25 Things to Do Alone in Sri Lanka as a Solo Female Traveller

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Rich history and culture, delicious delicacies, world-famous tourist attractions, tea plantations, precious gemstones, and humble and welcoming people – that is how I would describe Sri Lanka. It is a major tourist attraction in Asia and is visited by millions every year.

If you search for ‘things to do alone in Sri Lanka,’ more often than not, you will find monotonous things like go shopping, visit a fort, and something along these lines. While all of that is great, you can do a lot more this. In this blog, I have made a list of unique things that you can do in Sri Lanka, along with the basic touristy stuff.

But before you pack your bags and book your tickets, get to know about all the touristy, non-touristy, unique, and amazing things that you can do alone in Sri Lanka. And if you are travelling to Sri Lanka for the first time, I have some special tips for you.

1. Climb the Sigiriya Fortress

Considered to be the eighth wonder of the world by many, this is a must-do activity during your visit to Sri Lanka. It is visited by thousands of tourists every year and for a good reason. While it can be tiring to climb to the top, the views are worth it. I would recommend that you start early in the morning, carry lots of water and snacks, sunscreen, a cap, and spend a couple of hours enjoying the views.

2. Go up the Pidurangala Rock

The Sigiriya Fortress is quite famous, but what about Pidurangala Rock? Not as much. Climbing to the top of the Pidurangala Rock is not a joke and will take you upwards of 30 minutes. I would advise that you only climb it if you’re physically fit or willing to work hard and climb to the top.

things to do in Sri Lanka

Unlike Sigiriya, there are no steps to climb, and the climb is slightly harder. You will need a good pair of shoes and also some snacks to refuel yourself. After the strenuous climb, you can enjoy some of the best views ever and also look at the Sigiriya Fortress from the top.

3. Get close to turtles

The Sea Turtle Hatchery in Habaraduwa is an animal protection organization where you can see various species of turtles. Not only that, but the hatchery’s walls are beautifully decorated in vibrant colours, which depict different colours of the turtle shells. Most of the turtles are kept inside a tank which is for their protection. The entry fee is around $3 (500LKR), which is dirt cheap to see something so beautiful. Just make sure you don’t break any rules and follow the officials’ instructions.

4. Admire the beauty of the Temple of the Tooth

It is a Buddhist temple in Kandy that houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Trust me, it is as impressive and unique as it sounds. Not only does the temple hold significance for the Buddhists, but it is also very beautiful from the inside. Kandy was also the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, and the temple depicts this too. All of this makes it worthy to visit at least once.

5. Shop while floating

While Pettah was a shady place earlier, the government has taken the initiative and set up a floating market that sells local Sri Lankan products. You can find a lot of sellers who have set up their shops that were otherwise street vendors selling unique items. It is a fairly new market that opened six or seven years back. Along with shopping, you can also take a stroll in the market and enjoy the cool breeze. 

6. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla is the largest cave temple not only in Sri Lanka but in all of Asia. And needless to say, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the inside, there are a lot of paintings and statues, which are mostly related to Gautama Buddha and his life. The cave temple beautifully depicts the rich history and culture of Sri Lanka. I would suggest you wear appropriate clothing that does not reveal too much of your body when you’re visiting the temple.

7. Get a tattoo in Galle

You might ask me, why? Well, not only is this one of the best places to get a tattoo in Sri Lanka, but it can also become a good memory from your solo trip. If you are a tattoo freak, you should get one. If you do not want to commit to a permanent one, you can get a temporary one that will wash out in a couple of weeks. I suggest that you check out Sajee’s tattoo shop because he is one of the best in the country, and trust me, you won’t regret it!

8. Explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa is the ancient royal city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa. If you are a history lover, Polonnaruwa is the right place for you. Currently, it is undergoing major development, and there are a lot of places that you can visit. Not only is the place full of ancient history, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that’s how rich this town is. Some of the places that you can visit are Polonnaruwa Vatadage, The Royal Palace of King Parakramabahu, Royal Baths and Archaeological Museum.

9. Drape a saree

Many people think that a saree is worn only in India. That is completely false. You can see a lot of women working in the tea plantation wear a saree. I asked a few about why they wear a saree, and they replied that it is a tradition to wear a saree in Sri Lanka, and it is also quite comfortable.

You can also see women wearing saree during special occasions. While you might not be able to attend special occasions all the time, I recommend that you give it a try on your solo trip to Sri Lanka. And if you have never travelled solo before, there are a lot of reasons why you should try it out.

10. Ruwanwelisaya – one of the largest stupas in the world

A stupa is a dome-shaped building erected as a Buddhist shrine. It is considered to be sacred by many Buddhists all around the world. While you can visit during any time of the year, it is best if you visit during a religious ceremony as you will see thousands of people worship at this place. If you visit during the offseason, you can hire a guide and learn about the stupa in and out.

11. Bentota’s beaches are a must

It is a coastal town in the southern region of the country. It is a major tourist attraction, but you will not find it overly crowded, unlike other places in Sri Lanka. It is famous for water sports, Ayurveda, and beaches. Some of the tourist attractions that you can visit are Bentota Beach, Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, and Brief Garden. You can also see the picturesque railway lines, but watch out for the trains! 

12. Loosen up at the Madu Ganga

Madu Ganga is a watercourse in Galle which widens into the Madu Ganga Lake that further drains into the Indian Ocean. Not only is the Madu Ganga very beautiful and picturesque, but also home to a few hundred species of flora and fauna. I highly recommend that you rent a boat and take a tour of this beautiful watercourse. I promise it will stay with you for the rest of your life.

13. ‘Sea’ food and eat it!

Seafood is quite famous in Sri Lanka because it is an island country, and fresh seafood is available in restaurants every day. Also, the staple Sri Lankan dish is fish curry and rice, no wonder where that comes from! While seafood is available in a lot of restaurants, I would like to recommend some of my favourites that serve the best of seafood.

  • The Station Restaurant & Bar serves the best pocket-friendly seafood. 
  • The Lagoon offers the best seafood in Colombo but is slightly expensive.
  • Ministry of Crab is the best place for seafood if you do not look at the prices.

14. Try hoppers

Hoppers are bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, and spices. These are cooked in round pans which gives them the bowl-like structure and are crispy on the edges and thick at the bottom. Just like the locals, I would recommend that you try out hoppers for breakfast at least once while you’re in Sri Lanka. And if you wish to travel to Sri Lanka with a budget in mind, it is possible too!

15. Meet some elephants

Meeting people is quite common. But meeting elephants? Not so much. There are an estimated 7,500 elephants here, and that’s a lot for a small country like Sri Lanka. And due to this huge population, you can see elephants quite often. Not only can you see elephants in national parks like Udawalawe, Gal Oya, Minneriya, and Kadulla, but also in tea plantations sometimes. Even if you are not a wildlife lover, you would love seeing these elephants from a close range.

16. Visit Sri Lanka’s Little England

Nuwara Eliya is famous for its tea plantations and is commonly known as Little England. Not only is this the most important tea plantation location in Sri Lanka, but it is also known for its pleasant climate. Along with that, it boasts a picturesque landscape, which is not only great for viewing purposes but can also be your next Instagram post!

17. Pay a visit to the Yala National Park

No Sri Lankan trip is complete without visiting the Yala National Park. You can spot the big cats here, including the leopard, which is the main attraction of this park. It is the most popular national park in Sri Lanka and covers almost a thousand square kilometres. During my solo trip, I was hesitant to visit the Yala National Park too. But because I had heard a lot about it, I decided to check it out once. And I must tell you, I was not disappointed one bit, and it was totally worth the time.

18. Take a Kandy tour

things to do in Sri Lanka

Kandy has a lot to offer, and you cannot take a pass on it. As I mentioned earlier, it was the last capital city of the ancient Sri Lankan kings and is also home to the Temple of the Tooth, which is a must-visit. Along with this, you can experience the Esala Perahera festival, Royal Botanical Gardens, tea plantation, and Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture. You shouldn’t hesitate to spend a couple of days in Kandy because you wouldn’t regret it later on.

19. Don’t miss out on Colombo’s temples

Colombo is the Sri Lankan capital and probably the most developed and modern city in the country. And the great part is that this modern city has some of the best temples in the country. Not to mention, along with all the other famous restaurants and touristy attractions. Some temples that you must visit are Gangaramaya Temple, Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Temple, and Koneswaram Temple.

20. Have a cup of tea

With innumerable tea plantations in the country and a lot of people involved in the production of tea, you cannot miss this! Tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world and can be easily found elsewhere too. But what makes Ceylon tea unique is that it is high in potassium which is very good for the heart, something that is not found everywhere. I was served a cup of tea during my visit to these tea plantations, which was lip-smacking! The people were very generous and made it right in front of me.

21. Hop on a tuk-tuk

A tuk-tuk is the cheapest mode of private transportation in Sri Lanka. If you decide not to rent a car, the tuk-tuk is the best option for you. It is a three-wheeled vehicle that can house two people comfortably. If you are travelling around the city, the tuk-tuk is perfect for you as it is faster than the buses. Not only is there enough ventilation and a cool breeze, but it is also extremely cheap, and you end up saving a lot of money.

22. Take the ‘Kandy to Ella’ train

The Kandy to Ella train journey is one of the most scenic train journeys in the entire world. I recommend that you opt for the first-class ticket, so you get a seat and ride comfortably. A first-class ticket will cost you around $20 for the 4-hour long journey.

It is not so much about getting from one place to another but all about the views. The tea plantations, local villages, and bridges are unlike anything else. The beauty of the views cannot be put into words. And not only that, the scenery changes from time to time so you don’t get bored either. If you want to check the train timings in Sri Lanka, click here.

23. Dalawella Beach Swing

This is probably the most touristy thing to do on the list. It is the best spot for chilling and watching the sunset, along with listening to the serene sounds of the waves on the swing. I bet this will bring all those childhood memories back, and you will not want to leave the place. You can also click a few Instagrammable pictures. 

24. Explore the shopping markets

There are a lot of markets in Sri Lanka that sell a variety of products. Be it meat, vegetables, fruits, clothes, souvenirs, handicrafts, or anything else. Once you step into these markets, you will want to buy it all. You can also buy souvenirs for your loved ones.

Make sure to check out Jewel Arena, Crescat Boulevard, Dutch Gallery, Orchid House, and Barefoot. And don’t forget to carry these things on your solo trip.

25. Galle Face Green

It is a 12-acre park next to the ocean, which is half a kilometre in length. It was earlier used for horse racing and playing golf. But today, it is the perfect place for a peaceful walk or a jog, and the locals can be seen playing football, cricket, and other sports. You can also spot street vendors in the evening who sell delicious snacks for a couple of dollars. 

It’s time to head back home now…

Phew! That was a lot. I remember doing some of these things during my solo trip, and I was very tired – but that’s Sri Lanka for you. It is a place with rich history and culture that is fun to explore. Learning about the history of such a culturally rich island is completely worth your time. You will be tired after climbing rocks and visiting so many places. But trust me, all of this is more than worth it and leaves you wanting more of it. If you find it tough to make a travel plan to Sri Lanka for yourself, worry not because I have got you covered!

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Swagachi

An introverted solo female traveller on an adventure around the world.

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