Top UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka That You Must Visit

The island country of Sri Lanka offers a lot of interesting things when it comes to culture, and these include several world-famous heritage sites. As a travel destination, it gives you a wonderful experience of exploring its rich colonial history and traditions of and South Asian influence.

Here are the top UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka that you must include in your Sri Lanka holiday package for a memorable vacation.

1. Sigiriya


Comprising a historical castle that was used in the 5th Century AD by King Kasyapa, this World Heritage Site is considered as one of the Wonders of the World. The most notable remains that attract tourists include the upper Sky Palace, Mirror Wall, Lion Gate, Sigiriya Frescoes, lower palace, gardens and moats. 

Not only a palace, but this site is also a fortress with construction that shows the creativity and ingenuity of those who built it.

2. Anuradhapura


As a sacred city and the first ancient capital of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura holds a great deal of importance for the country’s religion, history and culture. It is famous for having well-preserved ruins of one of the greatest civilizations not only in Asia, but around the world.

In the past, it was one of the most stable centers of political power and urban life. Today, it is a significant place for Buddhists, with a lot of monasteries scattered across the country.

3. Galle

This fort town was formerly known as Gimhathiththa before the Portuguese arrived in Sri Lanka in the 16th century. Located on the south-western tip of the island country, it served as the major port, which saw progress reaching its height in the 18th century, before the development of the Colombo harbor.

4. Polonnaruwa

Also known as Jananathamangalam during the short reign of Chola, Polonnaruwa is the second-oldest kingdom of Sri Lanka, which was declared by King Vijayabahu I as the first capital.

This World Heritage Site is now regarded as one of the country’s most well-planned archeological relic sites, showing the greatness of the country’s first rulers.

5. Cave Temple Dambulla

This World Heritage Site, which is also called the Golden Temple of Dambulla, is situated in the heart of Sri Lanka, specifically 72 kilometers north of Kandy and 148 kilometers east of Colombo. This largest cave temple complex in the country is well-preserved, with more than 80 documented caves and a rock towering 160 meters over the surrounding plains.

The best attractions here that are frequented by tourists are spread over five caves containing paintings and statues that depicts the life Lord Buddha.

6. Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Holding international importance, this national park comprising of a hilly virgin rainforest has been designated a Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is part of Sri Lanka’s lowland rainforests eco-region that is protected from commercial logging.

Now, for a rich cultural experience in Sri Lanka, make sure you visit the top UNESCO World Heritage Sites in this beautiful island country!
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