Pack your bags – the traditional charms of Sri Lanka await. Today you’ll catch a night flight, to minimise jetlag, and land in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.
You’ll start your Sri Lankan holiday as you mean to go on: with stylish accommodation, awe-inspiring views and fascinating historic sites. The magnificent rock-top fortress of Sigiriya is a scenic drive through the countryside from Colombo. Here you will find Vil Uyana’s clutch of romantic villas dotted amid emerald rice paddies. Have a rest and soak up the tranquil atmosphere: there’s a busy day ahead tomorrow.
In the 5th-century, King Kashyapa built his palace at Sigiriya on the top of a plug of volcanic rock that protrudes from the jungle. Its ruins can be explored after an exhilarating climb up teetering staircases. Drink in the views and descend with care. There’s more ancient wonder at the nearby Dambulla Rock Temples. These caverns from the 1st-century BC are festooned with over 150 images of the Buddha.
At Polonnaruwa, hundreds of ancient structures can be discovered in the well-preserved ruins of Sri Lanka’s medieval capital. Times past are brought vividly to life as you explore the tombs, temples, stupas and immense reclining Buddha carved into the rock. From medieval life to wildlife, you’ll enjoy a 4x4 safari in the forests and grasslands of Minneriya National Park. Look out for sambar deer, macaque and elephant.
Nestled in verdant-green hill country, Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. It is now the island's cultural heart, home to graceful colonial buildings, unique music and traditional dance. Kandy House, your charming boutique home for the next two nights, is set amid lush gardens on the city outskirts.
Located in the refreshing highlands, Kandy is easy to fall in love with. Begin your romance with a trip to the tranquil Peradeniya Botanical Gardens before exploring the countryside. Kandy's lakeshore, hills, markets, arts centres and museums are all top-class. Finish with an evening visit to the Temple of the Tooth, a reliquary for one of the Buddha’s alleged teeth.
Ride the rails to Hatton, cutting through prime tea country. A riot of leafy green spreads out before you as you gaze longingly through your train windows. Tea Trails, a cluster of colonial-era planters’ bungalows packed with period furnishings, is your home from home. And each bungalow has its own housekeeper, chef and butlers. You’ll certainly feel like an honoured guest!
You have a car and a private guide at your disposal today. Scenic walking trails link the bungalows, which are 5km to 15km apart. Venture a little further afield to make the pilgrimage up sacred Adam's Peak, atop which one of Buddha's footprints is said to reside. You could also enjoy a round of golf in cool, colonial-era Nuwara Eliya.
Drive down from Tea Trails along the south coast to the port city of Galle. Along the way you’ll pass many small fishing villages and secluded beaches. You’ll see fishermen mending their nets, pulling in their haul and relaxing in the hulls of their boats or in hammocks under the shade of a tree. Galle is a city with a colourful history and a Dutch colonial feel. It has a large fortress at its heart that simply begs to be explored.
Take leisurely strolls around Galle Fort, stopping to try local snacks, or to peer inside the city’s imposing churches. Depending on the weather, we can also recommend a cycling tour of the surrounding coast. Between November and April, a whale-watching trip is definitely on the cards. Humpback and blue whale can both be spotted here.
A short drive up the coast leads to Bentota. This resort town on the southwest coast is blessed with beautiful beaches and sweeping bays. Right on the beach, amid glorious gardens, is the boutique Paradise Road Villa. This will be your home for your final three nights.
Melt into Sri Lankan beach-life. Dip in the sea and pool, book a massage, dine on exquisite curries and sip tamarind martinis. If you’re still feeling energetic, there are watersports aplenty. You could also visit the nearby turtle hatchery where you can see the young rescued turtles. You may even be able to help release one into the sea.
After a sun-kissed break, it’s time to bid your farewells to this beautiful country. We’ll return to Colombo Airport in plenty of time to catch your flight back to the UK.