5) Travel by train
Winding through green, open countryside and lush tea plantations, a train journey in Sri Lanka is an unforgettable experience. Hang your legs out the open doors, wind in your hair and you’ll find yourself smiling, this is travel in Sri Lanka. Journeys are long but comfortable, hours wind away just looking out the window. The most popular route to Ella is a picture-perfect route although allow yourself a full day for travel. Alternatively, the route from Colombo to Kandy offers some great views and picture opportunities. Book ahead if possible but if not train stations are very helpful and ticket prices are cheap.
Stroll around this walled city and every turn has something new for you to explore. The beautiful lighthouse watches over the Indian ocean whilst the old colonial prison and clocktower give you a chance to learn about the long history of this fascinating place. Thanks to the British some traditions remain a staple in Galle today and afternoon tea is one of those, find yourself a little café and sit and watch the world go by. If you’re lucky enough to be here during a cricket game make sure you head for the walls over looking the Galle International Cricket stadium for some of the best cricketing views in the world! Buses and trains both run regularly from Colombo so (as with most of Sri Lanka) it is relatively accessible.
3) Beach Vibes – Mirissa and Unawatuna
The south point of this island is a perfect place to kick back on the beach with a beer or two. Mirissa is the perfect place to spot the largest animal on the planet, the blue whale. You can take an early morning boat out into the Indian Ocean to try and spot these incredible whales. You’ll probably get lucky as Sri Lanka is one of the best places in the world to see them during the whale watching season of November- April, although I went in October and saw 4! Unawatuna similarly has a laid-back beach vibe, perfect if you want to switch off for a few days, there are lots of local eateries too so try to avoid the bigger restaurants and try some local dishes, it won’t disappoint.
2) Safari at Uda Walawe
Elephants, trunks and trunks of elephants. If you want to get up close and personal with these graceful big fella’s Sri Lanka is the place to go.
There are lots of places in Sri Lanka you can go on safari and your choice will probably be dependent on personal preference and travel route. As I was heading down south I visited Uda Walawe for a sunrise safari in this sprawling savanna. Booking ahead gives peace of mind but also costs extra. Turning up at the entrance to the park there are many locals with their safari jeeps ready to take visitors in. Crocodiles, birds (peacocks a plenty) and buffalo all roam these lands as well our long-nosed friends. The early get up is worth it if not just for the sunrise over the national park.
This small village sitting at 3,415 ft above sea level and tucked in the hills and tea plantations of Uva Province is a perfect escape from the heat of the coast. Local guest houses offer panoramic views over countless tea plantations and lush green hills, Ella offers some of the most picturesque views in all of Sri Lanka. There’s lots to do here, too. If you’re feeling energetic you can hike up to Adams Peak but at 7,359 ft above sea level it’s quite a trek. Alternatively, you can climb Little Adams Peak which offers stunning views. Whilst in Ella, take a stroll down to Nine Arch Bridge, you won’t find a more striking piece of architecture in all of Sri Lanka. The best part of Ella is the home cooked food available widely across this little village. Matey Hut at the top end of Ella offers incredible home cooked curry and vegetarian options as well as cooking classes if you want to experience how to make these delicious dishes!