30 April 2018
If you’re looking for a tropical climate and an unrivalled landscape, look no further than stunning Sri Lanka. A cultural melting pot which has been shaped by its colourful past, Sri Lanka is a sun-soaked destination with spectacular beaches and some of the most delectable cuisine the world has to offer. Here are our favourite places to visit for a unique Sri Lankan experience…
For the ultimate in authenticity and a considerably less ‘touristy’ stay in Sri Lanka, visit the coastal resort town of Kalpitiya, situated north west of Columbo. It’s home to a diverse natural habitat; with vast sand dune beaches, saltpans and the pristine bar reefs. Kalpitiya was first colonised by the Portuguese in the early 17th century, and a vibrant annual festival keeps the heritage alive with thousands descending on St Anne’s church on the 26th of July.
The outstanding Palagama Beach Hotel is a must for your stay – it combines the concept of beautiful sustainable living with chilled out Sri Lankan style. Take part in yoga, day trips, and even cooking classes so that you can take a taste of Sri Lanka home with you.
For a thrilling day out, head out on a game drive into Wilpattu National Park and spot leopards, alligators and the majestic Sri Lankan elephant. You can head here for a few days and stay over in a private bungalow with a personal cook for a truly wild experience!
Foodies should head to the historic little town of Negombo. This place is brimming with the legacy of its Dutch and Portuguese settlers and full of pubs and gorgeous restaurants, showcasing some of the finest seafood and local continental cuisine. Visit the Lellama - a bustling wholesale fish market. This vibrant plaza is the binding core of the area’s local community, and defined by the people’s chaotic lifestyle patterns. Head here for a true taste of Negombo.
The fabulous Jetwing Beach Resort is effortless luxury and located right on the golden sands of Negombo - head here if you’re looking for sophisticated relaxation. During your stay visit the Agurukaramulla temple – a famous temple that brings Buddhists from all over the world to Sri Lanka every year.
Visit gorgeous Colombo for the incredible Vesak – an illustrious celebration of lanterns and lights that takes place every lunar full moon in May. Colombo's geography is a mix of land and water; there are many canals and, in the heart of the city, a 65-hectare Beira Lake, one of the most distinctive landmarks of Colombo which was used for centuries by colonists to defend the city. While at the Beira Lake it’s impossible to miss the Seema Malika (the temple of the lake), which is an original by the celebrated native architect Geoffrey Bawa.
There’s a whole spread of local delicacies awaiting in Colombo, including the divine crab curry at Ministry of Crab and Lamprais at the Dutch Burgher Union. After dining, head to the Galle Face Green with the kids to fly kites at this ocean-side urban park. Colombo is the financial and business capital of Sri Lanka, so if you’re looking for hustle and bustle this is the place to visit.
For intriguing ancient monuments, abandoned cities and haunting monasteries, make sure you take some time to visit the Cultural Triangle. One to be sure to see is the Dambulla Caves, consisting of over 80 documented caves, of which five contain stunning statues and paintings, most of which depict Gautama Buddha and his life. Wildlife enthusiasts should head to Minneriya National Park in September, to witness the spectacular elephant gathering and watch these magnificent creatures swim, drink and play.
Even though these eclectic destinations have cooler temperatures, they remain bright and sunny and are prone to outbursts of sporadic rain. It’s activity galore in these regions – sample teas of all grades and varieties or take a river bath with the elephants at the Millennium Elephant Foundation.
For a stay with a difference take up residence at the Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton, staying in a luxury bungalow with a butler at your every beck and call. You’ll be treated to three gourmet meals daily, including a fabulous Sri Lankan afternoon tea.