Sri Lanka is an absolutely glorious island. It is the beautiful little teardrop at the bottom of India, and it is a vibrant, gorgeously colourful place; full of elephants, leopards, temples and tea, you really will not be short of things to do here! I can't wait to visit again, I really feel like we only scratched the surface of this wonderful place during our two week stay.
I visited Sri Lanka for a friend’s wedding (which was incredible, it has to be said) and compiled a full but really fun itinerary, which friends have used since – so I am now sharing what we did with you!
Colombo is where you will land, if you are flying. It’s a busy, buzzing capital city, splitting at the seams with tuk-tuks! There are the usual museums and bazaars, and it is well worth a day trip. Tuk-tuks run on a metered system here, so no need to worry about haggling (but word to the wise – if using a tuk-tuk anywhere else in Sri Lanka – haggle and agree a price before stepping in!). If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, head to Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. This area lies on the outskirts of town (and in the direction of places like Hikkaduwa and Galle), but with a nice beach, and much quieter than the centre. We stayed at the Tropic Inn here, which has the loveliest staff, very reasonable food, and is 5 minutes’ stroll to the beach. With prices hanging around £20-25 a night, it is a fantastic option.
If you fancy splashing a little more cash, you cannot go wrong with the beautiful Mount Lavinia Hotel. This hotel hosts many, many weddings per day (!) in an incredible old-colonial style building. It has a pool with a beautiful view out to sea and of the beach, as well as its’ own private beach and absolutely sensational seafood restaurant. The prawns have to be seen to be believed!
|The view from Mount Lavinia Hotel's pool|
Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka. It is a welcome change from the heat and humidity of the coast – you will find it much cooler, and greener, on the journey here. It is home to one of the most sacred Buddhist places of worship in the world, the Temple of the Tooth, which is an incredible visit. Don’t miss it! Another treat in Kandy (which you will likely bump in to, or be invited to see) is traditional Kandyan dancing, which is really fascinating to watch. The traditional dress is ornate and beautiful, and there’s a bit of walking on hot coals involved – you have been warned!
If you’re animal daft, like myself, try and book in on a river safari. This does, admittedly, sound a bit dull on paper, but is actually brilliant fun. With a Sri Lankan guide, you’ll see loads of wildlife – check out my friend the monitor lizard having a chill in the tree! These can be booked through most hotels located in or around Hikkaduwa or the Madu Ganga.
Nurwara Eliya and World’s End
If you’re up for a bit of a hike, then do not miss the walk to World’s End. It’s precarious – stick to the paths- and best to get walking early, as it can get very misty later on in the day. The hike itsself is fantastic, and the guides are very knowledgeable regarding the region's flora and fauna. The view you will be treated to is nothing short of spectacular!
For an easier time of it, there are many guided walks and visits to tea plantations in the area - well worth an afternoon strolling through the hills.
Hikkaduwa is a sleepy, surfy, beachy town on the coast. Its got a lovely beach which is kept really clean, and if you’re all about the watersports, this is your place. There’s great diving, surfing and amazing coral reefs to be seen here, so don’t miss that if you’re in to snorkelling! This is also a prime spot for yoga retreats.
Not far along the coast from Hikkaduwa lie some smaller, quieter, more unspoilt beaches, so be sure to check these out. Many of these little inlets have one or two incredible restaurants dotted along their length – the meal below was cooked for us using only a solar cooker!
If you are planning a trip to Sri Lanka anytime soon, or have already visited, please feel free to add any recommendations in the comments - that goes for Madagascar too. I love me some insider knowledge!