Sigiriya ©Solange Hando
This is the Lion Rock, the island's most iconic site where in the 5th century, patricide king Kasyapa built his palace on the very top to ensure his safety.
Climbing up there may be a challenge but the views are spectacular while on the way you can see ancient frescoes depicting the sensuous but beautiful ladies of the Court.
Hindu Temple ©Solange Hando
Also known as Sita Amman, this is an important site near Nuwara, Eliya, welcoming Hindu pilgrims from across the island and India.
According to the Hindu epic, this is where the Goddess Sita held captive by a king prayed to be rescued by Rama. She is the regarded as the goddess of good fortune and all feminine virtues.
Seated Buddha in Polonnaruwa ©Solange Hando
Polonnaruwa is the site of a medieval capital with extensive ruins, lots of walking but you could hire a bicycle. Vestiges include those of a palace, temple and shrines.
It's mostly stones and bricks but most impressive are the four Buddhas in different positions carved into a single rock surrounded by prayer flags.
Kandy ©Solange Hando
Capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom before the British take over, Kandy is considered the most sacred city on the island. The Temple of the Tooth holds a Buddha's relic, celebrated every summer with a highly colourful pageant.
The lake was created for royal pleasure with a special bath-house for the Queen (above). You can walk all the way round or enjoy a boat trip.
This is the oldest of the ancient capitals, once home to thousands of monks and 113 kings. Arts and culture flourished and temples and palace were stunning.
There are plenty of remains but most pilgrims gather around the branch of the original bo tree and the huge finely restored stupa (above) surrounded by a wall of life-sized elephant statues.
Mihintale ©Solange Hando
On a hilltop above frangipani and mango trees, Mihintale is another inspiring site as the birth place of Buddhism on the island, They say that in 247 BC the king on a deer hunt met an Indian Prince who converted him.
It's a steep way up to the panoramic site scattered with rocks and temples but a colourful Reclining Buddha invites you to meditate or just relax in a cool shaded place.