Sri Lanka was recently voted the number one country to visit in Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Travel’ awards for 2019. It said Sri Lanka offers more than ever for ‘families, adrenalin-junkies, eco-tourists, wellness seekers and foodies on all budgets’, and that its people ‘defy all the odds by their welcome and friendliness after decades of civil conflict’.
Much of that conflict took place in the north and east of the country, leaving the rest of the island relatively untouched, but now, after ten years of peace, those previously forbidden areas are not only accessible to travellers but thriving.
Given Sri Lanka’s modest size, this is a country you can explore extensively in a week or two. TUI’s Discover Sri Lanka Escorted Tour is one way to do it, and includes flights, hotels, luggage, transfers and English-speaking guides.
And there are more specific excursions on offer, such as a trek to the top of Sri Lanka’s single most dramatic sight, Sigiriya Rock (pictured above).
These tours go big on nature, culture and history, meaning you come away with a much deeper appreciation for this remarkable country. Here are some of the highlights you won’t want to miss.
Major cultural sites
Most people fly into Sri Lanka via Colombo, the country’s commercial capital, and while at first sight this sprawling city of five million people may seem to be little more than the gateway to the country’s west coast tourist beaches, it’s well worth exploring.
Street markets like Pettah Market, the Good Market and the Kala Pola Art Market are all worth a visit, as is its old colonial centre. When it comes to restaurants, try The Gallery Café, Chutneys, Zaza, Curry Leaf and Seafood Cove, emblematic of the booming gastronomic scene in the city.
Before heading east to Kandy, be reminded that the coastal resort of Negombo (more on this later) is just 10 kilometres from…