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Popular Places to Visit on your Solo Backpacking Trip to Sri Lanka

Whether it’s your first time back packing across the island or your tenth, there’s always something new and interesting to explore. From strolling through the Galle Fort to surfing in Arugam Bay, here are some of the most popular places to visit on your solo backpacking trip to Sri Lanka that combine history & culture, beach experience and mountain getaways! 


This is a no brainer, as Galle is the most popular place on the southern coast, since it is steeped in history, along with some amazing natural features. The Galle Fort is the perfect place to understand the colonial influence of the island, as the architecture and the many museums narrate some interesting stories to any traveller. Moreover, the nearby suburb of Unawatuna, allows you to either relax in one of the finest beaches, or go on a hiking adventure along the Rumassala Hill. If you are looking for more adventure, why not explore the historical Kanneliya Forest Reserve too. Galle may be popularised due to its historical value; however, its natural and cultural features are equally as important, which makes it an idyllic place to visit for any backpacker. This is one of famed UNESCO World Heritage Sites to cross off your bucket list too. 


Located further down the southern coast of the island, lies the fishing town of Mirissa, which is known for its amazing beaches and being the best place to set sail on a whale watching excursion. The beaches play host to some exciting water sports such as surfing, diving, and snorkelling as well. If you want to venture further into the deep blue, make sure you go on a whale watching tour. The beaches are also home to some amazing bars, and clubs, which allow you to have a great time with other fellow travellers.  

Got only a day in the south coast? Here’s what you need to do within the day.


Considered to be everyone’s favourite mountain respite, the town of Ella is the perfect getaway for any backpacker looking to escape urbanisation, and bask in the tranquillity of the hill country. Hiking Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock are the most popular activities to engage in, while Ravana Falls and the Nine Arch Bridge are equally captivating places to visit too. Adding into the myriad of activities, is the friendly atmosphere of fellow travellers sharing their stories over a drink and some kottu roti in the many cafes and restaurants. Moreover, Ella is also a great place to use as a base camp to embark on safaris to the nearby national parks.

Explore Ella in a day? Yep, you can! Here’s how.


Located up north, the city of Jaffna is a stark contrast to those in the south, as the culture and the landscapes are very different. Jaffna holds numerous features that would make any backpacker curious. The Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, the Cankili Thoppu Archway, the Keerimalai Hot Spring, and Point Pedro are just some attractions that showcase, not only the city’s heritage, but also the natural wonder of the region. The neighbouring islands, such as Delft Island, Nagadeepa, and Velanai Island (also known as Jaffna Kayts) are also worth visiting during your stay in Jaffna, since these islands are steeped in ancient lore, and is home to unique societies.

Here’s how you can travel to the north of Sri Lanka.

Arugam Bay

Arugam Bay lies in the eastern corner of the island, and has a similar environment to that found in Mirissa. However, the differing factor in Arugam Bay is that it possesses both, a rich natural heritage, along with a great water sports atmosphere. The nearby Kumana National Park is home to more than 200 species of birds, along with several other types of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Those seeking adventure can visit the many exciting surfing spots, as there are many beaches here that allow you to get on that long board and ride those waves. Whiskey Point, Main Point, Baby Point, Pottuvil Point, and Elephant Rock are known surfing spots that you could visit in Arugam Bay.

Solo backpacking in Sri Lanka is always a treat to any traveller, as you are guaranteed to stumble on something exciting that you never knew about, which makes it all the more enticing. However, if you want to truly appreciate and cherish your trip to the island, make sure that you include these popular places in your itinerary.


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