Best Places to Visit in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is the country that has it all: jungle-covered mountains, picture-perfect beaches, delicious food, warm people, and rolling tea plantations. Plus, it’s home to some of the most extraordinary wildlife in Asia! Cross the country by train, taking in the diversity of the landscapes, and fall in love with one of our favorite countries. Enjoy discovering the 10 best places to visit in Sri Lanka with this complete travel guide.
Visit the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella
Nine Arch Bridge is one of the most iconic places to visit in the whole of Sri Lanka. This mammoth bridge is located just outside the pretty town of Ella, deep among luscious jungle, green tea plantations, and bamboo forest. At a massive 25 meters high and 91 meters long, the bridge is an example of incredible architecture and engineering; it has stood without steel support for over 100 years!
Nothing quite beats walking through the jungle and seeing the beautiful stone arches of the bridge appear through the mist. Hang around, and you might be lucky enough to see the famous train crossing the tracks on its way to Ella.
Hike to the Top of Diyaluma Falls
Experience nature’s very own playground at Diyaluma waterfall! It’s the 2nd highest waterfall in the country and one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka.
This incredible slice of nature is located around 40 km from Ella, so it’s a great day trip on your vacation. Ask your tuk-tuk driver to take you to the bottom of the trail. From here, you can follow the path for around 2 hours from the waterfall’s base to the top.
Once you reach the summit, you’ll see the three natural infinity pools perched on the edge of the cliff. Swim in the pools, chill on the rocks, and enjoy the extraordinary views, as you gaze 220 meters below. You’ll feel as if you’re on top of the world!
Tip: Please note that there are no safety barriers at the falls, so be careful when swimming close to the cliff edge.
Southern Beaches: Swings & Palm Trees
Imagine swinging in the shade of palm trees with a coconut in hand and the sea breeze in your hair; the Sri Lankan southern beaches have become well known for just this! Several beaches have Instagram famous swings, popular among travelers who want to live the beach vacation dream.
Dalawella Beach Swing
One that is particularly famous is the swing at Dalawella Beach. It sits high up in the curve of a bending palm tree, right in front of Dream Cabana, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka! Seeing the swing at sunset is spectacular, as you swing through the sky, watching the colors of the sun change.
These days, it’s likely you’ll have to pay a small fee to use the swing (this is for maintenance and upkeep). Make sure to also stop for a chat with the locals in the nearby huts and bars, enjoying the vibes of this beautiful spot.
Places to Visit in Sri Lanka: One of the National Parks
Sri Lanka is lucky to have a great selection of wildlife and marine life. You can spot elephants, sloth bears, blue whales, dolphins, and even the elusive leopard! These animals roam freely in the wild, many living within the 26 national parks spread all over the country. In fact, it’s one of the best places for a safari in the world (outside of Africa)!
Each national park has its own unique characteristics. For example, some are known for their vast herds of elephants and others for their diversity of monkey species. Whatever you choose, there is no better experience than jumping in a jeep and riding through the long grasses and bushland of Sri Lanka. It’s an incredible opportunity to see these majestic animals in the wild and one that you’ll remember forever.
Yala National Park in Sri Lanka
Yala is the most popular national park in Sri Lanka and for good reason! It is famous for its high leopard population (40-50 within Yala), which is actually the highest leopard density in the world! Despite this, it’s not guaranteed to see a leopard, as they are very elusive. However, your chances of a leopard sighting are much higher at Yala than in any of the other parks in Sri Lanka.
Udawalawe is Yala’s slightly lesser-known neighbor. Although it is less popular, it is still an amazing place to see animals, because of its small size and open views. It is particularly good for seeing elephants as there are approximately 400-500 in the park; an incredibly high density in such a small area! It is also excellent for birdwatching too; thought to be one of the best birdwatching sites in the whole country!
Wilpattu is the hidden gem of all the national parks in Sri Lanka; famous for sightings of the reclusive sloth bear. It was the first national park created in the country (along with Yala) in 1938 and is the largest national park in Sri Lanka. Although it is relatively unknown, the park is teeming with wildlife, with leopard sightings a close second behind Yala.
It perhaps even exceeds Yala in terms of its incredible beauty, and peaceful nature. You won’t see many other jeeps here, so it’s easy to feel as if you’re the only one in the park! It also has the best infrastructure, so if you want a comfortable jeep ride then Wilpattu is definitely your best option.