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Cultural Triangle

The area known as the Cultural Triangle is home to five of the eight UNESCO World Heritage sites in Sri Lanka. To say there is plenty to see would be an understatement.

The Cultural Triangle runs from the hill-capital Kandy, the first Sinhalese capital of Anuradhapura to the medieval capital of Polonnaruwa.

Within this triangle, you will find the rock fortress of Sigiriya, the cave monastery of Dambulla and the Buddhist centre of Mihintale. Aside from these magnificent sites, there are others of particular note, including the mysterious forest monastery of Ritigala. The Cultural Triangle is also renowned for its elephants that gather here and can be seen in Minneriya National Park.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka
Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Climbing the Rocks

The ancient sites, many UNESCO listed, are superb. Enjoy exploring by bike or scrambling around the 2,000-year-old ruins. Visit Dambulla and Sigiriya – immense rocks that soar dramatically up from the flat central plains. The climb up can be a little steep but the views from the top in the early morning are incredible. Along the way, watch the playful monkeys that live in the temples. We recommend getting the climb out of the way before the heat and the coach tours arrive!

Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Village Life, Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Buddha, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
Family at a cultural site, Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Cycling the Back Roads

Explore off the beaten track with our favourite archaeologist, Nerina, who will ensure you avoid the crowds by visiting some little-known sites on the Cultural Triangle. Often busy, the best time to view the popular sites is shortly after sunrise in the morning, avoid any crowds and be among the first few to visit that day.

There is no better way to explore Polonnaruwa than pedalling the less trodden back roads. We organise a local cycling guide to accompany you – who is a villager and shares insider knowledge of the area. Pass beautiful rural countryside, passing lakes and lush forests



It’s all here. Things to see and do, places to explore and moments to discover.

Cycling the Village Roads of Polonnaruwa

Cycle through the village roads of Polonnaruwa early in the morning to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Dambulla Cave Temple

Marvel at the exquisite detail and beauty of the artwork found in Dambulla’s caves.

Suggested Holiday Idea


Explore the extensive ruins of the greatest monastic city of the ancient world, Anuradhapura.

Suggested Holiday Idea

Mihintale Temples

Visit the beautiful temples of Mihintale, the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Suggested Holiday Idea


Climb up the impressive, giant rock fortress of Sigirya (also known as Lion Rock).

Suggested Holiday Idea

Need Inspiration?
Browse our Sri Lanka holiday ideas.

Our Sri Lanka experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.

Where to stay

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we have recommended for this journey.

Heritance Kandalama £££££

  • Sri Lanka

The Kandalama Hotel despite being large is a beautifully designed Geoffrey Bawa property, positioned on the edge of Kandalama Lake. Plenty of activities including bird watching and elephant treks are possible from this hotel.

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Vil Uyana £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Wilderness

Surrounded by paddy fields and forest, Vil Uyana has 25 individual villas on stilts. Connected by wooden walkways and decked with wooden floors, each villa has a pitched rattan and bamboo ceiling and a sloping thatch roof made of coconut palms. In-villa dining is available here, while a small spa offers a range of treatments.

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Ulagalla £££££

  • Sri Lanka
  • Wilderness

A beautifully restored Sri Lankan Manor house, Ulagalla lies in a small village near the world heritage site of Anuradhapura. Ulagalla is the perfect spot to base yourself whilst exploring the sights of the Cultural Triangle. Once the ancestral estate of local Anuradhapura nobility, this luxury hotel features a 150-year-old mansion at its centre, with 20 private ecologically-built chalets across 58 acres of land.

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Meet our experts

A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.

Kate Hitchen

My travels were first inspired by my love of the UK, which I take as much pleasure in exploring as countries far and wide. For me, travel is all about the adventure, the people I meet and the food I sample along the way.

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  • 01285 880 980

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Kate Hitchen's help in organising this trip was excellent. She was very knowledgable and tailor-made our trip to suit our three teenage children.

Sri Lanka

Why Choose Steppes?

Our knowledge and expertise set us apart. So too our curiosity. It is this that drives us to create a journey that is really bespoke to you, all the while ensuring we travel and operate sustainably.

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