Top Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka

Top Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean, is home to a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Among its many treasures are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites that offer a glimpse into the island’s glorious past and stunning landscapes. From ancient cities and sacred temples to lush forests and colonial forts, these sites are must-see destinations for any traveler seeking to explore the essence of Sri Lanka. Join us as we uncover the top must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka, each with its own unique story and charm, waiting to be discovered.


Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, is an ancient rock fortress in Sri Lanka. It’s literally a huge rock, almost 200 meters high, with a palace on top! It is believed that King Kasyapa built it in the 5th century as his royal palace. The climb to the top is an adventure itself, with stairs that seem to cling to the rock face. Along the way, you’ll see beautiful frescoes of ancient maidens painted on the rock walls. When you reach the top of the rock, you can explore the ruins of the palace and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding jungle.

Sigiriya is not just a fascinating place to visit but it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. This means it’s recognized as a place of great cultural and historical importance. The complex includes gardens, reservoirs, and other structures that show much-advanced engineering for its time. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years. This makes Sigiriya an important part of Sri Lanka’s history and a captivating place to learn about ancient civilizations.


Anuradhapura is an ancient city in Sri Lanka and is significantly important because it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This means it’s recognized globally for its cultural and historical significance. Over 2,000 years ago, it was the capital of Sri Lanka and a major center for Buddhism. The city is filled with amazing ruins, like giant stupas which are like ancient Buddhist monuments, temples, and palaces. These structures show off the incredible architecture and engineering skills of the people who lived there long ago.

Visiting Anuradhapura is like stepping back in time. You can see the Sri Maha Bodhi, a sacred tree grown by a branch planted in Sri Lanka from the original Bodhi tree where Buddha gained enlightenment. There are also massive stone carvings that signify the classical Sri Lankan art and ancient reservoirs which were built a really long time ago and used for storing water. These landmarks tell stories of a rich and advanced civilization. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site helps protect these treasures so people can learn about and enjoy them for many years to come.


Polonnaruwa is an ancient city in Sri Lanka, full of amazing ruins and history. Can you imagine walking through a place where kings once ruled, surrounded by old temples, statues, and palaces? This city was the capital of Sri Lanka over 800 years ago. It’s like stepping into a time machine and seeing how people lived and built incredible structures long ago.

Being a UNESCO World Heritage site means Polonnaruwa is recognized as really important for everyone in the world. UNESCO helps protect and preserve it so future generations can enjoy its beauty and history. You can see huge Buddha statues carved out of rock and intricate carvings on ancient buildings. It’s a place where history comes to life, showing us the rich culture and amazing skills of people from the past. You can also explain visiting Polonnaruwa is like opening a history book and walking through its pages!


Dambulla is an amazing place in Sri Lanka, famous for its ancient cave temple. This temple is over 2,000 years old! Inside the caves, you can find stunning statues and beautiful paintings of Buddha. These caves are carved into a huge rock that stands 160 meters high. When you walk inside, it feels like stepping into a different world. The colorful murals and peaceful atmosphere make it a special spot for visitors.

Dambulla is important because it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This means it is protected for its cultural and historical value. People from all over the world visit to see the incredible art and history. The site shows how people lived and worshipped thousands of years ago. Being a UNESCO site helps preserve Dambulla, so future generations can enjoy and learn from it too.


Kandy is an enchanting city in Sri Lanka that’s important. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it’s recognized globally for its cultural value. One of the main reasons it’s so special is the Temple of the Tooth. This temple holds a tooth relic of the Buddha, which makes it one of the most sacred places for Buddhists. People from all over the world come to see it and take part in its ceremonies. The temple is not just a religious site but also an architectural marvel with beautiful carvings and paintings.

Kandy isn’t just about the temple, the city itself is full of history and culture. It’s surrounded by hills and lush greenery, making it a stunning place to visit. The Kandy Lake in the city center is a peaceful spot where you can take a stroll and enjoy the view. Kandy also has traditional dance performances and festivals, like the famous Esala Perahera, where you can see colorful parades and elephants dressed in bright costumes. All these things make Kandy a must-visit place that helps you understand the rich culture and history of Sri Lanka.


Galle is a cool city in Sri Lanka that’s famous for its amazing old fort. The Galle Fort was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century, but the Dutch made it even bigger and better in the 17th century. Walking around Galle Fort feels like stepping back in time because of its ancient walls, old churches, and narrow streets. This place is so special that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning it’s protected because of its historical and cultural importance.

Why is Galle Fort so important? It shows how different cultures have mixed together over the years. You can see buildings influenced by European and Asian styles. The fort also tells stories about the past, like how people used to live and trade. It even survived the 2004 tsunami, which shows how strong and well-built it is. Visiting Galle helps people understand and appreciate history in a fun and interesting way.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is a magical place in Sri Lanka. It’s one of the last untouched rainforests on the island. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s super important for both nature and science. The forest is full of rare plants and animals you can’t find anywhere else. Walking through Sinharaja is like stepping into a real-life jungle book. Huge trees tower above you, and colorful birds flit through the branches.

Sinharaja isn’t just beautiful; it’s also a treasure trove for scientists. They study its unique ecosystem to learn more about our planet. The forest helps us understand how different species live together and support each other. Protecting Sinharaja means we’re also protecting countless species from extinction. This forest is a living laboratory and a critical part of our world heritage. By keeping it safe, we’re preserving a piece of our planet’s history for future generations.

In conclusion, Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are truly incredible and a must-see for any traveler. Each site tells a unique story about the country’s history and culture. From the ancient city of Polonnaruwa to the stunning Sigiriya Rock Fortress, there’s something for everyone. The sacred city of Kandy, with its beautiful Temple of the Tooth, is a place of deep spiritual significance.

The Dambulla Cave Temple offers a fascinating look at Buddhist art and history. Galle’s old town and its fortifications are perfect for those who love exploring historic buildings and seaside views. Don’t miss the beautiful Sinharaja Forest Reserve, which is home to many unique plants and animals.

Every one of these sites is a window into Sri Lanka’s rich past and vibrant culture. Visiting them will give you a deeper appreciation for this amazing country. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure. Sri Lanka’s heritage sites are waiting to be discovered by you!

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Memorable and enjoyable 15 days in Sri Lanka with Green Holidays The green holidays organised our whole trip to Sri Lanka according to our suggestions and requirements. We had a perfect, peaceful and enjoyable 15 days holiday. Pradeep and Rashmi booked the accommodation, vehicle for travel and the the driver/guide within a very short time. They were very prompt in responding to our messages and accommodating our last minute changes. The hotels they booked were comfortable, check in was so smooth and the service was good. We were able to do much more than we anticipated because of their coordination. Our guide/driver Romesh was very polite, trustworthy and punctual. We travelled with Romesh from Colombo to Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kandy and Galle in his car without any incidents and reached safely at the airport on time for our return flight. We thank Pradeep, Jay, Rashmi and Romesh for making our trip a pleasant and an enjoyable one.
Emmanuel P
Emmanuel P
Travel in peace and with Personal contact of Green Holidays We used the services of Green Holiday for our stay in Sri Lanka. They arranged the complete tour picking us up at the Bandaranayaka Airport and taking us to Jaffna, Batticaloa, Bentota, Colombo and Kandy including Ella. Green Holiday provided us with a Chauffeur/ tour guide ( Upul) who knew so much about SriLanka and its History and personally took care of our safety and was with us to ensure our check in at the hotels was flawless. Upul is a honest trustworthy person to rely on and was very caring. Thanks to Green Holidays for providing a knowledgeable person to be with us throughout the trip. We had the pleasure of dealing with Pradeep who planned out our trip to our liking with several changes requested by us and was available on the phone anytime 24/7 to discuss and review options. Rashmi from Green Holidays was our local contact in case of any emergency or for information once we were in in Sri Lanka. We were glad to have the assurance of a personal contact while on vacation. Green Holidays has earned our trust to make our vacation relaxing and trouble free. We recommend Green Holidays as a reliable trustworthy company to book your vacation packages. Their team worked vigorously to ensure our vacation is pleasant, memorable and safe.
Koushik S
Koushik S
We had such an amazing trip and we are back with lots of lovely memories. Thanks to Green Holiday for arranging a wonde We had been to Srilanka for 5 days and we did have such a fantastic trip. The whole place was very clean and the natural look was just fantastic
Sam B
Sam B
Great driver, great Organisation My boyfriend and i took a two week holiday on sri lanka. One week on road, one week beach holiday. Apart from a little mishap at the start when our arrival time was wrongly put at 09.30 instead of 05.30. However all it took was a quick phone to Dilan our driver who rushed to pick us up immediately. Due to delays on the way here and a little visa issue (always double check your passport numbers twice people) we arrived in the arrival hall at 07.30…once we had called the adventure began at 08.15. Dilan was an absolute godsend. Kept us entertained with facts about the areas we were visiting, made good conversation during our long journeys and got us there safe and sound every time. Dilan would also help us plan out our day and was honest enough when something was either gonna be a rushjob or whenever he felt we weren’t gonna get the best bang for our buck at a certain attraction. which we really appreciated, since we had completely missjudged the traffic and the distances on this journey. He also helped us handle check-ins and check-out and as we later found out when we made excursions of our own, he also kept pesky scammers away whenever we went to visit a place on foot. As for the rest of the trip everything went incredibly smoothly. Hotel staff were super friendly with us and safaris and other tour providers were informed well in advance so that we would literaly rock up, get into another car or jeep or were handed over to a local guide and be on our way right away. So long story short, we would like to thank Green Holiday and Dilan for making our trip the adventure of a lifetime and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone traveling in sri lanka.
Robert P
Robert P
Skvělá zkušenost Naše zkušenost s touto společnosti byla skvělá. Náš pruvodce Upul byl velmi ochotný,trpělivý a vzdělaný. O historii Srí Lanky jsme se od nej dozvěděli snad úplně vše . Ten člověk znal odpověď úplně na vše opravdu úžasný průvodce a skvělý řidič. Mohu jen doporučit
Hana K
Hana K
Absolutely reliable company with best guides. First of all, this company we used for arranging our whole vacation in Sri Lanka worked just perfect. We had no issue whatsoever. For travelling around the island for several days we had a guide Upul. He just was the best! Not only he was driving us around safe, he also knew about history, gave us all the explanations in a very interesting way. He took us in many great, beautiful and even fun places, always stood by our side, guiding us through crowds to the most interesting points and telling us all the information - about history, religions, politics, traditions, nature, you name it. Upul was truly able to answer any question we had. On top of that, he was always smiling, in a good mood, treated us with dignity and patiency. We truly appreciated it and thanks to him and a perfect organization we had the best time in Sri Lanka. I also want to say, that the company manager got in touch with us on the second day, asking how satisfied we were with Upul, checking if everything was ok. It was a nice thing to do. Overall, I truly recommend this company if you want to spend your vacatin with no hassle and great guiding.
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