Most countries count themselves lucky if they have one UNESCO world heritage site to their name.
Sri Lanka has eight. There’s the sacred city of Anuradhapura, the Golden Temple of Dambulla with its five caves hewn from solid rock, and Sigiriya Rock (which bursts dramatically between the trees in the Matale District) to name just a few.
Sri Lanka’s famous Ceylon tea isn’t the only blend that plays an important part of its heritage, it’s also a fusion of Portuguese, Dutch, British colonial and indigenous cultures. It’s one of the reasons the food and drink offers such delicious variety. We think the national dish, hoppers, Sri Lanka’s bowl-shaped answer to the pancake is delicious. Try it filled with spicy curry – or with a whole baked egg for breakfast.
The landscape is equally varied. Start with a few days on the coast exploring the lowlands with their dazzlingly white beaches and tropical climate. Next, head inland for the spice plantations and rainforest-topped peaks.
Wilpattu National Park is the quietest of Sri Lanka’s national parks. It’s still recovering after years of poaching but the leopards and sloth bears which once made it famous are making a comeback and you can expect to see them in good numbers, as well as elephants, deer, and many types of bird. Yala National Park is far busier but has a higher density of wildlife. You stand a higher chance of seeing leopards here.
When to go
The best times to visit are between December to March if you’re headed for the west and south coasts. The east coast gets its sunshine between April and September. The temperature remains fairly constant all year – just double check that your visit doesn’t coincide with monsoon season, which varies depending on the area you’re headed.