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11 Activities that Should be Included in Your Sri Lanka Bucket List

Updated On 
January 27, 2023
7 Min Read
Sri Lanka
An off-road vehicle is seen surrounded by grass and mountains in Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka.

11 Activities that Should be Included in Your Sri Lanka Bucket List

Sri Lanka has something for everyone from experiencing the pristine nature to exploring ancient cities. Here are the top 11 activities you should include in your Sri Lanka itinerary.

Updated On 
January 27, 2023
7 Min Read
Sri Lanka
An off-road vehicle is seen surrounded by grass and mountains in Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka.
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11 Activities that Should be Included in Your Sri Lanka Bucket List
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Planning a trip to Sri Lanka and wondering about the best activities?

You're in luck!

We've put together our ultimate Sri Lanka bucket list that has something for everyone. From experiencing the pristine nature to wanting to explore ancient cities, Sri Lanka has it all!

Thanks to its modest size and affordable public transportation, you can enjoy a lot of activities without traveling far between locations. This allows you to travel less while experiencing more.

In Sri Lanka, it is possible to witness the most elusive leopard at Yala National Park and then hike Ella Rock in the afternoon. If you wish to have a more relaxing holiday, you can stroll along the small alleys of Galle Fort in the morning and head to one of the beautiful beaches in Tangalle afterward.

Here are the top 11 activities you should include in your Sri Lanka itinerary.

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1. Train to Ella

When you think of Sri Lanka, you probably imagine this iconic blue train ride. This is the famous Kandy to Ella route, which is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. If you visit Sri Lanka, you have to experience the thrill of riding this train as it takes you through the beautiful hills and tea plantations. Watch as the train passes by charming small towns where you can observe local life.


The train also stops at these colorful stations that are brimming with life. From locals selling food from the windows to people rushing in and out of the train cars. While you get to experience the beauty of the region, it is also an opportunity to connect with the locals and their culture. It is an incredible experience you cannot miss!

Book you Train to Ella

Commuters hang out of a blue train in Ella, Sri Lanka.

2. Take a Local Bus

Traveling like a local in one of the colorful buses in Sri Lanka should be on your list of things to do. Not only are buses cheap, but they can take you anywhere, even in the most remote areas of the country. Wherever you want to go, there’s a bus route for that. They are also the main mode of transportation in Sri Lanka, and depending on your route, expect to see mostly locals on board.


Some of the best bus routes we’ve been on are Hatton to Adam’s Peak and Kandy to Tissamaharama. But anywhere you go will give you the experience to enjoy the fresh air, loud local music, and beautiful scenery. Taking a bus in Sri Lanka is an experience not to be missed. 

A young men stands in front of a red bus in Matara, Sri Lanka.

3. Discover the Ancient City of Anuradhapura

Cycling through the well-preserved ruins of the ancient city of Anuradhapura is a truly remarkable experience. The peacefulness around the sacred area alone makes the visit worth it. With many stupas and massive Buddhist shrines to explore, it can take you days to fully grasp the long history of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some of the most famous stupas to visit are Ruwanwelisaya and Jethawanaramaya Dagoba. Because of its religious significance, many devotees come here to pray every day. A visit to Mihintale is also a must, as it’s believed to be the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. You can discover the ancient cities on your own or with a guide.

Explore Anuradhapura with a Guide

Crowd of people wearing white clothes in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

4. Climb Adam’s Peak 

Sri Lankans consider Adam's Peak, also known as Sri Pada, as the most sacred mountain in the country. You can climb alongside the devotees during the pilgrimage season, which runs from mid-December to April. Climbing Adam's Peak during this time gives you a very festive atmosphere. Not only are there string lights illuminating the pathway to the top, but there are also plenty of tea shops to rest in on the way.

Head there in time for sunrise to have the best weather before the clouds start to roll in the afternoon. Also, you will get a chance to witness the pilgrims perform their religious ceremonies at the top. Not only that, but the amazing views of the green mountains make the 5000 steep steps worth conquering.

Tip: Avoid climbing on weekends and holidays, as the top can become extremely crowded.

Young men play the drums at Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka.

5. Watch the Sunrise at Nine Arch Bridge

If there is one word to describe the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella, that would be impressive. From the towering architecture in the middle of the lush jungle to the iconic blue train that cuts through it, the bridge is a sight to behold.

There is no better way to experience its full glory than waking up early to catch the sunrise as the first rays of light fall into its high beams and tracks. Also, being there early means you get to avoid the tourists that crowd the place later in the day. This place is a must-see on any Sri Lanka itinerary. 

Read More: Best things to do in Ella

The famous Nine Arch bridge in Ella, Sri Lanka.

6. Visit Lipton’s Seat Tea Plantation 

A visit to Sri Lanka is also not complete without exploring a tea plantation. And while you’re in Ella, head 27 km to the south for one of the most breathtaking panoramic views of tea plantations. Lipton's Seat was named after the renowned tea planter, Sir Thomas Lipton, who used to survey his empire from this location. Here, you can find vast stretches of green tea plantations, with a hint of mist adding to their charm.


Head up early to avoid the afternoon clouds and enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding hills and tea fields. You might also see local tea pickers on their way to work for the day. A visit to Lipton's Seat is one of the most amazing things to do in Sri Lanka.

Green tea plantations at Lipton Seat, Sri Lanka.

7. Climb Sigiriya and Pidurangala Rock

Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, is an ancient rock fortress listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Climbing up the 1200 steps can be challenging, but it's worth it because it offers both history and amazing views of the town below. So it’s best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat.

Alternatively, you can hike Pidurangala Rock, which is another viewpoint offering breathtaking views. It has a lower elevation in comparison to the Lion Rock, but the view is just as impressive. You also get an unobstructed view of Lion Rock for a much cheaper price. Head early for sunrise to avoid the scorching midday sun. 

Find out more: 5 Most Popular Hikes in Sri Lanka 

Sunrise at Sigiriya, Sri Lanka.

8. Encounter Wild Elephants in Minneriya National Park

Wildlife spotting is also a must-do when traveling in Sri Lanka. Don't miss the largest herd of wild elephant gatherings at Minneriya National Park if you visit between June and September.

Read: The Largest Elephant Gathering in Minneriya National Park

Wild elephants in Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka

This well-preserved national park is best visited in the evening after 3pm where you can encounter as many as 400 to 600 elephants in the wild. You can also spot many bird species, mammals, and reptiles. Visiting Minneriya National Park offers a unique insight into the wildlife of Sri Lanka and must be included in your Sri Lanka bucket list.

Wild elephants in Minneriya National Park, Sri Lanka

9. Spot Leopards in Yala National Park

A visit to Yala National Park is another must for nature and wildlife lovers. It is one of the most visited national parks in Sri Lanka and is home to the most elusive Sri Lankan leopard. Book a Jeep safari that will take you on a day full of bumpy, dusty, and exciting safari rides. You can spot a wide range of wild animals, including countless bird species and elephants. So you can sit back and enjoy the wildlife as you spot them in their natural habitats.

A wild leopard rests on a rock in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka.

10. Roam Around Galle Fort

Wander around the famous old fort in Galle and discover the colonial past of Sri Lanka. This Unesco World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka is the best-preserved colonial townscape in the country. You can enjoy the colorful and narrow cobbled streets and discover the many cafes and restaurants. The best place to watch the sunset is at the lighthouse or along the stone walls. At this time, you can see many local families and tourists enjoying the afternoon. 

Galle Fort by night.

11. Beach Hopping in the South 

A visit to Sri Lanka is not complete without enjoying the pristine beaches in the south. You can explore some of the best beaches in the country during the dry season, which runs from December to April. 

You can hire a tuk-tuk or rent a motorcycle to explore the south's white sand beaches and clear blue waters. This includes the Secret Beach in Mirissa, the Silent Beach in Tangalle, and Rekawa Beach. Each of these beaches offers a unique experience and unforgettable memories, which are reasons to visit Sri Lanka.

A lighthouse and palm trees at Tangalle Beach, Sri Lanka.

Whatever you decide to do, Sri Lanka has many activities for you. So whether you are spending a week, 3 weeks, or one month traveling, make sure you include these activities on your Sri Lanka bucket list.


From hiking and exploring national parks to experiencing the cultural diversity of Sri Lanka, there are endless opportunities to discover something new. 

Which one of these top 11 activities in Sri Lanka is your favorite?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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