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Star attractions

  • Whale Watching
  • Buddhist Temples
  • Water Sports and Reef Snorkelling
  • Eight separate UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Nuwara Eliya

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One of the reasons you should book with Virgin Holidays is all of the extras you get. See the tab to find out what great deals are available in Sri Lanka!

Getting there

Flight Details - Sri Lankan Airlines' flights to Colombo depart daily from London Heathrow. Emirates flights depart daily (with a change of aircraft in Dubai) from Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Qatar flight via Doha depart daily from London Heathrow and Manchester.

Flying Time - Approx 10.5 hours.

Time Difference - GMT +6 hours

Flight Upgrades available on all airlines, please call us for more details.

Currency - Sri Lanka Rupee (SLR)

Language - Official language is Sinhala, English widely spoken.

Handy stuff

All visitors entering Sri Lanka from the 1st October 2011 will be required to complete an ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) online at www.eta.gov.lk. There will be no charge for passenger arrivals to Sri Lanka from the 1st of October to 31st of December 2011, however passengers arriving from the 1st of January 2012, are required to make a payment of US$ 50 per person. The Visa issued will be a Double-entry Tourists Visa, which would be valid for 30 days from the date of arrival to Sri Lanka.

Weather and climate

Holidays in Sri Lanka

1 of 12 photos
WEATHER HERE

This glistening jewel off the coast of India is a cultural treasure trove.

From golden beaches and adventures for thrill seekers, to the untamed wild and historical heritage. Sri Lanka is a country filled with the essence of paradise.

Once an important stop on the Silk Road, visitors today marvel at its beautiful tropical forests, turquoise waters and long stretches of white-sand beach. Whether you’re a spa lover or a surfer, a cultural explorer or a foodie looking for new discoveries, you’ll find a rich tapestry of experiences on offer during a holiday in... Read more

From golden beaches and adventures for thrill seekers, to the untamed wild and historical heritage. Sri Lanka is a country filled with the essence of paradise.

Once an important stop on the Silk Road, visitors today marvel at its beautiful tropical forests, turquoise waters and long stretches of white-sand beach. Whether you’re a spa lover or a surfer, a cultural explorer or a foodie looking for new discoveries, you’ll find a rich tapestry of experiences on offer during a holiday in Sri Lanka.

Rich History

Sri Lanka’s history dates back many centuries, providing subjects of great interest to the more studious visitor. Being under British rule for over 100 years, English is widely spoken in Sri Lanka, making holidays to Sri Lanka stress-free as far as communication with the locals is concerned. One of the few remaining countries where Buddhism is the dominant religion, you will see monks throughout the country, but particularly in the largest city of Colombo. Temples seem to be everywhere you look, some ancient and imposing, some very ornate and beautiful. Many temples offer tours, and a respectful visit is recommended when on holiday in Sri Lanka.

Cultural Triangle

The country’s “cultural triangle” lies toward the drier centre of the island and includes archaeological ruins from the 4th century B.C., cave paintings, and ancient ruins deep in the forests. If the opportunity arises visit Dambulla’s Golden Temple. It was built within caves and houses a large collection of Buddhist statues. This can be followed by an elephant trek – crossing a river on the back of an elephant is quite an experience! When you have recovered and are ready for more action, head toward one of the coasts and try your hand at surfing, diving, snorkelling, or kite surfing. To truly appreciate the diversity of wildlife in Sri Lanka, it is a good idea to spend some time on a birdwatching tour or a wildlife safari. Eco-tourism is certainly on the rise, and holidaymakers can take guided trekking or biking tours, as well as 4WD Jeep tours to view the abundant wildlife and learn more about the countryside.

Sri Lankan Beaches

Endless golden sand beaches trimmed with palm trees, sparkling blue Indian Ocean waters, and the warm and tropical year-round climate is just perfect! Enjoy Negombo or the south coast’s beautiful beaches, with lagoons and fine sand.

Weddings, Honeymoons and Vow Renewals

Sri Lanka Holidays are perfect for those wanting a unique wedding experience or a vow renewal ceremony. Romance surrounds you with sunshine, warm waves, and the scent of tropical flowers. After your ceremony, celebrate in one of the island’s luxury hotels or treat yourself to the ultimate relaxation with an Ayurvedic spa treatment and a cup of Sri Lanka’s world-famous tea.

Natural Beauty

No matter when you visit, Sri Lanka will enchant you with its natural beauty, easy-going pace of life, and its rich traditions. With a large population of elephant and leopards and its diverse landscapes, this country is truly special. There are adventure holidays available and luxury hotels with attractive over-water bungalows: a holiday in Sri Lanka can make your wildest dreams a reality.

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Beaches

Many of our hotels are on the island's beautiful beaches. At Mount Lavinia, just 12km from Colombo, relax and enjoy the sea, joining the locals playing cricket and surfing on Sundays. The typical fishing town of Negombo, set amid lush coconut groves, has great, spicy seafood. And south of Colombo, Beruwela marks the beginning of a glorious 130km stretch of beaches, with great bathing in the bay year round.

Weddings/Honeymoons

Weddings and Honeymoons

This exotic island is a haven for romance. Take your vows on a perfect beach, in a flower-filled garden, or in the jungle amid the ruins of an ancient kingdom, accompanied by dancers, drummers and traditional singers. Spend your honeymoon relaxing on the beach, enjoying Ayurvedic spa treatments and touring the hill stations, tea plantations and rainforests. Take the most romantic, sea view rooms, or private villas.

Weather / Best time to go

When to go

As a tropical island you'll find two distinct seasons in Sri Lanka, wet and dry. In the southwest and hill country you can expect to use brollies more from May to August whereas from December to March it's mainly sunhats. Always go prepared as inland it can get cooler in the evenings.

Climate and Topography

The country enjoys near-perfect weather all the year round, with average temperatures hovering around 30° (86° F) in the coastal areas, but much cooler at around 19° (67° F) up in the hills that are central to the island. The mountains create rainy seasons at differing times to different parts of the island: the south-west coast has more rain from May to July, while the north-east coast is wettest in December and January.

Sight Seeing Ideas

Things to See & Do

Visit a working tea plantation - Fancy a cuppa? Head into the hills to Nuwara Eliya. You'll visit a working tea plantation in this lush and stunning landscape and settle down to a tea-inspired meal. We love Ceylon Tea Trails, which also doubles as a 5V boutique hotel.

Feel the festive spirit: Party Sri Lankan style. Heaps of festivals and public holidays happen throughout the year, like Vesak, a May festival that commemorates the Buddha's birthday. Lanterns light up the streets while pilgrims flock to the temples. And if you feel like fire-dancing might spark your mojo, check out Kandy's Esala Perahera in July or August.

Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress: Play the conquering hero and breach the walls of this ancient rock fortress. When you're finished celebrating your victory, head to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. A UNESCO heritage site, it's packed with amazing wildlife - from horned lizards to Asian elephants.

Trincomalee: Known as Trinco to the locals, this unspoilt destination was visited by Horatio Nelson who described it as having the finest harbour in the world! With a thriving market at its centre and wonderful beaches you can bask in the sun or engage in something a little more active with surfing, diving and even whale and dolphin watching.

Yala National Park: Reminiscent of the African bush and recognised as one of the best parks in the world to observe and photograph leopards, Yala is also an ideal background to view animals such as crocodile, elephants and wild boar.

Kandy: Founded in the 14th Century and home to the Temple of the Tooth, a sacred Buddhist site, Kandy is a delightful mix of old shops, antique and gemstone specialists and a bustling market in its centre.

Additional Info

Culture

Sri Lanka's tally of 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites is truly impressive, spanning the country's rich history from 380BC to the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial eras. It's a treasure trove of both natural and man-made wonders, including ancient and sacred cities, colonial strongholds, cave temples and virgin forests. The sacred city of Anuradhapura once had 9-storey palaces and dagobas (domes). Marvel at its ruins, glimpsing beautiful statues. Explore the cave temples of Dambulla, and the magnificent temples and palaces of the royal city of Kandy.

Nature

The largest elephant population is found in Uda Walawe. At the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage you can feed the babies - great fun. Sinharaja is Sri Lanka's last remaining virgin rainforest with amazing birdwatching. Yala National Park is the country's premier wildlife reserve and is said to have the world's highest concentration of leopard. Other animals include elephant, sloth bear and crocodile. See exotic fish while snorkelling or diving, visit the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens and check out the island's highest waterfall at Bambarakande.

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