20 Things Sri Lanka Is Famous And Known For

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Sri Lanka is famous for its exotic beach resorts, flavorful cuisine, tea production, and incredible biodiversity amongst diverse landscapes.

Sri Lanka is a South Asian country formerly known as Ceylon. It is an island that lies in the Indian Ocean, therefore has no bordering countries. However, it is separated from India by the Palk Strait. As a result, much of its culture is influenced by Hindu ways of life.

What Is Sri Lanka Famous For?

Sri Lanka is famous for its exotic beach resorts, many of which are located in Galle. They are popular thanks to their white sands and exotic marine life. As a result, the country is also home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the world.

Similarly, Sri Lanka is famous for its cuisine consisting mainly of curry dishes, which range from everyday recipes to special festival foods.

History, Culture, And Traditions Sri Lanka Is Known For

Theravada Buddhism


Of the four main religions in Sri Lanka, Buddhists account for 70%. This means that the majority of the country abides by such laws, follows these traditions, and respects the culture and philosophy.

There are two types: Mahayana and Theravada. However, Sri Lanka is the longest-practicing Buddhist country, and the Theravada division prevails. As a result, it is believed that life aims to break out of the cycle, called Samsara.

Common philosophies of Theravada Buddhism include purity, discipline, and monastic life.

Traditional Medicine (Hela Wedakama)


Sri Lanka is famous for relying on its indigenous healthcare system, which has been around for thousands of years. With this being said, prescriptions are still heavily encouraged.

Hela Wedakama uses rituals and mantras to heal chronic disorders. For example, offering a gift basket with fruits like coconuts and bananas, as well as flowers, is believed to protect the soul from evil.

Cultural exports such as tea and cinnamon are also popular offerings.

Tamil New Year’s


The Tamil calendar is adopted for certain festivals in Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia by the respective ethnic groups. As a result, common celebrations such as the New Year have cultural variations in addition to the internationally recognized one on the Georgian calendar.

Tamil New Year, which in Sri Lanka is known for being called Puthandu, is typically held on the 14th of April.

On the eve of Puthandu, households decorate their front door with vibrant powder dyes and arrange a fruit basket. This consists of mango, banana, jackfruit, betel leaves, flowers, and jewelry.

Furthermore, there is a large feast with traditional Sri Lankan foods like mango or cucumber curry called pachadi, and lentil stews.

Vesak Poya

Vesak Poya, otherwise known as the Festival of Lights in the western world, is a popular festival that Sri Lanka is famous for. It occurs every year in May, during the full moon.

Vesak Poya is a religious event that commemorates the Buddha and his achievements.

Throughout the week-long festival, the birth, life, and death of the Buddha are remembered.

This is done through a series of hymns, offerings, and dances. In addition, lanterns are decorated and lit as a symbol of respect.

Poson Festival

Similar to Veska Poya, Poson is another religious festival held on the full moon of June. It honors the introduction of Buddhism to the country, which Sri Lanka is known for practicing so devoutly.

The seven-day celebration includes many festivities such as visiting a local temple and giving offerings, as well as attending concerts and visiting food stands. Anuradhapura, located in the north, is a famous city known for holding extravagant performances. 

Cities And Travel Destinations Sri Lanka Is Known For



Although the administrative capital city of Sri Lanka is Kotte, the commercial capital has always been regarded as Colombo. Colombo is the largest city and has a population six times higher than Kotte.

 As it is situated on the west coast, the city has some of the best beaches that Sri Lanka is famous for. An example of this is Mount Lavinia Beach.

In addition, Colombo has many attractions with historical significance. The Galle Face Green is located in the heart of the city, constructed for Sir Henry George Ward. The green was primarily designed as a golf course and horse racing field and is now an urban park.



Kandy is the perfect combination of natural and historical elements. It is set on a mountainous terrain in the highlands, meaning there are lots of biodiversities.

The main natural attraction is Bogambara Lake, an artificial lake nicknamed the ‘Sea of Milk’. Here, you can take a leisurely stroll or sit and enjoy a tasty Sri Lankan snack on the perfect summer’s day.

As Sri Lanka is known for its devout Buddhist values, the Temple of the Tooth Relic is a major attraction. It is believed that the relic of the left tooth of the Buddha is stored here.



Galle is located on the stunning southwest coast, known principally for its exotic beaches.

The most famous beach that Sri Lanka is famous for, Hikkaduwa Beach, is found here. It is renowned for its diving spots and fresh seafood.

Another beautiful destination is Unawatuna Beach, a large sandy beach protected by palm trees. There are several mythical stories surrounding this, as some believe the shore was created by Manimekalai, the goddess of the earth.



Anuradhapura is considered the ancient capital; it is the oldest city in Sri Lanka built in 377 BC.

One of the main attractions that Sri Lanka is famous for is located here, known as the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. This is the huge granite rock that houses the remains of the palace complex once constructed on its top.

The Jetavanaramaya Monastery is also found in Anuradhapura. It is a Buddhist monument recognized for its distinct dome shape. This is common in stupas, as it represents the position taken when meditating.

Landmarks And Architecture Sri Lanka Is Famous For

Sigiriya Rock Fortress 


The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is a 180-meter colossal granite formation in the Matale District. Often it is called the ‘Lion Rock’, named after the lion’s paw which is engraved on the entrance of the fortress.

Originally, the fortress was built for King Kashyapa. Nowadays, only the remnants of the ancient palaces are visible as the effects of time and the natural environment take their toll.

If you are an adventure fanatic, climbing to the top is the perfect activity to get in some adrenaline. There are 1,200 steps in total, which leads you to breathtaking panoramic scenery.

Udawalawe National Park


Udawalawe National Park is a great family-friendly landmark to visit. It is home to many unique species of animals that Sri Lanka is famous for, as well as numerous tropical plants like Arjun trees.

The best way to tour the wildlife is by safari. This takes you through the park with an experienced guide, who has extensive knowledge of the habitat. Aside from the abundance of elephants, other interesting animals include wild boars, leopards, vipers, and various fish.

You can also find captivating bird species that are specific to Sri Lanka such as the Gray Hornbill and Spurfowl.

Galle Fort


Galle Fort is located in the exotic coastal town of Galle. This is an eminent landmark that Sri Lanka is famous for because of its rich history.

Originally, the fort was built in the 16th century by the Portuguese, however further modified by both the Dutch and English in later years after corresponding colonisations. Encapsulated within the fort is the Galle Fort Clock Tower towering over the Moon Bastion and cricket stadium.

As a result, this site allows you to leisurely check out several historic structures at once!

Hikkaduwa Beach


Hikkaduwa Beach is located in Galle. It is an extensive white sand beach that is perfect whether you prefer a relaxing vacation or a thrill-seeking one.

One of the main activities on Hikkaduwa Beach is diving and snorkeling. Sri Lanka is famous for its exotic sea life, which you can easily find on the Hikkaduwa Coral Reef. Examples include rosy red snappers and angelfish, which come in a variety of vivacious colors.

Alternatively, you can lie on the beach and order a refreshing snack. There are several seafood restaurants nearby where you can sample locally-made Sri Lankan meals.

Food Sri Lanka Is Known For



Rice and curry dishes feature extensively in traditional Sri Lankan foods. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular dish is Parippu, known also as dhal curry.

Dhal is a type of dried legume, such as lentils or peas. It is commonly used in several Asian dishes like soups, and curries, or even by itself. The strong nutty flavor from yellow lentils, or sweeter red lentils, makes it the ideal ingredient.

Dhal curry uses dhal, tomatoes, and chilies along with seasonings such as coconut paste and cumin. It is then poured over rice and can be eaten with roti for a comforting home-cooked dinner. The dish is so ubiquitous that you can even find it among Sri Lankan street food.

Kottu Roti


In comparison to parippu which is a vegetarian meal, kottu roti is a wholesome meaty dish.

The most significant ingredient is roti, a type of flatbread that is eaten as a side in several Asian countries. The roti is cut into small pieces and combined with meat, eggs, and vegetables. Popular choices include chili and root veggies like carrots and potatoes. Finally, it is served with a curry sauce.

Kottu roti is popular because there are many derivations, therefore it can be made with leftover ingredients. There is no specific recipe, and it varies from region to region.



As we mentioned, the majority of Sri Lanka’s famous food is hearty rice dishes. Desserts are often overlooked, despite their integral role in Sri Lankan culture.

Aggala is a sweet Sri Lankan dessert made chiefly from rice grains. It is mixed with coconut and treacle and heated, before being rolled into its traditional ball shape. On the other hand, peppercorn is also commonly used for a fiery kick, with compliments on the sweetened flavor.



When wondering what is famous in Sri Lanka, people often forget toddy. This is an alcoholic beverage enjoyed in tropical parts of Asia, that has been served since the early 1600s.

Toddy is derived from the word ‘taddy’ meaning fermented palm sap. The coconut flower sap is fermented and distilled, then ready to enjoy. It can also be boiled to make coconut honey, a popular topping in many desserts made for Tamil New Year.

One of the fun facts about Sri Lanka is that there is an entire industry devoted to workers who climb coconut trees. They are called toddy tappers! However, due to the hazardous conditions in the forests, this trade is slowly dying out.

Famous People From Sri Lanka

Kumar Sangakkara

In the sporting world, Sri Lanka is famous for cricket. They have undeniably talented players, the most globally recognized being Kumar Sangakkara. Furthermore, Sangakkara has often been titled the best wicket-keeper of all international teams. He is also a batsman.

Famous awards that Sangakkara has won include the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2012, and hitting four consecutive centuries in 2015 during the Cricket World Cup.

After retiring, Sangakkara was adamant to stay on the cricket field, subsequently becoming a commentator.

Jacqueline Fernandez

Jacqueline Fernandez is one of the most famous people from Sri Lanka. This is probably due to her multi-faceted career as an actress, model, and television personality. Additionally, she has a Canadian background, helping her expand internationally.

Fernandez is esteemed in Sri Lanka because she won Miss Universe Sri Lanka in 2006, and also represented her country in Miss Universe. Furthermore, she has starred in Hindu films and Desi music videos.

Sajith Premadasa

Sajith Premadasa is a revered politician, whose father was President of Sri Lanka from 1989 for one term.

Premadasa was born in Colombo and was schooled in his home country. However, he graduated from the London School of Economics and studied for his masters in the US, helping him gain international connections.

Subsequent to his famous father’s death, Premadasa became interested in politics.  He was appointed Deputy Minister of Health and has continuously shown support for the right-wing UNP party. He is admired for his projects supporting low-income families and housing campaigns.

Discovering More Things Sri Lanka Is Known For

Sri Lanka is a relatively underrated country that has so much to offer. These are just some of the many things that Sri Lanka is famous for. From its incredible array of traditional dishes to some stunning historic and religious sites, there’s plenty to explore in this Asian gem.

Furthermore, the idyllic island is home to some of the best beaches and the most magical wildlife. There are several natural parks and reserves that are great for just immersing yourself in nature.

Be sure to plan a trip here, and who knows what amazing discoveries await you as you uncover more things that Sri Lanka is known for?



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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