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Updated by Hiru Piumwardena on Oct 05, 2019
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Top 10 Cities to Visit in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a great little island to visit, and these 10 cities give you an overview of the entire isle! From golden breaches to misty mountains, these are the top 10 cities to travel to in the country.

1

Colombo

Colombo

Chances are, even if you didn’t necessarily plan to head to Colombo you will end up there eventually. The de facto capital of the country, Colombo is a bustling metropolitan city: easily the best place to do all your shopping. With international brands as well as high quality local goods, Colombo is a good base for your trip. Stay at a Colombo city hotel and enjoy some of the best cuisine in the country, whether you’re dining in a hotel restaurant or eating spicy street food at Galle Face.
(Image credits: Hansa_d | Instagram)

2

Kandy

Kandy

Arguably the second most famous city in Sri Lanka, Kandy is the former seat of royal power, and holds to its royal status with pride. The town holds the Temple of the Tooth which features the Kandy Esala Perahera, which is a famous and beloved religious celebration that lights up the entire city, and which people flock to witness from all over the island. Kandy is also a great base for exploring that you wish to do in the mountains. A compact town, Kandy has a great climate, has the Udawatte forest, and is close to the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.
(Image credits: Pixabay.com)

3

Kalutara

Kalutara is one of the most interesting regions in the country, and features access to the west coast’s paradisiacal coastline. Stay at a hotel like Citrus Waskaduwa and enjoy luxurious service while relaxing on the beach. The town also has some great hand crafted authentic cultural souvenirs that many love to keep as mementos of their visit. Richmond Castle, the former residence of a Sri Lanka noble, is an attraction that is worth a trip.

4

Galle

Galle

Home to the Galle List festival, popular with artists and literary lovers, Galle is an ancient fort with a modern twist. Among the walls of this former military base are some of the best cafes and restaurants in the country. Bike around the fort and eat gelato ice-cream as you enjoy the hipster vibes of this seaside town. Head down to Jungle Beach for some chill waves. Laidback but vibrant, Galle is a fantastic place to visit.
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

5

Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura hosts ancient ruins that speak of the great talent that architects in the country had hundreds of years ago. Though the temples are abandoned and the stupas hold a silent watch over visitors, there is an element of life that Anuradhapura gives to these ruins that make it a fascinating place to visit. It’s easy to imagine the lives of those who lived in these temple complexes and palaces, and there’s a reason the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

6

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya

Known as ‘Little England’, walking into Nuwara Eliya feels a little bit like stepping backwards in time, or at least stepping into a different country. With a nippy cold that has everyone bundled up in sweaters, along with its various buildings and cottages from the colonial era, Nuwara Eliya is one of the cities in the country that you cannot miss. Picturesque and quaint, the town is nestled among mountains and holds an important place in Sri Lanka’s tea industry.
(Image credits: Wiktorj | Instagram)

7

Trincomalee

Located in an impressive natural harbour, Trincomalee is one of the oldest towns on this list. Roam the city to see Fort Frederick as well as the Koneswaram Temple to soak up some history and culture. The city also boasts beautiful tropical scenery and whale watching expeditions. Whale watching in particular is a major pull.

8

Ella

You can spend days in Ella with its brilliant views and great hikes. The most famous is Ella rock, but Little Adam’s peak is great as well. And don’t forget to check out Ravana Falls as well as the renowned Nine Arch Bridge in Demodara.

9

Jaffna

Jaffna

Home to the Nallur temple, Jaffna is a melting pot of culture and tradition. Beautiful buildings dot the town, and its unique scenery make it a must visit. Jaffna food must be tasted to be believed, and try out the Jaffna mango if you are able to!
(Image credits: Unsplash.com)

10

Tangalle

Tangalle is one of the underrated coastal towns in the country, and its beach is perfect both for sunbathing as well as adventure. Try some scuba diving and snorkelling for a taste of tropical paradise.