Sri Lanka's Top 10 attractions - most recommended travel destinations
Here is a list of places of interest for those guests who are interested in round tours, not only in beach holiday. Sri Lanka offers a wide range of attractions and a high density of places of interest. Of course, some of them are more popular than others. Thus, not surprisingly, the top attractions are also the most famous sites and most beloved tourist destinations. This is why we give a second list below the first one. There are many less known places in Sri Lanka that are well worth a visit, some of them are amazing indeed. Hence, below our list of best-known attractions we present a second list introducing 10 of Sri Lanka's less-known natural and cultural destinations that are well worth a visit.
Sri Lanka's 10 most interesting holiday destinations
Our top 10 list of Sri Lanka's natural and cultural tourist attractions include most beloved places of travellers. Particularly first-time visitors of the island often ask, what are the must-sees of Sri Lanka? Every list - and every number like 10 – is debatable, of course. But our list can give you a first idea what might be of interest for yourself.
Sigiriya is the most visited World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle, although Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa are larger and historically more important. There is a reason for Sigiriya's top ranking. It's a combination of scenic beauty and cultural singularity. Sigiriya is a complex with a high density of attractions each of which indeed deserves to be called "extraordinary". First of all, the so-called "Lion Rock" ist the most spectacular isolated monadnock of Sri Lanka, wth vertical escarpments on either side. Secondly, it's the only peak in Sri Lanka with a huge complex of remnants of ancient buildings in Sri Lanka. Thirdly, there are some paintings in a rock shelter at the western side of the hill, halfway to the top, that are of interest even for those that are less interested in ancient art, since the depicted women, who are 1500 years old now, are of an appealing and inspirational beauty, and the colours are surprisingly fresh. Fourthly, the garden area at the foot of the rock is one of Souath Asia's most ancient specimen of landscape architecture, some of the old fountains sometimes still work during the rainy season. Furthermore, the so-called mirror-wall has graffitis that are more than 1000 years old and actually the oldest surving examples of Singhalese writings. Last not least, Sigiriya is Sri Lanka's most elaborate fortification from the pre-colonial era. One more highlight of a Sigiriya visit is the breathtaking view from the top to the plains and isolated hills of Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle, the are that was once known as Rajarata, the "Rocal Land", as it was the heartland of the ancient Sinhalese civilization.
2. Yala National Park
Sri Lanka is well-known for its biodiversity and its wildlife. Compared to other developing countries, Sri Lanka can be called a land of high eco-awareness, although there are political and economical threats to nature conservation, undeniably. However, Sri Lanka is a small paradise for wildlife enthusiasts. Yala National Park and Wilpattu National Park have the highest density of leopard population in the entire world. Chances to sight these beautiful big cats are best in Yala, and that's the main reason why this is Sri Lanka's most popular national park. Another reason is the shere beauty of the landscape and the variety of its forms on a comparatively small area. Yala Block 1 is the most beloved part of the national park. And it's the most attractive one indeed. But to be honest: It's also the most crowded national park area in Sri Lanka at all. Nevertheless, most guests will never forget their Yala safari and fall in love with this stretch of nature.
3. Siri Pada
The mythical mountain of Adam's Peak, known as Siri Pada among locals, is not the highest peak of the island. It's only number 5 in this category. However, it's due to its conical shape that this is the most impressive peak of the island. It was known as the paradise island's iconic mountain already to medieval seafarers. Adam's Peak can be climbed from two directions via long stairways of several thousand steps. The shorter climb from Dalhousie in the hillcountry is said to have 4800 steps. The climb is a pilgrimage tour, as Siri Pada is a Holy mountain, venerated by devotees of at least three major religions. Buddhists believe, that the Buddha himself visited this place and left a giant footprint in the rock on the very top. Hindus say, this footprint is from Lord Shiva. Some Muslims believe, that this is the place where Adam first touched the ground of the earth after having left paradise. This is how the mountain got it's western name. Some Christians say, that the footprint is from St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus who became the first Christion missionary in India. The major attraction for tourists is the view from the top. Undoubtedly, Adam's Peak is one of the very best 360-degree vantage points in South Asia. Though most tourists avoid the strenuous climb to the peak, Siri Pada is often crowded. Most visitors are locals, particularly on weekends. This is why the holy mountain is stell less a tourist site than a pilgrimage place. The main season to climb Adam's Peak is between December and April, when chances are best to enjoy the sunset from the top and the spectacular views, instead of being covered by the mist which is actually a cloud.
6. Minneriya Elephant Gathering
7. Dambulla Cave Temple
9. Horton Plains National Park
Sri Lanka's Hidden Treasures - Top 10 attractions off the beaten path
2. Gal Oya National Park
4. Kumana National Park
9. Maduru Oya National Park