Some of the wildlife that can be spotted on a Sri Lanka holiday...
The teardrop island is particularly proud of its natural bounty, and rightly so. For thousands of years, vast swathes of land have been protected by Sri Lankan royalty, preserved as sanctuaries for nature to thrive and even today, countless areas of protected land exist on the island. Despite its small size, its diverse landscapes, contrasting seasons, unique climate and incredible biodiversity confirm it as an exceptional place for wildlife enthusiasts to enjoy year round.
Whether you’re a culture vulture keen to explore the impressive temples and UNESCO sites of the Cultural Triangle, a wildlife fanatic who hopes to spot the elusive leopard in Yala National Park, or a fervent foodie whose mouth waters at the tantalizing aromas of cardamom and coriander, here's our pick of the top Sri Lankan experiences that are not to be missed...
Here’s a guide to our favourite local street-food delicacies to sample during your stay…
Mirissa is the gateway to Dondra Point. This is one of the best spots to witness the whale migrations in Sri Lanka from the Bay of Bengal - Sri Lanka’s southern sea is calm offering up the perfect conditions.
On a recent trip to Sri Lanka, Ellis was bowled over by this unique and calm country which is worlds apart from nearby India. From the fascinating culture of the north, to the scenic rolling hills of Tea Country and the beautiful golden beaches on the coast, there is no end to the country's beauty.
In Sri Lanka, festivals are an integral part of life and culture; with a population composed of many races and religions and given its long, ancient history – they are never short of celebrations. Here are a few of the significant festivals:
Tea is part of Sri Lanka’s unique cultural heritage and some of the world’s finest teas are produced here. Due to Sri Lanka’s diverse climate each tea variety is uniquely different. The country is particularly famous for Ceylon tea, recognised over the world for its high quality and distinct aroma (crisp and citrus).
The best of Sri Lanka and The Maldives in this luxurious journey that takes in Sri Lanka's ancient cities and tea plantations before flying off to one of the finest islands in The Maldives. It combines culture with some of the world's finest beaches.
Spotting the Big Five in Africa is often hailed as the holy grail of wildlife holidays, but plenty of other places around the world offer animal sightings impressive enough to rival Africa's, and Sri Lanka is certainly one of them. Here, we introduce you to Sri Lanka's own Big Five and give you all the information you need to go in search of these wild beasts...
Here’s a guide to our favourite things to do in Galle…
Culture and Coast
Colombo, Kalpitya, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, Passikudah, Kandy
Best for: Culture History, Beach, Off the beaten track
This unique itinerary combines Sri Lanka's glorious coast along Kalptiya, the incredible UNESCO protected ancient cities in the 'Cultural Triangle' with dazzling and untouched east coast beaches. Perfect for those wanting to combine culture with coast.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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Few islands compare with Sri Lanka, which brilliantly combines brilliant beaches with some of Asia's most impressive ancient cities. This itinerary takes in many of Sri Lanka's UNESCO World Heritage sites with plenty of time to relax on the beach. A perfect trip for those who enjoy ancient cultures and time on the coast.
This journey begins with time in Kalpitya, a peninsula north of Colombo with fine sandy beaches. The region is known for its dolphins and laid back atmosphere. Despite the accommodation being a little simple here, we feel it provides a perfect relaxing start to an itinerary through Sri Lanka. Head from here into the ancient cities before truly relaxing on Sri Lanka' east coast. From here it's a scenic journey in land to Kandy, one of Sri Lanka's most eclectic cities with an incredible history.
This is a wonderful itinerary for those who have a passion for temples and history but whom also need a relaxing break.
Days 1 - 4 : Kalpitya, Sri Lanka
Stay at Palagama Beach for 3 nights
On arrival in Colombo, you will be met by your private driver in the arrivals hall and be driven north to the relaxing seaside town of Kalpitiya where you will spend three nights in Palagama Beach resort, a tranquil destination to unwind and kick-back to begin your inspiring trip. Dolphins are often seen not far from the shoreline with some big waves and windy weather catering for the more adventurous, providing top quality kite-surfing for those who wish to give it a try.
Days 4 - 7 : Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Stay at Aliya Resort & Spa for 3 nights
From Kalpitiya you will head inland to Sigiriya, in the Cultural Triangle. A day trip to Dambulla is essential for any Sri Lanka itinerary, to marvel at the famed Royal Rock Temple, one of the most iconic landmarks in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will spend three nights in the wonderful Aliya Resort with views of Sigiriya from the pool. Spend the next few days exploring the ancient cities, such as Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and also Minneriya National Park.
Days 7 - 10 : Passikudah, Sri Lanka
Stay at Maalu Maalu for 3 nights
Take a short drive to Passikudah on the east coast, where you will stay for 3 nights at the Maalu Maalu hotel, situated in the midst of awe inspiring archeological sights, sandwiched between elephant-packed national parks - a combination few could refuse. Untouched beaches are in abundance and border the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. The tranquil ambience provides a lavish feel for those who wish to relax with a locally sourced glass of wine in hand.
Days 10 - 12 : Kandy, Sri Lanka
Stay at Rangala House for 2 nights
A transfer to Kandy places you snuggly in the heart of the cultural triangle, for a two night stay in Rangala House. Trekking, monastries and relaxing with wonderful views are merely a few of your activity options. Kandy Lake centres this ecclectic town, with the serenity of temples and lakes by day constrasting the sleepy buzz of Kandy at night. Peradeniya Botanical Gardens are a must-see, once reserved for royalty, the gardens now open to the public to exhibit a neverending carpet of orchids and fig trees, spanning 60 hectares.
Day 12 - 13 : Kotugoda (near Colombo), Sri Lanka
Stay at The Wallawwa for 1 night
You will conclude your journey near Sri Lanka's ocean city and capital Colombo, where you will spend your final night in The Wallawwa which is near to the airport. This little boutique hotel is the ideal place to unwind for your last night.
When to go
Sri Lanka is considered a sunny year round destination; there is always somewhere experiencing good weather on the island. However, there are huge regional differences. The Southwest ‘Yala’ Monsoons brings rain to the west and southwest coast, as well as the hill country, from April/May to September. During this time the north and east coasts are good. The northeast ‘Mahe’ monsoon is less extreme and brings rain to the east and north during October and November. This monsoon can bring a bit of rain to the south as well. Put simply; head to the south, central, hill country and western areas between December and March and ideally head to the north and eastern areas between April and September. We can never guarantee good weather but believe this is a good guide to follow.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
Explore the immaculately preserved remnants of Buddhism’s second city. Polonnaruwa is grouped in clumps between enticing forests so that you can walk and cycle your way around giant Buddhas and impressive temples that are over 1,000 years old.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 'fortress in the sky' is one of Sri Lanka's most iconic landmarks. This 370-meter-high monument has 1,202 steps, a 5th century palace and 2 giant stone lion paws, as well as spectacular views.
Visit Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism
Mihintale is an important landmark in Buddhist culture. Climb 1,840 steps in the morning, surrounded by the sights and sounds of traders and pilgrims, before heading to Anuradhapura for a guided tour.
Uga Bay - Sea Kayaking
This thrilling sea kayaking experiences is a popular choice from Uga Bay’s selection of ocean adventures. Take out two kayaks, which can fit 4 people, for an unforgettable group experience.
The Sacred City of Anuradhapura
Dating from the sixth century BC and one of Buddhism's holiest sites. A 2,200 year old tree, grown from a cutting of the branch beneath which Buddha found Enlightenment is a highlight. Ancient hospitals and baths add a sense of normality to it all.
Colombo Tuk Tuk Safari
Enjoy this fun and hip way to take in Colombo, as your tuk tuk driver transports you to the ‘must see’ attractions of the city, from downtown landmarks to off-the-beaten-track secrets.
Polonnaruwa by bicycle
Enjoy an easy ride through the sights and enchanting ruins of UNESCO protected Polonnaruwa, a highlight of the cultural triangle. It was first declared a capital city by King Vijayabahu I, who defeated Chola invaders in 1070 to reunite the country.
Millennium Elephant Foundation
Visit rescued and orphaned elephants at the Millennium Elephant Foundation (MEF), established in August 1999 as a sanctuary of care, protection and medical services for elephants in Sri Lanka.
Old Colombo Walkabout
This Colombo walking tour is a leisurely 3-4 hour walk that celebrates the city’s Portuguese, Dutch and English heritage. With a specialist guide, you’ll also learn about modern Colombo and how locals conduct their business.
Dambulla Rock Cave Temple
The rich history of the huge rock temples involves Indian invaders being driven away through the strength of meditation in the first century BC. Its just as exciting today as you are guided through five intricately carved caves past giant stone statues.
Minneriya National Park
This afternoon experience takes you to Minneriya National Park, home to an enormous population of elephants. Enjoy a game drive with an experienced naturalist.
Rosyth Estate - Cooking Class
During your stay at Rosyth, we highly recommend that you try your hand in the kitchen at their cooking class, whipping up some delicious dishes using local produce.
Ulagalla - Ideas for your free time
During your stay at Ulagalla, enjoy a myriad of activities, including meditation and yoga, nature walks and horse riding, kite building and archery, and wildlife encounters in nearby Minneriya National Park and even whale watching excursions.
Jungle Beach - Visit Ancient Trincomalee
Known as the ‘Rome of the Pagans of the Orient’, visiting Trincomalee will offer the chance to understand the myths and legends that surround the ancient temples and colonial forts in the area.
Jungle Beach - Fishing in the Mangroves
Enjoy how peaceful the mangroves are at dusk and the slow pace of life that the fishermen here enjoy. There are plenty of endemic and migratory bird species to spot as well as lots of other wildlife in this pristine area.
Aukana Buddha Statue
An architectural marvel of the ancient Sinhalese, the Aukana Buddha statue stands at an impressive 39 feet tall. Visit the statue today alongside a visit to the ancient city of Anuradhapura.
Uga Bay - Ideas for your free time
Uga Bay offers lots of fun activities for guests of all ages, which can be easily arranged. Track leopards in Wilpattu, tour the countryside on a bike, or try your hand at cooking. Enjoy a whale watching trip and explore the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
Kalpitiya Dolphin Watching
Kalpitiya is one of the best spots for dolphin watching in Sri Lanka and here you can witness large pods of dolphins in their natural habitat. Various dolphins can be found near to the coast, so head out with your experienced guide to see them.
Private Audience with a Monk in Colombo
Enjoy the chance to meet a resident monk at the Gangarama Temple in Colombo. Learn about the stories of Buddha’s life and how to achieve inner peace. Afterwards, experience some Buddhist practices and customs.
Colombo Shopping Experience
Colombo is known for its small boutiques, handicrafts and beautiful hand-woven fabrics, as well as larger shops selling clothes and accessories. Explore the shopping area with your friendly guide on this flexible experience.
Colombo City Tour
This guided tour is a journey through Colombo’s highlights, from strolling along Galle Face Green overlooking the India Ocean, to the fort area and railway station. Enjoy parks, gardens, the town hall and the city’s famous Independence Square.
Ritigala Ancient Monastery
Not far from Anuradhapura, Ritigala is a unique nature reserve and an ancient Buddhist monastery dating back to the 1st century. Travel through tropical forest filled with monkeys, birds and butterflies until you reach the monastery.
Boat safari in Gal Oya Park
Enjoy a morning boat safari followed by a lovely picnic in the Gal Oya Park. This is a unique opportunity to observe the local wildlife from the stunning Gal Oya Lake.
Private Audience with a Monk in Dambulla
Achieve inner peace whilst listening to tales and teachings of Buddhism from one of the resident temple monks. Afterwards, enjoy ‘Dhamma’, 30 minutes of discussion, practices and customs.
Mask Making in Balapitya
Learn to craft your own mask in Balapitya using traditional tools at the workshop in Ambalangoda, supervised by an experienced master craftsman.
Trekking in the Knuckles Range
This is a must for trekking enthusiasts, who will love the striking landscapes and ever-changing fauna on this 4-5 hour trek from Illukkumbura to Riverston. Expect sweeping panoramas and waterfalls in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Anuradhapura by bike
Explore the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura on a bicycle, riding past highlights such as stupas, bathing tanks, ancient hospitals, and allegedly the oldest tree in the world.
Night Cycling in Colombo
Pedal your way around an atmospheric dusky Colombo to reveal its hidden secrets. As some of the city goes to sleep, other parts come alive. Enjoy this little cycling adventure before dinner.
Cycle tour of Colombo
Explore Colombo on two wheels, passing museums, railways, parks and gardens with an experienced guide who will show you the best sights and short cuts in this bustling city. Galle Face Green, right next to the sea is a highlight.
Sri Lankan Cookery Experience
Unique and tantalising, Sri Lankan cuisine is rich in spices and complexity. Learn about the flavours of Sri Lanka and how to combine different spices in this simple lesson with a local cook. This is a fantastic way to understand the country’s cuisine.
Uga Bay - Snorkeling and Diving
With kaleidoscopic marine life and miles of coral reefs and ancient shipwrecks, the ocean off Passikudah’s coast is an underwater adventure playground for snorkelers and divers alike.
Ulagalla - Village Bike Ride
This 2-hour guided mountain bike ride will allow you to meet the local community, practise spiritual temple meditation and spot abundant wildlife on your way back through the countryside.
Jungle Beach - Ideas for your free time
Jungle Beach is very relaxing but there are also plenty of fun activities on offer. Enjoy a bike tour of the local communities, help the children make kites, or enjoy a cooking class. You could even go whale watching or try scuba diving.
Uga Bay - Sailing Trips
Uga Bay’s sailing trips are ideal for those wanting to explore the ocean on Passikudah’s coast. Enjoy a thrilling trip out on the water that lasts for a minimum of 90 minutes.
Ulagalla - Organic Cooking Class
Take a tour around Ulagalla’s organic garden with a chef and handpick vegetables and herbs for your Sri Lankan coking class. Take home the recipes you learn so you can recreate the dishes for family and friends.
Jungle Beach - Sea Fishing
Keen anglers will love the thrill of fishing out on the open ocean accompanied by a knowledgeable local fisherman. Equipment and refreshments are provided so you can make a brilliant morning of it.
Ulagalla - Jungle Kayaking
Enjoy this kayaking experience in the serene Wannamaduwa Tank, observing wildlife and birdlife in their natural habitat as they paddle through the lotus flowers, water lilies and jungle trees.
From $2331 per person
International economy class flights and airport taxes from the UK
Meals as per itinerary
Private guide and driver
Ask our specialists for prices excluding flights from the UK. This price is as a guide only. The actual price is influenced by fluctuations in exchange rate, time of year, travel class of flights and the use of private versus shared excursions. Single supplements are likely to apply.