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…
Sri Lanka in Style
Colombo, Kotugoda, Anuradhapura, Kandy, Hatton, Welligama
Best for: Culture History, Highlights, Luxury
This luxurious itinerary showcases the highlights of Sri Lanka whilst staying in some of Sri Lanka's most spoiling and luxurious hotels. This is the perfect trip for those wishing to combine comfort, style and culture with some time on the beach.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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A perfect trip for those wanting to experience the diversity of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka in Style combines Sri Lanka's incredible diversity with beautiful accommodation.
On arrival into Colombo, after your overnight flight, you will be greeted by your private chauffeur guide who will stay with you for your wonderful journey through Sri Lanka. From the airport it's just a short drive to Kotugoda (near to Colombo) to relax in your wonderful boutique for one night, a perfect way to unwind after your flight. From here you'll journey by car north to Anuradhapura where you will stay in Ullagalla, the most wonderful boutique hotel with spacious luxurious suites. You'll spend the next three nights exploring the Cultural Triangle, taking in the ancient cities of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Polonnaruwa - all UNESCO World Heritage Sites that are completely fascinating.
Kandy is the next stop, staying in the unique and historic hotel, Kandy House. After two nights here, visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth (supposedly where the tooth of the Buddha is housed) you will continue into the heart of tea country. This journey by scenic train is a real highlight of any trip through Sri Lanka as you'll journey from the hills into the tea growing region, passing through wonderful old tea pickers' villages.
In the tea growing region you'll stay in a beautiful converted tea planter's bungalow, known as Tea Trails. Enjoy fine dining food, fantastic views and the chance to learn all about the tea growing process here or simply relax around the pool. This is easily one of the most scenic destinations in your trip and the undulating hills, carpeted in tea plantations, are a real must.
From Tea Trails you'll be drive south to the coast, specifically to Weligama, one of the most beautiful beach hotels in Sri Lanka, Cape Weligama. Its infinity pool borders the Indian Ocean and with fantastic food, large luxurious suites and a wonderful beach Cape Weligama is a wonderful way to truly unwind.
Finish up with a night in The Wallawwa near Colombo, or alternatively fly directly home. This really
Day 1 - 2 : Kotugoda (near Colombo), Sri Lanka
Stay at The Wallawwa for 1 night
On arrival in Colombo, you will be welcomed by your private driver in the arrivals hall and be driven to Wallawwa, a luxourious boutique property in Kotugoda. At only a fifteen minute drive from Colombo International Airport, this is the perfect place to kick-back after your long flight.
Days 2 - 5 : Cultural Triangle, Sri Lanka
Stay at Ulagalla for 3 nights
This morning you will be driven to Anuradhapura, in which you stay in Ulgalla, one of Sri Lanka's finest hotels for three nights. A one hundred and fifty year old mansion centres the hotel and is situated amongst fifty eight acres of lush greenland. You have the opporunity to partake in nature walks, jungle kayaking and horse riding. Ullagalla is the perfect base for exploring Sri Lanka's ancient cities in the 'Cultural Triangle'. Over the next two days explore Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya Rock. You can also see elephants in Minneriya National Park.
Days 5 - 7 : Kandy, Sri Lanka
Stay at The Kandy House for 2 nights
A four hour drive south will get you to Kandy, where you will stay in the much-loved Kandy House for two nights. This delightful boutique hotel is surrounded in tropical gardens, and a the restoration of an old manor house couples charm and character with modern facilities. Visits to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic are one of the highlights of Kandy, with its gold roof, it houses Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic and is a must-see for any vistor to Kandy.
Days 7 - 9 : Hatton, Sri Lanka
Stay at Ceylon Tea Trails for 2 nights
From Kandy you will catch the train south to Hatton, the most beautiful journey that takes you into the tea country. You will stay at Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton for two nights. These luxourious tea plantation houses overlook breath taking countryside. Tea Trails is made up of four bungalows and each one comes fully equipped with its own chef and butler (rooms can be booked individually or collectively). Cycling and walking trails allow you to see the spectacular scenery and the off the beaten track location and idyllic scenery is truly unique.
Days 9 - 13 : Weligama, Sri Lanka
Stay at Cape Weligama for 4 nights
Head south today to Weligama on the coast. Here you will stay at Cape Welligama for the next four night, a brilliant way to completely unwind. With its cresent shaped infinity pool and famed sunsets, this unique property is one of the finest on the island.
Day 13 - 14 : Kotugoda (near Colombo), Sri Lanka
Stay at The Wallawwa for 1 night
A transfer will take you back to Kotugoda for a final night stay in Wallawwa, after which an airport transfer will take you back to Colombo International Airport for your flight home.
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.
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.
Tea Trails - Tea Trails Tea Experience
Guests staying in the bungalows can enjoy this experience free of charge. The resident tea planter will show you how to make tea, starting in the fields picking the plants.
Visit Dowa Temple from Ella
Visit this rock temple, which is one of Sri Lanka’s many important heritage sites and houses an enormous 38 ft. granite Buddha.
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.
Escorted Climb of Adam's Peak
This experience begins at 1am, heading out to one of the most stunning mountains in Asia for a summit sunrise. The 5,200 steps offer plenty of rest opportunities as your rise above the clouds.
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.
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.
Visit a Tea Plantation
Spend the day exploring the local area and enjoying the stunning scenery. You may wish to visit a local tea estate, where you can see the tea pluckers at work and visit a tea factory so that you can learn all about the tea making process.
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.
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.
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.
Adam's Peak Descent
Make your way down from Adam’s Peak in the morning at a leisurely pace. The descent is much quicker although not necessarily easier as you may be tired from walking through the night.
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.
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.
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.
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 $4417 per person
Includes: internal flights, all accommodation, meals as per itinerary, private guide and driver.
Excludes: international flights.
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.