Are you thinking of visiting the north of Sri Lanka? Do you want to know what are the best activities and places to visit in the north of Sri Lanka? Then you are in the right place
Most travellers stick to the southern side of Sri Lanka… But if you want something different and unique, then you should check out the Northern part of Sri Lanka, which is rural, remote, and offers a lot to potential tourists. And since tourism is still catching up on the Northern side, you can enjoy the true beauty of Sri Lanka with less crowd but the same rich culture and experience!
And did we mention that there is a ton to explore and experience in Northern Sri Lanka that you can’t find in the southern part? Yep, from amazing local food to ancient ruins to less crowded beaches, there’s a lot to check!
What to do/ Activities / Places to Visit North of Sri Lanka
To help you make your visit to the North of Sri Lanka an unforgettable one, we have listed some of the best activities and places you should not miss out on:
1. Kitesurfing & dolphin watching in Kalpitiya
Today very few people know the North of Sri Lanka. It’s a shame because there are wonderful places to visit and a lot of incredible activities to do in the north.
The Kalpitiya peninsula, for example, is the best spot to learn kitesurfing in Asia: the Kalpitiya lagoon. The wind blows for 9 months and kitesurfing is possible almost all year round (except for the months of April and November). In fact, many well-known kitesurfers come to Kalpitiya to train. Apart from kitesurfing, Kalpitiya is also a very well-known destination for dolphin watching. Actually, on a lucky day, you can spot hundreds of dolphins in Kalpitiya from November to April!
It is true that Kalpitiya beach is not the nicest one, but it is worth visiting on your trip to the North.
OUR TOP PICK ACTIVITY >>> If you want to discover the north of Sri Lanka and want to enjoy a unique activity, we recommend that you start by learning kitesurfing in Kalpitiya
2. Kitesurfing & bird watching in Mannar
Further north of the Kalpitiya Peninsula is the Mannar Peninsula, where kitesurfing is also possible. The wind and flat water are perfect for kitesurfing too!
However, the Mannar peninsula is still under development and there are not many hotels where you can stay. At the end of the Mannar Peninsula is Adams Bridge, a series of small islets that extend into India.
Talaimannar is an excellent area in the north of Sri Lanka to see birds from November to April, but remember that it is necessary to book in advance!
If you want to skip going until the end of the Peninsula, you also have the option of visiting the Dutch fort of Mannar city and its surroundings. Be ready to spot Donkeys, because there are everywhere!
3. Trincomalee Beaches
One of the most beautiful port cities in North Sri Lanka is Trincomalee which offers even more beautiful beaches than the ones you could find on the South side.
Besides relaxing and enjoying the beautiful beaches of Uppaveli and Nilaveli, you can also enjoy other activities such as swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, and even sunbathing if that’s what you want.
Besides the activities mentioned above, there are also tons of other activities to try and explore, such as whale watching, which is the main reason it is so popular among tourists. And to ensure that you get a great holiday, make sure to visit the Trincomalee during the months of May to October. Did we mention that you can also book a boat to watch the blue whales and snipper dolphins in this area?
4. Snorkelling & Whale Watching
Another fun activity that you can try in North Sri Lanka is snorkelling – Recently, the north side of Sri Lanka has become a major attraction for a lot of water sports activities such as scuba diving and snorkelling.
On the north side, the popular for these types of activities is the Trincomalee coast but if you want a more immersive experience, travel towards Pigeon Island, where you can see a lot of underwater marine life. And if you can manage to wake up early, you can also take a boat to spot the majestic blue whales!
5. Wilpattu & Kaudulla National Park
In Sri Lanka, there are around 26 national parks, but the most prominent and famous one is the Kaudaulla National park in the north! The Kaudulla National Park is spread over 6656 hectares of land and hosts a lot of wild animals, exotic birds, and aquatic birds.
Apart from Kaudulla, Wilpattu is also a vast and excellent parc to visit where to spot many leopards and beards. If you want to avoid visiting a park and being surrounded by hundreds of jeeps, then we recommend visiting the northern national parks.
And the best part is that you can book a safari into these national parks and get to experience all of these wild animals in the first person and at a close range. Most of us come from cities where pollution, chaos, and fast-paced life are the norm – But visiting a national park like this can help you unwind and connect with nature.
6. Train Journey to Vavuniya
If you want to truly immerse yourself in the local culture of Northern Sri Lanka, you shouldn’t miss the local train journey to Vavuniya! Through this journey, you will be taken through the deepest parts of the Vavuniya with its lush green landscapes.
And the friendly locals make this journey through the scenic view a lot more memorable and amazing. On average, it only costs around $13 to take this journey, but the experience you get out of this is truly exceptional!
7. Chundikulam National Park
Just like the Kaudulla National Park, another attraction/place that you shouldn’t miss is the Chundikulam National Park, which is a sanctuary for wildlife and untouched nature. If you love to watch birds, animals, and anything of nature, then one of the most thrilling and exciting things you can do in North Sri Lanka is to get a safari tour of this national park!
And do not forget to take your fully charged mobile or camera with you as well to take pictures of the animals in their habitat!
8. Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Your trip to North Sri Lanka wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, which is a UNESCO heritage site and the local population also call it the 8th wonder of the world! You can also easily find a lot of tour operators who can plan the whole trip for you, from transportation to visiting to even the food.
If you are a fan of history and heritage, then visiting the Sigiriya Rock Fortress is an adventure you shouldn’t miss!
And besides visiting this rock fortress, you can also enjoy a village experience which will be unique and refreshing for a lot of people!
9. Ancient and sacred cities in the north of Sri Lanka
Finally, if you are a lover of history and you like to visit ruins, you will fall in love with the North of Sri Lanka because here are some of the most famous ancient cities in the world.
You cannot miss the lost city of Polonnaruwa, the Dambulla caves and the Sacred city of Anuradhapura, all of them UNESCO heritage sites. You can’t miss these three cities, but it depends on the time you have! The North of Sri Lanka may seem small, but in reality, you will need at least 2 weeks to see all these places without haste and in detail.
Due to years of civil war, the north side of Sri Lanka was closed to tourists and even the locals. Now that the peace has returned and all of the northern sides are open for everyone, the trend of tourism is on the boom once again. And if you look at the activities mentioned above, there’s a lot to do and experience on the northern side of Sri Lanka – In fact, visiting the northern side is a whole different experience than visiting the southern side and shouldn’t be missed!