Sri Lanka’s island shores are home to thousands of stories told against dozens of landscapes, from fortified ports to leopard-lair wilderness. The capital, Colombo, is an effervescent hub to pause in for diverse food and captivating architecture, before heading north to the Cultural Triangle and five of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO Heritage sites. Its sixth, the sacred 14th-century city of Kandy, thrives in a beautiful mountain setting, and the seventh, Galle, is a bustling historic fortress facing the southern sea. In between lie Tea Country’s lush plantations, some extraordinary National Parks and, of course, those famously blissful beaches.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
Considered one of Asia’s best train journeys, the Tea Train fully lives up to the hype. Without doubt a car will get you there faster, but with none of the romance and ambiance of this iconic blue train. The scenery changes from lush tea fields to deep woodland as you clackety clack through cool tunnels and past tea farmers working in the countryside. To get the most out of the experience, we always opt for 2nd or 3rd class tickets. That way, rather than being sealed away from things in an air conditioned carriage, you get to travel with the locals as open windows move fresh air through the train. You’ll get the best photo opportunities, too.
Anticipation builds as your jeep bumps along the paths of Wilpattu National Park, and the early morning mist lends an ethereal filter to the waiting forest. After all, Sri Lanka’s largest National Park is also one of its most mysterious. Science is just starting to build a true picture of this complex ecosystem, a unique wilderness of scrubby jungle sheltering abundant bird-life, open grassland, and wetland areas known as ‘villu’. These shallow natural lakes fill with rainwater and provide perfect watering holes for sloth bears, elephants, and the elusive leopards. The real beauty of Wilpattu is having the chance to appreciate all of this without tussling for space with other safari-goers.
Cricket is not just the most popular sport in Sri Lanka, it’s a passion woven into the very fabric of the country’s culture, and Galle is home to one of the most picturesque grounds in the world. Whether you’d like us to help you secure terrace tickets, or if you’d prefer to watch from the fort walls (for free) as the game unfolds below, you’re sure to be cheering alongside the locals. If there are no matches scheduled then head to nearby Ramparts Green where Sri Lankans of all ages often gather for an impromptu game. Should you want to try your hand at bowling a yorker or hitting a boundary, look keen and you might well be invited to join in!
Combine the island’s top wildlife crowd pleasers with some magnificent hidden gems and cultural highlights before spending some time on the beach.