Take the family on an unforgettable journey through magical Sri Lanka

Naturally gorgeous, culturally captivating and steeped in mysticism, Sri Lanka makes for a wonderful introduction to both travel and the Indian subcontinent. Discover temples carved from cliffs in Dambulla and fortresses built on boulders in Sigiriya. Cycle through peaceful scenes of village life and tour working tea plantations in the hill country around Bandarawela. Visit the country's most significant religious relic, the Temple of the Tooth, in Kandy and see where Sri Lanka's last royals sat in Polonnaruwa. Safari through Uda Walawe National Park in search of leopards and monkeys, see baby elephants up close at a rescue centre and chill out by the beach in Tangalle. Educational, active and leisurely paced, this trip is everything you could want in a family getaway.


Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Country
Sri Lanka
Style
Original
Code
HHFL
Physical rating
Ages
Min 5
Group size
Min 2, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Take in sweeping vistas of the outlying terrain from Sigiriya's rock-top fortress

  • Spy elephants in their natural habitat at Uda Walawe National Park and see rescued infants up close at the onsite Elephant Transit Home

  • Learn the steps of traditional Kandyan dance during lessons with the locals

  • Soak up some beach time along the pristine, palm-fringed sands of Tangalle

Is this trip right for you?

  • Though its equatorial position means fairly constant year-round temperatures, the summer months in Sri Lanka are very hot with short, sharp monsoons in the south-west of the country. Be sure to use adequate sun protection and drink plenty of water.

  • We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

Itinerary

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Known as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, the island offers travellers palm-studded beaches, rolling plantations, and sacred sights steeped in spirituality. There are no activities planned today until your group welcome meeting at 6pm. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these with you.

If arriving in Negombo earlier, settle in to your hotel room and spend some time poolside or head out on an explore of the neighbourhood.
Accommodation
  • Paradise Beach Hotel or Similar (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In the morning after breakfast drive inland to Dambulla and the “dry zone” in the heart of Sri Lanka's cultural triangle (approximately 4 - 5 hours). Dumbulla is home to vibrantly decorated cave-temples and a great base from which to explore the area's wide array of natural wonders and historic sites. Continue to the Palwehera area of Dambulla, famous for its mangoes, and rest up in your eco-friendly accommodation, surrounded by green gardens and vast green paddy land. The evening is free to relax.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we drive from Dambulla to Sigiriya (approximately 30 minutes). Here you’ll have the chance to shake off any cobwebs with a climb/leisurely walk back in time to the top of enormous Sigiriya rock and its elaborate ancient fortress.
You'll continue on to Giritale this afternoon (approx 1 hour) where you can enjoy some free time and perhaps take a swim in the hotel pool to cool down.
Included Activities
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning after breakfast we will enjoy a leisurely cycle around the Sri Lankan countryside so see how rural Sri Lankan life is as we cycle through villages before enjoying a Sri lankan lunch.
We will head up to explore Polonnaruwa in the evening, once the capital and a thriving religious and commercial centre, you'll have time to explore the area before heading back to your accommodation in Giritale for tonight.
Accommodation
  • Giritale Hotel or Similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Giritale - Bike ride with lunch
  • Giritale - Polonnaruwa Site
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Rise early for a guided tour of Dambulla's cave complexes and World Heritage Site, the Golden Temple of Dambulla. While more than 80 caves have been documented in the surrounding area, our time here will be spent in the five main ones, which house 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. From here we'll travel on to Kandy, stopping in at a spice farm en route to see how some of the country's most important exports are cultivated. A traditional Kandyan dance show will welcome your arrival at tonight's hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Senani or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Cultural Dance & Fire Walking Show
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Encircled by verdant hill country and home to a picturesque lake, bustling market, old shops and some great restaurants, Kandy is one of Sri Lanka's most pleasant cities. It was at one time also home to Sri Lanka's last king, who managing to resist European control long after the coastal areas had surrendered. This morning you’ll visit Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth), which houses the country's most sacred relic: a tooth said to be the Buddha's. Pilgrims have been coming to pay homage at this site since the 16th century. Visit the magnificent Peradeniya Botanical Gardens with its immense fig tree and impressive orchid collection. Considered among the finest botanical gardens in all of Asia, this is a great spot for the kids to run around in. Next up, learn the steps to traditional Kandian dancing during some lessons from local performers.

Family tip;
When visiting the Temples you have to take your hats and shoes off, do not leave your shoes at the side of the road or the monkeys will run off with them. Store them with the ‘shoe keepers’ for a small charge or put them in your rucksack.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Senani or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Temple of Tooth
  • Kandy - Traditional Kandiyan Dancing Class
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leaving Kandy, travel by bus through the green ranks of tea bushes that cover the higher hillsides on your way to Kitulgala (a journey of approximately 3 hours). Located in thick forest on Sri Lanka’s second-longest river, the Kelani, Kitulgala is rapidly becoming something of an adventure centre. The river, which is where, doubling for Thailand, ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ was filmed, is an ideal location for swimming and other water-based activities. While here you'll embark on a nature walk in search of wildlife in Bandarakele and there is the option to go white water rafting. Tonight's accommodation, the Kithulgala Rest house, is set on the banks of the Kelani is rather rustic.
Included Activities
  • Bandarakele - Nature Walk
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast we hit the road by private bus past lush green hills and gushing waterfalls to Nuwara Eliya (approximately 2 hours). This old British hill station is the heart of the tea growing industry and full of colonial charm. Built entirely during the 19th century, its old world architecture reflects what you might normally expect to find in an English country village. Once referred to as 'Little England' by British colonialists, it’s a fascinating mix of water buffalo and brick Victorian buildings, golf courses and tea plantations. En-route you will visit Devon and St Clair's waterfalls – the 97 metre high Devon waterfall is one of the most scenic in the country, while St Clair is sometimes exaggeratedly called the ‘Little Niagara of Sri Lanka’. Devon Falls are named after a pioneering English coffee planter – the failure of those plantations due to disease lead to the cultivation of tea, and the rest is history. Later this morning we’ll visit a tea factory to learn about the production of the country’s most important export (and sample a few brews, of course). After lunch we board the train bound for Bandarawela and head to our accommodation and enjoy the views across the hills and tea plantations.
Accommodation
  • Orient Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Nuwara Eliya - Tea factory Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After a few days on the road, today runs at a bit of a slower pace. Bandarawela is an unhurried, unpretentious hill-country town that exists to supply the needs of the tea plantation workers and their families. The people of Bandarawela enjoy a simple way of life, where school children and grandparents work together harvesting their crops and tending their livestock. Another distinctive feature of Bandarawela is the colonial flavour still preserved in the many old buildings, including the Bandarawela Hotel and the old Cargill’s Supermarket. We'll enjoy a leisurely morning walk through the countryside, past tea pickers plucking the tips of the plants and throwing them into the baskets on their backs.
Tonight we stop in at a local family for some traditional, home-cooked Sri Lankan food.
Accommodation
  • Orient Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bandarawela - Cookery Demonstration and Local Meal
  • Bandarawela - Country side trek
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
After a hearty breakfast and 9am check-out, drive to Uda Walawe National Park (approximately 3 hours). This park has an amazing array of animal and birdlife, with more herds of wild elephant than anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Following lunch, discover how this majestic creature has been part of Sri Lankan culture for centuries during a visit to the nearby Elephant Transit Home. Run by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation, ETH provides shelter for orphaned or abandoned baby elephants with the aim of releasing them into the wild. Arriving at a viewing platform at feeding time ensures you'll get to see the elephants only metres away! Once feeding is over, hop in a jeep for a safari inside the park. Wildlife regularly spotted here includes macaques and larger monkeys, spotted deer, crocodiles and sometimes even leopards. This is a real safari experience, nothing like a zoo or safari park – truly an adventure for all ages!

Family tip;
Don’t forget your camera!
Accommodation
  • Wild Trails - Luxury Camp or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Udewalawa - Elephant Transit Home Visit
  • Udewalewa - Park Entrance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Time for a bit of beachside R&R. Checking out at 9am, drive to the seaside town of Tangalle. With its calm waters, pristine sands and palm-fringed shores, this is just the place to get your beach fix. Arriving at Tangalle by lunchtime, you'll have a whole afternoon to spend either at the beach or lounging about by the pool. The rest of the day is free until our included dinner tonight.
Accommodation
  • Portofino Hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Enjoy a morning at your leisure, either with more beach time, a leisurely local breakfast of hoppers and fresh fruit or perhaps learning the rules of Carrom. In the afternoon we pay a visit to a nearby turtle conservation project, where you'll have the opportunity to see these endangered critters up close and hear about the important work being done to save them. Depending on the season, there might also be the chance to head out on a whale-watching excursion.
Accommodation
  • Portofino Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tangalle - Turtle conservation project
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Today we check out of our hotel in the morning after breakfast and head towards Colombo. On our way we will visit the Tangalle fish market ( this is closed on a full moon and some other public holidays) before we visit the Royal Dutch Fort in Galle and arrive in Colombo after lunch. Here you can explore the city or just relax and unwind in the hotel's pool.
Accommodation
  • Ozo Hotel Colombo or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tangalle - Fish Market
  • Galle Dutch Fort
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your Sri Lankan family holiday concludes this morning after breakfast.There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. Additional accommodation is available through your booking agent at the time of booking your trip.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners

Transport

Private bus, train, cycle

Accommodation

12 nights Hotel, 1 night Luxury Camping

Included activities

  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Giritale - Bike ride with lunch
  • Giritale - Polonnaruwa Site
  • Kandy - Cultural Dance & Fire Walking Show
  • Kandy - Temple of Tooth
  • Kandy - Traditional Kandiyan Dancing Class
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens
  • Bandarakele - Nature Walk
  • Nuwara Eliya - Tea factory Visit
  • Bandarawela - Cookery Demonstration and Local Meal
  • Bandarawela - Country side trek
  • Udewalawa - Elephant Transit Home Visit
  • Udewalewa - Park Entrance
  • Tangalle - Turtle conservation project
  • Tangalle - Fish Market
  • Galle Dutch Fort

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Important notes

Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.

Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.

A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 14 years and under at time of travel.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Sri Lanka Family Holiday trips score an average of 4.2 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.

Sri Lanka Family Holiday, December 2016

Michelle Read

Sri Lanka Family Holiday, July 2016

Melissa Gardner