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View of Sigiriya - Pic by Amar from Gap Year Escape

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka

What are the reasons you must visit Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise island in the Indian Ocean that is littered with romantic hideaways, palm tree lined beaches and glistening blue-green waters. Here are just 10 of the top reasons why you should visit this beautiful island as soon as you can.

Food And Cuisine

Tasty meals of curry and rice are the staple food of the island. That said, simple dishes doesn’t mean boring when it comes to eating out on the island of Sri Lanka. As one of the earliest spice islands, aromatic flavours are woven into the very fabric of island cuisine, and even the most basic of dishes is carefully created using coconut milk, chillies, curry leaves, cinnamon or garlic. The “Maldive Fish” – an intensely flavoured cured tuna paste – is also found on most menus, as well as fiery flavours that will make your mouth tingle with delight. Restaurants cater to a wide variety of tastes, but during your visit you should definitely try some of the local delicious like kottu rotty, lamprais and pittu, or any of the rich and plentiful seafood. Food is a must include while planning your trip to Sri Lanka.

Minneriya National Park

Elephants in Minneriya National Park - pic by Amar from Gap Year Escape
Elephants in Minneriya National Park

During the dry season, Minneriya National Park is home to over 300 elephants that gather there every day. More of an annual coming together than a migration, watching these gentle giants socialise and bathe in the cool waters of the Minneriya reservoir is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The elephants are at their most active as the sun goes down, meaning you can spend the day exploring the beauty of the park, even if you’re travelling Sri Lanka with a baby, before catching a glimpse of their awesome evening social before bedtime.

Sigiriya and Pidurangala

View of Sigiriya - Pic by Amar from Gap Year Escape
View of Sigiriya from Pidurangala

Sigiriya Rock is one of the most visited attractions in Sri Lanka, and it is easy to see why. A huge boulder jutting out from the jungles landscape “Lion Rock” is a must-see for any visitor to the region. You can climb the 200 meter high rock, stopping on the way to take in the stunning views and the intricate frescoes carved into the rock itself, or admire the 5th century wonder from your vantage point in the Fortress Gardens.

Pidurangala Rock sits next door, and is often overlooked by visitors to the region. Offering arguably the very best views in all of Sri Lanka, the hike to the top will reward you with amazing views out over Sigiriya and far beyond.

Polonnaruwa

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa was once the thriving religious and commercial centre of the country, and the seat of kings and royalty. To this day, much of the city’s ancient ruins have remained remarkably well preserved, offering visitors an insight into Sri Lanka’s rich cultural history. The archaeological park at Polonnaruwa offers visitors the chance to wander through the ancient city, admiring the tombs, temples, statues and stupas along the way. It is also home to the ruins of the Royal Palace – a once magnificent seven story structure, built by King Parakramabahu, as well as The Quadrangle, with its compact group of ruins situated close together in a raised up area.

Kandy to Ella Train

Tracks to Ella Rock - pic by Amar from Gap Year Escape
Walking the tracks to Ella Rock

This is one of the most scenic train journeys in the world and is a must for Sri Lanka travel. The six hour train ride from Kandy to Ella meanders through the stunning hill country. You can try to reserve one of the few allocated seats before the day you travel, or join the rest of the passengers in a crazy scrum to get on board at Kandy station. However you manage to get a seat, the stunning landscape and breath-taking views along the journey will more than make up for it.

As the train rolls past tea plantations, waterfalls and endless mountain ranges, clouds and mist all add to the picture perfect movie playing out in front of you. The train moves slowly through the countryside, given you a million opportunities to breathe in the intoxicating air and capture images of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Ella Rock

Ella Rock is one of the most famous hiking routes in Sri Lanka. Offering breath taking views out over the lush green canopies, the hike is well worth it. There’s no need to have a guide or join a tour to make your ascent. It’s really easy to do on your own. Whatever way you do it, Ella Rock is a must-see for any who wants to sit in the mist and clouds high above the trees and canopies below. The total climb is around 4 hours, but on the way up you will pass waterfalls, rubber tree forests and tea plantations. 

Yala National Park

Safari in Yala National Park - Pic by Amar from Gap Year Escape
Safari in Yala National Park

Once a hunting ground for the British during their time of colonial rule, Yala National Park’s grassy plains and tangled forests are now home to the island’s leopard population. A visit here is an opportunity to see all kinds of species in their natural habitat. The park is split into five distinctly different areas, and there are a selection of 4X4 safaris on offer that will take you out to spot the leopards. If they seem to be a little shy on the day you visit, you should still be able to catch a glimpse of a jackal, a spotted deer or any one of the parks 400 bird species. 

Blue Whale Watching

The southern coast around Galle and Mirissa offers picture-perfect beaches that are the perfect destinations from which to enjoy a spot of blue whale watching. You can see up to ten different species of whale including fin, Bryde’s, minke, humpback and sperm whales as well as dolphins between late November and mid April. Although there are lots of operators offering tours in Mirissa, although slightly more expensive, Rajah and the Whales, is a well respected and reputable company that has a good track record of respecting marine life. Whatever time of the year you visit, the marine life that surrounds the island is some of the most amazing in the world. 

Galle

The ancient city of Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has plenty of old-style colonial buildings, ancient mosques, grand mansions and museums to explore. A visit to this beautiful Southern city offers a step back in time to the Colonial days of the Portuguese, Dutch and British rule, and the narrow streets and beautiful buildings are home to an ever growing creative community. Whilst being steeped in history, Galle is not living in the past, and there are lots of trendy cafes, bohemian boutiques and cool hotels that hug the shoreline. 

Surfing on the south coast

Weligama Beach - Pic by Amar from Gap Year Escape
Surf Beach Weligama

Sri Lanka’s spectacular coastline boasts plenty of white sandy beaches that lead out into warm water and rolling waves, many of which are absolutely perfect for surfers looking to try somewhere new. The islands waves, sand-bottomed breaks and the consistent swells make the beaches of Weligama, Hikkaduwa, and Mirissa popular with beach seekers and their boards. When the waves start to calm, sit on the sands of Arugam Bay and look out for wild elephants as they stroll along the beach at sunset. Nowhere on earth offers such a heady juxtaposition of catching the perfect curl whilst watching one of mother nature’s most beautiful creations, in the lush tropical paradise. 

About author Amar from Gap year Escape

Amar Hussain from Gap Year Escape

Amar Hussain is the Editor-in-Chief of Gap Year Escape, 7 continent world traveller since ’09, author, digital nomad, pug lover and peanut M&M connoisseur. 

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka - By Amar from Gap Year Escape
Top 10 Reasons to Visit Sri Lanka - By Amar from Gap Year Escape

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