For adventurers after a refreshing change of scenery, Sri Lanka definitely ticks all the boxes! Beautiful beaches? Tick. Rich cultural heritage? Tick. Authentic local food? Tick. Stunning natural landscapes? Tick. Friendly locals? Tick.
Tick, tick, tick, Sri Lanka travel is something you must do in your life. So what should you take in while you're there? Check out our handy guide and tick Sri Lanka's sights off your bucket list one at a time.
A cuppa in the morning is a way we've all started, but Sri Lanka travel will take your tea obsession to the next level. Sample over 24 varieties of Sri Lanka's world renowned Ceylon tea on a visit to one of her brew-tea-ful tea plantations, offering sights and smells, and a feast for the senses. During a plantation tour, you will not only learn how tea is grown, picked, processed and prepared, but you will delve into the rich British colonial history the areas are steeped in.
Sri Lanka's oldest tea estate is also a great stop -- Loolecondera in Kandy's hill country, established in 1867 -- or you can take a free tour around the Handunugoda Tea Estate, just south of Colombo. There, you will marvel at the still operational 150 year old machinery, sample rare Virgin White Tea along with a slice of chocolate cake, and then browse the gift shop to find a quintessential little bit of Sri Lanka to bring back home.
If you're the type who's inclined to take a hike on holidays, then the 1200 step ascent to the summit of Sigiriya's ancient Lion Rock could end up being the 'mane' event of your Sri Lanka travel experience. Built over 1600 years ago, it was once the site of King Kasyapa's palace, and the rock has since been used as a monastery for Buddhist monks and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.
The mysterious 'Citadel of Sigiriya' is hard to miss and a big part of must see Sri Lanka, rising starkly above the jungle canopy to give visitors breathtaking 360 degree views of the surrounding area at its summit. Halfway up the steep climb, you'll find a pair of huge paws, the last remnants of the giant brick lion that used to guard the entrance into the Sky Palace. You can also stop and examine the unique mirror wall covered in ancient graffiti, along with vividly coloured frescoes adorning the cave walls.
If you're in Sri Lanka for a truly special experience, then quit monkeying around and seek out the street performers with a twist near Kala Wewa. One of Sri Lanka's gypsy communities, it's here you'll find the art of snake charming, monkey performing, and fortune telling, skills passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years.
Though they are a traditionally nomadic people, you'll find a permanent settlement near the famous Kala Wewa Dam where performers now draw big crowds of tourists and locals alike to their daily shows. The Kala Wewa Dam itself is also a popular tourist attraction, and built in 307 BC, it's truly a feat of ancient engineering.
No matter where you go on Sri Lanka's tiny teardrop-shaped island, you'll be surrounded by stunning natural scenery at every turn. What better way to experience the diverse mix of lush tea plantations, jungles, lakes, rural villages and elephants playing in the distance than aboard the intercity train?
When traveling between the bustling capital Colombo, the ancient cultural attractions in Kandy and the Dutch colonial beach town of Galle, skip the dreary (and not to mention expensive) car hire in favour of the scenic train route. For the very best views and photo opportunities, choose to travel like a local in second class. Just be sure to get to the station early to ensure you snag a seat!