Central – Cultural Triangle, Hills & Waterfalls

Famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Sinhala Civilization originating around the 5th century BC, was Sri Lanka’s first ancient kingdom and capital. Declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is situated about 200 km north of Colombo on the banks of the historic Malvathu river and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. Anuradhapura is sacred to the Buddhist world and is full of ancient monasteries, sacred stupas, ruins of temples and palaces, and a network of stunning irrigation lakes and reservoirs. It is considered Sri Lanka’s most important ancient city and boasts of housing the world’s oldest tree planted by human hands. The Sri Maha Bodhi is believed to have been brought to Sri Lanka by Emperor Ashoka’s daughter Sanghamitta, planted in 288 BC and is reported to be a branch of the fig tree under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, India.
Polonnaruwa is the home of some incredibly well-preserved ruins dating back to around 990 AD. Located on the banks of the Parakrama Samudraya you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Audience Hall, the Swimming Pool, the Quadrangle with its 4 entrances and 4 Buddha Statues, the Shiva Devale, the Rankot Vihara, and Gal Vihara which has 4 Separate Buddha statues cut from a single long slab of granite. The Standing Buddha statue is 7 Meters tall and the Reclining Buddha Statue is 14 meters long. There are 2 seated Buddha Statues to complete the collection. Polonnaruwa lies in proximity to Elephant populated National Parks and is just one hours drive to Sigiriya.
Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress originally used by Buddhist monks as a monastery but later used as a fortress. Built on top of a granite rock 200 meters high, it is said to be built in the 5th century by King Kashyapa, and is adorned by many colourful rock paintings or frescoes of beautiful women which gives rise to speculation that it was once a pleasure palace of the king. Surrounded by a network of pools and gardens set in the middle of a jungle its irrigation systems are considered an engineering marvel. Another World Heritage site, it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Sri Lanka.
Dambulla, another UNESCO World Heritage site is situated in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, 150 km North East of Colombo and forms part of the Cultural Triangle. Famous for its Cave Temple Complex of 5 Caves, it is 22 centuries old, and a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site. Known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, it has many colourful Buddhist mural paintings and 150 statues which will strike the observer with awe by its sheer magnificence.

Set on a plateau surrounded by mountains at an elevation of 1500 feet, Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city. The Bogambara Lake is at the heart of the city and is a popular walking site for visitors and residents. Another UNESCO Heritage Site, Kandy is home to Tea plantations and bio-diverse rain forests as well as the Dalada Maligawa/Temple of the Tooth, a sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists. The Esala Perahera held in July/August is known as the Festival of the Tooth and is a grand pageant to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic. A procession of costumed fire dancers, whip dancers, and other cultural dancers and Elephants colourfully adorned with jeweled garments, it is a wonderful spectacle to behold.

The nearby town of Peradeniya is famous for the Botanical Gardens and is another must visit attraction.

Nuwara Eliya

Nestled in the mountains 1800 meters above sea level, Nuwara Eliya is a popular destination for tourists as well as locals, especially during peak season of March to May. With a cool climate all year round, and charming colonial style bungalows with old English style lawns and gardens, it is one of the coolest places to be in Sri Lanka. Known as Little England due to being the chosen residential city of the English during the colonial occupation, Victoria Park, Gregory’s Lake and the Golf Course are its main attractions. During the season there are Golf Tournaments, Motor Racing, Horse Racing and Flower Shows to go with Trout Fishing and Boat Rides on Gregory’s Lake. Overlooked by Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain and surrounded by Tea Plantations, Nuwara Eliya is another destination which should go on your bucket list.

Horton Plains / World’s End

32 km from Nuwara Eliya and at 2300 meters elevation, Horton Plains is the source of 3 of Sri Lanka’s main rivers, Mahaweli, Kelani and Walawe. Rich in bio-diversity many endemic species are found here. It is an ideal destination for those interested in Fauna and Flora. The Horton Plains plateau ends with a sheer drop of 880 meters at World’s End. The walking trail is about 9km round trip the highlight of which is the scenic Bakers Fall.


200 km east of Colombo and 1040 meters above sea level situated in the Badulla District, Ella is a small town which boasts of many scenic attractions. Ravana Fall just 10 minutes’ drive from town is popular and easily accessible to take a quick dip to cool off. Little Adams Peak is an ideal challenge for hikers and the Nine Arch Bridge just outside Ella town offers one of the most breathtakingly beautiful train rides in the world. In clear weather you can see all the way to the southernmost plains of Sri Lanka through the Ella Gap.