As I mentioned yesterday, my coworker left for a vacation in Sri Lanka earlier this week. Before she left, she asked me what to do on the island and what some of my highlights were during my time there. Never one to shy away from travel advice, I laid out my whole itinerary for her. Originally featured on the Greenheart Travel blog, here are my tips for a trip to Sri Lanka!
Most people couldn’t even find the tiny island nation on a map. I know I couldn’t before I went there in the fall of 2014. I had no idea what to expect in Sri Lanka, and I had done hardly any research prior to arriving. But after a week-long stay in Sri Lanka, I can proudly say that you should definitely visit!
This tiny island nation is packed full with great site-seeing opportunities and fun activities for a traveler. There is a little something for everyone! Wondering what to do during your free time? Check out some ideas below for every kind of traveler out there!
I’m a history nerd and I like to see the historic sights.
Sri Lanka has a much longer history that I ever knew, dating back nearly 3,000 years! The small island is home to 8 World Heritage sites. One of my favorites that I visited was the ruined city of Sigiriya. Dating back 1500 years ago, Sigiriya are considered one of the most important urban planning sites from the first millennium AD. It features gardens, ruins and a moat in front of the famous rock facade as well as excellently preserved fresco paintings from 1500 years ago.
I’m a spiritual traveler and enjoy religious experiences.
With a population of over 20 million people, Sri Lanka has a diverse religious make up including Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Throughout the island, you can easily see giant Buddha statues or ongoing religious festivals. One of the most popular sites to visit is the Dambulla Rock Cave complex in Central Sri Lanka. Over 2000 years old, the caves hold some beautifully preserved Buddhist relics and is a regular site for pilgrimages. Another important spot for Buddhists is the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy!
Sights? What sights? I want the beach.
As an island nation, Sri Lanka has a stunning beach lined coast that wraps around the length of the island. The most popular beaches line the south and western portion of the island. In the famous town of Galle, you can even see stilt fisherman using traditional fishing techniques. For the more romantic experience, the eastern coastline promises more pristine and private beaches that are a little bit further from the action.
I am an adventure junkie and love the outdoors.
It might surprise some travelers to learn that Sri Lanka has mountains, waterfalls, zip lining and jungle safaris to offer the adventurous at heart. Central Sri Lanka is the main jump off point for these activities, and trekking Adam’s Peak is always a highlight. Elephant and jungle safaris are probably the most popular adventure attractions, but I also visited a tea plantation while I was there too. Some people even rent a bike and circumnavigate the whole island!
I like to experience the people and culture while giving back to the community.
With the newly launched Greenheart Travel volunteer program, you can get up close and personal with the Sri Lankan people and biodiversity. Located in Central Sri Lanka, volunteers work directly with researchers to track elephants and other animals in the jungle in the hopes of preserving the dwindling pool of biodiversity. Simultaneously, they communicate with local communities to educate people about conservation and sustainability. You’ll get to know both sides of the story and work together to end elephant-human conflict.
Regardless of what you are interested in, Sri Lanka has a little bit of everything to offer! There is a myriad of options to choose from, and rather than asking yourself “What am I going to do here?”, you’ll be asking “Do I have enough time to do it all?” Alone or in a group, Sri Lanka is a safe destination for all ages and you will be greeted by friendly and hassle-free people looking to show you their unique homeland.