Negombo is a city on the west coast of Sri Lanka, north of the capital, Colombo. Near the waterfront, the remains of the 17th-century Dutch Fort now house a prison. Negombo Lagoon, lined with fishermen’s huts, feeds into the Dutch-era Hamilton Canal. The canal leads south to Colombo. Neoclassical St. Mary’s Church, completed in the 1920s, features a ceiling decorated with vivid religious paintings.
Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, has a long history as a port on ancient east-west trade routes, ruled successively by the Portuguese, Dutch and British. That heritage is reflected in its its architecture, mixing colonial buildings with high-rises and shopping malls. The imposing Colombo National Museum, dedicated to Sri Lankan history, borders sprawling Viharamahadevi Park and its giant Buddha.
Sigiriya or Sinhagiri is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. The name refers to a site of historical and archaeological significance that is dominated by a massive column of rock nearly 200 metres high
Trincomalee is a port city on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka. Set on a peninsula, Fort Frederick was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Within its grounds, the grand Koneswaram Temple stands on Swami Rock cliff, a popular vantage point for blue-whale watching. The holy complex contains ornate shrines and a massive statue of Shiva. Nearby Gokanna Temple has panoramic views over the city and the coastline.
Arugam Bay, known locally as “Arugam Kudah”, is a bay situated on the Indian Ocean in the dry zone of Sri Lanka’s southeast coast, and a historic settlement of the ancient Batticaloa Territory. Arugam Bay is a great surfing destination on the East Coast of Sri Lanka, 320 kilometers east from Colombo.
Yala National Park is a huge area of forest, grassland and lagoons bordering the Indian Ocean, in southeast Sri Lanka. It’s home to wildlife such as leopards, elephants and crocodiles, as well as hundreds of bird species. Inland, Sithulpawwa is an ancient Buddhist monastery. Nearby caves contain centuries-old rock paintings. Southwest, Magul Maha Viharaya also has ancient Buddhist ruins. Both are pilgrimage sites.
Galle is a city on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. It’s known for Galle Fort, the fortified old city founded by Portuguese colonists in the 16th century. Stone sea walls, expanded by the Dutch, encircle car-free streets with architecture reflecting Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. Notable buildings include the 18th-century Dutch Reformed Church. Galle Lighthouse stands on the fort’s southeast tip.
Bentota is a resort town on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. Its long Bentota Beach stretches north, where it becomes a sandy strip known as Paradise Island, parallel to Bentota Lagoon. Coral-rich dive sites include Canoe Rock. On Bentota River, centuries-old Galapota Temple has a large Buddha statue. Southeast is Lunuganga, the estate and gardens of architect Geoffrey Bawa. Northeast is his brother Bevis’s Brief Garden.
Nuwara Eliya is a city in the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka. The naturally landscaped Hakgala Botanical Gardens displays roses and tree ferns, and shelters monkeys and blue magpies. Nearby Seetha Amman Temple, a colorful Hindu shrine, is decorated with religious figures. Densely forested Galway’s Land National Park is a sanctuary for endemic and migratory bird species, including bulbuls and flycatchers.
Kandy is a large city in central Sri Lanka. It’s set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforest. The city’s heart is scenic Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake), which is popular for strolling. Kandy is famed for sacred Buddhist sites, including the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) shrine, celebrated with the grand Esala Perahera annual procession.
Mirissa is a small town on the south coast of Sri Lanka, located in the Matara District of the Southern Province. It is approximately 150 kilometres south of Colombo and is situated at an elevation of 4 metres above sea level. Mirissa’s beach and nightlife make it a popular tourist destination.
Ella is a small town in the Badulla District of Uva Province, Sri Lanka governed by an Urban Council. It is approximately 200 kilometres east of Colombo and is situated at an elevation of 1,041 metres above sea level. The area has a rich bio-diversity, dense with numerous varieties of flora and fauna.