Sri Lanka is fast becoming one of the world’s must-visit destinations, and this diverse tropical island has so much to offer for all varieties of traveller!

From iconic train rides, incredible wildlife and golden sandy beaches to mountainous regions with jaw-dropping views, there are so many epic things to do in Sri Lanka. 

That being said, with an almost endless list of activities to choose from it’s not always easy creating an itinerary of things to do while visiting Sri Lanka – so we’ve done it for you!

Here are 12 of our favourite things to do in Sri Lanka:

1. Take the train from Kandy to Ella

The train ride from Kandy to Ella is currently one of the world’s most sought-after journeys among adventurers and Instagrammers alike.

Things To Do In Sri Lanka
The train ride through the tea plantations on route from Kandy to Ella | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

The 9-10 hour journey will take you through scenic views of mountains covered in mist, towns like Haputale, Nuwara Eliya, and lush tea plantations that glisten as the sun’s rays fall on them.

 To make the most of scenic views, we suggest sitting on the right side of the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, and the lefthand side from there to Ella.

2. Visit the Demodara Nine Arches Bridge 

Located in one of the most picturesque locations in Ella, visiting the Nine Arches Bridge is one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka. Below the bridge you’ll find a green tea plantation from where you can see the flawless blue sky through the nine arches. This is why it’s also known as ‘The Bridge with Nine Skies’ by some locals. 

12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka
The view from below Demodora Nine Arches Bridge, Ella | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

The Nine Arches Bridge is located between the Ella and Demodara Railway Stations. It dates back to the British colonial period and is made entirely of bricks and cement unlike the other bridges that have been made using metal.

While in the area, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the famous Blue Train of Ella; however, it is important to know the train schedules beforehand to avoid disappointment.

3. Hike up Little Adam’s Peak 

If you love hiking, this will be another epic adventure for you while you are in Ella. 

The hike up Little Adam’s Peak is not very difficult and is even suitable for kids. The entire route generally only takes around 1.5 hours. 

View from Little Adam’s Peak. Mountain landscape in Sri Lanka | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

The best time to start your hike is early morning, just before the sunrise, when the views of Ella Rock and the surrounding regions are at their breathtaking best. Words can’t describe the feeling of being on the top of the hill so we highly recommend doing the hike and seeing for yourself! 

For more advanced hikers, Ella Rock is potentially the better choice. As the saying goes ‘the best view comes after the hardest climb’, and this proves to be true when comparing the scenes at the summit of each.


4. Hike to the top of Diyaluma Falls

Another awesome activity for the adventure seeker, Diyaluma Falls is the second tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka. The hike to the top is reserved for intermediate level hikers, as the combination of height and slipperiness, add to the overall difficulty.

The view from the pools at the top of Diyaluma Falls | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

The hike can be completed in about 2 hours, and makes for a perfect day trip from Ella. You can also take a local travel guide if you are concerned about the exact directions and the safety of the trails in the Diyaluma Falls. 

At the top you’ll find amazing views and natural infinity pools where you can kick back and cool off.

5. Go whale watching in Mirissa

If you are planning to visit the southern coast of Sri Lanka, don’t forget to go on a whale watching tour in Mirissa. 

Aerial view of the beach town, Mirissa | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

The possibility of spotting blue whales, sperm whales, Bryde’s whales, and even bottlenose dolphins makes this one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka as far as we’re concerned. Tours head out in the early morning and start at around $70 per person. 

The best time to go on a whale watching tour is from December to April, but if your trip falls outside of these period, you can also look forward to whale watching in Trincomalee – where the peak season runs from July to October. 

6. Go on a safari at Yala National Park

Yala National Park is one of the best places to go on a safari in Sri Lanka. 

Sure, there are other national parks such as Udawalwe and Minneriya but Yala stands out because it is home to the highest density of wild leopards in the world. 

Young leopard in Yala National Park | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

There is an 80% chance of seeing a leopard on a daytime safari in Yala National Park, which is also home to hundreds of elephants, with frequent sightings of babies alongside their mothers.

In the park you can also look forward to seeing peacocks, water buffaloes, crocodiles, sloth bears, monkeys and deer. 

7. Climb to the top of Pidurangala Rock

If you’ve done your research around a vacation in Sri Lanka then you’ll have no doubt seen various Instagram photos showing travellers posing on a rock, with the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in the distance. This rock is known as Pidurangala Rock, and another must-do epic activity in Sri Lanka. Your social media will thank you! 

The view of Sigiriya from Pidurangala Rock | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

Pidurangala Rock also houses the Pidurangala Monastery, where you’ll find various Buddha statues. 

The hike is best started around an hour before sunrise. There is a well-laid path at the beginning, however the hike becomes increasingly difficult as it goes on, and near the end you’ll have to use all four limbs to climb up certain paths.

8. Visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress 

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world is a 200, high rock formation in the Dambulla area of Sri Lanka. 

The fortress was built by King Kashyapa and was made to depict a giant lion-like figure. Unfortunately, today only the paws of the lion are visible as the head has broken down over time.

12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka
Aeriel view of the sunrise over Sigiriya rock fortress | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

During the hike to the top you’ll pass beautiful gardens, the lion gate, Sigiriya frescoes (believed to be drawings of women in King Kashyapa’s harem), and the mirror wall with its ancient scribblings.

The view from the top is best during sunset, so our suggestion is to pair this with your morning hike up Pidurangala. By the time you get to the summit of Sigiriya, you shouldn’t be too far from the evening hours and arguable the most beautiful sunset you’ll ever see. 

9. Swim with sea turtles at Polhena Beach 

Polhena Beach is located just 10 km away from Mirissa Main Beach, and if you’re a wildlife enthusiast then swimming with massive sea turtles here is one of the most incredible things to do in Sri Lanka.

A baby turtle makes its way into the ocean for the first time at Polhena Beach | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

Polhena is one of the nicest beaches in Sri Lanka, particularly for swimmers as the water is very calm, which makes it an ideal natural habitat for these ancient sea creatures.

The best time to visit Polhena Beach is in the morning hours, and please remember to respect the turtles and not get too close despite how exciting the experience is. 

10. Go snorkeling at Pigeon Island National Park

Pigeon Island National Park is located on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, around 1 km away from the coast of Nilaveli Beach. It is home to a large number of colourful coral species and more than 200 types of exotic fish. 

Tourists swimming at Pigeon Island National Park | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

The best time to visit Pigeon Island National Park is in the early morning or late afternoon, and here you’ll also be able to swim with sea turtles – most notably Green Turtles and Hawksbill Turtles.

As if the turtles and coral wasn’t enough, one of the national park’s main attractions is its Blacktip Reef Sharks. Swimming with these small and non-aggressive sharks makes for an incredible experience, if you’re brave enough!

11. Do some surfing at Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay, located on Sri Lanka’s east coast is known as the country’s surf mecca. 

It is one of the 10 most-visited surf destinations in the world, with more popularity among experienced surfers. For them, the Pottuvil Point, Main/Okanda Point, and the Panama Point are ideal spots.

12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka
Early morning surfing in Sri Lanka | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

Recently it has started gaining the attention of beginner and intermediate surfers as well, with Baby Point and Elephant Rock being more suitable surf spots for those still working on their skills.

The best time to surf at Argugam Bay is June through September, when the waves range between 6-8ft at Main Point. 

12. Enjoy a sunset at the Dalawella Beach

Dalawella Beach is situated near Unawatuna Beach on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. It is a popular spot among tourists who come down to enjoy a few beverages from Dream Cabana, while watching a picturesque sunset.

The iconic palm swing at Dalawella Beach | 12 Epic Things To Do In Sri Lanka

The best time to visit the beach is late afternoon, and be sure to checkout the palm rope swing. Dream Cabana do charge around $2.50 for a turn on the swing, but it is well worth-it for the social media cred!

Sri Lanka might be a small island country, but it is one of the most diverse destinations on earth where there is no shortage of things to do. There truly is something for every kind of traveller!