Best Things to do in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island country just 1400 kilometres east of the southern tip of India and only an hour flight from the Maldives. It has nature, it has history, it has spirituality and it has tea.

Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Sri Lanka on a 4 day road trip, including what to see in Sri Lanka, what to do in Sri Lanka and places to visit in Sri Lanka.

What to See in Sri Lanka on a Road Trip – Discover Tea and Nature

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Back of Beyond in Sri Lanka First, ask yourself, what is Sri Lanka famous for? I bet you said tea, right? That means that visiting tea factories has got to be top of the list of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.

You can’t visit one of the world’s biggest tea producers without seeing the processes that get the tea to your cup.

Tea factories are amongst the top Sri Lanka tourist attractions.

It is a big part of Sri Lanka’s identity, but tea is not Sri Lanka’s only attraction.

Sri Lanka is also naturally stunning and biodiverse. On a road trip, you can meander along roads through plains and forests on your way to waterfalls and mountains.

Dumballa: An Ancient City in Sri Lanka – Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka on a Road Trip

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Pidurangala Rock View Near Dambulla
About a 3 hour drive north east of Colombo, in the central province of Sri Lanka, is the ancient city of Dambulla. It is a wonderfully historic place to visit in Sri Lanka, mainly due to its two UNESCO listed sites; a temple and rock fortress.

Let’s look at the temple first.

Top Destinations in Sri Lanka: Golden Temple – Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Golden Temple of DambullaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Dambulla Cave Temple The UNESCO listed Golden Temple of Dambulla is also known as the Dambulla Cave Temple.

Inside the complex there are over 80 caves full of ancient rock paintings and buddha statues.

Only 5 of the caves are accessible once you pay the 1500LKR/US$7.50 entrance fee.

It’s also worth exloring the outside of the complex too. You’ll see statues lining up to make offerings above the caves.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Golden Temple Of Dambulla StatuesBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Arch on Path Near the Golden Temple of DambullaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - View from Path Near Golden Temple of DambullaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Native Sri Lankan King Coconut

There’s a path that leads up a slight incline to a panoramic view. And don’t forget your native Sri Lankan king coconut, ‘for better refreshment’ on the way out!

Drinking from a king coconut in it’s native habitat is definitely one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.

And now to one of the most popular places in Sri Lanka; the rock fortress!

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka – Sigiriya/Lion Rock: Top Sri Lanka Tourist Attractions

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Sigiriya Rock One of the most amazing places to see in Sri Lanka is Sigiriya or Lion Rock.

This UNESCO listed archelogical and historical landmark constantly tops the list of places to visit in Sri Lanka and it’s not hard to see why!

This famous rock fortress rises in stark contrast to the jungles surrounding it.

That means it can be seen from miles away, making it one of the top Sri Lanka tourist attractions.

Things to do at Sigiriya – Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

There’s no doubt that wandering through the ruins on Sigiriya would be an interesting experience. On the downside, it will be crowded and the US$30 fee to enter the site is almost as steep as the 1250 steps that take you to the peak.

If you’re sightseeing in Sri Lanka, the best view of Sigiriya is at Pidurangala Rock. By the time you finish reading about it, I’m sure you’ll agree that Pidurangala Rock is one of the must see places in Sri Lanka!

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka – Hiking to Pidurangala Rock to see Sigiriya

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Pidurangala Rock Hike Starting PointBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka -Pidurangala Rock Temple The charming hike to Pidurangala Rock starts at a cute little Buddhist monastery.

You can see Pidurangala Rock siting majestically just behind the monastery before you start the hike.

There is a LKR500/US$2.50 entry fee to be able to do the hike.

That money goes to the Pidurangala Temple Development and Social Welfare Fund, who help to support impoverished communities.

There are some semi steep stairs to climb, with what I like to call ‘Zen Caves’ to your right.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Pidurangala Rock Hike Zen CavesBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - A Local Resident on the Pidurangala Rock Hike What is so awesome about Pidurangala Rock, beside the view, is that there are no crowds.

In fact, you’d be lucky to meet any other people at all whilst on the trail.

That’s not to say that you won’t meet a local resident.

This guy here has been sighted by several different travellers.

If you know anyone that’s been to Sri Lanka, ask them about the dog at Pidurangala Rock!

Hiking just a little bit further along the trail will bring you to the Pidurangala Reclining Buddha.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Pidurangala Reclining Buddha

This is said to be around the half way point of the hike and it is the end of the marked trail.

Adventure in Sri Lanka – Scrambling to the Top of Pidurangala Rock

After the Buddha, you may need to scramble a bit, over and under rocks. There is one section that proves to be a little bit squeezy. It’s like the final test and once you pass it, this is what you’ll see..
Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - View from Pidurangala Rock Near Dambulla

Their pamphlet says to allow two hours for this hike, but I got up to the peak and back down to the temple in an hour. After spending 20 minutes admiring the view at the top!

Pidurangala Rock is seriously the best place in Sri Lanka to see Sigiriya. Hiking to it is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. You’ll definitely want to add this one to your Sri Lanka adventure!

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka – Nuwara Eliya: Hill Country City in Sri Lanka

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Nuwara Eliya Panorama
Heading towards the southern end of the Central Province of Sri Lanka, you’ll find the capital of tea; Nuwara Eliya. It’s also the coolest place in Sri Lanka, temperature wise.

But let’s talk about the tea.

What to Do in Sri Lanka – Drink Tea at Labookellie Tea Factory

It turns out that tea doesn’t just magically end up in teabags. There’s a whole process that goes into it’s production.

You can learn all about it at the Labookellie Tea Factory, where you can also sample the tea.
Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Labookellie Tea FactoryBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Labookellie Tea Factory MachineBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Tea at the Labookellie Tea FactoryBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Packaged Tea at the Labookellie Tea Factory

You really haven’t had tea until you’ve had it in Sri Lanka.

Top Sri Lanka Tourist Attractions: Ramboda Waterfalls – Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Ramboda Falls in Nuwara Eliya
No adventure in Sri Lanka, or anywhere for that matter, would be complete without a hike to a waterfall.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Ramboda Falls Luckily there are 17 waterfalls in Nuwara Eliya!

I chose the Ramboda Falls because they are probably one of the most fun places to visit in Sri Lanka.

For just 20LKR/US$0.10 you will be given a small, light blue, rectanglar piece of paper and allowed entry to the falls.

The hike starts with some stairs beside the water, but overall it’s not too strenuous.

The falls are multi level, consisting of lower, middle and upper falls.

They are like the falls that just keep on giving you endless photo opportunities.
Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Ramboda Mini FallsBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Trail Tunnel at Ramboda FallsBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Ramboda Middle FallsBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Ramboda Falls Rockpool

With an easy hike and awesome scenery, I think I got my 10 cents worth from this beautiful place to see in Sri lanka!

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka on a Road Trip – Shanthipura View Point in Nuwara Eliya

As Nuwara is in Hill Country, you would expect awesome views. It does not disappoint.
Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - View from Shanthipura View Point in Nuwara Eliya

The Shanthipura View Point is in Shanthipura, the highest village in Hill Country. It overlooks Nuwara Eliya and Lake Gregory.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Shanthipura View PointBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Lake Gregory From the Shanthipura View Point The top basically just looks like a small, unmarked car park with a really (not) professional looking sign.

Behind that sign will be a man who wants to take your money to allow you the priviledge of the view.

It’s only 50LKR/US$0.25 for a small, square, yellow slip of paper that is your ‘ticket’ to great views.

Maskeliya: A Beautiful Place to Visit in Sri Lanka – Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Small Waterfall in MaskeliyaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Maskeliya Scene Maskeliya lies south west of Nuwara Eliya.

It is a beautiful mountain area that is home to one of the most sacred and important places to see in Sri Lanka.

Sri Pada, also know as Adam’s Peak is not only the second tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, it is also a cultural and religious icon for millions.

Important Places to go in Sri Lanka – Sri Pada/Adam’s Peak

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Sri Pada/Adam's PeakBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Sign to Sri Pada in Maskeliya Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka is go on a pilgrimage to Sri Pada.

Sri Pada, or Holy Footprint, is Sri Lanka’s holy mountain.

It is an important focal point in indigenous Sri Lankan history, as well as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.

It’s a place for everyone.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka – Pilgrimage to Sri Pada

Three million people make the pilgrimage to the temple at the top of the mountain every year between December and May.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Gate at the Beginning of the Sri Pada Trek in MaskeliyaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Stream on the way to Sri Pada in MaskeliyaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Pagoda and Sri Pada in MaskeliyaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Stairs to Sri Pada in Maskeliya

Age is no barrier. The lore surrounding the pilgrimage across religions dictates that most followers will do it at least once in their lives.

They normally start sometime after midnight, dressed in white, to make it to the temple for sunrise.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Pagoda on the Way to Sri Pada in MaskeliyaBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Stairs to Sri Pada/Adam's PeakBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Shrine on the Way to Sri Pada/Adam's PeakBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Be Batman on the Way to Sri Pada/Adam's Peak

Although some people prefer to be Batman. If you have the choice, always be Batman!

Lights were installed all the way along the never ending stairs to the top in the 1950s. That means it’s safe to start the pilgrimage at any time of the day or night.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka, Explore Colombo, The Capital City in Sri Lanka

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Waterside in ColomboBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Traffic in Colombo You may wonder what to do in Colombo Sri Lanka. It is a crazy, busy city. As the capital city, there are obviously quite a lot of things to do in Colombo Sri Lanka.

Believe it or not, there are actually some nice quiet places to explore.

One of those is the historic Dutch Hospital area.

Dutch Hospital Area in Colombo – Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka on a Road Trip

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Dutch Hospital in ColomboBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Dutch Hospital in Colombo Sri Lanka Of all the things to do in Colombo Sri Lanka, the Dutch Hospital area is probably the most interesting.

I bet you can guess from the name that it was previously a Dutch hospital.

Now it’s been set up more like a shopping centre with an open courtyard in the middle. If you ignore the shops, it’s a lovely building to hang out in.

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka – Waterfront in Colombo

Best Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Beach Sunset in ColomboBest Things to Do in Sri Lanka - Sunset in Colombo Colombo is a waterfront city and as such, has quite an extensive coastline.

You can literally just cross a main road and walk about 100 metres to find your way to a nice beach and leave the city behind.

Really.

I sat on the beach to watch the sunset and honestly couldn’t hear a peep from the city I knew was just behind me.

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So there you have it; our list of the best things to do in Sri Lanka on a 4 day road trip. Have you visited any of these places? Which ones would you like to visit? We’d love to hear your thoughts! :o)

We’d also be grateful if you could share this article with your friends! Thank you! :o)

22 Replies to “Best Things to do in Sri Lanka”

  1. My plan is to fly to the Maldives first and go through Sri Lanka on the way back once Covid allows to do that. I have some of your destinations on my list, but I was also thinking of elephant spotting in Uda Walawe National Park or Minneriya National Park and leopard spotting in Yala National Park. What do you think?

    1. I’ve heard Yala is nice. I think if you have at least a week, it’s quite doable. I only had a short holiday and even though road distances are quite short, travel times are long due to windy roads.

  2. I would love to visit the waterfall park. Looks beautiful and worth the hike. When we get to the Pacific, hopefully I will have a chance to visit Sri Lanka.

  3. Heh! I failed! The first thing I thought of for Sri Lanka was curry (not tea!) what a fail! am totally sold on the idea of hiking to Pidurangala Rock, and those waterfalls and viewpoints are gorgeous!
    Great post as always Kez! :)

  4. Sri Lanka sounds like a great place to visit. I would love to go to learn more about tea, and the Pidurangala Rock hiking trail looks amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Sri Lanka is a fascinating country that I would to explore one day. Sigiriya rock looks unreal and those viewpoints are amazing! Thanks for sharing.

  6. I’ve read about Lion Rock but didn’t really know much else about what Sri Lanka has to offer. There seems to be a ton of things to see and do in just four days, but I would not want to miss Nuwara Eliya, especially if it’s a little bit cooler than other parts of the country.

  7. I have read several novels that were based in Sri Lanka and the island is so fascinating. Yes, tea is the first thing that comes to mind, but I would love to hike to see the Ramboda waterfalls and Sri Pada. Both look so beautiful and serene.

    1. The falls were lovely and surprisingly uncrowded. The hike to Sri Pada was intense and the top was engulfed by cloud when I got there, haha.

  8. That was a lot of ground covered in Sri Lanka in 4 days! If you had 5-7 days to explore, would you linger at one of these places longer? Is there somewhere you’d want to explore a bit longer?

    1. I think I would’ve just added more places. I always like to see as many places as possible, even if I have a short time.

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