Hanging like a teardrop from the southern tip of India, circled by rows of palm-fringed beaches, home to mountainous landscapes decorated with ancient cities and lush green jungles, rivers of emerald-coloured tea plantations and tumbling waterfalls is the beautiful land of Sri Lanka – quite simply, a paradise island.
In fact, as a holiday destination this stunning island in South Asia has it all: golden beaches; vibrant wildlife; ancient ruins; rich culture and mouth-watering cuisine. So if you’re looking for an exotic, relaxing retreat this year, Sri Lanka is the place for you.
Since Sri Lanka is an island, it is dominated by coastlines of golden sand surrounded by a glistening blue Indian Ocean, making it the perfect destination for a beach holiday. The island’s sandy palm tree-lined beaches are as idyllic as they come, and offer a multitude of water sport activities, as well as affordable accommodation and restaurants.
The picturesque beach of Hikkaduwa, located on the south coast, boasts colourful coral gardens and rolling turquoise waves making it the ideal location for surfing and snorkelling. Hikkaduwa is also well known for its upbeat nightlife, with many parties being held on the beach, and its delectable roadside cuisine which offers a fusion of western and Sri Lankan food. Another beach that has increased in surfing popularity in recent years is Arugam Bay, situated on the east coast; with its world-class waves, laid back atmosphere, simple restaurants and cabanas, Arugam Bay has undeniably adopted its own surfing culture.
Colombo, the capital, is a city emerging with nightlife and comprises a variety of clubs, casinos, bars and pubs. Guests can enjoy a whole host of genres and activities, from local DJs to live bands. For a little sophistication, check out the multi-purpose venue, The Library in the Trans Asia Hotel. Yep, it’s exactly that, a library by day and club at night. Alternatively, for a chilled out evening, enjoy a few cocktails with a look out across an amazing view at ON14 Rooftop Bar & Lounge. Top tip: head over from 6-7pm for happy hour and get 50% off!
If you’re feeling a little homesick, then head down to the Inn on the Green, the traditional English pub which stocks an impressive selection of imported beers and pub grub. For another themed destination check out the Cricket Club Café, which – surprise, surprise – reflects the country’s love of cricket. Decorated with cricket memorabilia dating as far back as the 1940’s, and showing non-stop cricket all day, it’s a great place for reasonably priced, high quality bar food and a relaxing drink.
With a rich history spanning to over 2,500 years, the alluring ancient sites of Sri Lanka are deeply immersed in culture and mystery. There are various world heritage sites to visit, including The Fort in the historic city of Galle, which showcases the city’s diverse heritage from Portuguese colonialism, and the rock fortress of Yapahuwa with its intricately carved rock statues and captivating temple paintings.
Within the Cultural Triangle, nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka, history is imbedded in the steep, leafy hills among the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura in the north, Polonnaruwa in the east and Kandy in the south.
Visiting these historic sites also provides an excellent opportunity for hiking up the challenging climb to the top of Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak). This soaring peak, home to mighty mountains and flourishing tea plantations, has long sparked the imagination of those who have visited and for centuries it has been a refuge for Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists making it a place filled with legend, myth, mystery and history.
Sri Lankan cuisine is a unique blend of vibrant spices, compelling fragrances and complex textures; the food you will come across on your travels has strong South Indian and Malaysian influence but is distinctive from the use of coconut and the pungent flavours. Food in Sri Lanka is an integral part of the culture, specially prepared dishes play a vital role in traditions and festivals, so rest assured, an abundance of scrumptious delicacies await you.
A broad range of restaurants, cafés and food stalls frame every street, so you’ll always be spoiled for choice, but if you want to try some of the best traditional food check out Palmyrah Restaurant in Hotel Renuka, which also dishes up some superb western dishes if you’re yearning for something a little less spicy! For a quick bite, pop into the quaint eatery, Chutnee, which offers delicious traditional food at low prices, or The Sandwich Factory for freshly prepared sandwiches, wraps and burgers.
Regardless of what you choose to do in Sri Lanka, there is definitely an activity for everyone, and you’ll be sure to have a truly unforgettable experience.