Tailormade tour Best of Sri Lanka tour Sri Lanka

13 nights/14 days

Negombo • Sigiriya • Kandy • Tea country • Yala • Galle • Colombo

Gain an insight into the ancient culture, the contemporary folklore, the astounding scenery and the native wildlife of Sri Lanka with a luxury safari camp in a National Park. This tour gives you more than just a taste of the country but enough time to visit and explore in more depth. This holiday can be undertaken staying in a range of hotels. To make things simple initially we are giving a Luxury option and a Value option. Each combination is based on tried and tested hotels within given price ranges but any other hotels we feature in the respective regions can be included instead and Luxury and Value hotels can be mixed.

Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,880 per person.

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of the best of Sri Lanka staying in Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Tea Country, Galle and Colombo

This 13-night tour takes you first from London to Bandaranaike International Airport. From here, your private chauffeur-guide takes to the seafront port city of Negombo, rich in Dutch and Portuguese colonial history. Stay for one night and then head deep into the Cultural Triangle for three nights near Sigiriya. Visit the famous Rock Fortress, the ancient royal capital of Polonnaruwa, and a small authentic Sri Lankan village. Then, head into Kandy, the cultural capital of the island, so one night in the Hill Country. Explore Kandy, beside Kandy Lake, and pick up some souvenirs from the bustling market. Next, continue south to Nuwara Eliya, known as ‘Little England,’ for two nights immersed in the stunning landscape of Tea Country, where the hills are a patchwork of tea plantations and the magnificent Horton Plains offers sensational walking trails. Then, spend two nights seeking out the charming wildlife at Yala National park. You move on to have three nights in Galle, exploring the old Dutch fort and visiting the many nearby beach resorts. Take in the views from the walls of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, before staying one last night just outside Colombo. On your last day, return to the UK by air.

Highlights

Negombo • Sigiriya • Polonnaruwa • Hiriwaduna Village • Dambulla • Kandy • Nuwara Eliya • Horton Plains National Park • Ella Gap • Yala • Galle • Ambalangoda • Bentota • Colombo

Day by day

You will be met on arrival and driven by your English-speaking chauffeur guide who will accompany you throughout your tour of Sri Lanka. Negombo, set amid lush groves of coconut palms, breathes the spirit of the sea and the town itself shows its interesting colonial past with many historical buildings. Negombo is an important fishing town with Portuguese and Dutch colonial heritage. The Dutch legacy is seen in the remains of the grand Dutch Fort and the Dutch canal (now called Hamilton Canal) which runs from Colombo to Chilaw via Negombo. Although large parts of the canal are in disrepair, it is being revived and you can see gaily-painted boats using it as a waterway. Spend the remainder of your day exploring this historic city.

Today, depart for the Cultural Triangle (approximately 4 hours). This area is considered to be the cradle of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist civilisation and is home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, alongside an abundance of wildlife and natural habitats. In the afternoon, set off to climb the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya, with its rocky abode and water gardens. Sigiriya is famous for its rock of golden-hued granite. In the 5th century King Kashyapa ‘tamed’ the Lion’s Rock, by building a palace atop its summit. You will spend 3 nights in Sigiriya.

Today visit Polonnaruwa, an ancient royal capital, with its well-preserved 12th Century ruins and impressive stone sculptures recalling an inspired past and the story of Buddhism. This will give you the chance to experience the grandeur of this period and the artistry of the island’s early craftsmen. Highlights are the Royal Palace and Council Chamber, and the four graceful Buddha statues of Gal Vihara (Stone Temple), the pinnacle of Sri Lankan rock carving.

This morning you will take a short drive from Sigiriya to Hiriwaduna Village, where you will have the opportunity to meet with the local villagers. You can help in some of their daily tasks, such as farming and cooking, or even be taken on a bullock cart ride through a banana plantation, tasting the ripe bananas along the way! Afterwards, enjoy a typical Sri Lankan style rice and curry meal with the local villagers. This afternoon visit the famous Dambulla cave temple dating back to the 5th Century BC. The walls of this World Heritage Site are covered with murals exceeding 21,000 square feet, and it really is one of the most spectacular sights on the island. This visit involves a 10-15 minute walk uphill with wonderful views over the plains at the top.

Today drive to Kandy in the hill country, Sri Lanka`s second city (approximately 2.5 hours’ drive). Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom and is today still an important cultural and spiritual centre. Explore this picturesque lake-side city with its wealth of antique and gemstone shops, a bustling market and numerous restaurants. British legacies still remain in central Kandy, in the form of grand old buildings and hotels, St Paul’s Church and Royal Palace Park. It is also possible to walk most of the way around the lake besides which Kandy is built, where you can see the Royal Bathing Pavilion and the royal summerhouse which is on an island in the centre of the lake). There is a lively market and a plethora of shops, gem showrooms and arts & crafts workshops. There are also several nightly cultural shows that showcase traditional Kandyan drumming, music and dance and the city boasts a fine international cricket stadium. You will spend 1 night in Kandy.

After breakfast, head south into the cooler mountains to the heart of the tea country, where you will stay for 2 nights. See the curious ‘Little England’ hill station of Nuwara Eliya, with its racecourse, golf course, lake and British colonial buildings. This ‘Little England’ of Sri Lanka sits against mountains, valleys, waterfalls and tea plantations, a perfect place for nature lovers. Whilst in tea country, visit a tea factory on a working tea estate, following the process of tea production and enjoying a tea tasting. Optional: Take the train with observation coach from Kandy to Tea Country A leisurely way of experiencing the scenery is to take the train travelling in the first-class observation coach from Peradeniya to Nanu Oya (for Nuwara Eliya). The train leaves at 12.30 and arrives at 15.50.

Start early to drive through the early morning mist to Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka’s highest plateau. This is a world apart from the rest of Sri Lanka, a landscape with a unique climate and ecosystem. The circular walk in Horton Plains National Park will take you to the spectacular World’s End - a sheer drop of nearly 1,000 metres into the valley below, as well as to a view of the picturesque Bakers Waterfalls. More than 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds can be found here. In the afternoon, relax back at your hotel or enjoy a walk through the tea plantations.

This morning, enjoy more mountain scenery on the way to Ella Gap, where the mountains dramatically drop down to the plains of the south, continuing to the south-east coast of the island. This nature resort is located in ten acres of jungle bordering the entrance of Yala National Park and the Indian Ocean. A variety of wild animals are seen in the grounds, such as monkeys, wild boar and the occasional elephant. Yala is most famous for its leopards and has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, offering the best chance to see them in the wild. This is a very dry terrain with little shade, bordered by a beautiful coastline and interspersed with watering holes. Daytime temperatures reach around 30c, so it is a dry heat with little rainfall. You will spend 2 nights in Yala.

Begin early this morning for a wildlife safari by jeep. Elephants, sloth bear, sambhur and buffaloes are amongst the animals also seen in the park. You will see that Sri Lanka is blessed to have the opportunity to showcase a huge amount of fascinating wildlife, all of which you will experience during your safaris. Because of the high density of leopards in Yala, the lack of other carnivores means that the leopard is the top predator, so adults and cubs can be remarkably relaxed during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. On an afternoon safari, watch out for crocodiles basking in the evening sun.

After an early breakfast, drive to Koggala near Galle, passing through Hambantota, Tangalle and Matara on the coast road. You will then spend the afternoon exploring Galle at your leisure. Southern Sri Lanka uncovers a world of historic Dutch forts, beautiful beaches and stilt fishermen, where sleepy villages lie hidden in palms behind the wide sandy bays and sheltered coves. You will stay for 3 nights in Galle.

Explore the city of Galle at leisure, taking in the rich heritage, culture and architecture of this vibrant coastal city. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has become the perfect time-warp for the inquisitive traveller with its myriad narrow streets within the city walls. There are some lovely small shops to browse selling crafts, jewellery and antiques. Galle and the surrounding villages are full of artisans such as lace makers, jewelers, woodcarvers and painters. Small shops sell crafts, jewellery and antiques, as well as a few designer boutiques. The surrounding region is incredibly beautiful with its rainforest reserves, low-lying tea estates, ancient temples, coconut plantations, rice paddies, fishing villages and palm-fringed coves. Later, relax by the ocean or maybe indulge yourselves with a spa treatment.

Your second day in Galle gives you ample time to try any of the activities listed below, or just enjoy the wealth of sights and sounds the city has to offer. Optional: Carve your own traditional mask Today, have a go at creating your own traditional Sri Lankan mask, using Sri Lankan methods of carving with traditional tools. You’ll begin with a introduction into the history of Sri Lankan masks, their spiritual and historical meaning and how they have been influenced over time. Under the guidance of some fantastic traditional carvers, you will create your own mask which will reflect both traditional artistry and your own interpretations. Your mask is then yours to take home! Optional: Merchant of the Fort with Juliet Coombe Take a walking tour of the Galle Fort with local resident and author, Juliet Coombe. The focus is on the history of this huge, living coral fort and the merchant families of this thriving trading spot. You will meet some of the descendants of the original merchant families, experience the spice trade and learn how life was during the colonial period. Optional: Karuna’s cooking class in Unawatuna This is a highly recommended day-long cookery course which teaches you the finer points of Sri Lankan cuisine and aims to have you mixing your own curry powder in no time. The course is led by Karuna and a trip to Galle market is included.

Your journey back to Colombo takes you along the coast road (approximately 4 hours’ drive). Depending on your interests, you may wish to make stops to see mask-making in Ambalangoda, Buddhist temples, the beautifully landscaped Brief Garden or the beach resort of Bentota along the way. In Colombo, you have time in the afternoon to visit the sights of the city and indulge in some shopping. Optional: Colombo City Walk Once you have arrived in Colombo, you will have the chance to go on a guided personalised city walk through Colombo. This evening you will spend 3-4 hours exploring this fine city at dusk. You will be shown all the lesser known parts of Colombo; the secret alcoves, the historical landmarks, the fantastic architecture and Colombo’s beginnings as a tiny trading port.

After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport (approximately 1 hour’s drive).

We were incredibly impressed by our guide/driver. He helped make the trip. The holiday exceeded our expectations.
Mrs A, January 2019

Holiday price guide From about £2,880 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG03

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of the best of Sri Lanka staying in Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Tea Country, Galle and Colombo

You will be met on arrival and driven by your English-speaking chauffeur guide who will accompany you throughout your tour of Sri Lanka. Negombo, set amid lush groves of coconut palms, breathes the spirit of the sea and the town itself shows its interesting colonial past with many historical buildings. Negombo is an important fishing town with Portuguese and Dutch colonial heritage. The Dutch legacy is seen in the remains of the grand Dutch Fort and the Dutch canal (now called Hamilton Canal) which runs from Colombo to Chilaw via Negombo. Although large parts of the canal are in disrepair, it is being revived and you can see gaily-painted boats using it as a waterway. Spend the remainder of your day exploring this historic city.

Today, depart for the Cultural Triangle (approximately 4 hours). This area is considered to be the cradle of Sri Lanka’s Buddhist civilisation and is home to a wealth of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, alongside an abundance of wildlife and natural habitats. In the afternoon, set off to climb the spectacular rock fortress of Sigiriya, with its rocky abode and water gardens. Sigiriya is famous for its rock of golden-hued granite. In the 5th century King Kashyapa ‘tamed’ the Lion’s Rock, by building a palace atop its summit. You will spend 3 nights in Sigiriya.

Today visit Polonnaruwa, an ancient royal capital, with its well-preserved 12th Century ruins and impressive stone sculptures recalling an inspired past and the story of Buddhism. This will give you the chance to experience the grandeur of this period and the artistry of the island’s early craftsmen. Highlights are the Royal Palace and Council Chamber, and the four graceful Buddha statues of Gal Vihara (Stone Temple), the pinnacle of Sri Lankan rock carving.

This morning you will take a short drive from Sigiriya to Hiriwaduna Village, where you will have the opportunity to meet with the local villagers. You can help in some of their daily tasks, such as farming and cooking, or even be taken on a bullock cart ride through a banana plantation, tasting the ripe bananas along the way! Afterwards, enjoy a typical Sri Lankan style rice and curry meal with the local villagers. This afternoon visit the famous Dambulla cave temple dating back to the 5th Century BC. The walls of this World Heritage Site are covered with murals exceeding 21,000 square feet, and it really is one of the most spectacular sights on the island. This visit involves a 10-15 minute walk uphill with wonderful views over the plains at the top.

Today drive to Kandy in the hill country, Sri Lanka`s second city (approximately 2.5 hours’ drive). Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese kingdom and is today still an important cultural and spiritual centre. Explore this picturesque lake-side city with its wealth of antique and gemstone shops, a bustling market and numerous restaurants. British legacies still remain in central Kandy, in the form of grand old buildings and hotels, St Paul’s Church and Royal Palace Park. It is also possible to walk most of the way around the lake besides which Kandy is built, where you can see the Royal Bathing Pavilion and the royal summerhouse which is on an island in the centre of the lake). There is a lively market and a plethora of shops, gem showrooms and arts & crafts workshops. There are also several nightly cultural shows that showcase traditional Kandyan drumming, music and dance and the city boasts a fine international cricket stadium. You will spend 1 night in Kandy.

After breakfast, head south into the cooler mountains to the heart of the tea country, where you will stay for 2 nights. See the curious ‘Little England’ hill station of Nuwara Eliya, with its racecourse, golf course, lake and British colonial buildings. This ‘Little England’ of Sri Lanka sits against mountains, valleys, waterfalls and tea plantations, a perfect place for nature lovers. Whilst in tea country, visit a tea factory on a working tea estate, following the process of tea production and enjoying a tea tasting. Optional: Take the train with observation coach from Kandy to Tea Country A leisurely way of experiencing the scenery is to take the train travelling in the first-class observation coach from Peradeniya to Nanu Oya (for Nuwara Eliya). The train leaves at 12.30 and arrives at 15.50.

Start early to drive through the early morning mist to Horton Plains National Park, Sri Lanka’s highest plateau. This is a world apart from the rest of Sri Lanka, a landscape with a unique climate and ecosystem. The circular walk in Horton Plains National Park will take you to the spectacular World’s End - a sheer drop of nearly 1,000 metres into the valley below, as well as to a view of the picturesque Bakers Waterfalls. More than 70% of Sri Lanka’s endemic birds can be found here. In the afternoon, relax back at your hotel or enjoy a walk through the tea plantations.

This morning, enjoy more mountain scenery on the way to Ella Gap, where the mountains dramatically drop down to the plains of the south, continuing to the south-east coast of the island. This nature resort is located in ten acres of jungle bordering the entrance of Yala National Park and the Indian Ocean. A variety of wild animals are seen in the grounds, such as monkeys, wild boar and the occasional elephant. Yala is most famous for its leopards and has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, offering the best chance to see them in the wild. This is a very dry terrain with little shade, bordered by a beautiful coastline and interspersed with watering holes. Daytime temperatures reach around 30c, so it is a dry heat with little rainfall. You will spend 2 nights in Yala.

Begin early this morning for a wildlife safari by jeep. Elephants, sloth bear, sambhur and buffaloes are amongst the animals also seen in the park. You will see that Sri Lanka is blessed to have the opportunity to showcase a huge amount of fascinating wildlife, all of which you will experience during your safaris. Because of the high density of leopards in Yala, the lack of other carnivores means that the leopard is the top predator, so adults and cubs can be remarkably relaxed during the day. Young males in particular seem to have no fear of the jeep which can lead to some excellent photographic opportunities. On an afternoon safari, watch out for crocodiles basking in the evening sun.

After an early breakfast, drive to Koggala near Galle, passing through Hambantota, Tangalle and Matara on the coast road. You will then spend the afternoon exploring Galle at your leisure. Southern Sri Lanka uncovers a world of historic Dutch forts, beautiful beaches and stilt fishermen, where sleepy villages lie hidden in palms behind the wide sandy bays and sheltered coves. You will stay for 3 nights in Galle.

Explore the city of Galle at leisure, taking in the rich heritage, culture and architecture of this vibrant coastal city. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has become the perfect time-warp for the inquisitive traveller with its myriad narrow streets within the city walls. There are some lovely small shops to browse selling crafts, jewellery and antiques. Galle and the surrounding villages are full of artisans such as lace makers, jewelers, woodcarvers and painters. Small shops sell crafts, jewellery and antiques, as well as a few designer boutiques. The surrounding region is incredibly beautiful with its rainforest reserves, low-lying tea estates, ancient temples, coconut plantations, rice paddies, fishing villages and palm-fringed coves. Later, relax by the ocean or maybe indulge yourselves with a spa treatment.

Your second day in Galle gives you ample time to try any of the activities listed below, or just enjoy the wealth of sights and sounds the city has to offer. Optional: Carve your own traditional mask Today, have a go at creating your own traditional Sri Lankan mask, using Sri Lankan methods of carving with traditional tools. You’ll begin with a introduction into the history of Sri Lankan masks, their spiritual and historical meaning and how they have been influenced over time. Under the guidance of some fantastic traditional carvers, you will create your own mask which will reflect both traditional artistry and your own interpretations. Your mask is then yours to take home! Optional: Merchant of the Fort with Juliet Coombe Take a walking tour of the Galle Fort with local resident and author, Juliet Coombe. The focus is on the history of this huge, living coral fort and the merchant families of this thriving trading spot. You will meet some of the descendants of the original merchant families, experience the spice trade and learn how life was during the colonial period. Optional: Karuna’s cooking class in Unawatuna This is a highly recommended day-long cookery course which teaches you the finer points of Sri Lankan cuisine and aims to have you mixing your own curry powder in no time. The course is led by Karuna and a trip to Galle market is included.

Your journey back to Colombo takes you along the coast road (approximately 4 hours’ drive). Depending on your interests, you may wish to make stops to see mask-making in Ambalangoda, Buddhist temples, the beautifully landscaped Brief Garden or the beach resort of Bentota along the way. In Colombo, you have time in the afternoon to visit the sights of the city and indulge in some shopping. Optional: Colombo City Walk Once you have arrived in Colombo, you will have the chance to go on a guided personalised city walk through Colombo. This evening you will spend 3-4 hours exploring this fine city at dusk. You will be shown all the lesser known parts of Colombo; the secret alcoves, the historical landmarks, the fantastic architecture and Colombo’s beginnings as a tiny trading port.

After breakfast, you are transferred to the airport (approximately 1 hour’s drive).

Holiday price guide From about £2,880 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG03

Our prices include ● Return scheduled flights with Sri Lankan Airlines from London Heathrow to Colombo in economy class
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Negombo
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Sigiriya
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Kandy
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Nuwara Eliya in Tea Country
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Yala
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Galle
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in Colombo
● Private English-speaking chauffeur-guide in an air-conditioned Japanese car throughout the itinerary
● Entrance fees to the monuments listed
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Visas (A visa is a requirement for entry to Sri Lanka and can be obtained on line from www.eta.gov.lk)
● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, payable locally to the hotel
● Camera fees where applicable
● Optional excursions – to be pre-booked and at a supplement

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour
Negombo
Jetwing Sea Value option

Jetwing Sea is a 4-star boutique hotel in a stunning coastal location. Unmissable signature dining experiences and excellent spa facilities afford guests a luxuriously relaxing experience.

Standard room

Jetwing Beach Luxury option

Jetwing Beach is a luxury 4-star boutique hotel in a beautiful coastal location. Excellent spa facilities and a wide variety of dining facilities - including the unmissable signature dining experiences - afford guests a relaxing and idyllic experience.

Deluxe room

Sigiriya
Chaaya Village Value option

Chaaya Village in a beautifully secluded rural location. The luxury amenities and beautiful lake which is visited by wild elephants afford guests a truly sublime, tropical retreat.

Superior room

Jetwing Vil Uyana Luxury option

Jetwing Vil Uyana is a luxury boutique hotel in a stunning rural location. Oneness with nature is key to this hotel and guests can experience it in the cuisine, stunning grounds and excellent spa facilities.

Paddy or Marsh Dwelling

Kandy
Cinnamon Citadel Value option

The Cinnamon Citadel is a 4-star an impressive hotel in a beautiful riverfront location. The excellent cuisine and luxury accommodation make this an idyllic spot away from the bustle of Kandy.

Superior room

Theva Luxury option

Theva Residency is an exclusive, 4-star, romantic hotel with breath-taking views over the Kandy hills. Chic, modern luxury accommodation and delicious award-winning fusion cuisine afford guests a truly idyllic, secluded getaway from the bustle of Kandy.

Deluxe room

Tea Country
Jetwing St Andrews Value option

Jetwing St. Andrew's is a 4-star boutique hotel in a beautiful natural location. Colonial style and luxurious, lush gardens alongside delicious cuisine and exemplary service afford guests an idyllic experience in a secluded setting.

Superior room

Heritance Tea Factory Luxury option

The Heritance Tea Factory is an excellent 4-star hotel in a beautiful natural location. Guests will love the delicious cuisine and excellent spa facilities, but the main attraction is the opportunity to explore the tea picking process.

Superior room

Yala
Cinnamon Wild Value option

Cinnamon Wild is a luxury, eco-friendly hotel in a beautiful untamed location. The superb spa facilities and untamed beauty in the remote Sri Lankan countryside afford guests a truly serene and secluded experience.

Jungle chalet

Jetwing Yala Luxury option

Jetwing Yala is a luxury 5-star boutique hotel in a beautiful coastal location. Nestled between the Yala National Park and the Indian Ocean, guests can enjoy delicious cuisine and excellent spa facilities in this sublimely secluded retreat.

Superior room

Galle
The Fort Printers Value option

The Fort Printers Hotel is a charming, exclusive small boutique hotel in a fantastic central location. Excellent cuisine, luxurious accommodation and a serene walled garden with pool make this the ideal haven from the bustle of Galle.

Double room

The Fortress Luxury option

The Fortress is a 5-star hotel in a stunning beachfront location. Spacious, luxurious accommodation, excellent spa and dining facilities alongside immaculate service afford guests a truly relaxing and indulgent experience.

Fortress room

Colombo
Mount Lavinia Hotel Value option

The Mount Lavinia Hotel is a 4-star colonial hotel in a beautiful beachfront location. Delicious, refined cuisine, a scenic terrace bar and comfortable accommodation afford guests a relaxing and restorative retreat, in easy reach of Colombo.

Direct ocean view room

The Regency at The Galle Face Hotel Luxury option

The Galle Face Hotel is a 5-star hotel offering the utmost in colonial-style luxury, in an excellent beachfront location. Opulent accommodation, excellent spa facilities, delicious cuisine and exemplary service maintain the property's position as an icon of Colomban luxury.

Regency deluxe room

Holiday price guide

From about £2,880 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code SLDG03

Luxury touring holiday with driver-guide of the best of Sri Lanka staying in Cultural Triangle, Kandy, Tea Country, Galle and Colombo

About Colombo

Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, has gradually grown from humble beginnings as a tiny 5th century trading post for gems to become Sri Lanka’s largest city and its most important port. The island’s commercial capital is a hectic mix of old and new, colonial architecture sitting next to modern glass and tree-lined residential suburbs bordered by shacks. Nifty 3-wheelers and the occasional bullock cart vie with noisy buses and 4-wheel drives for supremacy on the streets. There is a lot to see and explore during your stay in Colombo. To the north of the city is Fort, a business area with shops and offices and touches of residual colonial charm. The fort which gave the district its name has long since gone, though the Lighthouse Clock Tower in North Chatham Street and the 18th century ‘Queen’s House’, now the president’s official residence, still exist. To the south is Galle Face Green, a sea-front expanse of green lawn beside an esplanade which is used to host race meetings and sports events and is a popular gathering place, especially for kite-flying or a sunset stroll. At its south end stands the colonial Galle Face Hotel, the oldest hotel in Colombo which was built in 1864. Further south is Cinnamon Gardens, the city’s most fashionable neighbourhood with tree-lined streets and colonial mansions. A small national art gallery borders the pleasant Viharamahadevi Park. The National Museum, on Albert Crescent, has a collection ranging from religious bronzes to possessions of the last Kandyan kings. All around the city, Buddhist temples, Hindu Kovils, mosques and churches give a glimpse into the spiritual vibrancy of Sri Lankan life, especially during religious festivals. Gangaramaya Buddhist temple, in particular, is fascinating for any visitor, as well as the Hindu Temple at Sea Street which is lined with goldsmith's shops, the Dutch Church at Wolfendal, dating back to 1749 and the historic Davatagaha Mosque. Colombo also offers some excellent shopping opportunities: the lively Pettah Bazaar competes with shopping malls and fashion stores and you can buy anything from gems to cricket bats. Stores such as Barefoot, Paradise Road, Gandhara and Odel have a designer-chic range of home ware, fabrics, arts & crafts and clothes.

Highlights of Colombo

Fashion, jewellery, art, trendy homeware and Sri Lankan arts and crafts; Golf at Royal Colombo golf course; National Museum; Variety of restaurants; Afternoon tea or cocktails on the Ocean terrace of the Galle Face Hotel; Walking along the seafront at Galle Face Green; Pettah Bazaar; Buddhist temples (Gangaramaya, Bellanwilla); Colourful Hindu Kovils (Sri Subramaniam and Kailawasanthan Swamidevasthanam, the oldest); Dutch period museum. Near Colombo – Kelaniya Raja Maha Temple; Nightclubs and musical entertainment e.g. jazz, Asian pop bands, calypso, (mainly in the hotels).

Festivals in Colombo

Navam Perahera held in February is a 3-day pageant ending on Poya day (full moon), with dance troupes and decorated elephants, at Gangaramaya temple and along neighbouring streets.

Climate in Colombo

Colombo has an average temperature of 27° C, often reaching above 30° C during the day, slightly cooler in the evenings and during the monsoon season (May to August). It is hot and sticky, less so on the seafront with the sea breezes.

Travel around Colombo and Sri Lanka

We include private transfers with all our holidays to Sri Lanka, and a personal chauffer with all our touring holidays. Driving Distances: Colombo to Colombo International airport: 1 hour Colombo to Bentota: 2 hours, Colombo to Galle: 2 hours, Colombo to Kandy: 3.5 hours, Colombo to Dambulla: 4 hours.

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