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Sri Lanka travel guide

Why go to Sri Lanka?

The island of Sri Lanka lies in the Indian Ocean, with India to the north and the Maldives to the southwest. A country about the size of Ireland, Sri Lanka is small enough that most major sights can be seen within a couple of weeks. Longer trips can take in the country in more detail, from the northern plains and beautiful coastal beaches to the hill country of the interior and spectacular national parks.

The north is the cultural heartland of Sinhalese Sri Lanka. This is the dry zone, where the arid plains stretch for miles and the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, with their vast complexes of monasteries and palaces, serve as majestic reminders of the region’s glorious past. Visitors can explore the fascinating UNESCO heritage site of Sigiriya rock and climb to the top for spectacular views.

To the south is the hill country, where tea plantations cover the slopes and trains wind leisurely through the landscape. The hill country is home to the beautiful lake town of Kandy and the city of Nuwara Eliya, known as “Little England” for its traditional English sights including a golf course, racetrack and charming colonial buildings. Horton Plains National Park is a must for visitors to this area, with its incredible landscapes and views.

Which major airlines fly to Sri Lanka from UK?

Bandaranaike International Airport is the main airport on the island. It is situated about five miles from the town of Negombo and 20 miles north of the capital, Colombo. Flights from London Gatwick are available with British Airways and from London Heathrow with SriLankan Airlines. Several other carriers offer routes from the UK with connecting flights.

What’s the best way to travel to city centre from the airport?

Several hotels offer airport pickup and this is the most convenient way of reaching destinations in Colombo, Negombo and even Kandy and other destinations. Taxis can also be hired at the airport. Alternatively, many visitors opt to hire a driver for their entire stay and drivers can meet new arrivals at the airport when booked in advance through a tour operator.

What are the visa requirements for British and non-EU nationals?

British Nationals require an electronic visa, or ETA, booked in advance online. The application procedure is typically quick and straightforward, and gives visitors a 30 day stay – extensions are possible. Most other nationalities, including EU and non-EU nationalities also require an ETA, except for Singaporean, Maldivian and Seychelles nationals.

How to get around Sri Lanka?

Drivers can be hired either in advance or in the country. Driving gives visitors the flexibility and convenience to travel when and where they want to and can be surprisingly affordable. In the hill country, the trains are a cheap and convenient way to travel, offering amazing views. There are also trains between the south coast and Colombo and a few other major routes. Elsewhere, buses run between major towns.

What’s the best time to visit Sri Lanka?

With two monsoons, the best time to visit Sri Lanka depends on the region. Generally, the best time to visit the north is May to August, and the south and hill country between December and March. Average temperatures in Colombo are around 26 to 30°C year round, while Nuwara Eliya drops to around 12°C in winter and rises to around 22°C in summer. The north is hottest, with high temperatures typically around 35°C.

Go to the Sri Lanka travel guide