2. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. 12,144. Points of Interest & Landmarks. Admission tickets from ₹2,046. Sri Dalada Maligawa (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී දළදා මාළිගාව) or The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka.

  12. The Top 10 Destinations in Sri Lanka

    Kandy. Jamie Hergenrader. Kandy, a major city in Sri Lanka's hill country, is one of the most popular tourist destinations and one corner of the country's Cultural Triangle. It's surrounded by mountains of rainforest and tea plantations and is home to a beautiful lake within the city.

  13. 10 Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka (+Map)

    1. Sigiriya [SEE MAP] Amila Tennakoon / Flickr. Wannabe archaeologists need to put Sigiriya on their list of must-see places to visit in Sri Lanka. This ancient city is built on a steep slope, topped by a plateau almost 180 meters (600 feet) high. This plateau is known as Lion's Rock as it oversees the jungles below.

  14. Sri Lanka Bucket List: 24 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

    2. Visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic. One of the most sacred places in Sri Lanka is the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. This temple is believed to hold a tooth relic from Buddha himself and is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. It's also one of the designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka.

  15. THE BEST OF SRI LANKA: 31 incredible places to visit in Sri Lanka

    High in Sri Lanka's hill country lies Ella, a formerly sleepy town that's now one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka because of its natural beauty and epic hiking. One of the best things to do in Ella is the famous Ella rock hike, which offers spectacular views over Ella, Little Adam's Peak, and the surrounding jungle-clad valley.

  16. 17 Places to Visit in Sri Lanka (Beaches, Jungle, Cities)

    9. Ella. 📍 Google Maps. Ella is one of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. It's so popular that many tourists head straight to Ella from Colombo and we can't blame them. Ella is a small mountain village east of Colombo, in Sri Lanka's Uva Province.

  17. One day in Kandy, Sri Lanka (Guide)

    The temple is a magnificent building from the end of the 16th century and houses the actual tooth of Buddha, which is a national treasure. This is pretty much a must for any visitor to Kandy, so even if you have one day in the city, you really should get here ASAP. Buddha's tooth, Author: Dan Lundberg, Source: Flickr.

  18. Best places to visit in Sri Lanka

    8. Minneriya National Park. Best for witnessing the largest gathering of Asian elephants in the world. Herds of wild elephants - around 300 in number - graze nearly 9000 hectares (22,240 acres) of Minneriya National Park, where life centers around Minneriya Lake.

  19. 15 Awesome Things To Do In Sri Lanka: The Ultimate Guide

    Best overall experience - (with Sigiriya Rock): Hotel Sigiriya. Best for heritage in Galle : Galle Fort Hotel. Best for elephant safaris: Cinnamon Lodge Habarana. Best for beachfront bliss in Tangalle: Buckingham Place. Best for exploring Colombo : The Kingsbury or the Movenpick.

  20. 20 BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SRI LANKA

    Horton Plains National Park is a very special place in Sri Lanka. With diverse landscapes, rich wildlife and excellent hiking opportunities this is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka. During the hike you will pass the popular sites like Bakers Fall, mini World's End and World's End.

  21. Places to visit in Sri Lanka within one day, sri lanka one day tours

    1. ONE-DAY TRIPS IN SRI LANKA: BENTOTA WITH A CROCODILE SAFARI. Bentota is a popular beach resort in Sri Lanka. Bentota a part of most Sri Lanka multi-day tour packages, such as the Sri Lanka 14 days tour, Sri Lanka 10 days tour and the Sri Lanka 8 days tour.. This Sri Lanka one day tour package includes the Bentota River, Bentota Beach, the sea turtle conservation project, the ancient temple ...

  22. One Day Trip Places in Galle & Nearby Attractions

    Mirissa. Mirissa, located about 30 kilometers from Galle, is a charming coastal town known for its beautiful beach and whale watching tours. The crescent-shaped beach is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying fresh seafood at the beachfront restaurants. Mirissa is one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see blue whales and dolphins, with ...

  23. 18 Most-Visited Sri Lanka Tourist Places For Your 2024 Trip

    4. Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa - Ruggedness Amidst The Greenery. Sigiriya or the mount of remembrance is a World Heritage Site and one of the most stunning places to see in Sri Lanka. This giant formation of rock rises out of nowhere towering over everything in its vicinity.

  24. How To Choose 10 Best-One Day Outing Places in Sri Lanka?

    Sri Lanka day outing tour to Kandy. One of the most beautiful cities, which is located about 500 meters above sea level. The picturesque city is full of green and the home to the biggest botanical garden in Sri Lanka.The city hosts a large number of constructions dating back many centuries to the Present.

  25. One Day Trip Places From Colombo: Easy Day Trips From Colombo

    The above-mentioned 8 one-day trip places in Sri Lanka are located in the western province, the southern province and the central hill country of Sri Lanka. These regions are coming under the wet zone, which is under the influence of the southwest monsoon. ... Here are the 10 best places to visit on a one day trip to Galle from Colombo. However ...

  26. Hiking Sri Lanka

    With this door-to-door trip in Ella, you'll get to see Nine Arch Bridge, hike to Ella Rock, AND hike Little Adam's Peak too! Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka's Central Highlands is a UNESCO World ...

  27. Do we need to take any advance Visa for Cruise travel?

    We are a family group of 4 persons (all Indian passports) traveling on Cordelia Cruise starting from Chennai on 22.7.24 and returning Chennai on 27.7.24. The ship will halt for day-time excursions to Hambantota, Trincomalee and Jaffna on 24th, 25th and 26th July 2024. Do I have to take any advance

  28. 10 Places To Visit In Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

    Anuradhapura is one of the best-kept archeological sites of Sri Lanka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a lovely place to visit if you wish to learn a bit more about the interesting history and ...

  29. Where to watch the CNN presidential debate? USA TODAY will livestream

    Tune into the ' CNN Presidential Debate ' on Thursday, June 27, at 9 p.m. ET on CNN, or watch it simulcast on USA TODAY via YouTube. Fox News announced it would present " extensive live ...