Sri Lanka is an interesting and scenic island, with a vast history and many wondrous, tropical places to explore. As it hasn’t yet been heavily hit with tourism, it’s a great destination for solo travellers, backpackers and those looking for an authentic South Asian experience.
This tropical island is a biodiversity haven. The landscapes include everything you could ever wish for on a travelling expedition – rolling mountains, dense rainforests, hidden waterfalls, savannahs, and miles upon miles of golden shores and turquoise waters. Due to the undulating topography of this idyllic island, you can be sure to find plenty of rare and incredible wildlife such as elephants, leopards, monkeys, sloth bears, giant turtles and whales.
If you’ve got your heart set on a trip to discover this breathtaking island, here are the top spots to visit as a lone traveller in Sri Lanka.
A journey around Sri Lanka would be wasted without stopping off in at least one of its 26 national parks. The unspoilt and wild terrain of the island is the perfect home for a wide range of species, and thankfully they are protected from poaching and hunting by living in the 9% of the land that’s under the national park scheme.
For leopards, head to Yala National Park, where an expert local guide will take you on a jeep tour through the dry woodlands and waterholes to see these amazing big cats. You can also expect to see prolific birdlife, elephants and perhaps even the rare sloth bear if you visit in May through to July, when the Palu trees fill with delicious fruit.
The best park for wild elephants is undoubtedly the Udawalawe National Park, where you are guaranteed to see herds of these stunning beasts, plus crocodiles, buffalo and sambar deer. For a quieter wildlife tour, consider the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which offers a true jungle experience as you trek through lush rainforests and meet a chorus of birdsong amidst the unique fauna and flora.
The coast of Sri Lanka is a bustling haven for colourful and mesmerising marine species, with coral reefs breaking the waves of the Indian Ocean into dreamy lagoons and warm, shallow shores. The beaches are perfect for a day of sun-worshipping, with some of the best being Mirissa, Uppuveli and Hiriketiya.
Whether you want to dive in and explore the underwater world offshore, try your hand at surfing or watersports, or enjoy a vegan burger in a boho chic cafe by the beach, there’s something for everyone on the coast of Sri Lanka. You’re sure to find some like-minded solo travellers here, and making new friends is easy on this paradise island.
Historical Points of Interest
Aside from soaking up the amazing scenery, it’s well worth reserving a day or two to explore the historical and cultural monuments which bring the human element of Sri Lanka to life – many of which are World Heritage Sites.
The Quadrangle in the historic site of Polonnaruwa features some of the finest ancient buildings in the world, with huge statues carved into stone, detailed steps and ruins of the treasured and original religious heart of the city.
Believed to have been a place of worship since 1BC, the cave temples of Dambulla are a must-visit while on the island. With five sanctuaries and over 150 Buddhist statues and murals, you can delve deeply into the religious and cultural routes of Sri Lanka on a tour here.
Research the Cultural Expectations
As with any solo travelling adventure, you will need to adhere to the laws and customs of Sri Lanka at all times during your visit. Be aware that it is a conservative country, where people (including tourists) are expected to dress modestly and abide by local laws. Be sure to brush up on travel etiquette before you visit, and always travel with a reputable tour company.
With so many wonderful places to visit on this stunning island, you’re sure to enjoy the trip of a lifetime. And even though you’re solo travelling, the chances are you won’t be alone for long as you meet new friends along the way. Where will you go first?