A tea estate, and the misty mountains of Ella, one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka
Ella, One of the Most Beautiful Places in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, the well-known tiny island in the Indian Ocean, is a major tourist destination in the Southern Asian continent. Magnificent is another name that one can substitute for the name Sri Lanka. Indeed, it is that much rich with romantic landscapes, stirring mountains, lush green tea plantations, and transparent water bodies. One may argue that this island is tiny in size. Yet, believe us! It is huge with fascinating natural, historic, cultural, and ancient spots that hardly make a visitor feel bored. The best thing about these beautiful places in Sri Lanka is that they are picture-perfect and memorable. Further, walking around the religious monasteries where there is a rare multi-religious presence while exploring every inch of the country will add an unforgettable memory to your life.

So, excited to know more about these beautiful places in Sri Lanka? Keep calm, and scroll down! You will get amused to know about the delight of these wonderful places! 

The Beautiful Places to Visit in Sri Lanka

Among the most beautiful places on this splendid island, we believe that the following are the best!

  1. Ella
  2. Nuwara Eliya
  3. Galle
  4. Arugam Bay
  5. Hikkaduwa
  6. Mirissa
  7. Negombo
  8. Bentota
  9. Trincomalee
  10. Mandaram Nuwara
  11. Kandy
  12. Dambulla
  13. Sigiriya
  14. Colombo
  15. Sinharaja
  16. Jaffna

Continue reading to get to know more about these places.

1. Ella

If you are a person who is into the countryside charm, Ella is an ideal place for you to visit. In fact, Ella is a small yet spectacular city that is considered a tourist hotspot located in Central Sri Lanka. Besides, this city is all about tea plantations widespread on hill slopes, small vegetable plots, forest areas on the hilltops, and numerous tourist attractions. Owing to these geographical features and charm, Ella is mainly famous for hikes, mountain views, and train rides.

Among the hundreds of things one can do in Ella, the following are the highlights.

  • Engaging in climbing Ella Rock
  • Taking a dip in Ravana Falls
  • Climbing Little Adam’s Peak
  • Sight-seeing at Nine Arch Bridge
  • Visiting Ella Tea Factory
  • Digging into the mysteries of Ravana Cave
  • Exploring the beauty of Ellawala Waterfall and Diyaluma Falls

As you may already know, Ella is a city in the hill country. So, you need to be aware of the rainfall rather than the sunny period.  According to the locals, the best time to visit Ella during the summer is between March-June. The winter is between December-February. However, it is better to avoid the monsoon periods. That is because there is a risk of accidents during that period owing to the heavy rainfall.

Besides, the best is to take a train to reach Ella. It will approximately take around 7-8 hours, but it is one of the most beautiful train rides. You can easily take a direct train to Ella from Colombo Fort station.

2. Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is one of the most beautiful places and major tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. Not only the tourists, but the locals also love to travel to Nuwara-Eliya. Simply, it is a city that no one can have enough of.

Nuwara-Eliya is all about lush greenery ranging from tea plantations, horse grounds, and widely spread lawns and groups of tall trees with huge canopies. Indeed, the city is famous for its stunning views. Having a boat ride in Lake Gregory amidst the chilly weather, walking around Victoria Park, and exploring the tea story in Pedro Tea factory are some of the things that one can engage in Nuwara-Eliya.

However, this city is living proof that showcases that the country was under the rule of colonizers back in the day. The ambiance of the city retains the colonial buildings, and the colonial shape is still in the town. Mainly the Golf court, clubs, post office building along with the urban council building are the ones that demonstrate the colonial style.

Besides, Nuwara-Eliya is considered as little England. That is not only because it parallels its outlook, but also the climate. Simply, the climatic condition there makes this city the coldest area in the country.

Considering the rainfall rate of the country, the best time to visit Nuwara-Eliya is between the months of February-May. One can choose either a bus ride or a rail ride to reach Nuwara-Eliya. Of course, both ways lead you to the destination through a scenic path surrounded by dramatic, colorful mountains. Both journeys will take a similar time duration of around 5-6 hours.

3. Galle

Getting away from all the hilly, greenery mood, if you need to have a getaway to a place with a beach, the best place to visit in Sri Lanka in Galle. It is another colonial city lying on the Southwest coast while wearing its historical value on every inch of it.

It is an ideal place for an escape as its ambiance is all about windswept beaches and nodding palms. However, the colonial presence of the city is not limited to the pieces of one colonizer, but two. The main monument in the city, Galle-Fort is a creation of the Portuguese with their touch and taste. Meanwhile, the rest of the city is made of Dutch-style houses, quirky shops, whitewashed mansions, and heritage museums.

Amidst this fascinating ambiance, one can engage in activities as follows, in this city of charms.

  • Walking around the Galle Fort
  • Discovering the lifestyle of sea turtles at hatcheries
  • Peaking into the history of old town Galle and its fortifications
  • Exploring the Galle Fort Lighthouse
  • Visiting the museums in order to witness the rare pieces

It is better if you choose a less warm period to visit Galle as 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.

4. Arugam Bay

The country is surrounded by the Indian Ocean and thus consists of different types of beaches all over the country. And yes, Arugam Bay is one of the most beautiful places among the coastal areas in Sri Lanka. Besides, it is on the Southeast coast of Sri Lanka which is famous for its beach vibe as a whole.

Arugam Bay is particularly in the city called Batticaloa, which is a dry zone in the country. Locally it is an attraction for fishing, while internationally Arugam Bay is a well-known tourist hotspot in the country. Mainly, the beach is for surfing. Even surfing lessons are given on this beach. But the beach, lagoon, historic temple, and Kumana National Park magnify the attraction of this area.

In this beach area, some foreign people reside surrounding the beach among the locals and rural population. Apart from enjoying the beauty of the beach and having a relaxed, quality time besides the sea, one can also indulge in the following activities.

  • Visiting Kumana National Park
  • Having a yoga class with a sea view in Arugam Bay
  • Taking part in surfing lessons
  • Exploring Kumbiagala monastery
  • Enjoying natural, adventure safaris, and sustainable Arugam Bay tours

The easiest way to reach Arugam bay is traveling by bus or taxi or a private vehicle. If you are a person who is traveling towards Arugam bay from Colombo, you have to first get to Kataragama and then to Arugam Bay. This is a journey that will take approximately 7 hours, but never a tiresome journey. Also finding accommodation around the place is not a hard mission, since it is a travel-friendly destination.

5. Hikkaduwa

As mentioned before, Sri Lanka is an island that is surrounded by the Ocean. There are beautiful places in Sri Lanka that have become tourist attractions especially because of their locations by the sea. Among them, there are some beaches that are extremely attractive and eye-catching. Among them, Hikkaduwa is indeed special.

It is an ideal place to visit during a holiday to have a peaceful escape from the day-to-day busy life. Being located on the West coast of the island, it is easily reachable and amazing.

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. Especially the rhythm of the waves, the corals, the reefs, and the fish species out there attract the wanderers. At the same time, the silky sandy beach is a completely new experience.

While being amazed by the sandy beach, mesmerizing sea view, barely visible horizon, and the sea breeze, one can engage in some more interesting activities if they walk a little bit around the place as well. Some of them are:

  • Visiting turtle hatcheries
  • Enjoying fresh seafood dishes unique to the area
  • Visiting Tsunami Honganji Vihara and Seenigama Muhudu Viharaya
  • Visiting the coral sanctuaries

However, 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 for learners.

The best and most convenient way to reach Hikkaduwa is by train. 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.

6. Mirissa

Mirissa, is a coastal hideaway rather than an open beach, that tops among the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka. In fact, it is a small village on a hammock in the Southern part of the country. This place is a naturally formed place with unorderly grown coconut trees adding some beauty to the sea view.

This place lets the visitors have a quality 180 view of the sea as the hammock is surrounded more than of it by the sea. Moreover, Mirissa is mostly known for sunbathing and whale watching. So, this place is simply a high beachy paradise. Most importantly, it makes people forget about the other things in the whole world.

If you want to get away from the crowds, Mirissa is the ideal place for you to spend a holiday. This place not only gives you exposure to the sea view but to the local fishery lifestyle. In fact, the major occupation of the village folks is fishery.

Besides, Mirissa is known for another beautiful place, which is the coconut tree hill. Along with that one can visit Mirissa beach, Parrot rock bridge, and fresh seafood markets to taste the best of it. You can discover the mouthwatering taste of the local cuisine during your stay at Mirissa along with the mandatory seafood side dish. Mirissa is famous for the tastier fish, Tuna.

Locals say that the best period to visit Mirissa is the months of December, October, and August. That is avoiding the windy season from May to July. The best way to reach Mirissa is by train taking a direct one from Colombo Fort to Bentota and then to Weligama. This is basically a maximum 4-hour journey, neither tiring nor exhausting.

7. Negombo

Negombo is a coastal city that lies on the West coast of Sri Lanka. And yes, it is famous for its beautiful ambiance with the Ocean beside it. It is also the most visited city in Sri Lanka, as both locals and foreigners chose this city to spend their holidays carefree in a sophisticated coastal city.

It also has shades of colonial inventions, as one can see the remaining colonial buildings and the tradition followed by the inhabitants. Mainly, the colonial-built canal and the crumbled fort are the main monuments that showcase the colonial presence of the city. Apart from the sandy beaches on the West coast, the boat rides, the lively fish markets, traditional fishing communities, and the wildlife-rich lagoon magnify the delight of this city. While exploring the city, one can also visit the Negombo lagoon, Muthurajawela Marsh, ancient churches, and ancient temples. So, Negombo is indeed one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka.

In order to reach Negombo, you can use trains as Negombo is one of the easiest places to reach by train. Even the direct trains are there 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 also the fastest way as well since it approximately takes only an hour or two. Besides, even the city is reachable through a bus or a taxi, or a private vehicle. The distance is not that a problem, but a course of a maximum of 2 hours. The foot bicycle journey is also a good one to take in order to wander around the city.

8. Bentota

Bentota is all about beautiful sunrises and blue waters. It is once again famous for its beachy and sandy ambiance. In fact, this place is known for its relaxing and soothing nature, and therefore a must attraction of both local and foreign crowds.

The sands on this beach are different from others all around the island as the sands are golden in color. Because of the breathless, eye-catching quality of this beach, the locals say it should be a must-visit place among the destinations of travelers. 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 full day for a group. Apart from these enthusiastic things, one can explore the lifestyle of the turtles by visiting the turtle hatcheries around.

According to the locals, the best time to visit the beach is 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 visit the place as you might have to stay there for a night in order to experience all the beauty of Bentota. Hence, traveling by your own vehicle or a rented vehicle may make your journey easier.

After all, Bentota is one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka, which is ideal for a group weekend getaway at a time when the climate is smooth and calm. So, never miss visiting it, while you are exploring Sri Lanka!

9. Trincomalee

Trincomalee is all about water sports and underwater adventures. For the ones who wish to enjoy the water, Trincomalee is an ideal place. Mainly, it provides all sorts of things that a beach should have, and thus it gets a large number of visitors per year.

In fact, within the territories of Sri Lanka, among all the beaches and coastal areas of it, one of the few places where one can find scuba diving is Trincomalee. It is a rare water sport that people are willing to experience and thus, Trincomalee gets crowded during that particular season.

At the same time, it allows one to explore deeper into the sea and find new species along with the underwater biodiversity. Apart from visiting one of the most attractive beaches in Sri Lanka, one can get exposure to one of the main religions in the country, the Hindu religion, if they visit this city. There are few temples that are devoted to several Gods, and they are visited by a huge number of devotees annually with their wishes in their minds. Because of the beliefs of locals, it says that Trincomalee has the blessings of the Gods and hence the city is protected with the invisible spirituality.

However, as the city is located on the Northeast coast, they say that the best time to visit Trincomalee is during the period between February to April as the weather is convenient for water sports.

After all, Trincomalee is all about the scenic coast, beach, and incredible architecture of the Hindu temples. The most convenient way to reach Trincomalee is by bus, by a private vehicle, or a taxi.

10. Mandaram Nuwara

Mandaram Nuwara is a definition of hidden, tranquil rurality as it is a village surrounded by misty mountains and waterfalls. This town specifically lies at the foot of the very famous Pidurutalagala, as one of the most beautiful places in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. This area is rich with paddy cultivation and tea plantation, so there is greenery everywhere.

So, Mandaram Nuwara is all about true natural beauty. Further, it has even got this name due to the same reason as it is in the middle of lifted mountain ranges and covered with mist almost every day. At the same time due to this location, Mandaram Nuwara is widely famous for hiking and trekking, not only among local crowds but among the foreign crowd as well. Other than that the hidden and stunning waterfall called Kolapathana Ella is also another major attraction in Mandaram Nuwara along with all the small and big waterfalls around.

Also, the best thing about this particular area in Sri Lanka is that, based on its location, it gets rainfall throughout the year. Yet, the rainfall never becomes a distraction to your tour or your stay in this village. At the same time, this location surrounded by raised mountains does not permit the first rays of the Sun and the remaining rays of the solar to enter the village.

In order to reach this breathtaking area surrounded by grasslands dotted with wildflowers, waterfalls, and massive fields, it is easy to take a bus and travel by vehicle from Colombo. From Colombo, you can first reach Kandy and then you have to take the route that passes Adhikarigama, Hanguranketha, Rikillagaskanda, and Poramadulla. Leading to some rural areas, you can reach Mandaram Nuwara at a distance of around 16km.

11. Kandy

Kandy is one of the most beautiful places and sacred cities with significant historical importance in Sri Lanka. Being a kingdom of Ceylon once, it has become the center of the country where the people willingly visit on every occasion they get.

Also, Kandy is mostly famous for its Buddhist ambiance and the lake flows in the middle of the city. This lake being the center, the city is established around it. The Buddhist monument in the middle of the city, the Temple of the Tooth Relic adds a significant grandeur to this charming city. It is a pilgrimage site where the most number of pilgrims visit every year. Apart from that, the city is full of tourist attractions, many more religious landmarks, beautiful gardens, and cultural museums. All these places are quite famous among both local and foreign travelers.

This city has a backdrop of a cloud forest, and tropical plantations roll across the mountain slopes. Therefore, the site 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.

Kandy is not only about these things, but visiting Udawattekele sanctuary, Bahirava Kanda Vihara Buddha Statue, Kandy viewpoint, Lankatilaka Temple, Kandy Garrison Cemetery, Ceylon Tea Museum, New Ranweli Spice Garden, and Kandy war cemetery. It is not hard to find a place to stay and spend several days as it is a major tourist hotspot in the country. In order to reach Kandy, you can easily take a direct train from Colombo Fort railway station, which will approximately take around 3-4 hours.

12. Dambulla

Central Sri Lanka is always an attraction for both locals and tourists. That is simply because it houses some of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka. Among them, Dambulla is a highlight! 

Dambulla is even considered the second largest popularised and urbanized center in the Matale District. At the same time, Dambulla is one of the major vegetable centers in Sri Lanka which distributes vegetables to most parts of the country.

This city is rich in tourist attractions, including religious places, nature sites, and historical monuments. Among them, the major attractions are the largest, best-preserved cave temple complex and the historical Sigiriya rock fortress. Other than that the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium and religious monuments are there. Further, it houses the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia including the ironwood forest or Na Uyana Aranya. At the same time, the largest archeological site of significant historical importance, the Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site is also there.

Dambulla, being in the hilly countryside of the country, attracts a huge number of tourists and local crowds for the serene surroundings. At the same time, Dambulla is famous for murals and statues that belong to the great history of Sri Lanka.

In order to reach Dambulla, it is better to travel by bus or a taxi, or a private vehicle from Colombo. The trip would take around 4-5 hours. You have to lead towards the Jaffna route and stop at Dambulla. Since the sun rises very high up in Dambulla, it is better to visit in the early morning or late afternoon while avoiding the crowd as well. Dambulla, hence, is one of the must-visit places in Sri Lanka and you should certainly include it in your traveling bucket lists of everyone.

13. Sigiriya

Sigiriya is a small village in the vicinity of Dambulla in Sri Lanka. It is actually a huge rock where the records say that there was a palace on top of it. This palace was built by a prince who was on the run and that was a complete luxury that made him live there protectively for some time. Hence, these premises are rich with the incredible arts, architectural features, and ruins of the palace.

This ancient rock fortress lies at the end of a thick forest area. The entrance to this premises looks like a lion’s mouth. Thus, entering the fortress gives you the feeling of a historical vibe. Also, the pathway that leads up to the ruins of the palace, has colorful frescoes painted on the walls.

Also, the place is quite famous for the presence of the greatest architectural features. In fact, the technology used to build the palace is highly advanced with the inclusion of a proper drainage system from the top of the rock to the bottom.

Visiting Sigiriya opens up more opportunities such as climbing up Pidurangala rock, visiting Kaludiya pokuna, discovering the Sigiriya museum, having nature and wildlife tours, cultural tours, and even having air, helicopter, and hot air balloon tours.

Again, it is better to use the normal route to reach Sigiriya, by bus, taxi, or a private vehicle. It is not that you cannot reach Sigiriya through a rail ride, but it is harder than taking the main route.

Since Sigiriya is in a dry zone and has a hot climate, it is better to choose either morning hours or late evening hours to climb up in order to get rid of the fatigue.

14. Colombo

Colombo is the commercial city of this little island in the Indian Ocean. Also, it is the most developed and sophisticated city in the whole country. The main airport, major harbors, and even the island-wide bus services are in this city making it the center of everything. To be real, it is a bustling city with the highest population. So, your tour around Sri Lanka will not be complete if you miss Colombo as it is the capital of the country.

Apart from being sophisticated and highly developed, this city also houses several places that attract people. It is true that Colombo is quite into the materialistic side rather than nature, but it also houses some valuable monuments in its territory. The city is the definition of beauty and hence, it should be a must-visit for anyone who is taking a journey around the island.

Among this huge scope, there are vast malls, nature parks, and monumental places that make people attracted easily. Some of them are as follows.

At the same time, one can find every single thing that they need from Colombo, by taking a tour around the city. It is not hard to reach the city as you directly make it to Colombo at the end of your flight journey. Also, there are enough transport modes to take a tour around the city ranging from foot cycles to luxurious cars with the facility of renting out for a fair price.

15. Sinharaja

Sri Lanka is famous for its retaining natural beauty even though the country gets into different development stages as it flows with the world. One of such specially conserved areas is the Sinharaja Rain Forests which is a major forest reserve and a biodiversity hotspot in Sri Lanka. This is all about green and hence it attracts almost all people without any exception. Simply, it makes visitors forget the world beyond this particular forest.

According to the records, Sinharaja houses almost all the endemic plant species of Sri Lanka. And also, it provides habitats for every kind of animal including mammals, reptiles, varieties of butterflies, birds, and insects. Among these birds, one can find both endemic and migrating birds as this always serves as free accommodation for them. Due to the thick growth of huge trees and shrubs, it is quite hard to spot these animals. Hence, there is nothing wrong with calling Sinharaja an ecological treasure trove concerning its presence of a huge number of flora and fauna species. 

It only makes the journey to Sinharaja an adventure full of wonders. Many say that a complete exploration into the woods of Sinharaja could take around 3 hours with proper guidance.

16. Jaffna

Leaving all the Southern, Western, Eastern, and Central parts and their inclusions aside, if we look into the Northernmost part of the island, it takes you to a different world. Mainly, the top-notch like area of the country, Jaffna is a city that holds onto the bitter past of the country.

It particularly 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 living war museum as one can find traces from the beginning of the war to the end of it. There are also several monuments all around the city that tell the stories about heroic acts of the Sri Lankan army while there are few that make the tears roll down your eyes.

Apart from the significance of the war, Jaffna houses many religious monuments. Many of them belong to the Hindu religion as the majority of the population of Jaffna is Hindu. So, Jaffna is the ideal place to discover deeper into the Hindu religion.

The Bottom Line

Sri Lanka is a small paradise that boasts loads of wonders. Indeed, this country fulfills every sort of craving related to travel destinations. Even the Sri Lankan Tourism Development Authority has paid attention to developing the facilities around these areas. So, why not take a journey around this small island to explore them? Meanwhile, make sure you add these beautiful places to your bucket list since they are must-visits in Sri Lanka. Happy and safe traveling!