The island of Sri Lanka is the place to go for unspoiled nature, friendly locals, colourful markets, and cities with colonial history. The island breathes aliveness and beauty, from the stunning white sand beaches to the deep blue oceans, the national parks where you can spot the largest mammals in the world, the ancient heritage sites and pretty colonial towns. Sri Lanka has it all and much more. Now, you have got your tickets booked but you are still wondering about what to see and where to go? The options seem endless, as everything is amazing. But whatever you decide to do, remember to check out these 10 activities!
1. Visit the Tea Plantations of Nuwara Eliya
Credit: Shehal Joseph
Nuwara Eliya is also known as ‘Little England’ and no wonder; with so many tea plantations around, every Englishman would love this place! It was actually Sir Thomas Lipton who started his tea empire right here in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. The views of the endless, lush green tea plantations are truly stunning! Visit the tea plantation to learn all about these cups of hot goodness and try out some of the best ones. To get the most amazing views, head out early in the day before the landscape gets cloudy and misty. Another great way to see the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, is by taking the train from Kandy to Ella, driving straight through the scenic landscape, taking your breath away in seconds!
2. Go whale watching
For a truly magical experience that you will cherish for the rest of this lifetime, go whale watching! In Sri Lanka, you can meet the largest creatures of the sea in their natural habitat. You can go on a whale and dolphin watching tour on the south, east and west the coasts of Sri Lanka. The most famous place is Marissa, a small town on the south coast. You will go on an early morning boat trip that will take 3 to 5 hours. Don’t miss out on this amazing experience!
3. Eat like the locals do
Don’t be all paranoid when it comes down to street food! Local food stalls by the side of the road are where you need to be to get a taste of the best, authentic Sri Lankan home cooking. You need to look out for busy street stalls, this way you can be sure of the quality and the freshness of the food. Your best shot would be a local market and there are lots of those around in every town! Think richly flavoured curries, dahl with local bread, samosas and ‘hoppers’, a much-loved pancake bowl filled with eggs in the morning and curry in the evening. The local food is something you are most certainly going to miss a lot once you are back home!
4. Climb Sigiriya Rock
This ancient rock fortress, with a lost city on top, is the 8th world wonder according to the locals of Sri Lanka. It is massively impressive, named as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Sigiriya was built by King Kasyapa, 480 AD. The rock is 200 meter high, surrounded by pretty gardens and it takes 1200 steps to climb up to the top. A bit of a work-out, but once up there, you will be blown away by sensational views over the old city and the Sri Lankan landscape.
While climbing, you get to admire ancient poem-carvings as well as beautiful paintings descendant from somewhere between the 7th and 14th century. On the way back down, you will most likely encounter some cheeky monkeys who can be quite keen to steal your water bottle from you. Be warned!
5. Swim and relax at Hikkaduwa beach
Hikkaduwa beach is a beautiful and popular palm-fringed golden beach bordering the stunningly clear blue sea where you can go swimming, snorkelling and surfing. The town of Hikkaduwa has a great lively atmosphere with lots of charming bars and restaurants. It’s really worth to spend a few days here or perhaps even renting a private villa in or just outside the centre of this wonderful coastal village. The snorkelling reef is beautiful, and there is a big chance you will meet giant sea turtles, especially at ‘turtle point’. Hikkaduwa beach is also great for surfing, especially from November to March when the waves can reach 3-meter in height. In the north of this coastal town, there is a turtle hatchery where baby turtles are nurtured and released to prevent them from getting caught in the fishing nets. During your stay in Hikkaduwa, do remember to get up early for sunrise and allow yourself to get enchanted!
6. A wildlife Safari adventure Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park is home to grassland, jungle, riverine forest, and it is the place to go on a safari trip to see the old and wise Sri Lankan elephants roam in their natural habitat. On top of that, Udawalawe National Park is also a paradise for bird watchers. Nature freaks and wildlife lovers shouldn’t miss out on this one!
7. Rejuvenate with a healing Ayurvedic massage
Ayurveda has been used as a traditional healing method for centuries in some far eastern countries such as India, Nepal and also Sri Lanka. These ancient ayurvedic healing methods carry great wisdom in them, and they are widely used as ways to revive and cure your body, mind and soul. The Ayurveda knowledge has already spread to the Western world but here in Sri Lanka, you are up for the real deal at a much, much lower price. Go on, and try out all of the Ayurvedic treatments while you are here!
8. Visit the Amazing Colonial heritage sites in Galle
Much loved by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, Sri Lanka has a lot of colonial heritage sites to admire. One of these historical towns is Galle. This historical town offers great heritage tours along the city walls and old Dutch Colonial buildings, including the first church they built and the lighthouse. There is a free museum to visit with an ancient well. Those who are into antiques can do some great shopping in Galle, assuming they can separate the fakes from the real stuff!
9. Climb Adam’s Peak
Adam’s peak is an important pilgrimage site and it sure is a striking natural landmark of Sri Lanka! Adam’s Peak towers 2243 meter high up in the sky. On the summit of this majestic mountain sits the Sri Padra, ‘sacred footprint’ on a rock formation. Buddhists say it’s the actual footprint of Lord Buddha himself, while Muslims and Christians say it is the footprint of Adam, the first person to step foot on the earth after he got expelled from the Garden of Eden and the Hindus say it is the footprint of Shiva. To get to the top, you will have to climb thousands of steps, taking 2.5 to 3 hours. The legends are intriguing but the views are mind-blowing!
10. Stay in a private luxury villa
Last but not least, don’t miss out on staying in your own private luxury villa during your holiday in Sri Lanka. Nothing beats waking up in your own private little paradise with the swimming pool just steps away from your bed. You will have a sprawling tropical garden to chill out in, spending quality time with loved ones, a comfy living room and restful villa suites to retreat to at night. From your private villa, you can easily go out and explore the surroundings before returning to your own Sri Lankan holiday home at night. What a blessing!
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Written by Stephanie Anais from Villa-Finder.com
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