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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Holidays

An island of contrasts, holidays to Sri Lanka offer colonial history as much as treasures from antiquity. Beautiful beaches, enticing cuisine and cities of culture make the island a true diamond of the Indian Ocean, with a wealth of ways to spend your time in warmth, comfort and peace.

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An island of culture

Sri Lanka's long history, unique position on the map and welcoming hot climate make it an increasingly popular destination for those of us seeking tropical island life away from the crowds of the Caribbean or the Canaries. Sitting snug off the southeast tip of the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka's journey is held in the secrets of its architecture, the whispers in its breezy palm leaves and the smiles of its people.

From bustling cities like Colombo to the tranquil shores of Negombo, Sri Lanka holidays bring you to a diverse destination that will make both nature lovers and city culture vultures feel right at home. Sri Lanka's ancient civilisations were rich in ingenuity, inventing democracy, hydraulic technology and even, so it's said, flying machines – long before many of their contemporaries of the age. A touch of colonialism in the 1800s has given Dutch and British flair to much of the architecture of Sri Lanka's cities, too.

Quick Tips

  • Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Christian
  • Sri Lankan Rupee
  • Sinhala and tamil
  • Approx 20.87 million
  • GMT + 5.5

Exploring the sights

Sri Lanka's landscape is stunning in its gorgeous vistas and dense rainforests, so it's no wonder that many visitors take the opportunity to explore the sights and meet the wildlife. Monkeys, leopards and all manner of other animal friends are abundant in Sri Lanka, with nature reserves such as Yala National Park, which is famous for its peacocks. The immense Wilpattu National Park is also located in the north and is where musters of storks come to play.

In colonial times, railways were built on great bridges that span dramatic ravines riddled with rainforest. Those same trails still exist today and connect big cities like Jaffna and Colombo via weaving routes along coastal cliffsides and through inspiring foliage. Train rides are cheap and popular as a way to not only get from A to B, but are also the perfect way to see sights that have to be experienced to be believed.

Delicacies and delicious delights

Food is a way of life in Sri Lanka, and where you'll find a huge variety of dishes to tantalise your tastebuds. One of the most renowned are hoppers, also known as appam. These are made from folded sheets of batter a little like pancakes, yet infused with coconut milk and tasty spices. The food itself becomes a handy bowl in which breakfasts like eggs are often prepared, and eating the hopper after you've eaten what's in it is one way to save on the washing up.

Restaurants across Sri Lanka run the gamut from the traditional to the exotic. Wherever you roam, you'll find plenty of opportunities to eat generous portions among brilliant company. You can opt for a hearty roast dinner among local delights at Tintagel in Colombo, then head around the corner the next evening to The London Grill for a taste of home. During your adventures in Jaffna, you can appease the vegetarians in your group at Vishnu Bavan, while pork curry in the sleek, modern surroundings of The Coco Beach in Negombo offers a dining experience not to be missed.

Beaches by the dozen

The southern reaches of Sri Lanka are where the most active and popular beaches are, yet the Indian Ocean surrounds the island on all sides so don't disregard those paths less travelled.

Each of the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka has gained its own following in one way or another, so there really is an option for all here. Families on All Inclusive holidays to Sri Lanka flock to the shallow waters of long, sweeping Beruwala Beach, two hours from Colombo by road. Club lovers and party animals on the other hand soak up the thrills of Hikkaduwa on the south western fringe of the island.

If diving and nature are what you want out of your beach trip, you can find that amid the serenity of Nilaveli, where the reefs are sublime and cosy Pigeon Island is close at hand. Similarly, a truly tranquil sweep of sand awaits you at Mirissa Beach, while surfers flock to Arugam Bay for thrilling waves and laid-back living.