Top Tourist Attractions in Sri Lanka

The top tourist attractions in Sri Lanka are best described as exotic, mainly as a result of the Indian occupation since the 6th century BC and the introduction of Buddhism in the middle of 3rd century BC. By the time the Portuguese, Dutch, and British took over from the 16th century until 1948, the country already had a strong Eastern culture. Sri Lanka is an island nation on the Indian Ocean with India to its north and Maldives to its south. Among the best tourist spots of Sri Lanka are its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So, read on to learn a bit more about what to do once you arrive in paradise – Sri Lanka!


  1. Anudradhapura

Anudradhapura was the first capital of Sri Lanka from the 5th to 9th century. It is the center of Buddhism and the grandest of all ancient cities in Sri Lanka. You will find Sri Maha Bodhi here, the world’s oldest documented tree aged more than 2,200 years old. There are also relic chambers called dagabas, stone baths, an impressive irrigation system, gardens, and monuments decorated with sculptures and stone carvings. The main attractions of Anuradhapura are the Buddhist shrines which are some of the oldest in Sri Lanka.

  1. Polonnaruwa

This historic city was established during medieval times and took the place of Anuradhapura as the country’s capital from the 10th to 12th century. Polonnaruwa is one of the top tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. The main highlights are the Quadrangle, Gal Vihare Complex, and the King’s Palace and Audience Hall. What makes this medieval city unique from those found in Europe is that it reflects Hindu influences.

  1. Sigiriya

The ancient fortress is known as the “Lion Rock” and was built  under the order of King Kashyapa in 495 AD. Today, what is left of it are the Water Gardens, a Mirror Wall containing ancient graffiti, 19 frescoes of young maidens, the Lion platform, and a 1.6-hectare summit which used to be completely covered by buildings.

  1. Kandy

This beautiful ancient city was the seat of the Sinhala Kings. Even though a long time has passed since then, it still has an aura of greatness. It is home to the Royal Botanical Gardens which houses one of the best collections of orchids in the world. The top attraction here is the temple protecting the Tooth Relic of Buddha.

  1. Dambulla

This impressive collection of about 5 caves served as a refuge for an ancient king. Upon regaining his throne in the 1st century BC, he ordered that images be carved on the cave’s walls. Until the early 19th century, the caves were used as mediums for artwork.

  1. Galle

This old town is one of the few living UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. It was where the Portuguese first landed in 1505 before they became the first European colonizer of Sri Lanka. The Dutch took over during the 17th and 18th century and fortified it. Hence you will find many remnants from the Dutch in Galle such as churches, monuments, fort ramparts, and even houses.

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