If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka, you’ve come to the right place! DHPL Travels is here to guide you through the absolute best experiences this beautiful country has to offer. From breathtaking landscapes to unique cultural encounters, Sri Lanka has it all. Let’s dive into the 25 must-do activities that will make your trip truly unforgettable.
1. Explore the Vast Tea Plantations
Images of Sri Lanka’s tea plantations are iconic, and for good reason. Don’t miss the opportunity to wander through the picturesque tea fields in Ella, Nuwara Eliya, or Haputale. Not only can you enjoy the freshest and cheapest tea in the world, but the views are simply stunning. Take a walk, visit tea factories, and learn about the tea-making process.
The beautiful tea fields of Sri Lanka!
2. Watch the Trains Pass by Nine Arch Bridge
One of the best things to do in Ella is to visit the famous Nine Arch Bridge. It might be popular, but trust us, it’s worth it. Catch the sunrise to avoid crowds and witness the beauty of this architectural marvel. The bridge is a fantastic spot to see the breathtaking blue passenger train pass by at 6:45 am. Don’t forget your camera!
Watching the 6:45 am train on the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella
3. Eat a Home-Cooked Meal at a Guesthouse
Sri Lankan cuisine is colorful, tasty, and healthy. Experience the true flavors by enjoying a home-cooked meal at a local guesthouse. Not only will you savor delicious dishes, but you’ll also support the local community and small businesses. Don’t be surprised if your hosts cook up a feast of 5-6 curries with rice, poppadums, and unlimited tea!
Doesn’t that look delicious?! All of this was only a couple of dollars!
4. Take a Cooking Class
Immerse yourself in Sri Lankan cuisine by learning to cook traditional dishes. Cooking classes are a fun and interactive way to explore the local food culture. Join a class at a guesthouse or find specialized cooking establishments. You’ll be surprised by how simple and delicious Sri Lankan food can be. Get ready to impress your friends back home!
Bailey learning to cook Sri Lankan curries at a cooking class!
5. Hike to Adam’s Peak
Embark on a pilgrimage of high religious significance or simply enjoy the breathtaking views and unique experience of climbing Adam’s Peak. This challenging hike takes you to the summit for a mesmerizing sunrise. Don’t be intimidated by the climb – it’s worth every step. Join a guided tour from Kandy and fully immerse yourself in this unforgettable journey.
That’s a lot of stairs!
6. Ride the Train from Ella to Kandy
Hop on one of the most beautiful train rides in the world – the journey from Ella to Kandy. This six-hour ride takes you through stunning landscapes, including the famous tea plantations. Book your tickets in advance to secure a seat and enjoy the comfort of first or second-class. Sit back, relax, and take in the breathtaking views along the way.
This train ride is one of the best sightseeing opportunities in Sri Lanka!
7. Spot Leopards in Yala National Park
If wildlife is your passion, a safari in Yala National Park is a must-do. With luck, you might spot elusive leopards, elephants, monkeys, water buffalo, crocodiles, and more. For the best chances of seeing leopards, consider a two-night safari to get away from the crowds. Yala National Park offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and witness incredible wildlife up close.
We weren’t lucky enough to see a leopard…but we did see lots of elephants!
8. Relax at Secret Beach in Mirissa
Escape the crowds and find tranquility at the stunning Secret Beach in Mirissa. Although not so secret anymore, this secluded bay is a piece of paradise waiting to be explored. Spend a leisurely day sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the breathtaking views. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a delicious meal at the small beachside restaurant – the perfect way to unwind.
Bailey relaxing at Secret Beach in Mirissa, Sri Lanka.
9. Go on Safari in Udawalawe National Park
Udawalawe National Park is a paradise for elephant enthusiasts. As one of Sri Lanka’s most popular parks, it boasts a dense population of these majestic creatures. Join a safari and witness the beauty of elephants in their natural habitat. Spotting around 20 elephants, including adorable baby elephants, is a common occurrence. Prepare to be amazed by the abundance of wildlife in this remarkable park.
A close-up of just one of the elephants we saw that day!
10. Visit a Baby Elephant Orphanage
Support a good cause and experience the joy of seeing baby elephants at the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe. This orphanage rescues and rehabilitates baby elephants, preparing them for a return to the wild. Witness their feeding times and learn about the conservation efforts dedicated to protecting these incredible animals. It’s a heartwarming experience and a chance to contribute to the welfare of these gentle giants.
Little babies getting fed!
11. Swim with Massive Sea Turtles
If you love turtles, you’re in for a treat in Sri Lanka. Head to Hikkaduwa Beach or Polhena Beach for a chance to swim with and observe these incredible creatures up close. Snorkel from the shore and get within meters of the massive sea turtles. Remember to respect their space and refrain from touching or feeding them. It’s an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression.
12. Visit a Turtle Hatchery
Support the protection of turtle eggs by visiting a turtle hatchery in Sri Lanka. Experience the joy of seeing baby turtles hatch and witness the rehabilitation efforts of rescued turtles. The hatcheries are not only educational but also provide a chance to contribute to the conservation of these endangered species. Entrance fees go directly toward these projects, ensuring the well-being of these marvelous creatures.
Waiting patiently for the little turtles to start their life in the ocean!
13. Spot Blue Whales
Experience the awe-inspiring sight of Blue Whales in their natural habitat. Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to spot these magnificent creatures. Timing is everything – December to April on the west coast and July to September on the east coast are the best months. Join a whale-watching tour in Mirissa, Hikkaduwa, or Trincomalee for an opportunity to witness these gentle giants up close.
A humpback whale breaching in Sri Lanka
14. Explore Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Uncover the secrets of Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an ancient marvel that dates back to the first millennium. Climb to the top and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s rich history and architectural legacy. Don’t miss the chance to explore this iconic landmark and discover the stories that lie within its walls.
Sigiriya Rock from the Sigiriya Hotel!
15. Sip the Finest Local Tea at the Grand Hotel High Tea
Indulge in the luxury of the Grand Hotel High Tea in Nuwara Eliya. Treat yourself to a selection of high-quality teas and fine finger foods prepared by professionals. This is a unique opportunity to savor the finest local teas while enjoying the serene ambiance of Nuwara Eliya. Reserve your table in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on this delightful experience.
16. Learn to Surf
Take advantage of Sri Lanka’s stunning coastlines and learn to surf. With numerous beaches and perfect waves for beginners, there’s no better place to catch your first wave. You can rent a board and take lessons at Weligama Beach or head to Arugam Bay for world-renowned surfing. Embrace the thrill of riding the waves and create unforgettable memories in this surfer’s paradise.
17. Spot Wild Elephants (Without Going on a Safari!)
Experience a unique encounter with wild elephants at Maduru Oya National Park. Unlike other national parks, Maduru Oya offers a public highway that runs through the heart of the park. From this road, you can witness wild elephants during sunrise and sunset. It’s a free and off-the-beaten-path experience that allows you to observe these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
18. Spend a Sunrise at Lipton’s Seat
Don’t miss the chance to witness a breathtaking sunrise at Lipton’s Seat. Situated high above the tea fields of Dambatenne, this viewpoint offers stunning panoramic views without the need for hiking. Arrive early to witness the beauty before the daily fog sets in. Lipton’s Seat is a hidden gem that should not be missed during your Sri Lanka adventure.
19. Snorkel at Pigeon Island
Explore the underwater wonders of Pigeon Island, Sri Lanka’s marine national park. Snorkel around beautiful coral reefs and swim alongside turtles, sharks, and colorful fish. The crystal-clear waters provide the perfect opportunity for an unforgettable snorkeling adventure. Don’t forget to bring your own snorkel gear or rent it at the beach for an even more immersive experience.
20. Drive a Tuk-Tuk
For a truly unique and adventurous experience, rent a tuk-tuk and explore Sri Lanka on your own terms. Cruise through the country’s coastline and mountains, enjoying the freedom and excitement of driving your own three-wheeled vehicle. It may seem challenging at first, but it’s an unforgettable way to travel and discover hidden gems along the way.
21. Watch Baby Turtles Being Released
Witness the miracle of life as baby turtles hatch and make their way into the ocean. In Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, and other Sri Lankan beaches, you may have the chance to see these incredible creatures being released by dedicated guardians. Keep your eyes peeled or ask the locals for information on when and where to witness this truly magical event.
22. Hike to the Top of Pidurangala Rock
Enjoy a unique perspective of Sigiriya Rock by climbing Pidurangala Rock. This lesser-known rock formation offers a budget-friendly alternative to hiking Sigiriya Rock. The short hike rewards you with breathtaking views, especially during sunrise and sunset. Take advantage of this opportunity to see both iconic rock formations from a different angle.
23. Go on an Overnight Safari
Experience the ultimate adventure with an overnight safari in one of Sri Lanka’s national parks. Spending a night surrounded by nature and wildlife will provide an unparalleled experience. Witness the enchanting beauty of the parks, spot wildlife up close, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Make the most of your Sri Lankan journey by fully immersing yourself in the wonders of the national parks.
24. Wander the Dambulla Cave Temples
Explore the rich spiritual heritage of Sri Lanka by visiting the Dambulla Cave Temples. These ancient ruins are of great importance to the Sri Lankan people and offer a glimpse into the country’s cultural legacy. Discover the intricate cave paintings, remarkable statues, and vibrant religious atmosphere. A visit to the Dambulla Cave Temples is both a humbling and awe-inspiring experience.
25. Hike the Largest Rose Quartz Mountain in Asia
Embark on a unique adventure and hike the largest Rose Quartz Mountain in Asia. Jathika Namal Uyana Reserve near Dambulla is home to this stunning natural wonder. Walking among the giant rose quartz rock is a truly special experience that shouldn’t be missed. Marvel at the shimmering pink beauty and enjoy breathtaking views from the top. It’s a hidden gem that will leave you in awe.
To make the most of your Sri Lanka adventure, you’ll need a reliable mode of transportation. Here are three options to consider:
Rent a Tuk-tuk
For a unique and fun travel experience, rent a tuk-tuk. Cruise through Sri Lanka’s landscapes in your very own three-wheeled vehicle. Enjoy the freedom and flexibility of exploring at your own pace while immersing yourself in the local culture. DHPL Travels recommends renting from Tuktuk Rental, a reputable company that supports local families.
Hire a Driver
If you prefer a more relaxed journey, hiring a private driver is a convenient option. Sit back, relax, and let the driver take you to your desired destinations. This is a great choice for those who want to sit back and enjoy the scenery without worrying about navigation. You can book a driver in advance to pick you up from the airport or arrange transfers between destinations.
Take Public Transport
For budget-conscious travelers with plenty of time, public transport is a viable option. Sri Lanka has an extensive network of buses and trains that can take you to most destinations. Keep in mind that public transport may not be the most comfortable option, especially during peak hours. However, it offers an opportunity to experience local life and interact with the friendly Sri Lankan people.
With these 25 amazing things to do in Sri Lanka and reliable transportation options, your trip with DHPL Travels is set to be an unforgettable adventure. Embrace the beauty, culture, and warm hospitality of this incredible country. Discover the wonders of Sri Lanka and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Before you go, make sure to check out more articles and tips on our Sri Lanka blog page. Don’t forget to visit DHPL Travels for more information and to plan your dream trip. Start packing your bags and get ready for the trip of a lifetime with DHPL Travels!