The 6 Best Hiking and Trekking Trails to Visit in Sri Lanka

A misty mountain peak surrounded by lush trees and bushes

Posted by on 05 Apr 2024

A small island country dotted with tropical beaches like Sri Lanka might not be top-of-mind for hikers when choosing a place to visit on holiday. Travellers who want to squeeze in a hike or two on holiday might visit destinations known for their trails, such as Canada, home to the iconic Cabot Trail, or Switzerland for its challenging hikes up its scenic mountains, like the Matterhorn or Mount Pilatus.

But deep in the heart of Sri Lanka, far from its beaches, there are plenty of mountain ranges and rolling hills waiting to be discovered by trailblazers and hiking buffs. Whether you’re a first-time trekker or an experienced nature explorer, there’s a trail in this island country that will be perfect for you. Here are the six best hiking trails Sri Lanka has to offer—plus some tips on what to bring when traversing these beautiful routes.

The 6 Best Hiking and Trekking Trails in Sri Lanka

Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak is one of the most popular hiking areas in Hill Country, the region of Sri Lanka known for its beautiful hill stations. The summit, which stands at over 2,200 metres, takes over 5,000 steps. It is most beautiful at sunrise, arguably the most popular time hikers traverse the path.

Not only is it a trekking trail, but it’s also a pilgrimage spot for many religions. Christians, Buddhists and even Hindus believe the mountaintop to be sacred for different reasons. So, people from all over the world hike up seven kilometres and flock to the site on a spiritual journey to see the Sri Pada, a footprint that legend says was left by either Buddha or Adam, depending on the version of the story you believe.

Ella Rock

A more challenging hiking trail to take on is Ella Rock, which requires a steep, sustained 10-kilometre walk. From the train tracks at Ella Station, you’ll hike for 3-4 hours through eucalyptus forests, idyllic tea farms and rolling hills until you get to the very top of Ella Rock. From this viewpoint, you’ll be rewarded with impressive views of the countryside.

Although climbing up Ella Rock is challenging for first-timers, the path is quite straightforward. You can get away with not booking a tour guide for your journey if you’re an experienced hiker.

Little Adam’s Peak

Novice hikers will enjoy the easy, 4-kilometre trek to Little Adam’s Peak, another popular nature destination in Ella.

The trail is breezy and uncomplicated. You’ll pass by plenty of stunning scenery, from misty waterfalls to lush greenery on the hillside. Its low difficulty level and brilliant views make it a popular hiking trail for beginners and nature lovers.

You’ll find the trail leading up to the peak right next to the Ella Flower Garden, a quaint restaurant in Ella. It only takes 2-3 hours to complete the trail back and forth.

The World’s End at Hortons Plains National Park

There are plenty of trails to explore inside Sri Lanka’s Hortons Plains National Park. But perhaps the most popular of these is the World’s End hike, which leads you to a sheer cliff overlooking the most breathtaking mountain range—hence the name of the trail.

The hike is just shy of 10 kilometres long but is relatively easy as there are minimal hills. We recommend staying in Nuwara Eliya the night before and arranging for a transfer service to take you to the park as early as 5:30 AM the morning of your hike. This allows you to beat the crowd and have serene, phenomenal views to yourself.

Lipton Seat

Tea lovers and history buffs might enjoy the hike to Lipton’s Seat, a viewpoint in Haputale with stunning views of Hill Country’s valleys and tea plantations. Legend has it that tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton himself used to sit at this spot to admire the tea empire he created back in the British colonial period.

The three-hour, 8-kilometre hike is quite easy. It starts at the Dambatenne Tea Factory, also built by Sir Lipton in the 1890s. Here, you can learn about Sri Lanka’s intricate tea-making process and have a cup of their finest teas. Then, you can make your way through the valleys and tea farms to get to the viewpoint.

Sinharaja Forest Reserve

Last but not least, we have the trails within the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, one of the biggest lowland tropical rainforests in Sri Lanka.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is teeming with life and some of the richest biodiversity you’ll ever see in Asia. It’s home to almost 150 bird species, plenty of rare, endemic mammals and a plethora of vibrant flora and fauna. It’s the best place to hike in Sri Lanka if you want to see the country’s wildlife firsthand.

Although the treks in the forest reserve are relatively easy, it’s still best to hire a guide to bring you to all the scenic areas of the rainforest. We recommend staying in Deniyaya the night before your trek and booking Sri Lanka trekking tours from there.

What to Bring on Your Hike

Comfy, sturdy hiking shoes, light clothing and a cap or some sunglasses are non-negotiable when hiking anywhere in the world.

Here’s what else you should take with you when trekking Sri Lanka to have the safest, most comfortable hike yet:

  • A reusable water bottle filled to the brim to keep yourself hydrated
  • Sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays
  • Light rain gear, like a thin raincoat or poncho
  • Energy bars or any other small, healthy snacks to fuel you up on breaks
  • A map and flashlight for easier navigation
  • Insect repellent to protect yourself from insects, especially if you’re hiking through forests
  • A camera to take snapshots of the stunning views you’ll see along the trail

Conquer the Most Exciting Trails in the World with Entire Travel Group

Your Sri Lanka itinerary might include soaking up the sun on dreamy beaches or exploring tea plantations in the countryside.

But if you love the outdoors and want to exercise during your holiday, squeeze in a hiking adventure along any of the mountainous routes above. These are the best hiking trails Sri Lanka offers, and you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Love exploring the world through trekking? Book a holiday package to one of Entire Travel Group’s many travel destinations and discover more mountains, valleys, and wildlife to see and conquer.

When experience matters