Sri Lanka is an island nation off the southeast cost of India. It is stunningly beautiful with a fascinating history. It is brushed with an “Indian” flavour by those who have never been but rest assured, this is a nation with its own proud identity, history and culture grown over 3000 years. As an island, the former Ceylon has been hit by the vagaries of occupation, having been colonised by the Dutch and the British (it is part of the Commonwealth today) and vestiges of those rulers remain to make part of the rich tapestry than makes up modern day Sri Lanka. From simple backpacking trips to top of the line luxurious hotels, from city breaks to seaside holidays, Sri Lanka is a fabulous bucket list destination. If you are considering visiting Sri Lanka on your next holiday, then here are some of the attractions that you absolutely cannot miss.
Visit Colonial Dutch Galle and its Fort
No holiday in Sri Lanka is complete without a visit to the perfectly preserved time capsule that is Galle, and particularly its fort. Filled with Dutch era mansions, the place has an old-world atmosphere that is often hard to find in today’s modern culture. The streets are quaint and quiet, with the peace being disturbed only by the beautiful sounds of the waves rolling in from Indian Ocean.
Watch Traditional Dancing in Kandy
Kandy is without a doubt the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, and it is the place to go if you are looking to experience some traditional Sri Lankan dance. A favourite of the British in the old days due to the mild mountain climate, the city boasts a vibrant and lively arts scene, set amongst a backdrop of stunning Buddhist temples and palaces. It is a truly beautiful location with a perfect mixture of modern and traditional culture all in one spot. While in the city, a must visit is the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.
Get Up Close to Elephants in Pinnawela
When people think of Sri Lanka, one of the first thoughts that usually comes to mind is elephants! If you want to get up close and personal with some of the earth’s biggest and most amazing animals, then the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage is a must visit attraction. The orphanage is home to the largest group of captive elephants, from the smallest endangered new-borns to wise old members of the pack. They say an elephant never forgets, and you certainly won’t forget a visit to this amazing place!
View Buddhist Art in Polonnaruwa
Sri Lanka and Buddhism go back a long, long way, and you can learn more about the history of the religion on the island from the country’s finest collection of ancient art and architecture in the archaeological park of Polonnaruwa. From exquisitely decorated temples to amazing rock carved sculptures, you will really be able to get a feel of just how important Buddhism is to the people of Sri Lanka.
Leopards in Yala National Park
If you are looking for a spot of animal watching that is a little more exhilarating than elephants, then head to the Yala National Park to catch a glimpse of a Sri Lankan leopard. The country boasts the highest concentration of leopards in the entire world, and guided tours through the park are a safe way to view these stunning creatures. Along with leopards, the park is also home to many other amazing animals including monkeys and an array of fantastic bird life, and if you are more interested in the natural surroundings than the animals, the unspoilt jungle and the glorious salty lagoons will certainly make a big impact.
Fabulous, diverse, fascinating and enigmatic – and the food isn’t half bad either. Put Sri Lanka on your bucket list!