Sri Lanka is an incredibly beautiful gap year destination that offers the most amazing variety of landscapes and activities. There are literally hundreds of things to see and do in this gorgeous and mostly unspoilt island, but how about you get started with the top 10 things to do during your gap year in Sri Lanka?
The island’s capital is one of the most unique cities in the Indian sub-continent. Colombo has a lovely location by the sea and a very distinctive skyline dotted with high rises, colonial buildings, and Buddhist temples. One of the easiest ways to explore the city is grabbing a ride on a tuk-tuk, but be prepared to haggle!
Dance the night away
Colombo is the country’s nightlife hotspot, especially on weekends when the city’s bars and clubs come alive and attract a cool crowd of locals, travellers, and ex-pats. No matter what your idea of a fun night is, you will surely find it in Colombo, whether it involves salsa dancing, fancy cocktail bars, karaoke lounges, live music, or late-night jaunts.
Go whale watching
The warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean are home to some of the most amazing animals on Earth. Take blue or humpback whales for example, which can be often seen frolicking off the coast of Galle or Mirissa. Oh, and while you’re at it, watch out for dolphins, turtles, and whale sharks too!
Watch a cricket game
Going to a cricket game during your stay here is the ultimate ‘go local’ experience. The Sri Lanka cricket team (known as The Lions) is a World Cup winner and their achievements are massively celebrated. The crowd’s enthusiasm is so contagious that you’ll soon find yourself cheering for the home team and having a blast.
Choose your adventure
If you are into extreme sports, you will simply love your time here. And if you’re not so much into adrenaline-laden activities, your trip to the Pearl of the Orient is the perfect excuse to get you started. Want to take a diving course? Check! Want to have a go at white-water rafting? Kitulgala is your kind of place. Fancy trying out paragliding? There are plenty of places for that too.
Discover the island’s wild side
This stunning island is one of the world’s richest countries in terms of biodiversity. Where else could you go on a safari and spot elephants, leopards, wild buffaloes, sloth bears, and very rare mammals, like the purple-faced langur or the toque macaque? The island’s national parks are teeming with wildlife—a Sri Lankan safari is a must!
Ayurvedic health and beauty treatments are just as big here as they are in India. The south-western coast of the island is dotted with luxurious spas where you can treat yourself to lush massage, wellness, and cosmetic treatments, all at backpacker-friendly prices.
Buddhist temples and tea plantations dot the unique landscape of the highlands, where the hills take on a vibrant emerald colour that sparkles under the sun. Visit a tea plantation and combine the experience with a hike in the forest or a homestay.
Train trip to Ella
The gorgeous town of Ella is the country’s top backpacking destination. Ella is surrounded by tea plantations, waterfalls, and lush tropical forests, but it also offers every comfort you may be looking for, from Western food and drinks to budget accommodation and fast Internet.
If you just need to chillax, there’s no better place to be in. Glorious white sand beaches, secluded bays, coconut tree-lined shores, and cute beach bungalows are calling your name in Unawatuna, Negombo, and Nilaveli.
Do you have any recommendations for people visiting Sri Lanka? Post in the comments below.