Sri Lanka family holidays

Family holidays in Sri Lanka deliver the whole nine yards. Whenever you visit, you’ll find jaw-dropping wildlife, intrepid adventures and eye-widening ancient sites, topped off with plenty of downtime on those world-famous sweeping sands. 

Families often return to Sri Lanka’s well-loved shores, knowing they’ll discover something new on every trip. There’s plenty to keep kids of all ages smiling, from cheering on a cricket match in Galle, to trundling by train through tea fields, or whale-watching just off the coast. 

Add in sunshine somewhere all year round, and it’s easy to see why Sri Lanka constantly bowls us over!

Highlights of a family holiday in Sri Lanka

  • Cycle between the ruins of an ancient capital, imagining its glittering past
  • Bump along dusty tracks on the back of a bull-cart at a working coconut farm
  • Stay overnight in a wilderness camp, and venture out at first light in search of leopards
  • Get breathtakingly close to the unique elephant gathering in Minneriya
  • Bodyboard in some of the best beginners surf in Asia, or just kick back on the beach!

With a UK based team of Destination Specialists with offices and partners across Asia, ensuring we focus on staying really local in our approach.  Our specialists have travelled extensively in the Philippines and throughout Asia, many having also lived in the region.Along with enjoying great travels, the team regularly inspect the best hotels, seek out new activities and 

design new routes – for inspiration we’d suggest taking a look through some of their Favourite Journeys. The weather during any of the kids holiday dates is always an important consideration and we have that covered with our best time to visit the Sri Lanka section.

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...and where to rest your head

Three of our favourite family-friendly hotels in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka with kids: what to expect?

Sri Lanka’s astonishing beaches are a huge draw for families. Different coastlines are at their best at different times of year, but there are always golden sands and palm-lined bays to explore somewhere. Dive and snorkel just offshore, go whale watching around the coast, or learn to bodyboard in perfect beginners’ surf.

If you’re in the south, a visit to Galle is a fantastic way to delve into the country’s history and culture. Kids can clamber over the famous fort walls, watch dolphins pass offshore, and perhaps catch a world-class cricket match (or a less formal one down a side street - cricket is everywhere in Sri Lanka!). 

Sri Lanka’s wildlife is guaranteed to grab any kid’s imagination, and watching wild animals appear just a few metres away will always be a thrill. You could learn about vital turtle conservation, spot leopards on an intrepid safari trek, or even get tantalisingly close to elephants in northern Minneriya.

Fancy waking up to a dawn chorus with a difference? Big game camping in a national park is a great option for families looking for wildlife adventures with a few extra creature comforts. Head out early on family-friendly safaris, and cosy up around the campfire each evening to relive the day’s adventures.

The eco-friendly Mudhouse can give kids an immersive taste of off-grid living. Opt for family yoga classes, pristine stargazing and traditional Sri Lankan cookery classes - without any WiFi distractions!

For an awe-inspiring journey to remember, rumble by train through Tea Country’s lush landscape, and perhaps finish with a few days in a classic hillside resort. The kids can run about on the lawns, while you sedately sip a fine Sri Lankan cuppa in the shade.

Things you’ll all love in Sri Lanka

What to do in Sri Lanka: Discover more with our hand-picked experiences & highlights

whales and dolphins just off the Sri Lankan coast

Gasp at glimpses of whales and dolphins just off the coast

A close encounter with these ocean giants is a bucket-list-topping experience, and you can’t get closer than a boat trip into their migration path off Sri Lanka’s idyllic coast. Feeling the boat rock beneath you as a whale surfaces nearby is an experience you will never forget.

Get close to the impressive elephant gathering in Minneriya National Park

Get close to the impressive elephant gathering in Minneriya National Park

Before the monsoon season begins, elephants from far beyond the borders of Minneriya National Park journey to the park’s vast ancient reservoir to quench their thirst and take shelter under the trees. This extraordinary event is The Gathering; the greatest assembly of Asian elephants anywhere in the world, an unique opportunity to encounter these powerful and majestic animals in the wild.

Roll through Tea Country’s mysterious misty hills by train

Roll through Tea Country’s mysterious misty hills by train

Travelling by train has to be one of the most immersive and atmospheric ways to see a new country, and the Tea Country train is one of the world's most extraordinary train journeys. Feel your senses stirred as you climb up through the highlands, surrounded by views over lush tea plantations and stunning scenery in every direction.

Stargaze from a hammock at the unique Mudhouse eco-retreat

Stargaze from a hammock at the unique Mudhouse eco-retreat

No electricity, outdoor showers, walls made of mud (literally), in the back of beyond, no air-con and miles away from civilisation as we know it… and we love it. The creation of a mad man or a genius, we can’t quite decide - perhaps a well balanced combination of the two - The Mudhouse is a ‘marmite’ type of retreat… you’ll either get it, love it and adore it, or you’ll quickly slip away in search of a few more creature comforts!

 
 

Responsible Travel in Sri Lanka

From rustic eco-lodges to conservation-first wildlife projects, Sri Lanka is overflowing with opportunities for the conscious traveller. When the tourist industry represents the third largest source income, its important that the country looks after it and that it, in turn, looks after the country. 

Throughout our travels many in Sri Lanka we have been buoyed to see an ever-growing awareness from hotels that have started to push back on single-use plastics and explore alternative ways to keep you
suitably hydrated and pampered. There are especially responsible safari camp operators too, such as the team from Mahoora who consider every step of their operation when it comes to scoring their RT credentials. 

We've long enjoyed designing and operating slightly alternative programmes throughout the country, whether that be a cycling tour on the outskirts of Galle or a streetfood walking tour in Colombo; each an opportunity to keep a step closer to the real Sri Lanka experience.

Find out more about Selective Asia's Responsible Travel policy and our innovative One Bottle at a Time initiative.

Our Sri Lanka Specialists' top tips for families

With quite a few parents among our well-travelled Destination Specialists, we know how important it is to get the finer details sorted before travelling with kids, and we always go the extra mile to make sure they are. We want everyone to enjoy each moment without sweating the small stuff.

If you have any questions, or want to have a chat about planning your family holiday to Sri Lanka, we'd love to have a chat. In the meantime, here are a few FAQs to help you get started…

Stories from our latest Sri Lanka blog