Lovers of nature will fall head over heels for this country thanks to the coast, forests and animals of Sri Lanka. No matter which hotel you choose on holidays here, you're sure to be placed by a beautiful beach on the Indian Ocean. With each resort destination facing west, you can recline every evening and watch the sun set into the sea.
Each beach town is a paradise image of golden sand, clear blue waters, and vibrant green backdrops of palm trees. Bentota, Beruwela and Ahungalla are three favourite beach towns while Negombo is home to a long sandy strip as well as the huge 35 square km lagoon.
The Negombo Lagoon is surrounded by rice paddies, coconut plantations, swampy parts and colourful water birds.
Born in 1948
There is over two and a half thousand years of history around Sri Lanka with some fantastic ancient sites to discover. The island's capital, Colombo, is found within the holiday region of the west and between here and its surrounding towns there are dozens of churches, mosques and temples that have stood for centuries. Those who seek it will always be able to gaze upon ancient and mystic sites that are from various parts of Sri Lanka's history.
Sri Lanka was part of the British Empire until 1948 when they became an independent nation. Since then the island has become internationally known for its variation of wild animals such as elephants, leopards and bears, and its colourful floral displays.
The capital features several fantastic tourist attractions with a zoo, a floating market, and hundreds of shopping and dining options. There are plenty of opportunities to try out new activities across the island with elephant rides, kite-surfing, whale watching trips, hot-air balloon rides and so much more.
While people don't head to Sri Lanka for its nightlife, there are lively venues that welcome tourists in each night after the sun goes down. The larger cities and especially Colombo offer a range of bars and nightclubs. Bentota provides plenty of places to dance including a floating discotheque found along the town's river and by the sea. Negombo is a cool resort where fashionable lounges serve cold drinks accompanied by a range of live music.
Markets are popular shopping areas for locals and tourists across Sri Lanka with several opportunities to purchase local foods and goods. The fishing trade is thriving around coastal towns of the island and there are several fish markets and restaurants to try.
The Pettah Floating Market is a new addition to Colombo with stalls set up along boardwalks selling locally made products and foods. Popular produce in Sri Lanka includes tea, coffee, coconuts and cinnamon. Gemstones are a popular export of the country so there are opportunities to buy sparkling jewellery too.
Sri Lankan cuisine
Local dishes often seem similar to Indian cuisine with rice and curry dishes widely available. The meat included with the curry often includes prawns as well as the traditional options of chicken, beef, mutton and also goat.
Other favourites in Sri Lanka include spicy meals like the stir-fry based kottu. A local delicacy is hoppers, fermented batter and coconut milk as well as kool, a seafood broth. Accompanying drinks are often likely to be fruity while toddies are a popular mildly alcoholic drink made from palm tree sap.
Sri Lanka's main airport is Bandaranaike International Airport based in Colombo. Direct flights from the UK to Sri Lanka will take around 11 hours in total. Once you've arrived the transfer time will depend on your choice of resort. Nearby Negombo will take just 20 minutes to reach north of Colombo while Ahungalla is the furthest away and will take two hours to reach.
If you're looking to get around Sri Lanka a popular form of taxi service is offered by three-wheeler Tuk-Tuks. Hire cars and motorbikes are also available if you want to move around the island freely.
Best time of year to visit
Temperatures stay toasty all year round in Sri Lanka making it ideal for a winter escape from the UK. You can experience average highs of 30°C in any given month with average lows dropping to just 22°C. From May through to October the tropical seasons kick in making the island very wet. You can make the most of holidays to Sri Lanka from November until April when the island sees optimal vacation weather.
There are many annual celebrations to witness and experience depending on when you choose to visit Sri Lanka. Sinhala New Year is celebrated over two days every April in what is locally known as Aluth Avurudda. Parties take place all across the island with a variation of games, meals and rituals taking place at this time.