There are some incredible Instagram spots in Sri Lanka, and on my trip to Sri Lanka back in February, we managed to see so many beautiful places.
- Hiking Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya
- Elephant safari in Sri Lanka at Minneriya National Park
- Visit Nine Arch Bridge in Ella
- Taking a train ride from Kandy to Ella
- Hiking Riverston Matale
- A visit to Galle Fort Lighthouse
- Trekking through a Tea Plantation in Nuwara Eliya
- Exploring Colombo
- Climbing Sigiriya Rock
- Sunset at the Famous Rope swing in Dalawella
For even more travel tips, check out my 15 Epic Things to do in Sri Lanka!
1. Hiking Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya Sri Lanka
One of my favourite things we did in Sri Lanka was climbing Pidurangala Rock in Sigiriya. While Sigiriya Rock is the most famous, and also offers tourists an experience that is rich in history and access to the lion’s paw and the mirror wall, Pidurangala Rock for us, offered far more.
Hiking Pidurangala Rock was a more local experience, as we climbed early morning to get there for sunrise and we also visited the temple on the way up.
2. Elephants in Sri Lanka at Minneriya National Park
A bucket list experience is going on an elephant safari in Sri Lanka – I did this and it was the best decision we made, despite the long drive into the middle of the country. It is an unmissable experience to go on safari while in Sri Lanka and although there are lots of national parks to choose from, including the famous Yala National Park, I would suggest heading to Minneriya National Park if you are after herds of elephants in the wild.
We jumped on a jeep at our stop off and our driver took us into the national park where we drove around for around four hours in total, stopping as and when we wanted and when the driver guide saw an elephant or got a tip-off from another guide.
3. Visit Nine Arch Bridge in Ella
The Nine Arch Bridge in Ella another bucket list experience anyone visiting Sri Lanka must visit. Spanning 91 meters at a height of 24m the bridge is one of the most iconic shots of Sri Lanka and only a short scroll on Instagram will show you millions of shots of this iconic bridge.
It’s actual name is ‘Ahas Namaye Palam’ meaning nine skies bridge in Sinhalese and was built at Gotuwala between the Ella and Democrat stations during the British Colonial period and commissioned in 1941. The bridge was then set to be built, but then World War 1 broke out and therefore only rock, bricks and cement were available for use and the builders could not use the original material of steel they wanted to build it with.
4. Beautiful Train Ride: Kandy to Ella Train
Following on from the train topic, another amazing experience to do in Sri Lanka is to take the Kandy to Ella train journey. Said to be one of the most epic train journeys in the world, it’s certainly an experience worth adding to your Sri Lanka itinerary.
The train journey from Kandy to Ella can take around six hours, depending on the season, but you can also break up the trip with a stop off in nearby Nuwara Eliya – Nanu-Oya is the station you get out at – a colonial hill station 2,000 metres above sea level. In Nuwara Eliya, you can find more history on British colonialism and a much colder climate. It is also where a lot of the islands tea plantations are located due to its height above sea level and temperature.
5. Hiking Riverston Matale and ‘The Knuckles’
Something we hadn’t originally added to our list of things to do in Sri Lanka was hiking in Riverston but I am so glad we did. What an incredible region of the country and so far it’s barely touched by tourists. It ended up being an unexpected highlight of our journey in Sri Lanka and I would highly recommend getting a tour guide and heading out to explore this area.
Riverston is a region in the middle of the country, and quite a distance from most towns and cities. It is in the middle of nowhere so be prepared for a long drive early morning before arriving in the Matale, Knuckles and Riverston area.
6. A visit to Galle Fort Lighthouse
Another Instagram spot in Sri Lanka is the iconic Galle Fort Lighthouse. The Galle Lighthouse is an onshore Lighthouse in Galle, Sri Lanka and is operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. This is Sri Lanka’s oldest light station and has become synonymous with a ray of hope for Sri Lanka after the fort saved thousands during the tsunami in 2004.
The lighthouse is strategically located at the southern end of the promontory, built approximately 6 metres (20 ft) above the road level on the ramparts, at what is known as the Point Utrecht Bastion, giving it full view of any ships entering Galle Harbour.
7. Trek through a Tea Plantation in Nuwara Eliya
Tea is a staple in every home in England so I couldn’t not stop at Nuwara Eliya during our Sri Lanka itinerary.
Whilst most people take the train from Kandy to Ella, we actually jumped off the train at the hilltop town of Nuwara Eliya for a night, before heading on towards Ella and then Galle. It was definitely a great decision and I really loved exploring this different region of Sri Lanka.
If you love tea, you will know Ceylon tea, and Nuwara Eliya is where it’s produced. Because of the climate and soil, it is the perfect place to grow tea, meaning that there are multiple tea plantations and boutiques in Nuwara Eliya. It reminded me of a mix between the Swiss Alps and Scotland, offering a colder climate but stunning fields as far as the eye could see.
8. Explore Colombo
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has a long history as a port on ancient east-west trade routes, ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. That heritage is reflected in its its architecture, mixing colonial buildings with high-rises and shopping malls. And there are some really interesting buildings dotted around the city.
The imposing Colombo National Museum, dedicated to Sri Lankan history, borders sprawling Viharamahadevi Park and its giant Buddha, and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon in Colombo.
No trip is complete without a day in Colombo so I would suggest spending a day here, either at the start of end of your trip in Sri Lanka, before heading back to the airport. We spend a day here at the beginning of our trip, but it was enough time, and we were then ready to start our adventure in Sri Lanka.
8. Climb Sigiriya Rock
Also known as Lion Rock, Sigiriya Rock is one of the most popular tourist landmarks to visit on any tourists top things to do in Sri Lanka. The rock, which is a natural phenomenon is a massive 250 m square rock and is also now a recognised as one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage sights.
Although a natural happening, it is also an astonishing feat of architecture, where there is now a fortress at the top. This rock has seen many wars and invasions over the years, so the site now has a very important historical relevance in Sri Lanka’s history. It is thousands of years old and was the site of the Royal Palace of one Sri Lanka’s ancient Kings.
We also hiked nearby Pidurangala Rock which also offers the best viewing spot of Sigiriya Rock. We visited at sunrise and we experienced the most magical views I have ever seen as the sun rose in the background. Pidurangala Rock is slightly smaller, so offers a great viewing platform of the entire area. You can see 360-degree views and see for miles and miles.
READ MORE: Visiting Sigiriya Sri Lanka
10. Sunset at the Rope swing in Dalawella
Instagram has made many places famous around the world, but one which became an overnight sensation for one small hotel in Sri Lanka is the Famous Rope swing in Dalawella. And now it’s at the top of many tourists things to do in Sri Lanka bucket list.
The palm tree rope swing at Dalawella Beach is stunning, and even more beautiful at sunset. We didn’t get chance to visit here during our trip as we ran out of time when we were exploring Galle, but if we had another day here we would have headed here for sunset with some beers and the iconic Instagram shot.
The location of the swing is on Dalawella Beach, on the south of the island of Sri Lanka in the popular town of Unawatuna, just outside Galle. Once you arrive at Dalawella Beach the exact location is actually in front of a guesthouse called Dream Cabana, who built the swing as something fun for guests to enjoy, but is now one of the most talked-about and most popular things to do in Sri Lanka.
Tours of Sri Lanka
BOOK | Sri Lanka Encompassed
Explore tea plantations and rock fortresses on this 14-day tour, which is designed to please. This tour is about more than just beaches and stunning views; it’s about the inspiring people you’ll meet along the way. You will visit major cultural sights within Sri Lanka, including the most scenic train ride in the world from Kandy to Ella. All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price. Includes expert guides, meals and transport.
Fancy a trip to the Maldives following your adventure in Sri Lanka? This is the tour for you! This 14-day combo trip brings together the best of Sri Lanka’s cultural highlights and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sail the islands of the Maldives aboard a dhoni boat. Experience a safari in Udawalawe National Park, discover cultural treasures of Negombo and Kandy, and then spend an entire week cruising from one tiny and perfect atoll island to another, snorkelling in crystal-clear waters and stretching out on blazing white-sand beaches. From culture to paradise, this tour’s got it all.
Looking for more Sri Lanka travel tips? CLICK HERE!
My Travel Tips and Recommendations
To book flights, I always use flight search engine, Skyscanner, I regularly use the Everywhere tool to find the cheapest places to travel. It’s how I get to travel so much all around the world. I find it the easiest way to compare flight prices across airlines and get the best deals.
For accommodation, I usually book most of my hotels or hostels through Booking.com. I love using this platform as it provides me with some amazing deals for accommodation all around the world. Or if you prefer, I also recommend using Airbnb. If you haven’t signed up with Airbnb already, you can use this link to get £25 off your first visit!
Photography and Technology
Here is a list of the technology I always travel with:
- Canon G7X Mark II
- GoPro Hero Black 7
- DJI Mavic Pro
- RØDE VideoMic GO On Microphone
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