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Indian Ocean

Sri Lanka Holidays

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Sri Lanka? No sweat.

Go on holiday to Sri Lanka and you’ll find ancient cities, rich jungles, Indian Ocean beaches, vast national parks and several of the world’s whale-watching capitals. 

Smaller than Scotland, Sri Lanka is tiny compared to its near neighbour, India. But its petite size makes Sri Lanka an easy island to explore on your getaway – and you’ll be amazed by how much it fits into its borders. 

You can take your pick of coastlines. The west coast around Colombo is the most developed and well-trodden. Spend your holiday in the south and you’ll find turtle-dotted beaches and incredible wildlife safaris. Or follow the less-travelled route to the east coast and go whale-watching at Trincomalee, snorkel among coral reefs, and enjoy lazy days in seaside towns. 

But you should also make time to explore inland on your Sri Lanka holiday. Between its lush rainforests and mist-draped mountain ranges, Hill Country tea estates and immense rock formations, Sri Lanka’s interior gives the coast strong competition. Even the train ride through its heart, from Ella to Kandy, is known as the world’s most beautiful rail journey. Another highlight is Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, stretching from Anuradhapura to Dambulla and on to magnificent Polonnaruwa. And it’s just as amazing to watch prayers at Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, or to climb the rockbound staircase to Sigiriya’s summit. 

Of course, Sri Lanka’s also the land of Ritipanna stilt fishing and spice gardens. The country produces almost every tropical fruit imaginable, and there are colourful towns and villages tucked all over the place. So, once you’ve ticked off the major sites, don’t miss a gentle cycle through the countryside or a hike in the hills. Visit local artisan workshops, take a Sinhalese cooking class,  and catch a Kandyan dance performance – it’s a must-do on any holiday to Sri Lanka. 

Best time to go

Things to do

Beaches

Food

Essential Info

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

The best time to go to Sri Lanka very much depends on whereabouts you’re planning to go. Tropical Sri Lanka has two different monsoon seasons, so it’s always dry and sunny somewhere. The southwest sees rain and storms between May and September, which move to the east in October and November. The island’s interior is brushed by both monsoons, but the rainfall here is generally lighter and thunderstorms rare. 

Show More
Show Less

Humidity is quite high across Sri Lanka, and temperatures float between 26°C and 35°C all year round. The east coast is known for cooling sea breezes, while the southern coastline tends to be the warmest and sunniest stretch in high season. 

January to March and June to September are best for dry weather, sun and low rainfall in Sri Lanka’s interior. The south and southwest coasts are lovely between December and March. And, from May to September, the country’s north and east coasts enjoy reliably warm, sunny days with clear skies.

 

Show More
Show Less

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Plan a holiday to Sri Lanka and you can put almost anything in the mix. If you want wildlife, Yala National Park on the south coast is home to Asia’s largest leopard population, as well as sloth bears and over 120 bird species. Somawathiya National Park and Udawalawe National Park are the best spots to see elephants. And Trincomalee on the east coast is one of the country’s whale-watching capitals.

Show More
Show Less

Head for the hills and sip tea on a plantation in Kandy, admire the scenery as you travel on the Blue Train to Ella, and catch a performance of traditional Kandyan drumming. Tour the cultural triangle from Dambulla – but only after you’ve explored the Cave Temples and climbed Sigiriya.

If you’re in the south, drop in at the World Heritage coastal city of Galle for a glimpse of Sri Lanka’s colonial past. Then see intriguing Ritipanna stilt fishermen at the nearby seaside village of Weligama.

Show More
Show Less

Beaches in Sri Lanka

Lapped by the Indian Ocean – where the water temperature is usually 28°C – Sri Lanka’s beaches are some of the most pristine in Asia. The bays and coves are often trimmed with palm trees or even dense jungle. And the fine, soft sand ranges in colour, from deepest gold to dazzling white. 

Show More
Show Less

On the east coast, visit crowd-free Passikudah Beach for shallow seas and nearby coral reefs. A little further north, you can often spot dolphins from Trincomalee Beach. And Nilaveli is another east-coast legend, ideal for snorkelling, whale-watching or simply lazing in the sun. Beaches in the south tend to be busier, but dramatic Yala Beach in Yala National Park is the exception. And Southerly Mirissa’s magnificent forest backdrop makes up for occasional crowds. If you want to swim in an Indian Ocean lagoon, head to beautiful Bentota Beach on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. 

Show More
Show Less

Food in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan cuisine is filled with homegrown flavour. The island produces 13 different varieties of banana alone, and markets all over the country are laden with tropical fruit and outsize vegetables. Fish and seafood are major ingredients in Sinhalese cooking. And fresh spice is used in everything.

 

Show More
Show Less

Look out for street food staples like Kottu Rotty – a slightly doughier version of Thai roti, this tasty pancake is filled with stir-fried vegetables or egg. Vadai are deliciously deep-fried, spiced lentil doughnuts rustled up all over Sri Lanka, and sold everywhere from trains to beaches.

And, however much you like coconut, it won’t even come close to how much it’s adored all over Sri Lanka. Enjoy coconut milk pancakes for breakfast. If you fancy a change from rice, try pittu instead – a mix of flour and grated coconut that’s almost like a Sri Lankan couscous. And, when you need to cool down, go for chilled coconut water spiked with fresh lime juice.  

Show More
Show Less

Essential travel information for Sri Lanka

  • Visa: UK visitors need to apply for a 30-day visa online 
  • Language: English, Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka
  • Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
  • Time difference: Sri Lanka is five and a half hours ahead of the UK
  • Flight duration from London: 11 and a half hours direct to Colombo
  • Capital City: Colombo 

 

Show More
Show Less

Best time to go

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

The best time to go to Sri Lanka very much depends on whereabouts you’re planning to go. Tropical Sri Lanka has two different monsoon seasons, so it’s always dry and sunny somewhere. The southwest sees rain and storms between May and September, which move to the east in October and November. The island’s interior is brushed by both monsoons, but the rainfall here is generally lighter and thunderstorms rare. 

Show More
Show Less

Humidity is quite high across Sri Lanka, and temperatures float between 26°C and 35°C all year round. The east coast is known for cooling sea breezes, while the southern coastline tends to be the warmest and sunniest stretch in high season. 

January to March and June to September are best for dry weather, sun and low rainfall in Sri Lanka’s interior. The south and southwest coasts are lovely between December and March. And, from May to September, the country’s north and east coasts enjoy reliably warm, sunny days with clear skies.

 

Show More
Show Less

Things to do

Things to do in Sri Lanka

Plan a holiday to Sri Lanka and you can put almost anything in the mix. If you want wildlife, Yala National Park on the south coast is home to Asia’s largest leopard population, as well as sloth bears and over 120 bird species. Somawathiya National Park and Udawalawe National Park are the best spots to see elephants. And Trincomalee on the east coast is one of the country’s whale-watching capitals.

Show More
Show Less

Head for the hills and sip tea on a plantation in Kandy, admire the scenery as you travel on the Blue Train to Ella, and catch a performance of traditional Kandyan drumming. Tour the cultural triangle from Dambulla – but only after you’ve explored the Cave Temples and climbed Sigiriya.

If you’re in the south, drop in at the World Heritage coastal city of Galle for a glimpse of Sri Lanka’s colonial past. Then see intriguing Ritipanna stilt fishermen at the nearby seaside village of Weligama.

Show More
Show Less

Beaches

Beaches in Sri Lanka

Lapped by the Indian Ocean – where the water temperature is usually 28°C – Sri Lanka’s beaches are some of the most pristine in Asia. The bays and coves are often trimmed with palm trees or even dense jungle. And the fine, soft sand ranges in colour, from deepest gold to dazzling white. 

Show More
Show Less

On the east coast, visit crowd-free Passikudah Beach for shallow seas and nearby coral reefs. A little further north, you can often spot dolphins from Trincomalee Beach. And Nilaveli is another east-coast legend, ideal for snorkelling, whale-watching or simply lazing in the sun. Beaches in the south tend to be busier, but dramatic Yala Beach in Yala National Park is the exception. And Southerly Mirissa’s magnificent forest backdrop makes up for occasional crowds. If you want to swim in an Indian Ocean lagoon, head to beautiful Bentota Beach on Sri Lanka’s southwest coast. 

Show More
Show Less

Food

Food in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan cuisine is filled with homegrown flavour. The island produces 13 different varieties of banana alone, and markets all over the country are laden with tropical fruit and outsize vegetables. Fish and seafood are major ingredients in Sinhalese cooking. And fresh spice is used in everything.

 

Show More
Show Less

Look out for street food staples like Kottu Rotty – a slightly doughier version of Thai roti, this tasty pancake is filled with stir-fried vegetables or egg. Vadai are deliciously deep-fried, spiced lentil doughnuts rustled up all over Sri Lanka, and sold everywhere from trains to beaches.

And, however much you like coconut, it won’t even come close to how much it’s adored all over Sri Lanka. Enjoy coconut milk pancakes for breakfast. If you fancy a change from rice, try pittu instead – a mix of flour and grated coconut that’s almost like a Sri Lankan couscous. And, when you need to cool down, go for chilled coconut water spiked with fresh lime juice.  

Show More
Show Less

Essential Info

Essential travel information for Sri Lanka

  • Visa: UK visitors need to apply for a 30-day visa online 
  • Language: English, Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages of Sri Lanka
  • Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR)
  • Time difference: Sri Lanka is five and a half hours ahead of the UK
  • Flight duration from London: 11 and a half hours direct to Colombo
  • Capital City: Colombo 

 

Show More
Show Less

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