An island country off of south, south-eastern coast of India – Sri Lanka prides itself with offering a myriad of tourist attractions and activities. Being surrounded by the Indian Ocean, it’s no secret that Sri Lanka centers its tourism around sun, sea and sand concept. However, that’s far from all that this tropical paradise offers.
Rich history, specific culture, famous tea, colorful wildlife, and spicy cuisine all play major role in diversifying the offer and enriching visitors’ overall satisfaction level in the end. We will try to give you a quick overall of this country’s tourist attractions, landmarks, and way of life.
I am not a religious person myself, but I did look for nature. I had spent my first sabbatical in New York City. Looked for something different for the second one. Europe and the U.S. didn’t really feel enticing because I knew them too well. So Asia it was. The most beautiful landscapes I had seen in Asia were Sri Lanka and Bali.– via Stefan Sagmeister
Sri Lanka Geography & Weather
Let’s start with geography. This small speck on the map stretches from 5° to 10° north and from 79° to 82° east, and it’s as close as 33 miles to the Indian subcontinent over the Palk Strait. Elevation-wise, Sri Lanka is mostly flat, but the south-central part of the island does feature a mountain range with Pidurutalagala as its highest peak at 2,524 meters (8,281 feet) above the sea level. Given its position in the Indian Ocean and openness towards it, the average annual temperature in lower regions drifts between 28 °C and 31 °C (82 °F and 87 °F).
The central part of the country is much cooler, though, with average annual temperatures of 17 °C or 62 °F. You should also note that Sri Lanka can be quite rainy, depending on where you decide to go.
Central highlands can receive up to 2,500 mm (98.4 inches) of rain per month, but most of the country receives north of 1,000 mm (39 inches) of rain per year. Of course, rainy seasons rule the island and if you’re visiting the capital of Colombo and its south-western neighborhood regions, you might want to avoid the period between May and August. That’s when south-west monsoons take place. On the contrary, the north-eastern part of the country is wet between November and February.
As already mentioned, Sri Lankan capital city is Colombo whose metro area has more than 5.6 million inhabitants. However, while Colombo might be traditional commercial capital, actual administrative capital is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, located just a tad bit south-east of Colombo and still in its metro area.
Road to Sri Lanka – Cities
As for the actual Sri Lanka tourism, we would definitely recommend large cities like Colombo, Kandy and Negombo; all of which have their share to offer in many touristic segments. Furthermore, endless golden beaches are sights one visiting Sri Lanka simply has to see and partake in any activities connected to them. Mirissa, Arugam Bay, Hikkaduwa, and Trincomalee are highly recommended. You can explore Sri Lankan rich wildlife in a number of national parks including Pigeon Island, Yala, Uda Walawe, and Bundala among others.
Elephants, leopards, water buffalos, and turtles can be splendid sites indeed. UNESCO world heritage sites are always worthy of looking into as well, and Sri Lanka boasts no less than eight such marvels. All that and much more is what makes this Asian country well-worthy of a visit.
If you decide to go to Sri Lanka, you’ll likely arrive at one of three international airports: Bandaranaike International Airport, Ratmalana Airport, or Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport. The first two gravitate toward the Colombo area, and we’ll start from there. As the nation’s largest city, Colombo offers a plethora of sites, activities, and landmarks you can visit or partake in. Take, for instance, Kelani Rajamaha Viharaya and Asokaramaya Buddhist temples or picturesque Jami Ul-Alfar mosque.
Their architecture will leave you speechless, and so will the temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil thanks to its surreal exterior facade. Colombo fort is another landmark well-worthy of a visit, but don’t expect to see an actual fort. It’s more of a colonial buildings complex. As for things to do – scuba diving, kayaking and canoeing, and dolphin and whale watching are just some of many available activities around Colombo.
Tourism and Best places to visit
Beaches that spread across all sides of Sri Lanka can be the only thing you need, but you can also leave them for the end of your meeting with this eastern country. That actually might be the best way to enjoy Sri Lanka and its tourism – by partaking in other aspects of tourism for a week or so, and resting at any of tropical paradise’s beaches for another. We have already listed a few of the most prolific beaches, but you are certainly free to explore any of the countless available options. We simply wouldn’t have the space to mention them all.
While in Sri Lanka, it would be unforgivable to pass on the opportunity to try the national cuisine or famous Sri Lankan tea. You can try that in pretty much any corner of the country, but to truly experience the unique cup of tea, it’s best to try one of the countless tea plantations. Some of them offer accommodation in terms of converted tea planter’s cottages which further enhances the tea experience. Imagine waking up in the morning to a wide-stretching scent of the plantation. This is where it happens.
As mentioned above, Sri Lanka boasts six cultural and a couple of natural UNESCO world heritage sites. That, and countless ruins and temples which we’ll leave for you to explore. Natural landmarks are Central Highlands of Sri Lanka and Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Former comprises of the Horton Plains National Park, the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, and the Knuckles Conservation Forest, and represents an eco-system of supreme biodiversity.
Most notable inhabitants are leopards. The latter natural heritage site is a tropical rainforest with 60% of endemic trees while also being home to 50% of the country’s endemic species of mammals, insects, reptiles, and amphibians.
The Undiscovered Country
You might say Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight. Countless scores of travelers have passed overhead on their way to someplace else, but years of war and challenges such as tsunamis have kept Sri Lanka off many itineraries.
But now Sri Lanka has found its place on the itineraries of ever more travelers. Several years after the war ended, the country is moving forward quickly even as questions about the war continue to spark debate. Lying between the more trodden parts of India and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka’s myriad appeals are undeniably alluring.
Sri Lanka is an island off the coast of India. There’s two ethnicities there; one the Sinhalese, which is the majority and the government, and the minority, who are the Tamils. That’s where I’m from. And my lifetime sort of began there; I spent 10 years, and I was there during when the war started and fled as a refugee to England.– via M.I.A.
Rainforests & Beaches
When you’re ready to escape the tropical climate of the coast and lowlands, head for the hills, with their temperate, achingly green charms. Verdant tea plantations and rainforested peaks beckon walkers, trekkers and those who just want to see it on a spectacular train ride.
And then there are the beaches. Dazzlingly white and often untrod, they ring the island so that no matter where you go, you’ll be near a sandy gem. Should you beat the inevitable languor, you can surf and dive world-class sites without world-class crowds.
Sri Lanka Landmarks
Historical UNESCO landmarks include the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa, Ancient City of Sigiriya, the Sacred City of Anuradhapura, Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications, Sacred City of Kandy and Golden Temple of Dambulla. Ancient ruins are devastated by the tooth of time but still restored to some extent, while sacred sites mesmerize with their lavish architecture – both inside and outside.
Sri Lanka is a country that, thanks to its tourism, attracts plenty of people and demands at least 10 days in order to experience it to some extent. You’ll, however, never fully grasp what this tropical island country manages to offer unless you decide to move there. Apart from offering a number of landmarks and activities, Sri Lanka is quite affordable to both western and emerging eastern tourists. You’ll just have to trust us and start the life-changing expedition as soon as possible.