SRI LANKA – a Guide to the Island’s Most Amazing Places

My three-week visit to the Island of Sri Lanka was a mesmerizing experience: The historic remains, the preserved natural richness, the white beaches, and colorful traditional attires were pleasing to the eye and soothing to the soul.

bye:myself - Renata Green - byemyselftravels: Mihintale Sri Lanka

One of Sri Lanka’s most sacred places: Aradhana Gala where Buddhist monk Mahinda landed as he met with King Devanampiyatissa.

Let this guide take you to some of the most amazing places this beautiful country has to offer.

 

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Guide to ANURADHAPURA and MIHINTALE

I chose Anuradhapura as my first stop for my Sri Lanka trip.

Faithful rushing to the Abayagiri Dagaba in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

These kids can’t wait to get to the Abayagiri Dagaba, one of the most sacred places in Anuradhapura.

Why? Because my friend Claudia told me so – and she has been to Sri Lanka many times and thought it would be a good point to start.

 

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Guide to POLONNARUWA

Polonnaruwa was not only the second most ancient of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, but it was also my second stop on the trip through Sri Lanka.

Statue of King Parakramabahu I in Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka

Welcome to the Kingdom of  King Parakramabahu I

And although it is – just like Anuradhapura – divided into a modern, busy New Town and what remains as the royal ancient city of the Kingdom, I felt much more comfortable here and enjoyed cycling criss-cross on the historic trails. Probably though, because Polonnaruwa is smaller and more overseeable – also for a person without any sense of orientation whatsoever. And most certainly because I stayed with the most welcoming and friendliest host. Ever!

 

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Guide to SIGIRIYA and a daytrip to DAMBULLA

Dambulla is much bigger and a real city and Sri Lanka’s center of the vegetable distribution. However, Sigiriya is far more famous. It literally rocks.

Lions Rock in Sigiriya - Dambulla - Lionrock - Cave Temple - Sri Lanka - Asia

In the old times, you were entering the complex through the lion’s jaws. Today, only his paws are left.

It rocks because there is the almost 200 meters high Lion Rock. And the rock band – pun intended – shot some of the scenes from the music video Save a Prayer at the top.

 

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Guide to KANDY and a Temple Hike from Embekke to Pilimathalawa

Kandy is on every Sri Lanka-visitor’s list – at least on a day trip. Many travellers are even coming here more or less straight from the airport.

Lake in the center of Kandy

Perfect point of orientation is the centrally located Kiri Muhuda lake.

Honestly, I didn’t really get why. And even doing some additional online-research for this post proved me right: It is almost hysterically overrated.

 

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The Highlands: Guide to NUWARA ELIYA and HAPUTALE

In Asia, each of the colonial powers – be it the British or the French – installed a refuge for themselves in the highlands. There, they found a milder, cooler climate and fertile soil to grow for instance tea.

Tea Plantation in Nureliya - Haputale - Tea Plantations - Sri Lanka - Asia

Gardens and plantations dominate Nureliya’s sceneries.

In Sri Lanka, this place is Nuwara Eliya – and you really cannot blame the British that they fell in love with this earthly Garden Eden.

 

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Guide to UDAWALAWE

Whatever you like, you’ll find it in Sri Lanka: Whether it’s archeological sites, lush sceneries in the highlands, jungles, beaches – and animals, lots and lots of wild animals and endemic birds.

Elaphant at the Udawalawe Elephant Safari Sri Lanka

In Udawalawe, the animals let you get really close.

The best way to see these beautiful creatures practically undisturbed in their natural habitat, you go on a Safari at of the national parks. To enjoy an idyllic and intimate experience, I opted for Udawalawe – and I was not disappointed.

 

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MIRISSA – Beach Hopping

I know: It is very tempting to just stay in one place and enjoy the ‘dolce far niente’ – especially after weeks of roaming the island.

Stilfisher in Mirissa

The famous stilt fishermen waiting for a catch close to Coconut Beach in Weligama.

But why not doing nothing – but each day in another breathtakingly beautiful place? Beaches around Mirissa can be easily reached by bus, tuk-tuk, or a rented scooter – and every single of them is totally worth the “effort” of beach hopping.

 

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Guide to GALLE

Galle, the last stop on my trip through Sri Lanka, conquered my heart despite the fact that it’s very touristy.

Galle Sri Lanka

There is even a small beach next to Galle’s iconic lighthouse.

It is one of the eight sites being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage – and while places like Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy are on the list for really, really old structures and architectonic sites, Galle is sort of the baby of the family: The beautiful, historic Galle Fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and expanded and finished by the Dutch in the 17th century.

 

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