A haven for exploration and adventure, Sri Lanka is filled with truly unique travel experiences. However, fulfilling the maxim that it’s the journey and not just the destination that matters, our island is also well-known for the scenic routes that take you from one unique destination to the next.
A few amongst these are the hilly train journey from Kandy to Ella, the coastal drive from Colombo to Galle, and the train journey from Anuradhapura to Jaffna, which passes through the hillside, coastal areas, and country plains.
However, located deep inside Sri Lanka’s mountainous landscape, are a number of scenic routes which are just as enjoyable, yet considered ‘hidden’ or ‘concealed’ due to their lesser-known nature.
Kandy to Mahiyangana
The 41 km stretch of road between Kandy to Mahiyangana is easily one of the most picturesque drives in the island. A ‘zigzag’ road with 16 hairpin bends, it has long since been known as one which requires the driver to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. This winding road was widened and made safer in 2011 when the number of hairpin bends were reduced from 18 to 16. As the landscape shifts from the central highlands to the plains of the East, the view comprises misty mountains and hills, lush greenery, and flowing streams.
The historic town of Mahiyangana at the end of the journey is certainly worth the visit as well, with attractions such as the Mahiyangana Temple, Maduru Oya National Park, and Dambana, a jungle village where Sri Lanka’s indigenous people, Veddhas, still reside today.
Balangoda to Maskeliya
The 3-hour drive between the town of Maskeliya and Colombo is 60 km of breathtaking scenery. The journey takes you through the best of Sri Lanka’s hill country, with pine forests on either side, babbling streams, waterfalls, and views of misty mountaintops, where the road ahead may sometimes disappear from view as the mist creeps in. The drive further takes a traveler through the very heart of the tea country, offering panoramic views of the Castlereigh reservoir and famous Moussakele reservoir.
Gampola to Nuwara Eliya
Fondly called ‘The Road to Little England’, undertaking this journey via car is an unmatched experience. The journey is an ascent to Nuwara Eliya which is 1800 m above sea level, and travelers can experience the changing climate in the cool, crisp air as they make the climb. A lush carpet of greenery, the cultivated tea plantations are the main attraction throughout the winding roads of this steep, mountainous journey. The hillsides are dotted with occasional waterfalls and streams.
Beragala to Wellawaya
The second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, the Diyaluma waterfall flows towards Kirinda Oya underneath a bridge on the highway from Beragala to Wellawaya, making this 39 km drive a beautiful and scenic journey. The journey takes less than half an hour to complete, ending in Beragala, a town known for its natural beauty. This unique stretch is one of the lesser-traveled, though picturesque, routes on the island.
Nestled amongst Sri Lanka’s many winding roads, these are a few breathtaking and scenic routes to keep in mind when planning your next roadtrip.