A week-long exploration of the multicultural history of Sri Lanka, visiting more than half of the country's UNESCO Heritage sites.
For most visitors to Sri Lanka, the bustling capital of Colombo is their point of entry and exit for the island. The sprawling metropolis is usually seen as no more than a mandatory stop for most, yet when explored by bicycle the havoc can be mostly avoided with the proper routes. Colombo represents Sri Lanka at its most westernized and modern, with its glitzy beach resorts, shopping malls, and modern cafes lining every major street. With all this modern hustle and bustle there is still some old-world charm to be found in the many temples and street markets to explore.
The coastline south of Colombo comprises the majority of the world-class beach resorts; they sit shoulder to shoulder, nearly unbroken, all the way around the southern tip of the teardrop island. The most notable of the southern west coast cities are the once surf city of Hikkaduwa, now bouncing back from overdevelopment, and the ancient port city of Galle in the far south. The road to Galle can be treacherous for cycling so you want to take pretty much any alternate pathway you can map out rather than head down the coastline.
North of Colombo is the popular resort city of Negombo, which may serve as an alternate starting point, as its proximity to the international airport is closer than Colombo. The resorts start to space out the further north you get, and you can find some quiet beaches to both catch your breath, and catch a wave. The Wilpattu National Park is a short ride from the coast; here you can try your luck in seeing some of Sri Lanka’s most elusive animals. The west coast of Sri Lanka is the most heavily developed part of the island where most adventurous travelers spend the least amount of time. This isn’t to say it’s worth skipping; the sun, sand, and well-prepared tourist industry make it an easy trip for those seeking more comforts.