Colombo UNESCO sites

Our most recommended Colombo UNESCO sites

Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

1. Sigiriya and Dambulla Day Trip from Colombo

Depart Colombo and travel by a shared vehicle, in a small group, to the city of Sigiriya, and head directly to Sigiriya Rock on arrival. Gaze in awe at the massive column of rock that, according to the ancient Sri Lankan chronicle The Culavamsa, was selected by King Kasyapa as the site of his new capital. Admire numerous paintings of historic queens, princesses, and maids inside the rock fortress before getting a break for lunch at your own expense. Then, explore some of the traditional crafts of the region, such as wood carving and batik textiles, with time to purchase souvenirs before departing. Start the journey back towards Colombo via Dambulla to explore the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Discover the magnificent Buddha images and rock paintings of vivid colors and different shapes, painted from around the 2nd century B.C. up to the 18th-century Kandyan era.

Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

2. Galle and Bentota Day-Tour From Colombo

After being picked up at your hotel, hop onboard your Madu Ganga Magrove boat safari and explore the Madu River. See the mangrove forests and marshlands that surround the river. Stop at a cinnamon garden, and try some of the area’s famous cinnamon. The Madu Ganga River region is home to some of the best quality cinnamon in the world as well as a flourishing cinnamon industry. Afterward, marvel at the fishermen who stoically sit atop large branches planted in the middle of the water waiting for their catch. Continue to a local Turtle Hatchery, where your guide will introduce you to the many local varieties of turtles. End your tour with a visit to the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This fort illustrates the unique interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries. After discovering the fort, you will be returned to your hotel in Colombo.

Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

3. Sri Lanka: Five-day Multi-City Sightseeing Tour

Explore the best of Sri Lanka with this tour to the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, rolling tea tea plantations in Ella, the chance to see wild elephants in the Udawalawa National park. Have your hotels, dinners, and breakfasts arranged for you in this fantastic tour package. Day 1 - Be welcomed by your guide at the Colombo International Airport where your guide will take you to your hotel in Colombo. Day 2 - Journey from Colombo to Sigiriya after getting your negative test results and eating a filling breakfast. Visit the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Relax before heading to the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya before having dinner and staying at a 4star hotel in Sigiriya. Day 3 - Travel to Kandy after a hearty breakfast to visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic which holds the most important Buddhist relic in Sri Lanka. Take some time to unwind in your hotel before proceeding to see the amazing flora at the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens. Eat dinner and stay overnight at a four star hotel in Kandy. Day 4 - Next, have a full breakfast before heading to Ella to walk among the lush tea plantations. Learn more about the colonial history of Sri Lanka and take in the stunning landscape views. Return to your hotel in Ella for dinner and to rest. Day 5 - After breakfast, drive to Udawalawa National park where you can spot elephants in their natural habitat.

From Bentota: Elephant Transit Camp and Udawalawe Safari

4. From Bentota: Elephant Transit Camp and Udawalawe Safari

See many dozens of wild elephants at close proximate to your safari jeep on the Udawalawe safari. You will never get so close to wild elephant-like in Udawalawe. Udawalawe national park is a haven for wildlife lovers, and it is one of the best places for watching elephants, crocodiles, monkeys, buffaloes, deer, and many other creatures. On your return journey visit the Elephant transit camp, where dozens of orphan elephants gather for feeding. Take a walk along the cobbled stone alleys of Galle Fort and discover medieval-period Dutch-styled constructions. Most buildings in this medieval city are now converted into restaurants, galleries, museums, hotels, and shops. Later stroll along the south coast beach and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze while taking a glimpse of endangered sea turtles. Round out the day with a visit to one of the island’s most famous mask-making cities, and learn about exquisite Sri Lankan masks for an activity-filled, full-day tour. Be picked up from your hotel in Bentota or Kalutara in the early morning and drive for around 3.5-hours to Udawalawe National Park. Get up close to spectacular wildlife as you spend 3-hours on a 4x4 jeep safari tour spotting a large array of wild animals in this animal sanctuary. Sightings include wild elephants, crocodiles, jackals, deer, buffalo, and sloth bears. The next stop is Galle Fort, a Dutch fortification and UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the houses, palaces, galleries, restaurants, cafes, and shops in this historically rich town. Take some time to look at the local stores and find typical Sri Lankan handmade products and souvenirs. From here, head to Unawatuna Beach. Enjoy a swim in the warm water or relax on the beach. Discover the cultural heritage of the island at Ambalangoda, a coastal town famous for its mask-making. Visit a mask museum and learn about the meaning of these colorful works of art and their role in traditional dance rituals and festivals. Pass by local fishing villages, harbors, and fish markets and be dropped off at your hotel between 5:00 PM - 5:30 PM.

From Negombo: Full-Day Unesco City of Anuradhapura Trip

5. From Negombo: Full-Day Unesco City of Anuradhapura Trip

Declared by UNESCO as a world heritage city, Anuradhapura is regarded as Sri Lanka’s first known kingdom and the capital of the island for many centuries. Being well known for its cultural and religious value, the city attracts many local and foreign visitors who want to explore the ancient history of Sri Lanka.  See the remains of the Brazen Palace, which was once 9 stories high, and the Sri Maha Bodhi a Bo Tree, which is over 2000 years old and grew from the branch of the very tree beneath which the Buddha attained enlightenment. Visit the ruins of the Ruwanweliseya Dagaba and see the 2nd-century BC shrine, containing the Buddha’s collarbone relic. Explore the Abhayagiriya temple and the Jetawanaramaya dagobas.

From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

6. From Colombo: 4-Day Essence of Sri Lanka Heritage Tour

After pickup from your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, drive to Dambulla. Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site then spend overnight in Sigiriya. On day two get an early start and drive to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Polonnaruwa. Take a cycling tour through the well-preserved ancient city to see the beautiful stupas or dagobas, moonstones, parks, buildings and stunning statues. In the afternoon, you will be taken to the 5th-century rock fortress of Sigiriya, regarded as one of the Wonders of World and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spend overnight in Sigiriya.   On day three after leisurely breakfast, visit an archetypal Sri Lankan village. Experience a bullock cart ride, see traditional cultivation methods, enjoy a boat ride and an authentic Sri Lankan lunch at a village house. After lunch, continue to Kandy, stopping at a wood carving center and a spice garden in Matale. Upon arrival, take a city tour of Kandy including a visit to the temple of the sacred tooth relic, upper lake drive, the market square, and more. Spend overnight in Kandy.     After breakfast on the fourth day, you will depart from Kandy and be driven back to your hotel in Colombo, Negombo or Mount Lavinia, or dropped off at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo.

From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

7. From Colombo: Full-Day Pinnawala and Kandy Tour

Start your journey at 0600 hrs from Colombo and proceed to Kandy, pausing at Pinnawala for a visit to Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. This is the home for young elephants who have been displaced from their natural habitat at Pinnawala village in the Sabaragamuwa province of Sri Lanka. Now housing 70 elephants, Pinnawala is home to the largest group of captive elephants in the world. Next, visit Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, renowned for its variety of ornamental, decorative & medicinal plants, more than 4000 species. This garden is best known for its collection of orchids, the largest in Asia. Thereafter, visit the Temple of the Tooth, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built in the 16th century as the place of veneration and protection for Lord Buddha’s sacred tooth. Walk through the beautifully embellished passageways and elaborately painted halls. Lounge among delicately carved pillars and be amazed by the beautiful golden statues. Followed by a lunch break at a location of your choice. Cultural Dance Show - Be escorted to a performance of the traditional Kandyan dance, accompanied by tumultuous drumming. Dances include the cobra dance, mask dance, the Ginisisila, showing power over fire. This entire frenetic and colorful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act. Finally, you will begin your journey back to your hotel in Colombo at approximately 1930 hrs. En-route, you will stop at Ambepussa (restaurant of your choice) and have dinner.

From Colombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Full-Day Private Tour

8. From Colombo: Sigiriya and Dambulla Full-Day Private Tour

Explore two of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO-listed highlights on a privately guided day trip to Dambulla and the Sigiriya Rock from Colombo. Start with an early morning pickup from your hotel in Colombo. Make your first stop at the Dambulla Cave Temple. View Sri Lanka’s countryside and villages as you journey to the atmospheric Dambulla Cave Temple, a Cliffside cave complex packed with Buddha images and frescoes. Enter the historic caves of the Golden Temple of Dambulla, dating back to the 1st century BC. View the ancient murals depicting the life story of Lord Gautama Buddha. Look at the hundreds of figurines of Buddha and other deities scattered throughout the five main caves. Visit the Cave of the Divine King, Cave of the Great King, and the Great New Monastery. See the giant golden Buddha Statue just a little distance outside the cave complex. Go to Sigiriya to visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress. Climb the 5th century AD rock fortress, Sigiriya, where King Kassapa ruled. Walk through the entrance framed by the paws of a lion that is quite appropriate for its name, the Lion Rock. View the beautiful unfading murals that brought Sigiriya its fame. Climb the steep staircase to see the terraced gardens and still-working cisterns. Go through the tunnels leading to the palace as you get a feel for times long past.

From Colombo: Handungoda, Galle, Ahangama, & Kosgoda Tour

9. From Colombo: Handungoda, Galle, Ahangama, & Kosgoda Tour

Spend a day exploring Handungoda, Ahangama, Galle, and Kosgoda in Sri Lanka on this guided tour. Visit a local tea factory in Handungoda, meet stilt fishermen in Ahangama, tour the coastal city of Galle, and interact with sea turtles at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. Start by getting picked up from your hotel in Colombo by your chauffeur. Ensure that you bring a packed breakfast with you if you did not have a meal at the hotel. First, stop at Handunugoda Tea Factory, a factory known to create some of the most luxurious teas in the world. While Sri Lanka has many sought-after teas, this tea factory is famous for a different reason. The factory has reawakened the ancient Chinese tradition of creating virgin white tea that is untouched by human hands during the manufacturing process. During your tour of the factory, see how this mysterious process takes place. Next, travel to Ahangama to meet with stilt fishermen, one of the most iconic figures of Sri Lanka. Watch them fish and learn about the process from the fishermen themselves. Later, get free time for an optional lunch break at a place of your choice. After, head to the coastal city of Galle. After withstanding three foreign invasions, Galle grew from a bustling port to a fortified yet scenic city with many monuments that have withstood the ravages of time. Marvel at Galle Fort, a World Heritage Site. See the Galle Lighthouse, National Maritime Museum, the picturesque cobblestoned streets, and many more colonial remnants. At the end of your city tour in Galle, head to the final stop on the itinerary: the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. Learn about the five types of sea turtles that visit Sri Lanka for nesting and how the nests are protected. Interact with baby turtles and see some of the fully grown turtles that are getting treated for injuries here. After spending time with your new turtle friends, get a return transfer back to your hotel in Colombo.

From Colombo: All Inclusive Sigiriya and Dambulla Tour

10. From Colombo: All Inclusive Sigiriya and Dambulla Tour

Begin your 14-hour tour with an early-morning drive to Sigiriya. When you arrive, climb the Sigiriya Rock fortress, considered to be the 8th Wonder of the World. In the 5th century, King Kashyapa built a palace atop the rock. Sigiriya commemorates some of the turbulence of Sri Lanka’s history. Stop to enjoy a restaurant lunch before heading to Dambulla. Visit the UNESCO-listed cave temple built by King Walagambahu in the 1st century B.C. It is the most impressive of Sri Lanka’s cave temples. The complex of 5 caves features more than 2,000 square meters of painted walls and ceilings. See 150 images of the Buddha, of which the largest is a 14-meter-high image carved out of the rock.

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What people are saying about Colombo

Overall rating

4.2 / 5

based on 30 reviews

Really good experience! At one of the attractions we should have visited, there was a really long queue and too many people, so our guide was good at coming up with a lot of other options we could see if we wanted. All the experiences were quite exciting! Our guide also found some great eateries along the way with really nice views each time. He was good at assessing when he was needed as a guide and when it was better for us to be alone and she stayed close by (eg at the restaurants). On the slightly long drive, he was also good at explaining what we saw when we looked out the windows and in general what Sri Lanka was like.

I highly recommend using apple vacations agency when you visit Sri Lanka! They offer a wide range of tours and packages to fit a variety of budgets. Our guide Niraveen and driver were on time and accommodating. This full day tour was lovely and enjoyable! Loved visiting the turtle hatchery center, the boat ride through the mangrove, and the place they took us for lunch was superb! Really trustworthy company!

Very reliable tour pickup operator. No drama, I been contacted via WhatsApp 1 day before , driver was already at my hotel lobby 15 mnt before the pick up time. Good condition and nice car and the driver are polite and good at communication and everything are clear and reliable. Must book when you are in Colombo

The driver (Kenneth) was very accommodative and managed our tight schedule very well. He even went the extra mile and helped us to see more than what we had initially agreed — with his help we were able to visit the Ranweli spice garden, which was the cherry on top.

Had excellent time, tour operators are second to none Driver Chris excellent fit for the job we are lucky to have him as driver and guide Me and my wife thanked Chris thousand times