Stilt Fisherman, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Holidays

Lush, green and without crowds, Sri Lanka has become one of the prime boutique destinations of the East. We love it for its diversity, the people and the exquisite food.

A Sri Lanka holiday will not disappoint. You are guaranteed to experience one of the most idyllic and exotic destinations on earth. Travelling around this beautiful island you see rolling tea estates, spectacular views and verdant forests abundant with wildlife such as leopard, wild elephant and sloth bear, fascinating historical sites in the Cultural Triangle and wide stretches of sandy beach. Sri Lanka offers some of the most stylish boutique hotels and villas that are unrivalled in the region. Small and easy to discover, you can travel either by private car or float plane and it is a perfect family holiday destination. 

Ideas for your holiday to Sri Lanka

  • Explore Sri Lanka with one of our driver-guides to help bring the culture and customs alive 
  • Search for blue whale off the north-east coast, near Trincomalee or off the south coast beaches
  • Travel by train to the tea country and take a private guide to learn about tea growing
  • Stay in a comfortable tented camp in the National Parks to spot leopards and elephants
  • Visit Sri Lanka's cultural heart to explore the ancient site of Anuradhapura and climb Sigiriya Rock 
  • Join local families for an early morning blessing at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy

Places to visit in Sri Lanka

Elephants in Sri Lanka

National Parks

Cultural Triangle

Cultural Triangle

  • Explore the ancient, jungle-swathed ruins at Anuradhapura 
  • Visit the beautiful temples of Mihintale, the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka
  • Climb the rock-fortress of Sigiriya, one of Sri Lanka's most dramatic, natural sights



Sri Lanka Beaches

  • Rent a fully staffed, private beach villa with family and friends
  • Watch the sunset from KK Beach boutique hotel on the south coast
  • Swim from the clear, calm east coast beaches near Trincomalee or Passekudah
Fisherman Sri Lanka

Tea Country

  • Rattle your way along the tracks from Kandy to Nanu Oya, a beautiful train journey
  • Walk between the bungalows of Ceylon Tea Trails - lunch at one, afternoon tea at another
  • Wake early to see the tea pickers making their way to the colourful, sari dotted tea terraces


Why we love Sri Lanka

With so many different holiday styles, Sri Lanka has something for everyone from trekking and camping in National Parks such as Wilpattu to flying to north-east Jaffna to explore the Dutch forts. Alternatively, you could relax on the glorious sandy beaches around the coast, explore the UNESCO site of Galle or discover Colombo's fascinating past and vibrant future with a private walking tour in the city.

Advice from our Sri Lanka travel Experts

For a small country, Sri Lanka punches well above its weight. In just two weeks you can spend time exploring ancient Buddhist sites, track leopard and elephant in game-rich parks such as Yala or Wilpattu, whale watch off the east or south coast, travel by train through the tea hills, and end up on a glorious stretch of white sand beach. These are just a few highlights and there are many more. Joe Parkes | Steppes Travel Sri Lanka Specialist

Our travel experts are justifiably considered experts in their field, having travelled to Sri Lanka many times. They are ideally placed to help you design your perfect Sri Lanka holiday. 

Sri Lanka FAQs

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Is Sri Lanka safe to travel around?
Known for its turbulent history and civil war, peace was declared in Sri Lanka in 2009. It has now very successfully rebuilt itself as a tourist destination and is doing everything to welcome visitors to the country. As when travelling to any destination, we always advise taking precautions when looking after your personal belongings.
What animals will I see in Yala National Park?
With over 126,000 hectares of parkland to explore, visiting Yala is like stepping into the pages of The Jungle Book. Elephants, monkeys, exotic birds and leopards plus an array of other wildlife call Yala home. The park has one of the densest leopard populations in the world.
Are cash machines easily accessible?
ATMs are becoming more widespread in the larger cities, but are more difficult to find outside of these. Before leaving for more rural areas, we advise making sure you have plenty of local currency with you in case ATM access in unavailable. There is a small withdrawal charge of approximately £2.
I would like to explore the north of the country. Is it safe now?

It is safe to visit Jaffna in the north of the country as well as the new beach resorts around Trincomalee on the north-east coast. However it is worth mentioning that in Jaffna there remains a strong military presence. If you like pioneering travel and are OK with basic accommodation then a visit to the very north of the country could well appeal. One of our female travel experts recently travelled to the north and felt extremely safe throughout. 

Can I rent a villa in Sri Lanka?
Yes, in fact renting a villa of any size is great value and makes for a wonderfully relaxing holiday. A particularly good option for families the villas come with staff and locations range from beachfront to inland depending on your preference. The best selection are found on the south coast near Galle. 
I've visited Sri Lanka before, which National Parks should I visit next?
Willpattu on the north-west coast is opening up and there is now a comfortable camp there. Willpattu is best for Sloth bear and leopard, however, leopards are more elusive here than in Yala National Park. 
Is Sri Lanka a good destination for a family holiday? 
Travelling with children in Sri Lanka is very easy as there is no need for internal flights, however, there are long car journey's as a result. A staffed villa during the trip is the best way to relax as a family. Many boutique hotels are small enough to rent the entire property for exclusive use, with staff on hand for your every whim.
Do I need a visa to travel to Sri Lanka?

British passport holders need a visa which is easily obtained online for a cost of USD$35 and is generally issued within approximately five days. Other nationalities please ask for further information.

How likely am I to see a leopard in the wild on a holiday to Sri Lanka?
Obviously, wildlife is never guaranteed but chances are good, particularly in Yala National Park which has one of the highest density of leopard in the world.
When is the best time of the year to visit Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is a year-round destination although the weather differs between the north and the south. For the best climate visit the south of the country between January and April and the north from June to December.

What currency is used in Sri Lanka?
The Sri Lankan Rupee is the local currency.
Do I need to worry about malaria?
Sri Lanka was declared free of malaria in 2017 and 2018 after eradicating the disease in 2016. However, do take normal precautions. Wear long-sleeved tops and avoid skin exposure during dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active. Avoid sitting or staying by any standing water or boggy land. Invest in some repellant when travelling through a jungle and forested regions.


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Hammock by Beach, Sri Lanka

Is the Summer a good time to visit Sri Lanka

You may wonder if the summer months are a good time to visit the island of Sri Lanka. The answer is absolutely.
Generally, the weather is settled across the island in July and August and proves an ever-popular destination for families at this time, combined with the knowledge that Sri Lanka has been declared a malaria-free country.  There can be some showers in the hills and west coast at times when the east coast is pleasant and dry. Why not stay at Jungle Beach by Uga Escapes.

Sri Lanka is Visa Fee Free

Starting 1st August 2019, travellers from the UK will be issued a free visa-on-arrival.
The move comes as the island looks to boost tourism and make it easier for visitors to enter the country. The scheme will run initially for a period of six months with a possible extension. We recommended that you still apply for the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) online before travel, to avoid any waiting time at Colombo airport. 

Leopard, Sri Lanka

Rest and Recuperation in Sri Lanka

Ideal for anybody looking for rest and recuperation this 14-day holiday stays in the most relaxing of hotels, enhanced by the best insights and experiences. 

When booking with Steppes you stand to benefit from a host of wonderful gifts with free upgrades, complimentary dinners, bottles of bubbly, free yoga classes, free excursions and upgrades to your safari experience.

Save £500 per person. From £2,500 per person for travel between August and March 2019. Accommodation includes Santani Wellness Resort, near Kandy, Noel Rodrigo Leopard Camp, Yala, The Last House, Tangalle and Wallawa, near Negombo.

Traditional Fishing, Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle Literary Festival

Hugely popular and incredibly stimulating, it's nearly time to celebrate the annual Galle Literary Festival again! Galle Literary Festival runs for four days every January. 

Since launching in 2007 it has become one of the most anticipated literary events in South East Asia for both authors and literary enthusiasts around the world.

The Galle Literary festival takes place in and around the Historic Dutch Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, on the southern shores of Sri Lanka.  Put the dates in the diary and we can organise the rest - usually the third week of January.

Sri Lankan Tea Estate

The Southern Tea Experience

For those who are not able to visit the up-country tea estates in Sri Lanka.
Did you know that there are some 11 tea estates scattered among the interior of Sri Lanka’s south coast, particularly around Ratnapura and all the way down to Galle and Matara? Known as ‘low-grown’ or ‘low country’ tea, the robust crop thrives even in the warmest conditions.

For a southern tea experience, why stay at Kahanda Kanda, located right in the middle of a 12-acre tea plantation and where many of the suites face directly onto the surrounding tea bushes. Guests can also take a 5-minute tuk-tuk ride to nearby Handunugoda Tea Estate for a guided tour and tea tasting. If you want to learn more about tea production in Sri Lanka then spend a few nights at Ceylon Tea Trails in the company of the local tea estate manager.
Cow and Temple, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka is so vibrant. Not just vibrant in the sense of colour, spice, sun, and tropicality but also vibrant in the sense that the country is changing. Fantastic hotels are springing up, Living Heritage Koslanda by way of example.


Leopard, Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka

Blog: Wilpattu National Park

It has it all, turtles walking across busy roads, land monitor lizards sloping around looking like they are up to no good, elephants en masse, casual leopards posing for pictures and shy sloth bears jumping out of bushes.


Colombo Walking Tour

Colombo Walking Tour

Explore Colombo's backstreets with a specialist tour guide.
Hidden within Sri Lanka’s chaotic capital is Slave Island, named so because of its association with African slaves who were housed there during Portuguese rule. Slave Island is now a melting-pot of cultures and religions, still awash with landmarks of bygone eras lining almost every street. During a holiday in Sri Lanka, including a Colombo Walking Tour to explore the remnants of the capital’s colonial past hidden within this vibrant commercial area. A dynamic tour guide will bring the surroundings to life with captivating chronicles of the past.
Lotus Flower, Sri Lanka

Spa Hotels in Sri Lanka

Looking for a hotel with a spa in Sri Lanka?
If you are partial to a spa treatment of two, we can recommend some excellent options. A favourite is The Wallawwa, whose Z Spa's flexible opening hours are designed for pre or post-flight indulgence. The Fort Bazaar, in Galle Fort also has a spa. Tri, beside Koggala Lake is a superb wellness destination, offering spa treatments, many with an Ayurvedic twist - plus yoga. The new addition of Wattura Spa, close to the airport offers the perfect mix of a family-friendly stay with a world class spa facility. For serious spa lovers check into Santani Wellness and stay put!

Client Reviews

Lotus Flower, Sri Lanka
''Joe did an excellent job building an itinerary customised to our needs. plus, the hotels he chose for us were simply wonderful.''

John Salmon

Sri Lanka
Chidlren on Beach, Sri Lanka
''Kate Hitchen's help in organising this trip was excellent . She was very knowledgable and tailor made our trip to suit our three teenage children.''

Julia Ziegler

Sri Lanka
Sunrise over Jungle, Sri Lanka
''Pre-trip information was great ( including the package received by mail before the trip). We contacted Steppes asking for help in finalising the trip another agency failed to organise. 
Despite very little time left before travelling and very busy holiday period for booking Kate Hitchen managed to book good hotels and help us with the trip program. Her expert advice allowed us to correct the original plan ( which was unrealistic) and we had a well balanced program which allowed us to see most of the attractions we wanted and at a good pace. ''

Olga Vishnevskaya

Sri Lanka
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Holiday Ideas in Sri Lanka

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