First things that pop into our minds when talking about Sri Lanka, is all the memories we have collected during our trip to this amazing country. Despite the common thinking, the small island in the Indian Ocean has a lot to offer to travellers. Recently Sri Lanka has been named as the best location to travel in 2019 by Lonely Planet.
But, we have to be honest, what inspired us to write this photography guide to Sri Lanka are the people. Smiling humans that have the gift to let you feel home everywhere. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country where you will find a lot of Sri Lanka travel photography spots which you will love it.
During our journey around this lovely island, we tried to find the most beautiful instagrammable spots and some places that are still sticking in our minds even months later that trip.
There are many places where you can find your Sri Lanka travel photography spots and in this guide, we will help you discover most of them. Be ready to explore the country from the north to the south. You will stop by some of the most famous sightseeing, sacred, religious places which you can’t miss.
Where to take the best photos of Sri Lanka
- Sunrise view from Pidurangala Rock
- Hiking Sigiriya Rock
- Pitawala Riverstone Peak
- Negombo beach at the sunset
- Safari ride at Minneriya National Park
- Cinnamon Lake Side sunrise photoshoot
- Rooftop pool at Movenpick Hotel Colombo
- Nagadeepa Temple
- Tea Plantations of Nuwara Eliya
Sunrise view from Pidurangala Rock
The first spot we feel to suggest you is maybe the most magical of the country. Somebody will argue with that, saying that Little Adam’s Pick, the highest sacred mountain of Sri Lanka is most suggestive of it, but we have really enjoyed the landscape from the top of Pidurangala Rock. This track is an easy hike.
From this rock, you will be able to see a gorgeous view over Sigiriya rock. The view is pretty amazing and worth to wake up so early in the morning. In fact, in order to reach the pick for the sunrise, you have to start your journey around 4 or 4.30 during summer. The hike will take around 30 minutes but as there are no lights around so you might be on the top in 40-45 minutes.
Before reaching the top and start your hike towards Pidurangala you need to pass into a Buddhist Temple, so remember to follow the simple rules. Remember to have your shoulders covered and the trousers or skirt under your knees.
The view from the top is awesome and you won’t regret it.
Hiking Sigiriya rock during sunset – Sri Lanka Travel Photography
We went around lunchtime and it was full of tourists and locals but other friends went during the sunset and there was almost no one. This is because, Sigiriya is also considered a sacred place, with historical meaning for the population. But, once you are on the top you will be surrounded by nature and beautiful landscape perfect for your Sri Lanka travel photography trip.
Pitawala Riverstone Peak – Breathtaking view
Another gorgeous Sri Lanka travel photography spots are on the top of Pitawala Riverstone Peak. An easy hike of 20 minutes and you will have a breathtaking view in front of you.
During your time in Sri Lanka, you should consider doing it otherwise you will regret it.
Why we loved this spot? Because in front of us there was only nature and you could feel to be on the top of the entire world. Was amazing to see the clouds hugging the mountains surrounding us, in a cold breeze windy day.
Train ride scenery from Kandy to Ella – Sri Lanka best pictures
One of the most Instagrammed pictures, really popular at the moment, is from the blue train that connects Kandy to Ella. Of course, in our itinerary, we couldn’t miss it.
It was the most beautiful experience we ever had, not only for the ride itself but for the stunning landscape around us. Be aware that the train is going really fast and it is not easy to take the perfect shot. Be also aware that due the train is instable, could be really dangerous to snap risky shots. We had the help of our friends and some locals but also tried to snap as much as we could when the train was approaching the stations or we were on the bench.
We waited for our moment when the train was approaching the station to be able to take a couple of pictures. Don’t risk your life only for a picture.
TravelTips: If you really want to get the most Instagrammed picture in Sri Lanka you should consider to be in first or second class and avoid the third class. Why? Because this train is usually full and you won’t be able to do much if you are in a third class.
Third class LKR 175 | USD $1.00 | £0.77
Second class LKR 310pp | USD $1.77 | £1.36
First-class LKR 1500 | USD $8.59 | £6.56
Sunset on the beach of Negombo – Enjoying Sri Lanka ocean
One of the perfect locations for a photoshoot in Sri Lanka is on the beach of Negombo while watching the sunset. It was the best way to end our trip in Sri Lanka.
We stayed at the Jetwing Sea Hotel where we had access to the beach straight from our room. The view itself was amazing and think about it during the sunset.
I think when the sunset is approaching all the places are magic and you can just admire the beauty of nature while taking some shots. The hotels in Sri Lanka are cheap, even the high-class ones.
Take your best from a holiday in this country will be the best postcard for your return home. Also, Negombo is the ideal place where start your holiday or finish it, due it is really close to the airport, away just less than 30 minutes by car. Check some of our private transport options from the airport (the tuk-tuk are not allowed to get into the airport space).
Meet the Elephants at Minneriya National Park
Not everyone’s knows that Forbs has recently nominated Sri Lanka the best Safari outside of Africa. We have been lucky to experience it on our recent trip to the country. The wild Elephant is the best attractions in the natural national parks of the Islands, but the wildlife will show you even more mammals, reptiles, birds and animals during a ride in the parks.
You can’t leave this country without doing a safari where you have the chance to see those gorgeous animals strolling around the park. I think it was the best part of our trip as we never saw an elephant so close to us.
There are a couple of National Parks in Sri Lanka, Minneriya is the one that we have been and then there is Yala National Park. Both of the National Parks are worth to visit.
Sunrise at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo – Sri Lanka travel photography spots
Sunrise and a swimming pool? I guess it’s the perfect match. Our first couple of days in Sri Lanka we stayed at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo where they got a beautiful swimming pool looking at the main internal lake of the city. This was one of the best Instagram spots in Sri Lanka. Be ready to have with you a swimming suit as well!
If you love to wake up early and watch the sunrise this can be one of your favourite spot in Sri Lanka.
Movenpick Hotel Rooftop Colombo
Many people asked us which is the best photography spot in Colombo Sri Lanka and one of the place we would suggest is the view from the rooftop of the Movenpick Hotel in Colombo.
Having a view over the city and at the same time enjoying a drink into the swimming pool is something that you don’t see every day.
The Movenpick Hotel is a great place where to spend a couple of days while staying in Colombo and having a beautiful Sri Lanka landscape over the city.
Explore the most instagrammable temples around Sri Lanka
One of the most interesting things that I loved about Sri Lanka is that everyone believes in a different religion but there are no conflicts between them.
We explored different temples while were in Sri Lanka. Hindu Temple and the Buddhist Temple.
If you love taking pictures you will get crazy when you will see both temples. The Buddhist Temples are mostly predominate by the white colour, so it is easy to match your outfit, just standing out from the background. Instead, the Hindu Temples are colourful so try to wear only one type of colour.
Other than that, we always want you to follow the rules, and don’t be disrespectful of the locals and behave.
Always remember to follow the rules:
- Remove your shoes
- Shoulders covered and long dresses/trousers
- Never take a selfie with Budda as it is considered disrespectful
- Don’t give your back to Budda only for taking a picture, you can only give your back when leaving the temple
- Men’s need to remove the shirt into Hindu Temple
- Respect the rules and if they say no pictures inside please don’t take it.
Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple – Hindu Temple
Located close to Jaffna, Nainativu Temple is the perfect spot if you are looking for your next best Sri Lanka photos. Nagadeepa is a remote island in the north of Sri Lanka, it is reachable just by boat. There are many organised tour that will help you to discover this beautiful corner of the former “Ceylon” island.
Book here your Tea Factory Experience
It’s a Hindu temple and if you want to take some gorgeous pictures try to remember to follow the simple rules before entering (we have highlighted those before).
If you are looking for the perfect shot for your Instagrammable Sri Lanka, you are in the right place. This Temple can get very busy, especially because it’s the only Hindu Temple in Nagadeepa Island.
Nagadeepa Temple – Buddhist Temple
The Nagadeepa Temple is one of the most beautiful Buddist Temple we ever have seen. The legend said that in this temple it is conserved Budda’s tooth and that’s why many Buddhist in Sri Lanka are visiting this place.
It’s a beautiful temple where you can get a great shot for your travel photography spots in Sri Lanka.
The colour which domains into a Buddist Temple is the white, so if you are looking to get the perfect perspective to wear something which clashes with the white. You can think about red or even blue to match the sky but always remember to follow the rules when entering the temple.
Nuwara Eliya – Tea plantation
During your Sri Lanka travel photography, for sure, you will visit a tea plantation, which is typical of the country.
One of our favourite spots was walking through the tea plantation of Pedro’s Estate while wearing colourful cloches and admiring the beautiful plantation of Ceylon tea. We have used this location even to shoot some parts of our video about Sri Lanka, and it was awesome how the locals will help you to get up and down the slopes of the hills.
The People of Sri Lanka
This is mention not to a particular place, but to the people. Amazing humans, always smiling at you. We were feeling safe even in a crowded market. They were offering everything, just for a smile and a thank you. No money, nothing just a simple thank you. Fun fact, about one of our city tour around Colombo. It was the very first day in Sri Lanka, after a long flight, the first outside of Europe for us. Strolling around the buzzing market of the city, in district 1, just behind the busy Train Station Fort, I (Toti) was snapping photos everywhere. Overwhelmed by the beauty of a different environment than I am used to.
By the way, surprising on how it was chaotic but surprising organized, was snapping the traffic jam while crossing the road (The traffic light was green, safe!). I shot a guy in a tuk-tuk, he just comes to me after the green, calling me. I was thinking he was hungry about the shot, but he was not. He just wants me to show him the photo I took and shot a better one while he was on duty in his vehicle. The smiles and the way the people make you feel welcome was something that warms up our heart. Sri Lanka is special and is it because the people are awesome.
Sri Lanka photography tips
- If you are travelling solo or with someone else, it’s always better to have a tripod to make sure you archive the picture that you want
- If you are doing a safari try to have with you at least a 70-300 mm
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a photo to locals as they are always happy to smile in front of the camera
- If you are on a guided tour plan in advance which picture you want to save some time and don’t rush
- Bring with you a different outfit to help you to match the colours. For example, during our ride from Kandy to Nurawa Eliya, Alessia was wearing a white dress with blue converse to match the colour of the train
- Have fun while doing a photography tour as in this way you will have more beautiful pictures
- Be ready to wake up for many sunrises as during your stay in Sri Lanka you don’t want to miss anything
How long do you need in Sri Lanka?
If you are looking for a perfect itinerary, you should consider staying for 2 weeks in Sri Lanka. With those 15 days in Sri Lanka, you can see the island without missing the most important sightseeing.
We spend 10 days in Sri Lanka and we were able to see pretty much the most of the Indian Island. Plan ahead your trip to Sri Lanka and make sure you don’t miss anything.
It seems obvious, but it is not. Sri Lanka is a really safe country, with locals really friendly and welcoming. Most of the people speak very well English and will help you with translation in locations such as markets or local stores especially in the north of the Island.
Reasons why you should visit Sri Lanka
As you might know, Sri Lanka has been considered the top destination to visit in 2019 by Lonely Planet and that’s why we wanted to see with our own eyes. Everything is true, every single corner of this Island in the Indian Ocean is amazing. As an old British colony is still preserving some of the styles of the Epoque.
What we loved the most were the people smiling and being so generous with us. We felt absolutely safe and we didn’t have any problem when we were walking around the island.