Read our pocket guide to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka: A pocket guide
A tiny drop in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is astonishingly diverse, with palm-fringed beaches, bustling cities, dense jungle, and misty mountains. Its dramatic and varied landscape is the backdrop for colonial tea plantations and enchanting ancient ruins, and its cultural richness is the result of over three thousand years of recorded history. With superb hospitality and some of the finest private villas in Asia, Sri Lanka is an idyllic vacation destination for both families and couples.
On the ridged hills of the mountainous north, working tea plantations invite visitors to soak up the views while learning the art of traditional tea making. Away from the crowds of popular Kandy, this peaceful province remains largely under the radar, making for an idyllic spot in which to relax.
Having explored the north, head south toward the coast and embark on a safari adventure, for the highlight of a Sri Lankan vacation is the wildlife. Catch a glimpse of leopards, deer, and elephants from the comfort of a private vehicle, and for something a little more personal, visit an elephant sanctuary, where you can walk with and even bathe these spectacular gentle giants. Galle Fort, on the southeast coast, was built in 1588 and has developed into a bustling city with beautiful beaches, excellent food, and a multitude of gem shops.
After a great deal of traveling, learning, and most likely eating, rest and relaxation are essential. To make the most of Sri Lanka’s stunning beaches, follow the south coast around and up, toward the northwest. Away from the typical tourist-trail beach haunts sits Alankuda. An ideal spot for whale and dolphin watching and home to an array of water sports, this beach offers a host of activities, including lying back and doing nothing much at all—the perfect dénouement to a vacation filled to the brim with new experiences.