The south of Sri Lanka is home to endless sleepy traditional towns where the daily rural life of the local villagers and farmers take place beneath the leafy palm trees, in between the lush emerald forests and coconut plantations and alongside the pristine white sandy coastline. The south of Sri Lanka used to be known as the Kingdom of Ruhunu or Rohana and, today it is here in the south where the heart of the Sinhalese culture beats the strongest. Lovers of culture & history, nature, wildlife, beaches and surfing – all will fall in love with this part of Sri Lanka. Here are 5 must-visit spots which you can easily visit when you stay in the South of Sri Lanka.

1. Galle

Let’s start with Sri Lanka’s best-preserved colonial town and celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Galle is a gorgeous seaside walled city of great importance during the colonial times as it was the island’s main trading port. The town is home to gorgeous Dutch colonial buildings and imposing mansions as well as ancient churches and museums. It is a wonderful town to explore on foot, passing antique and boutique shops as well as stylish cafes and restaurants. No wonder Galle attracts artists and creative minds. The town exudes an artistic vibe and a whole lot of charm. Galle Fort is where you can stroll along the city walls and watch the enchanting sunset over the ocean. It is a beautiful town like no other in the world and a definite must-visit!

2. Mirissa wales

Who doesn’t want to see the biggest and one of the most magical creatures of the sea in their natural habitat? In Mirissa you can go whale watching out at the big wide ocean. This wonderful journey that starts out in the early morning on a traditional fishing boat and on the way, you may also see dolphins. How cool it that?

3. Yala National Park

Talking about wildlife, the south of Sri Lanka is also home to an awesome national park. Yala is the second largest national park in all of Sri Lanka, and visitors can go on a safari adventure here to spot leopards, elephants, bears, deer and a whole lot of exotic birds. It is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience.

4. Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay is a laid-back coastal town that charms out every traveller who loves surfing, yoga, nature, lazy beach days and the cool type of beach parties and nightlife. The town happens to be a world-famous surfing spot too, so even if you are not an experienced wave rider, at Arugam Bay you’ll have to try surfing at least once. Manta Point, Whisket Point and Peanut Farm are the most popular surf spots – do check them out!  When the surf is down, join a relaxing, back-bending yoga class at one of the many yoga studios or drink some cocktails or coconuts on the beach. If you have time, also visit Panama Tank to see beautiful, unspoiled nature en perhaps even some crocodiles, just a short drive away from town.

5. Sithulpawwa Rock Temple

The Sithulpawwa Rock Temple is an ancient Buddhist site built in the second century BC, and it is believed to be built by King Kavanthissa, the ruler of these lands back in those days. The name is derived from Chittalapabbata which means ‘the hill of the quiet mind’. This sacred site is located on the border of Yala National Park, and it is surrounded by stunning nature and plenty of wildlife. Within this temple complex there, are lots of stupas, cave temples, ancient wall paintings and Buddha statues to be admired. On top of the volcanic rock, you get to gaze at a magnificent view of the national park. A truly special place!

Written by Stephanie of