What is Sri Lanka Famous For? 20 Interesting Sri Lanka Facts

Nestled like a precious jewel in the cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka emerges as an island nation brimming with a remarkable array of attractions that span its landscapes, history, culture, and culinary delights. Are you wondering what is Sri Lanka famous for? Brace yourself for a fascinating tour around this astonishingly green nation.

Often referred to as the “pearl of the Indian Ocean”, “teardrop of India”, or “land of serendipity” this captivating land dazzles travelers with its diverse offerings and warm hospitality. From its world-renowned beaches to its fascinating ancient temples, I drew a comprehensive list of 20 cool things that make Sri Lanka famous.

Let’s dive in!

Image: Sigiriya is one of the landmarks Sri Lanka is famous for.

Pristine beaches

Sri Lanka’s coastline is a stunning testament to Mother Nature’s creativity. The island boasts a collection of tranquil beaches, each a unique paradise waiting to be explored.

The popular Unawatuna Jungle Beach entices visitors with its white sands and scenic coral reefs. Among its amenities are plenty of water activities and sun beds available for rent.

The golden and warm shores of Mirissa offer a tranquil escape and the chance to witness majestic blue whales in their natural habitat. Here, you can choose to swim or join a whale-watching tour.

If you are into chilling out at sunset, you will definitely enjoy a sunset cruise in Mirissa.

Ancient cultural heritage

The pages of Sri Lanka’s history unfold through its ancient sites that stand as timeless witnesses to civilizations long past.

The Sigiriya Rock Fortress, an architectural marvel perched atop a colossal rock column, amazes with its intricate frescoes and panoramic views.

The ancient city of Polonnaruwa transports visitors to a medieval era, where well-preserved ruins of palaces, temples, and stupas tell stories of a glorious past.

Here are some of the tours you can book to better discover these fascinating ancient sites:

From Dambulla: Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya All-Inclusive Tour

From Kandy: Sigiriya Rock, Village Tour, and Minneriya Park

Sigiriya Lion’s Rock Fortress Day Tour And Village Experience from Colombo

Private Polonnaruwa Ancient Ruins and Pilgrimage Day Tour from Anuradhapura

Polonnaruwa: Ancient City Guided Cycling Tour

Dambulla: Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya All-Inclusive Tour

Image: Polonnaruwa one of the landmarks Sri Lanka is famous for.

Important temples and sanctuaries

Sri Lanka’s spiritual heritage finds expression in its revered temples and religious landmarks. The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy houses a sacred relic – a tooth believed to be that of Buddha himself.

The temple’s spiritual aura and the grandeur of the Kandy Esala Perahera festival provide an immersive experience in Sri Lankan culture.

Another very famous sanctuary in Sri Lanka that attracts hundreds of visitors daily both among local believers and tourists is Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo. we visited it during our stay in the Sri Lankan capital and it conveys a very peaceful vibe.

Located on the shores of the Beira lake, Gangaramaya Temple is decorated with several Buddha statues and offers very scenic views.

Image: What is Sri Lanka famous for is its temples.

The peaks and tea plantations of Hill Country

Venturing into Sri Lanka’s heartland reveals the breathtaking beauty of the Hill Country. Its celebrated verdant tea plantations, mist-shrouded landscapes, and cooler climate make it one of the places Sri Lanka is famous for.

With its architecture and manicured gardens, the Nuwara Eliya region exudes a colonial charm. The scenic train journey from Kandy to Ella presents travelers with panoramic vistas of rolling hills and obstreperous waterfalls.

Click here to book your incredible train journey!

Rich wildlife

Sri Lanka’s wildlife sanctuaries harbor a rich tapestry of flora and fauna, from elusive leopards to majestic elephants and a vibrant array of bird species.

Yala National Park stands out as a premier location for leopard spotting (we saw a beautiful leopard literally minutes after starting the safari!), while Udawalawe National Park offers a haven for orphaned elephants. Exploring the Bentota River by boat unveils a world of crocodiles and exotic birdlife.

Book your Yala National Park safari here!

Image: Wildlife is one of the things Sri Lanka is famous for.

Intoxicating spices and flavors

The island’s culinary scene is a tantalizing journey through flavors and aromas. Even though I found it less hot than Indian food, Sri Lankan cuisine, influenced by Indian, Dutch, and Malay traditions, is famous for its large use of aromatic spices.

If there is a spice Sri Lanka is hugely known for, this is cinnamon. What’s called Ceylon Cinnamon, in fact, is famous for being more fragrant and flavorful than the common cinnamon.

Ceylon Tea elegance

Sri Lanka’s tea industry has left an indelible mark on the world, with Ceylon tea celebrated for its quality and flavor.

The Ceylon Tea Museum in Kandy offers an immersive journey through the tea production process and the historical significance of this industry. By booking this Hanthana Tea Plantation Cycling Tour, you will also visit the museum in Kandy.

Rolling hills adorned with meticulously pruned tea bushes are a common sight in regions such as Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.

We stayed a few days in Nuwara Eliya and visited its tea plantations. We loved learning how tea is harvested and prepared to be shipped and sold, as well as the differences between green and black tea. Needless to say, we bought tea for at least two years of daily consumption!

Here are some cool experiences you can book:

From Colombo: 2-Day All-Inclusive Kandy & Nuwara Eliya Tour

2-day Sri Lanka hill country train trip, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya

Image: Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka.

Exciting local festivals

Festivals in Sri Lanka are vibrant expressions of culture, spirituality, and community. The Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, previously mentioned in relation to the Temple of the Tooth, is held in July and August.

Its procession of drummers, dancers, and lavishly adorned elephants is organized to pay tribute to the Sacred Tooth of the Buddha.

Like in many other Asian countries, also Sri Lanka celebrates the Vesak festival, one of the most important Buddhist festivals.

Towns shine with lanterns and believers commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha.

Warm hospitality

The people of Sri Lanka are known for their warm and welcoming nature, leaving an indelible mark on every traveler’s heart.

Sri Lankans are very hospitable and never miss the chance to invite people to their homes and spoil their guests. Make sure you don’t decline as in Sri Lanka, hospitality is a very serious matter!

Whether staying in a family-run guesthouse or interacting with locals in bustling markets, the genuine friendliness of the people is what makes Sri Lanka well-known.

Precious gemstone heritage

With such monikers as the “Jewel Box of the Indian Ocean” and “Gem Island”, due to its abundance of precious gemstones.

The island’s gemstone mining history dates back over 2,500 years, and today, visitors can explore gem mines and even try their hand at gemstone panning.

Image: What is Sri Lanka famous for is its gems.

Huge biodiversity

For its relatively compact size, Sri Lanka boasts astonishing biodiversity, earning it a place among the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

The island’s diverse ecosystems, ranging from coastal wetlands to lush rainforests, house an impressive range of plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth.

The Sinharaja Forest Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988, stands as a testament to Sri Lanka’s commitment to preserving its natural treasures.

Situated in the southwestern part of Sri Lanka, Sinharaja is defined by lush tropical rainforest. More than half of the tree species are endemic to the area, even though many of them are considered rare.

Along with the common local birds, the stunning reserve is also home to over 50% of Sri Lanka’s widespread species of mammals, reptiles, insects, colorful butterflies, and rare amphibians.

Image: Wildlife is one of the things Sri Lanka is famous for.

Scenic waterfalls

Sri Lanka’s topography gifts it with a plethora of enchanting waterfalls, each with its own allure.

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Sri Lanka, Baker’s Falls in Horton Plains National Park is a sight to behold, framed by misty landscapes and endemic flora. Check out this cool Horton Plains tour and train ride.

Diyaluma Falls, the second-tallest waterfall on the island, is what Sri Lanka is famous for among nature lovers and invites adventure enthusiasts to hike to its summit and savor the panoramic views.

Click here to book a tour of Diyaluma Waterfall + natural pool bath

Traditional Sri Lankan dance

If you are still wondering what is Sri Lanka famous for, immerse yourself in the captivating world of Sri Lankan traditional dance, a blend of rhythm, storytelling, and colorful local costumes.

The traditional Kandyan dance is a feast for the senses, showcasing intricate footwork and elaborate headgear.

Devil dancers embody folklore by donning ornate masks and costumes to depict ancient tales of gods and demons.

Check out this cool video to see what Sri Lanka’s Devil Dance looks like!

Fascinating colonial architecture

The remnants of Sri Lanka’s colonial past are seen in its architecture, with influences from the Portuguese, Dutch, and British eras.

Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988, stands as a living testament to the island’s colonial heritage. The cobbled streets and charming houses within the fort walls take visitors to a bygone era.

Image: Colonial architecture is one of the things Sri Lanka is known for.

Ayurvedic wellness traditions

Sri Lanka is a haven for those seeking holistic wellness through Ayurvedic traditions. Ayurveda, a centuries-old Indian system of natural healing, is also well-rooted in the island’s culture.

Spa resorts and wellness retreats offer rejuvenating experiences that incorporate Ayurvedic therapies, meditation, and yoga so that eager travelers can embark on a journey of self-discovery and healing.

I have done an Ayurveda spa treatment in Colombo with massage with essential oils and it was just magic. In the end, the treatment included a strong herbal tea.

Unfortunately, I did it only once because I had to go back home, but if I had stayed longer in Colombo I would have certainly done it again.

Ancient Rock Temples

Sri Lanka’s rocky terrain holds hidden treasures in the form of ancient rock temples.

The Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991, is a complex of cave temples adorned with exquisite murals and over 150 Buddha statues.

These temples offer a spiritual journey amidst awe-inspiring natural surroundings and are some of the most important places to visit in Sri Lanka.

Image: What is Sri Lanka famous for is its rock temples.

Traditional fishing villages

Delve into the authentic local Sri Lankan life by visiting its fishing villages. Negombo, a bustling fishing town, provides a glimpse into the daily lives of fishermen as they haul in their catch of the day.

The sights, smells, and sounds of these villages offer a unique perspective on the island’s maritime culture.

Much of the coast of Sri Lanka was sadly hit by the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Visiting towns like Galle and the nearby Yala safari was very revealing on the aftermath of

Vibrant local markets

Exploring Sri Lanka’s bustling markets immerses travelers in a sensory tapestry of colors, aromas, and textures.

Pettah Market in Colombo is a melting pot of cultures, offering everything from spices to textiles.

Sri Lanka’s skilled artisans create intricate handicrafts, including intricately carved masks, batik textiles, and ornate jewelry that make for unique souvenirs.

Image: Sri Lanka is known for its handicrafts.

Scenic sunsets and views

As the sun sets behind and beyond the horizon, Sri Lanka’s landscapes offer mesmerizing vistas.

The coastal town of Galle delights us with captivating sunset views from its historic ramparts.

The Lipton’s Seat viewpoint in Haputale treats visitors to panoramic views of emerald hills, making for a soul-stirring moment of tranquility.

Cool train journeys

Embarking on a train journey in Sri Lanka is a journey through time and beauty. The scenic train routes, particularly the iconic Kandy to Ella route, wind through hills, valleys, and tea plantations, revealing landscapes that seem like they’re straight out of a painting. These train journeys are not just a means of travel but a destination in themselves.

about me: Angela Corrias
About the author

I'm Angela Corrias, an Italian journalist, photographer, and travel writer located in the heart of Italy's capital. Welcome to my website, your comprehensive source for your travels and expert guidance for crafting your dream travel experience.

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