10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka – Complete Guide 2024

Ella White Forest

People call it the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” because of its natural charm. This country has it all—from beautiful beaches in the south to scenic highlands with tea plantations and waterfalls, and plenty of adventure activities to offer, such as hiking, surfing, and snorkeling. Find out in this travel guide the 10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is not only the perfect destination for nature lovers but also one of the most budget-friendly countries in the world.

Cinematic Video

5 BEST Tours in Sri Lanka

Check out our handpicked tours in Sri Lanka and tick off some must-see attractions.

  • Ella Sightseeing: Join the All-Inclusive Day Trip and experience Ella Rock, Nine Arch Bridge, Ravana Falls & Little Adam’s Peak in just one day!

6 BEST Hotels in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has many amazing places to visit, each with its best places to stay. Here are some handpicked recommendations.

10 Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

1. Sigiriya Rock & Pidurangala Rock

Sigiriya Rock Sunset

Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, is considered the 8th world wonder and is often the number 1 highlight when visiting Sri Lanka. While Sigiriya Rock is the more famous attraction, many find Pidurangala Rock to be the better experience – less crowded, budget-friendlier, and with a more natural vibe.

Pidurangala Rock offers a 360-degree panorama and the best view of the 200-meter-high Sigiriya Rock island surrounded by jungle, especially during sunrise or sunset.

Best Tour

Sunrise Pidurangala Hike with Pickup from Sigiriya

Best Hotel

Breathtaking view of Sigiriya Rock at Sigiriya Village

2. Diyaluma Waterfall

Hiking to Diyaluma Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka at 220 meters, was our favorite best thing to do in Ella. We recommend dedicating a full day for the ultimate experience.

Start by viewing the waterfall from below, park your vehicle, and embark on the hike. Afterward, take a refreshing swim in the natural pools, capture pictures of the various waterfall levels, and enjoy a picnic under the trees.

Best Tour

Explore Sri Lanka’s second-highest waterfall, on a day tour from Ella, Bandarawela & Haputale.

Best Hotel

Stay at Living Heritage Koslanda near Diyaluma Falls for a peaceful experience

3. Silent Beach in Tangalle

We made our way to Tangalle specifically to visit Silent Beach—an untouched paradise with golden sand and azure waters and it was 100% worth it. It’s the perfect destination to escape the crowds and reconnect with nature. Also, it was the perfect first stop in the south after visiting Ella. From here, many places in the south were a short bus ride away.

Best Hotel

Best Beachfront Hotel at Lankavatara Ocean Retreat

4. Nine Arch Bridge

The Nine Arch Bridge is unquestionably one of the best things to do in Ella, and even in Sri Lanka.

The combination of impressive architecture – a 91-meter-long and 30-meter-high bridge made of stones featuring nine arches – and the picturesque surroundings of green tea plantations and dense jungle makes it a breathtaking sight.

Best Tour

Join the All-Inclusive Day Trip and experience the best Ella Sightseeinging

Best Hotel

Best View of the Nine Arch Bridge at The Cabin Ella

5. Train Ride to Ella

The famous train ride from Kandy to Ella is known for its scenic beauty while slowly moving through Sri Lanka’s Highlands. This train ride is not just a mode of transportation but an adventure in itself. It’s a must-do experience in Sri Lanka to witness the most beautiful landscapes and to immerse yourself in local Sri Lankan life. A popular stop to break down the journey from Kandy to Ella is Nuwara Eliya, where you can visit Sri Lanka’s tea plantations.

For a shorter, less crowded, and baggage-free experience, take a train ride from Ella to Haputale and back on the same day. It’s only a 2-hour ride one way and is more enjoyable planned as an activity instead of your transportation mode when coming from Kandy. Traveling light with only our phones made it easier to walk around and take pictures. Plus we stopped in Haputale to visit the viewpoint.

Train Ticket

Book tickets in advance if you want to have reserved seats

6. Wildlife on Safari

Udawalawe National Park, Sri Lanka

Don’t miss this exciting adventure opportunity in Sri Lanka. On safaris in this country, you can encounter wild animals like elephants, leopards, and exotic birds and enjoy breathtaking landscapes.

From Ella, we highly recommend going on safari in Yala and Udawalawe National Parks, and from Sigiriya, in Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park. Supporting these safaris contributes to conserving Sri Lanka’s natural habitats and endangered wildlife species.

Best Tour

The most popular safari tour is the Full Day Safari in Yala National Park

7. South Coast: Tangalle to Galle

One of the best things to do in Sri Lanka is exploring the South Coast. We explored from Tangalle to Galle and had unforgettable experiences like:

  • Discovering beautiful beaches like Hiriketiya Beach, Mirissa Beach, and Unawatuna Beach.
  • Visiting Turtle Point near Dickwella to see wild sea turtles.
  • Enjoying sunset views at Coconut Tree Hill in Mirissa and at the famous rope swing in Dalawella Beach.
  • Having our first surfing experiences at Hiriketiya Beach, Weligama Beach, and Dewata Beach.
  • Discovering Galle’s colonial charm and historic fort.

Best Hotel

Best Beachfront Hotel at Lankavatara Ocean Retreat

8. Whale Encounters

best things to do in sri lanka

Mirissa, located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, is the ideal spot for whale encounters, including blue whales, sperm whales, and humpback whales. The best time is during the dry season, from December to March when the seas are calm and the whales come closer to the Sri Lankan coast. Choose between a whale-watching tour and a whale snorkeling trip, where you will see them underwater.

Best Tour

The Morning Whale & Dolphines watching tour is a must-do activity! Observe a range of animals, like blue whales & dolphins

9. Little Adam’s Peak

Want to enjoy some of the best 360-degree panoramic views in Ella, Sri Lanka? The Little Adam’s Peak Hike offers you phenomenal mountain views, tea plantation surroundings, and the perfect place for a sunrise or sunset after an easy and short trail.

Best Tour

Join the All-Inclusive Day Trip and experience the best Ella Sightseeinging

Best Hotel

Enjoy the mountain view from CHILL VILLE, VIEW POINT HOTEL

10. Surfing

Surfing in Sri Lanka is an incredible experience for improving skills, staying active, and enjoying nature. The south coast offers many beautiful beaches with waves for all levels. You can book surf camps with accommodation, take single lessons, or rent equipment easily.

We loved the surfing experience at Hiriketiya Beach, Weligama Beach, and Dewata Beach.

Best Tour

Take a Surf Lesson at the Ride a Wave Surf School in Weligama

Best Hotel

Enjoy your stay at Villa beachfront weligama

Where to Next? Maldives!

Did know that the Maldives is located only a 1-hour flight away from Sri Lanka? We highly recommend visiting both countries on the same trip, as there is no country closer to the Maldives than Sri Lanka.

Check out our free travel guides for the Maldives!

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