9 Iconic Places to Visit in Sri Lanka for First-Time Visitors

9 Iconic Places to Visit in Sri Lanka for First-Time Visitors

Many people are not familiar with Sri Lanka and have the impression that it is a boring city. Being frequently referred to as the “Teardrop of India,” Sri Lanka was first populated by the Sinhalese peoples from northern India in 543 BC. The country is known for its spicy cuisine and beautiful golden beaches. If you’re thinking of a short trip to Colombo and Kandy, these are the iconic places you must not miss in your itinerary.

1) Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was originally founded in 1975 by the Sri Lanka Department of Wildlife Conservation. Situated at about 90 km from Colombo, the Orphanage aimed at providing care and protection for many of the orphaned baby wild elephants found wondering in the forests of Sri Lanka. This place also focuses on breeding and ongoing research for these gentle giants.


2) Sigiriya Rock Fortress

This is one of the Sri Lanka’s major attractions. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress was built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). It is currently an UNSECO World Heritage listed site, also known as the “Fortress in the Sky”. Along the path up to the top of the fortress, you get to experience beautiful sceneries such as water gardens, artistic frescoes, mirror wall, the lion gate and the magnificent views from the rock summit.


3) Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple is a vast isolated rock mass 500ft high and a mile around the base. The caves of Dambulla was built by the King Walagamba during his 14 years of exile from Anuradhapura. The temple consists of five caves, are by far the most impressive of the many cave temples found in Sri Lanka. Highlights of the cave are the recumbent image of the Buddha 47ft long cut out of the Rock, ad 150 life-size statues of Gods from the Buddhist religion.


4) Temple of Tooth

This sacred temple is also home to the palm-leaf transcripts and its history dates back to 1687. This stunning piece of architecture is instantly recognised by its octagonal shape and golden roof. Although you are not able to view the actual tooth itself, the casket within which it is held is displayed twice a day.


5) Kandy

As the second largest city after Colombo, Kandy is set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforest. Kandy is an example of the Buddhism’s influence in Sri Lanka today. Temple’s shrines and monasteries keeping alive Buddhist traditions are everywhere.


6) Tea Plantations & Factories

Kandy is one of the major tea-growing areas in Sri Lanka. It is a good opportunity to learn the tea growing and processing journey from some of the tea plantation and factories. The country’s tea plantations offer incredible scenery. Kandy generally produces a relatively stronger and deeper coloured beverage.


7) Colombo

Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, is a bustling city and a hopping-off point for beaches in the island nation’s south. Take a drive through the city to experience the busy commercial areas as well as the tree-lined residential, Cinnamon Gardens. Drop by Fort, the former British administrative centre and military garrison, Sea Street – the Goldsmith’s quarters in the heart of Pettah, the Dutch Church of Wolfendhal dating back to 1749, the replica of Avukana Buddha as well as the Independence Square.


8) Galle Face Beach

Galle Face Beach is a renowned landmark in Colombo. The opportunity to make the most of the sea, sun, stars, sand and stay is right here by this lively coastal marvel. Crowd gathered by the beach to fish, fly kites, play beach volley ball, to jog along the ocean or chomping down on hawker recipes that line the walkway.


9) Ministry of Crab

Known as one of the Asia’s Best 50 restaurants, the Ministry of Crab was created as a celebration of Sri Lanka’s seafood, particularly of her wonderfully sweet and succulent crabs. Housed in a sympathetically restored 400-year-old former Dutch hospital, the restaurant only uses export quality crab in its dishes, with sizes ranging from 500g up to ‘crabzilla’ weights of more than 2kg. The restaurant has been hugely popular with locals and foreign visitors since opening in 2011. Booking must be made prior to your visit.


Let’s begin your journey of uncovering ancient cities, rock carvings and the beautiful cultural heritage of Sri Lanka today!

All images are contributed by Ezster and YU.