Things to do in
Sri Lanka

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Our most recommended things to do in Sri Lanka

Yala National Park: Private Safari at Golden Hours

1. Yala National Park: Private Safari at Golden Hours

After being picked up from your hotel in the local area or Park Entrance you will enter Yala National Park to explore the light forests, scrubs, grasslands, lagoons, and magnificent range of animals. With your private 4WD Jeep and expert guide, the ‘Golden Hours’ of the day will be used to focus on leopard spotting, either the first 2 hours or the last 2 hours of the day. Throughout this safari, you will search for the world’s most concentrated number of leopards, sloth bears, and elephants, as your knowledgable guide and driver expertly navigates the vast area and roads. The morning tour will begin at 5am from your hotel, to take in sunrise as the park opens at 6am. Whilst the afternoon option allows you to explore from 2pm until sunset when the park closes at 6pm. Situated on Sri Lanka’s south-east, hugging the panoramic Indian Ocean, Yala is a wildlife sanctuary and home to 44 varieties of mammals and 215 bird species. Leopards, elephants, water buffalo, sloth bears, sambars, jackals, spotted deer, peacocks, and crocodiles can all be found in this rich environment.

Minneriya: Minneriya National Park Private Safari

2. Minneriya: Minneriya National Park Private Safari

With the grace of majestic giants and pristine tropical dry forest settings, Minneriya National Park is a perfect spot to spend a few hours witnessing one of the most astonishing wildlife spectacles on earth.  Renowned as a prominent stopover for wandering elephants searching for food during the August and September the dry season, Minneriya National Park attracts up to 300 giants from the neighboring national parks. Enjoy the flicker of monkeys swinging through the branches and search the forest for the sight of majestic elephants, leopards, sloth bears, mongooses, spotted deer, sambar deer, wild buffalo, porcupine and Indian pangolins. Do not miss out on this quintessential safari destination in a strikingly beautiful forest.

Kandy: Historical Three Temples All-Inclusive Tour

3. Kandy: Historical Three Temples All-Inclusive Tour

Visiting three of the most ancient and historically important temples that are within an easy walking distance to one another is a memorable expedition for a heritage lover. The three temples (Embekke, Lankathilaka, Gadaladeniya) have been built in the 14th century before the Kandyan Kingdom was fully established. This tour finished at approximately 12:30 PM, when you are returned to your hotel.  Be picked up at 8:00 AM from your hotel lobby in Kandy. Arrive at your first temple by 9:00 AM. Embekke is a crafted work of wooden dedication. Look at the pillars or drum hall with unique designs on each side. Appreciate the care and effort in shapping swans, peakcocks, wrestlers, dragons and more. Hear about the history of this temple, and the importance it has represented for the culture. Visit Lankatilake Temple by 9:45 AM. Lankatilake is perhaps the finest temple in the district. An impressively solid-looking structure built on a huge rock outcrop and painted a pale blue rather than the usual white.  Then next visit Gadaladeniya Temple, built on a rocky outcrop and covered with small pools, the temple is reached by a series of steps cut into the rock. This Buddhist temple with a Hindu extension is a similar age to the Lankatilake Temple and the Embekka Devale.

Udawalawa National Park: Private Safari

4. Udawalawa National Park: Private Safari

Explore Udawalawe National Park, one of the most undisturbed and pristine natural ecosystems on the planet enriched with a wealth of Sri Lankan elephants. See huge herds of elephants, and enjoy glances of water buffalo, wild boar, spotted deer, jackal, and more. Discover an area of 30,821 hectares, which embodies the true essence of a tropical paradise. See a rich variety of exotic flora and fauna and enjoy the perfect getaway for bird-watchers. Enjoy ample opportunities for spotting endemic and migrated birds. This Udawalawe safari might even present you with the sighting of the Sri Lankan Jungle Fowl, Spur Fowl, and Green Pigeon.

All-Inclusive Minneriya National Park Afternoon Safari

5. All-Inclusive Minneriya National Park Afternoon Safari

Begin with an afternoon pickup from your hotel or residence and make your way to Minneriya National Park to begin the safari.  Minneriya National Park comprises about 21,000 acres (8,889 hectares), and contains a vast abundance of wildlife species. Take the opportunity to observe the large herds of magnificent Sri Lankan elephants in their natural habitat at close range. Also, be on the lookout for two rare species of monkey endemic to Sri Lanka, namely the Purple-faced Langur Monkey and the Toque Macaque. Other rare and endangered species such as Sri Lankan leopard and Sri Lankan sloth bear inhabit the park, as well as saltwater crocodiles and Indian pythons, which you may be lucky enough to spot! After a 3-hour safari spotting these various rare animals, your transport will return you to your accomodation.

Kandy: Sigiriya Fortress & Cave Temple All-Inclusive Tour

6. Kandy: Sigiriya Fortress & Cave Temple All-Inclusive Tour

Following early morning pick-up from your hotel in Kandy, travel by chauffeur-driven vehicle to Sigiriya. Upon arrival, climb the rock fortress of golden-hued granite, chosen by King Kasyapa at the site for his new capital. Get stunning views of the surrounding plains, which in the rainy season can turn into a delightful water garden. Continue to the Dambulla cave temple complex, built by the 1st-century King Walagambahu as a site of worship after his exile from Anuradhapura. Enjoy lunch before the drive back to Kandy, and stop at the spice garden in Matale en route. 

Sri Lanka: Yala National Park Private Safari

7. Sri Lanka: Yala National Park Private Safari

Enjoy the unspoiled natural beauty and amazing wildlife of Sri Lanka on a private safari through Yala National Park. Discover leopards, elephants, water buffalo, and more among tall trees, scenic lagoons and golden sand dunes. With the highest concentration of leopards of any national park in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is a great place for wildlife enthusiasts to get their fill. Catch a glimpse, and maybe some great photos, of these elusive predators. Watch elephants playfully bathing in the mud, and encounter other fascinating animals, including sloth bears, wild boars, spotted deer, and golden jackals. Check out the vast array of interesting birds. Keep your camera ready as you roam through these animals' natural habitat on this wonderful private safari through Yala National Park.

From Ella: Full-Day Yala National Park Safari Tour

8. From Ella: Full-Day Yala National Park Safari Tour

Visit Ruhunu National Park and explore its 126,786 hectares including the Strict Natural Reserve (Block II). The most familiar is Block I, established in 1938. Yala is famous for its big herds and large number of elephants, leopards, spotted deer, sambhur, crocodiles, mongoose, wild boar, wild buffalo, and many other animals. More than 130 bird species are recorded, including the resident and winter visitors. Head to the National Park to take an afternoon safari around 1:00 PM, as the time of day when you can see leopards and sloth bears emerge out of the shady jungle and roam around. Head to great spots for birdwatchers. The water holes and tanks are a birdwatcher's paradise, offering the chance to see the famous peacock dance. For wildlife lovers, Yala is a must see site in Sri Lanka. Once you've finished your tour, return back to your hotel in Ella.

Ella Rock & 9 Arch Bridge, Little Adams Peak with Transfer

9. Ella Rock & 9 Arch Bridge, Little Adams Peak with Transfer

Enjoy the convenience of being picked from your accommodations in either Ella, Bandarawella, Haputale, or Wellawaya via tuk-tuk. Begin your tour with an early morning hike to the famous cliff, Ella Rock. Along the way, you’ll journey through tranquil woodlands and tea plantations. Walk alongside the iconic Sri Lankan railroad. Once you’ve reached Ella Rock, you’ll be able to enjoy amazing panoramic views. Hike down from Ella Rock to Nine Arches Bridge, a picturesque bridge which connects the Ella and Demodara railway stations. The bridge consists of 9 arches, which offer a harmonious sense of geometry against the lush green growth of the countryside. The bridge is made exclusively from rock, brick, and cement, and doesn’t use any steel. Stand underneath the bridge and look out into the beautiful “9 skies” framed by the 9 arches. Walk across the bridge and learn about its history from your knowledgable guide as you take in the surroundings. Sit down for lunch at a local restaurant before going for an afternoon hike to Little Adam’s Peak, Ella’s most well-known attraction. Enjoy an easy and gradual climb to the peak. Once there, take in a spectacular view of the Ella Gap. Walk through lush green tea plantations and paddy fields. See local people plucking and collecting tea leaves. Gaze over the valley into the island’s central highlands. Take a refreshing swig of complimentary bottled water. Your tour ends as you are returned to your hotel via tuk-tuk.

From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

10. From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

After 5:00 AM pick-up from your hotel in Ella, Haputale or Bandarawela, head for Udawalawe National Park, where you'll switch to an open concept safari jeep in order to have the best views. An early morning start ensures you'll see the animals during one of their most active times of day. See herds of elephants for sure and have fun watching for crocodiles, monkeys, water buffaloes, various endemic birds species and much more. Along the way, you'll learn about and observe the natural habitats of the local wildlife while you snap some amazing photos. In the Morning/Afternoon, enjoy a packed meal. Then, at the end of your 3-hour safari adventure, switch back to the comfortable, air-conditioned car for the ride on to Mirissa/Weligama/Unawatuna or Galle where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.

Other Sightseeing Options in Sri Lanka

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What people are saying about Sri Lanka

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 487 reviews

Really good experience! At one of the attractions we should have visited, there was a really long queue and too many people, so our guide was good at coming up with a lot of other options we could see if we wanted. All the experiences were quite exciting! Our guide also found some great eateries along the way with really nice views each time. He was good at assessing when he was needed as a guide and when it was better for us to be alone and she stayed close by (eg at the restaurants). On the slightly long drive, he was also good at explaining what we saw when we looked out the windows and in general what Sri Lanka was like.

I highly recommend using apple vacations agency when you visit Sri Lanka! They offer a wide range of tours and packages to fit a variety of budgets. Our guide Niraveen and driver were on time and accommodating. This full day tour was lovely and enjoyable! Loved visiting the turtle hatchery center, the boat ride through the mangrove, and the place they took us for lunch was superb! Really trustworthy company!

The driver (Kenneth) was very accommodative and managed our tight schedule very well. He even went the extra mile and helped us to see more than what we had initially agreed — with his help we were able to visit the Ranweli spice garden, which was the cherry on top.

I had a tour guide Muditha from Withlocals. A well educated and very nice young man with proper knowledge of English and international experience. Enjoyed talking to him and his company. From the downside - expected to see more for this money.

We had a very nice guide who went to a lot of trouble so that we could see all the animals once. But he always switched off the engine so that the animals would not be disturbed. I highly recommend the tour