Surrounded by the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a beautiful island with a lot to offer. If you’re looking for some fun in the sun then Sri Lanka holidays are ideal for you. With perfect picturesque beaches, unique cultural cities, enchanting temples and spectacular rainforests, this is the place to visit. Sri Lanka’s rich cultural history will keep you mesmerised throughout your trip, especially when visiting one of the ancient capital ruins or the bustling city of Colombo.
The scenic beauty of this nation is at its best in the Central Province of the country, decorated by tea plantations, waterfalls and valleys, while in the far south you’ll encounter the sprawling Yala National Park, famed for its wildlife. This exotic paradise is home to no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, which contain a wealth of lush mountain terrain and magnificent wildlife.
Of course, no holidays to Sri Lanka are complete without a trip to the beach. There is 1,500km of beautiful coastline, which feature pristine golden beaches and stunning turquoise waters. Whether you want to top up that tan or have a go at some of the water sports on offer, the island’s beautiful coastline will keep you busy.
If you want to discover the island’s past, Sri Lanka holidays provide a number of amazing historical and cultural sites to explore. The nation’s rich history can be seen in various locations, like Buddhist temples, ancient rock sculptures, fortresses and palaces.
There are countless things to do in the diverse Sri Lanka, catering for each and every type of visitor, offering adventure, discovery and relaxation. Sri Lanka’s attractions create exciting and ever-changing holidays full of adventure, intrigue and beauty. The aspects that lure holidaymakers to this fascinating country are found in the island’s diverse landscapes which boast idyllic beaches, dramatic highlands and wildlife-rich rainforests. Combine this with the country’s rich cultural and religious heritage, discovered through ancient capital ruins, gorgeous temples and UNESCO World Heritage Sites and you have a holiday destination that is desirable beyond any other.
Harking back to its past, Sri Lanka has a wealth of ancient sights to explore. The famous Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, is a stone monument that rises up in the cultural heart of Sri Lanka. There are remnants of an ancient city scattered around it. Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura are two other ruined cities that are worth a visit, as well as the Dutch Fort in Galle. The Sacred Temple of the Tooth is home to a Buddhist relic and also worth discovering.
If you want to see some of the local wildlife, Minneriya National Park Safari has an array of elephants, magnificent birds and other wild animals. During an open top jeep tour, you will get up close to the 24 species of mammals that inhabit the park. If you want to see more elephants, then head to the Elephant Transit Home in Udawalawe National Park. The elephant rehabilitation treats orphaned and injured elephants, who are then prepared to be released back into the wild.
Wine and Dine
You will be greeted with a host of exotic flavours on your Sri Lanka holiday. Due to the island’s location between India and Southeast Asia, the fusion of spices can be experienced in most of the cuisine. Seafood and coconut feature heavily on menus and are usually accompanied by rice.
For a relaxing meal in an ancient building, go to Harpo’s Colombo Fort Café in Colombo. With tables that spill out into the courtyard at the Old Dutch Hospital, this restaurant has a Mediterranean feel with cheerful service. You will enjoy fusion cuisine from an open kitchen, including a selection of tapas, seafood and meat dishes along with cold beverages and cocktails.
Also in Colombo, located on the Northern wing of the Taj Samudra Hotel, Pebbles offers diners a sociable environment. With simple and minimalist décor indoors, you also have the option to dine al fresco. You can choose from light bites like pizzas, salads and sandwiches, as well as freshly baked cakes and pastries.
The Ocean Seafood Restaurant is, as its name suggests, on the waterfront, with views of the Indian Ocean and a pretty outdoor seating area. The fine dining restaurants offers live-cooking and has a varied menu of oysters, lobsters, crab and much more fresh seafood.
Sri Lanka’s outstanding jungle scenery and glorious stretch of coastline creates the perfect location for family holidays. The luscious valleys veiled in mist give way to forest, peaks and magical waterfalls, providing a wonderful setting for family-friendly outdoor activities. From river safaris, to whale-watching and elephant-riding, Sri Lanka offers something for all ages.
At the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, abandoned and orphaned elephants are safely homed near Kegalle. The whole family can get up close to the 80 elephants of all ages. Watch the elephants roam freely around the sanctuary area and bathe in the nearby river. You also have the opportunity to bottle feed a baby elephant.
On the west coast, there are several turtle hatcheries that children will delight in witnessing. The Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery in Habaraduwa works to maintain the survival of Sea Turtles with a Turtle Farm located next to a beautiful beach.
Action and Adventure
With stretches of beaches and expanses of jungle and nature parks, Sri Lanka has a plethora of adventurous activities to raise your blood pressure.
Take a trek through the undulating Horton Plains, where you can watch herds of Sambar Deer, as well as spot a great number of bird species. The plains are mainly grassland and are home to dramatic cliffs and stunning waterfalls. You will be left breathless at World's End, a sheer precipice with a drop of 870 metres.
If you fancy trekking trails, Sri Lanka’s mist covered central mountains in Ella offers marvellous hiking opportunities. Alternatively, trek along the trails to Adams peak and ascend the holy mountain to watch the mystic shadow of the peak across the lowland plains.
As there are countless rivers, lagoons and swamps, many with interconnecting canals, you would be wise to hire a canoe or kayak. Or if you want a little more action, go white water rafting along the rapids in Kitulgala.
Life's a Beach
Thanks to the year round sunshine, you can expect lots of beach days on your holidays in Sri Lanka.
For the ultimate peaceful beach paradise, heading to Bentota, just a few kilometres south of Beruwela, will satisfy your sand urges. There are also some great water sports on offer at the beach, with windsurfing, jet skiing and kayaking all available to those that can’t sit still on the sand for too long.
Soft white sand and crystal clear waters are the order of the day at the resort of Beruwela. Located just south of Colombo and boasting some of the island's best beaches, they are perfect for both relaxing on the sand and taking to the water. Thanks to its calm, clear waters, both diving and snorkelling are very popular activities to indulge in during your holidays.
Further to the south near the cultural destination of Galle, you’ll find the beach resort of Unawatuna. The beach here is one of the country’s most beautiful gems, with a long strip of sand and stunning coral beneath the waves ready for you to explore.
You can expect a chilled night scene on your Sri Lanka holiday. The country’s capital has the most diverse array of bars, clubs and music venues as well as upmarket cocktail lounges, tapas bars and lively discos. Outside of Colombo, the main nightlife hubs can be found along the south and west coast of the island. The popular beach resorts like Negombo, Bentota and Hikkaduwa have a western-style party culture, which revolve around pop up beach bars. To the east, nightlife becomes a little classier, with Mirissa boasting a small yet vibrant scene, and Arugam Bay a fair share of laid-back bars and cocktail huts.
Situated in the Colombo neighbourhood of Kollupitiya, the Barefoot Garden Café is a stylish bar that offers an oasis of calm. Serving a good selection of wine, you can enjoy a glass along with a live gig or a quiz.
Set within the Amaya Hills Resort in Kandy, the themed Le Garage nightclub has a backdrop of vehicle silhouettes with spare-parts used to decorate the shimmering dance floor. You can enjoy an imaginative cocktail under the glow lighting and wire-adorned walls or dance the night away.
Sri Lanka has a wealth of romantic spots that you and your loved one can escape to. From quiet sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, to leafy jungles and historic sites, there’s so much for you both to discover.
Take a trip to a tea factory set in a lush plantation cloaked in mist. You will learn about the cultivation techniques of the tea leaves, pluck your own leaves and enjoy tastings to detect the different strength and flavours of the leaves. Take a memento home with you, from a special selection of tea as a souvenir of your journey.
Feel the tranquilly of the Dambulla Golden Temple which greets you with a huge golden Buddha atop the temple complex. Set in several caves, the temple is a World Heritage Site and is filled with vibrant statues and frescoes. There is also an on-site museum where you can learn about the caves and their use.
For a scenic, romantic stroll, take the Lakeside Walkway at Tissa Wewa. Located in Tissamaharama, this huge man-made lake comes alive in the evening when large flocks of egrets descend onto the trees around the lake to roost.
The most intriguing aspect of Sri Lanka’s history is perhaps best found in the various ancient capital ruins located in the north of the country - the two most famous sites are Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. The former was first settled in 900 B.C and is home to one of the most sacred sites in the country, the Bodhi Tree Temple. Polonnaruwa is a little more discreet in its majesty; nevertheless, the palaces and temples that adorn this ancient capital are stunning and make for a great day trip.
The central highlands are home to some real natural gems for visitors to explore during their holidays to Sri Lanka. Kandy is the spiritual heart of the country, home to The Temple of the Tooth, housing a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. The collection of pink buildings make up the temple which is surrounded by a deep moat. Believed to be one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka, there are ritual prayers are conducted four times a day which are unmissable.
South of Kandy is Nuwara Eliya, situated in the Hill Country and nicknamed ‘Little England’ - the city is adorned with tea plantations and beautiful gardens.