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Things to do in

Central Province, Sri Lanka

Our most recommended things to do in Central Province, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

1. Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

Depart Colombo and travel by a shared vehicle, in a small group, to the city of Sigiriya, and head directly to Sigiriya Rock on arrival. Gaze in awe at the massive column of rock that, according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle The Culavamsa, was selected by King Kasyapa as the site of his new capital. Admire numerous paintings of historic queens, princesses, and maids inside the rock fortress before getting a break for lunch at your own expense. Then, explore some of the traditional crafts of the region, such as wood carving and batik textiles, with time to purchase souvenirs before departing. Start the journey back towards Colombo via Dambulla to explore the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Discover the magnificent Buddha images and rock paintings of vivid colors and different shapes, painted from around the 2nd century B.C. up to the 18th-century Kandyan era.

Kandy: Sigiriya Fortress & Cave Temple All-Inclusive Tour

2. Kandy: Sigiriya Fortress & Cave Temple All-Inclusive Tour

Following early morning pick-up from your hotel in Kandy, travel by chauffeur-driven vehicle to Sigiriya. Upon arrival, climb the rock fortress of golden-hued granite, chosen by King Kasyapa at the site for his new capital. Get stunning views of the surrounding plains, which in the rainy season can turn into a delightful water garden. Continue to the Dambulla cave temple complex, built by the 1st-century King Walagambahu as a site of worship after his exile from Anuradhapura. Enjoy lunch before the drive back to Kandy, and stop at the spice garden in Matale en route. 

From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

3. From Ella: Shuttle to Mirissa/Galle with Udawalawe Safari

After 5:00 AM pick-up from your hotel in Ella, Haputale or Bandarawela, head for Udawalawe National Park, where you'll switch to an open concept safari jeep in order to have the best views. An early morning start ensures you'll see the animals during one of their most active times of day. See herds of elephants for sure and have fun watching for crocodiles, monkeys, water buffaloes, various endemic birds species and much more. Along the way, you'll learn about and observe the natural habitats of the local wildlife while you snap some amazing photos. In the Morning/Afternoon, enjoy a packed meal. Then, at the end of your 3-hour safari adventure, switch back to the comfortable, air-conditioned car for the ride on to Mirissa/Weligama/Unawatuna or Galle where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.

Sri Lanka: 1-Hour Mega Zip Line Adventure in Ella

4. Sri Lanka: 1-Hour Mega Zip Line Adventure in Ella

Your guide will pick you up at 98 Adventure Park, Ella. The equipment will be provided, as will be your instructor and support crew. Cocooned within Sri Lanka’s Badulla District is an inviting haven, filled with an abundance of natural beauty and a cool climate.  Ziplining here is one of the best things to do in Ella, home to an abundance of breathtaking backdrops. Ella allows both the laidback as well as the curious at heart to voyage through some of Sri Lanka’s most cherished destinations.  Situated 3,415 ft. above sea level and 200 kilometers east of the capital of Colombo, this cozy hamlet offers numerous floral and faunal species coupled with towering mountain ranges and scenic waterfalls. Get a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful hills of the island.

Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

5. Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

Explore the best of Sri Lanka with this tour to the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, rolling tea tea plantations in Ella, the chance to see wild elephants in the Udawalawa National park. Have your hotels, dinners, and breakfasts arranged for you in this fantastic tour package. Day 1 - Be welcomed by your guide at the Colombo International Airport where your guide will take you to your hotel in Colombo. Day 2 - Journey from Colombo to Sigiriya after getting your negative test results and eating a filling breakfast. Visit the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Relax before heading to the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya before having dinner and staying at a 4star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 3 - Travel to Kandy after a hearty breakfast to visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic which holds the most important Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka. Take some time to unwind in your hotel before proceeding to see the amazing flora at the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens. Eat dinner and stay overnight at a four star hotel in Kandy. Day 4 - Next, have a full breakfast before heading to Ella to walk among the lush tea plantations. Learn more about the colonial history of Sri Lanka and take in the stunning landscape views. Return to your hotel in Ella for dinner and to rest. Day 5 - After breakfast, drive to Udawalawa National park where you can spot elephants in their natural habitat.

From Kandy: Sigiriya and Dambulla Private Day Tour

6. From Kandy: Sigiriya and Dambulla Private Day Tour

Take a full day excursion out to Sigiriya, where you'll visit two fascinating sites: the Golden Temple of Dambulla, a cave complex full of Buddhist imagery, and Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a massive column of rock turned into a fortress. After pickup at 7:00 AM from your hotel in Kandy, head out of the city towards the first site. On the way, admire Sri Lanka’s countryside and villages as you journey to this atmospheric cliff side cave complex packed with Buddhist imagery and frescoes.   Enter the historic caves of the Golden Temple of Dambulla, which dates back to the 1st century BC. View the ancient murals depicting the life story of Lord Guatama Buddha. Admire the hundreds of figurines of the Buddha and other deities scattered throughout the 5 main caves. Visit the Cave of the Divine King, the Cave of the Great King, and the Great New Monastery, as well as the giant golden Buddha statue just a little distance outside of the cave complex.   At noon, enjoy lunch at a restaurant of your choice before traveling approximately 45 minutes to visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Rising from the central plains, the iconic rocky outcrop of Sigirya is perhaps Sri Lanka’s single most dramatic sight. Near-vertical walls soar to a flat-topped summit that contains the ruins of an ancient civilization. Climb the 5th-century rock fortress and walk through the entrance framed by the paws of a lion (which give the fortress its name, “The Lion Rock”). View the beautiful unfaded murals that brought Sigiriya its fame, climb the steep staircase to the terraced gardens, and walk through the tunnels throughout the palace. You’ll get an eerie feeling of times long past.   Finish your tour at 5:00 PM, at which point you’ll head back to Kandy to be dropped off at around 8:00 PM. Stop en route to have dinner at a restaurant of your choice.

From Colombo: Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle 2-Day Tour

7. From Colombo: Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle 2-Day Tour

Begin the tour by meeting your tour leader in Colombo and set off for the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. After exploring the history museum of Polonnaruwa, discover the ruins of the ancient city. Later, check in to a 3-star hotel in Sigiriya for your overnight stay.  The next morning, enjoy breakfast at the hotel. Set off for the Dambulla golden cave temple which was the site where a king of Anuradhapura took refuge from the South Induan invasion in the 1st-century BC. Learn about how when the king recaptured the region 13 years later, he converted the caves into a monastery and gifted it to the Buddhist monks. After this, head over to the ancient Sigiriya Rock, where a 5th-century prince who had committed patricide made it his hideout. Also make a stop at the Pidurangala ancient cave temple. At the end of the tour you will be returned to Colombo and dropped off at the start point.

Kandy: Historical Three Temples All-Inclusive Tour

8. Kandy: Historical Three Temples All-Inclusive Tour

Visiting three of the most ancient and historically important temples that are within an easy walking distance to one another is a memorable expedition for a heritage lover. The three temples (Embekke, Lankathilaka, Gadaladeniya) have been built in the 14th century before the Kandyan Kingdom was fully established. This tour finished at approximately 12:30 PM, when you are returned to your hotel.  Be picked up at 8:00 AM from your hotel lobby in Kandy. Arrive at your first temple by 9:00 AM. Embekke is a crafted work of wooden dedication. Look at the pillars or drum hall with unique designs on each side. Appreciate the care and effort in shapping swans, peakcocks, wrestlers, dragons and more. Hear about the history of this temple, and the importance it has represented for the culture. Visit Lankatilake Temple by 9:45 AM. Lankatilake is perhaps the finest temple in the district. An impressively solid-looking structure built on a huge rock outcrop and painted a pale blue rather than the usual white.  Then next visit Gadaladeniya Temple, built on a rocky outcrop and covered with small pools, the temple is reached by a series of steps cut into the rock. This Buddhist temple with a Hindu extension is a similar age to the Lankatilake Temple and the Embekka Devale.

Colombo: Colombo Airport (CMB) and Kandy City Transfer

9. Colombo: Colombo Airport (CMB) and Kandy City Transfer

Enjoy a relaxing and comfortable private transfer between Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) and your hotel in Kandy. Your chauffeur will meet and greet you at the airport arrival lobby, holding a placard displaying your name for easier identification. From there, your chauffeur will proceed with escorting you and your luggage to your vehicle (Toyota Prius/Toyota Allion/Toyota Premio/Toyota KDH Mini/Toyota KDH/Honda Vezel/Honda Fit Shuttle). If you are unable to locate your chauffeur, a support team will be on hand which you can contact 24/7. The journey will take approximately 3-4 hours depending on the traffic and weather conditions, and covers a total distance of 226 kilometers. Your driver will take the safest and most comfortable route for the journey, using their expertise to limit the travel time. You can feel free to let you chauffeur know in case you need to stop for refreshments or emergencies, and at the conclusion of your tour, you will be assisted with your luggage before being bid farewell.

From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

10. From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

Start your journey at 0600 hrs from Colombo and proceed to Kandy, pausing at Pinnawala for a visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. This is the home for young elephants who have been displaced from their natural habitat at Pinnawala village in the Sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka. Now housing 70 elephants, Pinnawala is home to the largest group of captive elephants in the world. Next, visit Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, renowned for its variety of ornamental, decorative & medicinal plants, more than 4000 species. This garden is best known for its collection of orchids, the largest in Asia. Thereafter, visit the Temple of the Tooth, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the 16th century as the place of veneration and protection for Lord Buddha’s sacred tooth. Walk through the beautifully embellished passageways and elaborately painted halls. Lounge among delicately carved pillars and be amazed by the beautiful golden statues. Followed by a lunch break at a location of your choice. Cultural Dance Show - Be escorted to a performance of the traditional Kandyan dance, accompanied by tumultuous drumming. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance, the Ginisisila, showing power over fire. This entire frenetic and colorful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act. Finally, you will begin your journey back to your hotel in Colombo at approximately 1930 hrs. En-route, you will stop at Ambepussa (restaurant of your choice) and have dinner.

Other Sightseeing Options in Central Province, Sri Lanka

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What people are saying about Central Province, Sri Lanka

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 156 reviews

Really good experience! At one of the attractions we should have visited, there was a really long queue and too many people, so our guide was good at coming up with a lot of other options we could see if we wanted. All the experiences were quite exciting! Our guide also found some great eateries along the way with really nice views each time. He was good at assessing when he was needed as a guide and when it was better for us to be alone and she stayed close by (eg at the restaurants). On the slightly long drive, he was also good at explaining what we saw when we looked out the windows and in general what Sri Lanka was like.

The driver (Kenneth) was very accommodative and managed our tight schedule very well. He even went the extra mile and helped us to see more than what we had initially agreed — with his help we were able to visit the Ranweli spice garden, which was the cherry on top.

Great tour, guides and service. Everything was on time and smooth. The national park was beautiful. The only complaint we have is that it's more expensive than if we'd have just arranged with local tour operators.

Very quiet pleasant and punctual transfer. The safari was great, we were said to be really lucky and saw all the wild animals and, above all, a lot of different elephants.

Everything was great Picked up from the hotel Brought to the yala Ride along the yala Saw a leopard Arrived at the hotel in Galle