One of the Top Travel Destinations in the World
Although Sri Lanka is a small country compared to most other countries it has a wide range of attractions to interest almost anyone. In this article I will discuss about the top tourist attractions in this beautiful island and also add some details explaining why they are so popular. Sri Lanka was chosen as the second best travel destination in the world by National Geographic and it was chosen as the number one travel destination in 2010 by New York Times. Sri Lanka always had the natural beauty and an amazing culture but tourism was on the decline because of the civil war. But after the war ended in May 2010 there was huge increase in tourist arrivals. Not lets take a look at the top tourist attractions.
National Geographic chose Sri Lanka as the second best Travel Destination
Beautiful Golden Beaches
Being an Island Sri Lanka is covered with beautiful white sand beaches and they are one of the major tourists attractions. When it comes to beaches sunbathing and sea bathing are not the only activities. Surfing and wind surfing are popular tourist activities with the Arugam Bay being considered one of the top ten surfing beaches in the world. Hikkaduwa, Trincomalee and Matara are famous for snorkeling and diving. Most of these famous places have luxurious hotels as well so accommodation is not a problem. Relaxing by the beach is very popular among European tourists who get very little sunshine in there countries.
Watching Wildlife and Marine Life
There are close to sixty nature reserves and national parks in Sri Lanka and they are another major tourist attraction. The most popular animal among tourists is the Elephant and they can be found in almost all national parks in Sri Lanka. Udawalawe national park and Minneriya national park are the most famous for Elephant sightings and Minneriya has a reputation for Elephant attack as well. So if you want to spice up your trip Minneriya is the place to go. Two more animals people love to see but hard to spot are the Leopard and the Bear. Yala national park and Vilpattu national park are the best place to spot Leopards with the best time being February and March. Yala is the best place to watch Bears as well but it is very hard to spot even for frequent visitors. Deer, Wild Boar, Monkeys, Crocodiles and Wild Buffaloes and various birds are found in most national parks. If you are interested in bird watching then Kumana bird sanctuary is the best place to visit in Sri Lanka.
Another activity that is gaining popularity among tourists is the watching marine life. Sri Lanka is International Whaling Associations protected zone and it is situated very close to Whale migration paths making it one of the best locations to spot Whales. Other than Whales you can spot various kinds of Dolphins as well. If you can go diving then there are plenty of Coral reefs for you to explore more marine life.
Visiting Ancient Historical Sites
There are eight world heritage sites in Sri Lanka and six of the are cultural heritage sites. Other than those heritage sites there are plenty more interesting ancient places to see and visit. The most popular historical destination in Sri Lanka is Sigirya, a beautiful fortress built on top of a rock. It has some of the best remaining fresco arts and also the oldest landscaped garden in Asia. Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla are old capitals of Sri Lanka and you can see remains of temples, ancient castles, ponds and carved statues. Kandy is the last capital of Sri Lanka when it was a sovereign country and Temple of the Tooth Relic is a popular pilgrim destination among Buddhists all over the world. Galle Fort is the only world heritages site that is not religious in nature and it is a great example of the colonial influence towards Sri Lanka. There are many ancient temples full of beautiful paintings and carved statues so if you are history fan then Sri Lanka has plenty to offer.
Plenty More Attractions
Mentioned above are some of the major tourists attractions in Sri Lanka but there are plenty more. Shopping is another major attraction with a high demand for gems, clothes and various spices. Ayurveda treatment and yoga are another thing that tourists are very interested. Sri Lanka has diverse range of things to offer and has something for everybody.