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Updated by Erin Hunter on Jul 21, 2016
Erin Hunter Erin Hunter
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Top Sightseeing Places in Sri Lanka – Cultural & Historical Treasures

Sri Lanka offers many engrossing sightseeing attractions that are sure to capture the imagination of the visitor. These include a host of interesting cultural and historical highlights.


Temple of the Tooth

This well-known attraction in Kandy is considered to be one of Sri Lanka's most revered shrines. This is because it houses a tooth relic of Gautama Buddha and is accordingly venerated by the local Buddhists. The exterior of this temple is not splendid or elaborate, but the interior presents a contrast with its ornately decorated appearance. Innumerable devotees as well as sightseers visit this entrancing religious site. You will also have the opportunity to observe fascinating rituals and ceremonies that are conducted in honour of the tooth relic. The vibrant Esala Perahera is a splendid procession that is associated with the Temple of the Tooth.


Adam's Peak

Adam's Peak is Sri Lanka's holy mountain and is considered sacred due to the enigmatic impression that may be found at the summit of the mountain. This imprint is regarded by local Buddhists as the footprint of Buddha, whilst Muslims believe it is that of Adam and Hindus consider it to be the footprint of Shiva. Countless devotees as well as sightseers make the demanding trek to the summit each year. Another mysterious sight associated with the mountain occurs just after the time of dawn, when a shadow is cast by the rising sun onto the billowing clouds below.



No sightseeing tour of Sri Lanka would be complete without exploring the ancient city of Anuradhapura. This captivating city has the distinction of having been Sri Lanka's very first capital and is inextricably linked with the nation's historical legacy. A prominent attraction in Anuradhapura is the sacred Bo tree which is believed to be a descendant of the tree under which the Buddha achieved Enlightenment. The city also contains many impressive stupas such as Lankarama, Ruwanveli, Abhayagiri, Jetavana and Mirisaweti. Meanwhile Isurumuniya is an attractive temple that is renowned for its lovely carvings. Another religious attraction is the striking Samadhi Buddha statue which is a good example of the skill of local artisans.



Polonnaruwa was another famous capital of Sri Lanka and boasts a fine collection of mysterious ruins which hint at its splendour in times gone by. Many fascinating sightseeing attractions can be experienced in Polonnaruwa; you will see that this ancient city's ruins are situated on the eastern shores of Parakrama Samudraya, a manmade lake constructed by the monarch Parakramabahu whose period of rule is regarded as the city's golden era. In Polonnaruwa you will have the opportunity to admire the ruins of this king's palace as well as many other engrossing monuments, temples and other sites of interest. As you enjoy the nation's sightseeing attractions stay at quality Sri Lanka hotels in the region such as those of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts that offer easy access to these historical sites.



Sigiriya and its breathtaking rock fortress are spectacular sights that are sure to capture the imagination of the sightseer. Recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Sigiriya is one of Sri Lanka's most eye-catching cultural features. Atop the famous lion rock you will find the ruins of what must have been a magnificent palace. If you choose to climb the rock to the summit you will also be rewarded by spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. On your climb you will also have the opportunity to view the famous Sigiriya frescoes which depict beautiful women, probably those of the king's harem.