Sri Lanka is emerging as a more and more popular destination among schools and tourists alike, and we completely understand why! Sri Lanka is a wonderful treasure trove of fascinating history, delicious food, friendly locals and natural beauty. This is our pick of some of Sri Lanka’s many highlights.
Named a world heritage site by UNESCO, Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the Matale District of Sri Lanka’s Central Province. It was a palace built by King Kasyapa that then became a Buddhist monastery, and boasts magnificent sculptures, frescoes and a variety of terrace, water and boulder gardens. Locals call Sigiriya the Eighth Wonder of the World, and when you pass by the enormous paws that remain of Lion Gate on your way up to the incredible view from the summit, it will be difficult to disagree with their assessment.
Animal lovers will have a whale of a time (sorry) looking out for the diverse and exotic wildlife that can be found in Sri Lanka. Particularly famous for having the largest concentration of elephants in Asia, you might even be lucky enough to spot some of these protected and sacred animals in the wild! You will most certainly have encounters with some of the country’s large population of beautiful birds and cheeky monkeys – but be sure to keep your belongings secure, as some of those monkeys are thieves!
Built around a man-made lake and surrounded by mountains, Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second-largest city and one of the most sacred places of Buddhist pilgrimage. Its hills are lush with tropical vegetation and its climate is always warm, ideal for the many tea plantations that are spread across the mountains. Kandy’s most famous attraction is the Temple of the Tooth, a beautiful 17th-century temple that houses a tooth of the Buddha himself. It is a relic that plays an extremely important role both in Buddhism and politics, because it is said that whoever holds the tooth holds governance of the country!
Polonnaruwa is one of Sri Lanka’s many historical treasures: the well-preserved ruins of an ancient capital city. There is a splendour to these palace walls even in their reduced state, with artistic detail carved into the stone ranging from elephants, lions and crocodile spouts to towering Buddhas. Walking among these architectural wonders will transport you back to the bustling city that once existed more than 800 years ago.
When it comes to connecting with a new place, a foolproof way to see locals in their element and get swept up in the passion of the people is to attend or even play a game of their national sport. Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka and there are cricket grounds scattered all across the country, so it is easy to find a game to watch, or even more – locals love a friendly cricket match!
Student Horizons have organised multiple cricket tours to Sri Lanka, and it is one of our favourite cricketing destinations. With our experience and great overseas partnerships, we can arrange visits to international cricket stadiums where history was made, and organise professional coaching clinics with famous cricketers.
One of the greatest and most authentic ways to experience a new culture is to try the local food, and the food of Sri Lanka is an all-round treat for the senses. Strong, bold flavours are the cornerstone of Sri Lankan cuisine, and they are particularly famous for their curries – there are more than 30 varieties to choose from!