Sri Lanka is a land with scenic beaches, rolling tea plantations, and sky-tall mountain ranges, along with green-filled landscapes. It is true that it is almost an invisible island within the waters of the Indian Ocean. Yet, it is famous all over the world for its natural and eye-catching beauty. Sri Lanka is not a country that has only a few spots particularly beautiful and attractive, but the whole land is full of wonders. In fact, one can even say that every inch of this island is all about unbelievable natural beauty. Hence, if you are planning to explore Sri Lanka, you have several beautiful cities to choose from for a visit.
Yet, not only these cities are just beautiful. They also offer wonderful opportunities to indulge yourself in interesting activities that your soul would fall in love with. So, continue reading. These few cities from all around the island will surely prove to you that Sri Lanka is worth being a tourist hotspot!
What are the Most Beautiful Cities in Sri Lanka?
Among the many beautiful cities in Sri Lanka, we suggest that the following would be the best.
- Nuwara Eliya
Scroll down to learn more about these beautiful cities!
Nuwara-Eliya is one of the major tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. Not only the tourists, but the locals also like to visit Nuwara-Eliya as it is a city that no one can have enough of. Besides, it is living proof that showcases that the country was under the rule of colonizers back in the day. In fact, the ambiance of the city retains the colonial buildings and the colonial shape. Mainly the Golf court, clubs, post office building along with the urban council building are the ones that demonstrate the colonial style.
Nuwara-Eliya is, however, all about the lush greenery of tea plantations, horse grounds, widely spread lawns, and forest areas full of tree canopies. Moreover, the climatic behavior makes this city the coolest town in the country. Yet, that coldness is considerably bearable. Also, this coldness makes the city the safest place in the country to visit even during an infectious pandemic as well.
Further, considering the rainfall pattern of the city, the best time to visit Nuwara-Eliya is between the months of February-May. It is a bus ride or a rail ride that makes the journey to Nuwara Eliya the most aesthetic way. Those paths fall through a scenic path surrounded by dramatic, colorful mountains, and that journey itself will surely magnify the delight of your holiday.
The Best Places to Visit in Nuwara-Eliya
While there are many attractions in Nuwara Eliya, we believe that the following places contribute immensely to making it one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka.
This is one of the most visited lakes within the territories of the hill country in Sri Lanka. Mainly it is a popular tourist attraction in Nuwara-Eliya which allows visitors to engage in several recreational activities. Paddling a boat through the chilly winds all around the lake while enjoying the beauty in the vicinity is the best thing to do in Gregory Lake.
Victoria Park in Nuwara-Eliya is popular as the best-maintained park in South Asia. This park is fresh and aesthetic all the time. Moreover, this is one of the best places in Nuwara-Eliya to escape from day-to-day worries. It offers you the best opportunities to relax since this place is all about flowers, ferries, and swings.
Since the city is all about lush green and wonders of nature, missing out on a walk in the moon plains is a loss. It seems like plain grassland. Yet, it is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Nuwara Eliya as it is surrounded by tea estates, forest reserves, and mountains. Hence, this place is best to relax your mind, inhale the fresh air, and have quality time.
Other Attractions in Nuwara Eliya
- Pedro Tea Estate
- Hakgala Botanical Garden
- Ramboda Falls
- St. Clair’s Falls
- Laxapana Falls
- Horton Plains National Park
- Ambewela Farm
Kandy is one of the most sacred cities with significant historical importance in Sri Lanka. Moreover, it is one of the most visited cities on the island.
Kandy is mostly famous for its Buddhist ambiance and the lake that flows in the middle of the city. This lake being the center, the city is established around it. Anyone can find the Buddhist monument erected in the middle of the city, the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Apart from that, the city is full of tourist attractions, many more sacred landmarks, landscaped gardens, and cultural museums. This beautiful town offers you hiking and wildlife-watching opportunities as well.
Further, one of the main four rivers in Sri Lanka, the Mahaweli River flows through Kandy. Thus, this is an ideal nature-friendly destination that makes the desires of nature lovers fulfilled. And yes, this rhythmically flowing river is one of the main reasons that make Kandy one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka.
Besides, Kandy is a city that has pleasant climatic conditions. So, it welcomes visitors anytime throughout the year. The rainfall is also not so high as to be a barrier to the wanderers.
In order to reach Kandy, you can easily take a direct train from Colombo Fort railway station to Kandy. It will approximately take around 3-4 hours. So, considering all these travel-friendly facts, Kandy should be a must-visit destination in Sri Lanka for anyone. Indeed, this charming city of Kandy attracts and makes visitors fall for it in no time.
The Best Places to Visit in Kandy
You can find below some of the most significant places in Kandy.
The Temple of Tooth Relic
The Temple of Tooth Relic is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Kandy. In fact, it attracts the greatest number of pilgrims to visit per year. The importance of this place is that it holds onto the enshrined sacred tooth of Lord Buddha. This temple being the ancient Kandyan palace also makes it so important. However, being so sacred and important, it attracts so many visitors, and thus, it is crowded all the time.
Royal Botanical Garden
Royal Botanical Garden is a place full of ecosystems, rare plant species, vivid flowers, and different landscapes. This garden spans over 60 hectares including all the above-mentioned things making it the largest place to visit in Sri Lanka. Most significantly, this garden houses more than 4000 species of plants, flowers, herbs, and huge trees including the most striking orchids.
This is one of the top attractions in Kandy as around this lake only the whole city is established in. Hence, this lake is an obvious attraction among both locals and foreigners. Moreover, Kandy lake offers you stunning nature views and a romantic ambiance in order to get away from the worries and chaos in the mind.
Other Attractions in Kandy
- Udawattekele Sanctuary
- Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue
- Kandy Viewpoint
- Lankatilaka Temple
- Kandy Garrison Cemetery
- Ceylon Tea Museum
- New Ranweli Spice Garden
- Kandy War Cemetery
Getting away from all the hilly, greenery mode, if you need to have a getaway to a place with a beach, the best place to visit in Sri Lanka is Galle. It is another colonial city lying on the Southwest coast while wearing its historical value in every inch of it. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka, as well as an ideal place for an escape as the ambiance is all about windswept beaches and nodding palms.
The main monument in this city is Galle-Fort. It is a creation of the Portuguese with their touch and taste while the rest of the city is made with Dutch-style houses, quirky shops, whitewashed mansions, and heritage museums. Amidst this fascinating ambiance, one can engage in many interesting things as follows.
- Walking around the Galle Fort
- Discovering the lifestyle of sea turtles at turtle hatcheries
- Exploring the history of the old town, Galle, and its fortifications
- Exploring the Galle Fort Lighthouse
- Visiting the museums in order to witness the rare pieces
It is better to choose a less warm period to visit Galle since the warmer the city gets, the harder it becomes to walk around. The beaches spread around the Galle are the best places to have sunbathing and light swimming as well.
In order to reach Galle, one can have the coastal train ride beside the Southern Ocean while getting mesmerized by its beauty. The ride is a course of 3-4 hours neither long nor limited. One can find direct trains from Colombo Fort Station to Galle at any time during the day.
The Best Places to Visit in Galle
Of course, there are many places for you to explore in Galle. Some of the significant places among them are as follows.
Galle Fort is the major monument in Galle city which becomes the main course to attract thousands of visitors to the city. This is a historical monument that is presently considered a UNESCO World Heritage. The fort is rich with stunning architecture, archaeology, and history situated in Galle having the lavish sea beside and horizon as the backdrop.
National Museum of Galle
Museums can be commonly seen all around the island, as they preserve the details of the origin and the heritage of the country. Among a few national museums in Sri Lanka, the national museum of Galle is one of the museums that showcase mainly the colonial history along with the history of the establishment of the city.
Since Galle is a coastal city in Southern Sri Lanka, it is a sort of norm to visit a beach and feel its beauty as well. When it comes to Galle, Unawatuna gives the best beach experience for those who are yearning to spend a day beside a beach. This beach is an ideal location for a relaxing evening while enjoying the natural beauty of the sea.
Other Attractions in Galle
- Flag Rock
- Unawatuna Beach
- Galle Lighthouse
- Dutch Reformed Chapel
Hikkaduwa is one of those best and ideal places to visit during a holiday and have a peaceful escape from the ordinary busy life. Being located on the West coast of the island, Hikkaduwa is the best beach for every single water activity that one can engage in.
Besides, Hikkaduwa beach is especially well-known for surfing and turtle conservation. Even the bottom of the ocean in this area is a world full of wonders. At the same time, the silky sandy beach is completely a fresh experience. While being amazed by the sandy beach, rhythmic waves, vivid sea view, far-sighted horizon, and the sea breeze, one can engage in many more activities around the place.
The best and most convenient way to reach Hikkaduwa is by train, as there are direct trains from Colombo Fort to Hikkaduwa. The rail ride itself gives an ecstatic feeling, as the path lies beside the coastal line. Visiting Hikkaduwa is all about the sea and related things. Most of the beginner-level divers, surfers, and ocean swimmers, reach the training centers there as Hikkaduwa offers all those facilities. Hence, it is better to choose a dry season to visit the place to get the best out of it.
The Best Places to Visit in Hikkaduwa
Among many places to visit in Hikkaduwa, the below-mentioned would be the best!
Turtle farms are a common thing around Hikkaduwa. This is particularly a little private farm that conserves turtles and helps with their reproduction process. One can witness lines of basins with distinctive turtles on this farm. Further, there are spots where the turtles lay eggs as well.
Hikkaduwa, being a coastal city in Sri Lanka, provides visitors with a whole lot of beach experiences. On top of that, Hikkaduwa beach offers the best, since it is a beach with literally everything. This is one of the most visited beaches among vacationers in Sri Lanka. Besides, Hikkaduwa Beach is the ideal spot to experience almost all sea-related sports and activities.
Hikkaduwa Coral Gardens
The beach is not only about the sea view, horizon, and sea creatures. Yet, there is also a world under the water except for the creatures as well. The corals, in fact, the yards of corals under the sea, are another world in Hikkaduwa. In fact, Hikkaduwa coral gardens are indeed special since they house around 70 species of corals. These creatures are like therapy to the eyes, and they possess absolute beauty.
Other Attractions in Hikkaduwa
- Tsunami Honganji Vihara
- Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya
Trincomalee is one of the most beautiful cities in Nothern Sri Lanka, and it is all about water-related adventures. Simply, for those who are interested in aqua life, Trincomalee is an ideal place. Mainly, it has all sorts of things that a beach should have and thus, it gets a large number of visitors per year.
Besides, among the beaches and coastal areas of Sri Lanka, Trincomalee is one of the few places where scuba diving is present. It is a rare water sport that people are willing to experience and therefore, Trincomalee gets crowded during that particular season. At the same time, scuba diving allows visitors to explore deeper into the sea and discover the hidden world under the sea, making their visit to Trincomalee more special.
Besides, one can get exposure to one of the main religions in the country, the Hindu religion in Trincomalee. There are a few temples that are devoted to several Gods. And yes, they are visited by a huge number of devotees annually with their wishes in their minds. According to the beliefs, Trincomalee has the blessings of the Gods.
However, as the city is located on the Northeast coast, they say that the best time to visit Trincomalee is from February to April as the weather is convenient for water sports. After all, Trincomalee is all about the scenic coast, the sea view, and the incredible architecture of the Hindu temples. So, make sure you visit it, while you are in Sri Lanka. The most convenient way to reach Trincomalee is by bus, a private vehicle, or a taxi as these modes are the easiest.
The Best Places to Visit in Trincomalee
Some of the best places to visit in Trincomalee are as follows.
Koneswaram Temple is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Trincomalee despite being a religious monument. This is visited by not only Hindu devotees but also travelers all around the world. The specialty of this place is that it is located on top of a cliff and the view is mesmerizing. Further, the temple has a noteworthy architectural style which is a style that can be found in India.
Fort Frederick is an ideal place for explorers and nature enthusiasts in Trincomalee. The ambiance of the place is imposing along with its entrance. The main thing about this fort is that one can find freely-roaming deer occasionally and that adds charm to the environment. Visiting Fort Frederick is worthwhile owing to the breathtaking sunsets and sweeping views of Trincomalee Bay.
Pigeon Island National Park
This is an island off the Nilaveli coast with a pristine and beautiful ambiance. Particularly, there are two islands that house endangered birds such as rock pigeons. Further, it consists of powdery white sands, glittering rock pools, shallow waters, vibrant marine life, and stunning rock formations.
Other Attractions in Trincomalee
- Pathirakali Amman Temple
- Velgam Vehera
- Maritime and Naval History Museum
- Nilaveli Beach
- Trincomalee War Cemetery
- St. Mary Cathedral
Negombo is a coastal city that lies on the West coast of Sri Lanka. It is known for its beautiful ambiance with the ocean beside it, and thus famous as one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka.
Apart from the sandy beaches on the West coast, this city is also about the sea breeze, sunbathing, boat rides, and horizon along with the lively fish market, traditional fishing communities, and wildlife-rich lagoons. It is also a city highly influenced by colonial inventions. There are the remains of colonial buildings and the traditions followed by the inhabitants. Mainly, the canal and the crumbled fort are the main monuments that showcase the colonial presence of the city.
Negombo is also the most visited city in Sri Lanka since both locals and foreigners chose the city to spend their holidays in a sophisticated coastal city. In order to reach Negombo, one can use trains as Negombo is one of the easiest places to reach by train. Even direct trains can be found at the Colombo Fort railway station. The track falls through a route that depicts scenic and local life. This is not only the easiest but the fastest way as well, approximately a 3-hour journey. Even the city is reachable by a bus or a taxi or a private vehicle as the distance is not that a problem, but a course of a maximum of 4 hours. The foot-bicycle journey is also a good one to take in order to wander around the city.
The Best Places to Visit in Negombo
While there are many places to visit in Negombo, we suggest that the following places would be the best.
Negombo is all about the sea, beach, marine life, and the world underwater. Hence, fishery and occupations related to this industry is a common thing to be seen around Negombo. Fishing villages are located on the outskirts of the village and it is extended to quite an area. It says that walking around this village allows you to have an enlightening and insightful time.
Dutch fort is one of the most visited places in Negombo. It belongs to the colonial period and now only the ruins are there with damaged walls and structures. This structure resembles Dutch architecture as it is one of the few forts that they built during their intervention. Seeing this brings back memories of the colonial period along with the nature of Sri Lanka by then.
Negombo lagoon is considered a major tourist attraction that gets a high number of visitors per day. This area houses the lagoon coastal wetland and Muthurajawela marsh. The water level of this lagoon is not so high, but about 2 meters which has a narrow opening to the sea in the North.
Other Attractions in Negombo
- Negombo lagoon
- St. Mary’s ancient church
- Dutch clock tower
- Hamilton Canal
- Ancient Temples
Leaving all the Southern, Western, Eastern, and Central parts and their attractions aside, if we look into the northernmost part of the island, it takes us to a different world. Mainly, the top-notch-like area of the country, Jaffna is one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka.
However, it is also a city that holds into the bitter past of the country. In fact, it preserves the memories that relate to the 30 years-long civil war period including all the victories, defeats, and even losses. Hence, Jaffna is like a war museum as there are traces from the beginning of the war to the end of it. There are several monuments all around the city that relate to the stories of the heroic acts of the Sri Lankan army. Also, there are few that make the tears roll down from your eyes.
Apart from the significance of the war, Jaffna houses many religious monuments that belong to the Hindu religion as the majority of the population of Jaffna is Hindu. Unlike in the past, it is now quite easy to reach Jaffna since after the war the route and the area have been developed to their best.
The train ride to Jaffna has now become the most popular ride although it takes around 10-12 hours’ time. Further, it is better to visit Jaffna when the area is not too warm as it is unbearable once Jaffna is at its peak high temperature.
The Best Places to Visit in Jaffna
As mentioned earlier, most of the attractions in Jaffna are related to the war and the Hindu religion. So, among them, the following places are highlights.
Nallur Kandasamy Kovil
Nallur Kandasamy Kovil is one of the main tourist attractions in Jaffna. It is particularly a religious monument that is famous all around the world. People are visiting this temple usually to explore the architectural features that are unique to the Hindu religion. The specialty of this place is that it is considered the first place to hold any Hindu religious festival.
All the forts around the country bring back memories of the colonial period since they were built by the colonists who invaded the country back then. In fact, it was the Portuguese who built this fort, and thus, one can find Portuguese architectural features there. However, since this was used for wars, this belonged to all the invaders in turn.
Jaffna Archaeological Museum
Jaffna archeological museum is one of the main yet small museums in Sri Lanka. Despite the size, it houses a valuable and rare collection of Buddhist and Hindu antiquities. Further, this museum showcases the history related to the period of the Jaffna kingdom since there are some artifacts that come from that period. This museum also has a cultural hall which attracts the majority of visitors.
Other Attractions in Jaffna
- Jaffna Grape Farm
- Point Pedro Lighthouse
- Jaffna Kingdom Ruins
- Delft Island
- Jaffna Public Library
- Manalkadu Beach
- Water Springs
Bentota is all about beautiful sunrises and blue waters. Moreover, it is well-known for its beachy and sandy ambiance. Hence, Bentota is famous as one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka, and a must-see destination for both local and foreign crowds.
The sea view of the beach also makes you forget the rest of the world and enjoy the beauty without any hassle. Apart from the all-time sea and beach, this area is also famous for water sports. Mainly having a boat cruise, and many more adventurous water sports can make a fun-filled day for a group at Bentota. Apart from these enthusiastic things, one can explore the lifestyle of the turtles by visiting the turtle hatcheries around as well.
According to the locals, concerning the condition of the sea and wind, the best time to visit Bentota beach is during the months of October to April. Since this is a place situated 65 kilometers away from Colombo, it is better to take a vehicle and reach the place as you might have to stay there for a night in order to experience all the beauty of Bentota. At the same time, more the distance, more the rest one may need. So, traveling by your own vehicle or a rented vehicle may make your journey easier.
Best Places to Visit in Bentota
While many of the places in Bentota are related to the sea and beach, the ones mentioned below would be the perfect choices for you!
Bentota beach is considered one of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka. This is on the Western coast of the city and the city has gained the name due to the beach itself. This beach is all about stretches of golden sands, lined-up palm trees, clear waters, a chilled breeze, and a tranquil atmosphere. Further, the beach is ideal for water sports and a seaside getaway.
This is one of the major attractions in Bentota which attracts a huge number of visitors to the city. It was a designed garden by a foreign archeologist and it is inspired by Italian and English landscapes. However, initially, this garden was a rubber plantation and after identifying the specialty of the land only they converted it into a garden with different fauna species.
Madu River is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. This is a place where the most healthy and fresh mangroves grow and thus the related research takes place there. This river covers around 150 acres of land and houses some endemic species found in Sri Lanka. Further, one can find different types of flora and fauna around and in the river.
Other Attractions in Bentota
- Kande Vihara
- Geoffrey Bawa Gardens
- Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Center
The Bottom Line
After all, it is important to note that these are just a few of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka, and there are much more hidden places on this island. So, these places are indeed the best for you to start your travel with. Yet, never miss the chance of exploring the hidden beauties of this charming island as well. Happy and safe traveling!