Sri Lanka - officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean southwest of the Bay of Bengal and southeast of the Arabian Sea. Sri Lanka has been called “the pearl of the Indian ocean” because of its shape and location. The heady mix of British colonial heritage, beautiful landscapes and incredibly friendly locals make it a beguiling destination. But the tropical isle has only cropped up on travellers’ radars in recent years, following the end of the country’s 26-year-long civil war in 2009.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to the Sri Lankan consulate website: www.eta.gov.lk
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options.Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things to see & do:
Colombo - is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka by population. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a tourist destination.
Kandy - is a large city in central Sri Lanka. It's set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforest. The city's heart is scenic Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake), which is popular for strolling. Kandy is famed for sacred Buddhist sites, including the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) shrine, celebrated with the grand Esala Perahera annual procession.
Nuwara Eliya - is a city in the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka. The naturally landscaped Hakgala Botanical Gardens displays roses and tree ferns, and shelters monkeys and blue magpies. Nearby Seetha Amman Temple, a colorful Hindu shrine, is decorated with religious figures. Densely forested Galway's Land National Park is a sanctuary for endemic and migratory bird species, including bulbuls and flycatchers.
Dambulla - is a town situated in the north of Matale District, Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is the second largest population centre in district. It is situated 148 km north-east of Colombo, 43 km north of Matale and 72 km north of Kandy.
Sigiriya or Sinhagiri is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres high.
Habarana - is a small city in the Anuradhapura District of Sri Lanka. The location has some mid-range and up hotels aimed at package tourists, and is a departure point for other nearby locations of greater interest.
Jaffna - is a city on the northern tip of Sri Lanka. Nallur Kandaswamy is a huge Hindu temple with golden arches and an ornate gopuram tower. By the coast, star-shaped Jaffna Fort was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century and later occupied by the Dutch and British. Jaffna Public Library is a symbol of the city’s post-war regeneration. Jaffna Archaeological Museum has Dutch cannons and pre-colonial artifacts.
Galle - is a city on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. It’s known for Galle Fort, the fortified old city founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. Stone sea walls, expanded by the Dutch, encircle car-free streets with architecture reflecting Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. Notable buildings include the 18th-century Dutch Reformed Church. Galle Lighthouse stands on the fort’s southeast tip.
Tangalle - is a large town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. It is one of the largest towns in southern province. It is located 195 km south of Colombo and 35 km east of Matara. It has a mild climate, in comparison to the rest of the district, and sandy beaches.
Beruwala - is a town in Kalutara District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. Beruwala with a total area of approximately 15 square kilometres and is located on the south-west coast of Sri Lanka, 60 km south of Colombo.
Hikkaduwa - is a seaside resort town in southwestern Sri Lanka. It’s known for its strong surf and beaches, including palm-dotted Hikkaduwa Beach, lined with restaurants and bars. The shallow waters opposite Hikkaduwa Beach shelter the Hikkaduwa National Park, which is a coral sanctuary and home to marine turtles and exotic fish. Inland, Gangarama Maha Vihara is a Buddhist temple decorated with hand-painted murals.
Weligama - is a town on the south coast of Sri Lanka, located in Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. The name Weligama, literally means "sandy village" which refers to the area's sandy sweep bay.
Bentota - is a resort town on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Its long Bentota Beach stretches north, where it becomes a sandy strip known as Paradise Island, parallel to Bentota Lagoon. Coral-rich dive sites include Canoe Rock. On Bentota River, centuries-old Galapota Temple has a large Buddha statue. Southeast is Lunuganga, the estate and gardens of architect Geoffrey Bawa. Northeast is his brother Bevis's Brief Garden.
Hambantota -is the main town in Hambantota District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka. This underdeveloped area was hit hard by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and is undergoing a number of major development projects including the construction of a new sea port and international airport finished in 2013.
Anuradhapura - is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of North Central Province, Sri Lanka and the capital of Anuradhapura District. Anuradhapura is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sinhala civilization.
Trincomalee - is a port city on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka. Set on a peninsula, Fort Frederick was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Within its grounds, the grand Koneswaram Temple stands on Swami Rock cliff, a popular vantage point for blue-whale watching. The holy complex contains ornate shrines and a massive statue of Shiva. Nearby Gokanna Temple has panoramic views over the city and the coastline.
Negombo - is a city on the west coast of Sri Lanka, north of the capital, Colombo. Near the waterfront, the remains of the 17th-century Dutch Fort now house a prison. Negombo Lagoon, lined with fishermen’s huts, feeds into the Dutch-era Hamilton Canal. The canal leads south to Colombo. Neoclassical St. Mary’s Church, completed in the 1920s, features a ceiling decorated with vivid religious paintings.
Gampola - is a town located in Kandy District, Central Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. Gampola was made the capital of the island by King Buwanekabahu IV, who ruled for four years in the mid-fourteenth century. The last king of Gampola was King Buwanekabahu V, who ruled the island for 29 years.
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte- commonly known as Kotte, is the official administrative capital of Sri Lanka. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is a satellite city and located within the urban area of Sri Lanka's de facto economic, executive, and judicial capital, Colombo.
Batticaloa - is a major city in the Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, and its former capital. It is the administrative capital of the Batticaloa District. The city is the seat of the Eastern University of Sri Lanka and is a major commercial city.
Ratnapura - is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of Sabaragamuwa Province, as well as the Ratnapura District, and is a traditional centre for the Sri Lankan gem trade. It is located on the Kalu Ganga in south-central Sri Lanka, some 101 km southeast of the country's capital, Colombo.
Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia- the largest suburb of the City of Colombo, and covers an extent of 2109 hectares. It lies south of the Colombo Municipal Council area and separated from it by the Dehiwala canal which forms the northern boundary of DMMC.
Matale often written as Mathalai - is a large regional city located at the heart of the Central Hills of the island lies in a broad, fertile valley at an elevation of 364 m above sea level. It is the administrative capital and largest city of Matale District, Central Province, Sri Lanka.
Poḷonnaruwa - is the main town of Polonnaruwa District in North Central Province, Sri Lanka. Kaduruwela area is the Polonnaruwa New Town and the other part of Polonnaruwa remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa.
Matara - is a major city in Sri Lanka, on the southern coast of Southern Province. It is the second largest city in Southern Province. It is 160 km from Colombo. It is a major commercial hub, and it is the administrative capital and largest city of Matara District.
Kalmunai - is the largest city of Ampara District. It is also the largest city of Eastern Province, Sri Lanka. It had a total population of 106,780 as of 2011. It is one of the few Muslim-majority municipalities in the country.
Kurunegala - is a major city in Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of the North Western Province and the Kurunegala District. Kurunegala was an ancient royal capital for 50 years, from the end of the 13th century to the start of the 14th century.
Badulla - is the main city of Uva Province situated in the lower central hills of Sri Lanka. It is the capital city of Uva Province and the Badulla District.
Vavuniya - is a city in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. It is also the main settlement in the Vavuniya District. The Security Forces Headquarters - Wanni is located in Vavuniya.
Haputale - is a town of Badulla District in the Uva Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. The elevation is 1431 m above the sea level. The area has a rich bio-diversity dense with numerous varieties of flora and fauna. Haputale is surrounded by hills covered with cloud forests and tea plantations.
Gampaha District - is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second level administrative division of the country. It is the second most populous district of Sri Lanka after Colombo District.
Mannar - is the main town of Mannar District, Northern Province, Sri Lanka. It is governed by an Urban Council. The town is located on Mannar Island overlooking the Gulf of Mannar and is home to the historic Ketheeswaram temple.
Panadura - is a city in Kalutara District, Western Province in Sri Lanka. It is located approximately 27 km south of the capital Colombo and is surrounded on all sides by water; the Indian Ocean, the Bolgoda Lake and river.
Maharagama - is a town in Colombo District, Sri Lanka on the High-Level Road about 10 km from the centre of the commercial capital. It developed rapidly in the 1980s as a dormitory suburb.
Katunayake - is a suburb of Negombo city in Western Province, Sri Lanka. It is the site of Bandaranaike International Airport or Colombo Airport, the primary international air gateway to Sri Lanka.
Kegalle - is a large town in Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. It is located on the Colombo–Kandy road, approximately 78 km from Colombo and 40 km from Kandy. It is the main town in the Kegalle District, which is one of two districts which comprise Sabaragamuwa Province. The town is governed by an Urban Counci
Kolonnawa - is a town in Colombo District, Western Province of Sri Lanka.
Kalutara or Kalutota - is a major city in Kalutara District, Western Province, Sri Lanka. It is also the administrative capital of Kalutara District.
Ambalangoda is a coastal town located in Galle District, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. Governed by Ambalangoda Urban Council, the town is famous for its ancient demon masks and devil dancers. Situated approximately 107 kilometres south of Colombo, it sits on an elevation of 13 metres above the sea level.
Kaduwela - is a suburb of Colombo in the Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka. It is located about 16 km from Colombo city centre on the Colombo - Avissawella Old Road and about 18 km from Kollupitiya on the New Kandy Road.
Chilaw - is a large town in Puttalam District, North Western Province, Sri Lanka. It is governed by an urban council. The town is located, 80 km away from the capital Colombo via Negombo.
Balangoda - is a large town in Ratnapura District, Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an urban council located 143 kilometres away from Colombo and 43 kilometres from Ratnapura on Colombo - Batticaloa Highway. It is one of the largest towns of the Sabaragamuwa Province.
Ja-Ela - is a suburb of Colombo, located approximately 20 km north of the Colombo city centre. Ja-Ela lies on the A3 road which overlaps with the Colombo – Katunayake Expressway at the Ja-Ela Interchange.
Kesbewa - is a town in Sri Lanka, situated approximately 20 km south of Colombo. It is one of the relatively more populated suburbs located in the Colombo District of the Western Province and it is surrounded by the suburbs of Moratuwa, Maharagama, Pannipitiya, Bandaragama and Kahathuduwa.
Batticaloa District - is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second level administrative division of the country. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The capital of the district is the city of Batticaloa.
Point Pedro - is a town, located in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka, at the northernmost point of the island. Cotton is produced around Point Pedro in the fertile calcic red latosol soils. The eastern coast of Point Pedro forms a 3 mile wide, 20 mile long beach with sand dunes up to 100 feet high, extending to Thalayady.
Puttalam - is the largest town in Puttalam District, North Western Province, Sri Lanka. Puttalam is the administrative capital of the Puttalam District and governed by an Urban Council. Situated 130 kilometres north of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka and 95 kilometres north of Negombo.
Wattala - is a large suburb of Colombo city, in Western Province, Sri Lanka, situated around 9km from Colombo city centre. This suburb is situated on A3 highway from Colombo to Negombo. Around Wattala, there are many villages and towns. People from all walks of life live in this area.
Horana is a town in Kalutara District, in the Western Province of Sri Lanka. It is on the road between Panadura and Ratnapura, 42 km away from Colombo and 18 km away from Panadura. The town is administered by an Urban Council. Horana is the home town of former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.
Bandarawela - is the second largest town in the Badulla District which is 28 km away from Badulla. Bandarawela is 200 km away from Colombo and about 125 km away from Kandy, the two capital cities of Sri Lanka.
Mirissa - is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka, located in the Matara District of the Southern Province. It is approximately 150 kilometres south of Colombo and is situated at an elevation of 4 metres above sea level. Mirissa's beach and nightlife make it a popular tourist destination. Mirissa is the ultimate Sri Lankan beach getaway. The beautiful long beach is flanked by tall overhanging palm trees and lined with modern restaurants and hotels. The restaurants have western style food at Sri Lankan prices. Just off the beach is Parrot Rock. It has a small staircase leading to the top that offers great views of the ocean and coastline. Day trips from Mirissa include whale watching, snorkeling and surfing. Weligama, just a few kilometers from Mirissa, is one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka to learn surfing. Come happy hour and into the evening, many the restaurants turn their venues into beach clubs and pump out drinks and tunes.
Hatton - is a major town in the Nuwara Eliya District of Central Province, Sri Lanka governed by the Hatton-Dickoya Urban Council. Hatton is a major centre of the Sri Lankan tea industry.
Minuwangoda - is a town in Gampaha district, governed by an Urban Council, situated near Negombo, Western Province of Sri Lanka. It is located 15 kilometres east of Negombo and 35 kilometres north east of Colombo.
Ampara District - is one of the 25 districts of Sri Lanka, the second-level administrative divisions of the country. The district is administered by a District Secretariat headed by a District Secretary appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The capital of the district is the town of Ampara.
Exotic Beaches- An island Sri Lanka is surrounded by sea and a perfect destination for a beach holiday. When the seas are rough on one side of the island there is calm waters on the other side. So it is a year round beach destination. Places to visit Hikkaduwa. Unawatuna, Bentota, Negombo, Nilaveli, Arugam bay, Pasikuda
Nature-Sri Lanka, is a small island in the Indian ocean of 65,000 square kilometers. Despite being also a small island has a wide range of geographic features and is rich in natural beauty. Large area of the country is covered in tropical forests, with hundreds of rivers flowing through them, often cascading in awesome waterfalls. Thousands of living creatures lives in this island and also there are the vivid bird sanctuaries which are belongs to both endemic and visiting birds. Places of interest: Singharaja Rain Forest, Horton Plains, Knuckles Mountain Range, Dunhinda Waterfalls, Adam’s peak.
Culture and Heritage- With a recorded history of more than 2500 years Sri Lanka has a rich heritage. There are 8 world heritage sites within the country which include; The hill capital Kandy, The sacred city of Anuradapura, The Dutch fort of Galle, The ancient city of Polonnaruwa, The rock fortress of Sigiriya, The golden rock temple of Dambulla, The beautiful Horton plains and The Singharaja rain forest. Apart from these famous sites there are hundreds of heritage sites in the island which are frequented by tourists. Places of interest: Anuradapura, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Galle, Dambulla.
Wildlife - For a small island the biodiversity of the country is most impressive. Sri Lanka ( Wildlife ) is home for a wide variety of mammals, birds, fish, butterflies and snakes. The big five Sri Lankan wildlife are the elephant, the leopard, the sloth bear, the blue whale and the sperm whale. Places of interest: Yala National Park, Udawalawe National Park, Bundala National Park, Minneriya National Park, Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.
Yala National Park-is the most visited and second largest national park in Sri Lanka. The park covers 979 square kilometres (378 sq mi) and is located about 300 kilometres (190 mi) from Colombo. This is where you can do a safari experience Sri Lankan style. The huge national park borders the Indian Ocean and has a wide range of different ecosystems. From the marine environment of the coastline to grasslands to tropical rainforests inland. The most popular animals to see here are elephants, leopards, and crocodiles. There are also over 200 bird species that make their home in the park area, including several endemic to Sri Lanka. Aside from the fauna and flora, the park is home to two historic and very popular religious pilgrimage sites. The temples of Situlpahuwa and Magul Vihara draw four times as many visitors to the park as the animals do. Yala National Park is on the southeast coast of the island near the city of Hambantota.
Udawalawe National Park-lies on the boundary of Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces, in Sri Lanka. The national park was created to provide a sanctuary for wild animals displaced by the construction of the Udawalawe Reservoir on the Walawe River, as well as to protect the catchment of the reservoir
Bundala National Park-is an internationally important wintering ground for migratory water birds in Sri Lanka. Bundala harbors 197 species of birds, the highlight being the greater flamingo, which migrate in large flocks.
Minneriya National Park-is a national park in North Central Province of Sri Lanka. The park is a dry season feeding ground for the elephant population dwelling in forests of Matale, Polonnatuwa and Trincomalee districts.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage -is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephantslocated at Pinnawala village, 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of Kegalle town in Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka.
Nine Arch Bridge- One of Sri Lanka’s most iconic sights is the Nine Arch Bridge in the small mountain town of Ella. This viewpoint offers spectacular panoramas of the surrounding area, which is made up of verdant greenery and tea fields. Visitors can watch trains roll over the bridge as they make their way along the Demodara Loop. Constructed in the early days of the railway expansion in Sri Lanka, the bridge is particularly impressive because it is made of cement, stone and brick, without the use of any steel.
Mihintale - is a mountain near the town of Anuradhapura. Its summit has much spiritual significance to the Buddhist community. It’s believed that on this mountain top a Buddhist monk named Mahinda met King Devanampiyatissa and together this meeting introduced Buddhism to the country.
Unawatuna- This white sand beach in the small seaside town of Unawatuna is a great place to relax. There are a number of snorkeling and diving operators in town who take advantage of the abundance of coral reefs just off the beach. Colorful fish and plentiful turtles are the norm in these waters. There are a number of great dining options along the beach, which welcome visitors to use their sun loungers and relax the day away with a drink in hand.
Gal Viharaya in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. Gal Viharaya is a famous Buddhist site and is celebrated for its many caves and large sculptures of Buddha which are carved into the rock faces. They are extremely well preserved, even though they were crafted in the 12th century. To the side of one of the statues, a code of conduct is inscribed. The code, when followed, was meant to purify the Buddhist monks and bring them together under one order. It was created by a very famous king: King Parakramabahu the first. Today, Gal Viharaya is one of Sri Lanka’s most popular sites of pilgrimage.
Kataragama Festival - takes place every year in July or August and is dedicated to one of the Hindu gods. It takes place over a two-week period and people from all over the world come to join in. The festival is jam-packed with parades of elephants and colorfully dressed performers. There are countless traditional dances that take place; with musicians, acrobats, and fire-breathers feeding into the festival’s contagious energy.
Ravana Falls -are used for bathing in the hot summer months. In the rainy season, the water flow is exceptionally strong and is an impressive sight. The falls are part of the Ravana Ella Wildlife Sanctuary, and the nearby cave complex is rich in local legend. Conveniently located on the main road on the way to Ella town, the caves are a common stop off point for visitors during their journey. Many cheeky monkeys live in the surrounding trees and they are often seen on the roadside dining on fruit.
Dambulla Cave Temple - is a sacred Buddhist site. There is no entry fee to get into the temple on full-moon days; however, these days are especially busy because of the religious significance of this lunar phase. Devotees from all over the world make pilgrimage to this place. There are over 80 caves documented in the area, but the most famous five are outfitted with impressive statues and paintings. Some of the caves date back to 1000 BC, when prehistoric Sri Lankans would have lived within them, so it is unsurprising that they would have created temples inside at that time.
Golden Temple of Dambulla - Throughout Sri Lanka there are natural caves that have been enlarged and excavated to be turned into cave temples. Like other temples, they honor Buddha and other deities (and a few kings) with large statues and relics. The Dambulla cave temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's the largest complex in the country and the best preserved. Of particular interest are the beautiful, now-preserved and conserved colorful wall murals that decorate the cave walls. Aside from the cave temples, there is a large, golden Buddha statue at the base of the mountain, giving the site its other name, the Golden Temple of Dambulla. Dambulla is about two hours outside Colombo.
Arugam Bay - is revered by surfers. This small town on the east coast of Sri Lanka embodies the quintessential laid-back surf lifestyle. The Main Point surf break is within walking distance from the town center, but is only recommended for advanced or intermediate surfers. Otherwise, Whiskey Point or Peanut Farm are two great surf beaches for beginner and intermediate surfers; a short tuk-tuk ride will take you there. Often elephants and peacocks can be spotted beside the road, just outside of town.
The Temple of the Tooth - is a highly sacred place. The temple contains one of Buddha’s teeth. Legend has it that the tooth was taken from the Buddha on his deathbed, then smuggled to Sri Lanka from India. It was smuggled in the hair of a princess, after her father’s kingdom had been besieged. It immediately became an object of great importance and has been celebrated and paraded throughout history. However, many attempts have also been made to steal or destroy the tooth. Twice daily, pujas are held to celebrate the relic and offer visitors and devotees the chance to get a glimpse of the tooth within its casing.
Adam’s Peak - is a footprint cast in stone. It has spiritual significance to a number of different religions, however, there is currently a Buddhist monastery at the summit. To the Buddhists, the footprint is that of Buddha’s; to Christians, the footprint is Adam’s; and to Hindus, the footprint is attributed to Shiva. The site is a popular place of pilgrimage, especially on full moon nights. The trek to the top of the mountain to see the footprint is via a steep staircase containing over 5000 steps. The trail is lined with many tea stalls and food shops which act as places of rest.
Galle Fort - This 16th-century Dutch fortress complex has been turned into a large tourist attraction. Originally built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, most of the structures date to the Dutch colonial period in the 17th century. More than a fort, it's a small fortified village, with homes, churches, a mosque, and lots of shops all within the fortress walls. Cobblestoned alleyways and streets within Galle Fort. Today the area is full of modern restaurants, hotels, clothing, and souvenir shops. Meanwhile, snake charmers and buskers line the seawall. A basic fort was constructed by the Portuguese when they made their first landing to the island in 1505. When the Dutch eventually seized control of Galle, they made a number of improvements; including the enormous sea wall that still lines the fort. Galle Fort is an excellent example of what the synthesis between European and Asian architecture looks like.
Sigiriya Rock Fort - is utterly impressive. The rock walls rise up 200 meters from the ground, only to give way to a flat plateau at their summit. There are steep stairwells to reach the top and many frescos to marvel at on the way up. At the top, you can find the remains of an ancient civilization, including relics of a palace and monastery. It would have taken true engineering ingenuity to build a structure at this height so many centuries ago. Around the rock fort are many important caves and gardens; impressively, they are some of the first landscaped gardens in the world.
Lotus Tower - One of the best tourist attractions in Sri Lanka is also one of the country's newest. The Colombo Lotus Tower opened in the fall of 2019 as South Asia's tallest, free-standing structure. The lotus bulb-inspired tower, which overlooks the entire city and the Indian Ocean, is 1,168 feet (368 meters) tall and offers the city's best views and photo ops. There's a shopping mall in the base of the tower, then you can take super fast elevators up to both indoor and outdoor observation areas. There's also a revolving restaurant at the top, which is a very popular spot for romantic dinners. The exterior of the tower is covered with LED lighting, and they do light shows each evening and on special holidays.
Sri Lanka National Museum - This large museum is also called the National Museum of Colombo, and it tells the fascinating story of the Sri Lankan people and their culture. The museum collection includes various kinds of things, from artifacts to artwork along with jewelry, coins, money, arms, and crafts. The museum has multiple levels and showcases both cultural and natural exhibits. Everything is shown chronologically, starting with the island's prehistoric history. The museum in central Colombo, near Viharamahadevi Park. It's housed in a Victorian colonial building that was purpose-built for the museum and opened in 1877.
Gangaramaya Temple - Located in Central Colombo near Bere Lake, this 19th-century Buddhist temple complex interestingly includes a vintage car museum. There's a cool Mercedes and a very rare Rolls-Royce Ghost from the 1920s. The temple is also a religious museum with examples of religious coins, jewelry, and sculpture. The temple was created around a sacred tree to house a sacred relic, a lock of the Buddha's hair. Each year during the Poya or full moon ceremony in February, there's a festival and procession around the area led by the temple's resident elephant.
Red Mosque - Red and white brick Red Mosque (called "Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid") will yield some insight into the local practice of Islam. Inside the mosque showcases typical religious artwork and design, but it's the outside that really makes it extra special. The exterior red and white bricks are arranged in sometimes eye-fooling designs of spirals, swirls, and alternating patterns. The impact has also made the mosque a visual landmark, easy to spot from arriving ships. The minarets of the mosque are topped with onion-shaped domes, reminiscent of Red Square. The style is called "Indo-Saracenic," and it was a popular architectural style in Asia in the early 19th century when this mosque was built.
National Museum of Kandy - is a city in the central part of Sri Lanka and is important, as it was the kingdom's last capital city before the colonial era. The beautiful city and its unique history can be explored at the National Museum of Kandy. The main part of the museum is housed in what was the home of the king's harem; additional exhibits are inside the former palace. The museum is filled with artifacts that tell the story of the Kandian era, the time between the 15th and 18th centuries, when the area maintained its independence despite colonization of other parts of the island.