​​

​​

Blown away by the beautiful countryside, stunning nature, blissful beaches, wonderful wildlife and super-warm welcome – not to mention all the fabulous food – Sri Lanka was everything our own top-notch travelista Tara had hoped it would be… and then some. She spills the beans during a quick Q&A, and gives some sage advice on what not to miss on your own Sri Lankan sojourn.

The Journey

Having set up home these days in Spain, we took the short hop over from Alicante to Gatwick with Norwegian Air and I have to say that for a quick flight they were really pretty good – we even enjoyed inflight wifi. From Gatwick we flew to Colombo with Emirates – their crew were super-friendly and really couldn’t do enough for us (although whether that was due to the flight being quite empty, we’ll never know).

Arriving into Colombo, we were so happy we’d booked the Silk Route Lounge, with its dedicated attendants sorting out our entry and luggage, as the queues for immigration were quite long – all we had to do was sit back and relax before being whisked off to our waiting car (though sitting down was the last thing on our minds after such a long flight, and Ralph was pacing up and down like an expectant father waiting for his guitar to arrive safely!

Favourite Memories

1/ Experiencing different types of local food plays quite a big part in our travels, and we always try as much as we can: everything from street vendors to iffy side-street cafés and beach restaurants – and here absolutely nothing disappointed – lots of incredible seafood, and spicy curries – in fact, I think it was some of the hottest food we’ve ever experienced. Awesome.

2/ Outside of Kandy we visited the mysterious Knuckles Mountain Range – named after its likeness to a clenched fist – for a sixhour hike up to one of the waterfalls. These are some of the most hauntingly-beautiful nature trails I’ve ever explored, with scenery ranging from palm trees, rice fields and tropical foliage to cloud-, montane-, and verdant plateaus of pygmy-forest, and a plethora of endemic wildlife to discover (including leeches!). At some points I thought my legs would collapse, but the views from the top and the swim under the hidden waterfall were more than worth it.

3/ Also in Kandy, we took an elephant for a stroll down the river (as you do!), which was pretty cool – especially for Ralph, who was only just getting over his excitement from the monkeys gatecrashing our breakfast and running off with our hoppers! So this just blew him away completely!

4/ Getting to the coast was a welcome relief after lots of inland escapades, and half-a-day's R&R on the beach was enough to get us going again. We loved the beach at Amanwella, and particularly the lovely little local restaurant at the end of the beach, with tables and chairs set in the sand beneath the palm trees. Each morning following a delivery of fresh seafood, they light the massive BBQ, you choose what you want and they cook it while you wait (it was also a great spot for a nice cold beer costing around £3 rather than £12 at the resort itself). There’s also another great locallyrun restaurant just in front of Amanwella that’s worth a visit, too.​​

My Favourite...

HOT​ELS​​​ & TOWNS

We really loved The Why House, around 15 mi​nutes into Galle by tuk tuk, and 5-10 minutes to the beaches (tuk tuk) or 20 minutes on foot – in our opinion, a much better way to get there. Owner Henrietta is a larger-than-life character who creates a super-welcoming, relaxed vibe whether you’re travelling as a couple or a family (the large rooms here are ideal for the latter), and the food is absolutely amazing.

It was gerat to watch Henrietta ask her younger guests ‘if you could eat anything in the world, what would it be?’ and seeing their faces light up that evening when she served it to them! In fact the food was so great, we ate here every night – though there are so many restaurants around, you can happily head to Galle if you want to.

Amanwella (in Tangalle) is a great option for everyone, with easy access into town. Intimate villas work brilliantly for honeymooners; while villas that interconnect via the terrace, and lots of activities arranged for children, make families feel right at home too. As always the food, spa and service were top notch, but we did feel that dinner on our first night was a little soulless (maybe because we were among just four guests at Amanwella during our stay). The beach more than made up for it though – like something you’d see in the Seychelles, and very reminiscent of Anse Georgette.​

We also really enjoyed our time at the Stone House. Located in the hills above Kandy, the views just take your breath away, and it’s an ideal base for exploring this region. A small boutique hotel with just five rooms, the focus is more towards couples as children under 12 years are not accepted, but the staff are excellent, and once again... you guessed it… the food was fabulous! We really liked the pool area here too, a lovely spot to escape from the heat of the day.​

Kandy is one of Sri Lanka’s most scenic cities and, as the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, is an area of great historical importance. Its most famous site is undoubtedly the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (though it didn’t particularly float our boat), but we really liked the Botanical Gardens – The Kew of Kandy – and the lake was absolutely stunning.

Laid-back Tangalle is littered with great beaches, and on them even greater local lunch haunts (which we were happy to explore – all in the name of research of course). It’s also a brilliant area for whale-watching between December and April, as well as surfing and snorkelling. But on top of these, there’s an awesome array of attractions elsewhere: particularly the magnificent rock of Mulkirigala which erupts 205 metres above the surrounding jungle. Well off the tourist trail, it’s an authentic escape into Buddhist tranquillity, and quieter than Sigiriya and Dambulla rock fortresses.​

Galle meanwhile has to be the most perfectly-preserved colonial town in all of Sri Lanka, well worth visiting not only for its Dutch Fort, but also the intricate Galle lace, ebony, wood-carvings, polished gems, and steady string of cultural events, particularly the Galle Literary Festival. 

The Fort itself is a beautiful place to visit, and one of the few truly walkable destinations in Sri Lanka. More than the actual places to eat and see, it’s the general appearance of the cobblestone alleys and the crazy colourful walls that are so much fun to wander through. In fact, we had such a great time in Galle, I’ve put together a little guide on our favourite things to do in and around this region.​

The Good Galle Guide

There are several great beaches in this region, and while the tides can be strong and unpredictable, the Fort has several small beaches surrounding it that are perfect for early morning dips and snorkelling.​

Four miles from Galle is the gorgeous Dalawella Beach – home to the awesome Wijaya Beach Restaurant next to the Pointe de Galle Hotel, where you can enjoy safe surfing and swimming with the turtles in this reef-protected area, and feast on speciality woodfired pizzas, all without the hassle of too many touts and tourists which have contributed to once-gorgeous Unawatuna (just under two miles away) losing a bit of its sparkle.

About 20 minutes south of Galle, huge Weligama ​Bay stretches as far as the eye can see, with a great surf break for all abilities, and a great number of beach bars serving up reasonable food and ice-cold drinks. The stunning views are broken only by the 1920s mansion perched on the small, privately-owned Taprobane Island just off the coast at the prettiest end of the bay, which appears like an islet out of a James Bond movie. You can wade out to Taprobane or She-devil Island at low tide; or grab a ride around this picturesque bay on a catamaran (the fishermen can be most obliging in between fishing trips, too)!

Thirty minutes south-east of Galle, Mirissa is undoubtedly still one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful beaches with excellent bodyboarding, snorkelling and sailing. During the season, it’s a great surfing spot too, and you can head out to sea in search of whales and dolphins: Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Spinner Dolphins are all common sights between December and April. This is also the best time to visit this region, as the waters are calmer and safe to swim in, and the café-bars and restaurants lining the beach are in full swing (Zephyr Restaurant being our favourite, with its delicious freshly-caught seafood and a variety of inventive cocktails).​

Meanwhile 30 minutes north of Galle, the huge beach at Hikkaduwa gets a big thumbs up from us – it's ideal for water babies with all kinds of marine adventures: boat rides, scuba-diving, snorkelling by the reef and surfing; and foodies will love the array of scrumptiously affordable seafood restaurants.

 

​​

  • Action & Adventure

    ​Guided Bike Tours

    Taking a gentle guided bike tour from Wijaya Beach through the Eluvila Bird Sanctuary, past tea and cinnamon plantations and out into paddy fields is an amazing way to see the real Sri Lankan countryside.


     

    Turtle Time

    There are quite a few but our favourite is the Sea Turtle Farm and Hatchery in Habaraduwa, 25 minutes from Galle, and a non-profit sanctuary dedicated to helping sea turtles survive into the next generation. Founded in 1986, it has since released more than 500,000 sea turtles into the ocean. It's a great activity for kids too.


     

    Cruise Koggala Lake

    Take a two-hour boat trip on Koggala Lake, find a Buddhist temple, visit cinnamon farmers at their home and circle a bird sanctuary, before returning across the lake for a tuk tuk ride back to your hotel.

  • Gourmet Galle

    Amangalla, Church Street

    The food at Amangalla from morning to night is delicious and beautifully served with all the usual Aman grace and elegance – but for me, Sunday brunch is a wonderful time to visit to tuck into the Eggs Benedict and fresh coffee.


     

    Indian Hut, Rampart Street

    Craving a curry? This Fort favourite is the place to go for a broad choice of very reasonably-priced, authentic Indian and Chinese cuisine (remember to order meat off the bone).


     

    Fortaleza, Lighthouse Street

    Exciting and delightfully-run restaurant with simple, delicious freshly-cooked Asian-infused Western fare, in lovely surroundings – the perfect start or finish to a Fort tour.

  • Gourmet Galle

    ​Dutch Hospital, Hospital Street

    Transformed into an astonishing shopping and dining complex this beautifully-restored colonial building is now home to an ever-increasing selection of shops and eateries.


     

    Don't miss the highly–recommended Tuna & Crab (Japanese), Sugar Bistro (European) and Tuk Tuk, or Crepelogy with its fabulous rooftop terrace and mouthwatering selection of crepes, coffee and Italian sodas.


     

    The Fort Printers, Pedlar Street

    This restored 18th-century mansion serves up a fresh, vibrant daily-changing menu that uses predominantly fresh seafood and organic local produce. Lunches are light and breezy, and dinners a more formal affair. Booking ahead is a must.

Our Featured Sri Lanka Hotels​

  • Amangalla Galle

    An hotel in a place that time forgot, except that now it’s modern where it matters, with exceptional service and facilities.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property
  • Amanwella Tangalle

    Hidden between two rocky headlands, overlooking a white-sand crescent-shaped cove, Amanwella exudes matchless tranquility.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property
  • Ceylon Tea Trails Hatton

    In the heart of Sri Lanka’s lush tea country, Ceylon Tea Trails will magically transport you back in time to days of the Raj.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property
  • Leopard Trails Yala National Park

    Returning to the original spirit and essence of safari, Leopard Trails’ bespoke tented safaris are an immersive and intimate experience right on the edge of Yala National Park.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property
  • The Kandy House Kandy

    Built in 1804, this ancestral manor house has enjoyed a rich history as well as an exquisite restoration.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property
  • The Wallawwa Kotugoda, Near Colombo

    It might be situated just a few miles from the airport, but sitting in acres of beautifully mature gardens The Wallawwa is a sanctuary of serenity.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property
  • Ulagalla by Uga Escapes Anuradhapura

    Enjoy the riches of the kingdom or a natural adventure while immersed in luxurious, ecologically-sustainable beauty, both inside and out.

    Call us on 01244 567 000 to start planning your next holiday.

    View this property

Request a call back

Or get in touch 01244 567000