Only a few places on earth offer satiating respite for a wanderlust-stricken soul. And just a handful qualifies as paragons of tropical charm and exotic beauty. Since ancient times, Sri Lanka has earned its stature as a paradise, captivating those who encountered it, from spice traders to explorers. Its palm-fringed coastline has a magnetic pull for sun-seekers around the world. But that’s not all. Its wild jungles, exotic species, cultural richness, and remnants of a complex civilization tick even the boxes you never knew. To get the best tropical experience in 5 days in Sri Lanka, make sure not to miss out on these places and things to do.
Sure! The East Coast is just as mesmerising, but if you want to stay closer to the capital, the southwest and south coast beaches have plenty to offer. Renowned for its beauty, secluded bays, surf spots, lagoons, turtles, blue whales, and stunning resorts, it is beach bliss for miles.
Unawatuna is named one of the best beaches in the world. Stretching for more than a mile, its calm waters, thanks to the offshore reef, are ideal for bathing. If you want more tranquility, Weligama’s sandy beach enveloping its 2km bay welcomes sunbathers and surfers alike. Its forgiving sandy-bottomed break is perfect for surfing novices.
Soak up a colonial maritime legacy in Galle. Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the area is a testament to the period of Dutch architecture. Mirissa’s half-moon bay is a top surf, snorkel and scuba diving spot. However, its whale sightings are the most well-known phenomenon. Bentota is known for its scenic and wild topography. Its golden sandy beach meets a large lagoon framed by mangroves. River cruises on Bentota River reward you with a biodiversity spectacle.
Many of the beach resorts in the south offer Ayurveda wellness and Yoga in their serene environments.
One of the most iconic symbols that represent Sri Lanka is the Asian Elephant. An estimated 7000 wild elephants roam the jungles on the island, one of the highest densities of Asian Elephants. From Yala National Park, bordering the southern coast, to Minneriy National Park in the dry plains of northcentral, they delight all those who spot them. In the dry season, Minneriya National Park hosts one of the mightiest elephant gatherings on the continent.
Leopards are also frequently sighted, mainly in Yala. Sri Lanka is also home to an exceptional number of native and migratory bird species, including the exuberant peacock and Malabar pied hornbill. Kumana National Park, neighboring Yala and Bunadala National Park in the deep south, are ornithological havens.
Lunuganga by Geoffrey Bawa
This country estate is the living biography of Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most illustrious architect. Nestled on the banks of the Dedduwa Lake in Bentota, its gardens are a tropical version of a European Renaissance garden. The 10-room bungalow oozes old-world charm and preserves Bawa’s vision to this day. Bawa began transforming the estate in the 1950s and continued until his death. A stroll through this 15-acre estate transports you to another realm. A visit to Bentota in the southwest is never complete without a visit to Lunuganga.
The hills and tea
The story of the world-famous Ceylon Tea began over 200 years ago. Introduced to Sri Lanka by the British, it has thrived since, becoming a legendary export. Nuwara Eliya is the heart of the tea country. Its cool clime and high altitude make it the sweet spot for growing some of the finest tea in the world. The hills cloaked in tea plantations form a green carpet as far as the eyes can see. Strewn across the landscape are waterfalls and streams. Visiting a tea factory and sampling a freshly brewed cup are must-dos here. The gateway to the central hills is Kandy, where the sacred Temple of the Tooth is. Hopping on a train, you can travel to Ella for one of the most scenic train rides in the world. Ella is a postcard-pretty town with breathtaking views.
Every country has an iconic landmark, instantly recognisable. Sigiriya is Sri Lanka’s. Its unique shape, lion paws, verdant jungles surrounding it, and the frescoes are famous throughout the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya is perhaps the most famous Cultural Triangle site. Known historically as King Kashyapa’s rock fortress, it was once a Buddhist monastic settlement during the 3rd century BC. There are 1200 steps up to the summit, where the ruins of a once glorious palace stood. Today, it is the 360-degree view visitors are craving. Along the rocky ledges, torque monkeys swagger their way up and down. It will be the main feature of jaw-dropping photos from your 5 days in Sri Lanka.
Dambulla Cave Temple
Close to Sigiriya is Dambulla town, where the Dambulla Cave Temple is. The complex contains five caves, each with a unique character and collection of religious art and statues. Inhabited by forest-dwelling Buddhist monks since the 3rd century BCE, these natural caves were transformed continuously throughout history.
Sacred City of Anuradhapura
It is the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, a UNESCO Heritage Site and the place where the highest concentration of stupas is on the island. The vast network of ancient temples and monasteries covers over 100 square kilometres (40 sq mi) of the city. The white and grey domes are said to contain Buddha’s relics, Ruwanwelisaya, the largest among them. Holiest of all sites is the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, which surrounds the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, grown from a sapling of the fig tree beneath the Buddha said to have attained enlightenment. It is known to be the oldest human-planted tree in the world.
Ritigala Mountain is one of the best-kept secrets of Sri Lanka. It is home to ruins of ancient temples swallowed by jungle and hidden caves that sheltered hermit monks who withdrew from the world. The rock inscriptions of the monastery date back to the 1st century BCE. The mountain has a distinctive microclimate different from the surrounding plains, giving rise to many myths and legends. Among them is the Ramayana legend that identifies it as a piece of the Himalayan Mountain dropped by Lord Hanuman as he was carrying it to Sri Lanka, using his supernatural powers. Unable to identify the exact medicinal herb, Hanuman brought the whole mountain to treat Lakshmana, the younger brother of Lord Rama, who was wounded in battle with Ravana.
Sri Lanka is the ultimate tropical getaway, ancient as it is beautiful, verdant as it is azure all around, and the experiences will leave you wanting more. Whether lazing on a quiet beach, adventuring in the wild or exploring cultural fascinations, five days will fly like a dream, with a cache of collected memories. Give exotic its true meaning by booking your sun-drenched holiday here. Blue Lanka Tours makes tailor-made getaways happen with expertise, flexibility, 24/7 customer support, over 1000 accommodation properties in its portfolio, and accountability. We cater to all holiday types and short breaks. How long do you have for a tropical treat?