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It’s official. Sri Lanka is having its moment in the spotlight - and rightly so. With the promise of palm-fringed beaches, majestic elephants, ancient temples and flavour-packed food, the island’s endless charms are impossible to resist. Enveloped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the coastline is made up of vibrant cities and sun-kissed sands, while inland there’s wildlife-rich parks and undulating highlands sprinkled with tea plantations. Our Sri Lanka itineraries will introduce you to these myriad wonders, and once you get a taste, you’ll never want to leave.
No island of comparable size can boast as many cultural attractions and World Heritage Sites as Sri Lanka. The country has a colourful history of more than 2000 years, and remnants of early Sinhalese culture is still visible in the ancient cities of the now-famous Cultural Triangle. More recent Portuguese, British and Dutch influences can be seen in the colonial-inspired architecture and fusion of food found in the coastal cities of Colombo and Galle.
Though the culture is a major selling point, it’s just half of the story in Sri Lanka. The island is known for its high number of elephants, offering the chance to see hundreds of these gentle giants marching through the grasslands and bathing in watering holes. Safari tours also bring you close to leopards, sloth bears, monkeys, buffalos and a plethora of bird life.
Looking to indulge in some R&R? Sri Lanka’s coastline beckons with its pristine, and often uncrowded, beaches. Find a sandy spot to flop down on and soak up some tropical sun, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, the balmy waters offer world-class surfing, snorkelling and diving. The choice is yours.
When you’re ready to escape the heat of the coastline, head for the hills. The cool climate and lush landscapes of the highlands offer a refreshing respite, where the rolling forests, immaculate tea estates and misty mountains are the perfect setting for a rambling hike or scenic train ride.
Though it’s becoming increasingly popular with curious globetrotters, the island is still relatively unspoilt and affordable - so there’s really no better time to book Sri Lanka holiday tours than now.
To design your own tailor-made Sri Lanka trip, start with one of our base itineraries, which includes all the must-see destinations you won’t want to miss. You can then customise your holiday to make it perfect for you.
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Tucking into tasty street food in Colombo, surfing the waves at Bentota or exploring the sacred temples and tropical surroundings of Kandy - Sri Lanka luxury holidays offer a rich variety of experiences. And if it’s postcard-worthy beaches you’re after, the Maldives is just a quick jump across the Indian Ocean and can easily be added to your itinerary. With so much to see and do, choosing where to travel to can be tricky. That’s where we come in. We’ve hand-selected Sri Lanka’s top destinations to ensure you see the very best of what this alluring island has to offer.
Habarana is the gateway to Sri Lanka’s wildlife-rich national parks and ‘Cultural Triangle’ attractions. Watch hundreds of migrating elephants at Minneriya National Park, climb to the top of Sigiriya Rock for spectacular views and explore the ancient Dambulla Cave Temples.Discover More
Striking the perfect balance between tourist-friendly and traditional, Arugam Bay is a rustic beach town on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast that boasts some of the world’s best surf. Yep, this is a surfer’s paradise, but it’s also one for the yogis, night-owls – and by that we mean party-goers – and general beach-bums. Say hello to beach seclusion at its sumptuously authentic best.Discover More
Nestled in the jungle-clad mountains, Kandy is the ideal base for exploring Sri Lanka’s lush scenery and tea plantations. But don’t miss the city’s star attraction - the Sacred Temple of the Tooth.Discover More
The most popular wildlife sanctuary in Sri Lanka, Yala National Park is brimming with unique flora and fauna. Spot elephants, leopards, deer, crocodile and a host of other mammals and bird life in the park’s lush forests and grasslands.Discover More
Go to Galle for the historic attractions and wonderful wildlife. Spend the day browsing the chic shops and colonial architecture in the UNESCO-listed Galle Fort before heading along the coast for golden beaches, turtle sanctuaries and whale watching.Discover More
Dubbed ‘Little England’, Nuwara Eliya was once a popular bolthole for the British. The mock-Tudor buildings and rose gardens give it a traditional English town look and feel, but the bustling markets, spice-infused cuisine and manicured tea plantations are pure Sri Lankan.Discover More
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Whether you’re watching large herds of elephants in Udawalawe National Park or climbing to the top of Sigiriya Rock for awe-inspiring views, there’s no shortage of thrilling experiences in Sri Lanka. Cultural attractions are plentiful, from the Sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy to the colonial-era Galle Fort in Galle, while the natural wonders of Yala and Minneriya National Parks never fail to impress.
The Dambulla Cave Temple is one of island’s most visited attractions. Inside five sacred sanctuaries lies some of the country's most impressive religious art - we’re talking more than 150 ancient Buddha statues and colourful paintings covering every inch of the cave wall. These shrines have a strong spiritual presence that needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. If this hasn’t roused your curiosity, nothing will.Discover more
Located in Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, Minneriya National Park is a natural sanctuary of evergreen forests, lush grasslands and swampy wetlands. The focal point is the sparkling water tank, built by the great King Mahasen in 3rd century AD. While the scenery definitely has the wow-factor, the star attraction is the elephants.Discover more
It’s one of the country’s most awe-inspiring sights and attracts flocks of visitors every day to gaze upon the 200-metre high rock rising majestically from the jungle. At the flat-topped summit lies an unexpected enigma - the remnants of an ancient sky palace. There are some amazing views too, but you’ll have to break a sweat and scale a series of steep staircases first.Discover more
The Temple of the Tooth, located inside the former royal residence of the Kandy kings, is said to house the tooth of the Buddha. What’s so special about that, you might ask? Well, not only does this ancient relic symbolise the foundations of Buddhism, but legend has it that whoever possess the tooth has the right to rule the country. In other words, it’s a pretty big deal.Discover more
No trip to the hill city of Kandy is complete without spending some time exploring its glorious lake. A sprawling, emerald water body fringed by ancient temples and lush jungle, the idyllic scenery wouldn’t be out of place on a painting or postcard. In fact, it’s so naturally beautiful that you’d never guess it’s man-made.Discover more
It was originally built by the Portuguese in 1588 and revamped later by the Dutch, and the European influences are still very much visible today. As you stroll along the quaint streets of the walled old town, you can’t help but notice the slightly jarring fusion of colonial architecture and Asian culture - think Dutch-style villas and imposing mosques.Discover more
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You will need a visa to visit Sri Lanka. Tourist visas are normally given for 30 days, and it’s best to get one before you travel. Make sure that your visa is valid for the length and purpose of your stay and that you have at least six months left on your passport from the date you arrive.
You should visit your doctor six weeks before you travel to check which vaccinations you need.
Sri Lanka’s climate is surprisingly varied for such a small island. But the good news is that you’re guaranteed to find somewhere with pleasant weather throughout the year. December to March is the most popular time to visit the west and south coasts, the highlands and the Cultural Triangle. But if you’re planning on travelling to the island’s east coast, you’ll find the best weather from April to September.
The currency you’ll need when travelling to Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Rupee (usually abbreviated to Rs, but occasionally LKR). Similar to the UK, tipping in Sri Lanka is common practice and is seen as courtesy rather than obligatory. In restaurants, a tip of 10% of the bill should be well received if it hasn’t already been added on. You can also tip safari guides and drivers (around Rs 500-1000 each) and hotel staff (around Rs 50-100).
Sri Lanka is a spiritual country, with more than 70% of the population practicing Buddhism. The remaining population follow Hinduism, Islam or Christianity.
Though Sri Lankans are generally laid-back when it comes to dress codes, it’s best to leave any revealing clothes at home. Remember to keep your legs and shoulders covered when entering temples, and be prepared to remove your shoes and headgear. As a general rule of thumb, do as the locals do and you can’t go wrong. As for etiquette, don’t use your left hand when eating and handling food, avoid too much PDA, and steer clear of nudity and toplessness on beaches.
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Ready to build your tailor-made tour of Sri Lanka? Visit our itinerary builder to get started.
Despite its compact size, Sri Lanka has a rich variety of flora and fauna, making it a top safari destinations in Asia.
We’ve selected the 8 best foodie haunts so that you’ll be munching and sipping your way through this larger-than-life culture in no time.
Much of what makes Sri Lanka a favourite amongst wanderlust travellers is the astounding topography and the ever-friendly locals.
When you want to diversify your dinner options slightly, no where in Sri Lanka has more of an eclectic offering than Galle Fort – calling all foodies, this one's for you.
Steeped in rich history, full to the brim with friendly locals and blanketed from head to toe in varying forms of verdure.
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