Are you planning a visit to Sri Lanka this winter, or perhaps next year?
This is peak season for visiting the island, when the weather in Sri Lanka is warm and dry and the south coast is safe for swimming.
Discover the top five places to stay in Sri Lanka in winter that have to be in your itinerary. From energetic city to tranquil tropical coastline, this list includes a destination for everyone.
Some travel guides and companies will tell you to skip over Sri Lanka’s commercial capital during your visit. However, Colombo is a fascinating insight into the island’s diverse modern-day culture.
The centre of the city is a melting pot of traditions, best explored in the churches, kovils, mosques and temples around the thriving Pettah Market. As you wander, take a moment to sample a range of delicious delicacies hailing from all over the world that have become part of the local palette.
Take refuge from the sun at Barefoot Café which is elevated by exceptional food, live music performances and art exhibitions, and fantastic souvenir shopping opportunities. In the evening, treat yourself to a sumptuous meal at Gallery Café or the Ministry of Crab.
Sigiriya is in the middle of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, but Anuradhapura is its ancient heart. Here you can discover the origins of Sri Lankan civilization and experience restful ruins without the crowds.
The UNESCO city of Anuradhapura is a must-see. The expansive complex spreads out around enormous water tanks, so bikes are the most convenient way to explore the site. Ride the flat paths between the palace ruins, marvelling at the incredible irrigation system and centuries-old sacred Bo tree.
No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without a visit to its Hill Country. To get there, you can either drive or experience one of the world’s most beautiful train rides from Kandy to Hatton and beyond.
Ever since the days of British colonial rule, Sri Lanka’s central hills have been carpeted with tea plantations. In Dickoya, the estates rise up around the ethereal Castlereagh Lake for truly extraordinary views. You can hike or bike around the plantations, picnic by waterfalls, kayak the lake, and visit a working tea factory.
Also within striking distance is Adam’s Peak. Between December and March, tourists and pilgrims climb the peak nightly to visit the sacred footprint at the summit and see a spectacular sunrise.
Did you know that Yala is the best place to see leopards in the world? The national park here is blessed with an astonishingly high density of these majestic creatures, and sightings are regular.
Tourists can go on twice daily rides through the park accompanied by expert guides who have a knack for spotting leopards and the other exotic animals here. Other possible sightings include elephants and sloth bears, while deer, wild boar, crocodiles, and a variety of birds are a given.
Yala’s landscapes are just as impressive as the wildlife that inhabits this region. Salted scrubland gives way to coastal jungle, mangroves, fresh water lakes, and a sweeping coastline with wild waves.
Are you planning a romantic winter holiday to Sri Lanka? Look no further than Tangalle. This quiet town on the south coast is renowned for its picture-perfect tropical beaches that are still blessedly peaceful.
You can stroll hand-in-hand along the golden sand, listening to nothing but the gentle lull of the azure waves and watching the palm trees sway in the breeze. Livelier Hiriketiya is just around the corner if you fancy trying your hand at surfing, or you can head to Mirissa for other watersports and whale watching.
Accommodation in Tangalle is primarily beautiful boutique hotels, the perfect way to start or end your Sri Lanka. You could also stay at the swansong of iconic architect Geoffrey Bawa, the exquisite villa known as The Last House which has its own private beach and an entrancing atmosphere.