Browse through this handy guide from our friends at luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel. They outline what to do in each of the country’s very distinct regions, as well as their top family property picks!
Sri Lanka’s Cultural triangle is situated in the centre of the island and covers an area which includes a variety of World Heritage cultural sites, some of which are millennia old, and visited by pilgrims and tourists alike. Wander around the monasteries, palaces and heritage sites, after which you can check into Ulagalla, which boasts a large swimming pool and extensive grounds. Activities for kids are wide-ranging, including whale watching, horse riding, cookery classes, nature walks and bicycle excursions.
In Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, a port city with a rich colonial heritage, you can immerse yourself in a world of culture, sightseeing and exciting city life! From monuments and malls, to markets and museums, there is something for everyone. Popular activities include the zoological gardens, eating seafood on Mt. Lavinia beach, and a double decker bus city tour. After exploring all Colombo has to offer, Uga Residence is our top pick for families. With its spacious, leafy gardens and private courtyards, its gourmet restaurant, swimming pool, gym and bar, the Residence is a refined choice for long or short stays in Colombo.
On the road to Kandy, view the largest herd of elephants in captivity in the world at Pinnawela. Watch the herd playfully bathing in the river and the calves at feeding time. Then head to the Elephant Stables for an elegant colonial place to stay, just 10 minutes outside Kandy. Many elephants were once housed in the gardens of his old plantation – hence the name. Elephant Stables offers the perfect escape for families and smaller groups, with a large infinity pool, abundant wildlife in the gardens and a reading room.
Home to striking colorful scenery, one of the most memorable train journeys in the world, hiking opportunities and unique tea plantation accommodation, Hill Country is a must for any visit to Sri Lanka! There is an endless list of outdoor activities; immerse yourself in beautiful hikes, wildlife tours, tea trail visits, and peel off the beaten track to discover waterfalls galore.
Top of our recommendation list in Hill Country is Ceylon Tea Trails; a collection of four colonial bungalows right in the middle of this fabulous setting. The unspoiled beauty of the surrounding valleys and hills offer unparalleled biking, hiking and walking excursions for all ages, and there is plenty to explore, from waterfalls and mountain lakes, to tea gardens and lush forests. Note: While Tea Trails accepts children of all ages, it is a very quiet and peaceful place and respect for other guests is much appreciated!
Explore the fascinating wildlife Sri Lanka has to offer with a safari visit. Leopards, elephants, and birds can all be spotted against the most picturesque of backdrops. Nestling amongst dunes and trees, close to the ocean, Chena Huts is the latest addition to Uga Escapes’ portfolio of luxury boutique hotels. Overlooking a beach where sea-turtles lay eggs by moonlight and elephants wander down from the nearby jungle to play in the surf, Chena Huts is fringed on one side by tropical jungle and on the other by a lake where ibises, painted storks and even flamingos may be seen! For guests at Chena Huts, easy access to these natural wonders involves no compromise with comfort or good taste. At this small property, the ‘huts’ are in fact detached, private pavilions offering fine views of the surrounding wilderness and seascape.
The south coast is one of Sri Lanka’s most rewarding places to visit, with gorgeous beaches, colonial townscapes, stilt fishermen, superb wildlife parks and Buddhist shrines and temples aplenty! Active types will find a never-ending range of things to see and do here, although much of the region’s charm lies in its quintessentially rural atmosphere. Sleepy villages nestle in the shade of toppling palm trees, and the pace of life is unashamedly slow. From whale watching to surfing, or simply reading your book on the beach, there is something for everyone.
Cape Weligama was one of the most anticipated resort openings of 2015 and inhabits 12 manicured acres atop a singular promontory rising 36 metres above the Indian Ocean. For adventures further afield, cultural guides are on hand to whisk you off in private vehicles for personalised tours. Must see destinations include Mirissa’s vibrant boat harbour, Matara’s crumbling ruins and the historic Galle Fort where cobbled streets encased in coral and granite walls reveal ochre washed colonnaded houses and colonial churches.
After all the hiking, elephants and beaches, take the opportunity to squeeze in a little more culture! Galle Fort is a 17th century UNESCO World Heritage Site full of boutiques, cafes and galleries. Kids will love pottering around the cobble stoned streets that line the fort, and taking part in a cricket game or two with local children. Don’t miss the stunning sunsets from the fort walls! Our top pick in Galle is Amangalla, which has the period charm of a bygone era. Built in 1684, the historic edifice retains its heritage in every architectural and decorative detail, and has a large swimming pool that’s perfect for kids after a day of exploration.