Top 9 Adventure Activities & Sights in Sri Lanka – Land of Spices and Smiles

Lush green terraces of tea plantations, bustling chaotic streets of traffic, singing sri lankans as they clamber up Adam’s peak, these are just some of the vivid memories I have of the rugged green country of Sri Lanka.

get a car and driver to get around sri lanka is the best option
Get a car and driver to get around sri lanka is the best option

Ely and I made a trip up to Sri Lanka over christmas and new year’s, spreading across 10days to cover the following route:

Sigiriya ( 2 Night)  >>Kandy (1 Night) >> Nuwara Eliya (3 Nights)>> Galle (1 Night)>> Hikkaduwa ( 2 Nights)

Walking the temples of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka had open up more in the past 10 years, and have been receiving a surge of tourist arrivals. Some of these places that are visited are rather accessible and maintained well, making it a bit safer as well.

So here’s listing some of the fun and adventurous activities to immerse in during your time there:

Top 9 fun and adventurous activities one can embark on in Sri Lanka:

1. Crazy crowded but scenic train rides from Kandy –> Nuwara Eliya/ Elle

Crazy train rides with scenic views from Kandy to Nuawara Eliya/ Elle.
Crazy train rides with scenic views from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya/ Elle.

2. Hiking and Trekking at the best Nature Spots

Climbed Adam's Peak and witnessed the sunrise view from the temple top. Did I mention I climbed it with a sprain ankle.
Climbed Adam’s Peak and witnessed the sunrise view from the temple top. Did I mention I climbed it with a sprain ankle.

One of the trademark beauty of Sri Lanka is its lush greenery. We got to enjoy a lot of it by visiting the 2 UNESCO World heritage sites – Horton’s Plains and Adam’s Peak.

Come prepared with good waterproof clothing and proper hiking boots. Though both places are relatively easy to walk without too much scrambling on loose rock/ jagged edges, but the weather here proves volatile, so the ground will be slippery if there is rain or morning dew gathered. Also, Adam’s peak is quite dark while hiking up at night and I actually injured my ankle stepping into a porthole ( how unexciting). So I would recommend one to be ready with proper hiking boots all the time.

Adam’s Peak hike

Head off to Adam’s Peak starting ground as early as 11pm might be a bit extreme, depending on your speed of staircase climb up the mountain. Most fit people will take 2-3 hours to get up to the top.

There are plenty of rest points in between to get chips, hot drinks and some sri lanka street snacks.

Enjoy hiking? Find out the other hiking/ climbing spots in Asia

Horton’s Plains

Definitely a must visit for those who love nature and scenic walks. Though the ride and entry in the park costs us as much as US$90 (which is a bit insane for a natural scenic place like that), it was nonetheless a very beautiful and relaxing trail with the cool fog following us around.

walking through the orangy fields at horton's plains
Going past the iconic World’s End before ending up on these orangy fields of horton’s plains

If you managed to break away from the noisy groups, you might have a higher chance bumping into animals like sambar deer. It was an absolutely astonishing sight to see it running across the walkway.

Sigiriya Rock World Heritage Site

Sigiriya rock aka lion rock
Sigiriya Rock aka ‘Lion Rock’

A unique shaped piece of rock with no other high elements around it, this UNESCO world heritage site is truly surreal to look at and turns out to be quite a relaxing climb as well. It’s mostly stairway all the way up, with handbars to grip also. Very friendly for younger ones to less fit folks as well.

3. Tea, Spices and everything nice

The trademark of Sri Lanka is also none other than their – black tea. Once you enter the zones of Nuwara Eliya, the temperatures here at night drops and you immediately feel the need to whip out your warm jackets and long pants to replace the t-shirt and shorts from Kandy. The cool air was quite lovely in the day though, hence making it such a conducive climate for tea to grow.

Tea plantations at nuwara eliya
Lush vivd yellowish green tea plantations at Nuwara Eliya. Ely and I stole a quick photo with these lovely local tea pickers
Down the trails of the tea plantations

Ely going down the trails of the tea plantations. We had 2 boys following us around during that trail.

4. Visiting historical monuments of Ceylon

Exploring the Polonnaruwa Ancient City
Exploring the Polonnaruwa Ancient City by foot

The country of Sri Lanka, on top of its scenic nature routes, is also very rich in history, religious roots and culture. Even though we were on a slightly tight budget here in Sri Lanka, we still managed to visit a couple of the really beautifully preserved heritage sites, and I would strongly recommend them for your consideration.

Polonnaruwa Ancient city

I have forgotten the name of this animal, but it is of certain significance as it is commonly scene at the entrance of a lot of these monuments
I have forgotten the name of this animal, but it is of certain significance as it is commonly seen at the entrance of a lot of these old ruins

We got around Polonnaruwa Ancient city by foot and renting a bicycle at one of the main entrances, which speeds up the time needed to get around. It costs about US$12 to rent a bicycle for 2-3 hours.

Check out the Ultimate list of All the Top Ancient Cities of the World

Enter the Grand Cave temple of Sri Lanka – Golden Temple of Dambulla

Not named a UNESCO world heritage centre for nothing, this iconic massive temple houses hundreds of buddha statues, and the paintings on the walls have been preciously restored and redone.

Indiana Jones Edition: Temple of the Tooth at Sri Dalada Maligawa

This place houses the sacred tooth relic that hundreds of people flock here yearly to receive blessings

Walk the old fort of Galle by the coast

walking along the old fort of galle
Walking along the old fort of Galle

Enjoying reading about Sri Lanka. Visit another popular destination in the area – Mauritius

From UNESCO World heritage spots to tea plantations to enjoying a drink by the beach, Sri Lanka has the blend of exotic & culture across these 9 attractions
Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang is a Singaporean city girl who decided to ditch her high heels for hiking boots and become a full-time traveller and digital nomad. She has been to almost 60 countries to date! She has a knack for adventure travel, especially rock climbing, and always hunts down the best climbing spots around the world. Check out her expert advice on the best outdoor crags to climb at or what workouts to improve your climbing performance.

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