Top places to visit in Sri Lanka on a 2-day getaway

by | Oct 10, 2023

48 hours in Sri Lanka? Sometimes, we only get a brief interlude to escape the mundane, and making every moment count matters. Hop across the mesmerizing tapestry of culture, nature, and history on a dramatic island landscape. Surrounded by the sea, kissed by the sun, criss-crossed by jungles, dotted by ancient ruins, and adorned by a rich culture, Sri Lanka offers a symphony of experiences. Whether it is a spur-of-the-moment inspiration, your spontaneous spirit, or your love for whirlwind adventure, these are the top places to visit in Sri Lanka on a 2-day getaway.


Overlooked as merely a transit point, Colombo is a mosaic of culture and history. From the colonial-era architecture harking back to Dutch, Portuguese, and British influences to the bustling streets adorned with temples, mosques, and churches, the city showcases old-world charm and the vibrant hues of different cultures and traditions in one place.

Stroll through its bustling bazaars and markets. The Pettah Market, a labyrinthine maze of stalls and shops, offers everything from textiles to spices. Colombo’s culinary landscape, from street vendors dishing out pickles, vadas, hoppers, and kottu to high-end restaurants offering a contemporary twist on traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, it is a haven for food enthusiasts.

The city is also home to serene pockets of greenery that provide a respite from the urban hustle. Viharamahadevi Park, with its tranquil lake and lush gardens and Galle Face Green, a coastal urban park, are the perfect spots to immerse in some nature.

As Sri Lanka’s largest city, Colombo is a gateway to modern urban vibes. The cityscape boasts contemporary skyscrapers, stylish boutiques, and chic cafes. The vibrant nightlife scene comes alive in trendy bars, live music venues, and entertainment options that cater to various tastes.

Colombo is a convenient destination in Sri Lanka 2-day tours, whether you are just stopping on your way elsewhere or want to stay close to the BIA, Sri Lanka’s international airport.

South Coast

The coastal beauty of Sri Lanka is a coveted itinerary on a Sri Lanka tour package. Hugging the shores of the Indian Ocean, the south coast of Sri Lanka unveils a picturesque paradise with its stunning beaches, azure waters, serene sunsets, and a medley of cultural and natural wonders. From the tranquil spots that offer solitude to the vibrant culture that thrives in its towns and villages, the south coast is one of the top tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.

Unawatuna’s calm crescent-shaped bay, Tangalle’s pristine beaches, Hikkaduwa’s colourful corals, Bentota’s winding river, and Kalutara’s hidden palm-fringed beaches, all part of Sri Lanka’s Gold Coast, encapsulates Sri Lanka’s tropical beauty. The south coast treats visitors to whale sightings, turtle-watching, surfing, snorkelling, diving, and more.

The maritime city of Galle in the south is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its Dutch Fort, cobbled streets, colonial-era architecture, and charming boutiques make it a treasure trove of historical and cultural gems.


Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa

In the north-central part of the island, among the blankets of paddy fields are the revered cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. These UNESCO World Heritage Sites offer a glimpse into the ancient Sri Lanka, where sprawling ruins and intricately carved monuments stand as testaments to the grandeur of civilizations long gone by.

Anuradhapura, often called the cradle of civilization, holds a special place in the country’s history as its first Kingdom, established in the 5th century BC. Its sprawling complex of stupas, monasteries, and palaces can take an entire day to explore. The Sri Maha Bodhi a descendant of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment is one of the holiest sites in the city.

Continuing the journey northwards, Polonnaruwa takes you deeper into the annals of history. This second ancient capital created in the 11th century, showcases a more compact layout, making it easier to explore the highlights on foot or by bicycle.

Discover the Gal Vihara, a collection of beautifully carved Buddha statues, including a 46-foot reclining Buddha that leaves visitors in awe. The royal palace complex, with its well-preserved stone structures and the iconic Rankot Vihara stupa, offers a glimpse into the opulence of ancient Sri Lankan architecture.

Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, with Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy, comprises the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya and Dambulla

Almost always included in a Cultural Triangle tour in Sri Lanka, Sigiriya and Dambulla are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Dominating the landscape with its sheer presence, the majestic Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a testament to the prowess of ancient Sri Lankan engineers and architects. Climb the stone staircases, flanked by the famous Sigiriya frescoes depicting heavenly nymphs known as “apsaras.” At the summit, where King Kasyapa’s palace complex used to be, panoramic views stretch endlessly over the lush plains below.

At Dambulla, in the heart of a massive granite outcrop is the Dambulla Cave Temples, a cave monastery consisting of five sanctuaries. Inhabited since the 3rd century BCE by forest-dwelling Buddhist monks, this natural cave complex is one of the most significant Buddhist complexes in the Southern and South Eastern Asian region.

As you enter the dimly lit caves, you’ll be greeted by a staggering collection of over 150 statues of the Buddha, each exuding a sense of peace and devotion. The intricate murals that adorn the cave ceilings narrate the life and teachings of the Buddha, adding a layer of artistry to the spiritual experience.

Kandy and Nuwara Eliya

In the cool central hills of the island is the sacred city of Kandy, the last of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals. A cultural jewel that preserves a rich tradition, it is home to the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), a spiritual cornerstone housing a tooth relic of the Buddha. Witness enthralling Kandyan dance performances that showcase the island’s rich heritage, partake in the clockwork rituals of the Temple and stroll around the tranquil Kandy Lake to experience the city’s serene ambience.

Deeper in the hills, the misty Nuwara Eliya is where Sri Lanka’s Tea Country flourishes. Lush tea plantations, colonial bungalows, waterfalls, and the Horton Plains transport you to a different place. Even the shortest tour in Sri Lanka must include the Ceylon tea experience – Sri Lanka’s most renowned export.

Don’t forget the scenic train ride! The train journey between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya is one of the most spectacular in the world. As the train winds through tea-clad hills, verdant valleys, picturesque villages, and breathtaking waterfalls, you get treated to exquisite scenery. The enchanting town of Ella is a picture right out of a fairytale. You will meet the famous Nine Arches Bridge on your way here.



From cultural immersion to nature’s embrace, Sri Lanka is your idyllic tropical paradise, offering a plethora of experiences wherever you look. So, the next time wanderlust beckons you, and there isn’t much time to spare, remember Sri Lanka. Blue Lanka Tours makes every moment count with meaningful and personalized breaks. Book a tour today! How long do you have for a quick getaway in a paradise island?