Sri Lanka is known as the 'Pearl of the Indian Ocean', and it is easy to see why. From beautiful scenery to friendly locals, great food and plenty of activities on offer, this little country never fails to enchant visitors.


The national airline is Sri Lankan Airlines (website:, which flies from Colombo to London and a couple of other European cities. The country's main airport is Colombo Bandaranaike (CMB) (website:, located 29km (19 miles) north of the city in Katunayake.

Why now?

The best time to visit Sri Lanka's southern beaches is from November to April. So by going early in the season, you'll get the best weather, and lots of space to unfurl your towel! Also in November, Deepavali, known as ‘Diwali' or the ‘Festival of Lights', is Sri Lanka's main religious Hindu festival, celebrated throughout the country.


From the hill station of Nuwara Eliya in the highlands to the fortified city of Galle on the southwest coast, there is plenty to see in Sri Lanka. The ancient capital cities of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura are a delight featuring many outstanding ruins, enormous statues of reclining Buddhas, and Buddhist shrines and temples galore.

Other must-sees are the rock fortress of Sigiriya, towering over the jungle as far as the eye can see, and Dambulla's cave temple complex, the country's largest and best preserved. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Last, but not least, is Kandy, a picturesque, naturally fortified town, which was the last stronghold of the Kandyan Kings. Today it is a cultural sanctuary where age-old customs, arts, crafts and rituals remain.


Sri Lanka boasts about 1,600km (1,000 miles) of beautiful palm-shaded beaches as well as warm, pure seas and colourful coral reefs. Laze around on the sand or explore the underwater world. Bentota and Hikkaduwa are popular with sun-seekers, and surfing and diving are available too.

Away from the shore, wildlife is a big draw for Sri Lanka, and Yala National Park is one of the best places in the world to spot leopards (no pun intended). Or check out the elephant orphanage near Pinnawela, one of the most popular tourist stops on the island.  


Sri Lanka is celebrated for its excellent food, with a particular emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, and staples such as rice and curries featuring prominently on menus everywhere. Fish, as befits an island nation, is also a big part of the local diet, particularly on the coast. Negombo is the place to sample top seafood - the shellfish here is fantastic.

Did you know?

Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, is known for its tea, but it is also the world's largest producer and exporter of cinnamon. The cinnamon grown in Sri Lanka is considered the best in the world, and is now being branded and promoted as ‘Ceylon Cinnamon'.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.