Voted Lonely Planet’s best country to visit in the world for 2019, Sri Lanka is having its much-deserved moment in the spotlight.
Famous for its tea plantations, elephant sanctuaries, temple ruins and Instagram-worthy train journeys, it’s a heady mix of colonial and cosmopolitan, wild and ever-developing. At the moment it’s still affordable and uncrowded, a perfect honeymoon spot to discover something new.
Where to Go in Sri Lanka
Almost all Sri Lankan honeymoons will start in the capital Colombo, a fast-paced city filled with culture and unmissable markets. The west coast is home to most beach resorts, but head inland for the verdant hill country and Sri Lanka's highest town of Nuwara Eliya. The ‘Cultural Triangle’ just north of Kandy is home to the extraordinary rock city of Sigiriya. North of Colombo is the Wilpattu Nationla Park, home to leopards, elephants and sloths.
On the opposite coast are whale-watching destination Trincomalee and its nearby beaches of Nilaveli and Uppuveli in the northeast and the up-and-coming beach towns of Passikudah and Batticaloa on the east coast.
When to Go to Sri Lanka
The two halves of Sri Lanka are the mirror opposites of each other when it comes to weather. When it's monsoon season in the east, it's sunny and dry on the west coast and vice versa. This is due to it being hit by two separate monsoons, and means you need to know which part of the island you're planning to go to.
If you want to go to the west or south, the best times are December to March. If you're planning to go to the north or east, choose from April to September. During October and November, you can get rainstorms almost anywhere on the island due to unsettled weather before the east coast monsoon hits.
What to See in Sri Lanka
Take a train ride over the Nine Arch Bridge to Ella, a village in the middle of the immaculate tea plantations of hill country. A short train ride away are the stunning Diyaluma Falls and Lipton’s Seat. Head on to the sacred mountain of Adam’s Peak, where you can set off in the middle of the night to reach the top for the most breathtaking sunset you’ll see.
For unspoilt paradise beaches, head to Tangalla on the south-east coast, and make the short trip to Hambantota to see the development projects set up after the 2004 tsunami.
Where to Stay in Sri Lanka
Ceylon Tea Trails
Elegant bungalows sit among this sprawling tea estate. Like stepping back in time, there are decadent high teas, lawn croquet, daily pre-dinner cocktails and butler service. All three pools at Ceylon Tea Trails are fed from mountain springs for one of the most refreshing dips you’ll experience.
Jungle Beach by Uga Escapes
Castaway-style thatched villas and a near-deserted beach will make you feel like you’ve stumbled on the best-kept secret in Sri Lanka at Jungle Beach. If that wasn’t romantic enough, staff will happily set you up a private lantern-lit beach picnic under the stars.
Twelve acres of manicured lawns sit on a promontory 40 metres above the Indian Ocean with 39 secluded residences and an infinity pool that seems to blend into the crystal sea. Sunsets at Cape Weligama are unforgettable.
Just 10 individually-decorated suites make up this boutique, couples-orientated hotel. Tea bushes as far as the eye can see stretch down to Koggala Lake. Kahanda Kanda feels like a complete escape, but beaches are just 15 minutes away and Galle 30 minutes away.
Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo
Whether you’re just flying into Colombo or making it a part of your stay, this fashionable, boutique hotel is in easy reach of the capital’s best art galleries, shops and museums. The chic Paradise Road hotel is Instagram-heaven, as is the food in their restaurant, considered some of the best in Sri Lanka.
How to Get to Sri Lanka
You can fly direct to Sri Lanka in 10.5 hours, although most flights will have a stopover, taking your flight time to around 14 hours. Most flights arrive into Bandaranaike International airport, just 22 miles from Colombo. You can hire a car, book a taxi or grab an Uber when you arrive.
You'll need to buy a visa online ahead of your arrival if you're staying for less than 30 days. You can get a visa on arrival but it may delay your trip and it's easy to get one beforehand.
Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date and you'll need a yellow fever vaccine certificate.