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Updated by Joanna James on Aug 13, 2018
Headline for Must Visit Places in Sri Lanka - top locations you can't miss
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Joanna James Joanna James
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Must Visit Places in Sri Lanka - top locations you can't miss

Sri Lanka is a beautiful tropical island with plenty to see and do, but with so many choices, deciding what to see first, can be a nightmare.Here's a few must visit places you should see on your trip.

1

Galle Fort

The Dutch Fort or Galle Fort as its commonly known, is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the town of Galle. Full of colonial structures, boutique shops and cafes, luxury hotels and probably the panoramic views of the Indian Ocean in Galle - you will need a full day to properly explore the cobble stone streets, hidden lanes, and ramparts around the fort. The main attraction of the fort is that it's a living heritage site, and hence contains a vibrant community of locals and expats alike, as well as administrative offices - some of which date back centuries. Some important landmarks to see here are the National Maritime Museum, the Dutch Reformed Church, Meera Mosque, the clock tower, and the All Saints Anglican Church.

2

Adam's Peak

Located in the Hill Country, this mighty peak has been a focus for pilgrimage among many faiths for over 1000 years. They come to worship a sacred footprint at the summit, which depending on the religion, belongs to the Buddha, Adam, or even Lord Shiva. The peak has several names, each attributed to a faith; Adam's Peak (where Adam first set foot on earth after being cast out of heaven), or in Sinhalese, Sri Pada (Sacred Footprint, left by the Buddha ). The best time to climb is between December to May, but keep in mind this is also the pilgrimage season, so the trail to the summit can get quite crowded. Start early morning to reach the temple at the top, in time to watch the sun rise over the valleys. During the rest of the year, the trails are covered in mist and rain, making it a precarious climb.

3

Anuradhapura

The ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura is a UNESCO Word Heritage Site, and one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. The kingdom was the centre for Buddhism for many centuries, and is still considered a holy city by Buddhists. Anuradhapura is now split between two main areas - the sacred city, famed for its sprawling complex of preserved ruins that include palaces, temples, stupas, and several royal pools and gardens - and the quiet modern town, located a short drive away. What makes this area unique is that several of the old sites are still in use as holy places, so visiting the ruins is more like vising a natural attraction than an archaeological site.

4

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Rising 200 meters over wild jungles is the Sigiriya Rock Fortress - one of the island's most recognised landmarks. The private home of a notorious king, Sigiriya is celebrated for not only its beauty, but also the ancient engineering techniques that were used to build it. The area around the giant rock contains several landscaped gardens, moats, and ramparts, whilst at the summit are the ruins of what was once a large royal palace, pavilions, gardens and pools. It only takes a couple of hours to explore and climb the rock, so you can easily head there in the morning and make it back in time to any of the hotels in the area, like the Heritance Hotels & Resorts, for lunch.

5

Trincomalee

Located on the east coast, this laid back town has plenty to offer travellers - from pristine beaches to coral reefs, but it's most famous for the ancient Koneswaram Temple. Situated at the top of an outcrop is one of the island's most important Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The current structure dates back to the 1900s, but the temple has been in existence for around two thousand years. Prayers and offerings are given at set times throughout the day, and anyone is allowed in to take part or just watch.

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