Sri Lanka travel guide

Sri Lanka Tourism | Sri Lanka Guide

You're Going to Love Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a combination of friendly people, rainforests, beautiful beaches and an ancient history that can be seen in the architecture of colonial settlements through the ages.

What to do in Sri Lanka

1. Go to the Beach

Sri Lanka has around 1,000 mi of beaches where visitors can relax in the sun or take advantage of the various activities on offer, such as surfing, kite surfing and scuba diving.

2. Take a Trip to Kandy

Situated in the hills of the Kandy plateau, Kandy gives visitors a glimpse into the well-preserved history of the Kandyan Kingdom. Visit the UNESCO-listed Temple of the Tooth while you are there.

3. Go Hiking

Make the pilgrimage to Adam's Peak, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka and considered to be a holy place by Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims alike. Climb the 5,000 steps to the top and watch the sunrise.

4. Step into History at Galle

Galle is home to Galle Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also well-preserved examples of colonial architecture lining the cobbled streets of the town.

5. Try White-Water Rafting at Kitugala

The Kelani River has white-water rafting opportunities for beginners and advanced rafters. There is also the opportunity to kayak on the river and trek through the rainforest here.

When to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka in September
Estimated hotel price
$49
1 night at 3-star hotel
Sri Lanka in September
Estimated hotel price
$49
1 night at 3-star hotel

The weather in Sri Lanka varies greatly between the coast, where temperatures average around 82°F, and the mountains, where the average temperature can be around 64°F. Best times to visit are April and September as these months are outside the two main monsoon seasons.

How to Get to Sri Lanka

Entry Requirements

It is necessary to obtain a visa to visit Sri Lanka and passports must have at least one full blank page and six months' validity from the date of entry into the country. Visas can be purchased online using the ETA system before you travel, and this will be cheaper than getting a visa upon arrival.

Plane

The main airport in Sri Lanka is the Bandaranaike International Airport, located 18.6 mi from Colombo, which receives flights from major international airlines, such as Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Etihad and SriLankan Airlines, as well as budget airline AirAsia.

Boat

While there are currently no ferry services to Sri Lanka, it does feature on cruise ship itineraries and these dock mainly at the port in Colombo.

Popular airlines serving Sri Lanka

American Airlines
Good (4,555 reviews)
KLM
Good (366 reviews)
Air France
Good (451 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,426 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,623 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,207 reviews)
SWISS
Good (498 reviews)
Iberia
Good (976 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,342 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,739 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (1,128 reviews)
Finnair
Good (743 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Good (406 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (356 reviews)
JetBlue
Good (1,341 reviews)
Cathay Pacific
Good (89 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (845 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (170 reviews)
Malaysia Airlines
Good (67 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Good (540 reviews)
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Where to stay in Sri Lanka

Hotels and guesthouses are the most popular accommodation types for visitors to Sri Lanka and will range from luxury chains to budget hotels and hostels. Guesthouses, often family-run, are prevalent across the island and are reasonably priced.

Where to stay in popular areas of Sri Lanka

Most booked hotels in Sri Lanka

Shangri-La Colombo
Excellent (9.1, 532 reviews)
$209+
Marino Beach Colombo
Excellent (9, 4667 reviews)
$65+
Heritance Kandalama
Excellent (8.8, 755 reviews)
$137+
Cinnamon Grand Colombo
Excellent (8.6, 401 reviews)
$89+
Amaya Hills Kandy
Excellent (8.4, 314 reviews)
$58+
Hotel Riu Sri Lanka
Excellent (8.4, 176 reviews)
$162+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Sri Lanka

Public Transportation

Colombo, and other larger cities, such as Kandy, have a public bus service as well as private and mini buses that can be used to get around the city. Tuk-tuks can be hired to explore the cities and the surrounding areas.

Trains

It is possible to travel from the capital city of Colombo to other tourist locations on the island with an express service between Colombo and Kandy. All services are run by Sri Lankan Railways and not all trains have first-class carriages.

Bus

This is often the cheapest and best way to visit the island - there is an option to use the public buses, which are often crowded, or book your trip via a private coach company.

Car

It is possible to rent a car from international companies, such as Sixt or Europcar, and drive around Sri Lanka, although road quality varies and it may be better to rent a car with a driver.

Plane

While there is only a limited domestic air service in Ari, charter flights can be organized with airlines such as Cinnamon Air, FitsAir and Simplifly.

The Cost of Living in Sri Lanka

Credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are accepted in Sri Lanka, although with fraud on the rise, it is better to use cash. ATMs are available in main cities, often at the bank branch and Colombo Airport, but not all of them accept international cards. Hatton National Bank accepts most cards. For grocery shopping you might pay around 427 LKR (2.33 USD) for a 0.2 gallon of milk and a dozen eggs. Eating out may be cheaper than cooking at home with prices of less than 250 LKR (1.36 USD) per person to eat in a slightly cheaper restaurant.

Popular cities in Sri Lanka