Having spent a couple of months living and teaching in Sri Lanka, I feel I got to know the country quite well during my time there.  When not teaching over the weekend, I would set out with friends to explore what this amazing country had to offer.  In short I feel in love with Sri Lanka and plan to one day visit again and retrace old footsteps.

In this post I’ve tried to pinpoint what I think are the most significant areas of the country to visit. Some are well documented, others you may not have heard of, some you may want to hire a guide for, others you may just want to hire a car and go it alone.  There’s also the trains which I highly recommend. In my list I’ve tried to include a mix of culture, history, natural beauty and some fun.  Hopefully there’s something for everyone.   This my friends is my Sri Lankan Bucket List.

How the map works:

Starting in Colombo on the left hand side of the map, work in a clockwise manner and click on all the flags.  By clicking on each flag you will bring up some information about that area.

I set out the route as a cuircuit, both starting and ending in Colombo.  My recommendation would be that after heading north and visiting the cultural triangle, you should then start heading south via Kandy to the beach resorts for some R&R.  The circuit ends with a return to Colombo.

View Sri Lanka Bucket List in a larger map


1.  Colombo – After a day of shopping, dine and dance the evening away at one (or two) of the cities Salsa bars.

2.  Pinnawala – Feed the baby elephants at Pinnawala Elephant Sanctuary

3.  Dambulla – Visit Dambulla’s sacred temple – the Golden Temple – consists of 5 separate caves housing Buddhist statues and many paintings both religious and secular.

4.  Sigiriya – Get your climbing boots on and scale Lion Rock where the remains of a 5th Century fortress palace sits 600ft above the surrounding countryside. The views from the top are truely stunning!

5.  Anuradhapura – Visit the site of the oldest know tree in the world, The sacred Bodhi Tree “Sri Maha Bodhi” – a cutting of the tree in India where the Buddha achieved enlightenment.

6.  Polonnaruwa – Get a lesson in history by visiting another part of the cultural triangle.

7.  Kandy – Time for a massage, some textile shopping and a lesson in dance from the Kandy dancers.

8.  Adam’s Peak – 5000 steps starting at 2am. Thats what faces you if you want to see the sunrise from the top of Adams Peak.

9.  Unawatuna – A short tuk tuk ride from Galle you’ll find the small beach resort of Unawatuna. Its a stunning paradise where the party gets going each weekend at the Happy Banana bar. Spend the days relaxing in the clear, warm seas.

10.  Galle – A historic fort settlement which is easily accessible by train from Colombo.  Walk the fort wall and take in the views of the ocean.

11.  Hikkaduwa – Party central. Look out of all manner of ‘moon’ based parties. The sea food in the area is amazing, the prawns are huge. A good spot for surfing.


If/When I do return to Sri Lanka, maybe I can add to this map. During my visit the area’s we were allowed to visit were restricted by the war. As you can see I havent highlight too many spots to the north or east.

If you feel I’ve missed anything or wish to add something about the area’s I have included please just leave me a little comment below. I promise I’ll reply.