What to do in Sri Lanka? 12 activity ideas

Sophie, Travel editor
Sophie, Travel editor

It's decided, you are going to Sri Lanka! Here is a list of some of the must-do activities on the island. For a journey through time, visit the Ancient Sacred sites and temples, attend a Religious festival in order to get an idea of the local culture. Mountains and tea plantations will please hikers and nature lovers who can also enjoy the delicious Ceylon tea. Make the most of it and try out a Sri Lankan food cooking session in the spice gardens. For adrenaline addicts, go rafting on the Kelani river and go surfing on the most beautiful spots of the littoral. Good level athletes can attempt to climb Adam’s Peak which is considered the Sacred mountain of Sri Lanka. For more slow paced excursions, cycle through the rice fields, go on a boat trip to observe dolphins and whales or embark on a Jeep safari to watch the rich wildlife of the Natural parks. Then , head for the most beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka to disconnect totally from the rest of the world. Just relax and swim in the warm and crystal clear waters, don't forget your mask and snorkel. Whether you are with family, solo, as a couple or with friends, there is something for everyone here.

  • Taste Ceylon tea

    Taste Ceylon tea

    Welcome to the birthplace of one of the best teas in the world! Inherited from the British Colonization, the tea plantations stretch out for miles and miles on the high plateaus of Sri Lanka. In Nuwara Eliya, Ella or Haputale, you will have the chance to admire some astonishing panoramas of the surrounding mountains. Meet the Tamil pickers, visit the tea factories and then taste a cup of the national beverage, after that go on a rickshaw ride to the The Lipton Seat and just admire the incredible view of its surroundings.

  • Try an initiation class to the Sri Lankan way of cooking
    Local cuisine

    Try an initiation class to the Sri Lankan way of cooking

    In the mountainous regions of spice gardens, why not take a cooking class? You will discover the essential ingredients of the Sri Lankan cuisine: cinnamon, ginger, spices, coriander, turmeric and coconut, which are all very regularly used ingredients. The rice and curry dish is the real traditional dish: rice, lentils, fish or meat and vegetables. Taste the ‘Sambol’ a grated coconut salad and the delicious “Hoppers”, small pancakes made with rice, coconut milk and a little sugar which are often eaten for breakfast with some vegetable curry.

  • Bask in the sun on a beautiful beach
    Bentota beach

    Bask in the sun on a beautiful beach

    What would a trip to Sri Lanka be without spending some time on the most beautiful beaches of the island? Go to the East coast, in Trincomalee to relax on the Nlaveli and Uppuveli beaches. Head South to the Mirissa and Unawatuna beaches, that offer a large range of varied accommodation and activities. Spending time on the beach is also a nice way of meeting and discovering the local villagers and fishermen's way of life.

  • Hiking
    Trekking Sri Lanka


    Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for nature lovers. The vegetation is rich and diversified: rice fields, tea plantations, jungles, tropical forests and mountains. In the heart of its high plateaus, several different hikes are possible in order to admire the exceptional viewpoints of the surrounding landscapes. The ascension of Adam’s Peak, hiking in the National park of Horton Plains or trekking in the Knuckles Mountain Range, plan for several days of total immersion in a wild and preserved natural environment.

  • Exploring it by bike

    Exploring it by bike

    For an unusual and surprising discovery of Colombo, choose a guided tour by bike. The local guides will show you the fascinating historical heritage of the city. You can even visit Colombo at night. Other bike tours are possible around Galle. In the middle of paddy fields, you will see rural Sri Lanka and cycle through lots of different small villages. Bikes are also a very good way to explore the ancient ruins of the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa.

  • Surfing


    Sri Lanka has many different surfing spots, from beginner level to experienced surfers. The country attracts lots of surfers due to its warm and clear water and its lack of sharks. Go surfing in the southern beaches of Hikkaduwa, Weligama and Mirissa. On the eastern coast, Argumar bay is a small fishing village which has become one of the most famous surfing spots of Sri Lanka and maybe of the World. For those who’d like to try kitesurfing, go to Kalpitiya which is on the western coast.

  • Whale Watching
    Whales in Mirissa

    Whale Watching

    Sri Lanka is the ideal place for whale watching. Whales are present throughout the year off the coast. On the southern coast, the best time to observe them is between November and April. At dawn, embark on a boat trip from the Mirissa harbour to watch Blue whales. On the western coast, Kalpitiya is the perfect place to see the hypnotic dance of the dolphins.

  • Go Rafting

    Go Rafting

    The western part of Sri Lanka, Kitulgala is renowned for rafting in the Kelani river. You don’t have to be an experienced rafter to go on rafting tours because there are tours adapted to all levels. Why not go on a rafting tour with a local guide in the Kelani river which is surrounded by forest for a really fun experience. Did you know that Kitulgala was used for filming “The bridge on the river Kwai”.

  • Explore the wild fauna

    Explore the wild fauna

    Observing animals is one of the most popular activities on the island. You will have the privilege of being able to see elephants, buffaloes, bears, crocodiles, peacocks and many other birds in the several National parks of the country. With a little luck, you may even spot a leopard! Go on a safari in the National Park of Yala, Uda Walawa or Minneriya. Between May and October, watch the annual elephant gathering in the Minneriya National park.

  • Visit Temples
    Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo

    Visit Temples

    Beyond the ancient ruins Sri Lanka also has many different temples. In Kandy, the temple of the Tooth is considered one of the most Sacred places in the country. The temple of Gangaramaya in Colombo is really worth seeing during February’s full moon. You'll be able to see the most beautiful examples of Hindu sanctuaries and the Great Temples of Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in Jaffna and Koneswaram in Trincomalee.

  • Visit the ancient Royal cities

    Visit the ancient Royal cities

    History and culture lovers will be delighted in Sri Lanka! With its many sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage, the country overflows with treasures just waiting to be discovered. In the Cultural Triangle, visit the ancient Royal cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. In Kandy, which is the last Royal capital of Sri Lanka, just take in the religious fervour around the renowned temple of the Tooth. Don't forget the ascension of the Luon Rock of Sigiriya to discover the ancient fortress of King Kassapa. Apart from the ancient ruins, Sri Lanka also has many Buddhist temples. Near Sigiriya, why not visit the caves to admire the famous paintings of Dambulla?

  • Attend a religious procession

    Attend a religious procession

    Sri Lanka is a big cultural and religious patchwork. The year is marked by the Festivities calendar, like “Poya days”, full moon days and other religious and cultural celebrations. Each full moon is celebrated during a Perahera, which is a big procession. The most significant is the Kandy Esala Perahera, a tradition dating back to several centuries. During ten days, this great parade gathers dancers, musicians and many elephants. One of which carries a replica of the Buddha's tooth on its back.