The Island Nation of Sri Lanka has fast become a very popular travel destination and attracts millions of visitors from across the Globe. Apart from its famous tea plantations, Sri Lanka has a lot more to offer to it’s visitors. From miles of sandy beaches to ancient rock formations and tropical forests. Sri Lanka is one of the wonders of Asia and a great Holiday destination. Lets find out How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

I had been hearing great things about this country and how it’s becoming a very popular holiday and volunteering destination from Australia, Europe and America. We visited Sri Lanka for the mid term October break.

Marco Polo described Sri Lanka as the finest island of its size in the world.

How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
7 Days in Sri Lanka.
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What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a tropical country with hot weather all year round. Depending on which side of the country you visit there are different times. The best time to visit the western side and the Hills is during winter, from December to March. This is also the peak tourist season in Sri Lanka. If you are looking for a beach holiday then avoid the monsoons which goes from May to September. During this period there is a lot of rain and the sea is rough.

How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Colombo – 7 Days in Sri Lanka

Our Travel Itinerary – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

How many days is enough for Sri Lanka? 7 days are enough to see most of the country but you can easily spend a few days, weeks or months and still not have enough of this island nation. It really depends on what you want out of your holiday in Sri Lanka. We were after a more relaxed holiday so decided to start in the capital Colombo and along the South western coast of the island.

  • Day 1: Arrive in Colombo.
  • Day 2: Explore the City.
  • Day 3: Drive from Colombo to Hikkaduwa.
  • Day 4: Visit Galle and Unawatuna
  • Day 5: Drive to Bentota
  • Day 6: Bentota River cruise and Kosgoda Sea Turtle hatchery.
  • Day 7: Drive from Bentota to Colombo.

A typical 7 days in Sri Lanka will cover –

  • Day 1: Arrive at Colombo and Explore the City.
  • Day 2: Drive to Kandy City and Sightseeing.
  • Day 3: Kandy to Yala National Park.
  • Day 4: Yala to Mirissa.
  • Day 5: Mirissa to Galle.
  • Day 6: Galle to Bentota.
  • Day 7: Bentota to Colombo.

Is Sri Lanka Safe for tourists?

Sri Lanka is quite safe to travel to now and attracts tourists from all over the World. While there are certain precautions travellers should take like visiting most countries it is largely safe for tourists. Sri Lanka was in turmoil between from 1983 and 2009 with a lot of civil unrest. But now it is safe and very dependant on Tourism.

How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Unawatuna Beach – 7 days in Sri Lanka

How to get to Sri Lanka?

The capital Colombo is well connected to most parts of Asia and Europe and served by most of the popular Airlines. We booked our flights in August and got a great deal with Emirates. Flying out from London to Sri Lanka in October is not very popular as of now. Total flying time from London to Sri Lanka on Emirates – 11 hrs excluding the 5 hrs stopover in Dubai. Flying out of London late afternoon we landed in the capital Colombo the following morning.

Do you need a Visa to visit Sri Lanka?

Yes, you need a visa to visit Sri Lanka. Visitors can register online and pick up your visa upon arrival in Sri Lanka. Complete Visa application online, pay visa fees using a credit /debit card and wait for the email confirmation. Usually takes less than 24 hours to get visa approved.

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7 days in Sri Lanka
Flying into Colombo

How to get around Colombo.

Travel time from Colombo airport to the city centre is roughly an hour depending on the traffic. Your options for transportation from the airport to the city is either bus or taxi. Make sure to fix a price before setting out if you chose the taxi. Once you are in the main city you can get around in a tuk-tuk – a fun way to travel in Colombo.

Where to stay in Colombo – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

In terms of accommodation there is plenty of choice between hotels, hostels and home stays depending on your budget and travel plans. Colombo has most of the popular hotels brands – For the best deals check Booking.Com below

Booking.com

We went with a local brand – The Cinnamon Group – It surely lived up to its reputation from the online reviews. They are a local chain with properties in all the major cities in Sri Lanka.

Our Hotel in ColomboThe Cinnamon Grand Colombo was in the heart of the city with several restaurants and a large outdoor pool. After checking in we relaxed by the pool and caught up on some well-deserved rest after the long journey from London.

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Things to do in Colombo –

The first two days were spent visiting the various tourist sites and sampling the local cuisine in many cafe’s and restaurants the city has to offer. Colombo is a modern city with shops, malls, cafes and some swanky bars and restaurants.

A well planned city with a choice of local transport, available at a reasonable prices.

Best way to travel in Colombo? The rickshaw rides are available everywhere and are an economical mode of transport within the city.

Day 1 – Colombo – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

A great way to travel in Colombo – we hired a Tuk Tuk (rickshaw) for a few hours and went around the city visiting some of the popular tourist attractions. Our driver was very knowledgeable and pleasant knowing most of the tourist attractions at the back of his hand.

He showed us around the city stopping at the Barefoot Cafe. The cafe is a popular with both locals and tourists. We picked up some local handicrafts and the famous Ceylon Tea. Sri Lanka is famous for its tea plantations so make sure you sample some of the best teas here.

Back to the hotel and after a short snooze we headed to Taj Samudra Hotel for our very first dinner in Sri Lanka.

What to eat in Colombo? Colombo is a foodie’s paradise, especially when it comes to seafood, fiery curries, flavourful pickles and a local speciality the Coconut Roti.

7 days in Sri Lanka
thetrravellers – TukTuk ride Colombo.
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Buddhist temple Colombo
7 days in Sri Lanka - Colombo

Day 2 – Colombo – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

Started the day visiting some of the other tourist attractions followed by a visit to a local school which is helped by a volunteering programme from the U.K. This was suggested by a friend back home who has been working closely with this programme. The kids loved the experience and it was quite interesting to see them interact with the local children. Sri Lanka is fast becoming a popular destination for volunteering programmes and was a pleasure to see the work of these organisations. Great to see how they help and develop some of the under privileged children here.

Discover the opportunities with Volunteering Journeys

Lunch at Paradise Road Cafe

Next stop was lunch at the The Paradise Road café and yes it was worth a visit. It is a beautiful colonial style bungalow converted into a cafe and art gallery.

Stroll along Galle Beach front and a game of Cricket

A walk along the popular Galle beach front is quite enjoyable and very popular with both tourists and locals. We walked along the sea front enjoying the cool breeze whilst the kids enjoyed a game of cricket with the locals.

7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Walk along Galle Beach front – Colombo.

Afternoon Tea at the Galle Face Hotel

The famous Galle Face Hotel was founded in Colombo in 1864, is one of the oldest hotels east of Suez built by four British entrepreneurs. The Galle Face hotel building itself has remained largely unchanged until the present day. It takes you back in time and a great place to enjoy your Afternoon Tea.

It became the first hotel in Sri Lanka to be featured on a postage stamp.

How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Galle Face hotel lawn.
7 Days in Sri Lanka.
The famous Galle Face Hotel – Colombo
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Dinner at the Ministry of Crab – and the Dutch Quarter.

The Dutch Hospital building is one of the oldest buildings in Colombo’s Fort area. As the name suggests, it was once a hospital that served the Dutch East India Company workers. It is now transformed to an upmarket quarter with restaurants, stores and home to the much talked about sea food restaurant – Ministry of Crab. The Quarter is an impressive colonial building with teak beans, wooden staircases and verandas. A great place to spend the evening in Colombo.

The Ministry of Crab –  A trip to Colombo would be incomplete for a sea food addict without a meal at this restaurant. The Ministry of Crab is a celebration of Sri Lanka’s seafood. The menu is specially prepared by the head chef Dharshan and as the name suggests – The Crabs are the stars of the show. with

TipsTry the signature dish of Ministry of Crab – Pepper Crab. and Baked Crab on the menu. Ministry of Crab is a culinary delight and not to be missed. It will pinch your pocket compared to Sri Lanka prices.

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The pepper crab – Ministry of Crab
7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Live crab counter – Ministry of Crab

My list of top things to see in Colombo.

  • Take you blessings at the Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple.
  • Walk along Galle Face Green.
  • Visit the Dutch Museum
  • Pay your respect to the martyrs at Independence Square
  • Mount Lavinia Beach.
  • Afternoon Tea at the Galle Face Hotel.
  • Sample the vibrant night-life in Colombo’s bars, clubs and casinos.
  • Sample the history of Sri Lanka at the National Museum.
  • Discover the Colonial Buildings In The Fort Area.
  • Gangaramaya Temple.
  • Shop for some Ceylon Tea
  • Visit the Beira Lake.
  • Spend the evening at the Old Dutch Hospital quarter.
  • Wander the streets of Pettah.
  • Visit the Barefoot cafe for a cold beer.
  • Tuk Tuk ride to Park Mews – a small lane with 8-10 bars.
  • The best Local cuisine @ Nuga Gama @ The Cinnamon Grand Hotel.
How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
7 Days in Sri Lanka.
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Day 3 – Colombo to Hikkaduwa – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

Day 3 – We say our goodbyes to the capital Colombo and head to the coastal strip for some much awaited beach fun. If you are travelling by road like we did – avoid the peak rush hours as traffic in Colombo can get heavy. We left the hotel late morning to avoid the traffic and yes it was a good idea.

How to travel in Sri Lanka Internally-

There are a few options to travel in Sri Lanka – The more affordable mode would be to use local trains and buses. There is a good network of busses though out the country. A more comfortable yet affordable ( compared to Europe and UK) way to travel is to hire a private taxi in Sri lanka. Rough cost of a (private taxi) from Colombo to Hikkaduwa costs under £50 and takes roughly 2.5 hrs ( traffic dependant).

How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Sunset – Hikkaduwa – 7 days in Sri Lanka

We reached our hotel The Hikka Tranz part of the Cinnamon Group in the afternoon. Quick check in and we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the beautiful beach and pool area of the hotel.

Highlight of Hikka Tranz – The hotel has a large pool area and a private beach famous for the lovely sea turtles that come to feed on its shore every day. It is a beautiful property and highly recommended if you are in this area.

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Swimming with Hikkaduwa Turtles –

The Hikkaduwa turtles are usually found swimming around this hotel which a bit away from the main Hikkaduwa Beach and less crowded. It was a great experience seeing these majestic animals swim around in the shallow waters and the kids absolutely loved feeding them. The locals take great care of these beautiful gentle animals.

Tips – You can take short day tours to the many Turtle farms around Hikkaduwa.

Day 4 – Galle and Unawatuna – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

Day 4 – Early start and we head to the historic town of Galle. The old fortified quarter is the administrative capital of the Southern province of Sri Lanka and is a major city. Galle was the main maritime port for the country for over 200 years, with a rich historic past.

We hired a taxi for the day which cost us roughly £50. Our journey from Hikkaduwa to Galle and onto the beach town of Unawattuna.

Galle - How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Galle – 7 days in Sri Lanka

Galle was known as Gimhathiththa  before the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century. It was the main port on the island. Galle is the best example of a fortified city built by the Portuguese in south east Asia. The city was extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century.

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The Galle Fort

The Galle Fort is a world heritage site and the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers.

7 days in Sri Lanka
Galle Catherdal

Things to see in Galle

Other prominent landmarks in Galle include the city’s natural harbour, the National Maritime Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Shiva temple, and Amangalla, the historic luxury hotel. On 26 December 2004, the city was devastated by the massive tsunami, which occurred off the coast of Indonesia a thousand miles away. Thousands were killed in the city alone. Galle is also home to the Galle International Stadium, considered to be one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world. The ground, which was severely damaged by the tsunami, was rebuilt and test matches resumed.

We walked through the rustic city and the famous Galle light house. After a sumptuous lunch headed to the beach town of Unawatuna.

Galle Lighthouse - How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Galle Lighthouse 7 days in Sri Lanka
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Things to do in Unawatuna

Unawatuna is a small beach town in southern Sri Lanka and a 30 minutes from Galle. It is known for its coral reef and palm lined beaches. The most popular beach is the Unawatuna Beach.

You can also visit the Japanese Peace pagoda nestled in the nearby jungle with scenic views of the ocean. There are a few Sea Turtle Farm south of Unawatuna which protect endangered species.

Unawatuna Beach - How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Unawatuna Beach – 7 days in Sri Lanka
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There is a good selection of guest houses and restaurants around Unawatuna as this part of Sri Lanka is very popular with travellers. Unawatuna is a great place to relax and enjoy golden sunsets. This is a more peaceful beach. The kids enjoyed the beach followed by a walk along in the narrow streets with shops and cafes. It was time to head back to our hotel.

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Unawatuna Beach - How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Unawatuna Beach – 7 days in Sri Lanka

Dinner was mainly at the beach side restaurant of our hotel which served local delicacies and fresh seafood.

Unawatuna Beach - 7 days in Sri Lanka
Fresh crabs on the menu for dinner.

There are a few restaurants and cafe’s dotted along the main street of Hikkaduwa town if you fancy eating out of your hotel.

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Day 5 – Bentota – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

The next 2 days were spent in in Bentota enjoying sun,surf and sand. Bentota is a premier resort town on Sri Lanka’s south-western coast half way between Hikkaduwa and Colombo. Bentota is known as the water sport capital of Sri Lanka.

The Bentota Beach stretches a few kilometers up to Paradise Island where it runs parallel to the Bentota Lagoon.

A short distance from Bentota is the century-old Galapota Temple which has a large Buddha statue.

Bentota Beach - How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Bentota Beach – Sri Lanka

On our way to Bentota from Hikkaduwa we visited some of the villages that were completely destroyed by the tsunami and re built. A great example of the courage and resilience of the people of Sri Lanka.

Our Hotel in Bentota – Centara Ceysands Bentota

We checked into our hotel which had a great location. The hotel is located on an island between the Bentota River on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other. The only way to access the resort is by a short boat ride across the lagoon. It is a short distance from the main town and Aluthgama station.

Most of the day was spent relaxing by the pool and enjoying the beach. The hotel has a private beach but you can walk all the way to the main Bentota beach.

Things to do in Bentota

There is a busy market area in the centre of Bentota town. Perfect place to experience the local life and shop for some souvenirs. There are a few restaurants and cafes as well where you can sample local Sri Lankan cuisines.

We spent the evening walking around the town and retired to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

7 days in Sri Lanka
Centara Ceysands – Bentota.
Bentota Beach - 7 days in Sri Lanka
Bentota Beach

Day 6 – Bentota – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

Day 6 started with a River Safari on the Bentota river followed by a visit to the Turtle farm.

River Boat Safari – Bentota

The Bentota river is the third largest river in the country and is a great place to spot reptiles and birds. The river cruise is a relaxing cruise, that takes you through the mangroves and also give an insight into the village life. Some tours include a stop at a village with an authentic village style rice and curry lunch.

Kosgoda Sea Turtle Protection Association. 

Sri Lanka is a popular destination for Sea Turtle enthusiasts from around the world. There are now many Sea Turtle Hatcheries along the coast but some have stood the test of time and have been doing a fabulous job for many years. The main aim of the project is to monitor local sea turtle activity and conserve their local nesting sites.

Day 6 - Bentota - How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Turtle Hatchery – Bentota

One of the most important activities of the project is its hatchery. You can get a chance to release young turtles back into their natural habitat if you are lucky.

Day 6 - Bentota - 7 days in Sri Lanka
Turtle Hatcheries along the coast.

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We returned to the hotel just in time for that golden sunset.

How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.
Sunset – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

As the sun set we walked along the beach for the last time leaving our foot prints on the golden sands of Bentota.

Day 7 – Bentota – How to spend 7 Days in Sri Lanka.

Our last day on this paradise island and we head back to Colombo. We had an evening flight from Colombo so we left the hotel in the afternoon. A late breakfast followed by some time on the golden sands of Bentota Beach.

How long is the drive from Bentota to Colombo? It took us roughly 3 hrs to drive from Bentota to Colombo, including a refreshing pit stop at the services on The EO1, the first expressway in Sri Lanka. The expressway is the main artery which connects most of island country.

Soon we were in Colombo airport ready to board our flight back home.

What an experience, from the hustle and bustle of Colombo to the quiet calm waters of the Bentota river. Pristine sandy beaches and turtle conservation hatcheries, jungles and mountains all on this beautiful island called Sri Lanka.

Do you like Beach Holidays? Discover some of the most stunning beaches in Cancun and The Algarve.

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10 Things to do in Algarve
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84 COMMENTS

  1. Wow I can only quote Walt Disney seeing this ‘ You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality’

    Brilliant Amar 👍

  2. Wonderful pictures of Colombo! I would like to make it out there myself one day while it’s still not flooded with tourists. Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a lovely adventure you all had! I’ve never been to Sri Lanka but it looks incredible. The Galle Fort is interesting, and the seafood looks very impressive too! Love the name Ministry of Crab, you surely know what you’ll be eating! Really hope to visit there one day!

  4. You don’t even want to know how many years Sri Lanka has been on my wishlist to visit! It looks like you had a wonderful time there. I love the mix of culture, food, architecture, history, wildlife, natural landscapes… such a great variety.

  5. Oh wow I’d love to stay at an hotel with turtles. Funnily enough I’m going for afternoon tea in London today so I’d definitely be up for that in Colombo. It’s a nice end to end tiring days of sightseeing

  6. Wow! What a lovely experience pairing relaxed hotel stays, delicious cuisines and cultural doses! I love the ambience of the hotels you stayed in as well as the architecture of the iconic buildings. Looks like you guys had a lot of fun. Sri Lanka is a great place to visit and it’s been on my bucket list for so long. I think it’s high time I plan my trip. Thanks for sharing the details of your trip as well as the amazing photographs.

  7. You did so many amazing things. You second hotel with the turtles sounded amazing. I also loved learning about the European influence in this region. I was also impressed by how modern so many parts are. I’ve never been to Asia so it’s always new information for me.

  8. I think Sri Lanka makes for a good family vacation. I was there last year and had only 5 days so I did Colombo (honestly, I did not like the city at all), Bentota, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. My favourite was Nuwara Eliya, with all its tea estates, forests, tree houses, lakes, British architecture and cute town area. Bentota was also fun! You managed to spend more than a day in Colombo, its nice. I got restless after a few hours!

  9. Sri Lanka is an amazing place. I loved the beaches of Kandy. The hotel with the turtles sounds interesting. Your comprehensive points And points will make more people to include Sri Lanka in their travel list.

  10. So timely! I’ve been reading a few posts about Sri Lanka as my partner and I are heading there for 3 weeks in December! Is this a good season, aye? And how the crab? Ministry of crab is famous here? Does it have good prices? We must not miss this! Ahh, so nice to see this post really! I could keep coming back to reading it if we needed more information about our upcoming trip! And so it’s so real that Sri Lanka has gorgeous beaches!

  11. Oh I love all of your pictures, they are really enticing me to plan a trip to Sri Lanka. All the sights you listed above are definitely a must visit in Sri Lanka. Its good the little ones are also enjoying themselves here. Thanks for sharing the detailed info on Sri Lanka, would love to visit someday.

  12. I think Sri Lanka is one of those destinations that’s perfect for some winter sunshine. The Cinnamon Grand Columbo looks like my kind of hotel, I love the elegant interiors. The capital itself is interesting, especially with the stone sculptures attractions, I’d be sure to take a rickshaw around the streets too!.

  13. Seems like you had a fun and memorable trip! I especially love the historic town of Galle. It looks so different from the other places you visited. The Portuguese architectures are so unique. Unawatuna seems like a great place to unwind and relax!

  14. Srilanka seems like such a fantastic destination. Loved the pictures of Colombo, Galle and the beaches. I would definitely make a visit there sometime soon!

  15. Hey, this post brought back freshest memories. I visited Sri Lanka at the turn of the year in December. I quite liked the country. I dint know about the volunteering activities but I did a food walk in Old Colombo which was very interesting. Also in the places to eat, you must add Upali’s name. They serve great authentic food.

  16. Ahhh how I would like to visit Sri Lanka and your post has made me envious! Your hotel that you stayed, Cinnamon Grand Colombo looks amazing! And I do like the sound of riding a tuk tuk around to explore. Also I appreciate the range of volunteer programs that you can partake in. I’d love to travel here one day!

  17. looks like a great way to escape a cold and grey winter elsewhere

    Though I find the Ministry of Crab name for a seafood restaurant to be really funny. Like its’ the official govt office that deals with all crab related issues……..ahahahha

  18. I would love to visit the Turtle Farms you mentioned one day. I like that their are tours available to see them but more so that the locals are caring for them (to protect these beautiful creatures). I love that you are not only recounting your travels in this post but also promoting environmental awareness.

  19. I’m from Bangalore and I have always been a huge fan of this teardrop nation. I too loved Sigiriya and Galle. My most memorable was the whale watching off the Galle coast. It was breathtaking!

  20. I was in Sri Lanka 2 months ago and I loved it. I want to go back again. I just realized I missed some of the places in Colombo after reading your blog. My personal favourite was Galle. Everything from atmosphere to landscape to buildings transported me to a different world altogether. Lovely country!

  21. Wow what a great holiday. Looks like you had a great time. Some great tips for eating out as well. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Sri Lanka looks so beautiful! I love that you showed both the busyness and the relaxing part of Sri Lanka. I wouldn’t mind taking a dip in that pool and ocean! If I every get to Sri Lanka I will definitely read this article again for inspiration 🙂

  23. Sri Lanka has been in my bucket list for ages. You have just made me even more determined to get there! I love your hotel, especially the day bed in the balcony! How lucky you were to be involved in the sea turtle conversation. Sounds like an amazing trip!

  24. Sri Lanka just looks like the perfect relaxing getaway where you can enjoy and appreciate the fascinating history as well as the beautiful nature. The beaches there look just fabulous and staying at that hotel on it’s own island? Sounds like a slice of paradise to me!

  25. These pictures are amazing! Looks like you had a lot of fun for a nice mid-fall break! Your hotel also looked amazing, I’m super jealous! I hope I get to visit there someday! Thank you for the lovely post

    • Sri Lanka is an amazing upcoming tourism destination and I would highly recommend to everyone

  26. After reading about your amazing experience in Sri Lanka, I want to visit even more! The relaxed hotel stays, delicious cuisines and cultural doses sound so appealing! Sri Lanka is a great place to visit and it’s been on my bucket list for so long. I think it’s high time to tick it off the list 🙂

  27. In my opinion Sri Lanka can you leave you with ambivalent thoughts: not he one hand it has extremely beautiful nature on the other hand it’s very dirty and chaotic.

  28. Sri Lanka is so beautiful and I see how apt the title is. The sea is gorgeous. The hotel also looks really exotic. Would love to visit Sri Lanka soon.

  29. I can’t wait to visit Sri Lanka and this article will be bookmarked for future reference. Thank you for all the information and tips. I love the lists of where to eat. The Cinnamon Grand looks like a hotel that I would book – it looks beautiful and very comfortable.

    • Sri Lanka is surely a great place to visit all year round. Would highly recommend cinnamon grand or taj in Colombo

  30. So lovely and beautiful! I always wanted to go to SL but always found some other alternate to this vacation! Enjoyed reading your post 🙂

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