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Why A Sri Lanka Bike Tour Needs to Be On Your Must-do List in 2024

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Sri Lanka is a tiny, teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean which is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful places on earth. Don’t believe us? Well, The New York Times rated Sri Lanka number 1 in its list of the top 10 places to visit in the world back in 2010 While in 2023, Sri Lanka was rated among the top 10 most instagrammable places in the world by EnjoyTravel.

And one of the best ways to explore this beautiful country is on a bicycle, as it allows you to absorb the sights and sounds slowly and at your own pace. Even if you’re not an active cyclist, it’s possible to find several bike tours operators that allow you to do leisurely bike trips where you bike for a few hours each day and then do other fun stuff for the rest of the day. 

Here are three reasons why a Sri Lanka bike tour is the best way to explore this emerald island:

1. Stunning Natural Beauty

Beautiful beaches, lush green forests and mile-upon-beautiful-mile of tea plantations, all these make a Sri Lanka bike tour a must-do for any cycling lover. Tea plantations, in fact, are a special feature of any trip to Sri Lanka as they evoke a quaint colonial charm that is hard not to fall in love with. And Sri Lankan not only looks beautiful, it tastes delicious too. Sri Lanka is one of the largest exporters of tea in the world, and when in Sri Lanka, you can be sure of savoring some of the best tea you’ve ever had in your life.

2. The Wildlife

Sri Lanka is home to several endangered species of animals and birds. But perhaps the animal that most people love to encounter in Sri Lanka is the elephant. Sri Lanka is one of the few places on earth where you can simply ride past herds of elephants as they graze peacefully in the meadows.

Whale watching is another wildlife activity that is popular in Sri Lanka. There are several tour operators that take tourists to the sea from where they can watch blue whales, dolphins and other large aquatic animals in frolicking in the blue waters of the Indian Ocean.

3. Great Cycling Infrastructure

Sri Lanka has well-developed infrastructure and welcoming locals, meaning cyclists can expect good-quality roads with little traffic in the countryside along with world-class hospitality

It  is also one of the safest places to travel to. Worldpackers rated Sri Lanka among the top 13 safest countries in the world to travel to. Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, was ranked by Der Standard as the second safest city in the world for solo women travelers. 

Which are the Best Places to Cycle in Sri Lanka?

With vibrant cities, beautiful beaches, dense forests, and ancient Buddhist ruins, Sri Lanka has every kind of terrain to delight the discerning traveler. That said, here are some of the best destinations for biking in Sri Lanka:

1. The Cultural Triangle

Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle is technically not a triangle, it’s a pentagon, as it is a set of  five ancient sites that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites are Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla Caves, and Kandy. But since calling it the pentagon would sound a little spooky, folks just call it the cultural triangle.

While at the cultural triangle, prepare to be swept off your feet by its history and awe-inspiring beauty. Anuradhapura is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities on earth that was first established in the 5th century BC. 

The bike ride from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa is sprinkled with magnificent ancient ruins, Buddhist temples and ancient archaeological sites. The spectacular Sigiriya rock fortress in Dambulla is a massive column of granite rising a sheer 590 ft above the surrounding forest-covered plains which is, quite simply, breathtaking. Sigiriya also has beautiful frescoes covering its rocks dating all the way back to 480 AD.

2. The Central Highlands

The central highlands of Sri Lanka is a vast plateau adorned by a range of mountains that reach as high as 2500m (8200 ft) above the sea level. This combination of high elevation and a tropical climate characterized by high rainfall gives this region a unique climate and ecology found at few other places on earth.

In fact, the entire region is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the very high number of endemic species of flora and fauna it harbors. These include the very adorable purple-faced leaf monkey which you are likely to spot if you go a little off the beaten track here.

Also, most of Sri Lanka’s tea is grown in this region, so when you’re traveling here, make sure to spend at least a couple of nights at a tea plantation resort.  To those familiar with Asia, this part of Sri Lanka may remind them of southern India, especially Kerala, as India grows a lot of tea as well. If you’ve ever been on an India bicycle tour, you’ll know what we mean. 

Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, and Ella are the main tourist destinations in this region. 

3. Wilpattu and Yala National Parks

Sri Lanka has over 26 national parks to house its remarkable wildlife. However, out of these, two national parks that stand out for visitors are the Wilpattu and the Yala national parks.

Wilpattu is the largest national park in Sri Lanka and is famous for the 106 lakes spread out across its vast area and for being a home to the Sri Lankan leopard.

The Yala national park on the other hand is the most visited national park in Sri Lanka. Located in southern Sri Lanka at the edge of the Indian Ocean, the park is an important habitat for the Sri Lankan elephant and several aquatic birds.

4. The Coast

Sri Lanka has a long and beautiful coastline on the Indian Ocean, and strung out along its coast like a necklace of pearls are some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And luckily, most of these beaches have still not been overrun by tourists like the beaches in Europe or in Thailand. Make sure to check out the Mirissa, Bentota, and Unawatuna beaches. 

Sri Lankan cities such as Colombo, Galle, and Negombo are also located along the coast and have a vibrant nightlife along with great food.

Final Thoughts

Sri Lanka is a tropical paradise that offers a great choice to those looking for an alternative to the more crowded Asian tourist hubs such as Thailand or Bali. It’s also significantly less expensive than both Thailand and Bali. 

And we believe a Sri Lanka bike tour is one of the best ways to explore this beautiful country. If you’re looking for a good bike tour operator, we suggest checking out Art of Bicycle Trips. Their itineraries are aimed at leisure cyclists with a focus on cultural and culinary activities. 

So what are you waiting for? Hop onto a bike and pedal away into the sands and sunsets of Sri Lanka.

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