After we spent a couple days in Colombo and got our bearings, we took a train to the center of the country and stopped in Kandy. As a helpful tip, don’t be tempted to buy a first class ticket. Save a few dollars by taking second class, where you’ll have a beautiful view as you travel through the country. This was one of our favorite cities and we were able to see several sites, like the Rock Cave Temples and the Big Buddha that overlooks the city.
From Kandy, you can also take a day trip to Sigiriya, an underrated spot to go to backpack Sri Lanka. It’s an ancient rock fortress that a king of Sri Lanka built long ago to protect his palace. There is the option to climb to the top of the fortress, but we opted to climb Pidurangala Rock. This overlooks the fortress, (was significantly cheaper!) and we were able to see everything from the top. The hike is a fairly quick one (about 30 minutes) and the view is well worth it. Along the way you’ll pass through Dambulla, where we recommend to stop and check out the Buddhist cave temples, built thousands of years ago for the people in the city to come and pray. It’s also a small hike up some stairs, but the history and view is stunning.