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Sri Lanka

Holidays in Sri Lanka

A treasure trove of untamed wilds

Off the coast of India, Sri Lanka is an eco-island of tropical beaches, spectacular wildlife and an enthralling history of British rule. Buddhist temples rub shoulders with lush tea plantations and trekkers revel amongst historic ruins and forest reserves.

Sri Lanka

Hotels in Sri Lanka

Retrieving our hand picked hotels...

Essential information for Sri Lanka

Local time
+ 5hrs
Flag of Sri Lanka
English widely spoken
Sri Lankan Rupee
Official currency of Sri Lanka

Do I need a visa?

Yes. You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. You can get a short stay visa online at Tourist visas are normally issued for a maximum period of 30 days.

Find out more about Travel Visas here »

Best time to go

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 other parts of the island.

Sri Lanka highlights: A slice of scenic paradise

There’s an island off the coast of India where ancient Buddhist relics lie enshrined by the forest, rainforests are dotted with exotic flowers and incredible wildlife and bustling fish markets line the spectacular coastlines. Welcome to Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka ticks all the boxes when it comes to what we want from a beach. Here’s a handful of its most notable.

  • If you like your coast clean, quiet and Instagram-ready, head down to Bentota Beach in the southwest of the island. Drink in the serene curved bays and when you've had enough relaxing you can hone your surfing or paddle boarding skills.
  • The bustling city of Negombo is found on the west coast of the island, and is home to a family-friendly beach.
  • Koggala, Sri Lanka’s longest beach, is uncrowded and retains an undiscovered vibe. When you’ve had your fill of sunbathing, explore the palm-lined lagoons nearby. Koggala beach is also just 15km away from the lively city of Galle. Head here for Dutch colonial buildings, quaint boutiques and the historic Fort area, a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • If you're in the mood to do a bit of exploring, book a tour of Yala National Park.

You’re bound to come across a number of cultural and historical attractions during your holiday to Sri Lanka – they’re woven closely into the bustling towns and tropical backdrop. Here are some of our favourites.

  • The atmospheric Sigiriya Rock in the Matale District provides one of the most dramatic (and photogenic) sites in all of Sri Lanka. Its sheer rock walls soar out of the forest and into the sky, forming a flat summit that was once home to an ancient civilisation.
  • Head to the cultural capital of Kandy to discover the golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. While you won’t see the tooth the temple is named after, you can enter the sacred room it’s kept in during puja (prayers).
  • Visit the ruins of Anuradhapura, the city that ruled Sri Lanka for over 1000 years. Set aside a full day to explore Anuradhapura, because this is a sprawling and complex site that's home to many notable architectural examples. Look out for its numerous dagobas – Buddhist memorials in the shape of a dome.
  • Sri Lanka is a paradise for both flora and fauna. One of the best ways to see some of its more rare species is a visit to Yala National Park. With over 200 species of birds, over 40 types of mammals and one of the best places in the world to see leopards, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

There are plenty of opportunities to unwind on all-inclusive Sri Lanka holiday packages, from soothing spa treatments to evenings of culinary bliss.

  • Spa locations don’t come more relaxing than the one located in the Ceylon Tea Trails. In the hills of the Bogawantalawa region, you’ll receive a tea-themed treatment (think cinnamon spice or bergamot and geranium aromatic baths) in a bungalow nestled among the vibrant, golden tea bushes that produce some of the best Ceylon tea in the world. While here, don’t miss the opportunity to go exploring by foot or bike. Its beautiful surroundings make it the perfect spot for a honeymoon in Sri Lanka.
  • If you can’t get enough of those epic views of Sigiriya Rock, head to luxury eco resort Jetwing Vil Uyana. Dine on a feast of lobster salad with tomato and avocado gazpacho in the relic’s majestic shadow.

Nourish both your soul and your stomach at boutique resort The Fortress, located on Sri Lanka’s southern shores. Inspired by the Dutch Fort in Galle, the design blends Dutch, Portuguese and Sri Lankan influences and all rooms offer either an ocean or garden view. Spoil yourself with a traditional Ayurvedic treatment at the spa, and then watch the waves at the resort’s Pepper restaurant as you enjoy fare that combines the flavours of modern Asia with ancient Ceylon. We particularly recommend the giant lagoon prawns – delicious. 

Package holidays to Sri Lanka are made for enjoying the best food. Broaden your horizons – and your palette – with any of these suggestions.

  • If you’re a tea lover, head to the famous Norwood Estate Tea Factory and discover working tea plantations. Of course, you can’t leave without tasting some Ceylon tea for yourself.
  • Sometimes the most authentic food can’t be ordered off any menu. Head to the markets in Pettah, Colombo, to discover vibrant, genuinely Sri Lankan dishes. Keep an eye out for the huge array of chillies on offer. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, sample the notoriously hot cobra chilli.
  • Tuck into a gastronomical feast of the highest quality seafood at beachfront restaurant Seafood Cove. The ever-changing menu is based around each day's catch, and you can choose exactly how you want your seafood cooked.

For a holiday to Sri Lanka with a unique twist, check out these events.

  • Scale the 2,243 metre high Adam’s Peak to Sri Pada (sacred footprint). The views from the top are particularly spectacular at sunrise, so we recommend a night-time start.
  • Cricket is one of the most celebrated sports in Sri Lanka, and matches take place year-round in Colombo and Kandy. You might even catch The Lions, Sri Lanka’s national team.
  • Don’t miss Sri Lanka’s oldest Buddhist festival, Kandy Esala Perahera. The ten-day celebration features dancers, jugglers, acrobats and musicians and is based in Kandy to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic. Find yourself a spot in one of the spectator stands or pitch up on the roadside.

Poya Days are public holidays in Sri Lanka which mark a full moon. Most businesses will be closed, and alcoholic beverages and meat are not allowed to be sold until the Poya is over, therefore, you may find restrictions in hotels.

Inspired to explore the mysterious ruins and tropical rainforests of Sri Lanka for yourself?
Find out more about holidays to beautiful Sri Lanka with Virgin Holidays.

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