Sri Lanka Holidays
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.
Gobsmacking wildlife. 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.
Sunshine somewhere, all year round. 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!
A beach style for everyone. 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.
A wealth of World Heritage. 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.
Make for the hills. 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.
And then, there's the Maldives...
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.
Things to love in Sri Lanka
What to do in Sri Lanka: Discover more with our hand-picked experiences & highlights
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. And we love marmite!
Sri Lanka’s superb wildlife and National Parks are a significant draw, offering unspoilt natural beauty, stunning landscapes and close up animal encounters. Gal Oya National Park is home to Sri Lanka’s Vedda tribe, its largest reservoir, a small count of elephants, and also offers the only boat safari in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s wildlife is world class, with its extensive National Parks protecting big mammals like elephants, leopards and sloth bears, along with hundreds of smaller species. With such diversity, there are many excellent opportunities for safari, and our Big Game Camping experience puts you right in the middle of the action, whether you want to stalk leopards in Yala or Wilpattu or witness wild elephants in Uda Walawe.
Whales hold a powerful fascination for many people: ancient and beautiful, formidable yet graceful, and incredibly vulnerable to human actions. A chance to see these ocean giants at a responsible distance is a bucket-list-topping experience, and you can’t get closer than a boat trip close to their migration path off Sri Lanka’s idyllic coast.
Named locally as Sri Pada, or ‘sacred footprint’ , Adam's Peak is a Buddhist place of worship and a special site for many religions and interests. The mountain has a undoubted romantic appeal which is literally the stuff of fairy-tales. You'll climb through the night, timing your arrival to meet the sunrise.
Discover your Sri Lanka
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Perfect straight ‘off the peg’ or as a source of inspiration allowing us to start with blank canvas. You decide.
The Selective difference
With us, you are taken care of from enquiry until your reluctant homecoming. Your holiday is designed by a specialist who knows your destination first-hand. Throughout your travels, you'll have expert personal guides where requested & our full logistical support. And, it goes without saying, we'll be waiting to hear all about it once you're home.
Our Brighton-based Destination Specialists spend each day working closely with colleagues and partners across Asia. This ensures we stay several steps ahead when designing inspiring holidays, staying up to date and overcoming obstacles, which means your holiday will be crafted using both local and international expertise.
The welfare of our destinations and their communities is incredibly important to us. We are focused on ensuring that your money makes a positive impact, as often as possible, by supporting communities and wildlife conservation through dedicated initiatives and by very carefully choosing our partners in Asia.
We may be partial to the occasional bad pun, but we don’t joke around when it comes to designing first class travel experiences. Over 90% of our clients rate us 5/5 after their holiday, and we're not ashamed to crack a proud grin on behalf of our award-winning teams in the UK and Asia.
We know your time is precious, before and during your trip. We want you to have a smooth and relaxing experience so that your main concern on holiday will be whether to order noodles or rice. There will be no hidden extras, and your holiday will be orchestrated seamlessly by your Destination Specialist plus our local guides and behind-the-scenes crews in your destination.
Explore Sri Lanka's highlights
Wilpattu National Park
Wilpattu is the largest of Sri Lanka’s National Parks, and protects a healthy leopard population, as well as elephants, sloth bears, crocs, cobra, pythons and turtles, alongside many bird species including spoonbills and the elegant large white egret. Receiving a fraction of the visitor numbers seen at the more famous Yala, it's a great choice for wildlife enthusiasts looking to avoid the unsightly jostling for position (and potential harmful behavior) when leopard is spotted.
One of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Galle often tops many a visitor's ‘travel wish list’ and rightly so. Old Galle and its 17th century fort are charming and delightful to explore and rich in its heritage and culture. Home to some of Sri Lanka's most innovative restaurants (without the accompanying glitz of many of the eateries in Colombo), Galle makes an excellent base from which to explore Sri Lanka’s south and west coast.
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.
Sri Lanka is famous for its cinnamon, and produces 80-90% of the world’s supply.
Sri Lanka loves cricket, and its most famous cricket ground is one of the world’s most picturesque. It’s in Galle, tucked between a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Indian Ocean.
The island grows 15 varieties of rice, but that’s nothing - it was 280 just 50 years ago, and 400 in previous centuries.
The average number of words in a Sri Lankan person’s name is five.
Sri Lanka’s tea industry supports about a million people, and is one of the world’s largest exporters of these much-loved leaves.