Top 10 Things Sri Lanka Is Famous For

sri lanka is famous for
| 4 min read

If you’re planning a sojourn to Sri Lanka, then make sure you have a handy list of things to do at your disposal. The island nation has a rich cultural heritage that is reflected in its temples, monasteries, and architecture. The tropical climate and sandy beaches make Sri Lanka a popular travel destination. Visitors will enjoy the lush greenery and wonderful beaches. The local cuisine is delicious, and travelers will delight in trying new dishes. You can try the famed Ceylon tea as you visit a plantation. There are plenty of gemstones to pick from as a souvenir of your travels. Make sure you purchase some handicrafts that are made of coconut and cane leaves. Browse through this list of the best things Sri Lanka is famous for.

1. Sri Maha Bodhiya (world's oldest human-planted tree)

Jaya Sri maha Bodhi
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chamal N used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Head to Anuradhapura (a four-hour drive from Colombo) to see the revered Sri Maha Bodhiya, the sacred fig tree under which Lord Buddha took shelter as he attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, India. This venerated tree of Buddhists in Sri Lanka is a pilgrimage site and originates from the Sri Maha Bodhiya Bo tree in India’s Bodh Gaya. It was brought to Sri Lanka by Princess Sangamitta, the daughter of Emperor Asoka, and planted during King Devanampiyatissa’s reign. The tree is over 2,200 years old and is said to be the oldest human-planted tree in the world. It is inside the Mahamewna Gardens and devotees throng to Anuradhapura to catch a glimpse.

Visited this place?

2. Cinnamon

Cinnamomum verum spices
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Simon A. Eugster used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Sri Lanka is known for its incredible spices, but the most popular of them all is Ceylon cinnamon, also called true cinnamon. The island nation produces 90% of the world’s cinnamon and it’s valued for its subtle and delicate flavor. The best cinnamon grows from Ambalangoda to Matara, in the southwest part of the country. Sri Lankan cinnamon is prized because of its quality and aroma so make sure you stock up on this spice when in the country. You can also visit a cinnamon plantation to experience how this wonderful spice is cultivated.

Visited this place?

3. Ceylon tea

Ceylon tea picker (5530574131)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user planetlight used under CC BY 2.0

Sri Lanka is also a leading exporter of tea and the beverage is cultivated in the highlands. The country’s tea plantations produce the finest type of black tea called Ceylon tea. It is made from the dried leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. It has this full-bodied and citrusy taste because of the soil and climate it’s cultivated in. This tea plant’s leaves have a wire-like look and can easily be recognized. Ceylon tea has plenty of health benefits and is rich in antioxidants, making it popular. It can be served warm or cold so make sure you try the beverage when here.

Visited this place?

4. Precious gemstone (sapphire & moonstone)

Sapphire (gem gravel mine, Ratnapura area, Sri Lanka) 4 (34726079991)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user James St. John used under CC BY 2.0

Sri Lanka is also famed for its gemstones, and we suggest you buy yourself a moonstone ring and some sapphire bracelets when here. It produces some of the best sapphires in the world and its blue sapphires are prized for their quality and clarity. No wonder Marco Polo called the country “the finest island in all the world.” Sri Lanka is also synonymous with its high-end moonstones. While the exquisite stone can be found in many hues, the rare blue moonstone is found only in the mines of Meetiyagoda. Moonstone is also called the Ceylon opal. Legend has it that because the land near the village of Meetiyagoda is blessed by the moon, it produces the precious blue moonstone, which is mined from pegmatite, a moonstone-bearing igneous rock.

Visited this place?

5. Buddhism

Buddha Temple Sri Lanka
Source: Pixabay

Sri Lanka’s official religion is Theravada Buddhism and is embraced by nearly 68.6% of the population. The peace-loving Buddhist culture was introduced in the country since third century BC and has been practiced by the Sinhalese. In Kandy, there is a shrine that has Buddha’s remains, and several pilgrims come here to pay there respects. You will find traces of the culture in the ancient Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, that has scriptures, carvings and paintings that depict Buddha’s teachings and life.

Visited this place?

6. Colombo

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Balou46 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Sri Lankan capital Colombo is popular with travelers, and the vibrant city is bustling with street markets. You can catch some remnants of the colonial era in the architecture as you walk past Dutch churches. The city is a melting pot of cultures and take a tuk-tuk ride or walking tour as you explore its corners and marvel at the workmanship of Buddhist temples and the Khan Clock Tower. Make sure you explore the temples, try some kottu, and shop at Paradise Road when here.

Visited this place?

7. Wildlife

Sri Lankan Wildlife
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Prabashvi used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Pay a visit to Yala National Park, Minneriya National Park, or Udawalawe National Park when touring the country. Here, you can spot the sloth bear, leopards, elephants, Sambar deer, turtles, crocodiles and other wildlife animals. Enjoy a jungle safari as you marvel at the beauty of nature and spot some wildlife animals.

Visited this place?

8. Spices

Spice shop in Kandy Market, Sri Lanka
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user McKay Savage used under CC BY 2.0

While Sri Lanka is famed for its cinnamon, this isn’t the only spice the country churns out. You also get nutmeg, cardamom, Ceylon pepper, cloves, ginger, turmeric, and mace. These spices are cultivated extensively and are widely used in local cuisine. They are also popular for their medicinal properties and are used in Ayurveda as well. You can also visit a spice garden to learn more about the variety of spices cultivated in the country and their properties.

Visited this place?

9. Ayurvedic products

SwaSwara Ayurveda and Yoga on Om Beach ayurveda (2)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Appy89 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Traditional Ayurveda, a holistic medicine-based system of healing, is widely practiced in Sri Lanka and derives its techniques and knowledge from ancestors. Ayurvedic products are completely natural and use indigenous herbal ingredients from nature to help treat many ailments. You can buy herbal beauty products and cosmetics, herbal supplements, as well as Ayurvedic medicines.

Visited this place?

10. Hand-woven items (coconut & cane leaves)

Big coconuts in Sri Lanka
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Peter van der Sluijs used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Sri Lanka is also known for its handicrafts and what better way to gift someone with hand-woven items made from coconut and cane leaves? The delicate cane baskets bear testimony to the craftsmanship. Bags, hats, trays, and mats are all up for grabs. You can also purchase utensils made from coconut shell-like cups and spoons!

Visited this place?

Sojourn to Sri Lanka

Enjoy a magical getaway in Sri Lanka as you immerse yourself in its rich culture and savor its delicious cuisine. The tropical climate is a bonus since you come back sun-kissed and happy.

Visited this place?
Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Anupama Passary has contributed to various online publications, showcasing a particular fondness for all things tech and travel-related. She is also a chocoholic, stargazer, and dreamer....Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Sri Lanka (all)
Good things are meant to be shared!
Back to top
Visited any of these places? Click this button to activate our "Add a Tip" feature to share your experience.