Known by a flotilla of aliases, the Resplendent Isle is one of gorgeous beaches, tea plantations and ancient cities. Scuba dive, visit an elephant orphanage and a lagoon of singing fish, explore dense jungle, shrines and temples. Situated just 20 miles off India, the island formerly known as Ceylon is home to 20 million people and six World Heritage sites.
Colombo is the gateway to Sri Lanka for most travelers—but don’t be tempted to simply pass through this diverse and interesting city. Take a train ride along the coast to Mount Lavinia, a popular beach, or explore some nearby wetlands, which many travelers say is the perfect place to take a break from the bustling streets of the city.