Named the ‘finest island in the world’ by none other than Marco Polo himself, Sri Lanka has burst onto the international travel scene in the last decade.

It’s no surprise. As the civil war that had torn the country apart subsided, travellers have once again been able to discover the abundance of natural beauty on offer in this Asian gem of an island.

History, culture, vast natural surroundings: Sri Lanka is a country that picks you up in a whirlwind and never quite puts you down until you’re boarding the plane to leave.

Not sure where to start? Read through this step-by-step Sri Lanka itinerary.

The Best Places to Travel in Sri Lanka

Colombo

Most trips to Sri Lanka start and finish in Colombo. Many travellers skip through in a rush to get to other destinations – a shame as Colombo has a lot going for it.

The city is a welcome combination of old-world charm and cosmopolitan style. So yes, there are plenty of fashionable restaurants, shops and galleries, but there are also ancient temples and gorgeous architecture.

Feel like taking in some culture? Head to the Colombo National Museum for some excellent ancient artwork. Temple-wise,  Gangarama Vihara is beautifully embellished with stone carvings and intricate brass work.

Party peeps, you’ll be pleased to know that, if you know where to look, the nightlife goes on until the crack of dawn. Save some energy for exploring the rest of the country though!

Kandy

Surrounded by mountainous green peaks, Kandy is an idyllic departure from reality.

The cooler air is a welcome escape from Sri Lanka’s sweltering climate – you have Kandy’s higher altitude to thank for that.

Kandy is often called Sri Lanka’s cultural capital – no easy feat in a country that seems to have more ancient temples and holy sites than you ever thought possible.

Outside of the city, Thomas Hill country was shaped by British colonialism – something you can still see today in its lush tea gardens.

You can visit the World’s End or Horton Plains or explore villages such as Bandarawela.

Alternatively, get off-grid at the ultra-luxe (and one of my favourite hotels), laid back Santani Wellness Resort, an hour away from Kandy.

Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a real spectacle of nature and one that you’ll want to witness. It’s truly a dramatic site to behold.

A large rock formation protrudes from the lush forest floor and stop this rock are fascinating ruins that once inhabited an ancient civilisation.

You can climb to the top (be warned, it’s a tough slog but totally worth it) to get an incredible view and explore the ancient ruins of this mystical rock.

Galle

Galle is a real gem of a city, and is not only a stunning spot to visit, but offers so much to do and see.

This old trading port is a great place to lose yourself in, amongst the cafes and boutiques, the beautiful architecture of mosques and churches and the museums. Asia’s last remaining sea fort provides all the relaxed seaside charm that you could want. Be sure to pop into Galle International Stadium, St Mary’s Cathedral and the quaint cricket grounds.

Looking for something a little different? Bed down at the Tri Hotel in nearby Koggala Lake for an eco-friendly escape from it all.

 

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