Take in the sights of tea, temples and lush terrain on two wheels
Sri Lanka Cycling Tours
25th June 2019 by Charlotte Smith
Nothing beats the feeling of freedom as you hop on a bicycle and go wherever the road takes you. Wind in your hair, sun on your skin and is it just me or does Queen’s rendition of ‘Bicycle Race’ always pop in your head?
Sri Lanka is brimming with beautiful, intriguing, historically significant and culturally enlightening things to see and do. Many of these require a driver to get to, or a guide to tell the tales that make these places so fascinating, but much of what makes Sri Lanka a favourite amongst wanderlust travellers is the astounding topography and the ever-friendly locals. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the real, authentic Sri Lanka is on two wheels.
Here’s our recommendations of cycling tours you can add to your Sri Lanka holiday with Meraki Travel and enjoy during your free time.
Not so long ago, Colombo was a capital city often bypassed by visitors making a beeline for Sri Lanka’s scenic highlands, palm-fringed beaches and wildlife-rich parks. Today, it’s a different story. Since the civil conflicts ended in 2009, Colombo has grown into a dynamic urban hub with an ever-growing skyline of sleek developments, a thriving food scene and lively nightlife. But beyond the high-rise offices and traffic-heavy roads, you’ll discover historic and cultural treasures at every turn. Think colonial-era architecture, atmospheric temples and bustling market stalls piled high with fresh fruits, delicate silks and colourful spices. This is a city full of surprises.
To truly experience Colombo and see it through the eyes of a local, cycling is the best way to get around. On a Meraki Travel Sri Lanka Holiday, simply add Colombo and the Active experience pack to your trip and our half day City Cycling Tour will be a highlight of your city stay, exploring the inner-workings of Colombo and hopping off your saddle at some of the main attractions within this beautiful metropolis as you go. The Neo-Baroque-style Old Parliament building, the olde worlde Dutch Museum, the vibrant Hindu Shrine Kathiresan Kovil and the candy print Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid mosque are photo op favourites and represent Colombo’s rich history and cosmopolitan culture. An experienced guide will also take you to Galle Face Green, the city’s ocean-side urban park, for a slice of fresh pineapple before a special visit to a locals home and a final blessing at a Hindu Kovil.
Nestled in the rolling rolls of Sri Lanka’s rugged interior you’ll find Kandy, a World Heritage city brimming with rich culture, an intriguing history and natural beauty - think lush tropical scenery, a backdrop of misty mountains and a centrepiece lake framed by sacred temples. On a Meraki holiday, you’ll be taken to all the must-sees of course, from the Royal Botanical Gardens to Kandy Lake and The Temple of the Sacred Tooth, Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic believed to house the tooth of Buddha. During your free time, why not rent a bicycle and see the outskirts of this beautiful city? There are several routes you could take, here are a few of our recommendations:
The Balana Pass marks a significant point in Sri Lanka’s history, when British soldiers invaded Kandy during the 19th century and entered the city from all four sides, one being through this pass. Cycle through the Balana Fort and take in the sights and smells that surround this historic landmark. From aromatic tea plantations to mountain vistas, this 40 km round trip makes for a pleasant but energetic morning or afternoon cycle tour.
Ceylon Tea Museum
If your ears perked up at the sound of tea plantations, then opt for a relaxing cycling tour to the Ceylon Tea Museum, only 4 km outside of Kandy. Watch the machines whir and hum as you learn about the process from plant to teapot that has been part of Sri Lankan history for over 100 years. A cup of steamy Ceylon tea will invigorate and set you back on your bike with a newfound appreciation for the workers plucking the delicate leaves across the emerald tea estates lining the horizon. As you pedal along, take in the serenity and panoramic landscapes that grace these surrounds.
Home to Sri Lankan kings many years ago, Kandy is peppered with ancient temples, places of worship and castle ruins. A cycling tour is a great way to temple hop your way around the surrounding countryside. Begin this 36 km loop at The Temple of the Sacred Tooth before venturing out to Peradeniya and beyond where a cluster of intricately carved temples offer an intriguing insight into Sri Lanka’s regal and religious past. As you cycle your way between the Embekke Dewale, Lankatilaka Temple and Gadaladeniya Temples, make sure to desaddle at each stop and appreciate the ancient carvings and paintings unique to each one.
Habarana is the popular jumping off point for excursions to the famous Sigiriya Rock fortress, rising dramatically out of the jungle-clad plains, this UNESCO-listed citadel is a breathtaking sight to behold. A visit to this archaeological landmark, affectionately known as Lion Rock due to the abstract illusion carved into the rock over thousands of years is included in a Meraki Sri Lanka holiday, but you may wish to return during your spare time on a cycling tour to take in the lush green landscapes that inhabit this largely flat expanse of terrain.
A half day cycling tour is a great way to enjoy the authenticity of Sigiriya. As you trundle through the rural vegetation and villages, local children will come out and wave, grinning from ear to ear despite the incessant heat. Green paddy fields line the streets and birds may swoop in to fly along beside you.
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Adding extra stopovers to your trip? Why not hire a bike or join a cycling tour in Nuwara Eliya, Galle or Bentota too. It’s a great way to spend your free time exploring the highlands, colonial old town and beach.