18 Exciting Activities to Do in Sri Lanka in 2024

Updated: February 2024

Take a Trip to the Glen Falls 

Some of the most magnificent waterfalls in Sri Lanka are Devon Falls, Laxapana Falls, Ramboda Falls, and Glen Falls, which may be visited while travelling to Nuwara Eliya from Kandy or other neighbouring locations. Some of the best things to do in south Sri Lanka with family include taking a refreshing bath in these magnificent waterfalls or simply relaxing on their banks.

Ride a Train from Kandy to Ella

Prepare for the most gorgeous train ride of your life as your train travels from Kandy to Ella, a lovely, cloud-shrouded village. The train ride to Ella rivals even the Trans Siberian Railway, passing through green oceans of tea plantations, cottony clouds, the most stunning views of verdant hills, and eventually weaving in and out of the various mountain tunnels as it descends to Ella! It is surely one of the most unusual things to do in Sri Lanka, with such a refreshing experience to offer.

Get Wet at Madu River

The Madu River, as well as the beaches of Bentota, offer a variety of watersports. There are infinite chances for fun and thrill in Bentota for water babies and beach bums, from jet skiing, banana boat rides, parasailing, paramotoring, speed boat rides, yachting, canoeing, kayaking, and boating in the mangrove forests. Watersports are unquestionably one of the most exciting things to do in Sri Lanka.

Admire Dambulla Cave Temple

The Dambulla Cave Temple, a combination of Lanka’s unrivalled beauty and peacefulness, is recognized as one of Sri Lanka’s most ancient (dating back to the 2nd century BC) constructions, attracting visitors with its large golden figure of Lord Buddha and the temple’s golden dome. This temple is a popular destination for spiritual seekers and Buddhists, with prehistoric paintings, carvings, and an abundance of tranquillity. Visit this country’s largest rock cave temple, which is surrounded by lush forests and houses statues of Buddhist monks in its caves, as one of the top things to do in Dambulla, Sri Lanka.

Swim With The Turtles

Beach bums and ocean lovers will love Sri Lanka’s enormous coastline, which is home to some of the world’s most magnificent beaches. From Bentota, Weligama, Galle, Induruwa, Hikkaduwa, Koggala, Polhena, Negombo, and Trincomalee, Sri Lanka is brimming with fantastic beaches, each offering travellers something different in terms of views and experiences.

Hikkaduwa Beach and Polhena Beach, however, are a bit special as they offer the best chances of seeing and swimming with giant turtles. You may swim from the shore and come within meters of enormous sea turtles at both of these beaches. Swimming with the sea turtles is entirely free at both sites. However, for the best experience, we recommend you bring your own snorkelling equipment or rent them at the stalls near the beaches.

Because of the calm water, Polhena Beach was everyone’s favourite area to swim with the turtles. And it’s also easily accessible, only 20 minutes south of Mirissa and may be reached via taxi.

Snorkelling at Pigeon Island

So, you’ve learned about some of Sri Lanka’s top land national parks, but did you know that the country also includes a gorgeous marine national park named Pigeon Island? The island and the waters around it are both protected, yet most visitors come to see what’s in the water!

Turtles, sharks, and vibrantly coloured corals are just a few of the creatures you can expect to see!

The island sits off the coast of Trincomalee and Nilaveli, two of Sri Lanka’s most famous tourist sites. Expect to pay roughly 8,000 LKR for two persons to enter the park, which includes a national park charge.

Whale Watching 

One of the nicest things to do in Mirissa, Sri Lanka, is to go on a guided whale-watching or dolphin-watching excursion (or both) to see these amazing creatures of the sea sprinting around gleefully. From November to April, the best time to go on a dolphin/whale-watching cruise in Mirissa is when the ocean is calmer, and these species may be seen in close proximity to your boat. With all of the adrenaline-fueled thrills and enjoyment it provides, it’s one of the finest things to do in Sri Lanka in December, when the chances of seeing whales and dolphins in the sea across Mirissa are at their peak.

Visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, like the turtle hatcheries in Bentota, was founded to provide a home for abandoned, injured, or abused elephants as well as nourish and care for them. The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, which currently houses over 40 elephants, many of them are youngsters, has made great contributions to the welfare and protection of elephants in Sri Lanka. Watching these wicked, yet adorable creatures bathe in the river near the orphanage, where they indulge in mischief, drag one another by their tails, and try to escape the hands of their caretakers in hilarious ways, is one of the most relaxing free things to do in Sri Lanka. A visit to this orphanage will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your trip.

Visit an elephant orphanage

Hike The Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Climbing those rocky steps and narrow metal staircases in the hot heat may appear to be a difficult endeavor, but as you reach the summit, you’ll see that your efforts were well worth it! The Sigiriya Rock Fortress, with its spectacular 360-degree views of the surrounding hills, forests, meadows, lakes, and even monuments of Sigiriya from a bird’s-eye perspective, never fails to enchant visitors with its beauty and splendour. With such breathtaking vistas, every ardent traveller’s Sri Lanka itinerary should include a visit to this fortress at Sigiriya.

The climb should be avoided by people with arthritis, back issues, joint pains, and other physical disorders.

Photo by Jannes Jacobs on Unsplash

Watch Sunset From Pidurangala Rock

Sigiriya Rock is normally the centre of attention in Sigiriya, but if you are tight on budget and want to experience similar hiking and see the best sunset of Srilanka, you can climb another rock only 3 feet shorter than Sigiriya Rock, which is the Pidurangala Rock. 

The entrance fee only costs you 500 LKR, and it also offers the greatest seat in the house to see the sunset while you are in Sri Lanka. Pidurangala Rock takes about 20 minutes to climb, far less crowded, and for many people, it’s a more affordable option to hiking Sigiriya Rock. 

Of course, there are no old ruins on Pidurangala Rock, but that may not matter to you if history isn’t your thing.

Catch a Leopard Yala National Park

The only site in Sri Lanka where leopards can roam free in their native habitat is Yala Park, which is home to the country’s only leopards. All nature and wildlife lovers, adventure seekers, and wildlife photographers should go on a jungle safari in this park. On a clear, rain-free day, this park’s fauna include leopards, elephants, Sri Lankan sloth bears, turtles, macaques, fishing cats, and others. Monitor lizards, different varieties of crocodiles, Sri Lankan flying snakes, Fan-throated lizards, Indian cobras, Russell’s Viper, and Sri Lankan krait are among the hazardous reptiles native to Sri Lanka. A safari in Yala National Park is probably one of Sri Lanka’s most exciting activities.

Yala National Park - activities to do in Sri Lanka
Photo by Geoff Brooks on Unsplash

Relax in Negombo 

Negombo, a few miles north of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, is another exciting city in the country, with beautiful beaches and ultra-luxurious beachfront resorts. The finest things to do in Negombo are to simply unwind and rest at your sea-facing resort or villa, sunbathe on the beaches, visit the neighboring pubs and clubs, and stroll around the parks and markets.

Scuba Dive at Gorgonian Gardens

Sri Lanka is a fantastic tourism destination for adventurers. The crystal clean seas make for excellent diving. It is one of the activities that draws visitors from all over the world. Gorgonian Gardens, a dive spot in Colombo, is a fantastic place to see coral reefs. It is without a doubt one of Sri Lanka’s most distinctive experiences.

Cycling Trip

Sri Lanka’s fun-loving roads provide plenty of opportunity for leisurely pastimes such as cycling. And when you cycle in the villages and small towns of Sri Lanka’s distant provinces such as the picturesque town of Galle, the journey itself offers easy roads where you can cycle as far as you want and ride for at least 12 kilometers in a day. Cycling through mangroves, grasslands, small villages, and rice fields is part of this relaxing itinerary.

Visit Tea Plantation

Sri Lanka is known to be one of the best tea producers in the world. Tea grows on every slope in the cultural triangle’s mountainous region. It’s not only a terrific site to sample the world’s freshest and cheapest tea, but the vistas are also breathtaking.

There are many areas in Sri Lanka where one can wander among tea farms such as Ella, Nuwara Eliya, and Haputale being among the most famous. You may enjoy spectacular views of the tea fields all day or take a relaxing walk through the tea fields, visit tea factories, and learn everything there is to know about tea production from start to finish. 

Exploring the tea plantations and understanding how tea is made is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka, regardless of where you do it. Tea is, after all, one of their most important commodities and an integral aspect of Sri Lankan culture. 

In Sri Lanka, tea plantations are very popular. Tea is produced in huge open plantations all over the country, producing excellent varieties. You can peep into a few of them and breathe in the lovely scent of tea and herbs. The estates cover a large area in the Bogawantalawa valley.

Morning Hike at Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak is undoubtedly one of Sri Lanka’s most special places. It is a pilgrimage of great religious significance for them. Many tourists, however, are more interested in the stunning vistas and walking with the Sri Lankan locals than in religious importance. 

The hike to Adam’s Peak is best done early in the morning so that you may see the sunrise from the peak. Adam’s Peak is not for the faint of heart, as it rises 1,000 meters above sea level. The actual peak is 2,243 meters above sea level, and the hike takes about 5 to 7 hours in total.

The trail is most typically trekked from Kandy, with early morning groups departing. Transportation to and from Adam’s Peak is included, as well as a local guide.

Spend a Day at Secret Beach in Mirissa

One of our favorite beaches in Sri Lanka is Secret Beach. This magnificent isolated bay is hands down worth a visit and a must do in Mirissa, despite the fact that it is no longer so secret. The beach is merely a 5-minute tuk-tuk ride from Mirissa, and all local drivers are familiar with the area.

You can relax in one of the lounge chairs or pick a great spot on the beach to lay down after you arrive. There is a tiny restaurant on the beach that sells both food and drinks. Allow yourself at least a half-day to really appreciate this “hidden” gem!

Visit Rose Quartz Mountain

This is probably the least known activity done by tourists in Srilanka, so you can expect minimal to even no crowd at all when you visit the place, but surely a great activity to do in Srilanka as you may not always find it in another country. 

The largest Rose Quartz Crystal in Asia can be found in Sri Lanka, located in the Jathika Namal Uyana Reserve in Dambulla and at only 500 LKR to hike it you can explore and admire the pink mountain and breathtaking scenery on top of it. The rock itself is a light pink color, and the views of the surrounding area from the summit are stunning. If you’re visiting Sigiriya or Dambulla, this is a must-see!

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