Curated Guide To Sri Lanka

Curated Guide To Sri Lanka

With a sudden rise in travel to Sri Lanka, wondering where to begin planning your trip? Here’s a concise, super-curated guide for your upcoming Sri Lankan holiday!



Stay: 20 mins away from the city, in a beautiful town called Lavinia, is Mount Lodge Boutique Hotel - a wonderful budgeted and clean place to stay.

What to do: Take 2-3 hours of your time to walk through the Colombo National Museum. If you’re starting your Sri Lankan trip here, its an in depth insight into their culture and history. 

Image 1: Colombo National Museum

Cross over to the other side from the museum via the Cinnamons Gardens, and arrive at Paradise Road, where an array of all-things-home with a Sri Lankan sensibility in design awaits. One of the chicest buildings you will see in Colombo, where the products inside this gorgeous building are even more gorgeous.

 For all the architects and design lovers, you cannot possibly leave Sri Lanka without seeing some of Geoffry Bawa’s work. His residence, Geoffry Bawa Residence, now open to public, can’t get more personal and engaging.

Where to eat:

A super cute cafe-cum-art gallery-cum shop, Barefoot is a must! The cafe serves very fresh Sri Lankan sandwiches, King Coconuts and of course a lot of other items. Be sure to walk around the shop where there is a variety of vibrant handwoven textiles, linens, clothes, recycled homeware, toys and more.

Head to Upali’s for dinner - known to be the best local cuisine in Colombo. A Lion Beer everywhere you go is in order!

If you decide to skip your hotel breakfast, Black Cat Cafe or Kopi Kade are excellent cafe options. Gallery Cafe is an absolute must in the evening. 



No trip to Sri Lanka should happen without visiting the UNESCO heritage site and the supposed ‘8th Wonder of the World’ - Sigiriya Rock. Set off in the morning before the sun gets too hot. The entire hike should take around 3-4 hours depending on your pace. Entries close at 4pm. 

Image 2: Stone at Sigiriya Rock 

Stay: Liyon Rest - very close to the Rock and clean. The owner’s son, Lakhman, is also a certified driver in case you need to travel inter-city after Sigiriya.

Drive an hour from Sigiriya to Dambulla to visit another UNESCO site, the Cave Temples. Its rich with heritage and an absolute cultural masterpiece.



Stay: Queen’s Hotel (centrally located) or Villa 49 (15 mins walk from the centre)

What to do: The Royal Botanical Garden is perhaps better than most that you have been to in Europe. If you’re up for a walk, try covering most of the garden (there are benches all over for a quick rest).

The Kandy Cultural Dance Show can be quite culturally driven, only if you have a front row seat; if not, it can be quite wasteful.

Walk through Kandy Lake during sunset, the views are spectacular.

Where to eat:

If you’re up to finding out the difference between Indian and Sri Lankan dosas, head to Balaji Dosai for ‘tossas’.

Queen’s Hotel sets a beautiful Victorian backdrop for a chilled Lion’s Beer or cocktails.

Perhaps the best place for some appetisers, any and all cocktails, is Royal Bar & Hotel. It oozes the charm of days gone by. If you are someone who wants to live the colonial life in the 20th century, this place is it.

 Image 3: Beautiful backdrop at The Royal Bar & Hotel 

Take the Ella Odyssey Train from Kandy to Ella to experience one of the best train rides in the world. A tip you didn’t read on the internet? Its a nine hour journey with no food served on the train. and almost always delayed. It would be advisable to take a shorter train journey if you really want to experience it at all.



Experience a surreal experience walking through the most exquisite train tracks, secret waterfalls and villages on your hike up to Ella Rock, followed by cafe hopping once you’re done and deserve the much awaited beer after a long hike. 

Image 4: On the way to hiking Ella Rock

If you’re not too tired post the hike, make a trip to the Nine Arches Bridge, it represents one of the best examples of colonial-era railway constructions in the country.



Stay: Gaga Bees Yala - if you’re thinking of the best way to have the Sri Lankan relaxation, you have to stay at Gaga Bees! Do not miss having at least one meal here and order the Sri Lankan Thali - guaranteed one of the best you will have.

Image 6: Sri Lankan Local Cuisine at Gaga Bees  

Start your day with a 4am in a Jeep, and head to the Yala National Park. If you’re lucky, you might spot a leopard. However, on a regular day, elephants, crocodiles, deers, and a few exotic birds is what you will find yourself spotting the most.



Stay: Green Casa, 20 minutes away from the main city is one of the cutest AirBnbs you will stay at. With a beautiful pool, and even better rooms, you are sure to immerse in Sri Lankan design sensibility here.

Where to shop: Find yourself at Peddlar Street, where its lined with cute little shops and cafes.

One of the best shops has got to be Stick No Bills. The whole store pays homage to Post-War Sri Lankan art, posters and post cards, and there is no better memorabilia than that you can take back with you.  


Image 6: Stick No Bills Store 

Exotic Roots Store, a little on the expensive side, but has a beautiful collection of clothes, accessories and homeware.

If you have missed Barefoot in Colombo, you’re lucky to catch it once again here. Their collection of tea has great packaging for the design & tea lovers.

Spa Ceylon is all things wellness and beauty with a great retail experience.

Where to eat:

Located in the premises of a heritage 17th-century Dutch building, the restaurant at Galle Fort Hotel is quite literally a wonderful journey, since they draw inspiration from the famous Spice Route. Pick the seating that faces the garden, it is so serene and tranquil.

Now rated No. 37, on World’s Top 50 Hotels, head to Amangalla for high tea, a beacon of nostalgia and luxury housed in a Heritage-listed fort.

Looking for a restaurant with uninterrupted views of the ocean? Head to Minute By Tuk-Tuk before sunset and catch the most wallpaper-like view of the water.

Apart from the shopping, button-like cute cafes and spectacular hotels, the most picturesque part of Galle is the Lighthouse and the Promenade.

Talk a walk through the Promenade, and literally walk yourself into the sunset.

Tips for first timers:

  • Exchanging money can be a little cumbersome. Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) is not easily available, however, 80% of places accept currencies like the USD, GPB or Euros. Do not exchange your money at the airport, the rates are extremely high.
  • If you are a smoker, cigarettes are not easily available in Sri Lanka. Best is to buy it at Duty Free.
  • If you’re up for an adventure, travel only via Tuk-Tuks within the city and the local bus inter-city. Ubers are a little pricey.
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