Sri Lanka is one of those rare places where 'something for everyone' means quality for everyone, too. Nobody in your party can draw the short straw — there are none to draw!
A global biodiversity hotspot, the island has outstanding national parks which are home to hundreds of noteworthy species. Its UNESCO World Heritage sites are second to none, its food is fantastic, and you're spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches, whether you're after warm family-friendly sand or a gusty week of kite-surfing.
Elephants, leopards, bears, blue whales... Sri Lanka's 'big four' resident creatures make an impressive start to a very long list. From pangolins to porpoises, thousands of species live on and around this biodiverse tropical island. 16% of them can only be seen here, and over a quarter of the country’s habitat is protected. You can safari-camp outside the fantastic national parks for early morning access, and encounter marine life on boat trips or at one of the island’s great dive sites. And if you’re looking to go beyond Yala, find out our selection of the best National Parks in Sri Lanka.
Thanks to the island’s dual weather system — when it’s wet season on one side, it’s dry on the other — statistically you’re pretty much guaranteed to find a sunny spot whenever you want to travel. That’s why Sri Lanka is one of the best countries in Asia to visit during your school holidays!
On 1,585km of tropical coastline, you can expect to find a beach that suits you down to your sandy toes. Around the island, you’ll find family-friendly beach resorts, intimate boutique properties, and private villas just a stone’s throw from the sand. There’s superb surf (and prime kiting conditions) to the south-east, and a wilder shoreline to the north. Spot whales from the headlands around Trincomalee in the north, and explore the castaway sands of Wilpattu National Park in the north-west.
Sri Lanka is brimming with well preserved UNESCO sites, each one distinct and extraordinary. A ruined 10th century city, a towering rock fortress with its own pleasure garden, 1,500 year old cave temples and the sacred city of Kandy make up the key sites of what’s known as the ‘Cultural Triangle’. But you’ll find significant sites across the island, from the lively town of Galle to architectural gems such as the Geoffrey Bawa designed Kandalama Hotel.
The hot tropical weather is of course wonderful, but we all need a break from the heat sometimes, especially if you’re travelling with kids. Sri Lanka’s ‘Tea Country’ is a mountain region known for its cool climates, lush emerald landscapes and high quality accommodation, often converted from old planters’ dwellings and tea farm buildings. Travel by scenic old train into the hills to enjoy a breath of high altitude air, not to mention iconic viewpoints and a cup of the freshest tea available.
Whilst Sri Lanka is hardly short of beautiful beach resorts of its own, why not consider a stop in the Maldives to add that extra touch of sparkle to your holiday? These idyllic tropical islands are an easy beach bolt-on to your Sri Lanka itinerary, and they tick all the boxes for the ultimate luxurious start (or finish) to your travels.
Combine the island’s top wildlife crowd pleasers with some magnificent hidden gems and cultural highlights before spending some time on the beach.