The 10 most beautiful Cities of Sri Lanka

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Joel Fulleda

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Despite its small size, Sri Lanka boasts numerous cultural and naturalistic attractions. The tear of India has, in fact, geographical and historical-cultural characteristics that make it perfect for a 360 ° journey!
From the historic cities included in the famous Cultural Triangle to the spectacular tea plantations, from the metropolitan chaos of Colombo, the capital to the bucolic waterfalls, without forgetting, finally, a relaxing sun-sea-relaxation stop in a pleasant coastal town.
Spirituality, history and nature. All concentrated in one island!

In order to savor all the aspects that this magical island offers, Here are the 10 most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka.


  1. Columbo
  2. Dambulla
  3. Sigiriya
  4. Polonnaruwa
  5. Anuradhapura
  6. Kandy
  7. Nuwara Elia
  8. Ella
  9. Bile
  10. Mirissa
  11. User questions and comments

1 - Columbus

It's the capital, has long been one of the ports of the trade routes between East and West, managed first by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch and finally by the British.
This legacy is reflected in the architecture of the city, where colonial buildings mingle with skyscrapers and shopping centers.

Located on the southwestern side of the island, Colombo is a coastal city with over 650.000 inhabitants; it is so extensive that it is impossible to establish a center of it indeed, it is divided into 15 sectors called by number, like the Parisian arrondissements.
Galle Face Green it is the most photographed city malecòn where citizens come to stroll among luxury hotels, kites and street-food stalls.

The sky-line icons are there Fort Clock Tower, the towers of World Trade Center and Lotus Tower.

  • Best time: January and February, a little cooler. The temperature is hot and humid all year round, averaging 30 ° C and there are 2 rain peaks: in April-May and in October-November
  • Main attractions: Fort, Jami ul-Aftar, Lotus Tower, Independence Square, Seema Malaka Temple
  • starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 35,00 per room -
  • half day city tour The True Essence of Colombo: Private Highlights and Hidden Gems

2 - Dambulla

More or less at the center of the Cultural Triangle, this dusty town it is famous for its extraordinary cave temples, 5 semi-dark caves carved into the rock inside which there are over 150 statues of the Buddha and the walls are totally frescoed with paintings depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha himself.

In itself, the city offers nothing else of interest to visit: it is arranged along a single very busy road. Thanks to its strategic position it is a very convenient base for travel in the most interesting areas of the country.

On the way there are an interesting one stop at the wholesale fruit and vegetable market and in one of several traditional villages where it is possible to see and touch how the farmers still live today.
It is a purely tourist experience (€ 12,50) but still true in which you try the means of transport (cart pulled by cows) and observe the preparation and taste typical dishes.

  • Best time: from December to February; relatively cool climate and little rain
  • Main attractions: Golden temple, cave temples in the cave, museum of cave paintings
  • flights to Colombo (153 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 25,00 per room -
  • Dambulla: Cave Temple and Village Tour Dambulla and Kaudulla National Park Day Tour From Colombo Secrets of Sri Lanka - Matale of Dambulla

3 - Sigiriya

About 15km north-east of Dambulla, this town it stands impregnable on the surrounding arid plains.
Of all the capitals, Sigiriya is the one that had the shortest life, but still remains the most extraordinary, so much so that in 1982 it obtained the recognition of Unesco World Heritage.
The famous fortress of Sigiriya has become a symbol of Sri Lanka, to reach its summit you need to climb 1.200 steps!

Considered by some to be the eighth wonder of the world, on the flat top of the rock are the remains of an ancient palace-fortress built by King Kasyapa between 477 and 485.

On the way up, visitors can admire some of the country's most famous frescoes, The Maidens of Sigiriya, and stop at the terrace with the Lion's Gate, of which only a couple of legs remain.

  • Best time: from December to February; relatively cool climate and little rain
  • Main attractions: Sigiriya Rock (fresco of the girls of Sigiryia, the terrace of the lion, water gardens, caves)
  • flights to Colombo (177 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 20,00 per room -
  • Sigiriya and Dambulla: Full-Day Tour from Colombo Sigiriya: Fortress and Temples Tour from Kandy Colombo: Full-Day Tour to Sigiriya Rock and Village

4 - Polonnaruwa

The great capital now in ruins, is one of the most interesting destinations of the Cultural Triangle, and of the island itself.
The city reached the pinnacle of its power and splendor in the twelfth century.
The ancient city, i.e. the ruins of Polonnaruwa, are scattered over a 'area of ​​arid forest measuring 4 km from North to south.
It takes at least half a day to visit the entire site, better a full day, as to move from one site of interest to another you need to use means (tuk-tuk, driver, bike).

Originally the city was surrounded by 3 concentric walls and pervaded by gardens in the center of which is the Royal Palace. Immediately to the north, the so-called Quadrangolo, the religious heart of the ancient city where there is the greatest concentration of interesting buildings.
The important monuments are located in the northern area of the site and include monasteries and impressive statues of the Buddha carved into the rock.

Although the site is not exclusively of a religious nature, to visit it it is necessary to have suitable clothing and to walk barefoot.

  • Best time: from December to February; relatively cool climate and little rainfall
  • Main attractions: museum, royal palace, Quadrangle, Rankot Vihara, Alahana Pirivera, Gal Vihara
  • flights to Colombo (220 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 18,00 per room -
  • Polonnaruwa + Sigiriya Tour from Dambulla From Dambulla: Private Tour of Polonnaruwa and Minneriya Day Trip to the Ancient Capital of Polonnaruwa From Colombo

5 - Anuradhapura

Located in the center of the northern plains, this city acquired so much importance that, for 1.000 years, the history of Sri Lanka coincided with the history of Anuradhapura itself, until it was razed to the ground by Indian invaders in 993.

It was rediscovered by the British in the th century and today is a magical place with high tourist attraction.
The site of the ancient city is huge, you could spend whole days to visit it all calmly.

At the height of power, it was the center of both temporal and spiritual power, dotted with dozens of monasteries.
The kings of Anuradhapura controlled the golden age of Sinhala culture, and the temples and huge dagobas (stupas) they built rank among the greatest architectural feats in history, surpassed only by the Pyramids of Giza.

12 km east of the city, we recommend a stop in Mihintale, revered for being the place where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. At the top of a staircase there is a giant modern white statue of the Buddha sitting and an equally huge stupa always very white, the Mahaseya dagoba.

  • Best time: from December to February; relatively cool climate and little rainfall
  • Main attractions: Mahavihara, Sri Maha Bohdi, Ruwanwelisaya Dagoba, Jetavana Monastery, Samadhi Buddha Isurumunyia Vihara
  • flights to Colombo (210 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 35,00 per room -
  • Day Trip to UNESCO City of Anuradhapura From Colombo Dambulla / Sigiriya: Full-Day Anuradapura and Mihintale Tour

6 - Kandy

Among the steep heights of the verdant highlands of central Sri Lanka, this one is the second largest city on the island by size as well as cultural capital.
Hosts the Temple of the sacred tooth of the Buddha, the most important sanctuary in the country which, every year, welcomes thousands of faithful especially on the occasion of the perahera, the most important festival in the country and among the most spectacular in Asia. The perahera lasts 10 days and takes place on variable dates, generally in summer.

The centerpiece of the city is the Kiri Muhuda, artificial lake, surrounded by a delightful white balustrade, nicknamed "wall of clouds", and in which beautiful colonial buildings are reflected. The folkloric and chaotic central market gives a slice of everyday life.

Around, Matale deserves a stop, where to visit the spice gardens (with guided tour), the colorful Sri Muthumariamman Thevasthanam Hindu temple and Peradeniya botanical garden, the largest in the country which, on its over 60 hectares, hosts a surprising variety of local and foreign botanical species.

  • Best time: climatically it is December-March; to attend an evocative rite it is necessary to go there on the occasion of the perahera (July-August)
  • Main attractions: Temple of the sacred tooth of the Buddha, lake (Kiri Muhuda), royal palace, St. Paul's Church
  • flights to Colombo (118 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -
  • Kandy: Shanthipura and Nuwara Eliya Kandy: day trip from Colombo city highlights tour of temples, gardens and cultural performances all inclusive city tour

7 - Nuwara Elia

E' located in the heart of the southern highlands region, in a valley of green mountains, which is why it is called the highest city in the country. Given its location, the journey through the city, whether by car or train, is highly scenic!

The town is somewhat bizarre; on the other hand it is apurely British invention.
It was discovered in 1819 by an English administrator who understood its agricultural potential. At first, in fact, there were extensive coffee plantations here, then, with the failure of the coffee sector in the 800s, local farmers began to shift their interest towards tea, a plantation that today constitutes the fulcrum of the local economy.

The English heritage is felt and breathed in every corner. In addition to a well-kept city park, there are the golf course and numerous buildings in typical British style, first of all the iconic post office.

  • Best time: January, March and from June to September, when there is a pleasant, warm temperature and the risk of precipitation is moderate
  • Main attractions: tea plantations and factories, post office, Victoria Park, Gregory lake, central market
  • flights to Colombo (182 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 50,00 per room -
  • Kandy: Shanthipura and Nuwara Eliya From Kandy: Nuwara Eliya by train From Nuwara Eliya: Full Day Ella and Little Adam's Peak Tour Nuawara Eliya of Horton Plains and Tea Tour

8 - She

It is a small town in the Badulla district, in the south center of the island and at an altitude of 1.041 meters above sea level.
It is surrounded by forested hills and tea plantations. The city has a cooler climate than the surrounding lowlands, due to its height.
There are no particular attractions to visit. The charm and beauty of the town lies in the bucolic naturalistic context where it is isolated.

The main reason for a stop is there possibility to reach it with one of the most scenic trains in the world, starting from Nanu Oya, the route winds its way through the mountains, forests and tea plantations of central Sri Lanka.
The experience of walking along the railway and admiring the very high is also nice and unusual Bridge of 9 arches.

La cittadella it is appreciated by trekking lovers, as a starting point for the ascent to Adam's Peak or, for the less prepared, to Little Adam's Peak.
Also worth seeing Rawana waterfalls.

  • Best time: from January to April, July and December: temperatures are mild and the risk of rain quite low
  • Main attractions: Tea plantations and factories, 9 Arch Bridge, Rawana Falls, Adam's Peak, Little Adam's Peak
  • flights to Colombo (211 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 30,00 per room -
  • Ella Rock and 9 Arch Bridge, Little Adams Peak with Transfer Ella: Little Adam's Peak and Nine Arch Bridge: Half Day Tour Ella: Lipton's Seat Tour with Dambetanna Tea Factory Visit

9 - Galle

It is a city located on the southwestern tip. It was originally known by the name of Gimhathiththa before the arrival of the Portuguese in the th century, when it became the main port of the island.
It is the most important city in the southern part of the island, with a population of about 100.000 inhabitants, and is connected to Colombo by rail.

The city reached its peak in the eighteenth century, before passing under British rule, represents the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and Southeast Asia, and shows the interactions between European architectural styles and Asian traditions.

The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Identifying symbols are the lighthouse, the mosque, the former Dutch hospital, the All Saints church and the cricket stadium.

  • Best time: from December to March; relatively cool climate and little rainfall
  • Main attractions: fort, lighthouse, Dutch hospital, All Saints' Church, Meeran Jumma Mosque
  • flights to Colombo (122 km) starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 25,00 per room -
  • Day trip to Galle and Bentota from Colombo Galle Fort and Fish Massage from Colombo

10 - Mirissa

It's a small town on the south coast, located in the Matara district, in the southern province. It is located about 150 kilometers south of Colombo and is located at an altitude of 4 meters above sea level.
Sri Lanka is not really a seaside destination but, after a tour, a few days of relax on the beach, all sun and sea, do not hurt.

Mirissa it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Fine white sand, tall palms under which to find refreshment and a blue sea and wavy, in fact suitable for surfing and kite enthusiasts.
The village is famous for whale-watching, whale watching. Everywhere, on the beach and in the town, you will find stalls of agencies offering sea excursions to spot whales and dolphins (departure at 7:00 in the morning, € 50,00 per person - book the tour online).
The village develops along a road on the sides of which there are hotels (more or less beautiful), bars-restaurants, souvenir shops and a fairly large and well-stocked supermarket.
If your hotel does not include dinner, eat fresh fish right on the beach.

  • Best time: from December to March; Relatively cool climate and little rainfall. Perfect for sea life
  • Main attractions: whale and dolphin watching excursion, sea turtle hospital
  • starting from € 293,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 44,00 per room -
  • Mirissa: Morning Whale Watching Tour Adventure Park: Jungle Playground Mirissa

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