Best cycling destinations in Sri Lanka

03rd June 2019
  • adventure
  • cycling
Steuart Holidays Blog

Considered by many ardent travellers as the one of the most beautiful cycling destinations in South Asia as well as South East Asia, cycling and mountain biking is cited as an excellent way to enjoy the lovely sceneries of Sri Lanka. Cycling tours are also a healthy and an environmental conscious mode for you to explore the beauty of Sri Lanka. And since today is World Bicycle Day – what better way to celebrate it than by learning about the best cycling destinations Sri Lanka has to offer.

A small tropical island located to the South East of the Indian sub-continent, nicknamed as ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka is a budding cycling destination. Quiet beach towns, sprawling mountains, ruins of the ancient capitals, stunning architecture of the modern capitals, world heritage sites and many more attractions add to the beauty and the grandeur of the island. Despite the small size of 65,610 km2, Sri Lanka truly lives up to the name bestowed on it as ‘The Wonder of Asia’.

Bicycle parked on a wooded path
Sri Lanka offers many delightful locations that can be explored on two wheels

For most of the year, the island nation is blessed with warm temperature and ample sunlight, and leads way to long days with bright sun shine. Continuous rainfall throughout the year highlights the fact that here is a country, with one of the best tropical climatic conditions in the world, paving way to the best cycling tours. Sri Lanka is also compact and full of adventure all the way from its tranquil beaches to the green hills. Droughts and floods are rarely severe enough to leave a long-lasting impact on the country and therefore, needless to say, Sri Lanka is blessed with excellent weather conditions suitable for many outdoor activities including cycling.

Moreover, the island is blessed with landscapes that change from warm, sunny beaches to cold, wet mountains just within a few (3 – 3.5) hours of travel. The altitude within the island rises up to 2,524 m from sea level and the centre of the island is covered with hills. This relatively quick weather and landscape changes make Sri Lanka an even more exciting destination to explore, leaving a huge scope for slow tourism and eco-tourism to develop within the country.

View of Colombo Municipal Council from Viharamahadevi Park
Viharamahadevi Park, located in the centre of Colombo is ideal for an evening stroll on a bicycle

Rapid development of infrastructure within the country over the past decade or so has made all corners of the island accessible to the cycle enthusiasts. The network of main roads and innumerable country roads, gravel paths, foot paths, cart tracks, dirt tracks and estate tracks consist a terrain throughout the country which offers challenges for both beginners and experts alike.

With almost every corner of the island being accessible to the cyclists, it has become an extremely difficult task to name the best cycling destinations in Sri Lanka. However, considering all the vital facts, following can be listed the most popular destinations in Sri Lanka to cycle in.

Colombo is the bustling commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Investments and economic development since the end of the World War 2 has driven the city into a metropolis on par with other giants in the region. All the nearby attractions including The Colombo Lighthouse, The Prison Cell of the last Sri Lankan King, The Beira Lake, National Museum of Colombo, Independence Square, Viharamahedevi Park and The Red Mosque all add up to cycling in Colombo being an adventurous experience in a bustling city.

Situated amidst the hills in the Centre of Sri Lanka, Kandy was the last Royal Kingdom that fell to the invading armies of the British. It is also the resting place of The Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha, an honor that is still retained. Most of the nearby attractions including The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and Peradeniya Botanical Garden are accessible by cycles. Being a small city itself, a cycle can serve as one of the healthiest and one of the most environmental friendly modes of transport in and about the city.

A quiet road in Kandy shaded by a tree
Roads in Kandy are usually cool and quiet – just ideal for a bike ride

Negombo is a quaint beach town located in close proximity to the Bandaranaike International Airport and thus serves as a pit-stop for weary travellers. Featuring a number of hotels and restaurants, Negombo also has a happening nightlife. All the nearby attractions including the Negombo Dutch Fort, The Hamilton Canal, Fish Market and the Negombo lagoon can be explored on a cycle.

Man next to a bicycle  on the beach enjoying the sunset
Negombo and Galle are beach side destinations that can be explored on bicycle

Galle is a port city that is also known as the fortified city and is among many of the UNESCO Heritage sites that are present in Sri Lanka. Built by the Dutch, the original design of the fort still stands today. The city is a fusion of European and Sri Lankan architecture and is bordered by an amazing coastline. Exploring the Galle Fort on a cycle can be especially refreshing and breathtaking as the small streets in the fort are lined with colonial buildings completed with a backdrop of the beautiful Indian ocean.

Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa
Ruins of Sri Lanka’s first and the second ancient capitals Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa respectively, are among some of the world’s most evocative ruin sights. Containing a rich collection of archaeological and architectural wonders that range from brick stupas to ancient pools, which still stand as reminders of Anuradhapura’s and Polonnaruwa’s thousands of years of rule over Sri Lanka. A trip to Sri Lanka is not complete without visiting these two UNESCO Heritage sites and yes, both the ancient ruin sites are very much accessible on bicycles.

Finally, don’t forget to carry your cycling essentials with you at all times. These include, sunscreen, lip balm, a rain coat, a water bottle and a hat. Also it tends to get hot and humid under the sun, so try to wear breathable clothes you will feel comfortable in. Be mindful that Sri Lanka drives on the left side of the road and do take care while riding cities and urban areas.

Cycling from sunny beaches to misty hills of Sri Lanka can easily be considered one of the most beautiful experiences, with a beautiful view greeting you around every corner of the way. Therefore, don’t hesitate to grab yourself a bike and explore Sri Lanka as your next cycling destination.