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Check out our hottest Sri Lanka holidays

Plan your next Sri Lanka trip

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Sri Lanka holidays: Book your island escape

If an escape to nature is your biggest priority when it comes to booking your next holiday, Sri Lanka should be your top choice. Picture wide-reaching mountain landscapes, lush green forests, tea plantations, national parks and serene beaches that invite you to relax; a holiday in Sri Lanka offers all of this - and much more.

Even if you want to see more than just nature, this island state has very different options to explore. Depending on where you are on the island, you can choose from beaches, mountains or lively cities. And, since Sri Lanka doesn't yet feel overcrowded like some of the other Asian destinations found nearby, you could be setting yourself up for what can only be considered a first-class beach holiday.

Sri Lanka holiday tips

Covering 25,300 square miles and home to almost 21 million inhabitants, Sri Lanka is one of the smaller countries in Asia, and it's completely surrounded by the Indian Ocean. This island nation is located east of India's southern tip and offers a culture that's just as colourful as any of its neighbours. Here are some handy tips to help you make the most of your time in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka entry requirements

To enter Sri Lanka, UK holidaymakers will need to present a passport that's valid for at least six months after their stay. Since 2012, travellers have needed to apply for a visa. The easiest - and recommended - way to do this is to apply and pay for an online Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) in advance.

This entitles you to a 30-day tourist visa. While it is possible to request a visa on arrival, the ETA is the only sure-fire and stress-free method of having a visa before flying to Sri Lanka. Make sure that you adhere to the length of your visa, as you could be fined or detained for overstaying.

Keep up to date with the latest entry requirements.

Getting to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is served by two international airports. Located in the south, Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is mostly used for domestic flights from Asia. In Colombo, Bandaranaike International Airport is used for international flights, including those from the UK and Europe. Just remember that there's a time difference when you land in Sri Lanka; it'll be 4.5 hours ahead of UK time.

When is the best time to travel to Sri Lanka?

West and south coast: November to March is considered the best time to travel here, as May to August is this region's rainy season.

Northeast and the east coast: The best travel period is from March to November, while October to January is the rainy season.

Flights to Sri Lanka

The great news is that you can catch direct flights from London to Colombo, which will get you to Sri Lanka in about 10.5 hours.

If you're flexible, indirect flights are also widely available and tend to be cheaper. While London is the only UK city where you can catch a direct flight to Sri Lanka, you can catch an indirect flight from Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.

SriLankan Airlines offers the direct flight from London to Colombo. Options for indirect flights include Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines. Just make sure to check the length of any layovers, as some of these can see you spending the better part of a day waiting for your next flight!

Find cheap flights to Sri Lanka

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The best holiday destinations in Sri Lanka

Even though it may be a smaller destination compared to some of its counterparts in Asia, Sri Lanka still manages to offer heaps of variety - and this extends to its holiday destinations too. No matter what sort of trip you're looking for - whether you're keen to laze by the sea, explore the mountains of the island's interior or fill your itinerary with activities - Sri Lanka has an ideal holiday base that will work best for you.

Here are some of our picks for the top holiday destinations in Sri Lanka.

Beach holidays in the southwest

The seaside resorts of Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa and Mirissa are all examples of some of Sri Lanka's most popular beach destinations. These are located in the southwest. While you could easily spend all day relaxing in the sun or going for a dip in the water, there are plenty of other activities on offer. Watersports enthusiasts should opt for Hikkaduwa or Wedigama, which are also hotspots for surfing and scuba diving.

Other adventures in the southwest include:

  • Climb the Punchi Sri Pada for a great view of the city and sea

  • Take a cruise along the Bentota Ganga river

  • Visit Galapatha Temple

Explore the mountains of Kandy

It's not just the sun-and-surf fanatics who get their money's worth in Sri Lanka. For those who love hiking, you'll find numerous opportunities to get outdoors in and around Kandy. Spend your days hiking trails and then unwind at your luxurious hotel every evening.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate tip: Holiday in Koggala

Due to its tropical climate, Koggala can be visited all year round and is perfect for a beach holiday. In the north of Koggala, you'll find the beautiful inland lake, Koggala Lake, where you can admire some of the finest flora and fauna that Sri Lanka has to offer. Our top recommendation, though, has to be the Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery, which is located close to Koggala. This farm is focused on conservation, and has already saved over 500,000 turtles. Also close to Koggala, you can find a 13th-century Buddhist temple called Kataluwa Purvarama Mahavihara.

Things to do in Koggala:

  • Top beaches: Koggala Beach, Midigama Beach, Unawatuna Beach and Mihiripenna

  • The Koggala Lake (inland lake), including a boat tour

  • Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum

  • Day trips: Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery and the Kataluwa Purvarama Mahavihara Temple

Other top destinations in Sri Lanka:

  • Colombo: One of the country's most exciting cities, and enjoyable to explore on foot. Expect delicious street food, tuk-tuks and numerous sights - including seaside promenades!

  • Jaffna: A destination that feels different to others in Sri Lanka. Jaffna is the place to go to get a feel for Tamil culture. Don't miss out on the chance to visit the small but unique islands off the coast of Jaffna.

  • Sigiriya: Easily one of the country's most recognised landmarks, everything about this gigantic rock is a work of art, and it's all the more beautiful the longer you're able to look at it. We recommend waking up early!

  • Kalpitiya: Located on the west coast, Kalpitiya is another hotspot for watersports enthusiasts, namely surfing and kitesurfing.

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The best things to do in Sri Lanka

It may be Sri Lanka's incomparable pristine nature that's guided you there or perhaps the bustling city of Colombo or the country's most well-known sights; every holidaymaker will have their own priorities during a Sri Lanka holiday. If you need some inspiration, here are some of our top sights in Sri Lanka.

  • Climb up Sigiriya - but set off as early as possible!

  • Hire a tuk-tuk and explore the ancient wonders of Anuradhapura

  • Hop the Hill Country rail route to Ella

  • Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

  • Watch the famous stilt fishermen in Koggala

  • Admire the Dambulla cave temple

  • See the many sights of Colombo

  • Discover the fascinating ruins of Polonnaruwa

  • Spend time in one of the country's national parks - Yala National Park is a top choice

Discover more things to do in Sri Lanka