The Top 10 Sights of Sri Lanka

Travel to Sri Lanka completely without tourist traps! Here you will find a list of the top 10 sights of Sri Lanka! Which highlights and attractions should you not miss on your holiday in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka, the island state in southern India, is a dazzling mix of fantastic nature, unique culture and imposing buildings. Sacred mountains, Indian elephants, magnificent temples, mighty fortresses and the end of the world await the visitor.


Ruined City of Polonnaruwa

Entrance to the round temple Vatadage in the ancient ruined city of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka - © Calvste / Shutterstock
© Calvste / Shutterstock

Once the capital of the Sinhalese kingdom, the ruined city of Polonnaruwa is now a fascinating archaeological park that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can see impressive ruins of stupas, temples, palaces, countless Buddha statues and a 25-ton history book.

Article: Ruined city of Polonnaruwa
Photo gallery: Ruined city of Polonnaruwa

Sri Pada (Holy Foot)

View of the summit of Sri Pada in Sri Lanka, also known as "Adam's Peak" - © Nazzu / Shutterstock
© Nazzu / Shutterstock

Sri Pada is a mountain a good 2,000 metres high, with a spectacular footprint on its summit. It is considered sacred by four world religions, as it was made by Buddha, Shiva, the Apostle Thomas or Adam, depending on the religion. The sacred site can be climbed on foot via 5,000 steps, which are particularly busy on full moon nights.

Article: Sri Pada (Holy Foot)

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

The rock fortress of Sigiriya - "Lion Rock" - is located in the centre of Sri Lanka on a huge rocky hill of solidified lava - © SurangaWeeratunga/Shutterstock
© SurangaWeeratunga/Shutterstock

In the middle of Sri Lanka sits the Sigiriya Fortress, a gigantic rock of solidified lava that was developed into a fortress in the 5th century by the then king of Anuradhapura and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its name "Lion Rock" can still be traced today thanks to two enormous paws. Also worth seeing are the brightly polished "mirror wall" and the bare-breasted "cloud girls".

Article: Sigiriya Rock Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple

The Dambulla Cave Temple is located about 150km east of the capital Colombo, Sri Lanka; it is the largest and best preserved Buddhist cave temple in the country - © TanArt / Shutterstock
© TanArt / Shutterstock

For over two millennia, the Buddhist cave temple of Dambulla was used as a monastery and place of prayer. During this time, elaborate frescoes and numerous statues of Buddha and kings were created, making the Dambulla temple the largest and best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Article: Dambulla Cave Temple

Ruwanwelisaya Stupa in Anuradhapura

The snow-white Ruwanwelisaya stupa in the holy city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka is an architectural masterpiece - © Sergieiev / Shutterstock
© Sergieiev / Shutterstock

The snow-white Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, one of the largest monuments in the world, is enthroned in the holy city of Anuradhapura. The architectural masterpiece is around 100 metres high and over 2000 years old. As one of the 8 places of worship in Anuradhapura, it is one of the great shrines of Buddhism.

Article: Ruwanwelisaya Stupa in Anuradhapura

Yala National Park

Elephant rock in Yala National Park in the southeast of Sri Lanka - © emjay smith / Fotolia
© emjay smith / Fotolia

Yala National Park is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka thanks to its breathtaking wildlife. The leopards are the stars of Yala National Park; nowhere else in the world do so many leopards live in an equally large area. Besides the proud predators, you can also see crocodiles, buffaloes, bears, monkeys, elephants and lots of birds on safaris in Yala National Park.

Article: Yala National Park

Horton Plains National Park

In the south of the Horton-Plains National Park is the so-called "World's End", a steep face that drops almost vertically over 1,000 metres into the depths, Sri Lanka - © StephanScherhag/Shutterstock
© StephanScherhag/Shutterstock

The Horton Plains National Park in southern Sri Lanka is situated at an altitude of over 2,000 metres. Its stunning landscape, with the country's largest cloud forest, is roamed mainly by sambay deer and can be hiked on your own. Its highlights include the breathtaking "World's End" es carpment and the 200m-high Bakers Falls.

Article: Horton Plains National Park

Tooth Temple in Kandy

The Sri Dalada Maligawa, known as the "Temple of the Tooth" in German, is a Buddhist temple in the royal city of Kandy, Sri Lanka - © Brad Pict / Fotolia
© Brad Pict / Fotolia

The most sacred tooth temple is located in the temple district of Kandy, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and owes its name to a priceless relic: a canine tooth of Gautama Siddharta, the first Buddha and founder of Buddhism, which is kept in a golden shrine on the top floor.


Article: Tooth Temple in Kandy

Elephant Orphanage of Pinnawala

The elephant orphanage in Pinnawala was founded in 1975 and is dedicated to raising and caring for orphaned elephants, Sri Lanka - © Juan Llompart / Fotolia
© Juan Llompart / Fotolia

Getting up close and personal with the grey pachyderms - that's what you can do at the elephant orphanage in Pinnawala. Elephants are not only taken in and cared for here, but also bred, and the world's largest captive elephant herd now lives here. Visitors can accompany the "mahouts" in their care and feeding and, as a highlight, observe the daily bathing ceremony at the river.

Article: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

National Museum in Colombo

The National Museum in Colombo is the largest museum in Sri Lanka and is housed in a palatial building in the Italian style - © Hasindu2008 CC BY-SA3.0/Wiki
© Hasindu2008 CC BY-SA3.0/Wiki

The National Museum in the capital of the island state was opened in 1877 in a specially constructed building and has since presented the history of the country through cultural and natural history exhibits. Sri Lanka 's largest museum houses, among other things, the jewelled throne of the kings of Kandy, the gigantic skeleton of a blue whale and a huge library with half a million books.

Article: National Museum in Colombo