The Lonely Planet recently named Sri Lanka the number one country to visit in 2019, which is not surprising, as it ticks all the boxes – beach, culture, safari, food and even a spot of tea! Discover our Big Five favourite experiences in Sri Lanka.

1.Relax in a boutique hotel on Tangalle Beach

Sand and sea as far as the eye can see, relax and enjoy this top-rated beach and stay at The Last House, Geoffrey Bawa’s final example of his famous brand of architecture in Sri Lanka. Situated at the end of the most pristine Mawella beach, this chic seaside escape enjoys barefoot luxury in a private location. 

Overlooking the Indian Ocean and a walking distance from town, stay at Coco Tangalla, a charming villa, ideally placed to explore the south coast or rest in style. From Tangalle beach, we recommend a visit to Uda Walawe National Park. With herds of Asian elephants, wild buffalo and leopards, Uda Walawe is the most popular national park in Sri Lanka and with light vegetation, it is easy to spot and watch game.

2. Visit Kandy 

As Sri Lanka’s second largest city, Kandy’s highlights include; indulging tea plantations, botanical gardens and the Temple of the Tooth. Kandy House is a unique ancestral manor house and our favourite place to stay when visiting the city. It provides seclusion and serenity in a lush, tropical setting close to Kandy’s most iconic sights. 

We also recommend visiting The Empire Café for a delicious flavour of Sri Lankan cuisine and where you can sit on the veranda overlooking the Temple of the Tooth. Or explore Ceylon tea country and take a train from Kandy to Ella to discover the region’s fascinating history and beautiful surroundings.

3. Tea Country 

The Loolecondera factory and estate is a key site in the Ceylon tea heritage as it is here, that James Taylor planted the first tea bush 150 years ago. Visit the factory today and take a tour around the estate observing the art of tea making.

Neighbouring this estate is Taylors Hill, a classic up-country historical house with several acres of gardens and views towards the hills surrounding Nuwara Eliya. Taylors Hill is the hotel closest to the heart of the history of tea in Sri Lanka and so is the perfect way to enjoy Ceylon’s tea heritage and beautiful countryside.

4. Our favourite spots to dine   

For such a small country, Sri Lanka packs a punch when it comes to the variety, influence and flavour of its cuisine. When it comes to the staple daily diet of Sri Lankans, rice with an array of tasty curries is usually on the menu and with many Sri Lankans being vegetarian, so are meat free meals.

When visiting Colombo, many hotels and restaurants showcase the country’s delicacies including Maniumpathy, a stately heritage house ideally located in the heart of the capital. Rice and curry dishes are served with a Jaffna twist, influenced by the Northern province of Sri Lanka and its close proximity to India.

We also recommend hotel Casa Heliconia, an intimate and eclectic hideaway where lush jungle meets stylish luxury. For a gourmet experience, they offer wholesome and delicious Sri Lanka inspired dishes – more than just rice and curry.

Designed by architect Geoffrey Bawa, Boutique 87 showcases tropical minimalism with only two suites, magnificent gardens and a private lake. Their home-style lunch spread offers sea food found on the West coast of Sri Lanka.

5. Sri Lanka’s top market places

Tangalle market is the central distribution point of vegetables and seafood to the South. Explore the harbour, one of the centres of fish distribution in Sri Lanka and Tangalle market to mingle with the local people and purchase some fresh food or local products.

Located in Colombo, Pettah market has a personality of its own. Colour, vibe, architecture- it is a feast for the senses. Be immersed in the local hustle and bustle and see fresh produce, electronics and clothing for sale amongst the masses of people. Maniumpathy hotel is within an easy walking distance of the market or ride the local transport, the Tuk Tuk, for an authentic experience.

Thanks for reading

Clare Burkey

Author: Clare Burkey