27 best things to do in Sri Lanka
It’s Sri Lanka time! Our paradise island is filled with excitement, beauty and much to do and see all year round. Ride the waves, hike the mountains or leap on the winds. Laze on the beaches or in cosy hill cottages. Most importantly treat your taste buds to delicious island cuisine. Ayubowan and Vanakkam, we hope you experience all the island has to offer… Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere. You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.
Best in Asia
For this third annual Best in Asia list, Lonely Planet’s in-house Asia experts have named “eclectic” and “vibrant” Busan, South Korea, as the number one destination; while the jewelled architecture and ancient cities of Uzbekistan are in second place; and in third comes Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, “a supercity that somehow keeps getting cooler”. “Asia is such a vast and diverse continent for anyone dreaming of an escape,” Lonely Planet’s Asia- Pacific Media Spokesperson, Chris Zeiher says. “Our experts have combed through thousands of recommendations to pick the best destinations to visit over the next 12 months”. “From Nagasaki in Japan, to Arugam Bay in Sri Lanka,” Chris says, “this is a line-up to inspire a multitude of travellers – whether they’re based in Asia, or maybe they’ve already visited some of the region’s heavy-hitting destinations”. Top 10 destinations to visit in 2018
January High Five 2019
As the New Year dawns, Sri Lanka is brimming with excitement and fresh beginnings, and the opportunity to discover its beautiful destinations. The annual Duruthu Perahera in Kelaniya emanates spirituality and is ideal to appreciate the cultural and traditional heritage of the country. Throughout the island nation, there is a lively atmosphere as January brings with it many festivities to usher in the year 2019. We wish you a Happy New Year!
27 most exciting ways to explore Sri Lanka!
Known for warm-hearted hospitality, harmonious multiculturalism, a heritage that extends for millennia, awe-inspiring art and craft, and exotic dishes, Sri Lanka presents a wealth of things to do and see for the traveller. Arugambay Get ready for the East Coast! – listed as one of the top ten places to visit in Asia, the picturesque tea country, quaint Galle Fort Galle Fort, and golden beaches scattered along the island’s shoreline are among the myriad of places to visit. Time Out Sri Lanka wants to make sure you do not miss out on any of these wonderful explorations. The DO List is based on the first-hand experiences and recommendations of Time Out Sri Lanka’s adventure-seeking writers. Discover the best of Sri Lanka, encounter the island in true Sri Lankan style and live through one-of-a-kind adventures that have been our personal favourites. Including places to visit, things to do, flavours to savour and sights to behold, each destination and dish has been selected to ensure you will have a fulfilling journey in your travels across the country. The experience is personalised with a ‘hint’, a discovery from our own explorations to ensure you ‘Don’t Miss’ out on making unforgettable memories. Check off your bucket list right here in Sri Lanka! If it’s on the DO List, we guarantee that you are in for a treat of a lifetime… Tried our recommendations and had the time of your life? Then spread the word with the hashtag #TimeOutDOList
The season in the south begins
From popular beaches, to hidden coves to waves ideal for surfing, the beachside is buzzing with life. Away from the laidback ambience of the beaches, culture, traditions and history weave a perfect backdrop for a vacation packed with adventure. Birds Visit the many national parks including Kumana and Bundala to witness a host of birds. During this season, migratory birds flock to Sri Lanka, attracted by the tropical temperate climate. Surfing The surfing season in the South begins in October and goes on until April. The weather conditions are ideal with perfect waves. Popular surfing locations such as Mirissa, Hikkaduwa, and Weligama as well as lesser-known surf points such as Hiriketiya invite beginners, intermediates, enthusiasts and professionals to surf the day away. Galle Fort Originally a small fort, made with mud and palm trees by the Portuguese. The Dutch later seized control of Galle in 1640 and improved upon the fort. A rampart that encircled and isolated the area from the mainland was constructed. Houses with ornately gabled low roofs, wide doorways, long colonnaded verandas and courtyards bordered the narrow but straight streets. The British later added a new gateway tunnelled through a rampart. Today, the Fort has been renovated and given a fresh life, featuring chic cafés, boutique restaurants and high-end shops. Explore its streets and witness Dutch architecture and a wealth of history. Masks The southern town of Amba
Explore art and culture
Recommended art galleries in Colombo
Colombo’s galleries aren’t just a platform for art in the traditional sense – you’ll find musical theatre productions, private dinners, fashion concept stores and all manner of other expressions of creativity. The National Art Gallery is the most well-known space and is home to a number of permanent exhibitions, whereas Paradise Road Galleries has a much more contemporary feel as well as housing collections from international artists. To see local artists live in action, take a walk on the nearby Boardwalk, or for more refined pieces check out the Saskia Fernando Art Gallery. Whichever you choose to visit, you’ll enter a world of colour and learn more about Sri Lanka’s creative culture.
Ancient sites and historical places to visit in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a country rich in history: the cultural triangle covering Anuradhapura, Dambulla and Kandy, the eight ancient kingdoms, impressive colonial architecture, numerous UNESCO world heritage sites and the ancient rock fortress at Sigiriya, to name but a few. Even if you’re not a history nerd, you’re sure to be be impressed when you see some of the jaw-dropping feats accomplished by ancient civilisations. Whether you want to learn about traditional ways of life or explore the island’s historical religious influences, our guide to Sri Lanka’s historical sites will help point you in the right direction.
Where to stay?
The newest upmarket hotel in Colombo, Cinnamon Red has been built on a small land area and reflects what is called ‘lean luxury’. With 243 rooms with either a city, park or lake view, Cinnamon Red is dedicated to do-it-yourself comfort. Ice, drinks and snacks are available from slot machines, and even check in can be done automatically. There is a roof top gym and an infinity pool overlooking the city, a main and a snack restaurant. While the hotel concentrates on efficiency, its décor is a blatant red in keeping with its image as chic and edgy.
A tranquil retreat perched on hills, Heritance Kandalama offers panoramic views of the Sigiriya Rocks. Boasting a spectacular architecture, this unique design hotel provides 3 impressive pools and exotic activities like bird watching. Kandalama Heritance is a 20-minute drive from UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the 2,000-year-old cave temple at Dambulla and the Sigiriya rock fortress. The 5-star hotel is a 3.5-hour drive from the airport. The spacious rooms are fitted with rattan furniture and timber panels. Each comes with a private bathroom featuring oversized glass walls that allow much natural light in. The hotel features tennis courts, a well-equipped gym and the well-known Six Senses Spa. To enjoy Sri Lanka’s breathtaking natural landscapes, the hotel offers various excursions like mountain cycling excursions and lake safaris. Start the day with breakfast on the lake or enjoy a memorable dining experience in the nearby cave. The Kanchana Restaurant offers daily themed nights with international cuisine. Views of the Sigiriya citadel and the Kandalama Lake accompany meals.
Dream Garden offers accommodation at a minute's walk from the beach. The resort has an outdoor pool and views of the sea, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant. Free WiFi is offered and free private parking is available on site.Each room at this resort is air conditioned and has a flat-screen TV. Some rooms feature a seating area to relax in after a busy day. Enjoy a cup of tea while looking out at the pool or garden. All rooms are equipped with a private bathroom with a hot shower and free toiletries are provided.The resort also offers bike hire and car hire. Tours, safaris, lagoon trips and surf lessons can be organized at a surcharge.
Located on Cross Street in the city of Nuwara Eliya, Bungalow 1926 blends in seamlessly with the colonial aura that envelops the landscape. The charming bungalow that mimics the colonial architecture is a place of elegant comfort where guests can find lavish lodgings while they explore the surrounding area. The cosy property offers one double room as well as two family rooms which provide mini bars and plasma TVs. While the temperature in Nuwara Eliya can fluctuate, the rooms offer heating facilities and hot water for a comfortable stay. The vintage furniture inside the rooms further add to the elegance of Bungalow 1926. The fusion of the colonial charm and modern facilities highlights the appeal of the bungalow. The two family rooms are spacious, and consist of both a ground and upper floor which can accommodate up to five guests. There is a balcony opening out from the upper floor, allowing guests to enjoy views of the surroundings. All three rooms open into a central sitting area which contain antique furniture and teak floors. For recreation, the bungalow offers a pool room, where guests can spend a warm evening playing a game of billiards or watching a sporting event. The bungalow has an in-house chef, whose culinary masterpieces can be enjoyed at the dinning room, which contains a single large table with ample seating. If the guests would like to dine al fresco, the courtyard can accommo- date up to four diners at a time. Diners can feast in a hearty meal of S
Sri Lanka shopping guide
Shop till you drop for Christmas!
It is high time that you indulge in seasonal shopping, be it to find that perfect gift for a loved one, or that fancy décor you were looking for to light up your home. Festive season has arrived in style, and it is time to do some shopping and treat yourself, ending the year as exuberantly as you started it. Seasonal offers and end-of-year-shopping fiestas are a galore and the streets are alive 24 hours of the day. Step inside your favourite shopping destination, grab yourself the best of the best while enjoying the festive cheer of the most fabulous time of the year. There are plenty of shopping malls and stores in the cities that reverberate with festive cheer, bringing in trendy and exciting collections. Get yourself out there and explore the vast range of gift ideas, be it clothing, accessories or household items, in this season of giving. House of Fashions mall in Borella and their second department store on Duplication Road, Colombo 4, along with Odel, Kandy City Centre (KCC) and the country’s latest addition of malls: Marino Mall and Colombo City Centre are some of the ideal places to shop for the best Sri Lankan and international products, exquisitely replenished for the festive season. While you shop, do not forget to treat yourself with the festive delicacies that can be found in every nook and corner. Cafés, pop up sales and food festivals are a galore; choose your favourite pick. Colonial majesticity exudes from the Dutch buildings restored into luxur
GMT by Royal Lanka Agencies is an exclusive branded wristwatch store located on the first floor at Majestic City, Bambalapitiya. A name that resonates prominently in the domestic market as an authorised retailer of international watch brands, GMT offers customers an exciting range of globally renowned brands of timeless and elegant watches. The outlet is themed in a chic black and white interior, and the glass displays are dedicated to the branded and special edition timepieces. The international brands available at the outlet include: Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Victorinox, Timberland, Gant, Maserati, Scuderia-Ferrari, Tommy Hilfiger, Swiss Military, Earnshaw, AVI-8, 88 Rue Du Rhone, Police and Pepe Jeans. The GMT showroom offers a stylish collection of wrist wear for both ladies and gents and features a trendy selection ranging from casual to formal wear. These signature timepieces exude sophistication, elegance and reliability and ensures that its wearer projects a confident fashion statement. The vast collection of savvy designs is also perfect for gift-giving and personal use. At the core of GMT, the concept aims to create an ample shopping experience by offering brands from high end to mid-range prices and simple trendy watches. The friendly staff at the out- let guide customers through an array of watches displayed at its designated brand showcase. GMT assures the patrons of these brands the best in quality and service. Bearing in mind the urban youth, they prom
House of Fashions
One of the foremost shopping destinations in Sri Lanka, House of Fashions once again opened their former store located on Duplication Road, Colombo 4, fulfilling overwhelming requests from their customers. The spacious House of Fashions provides a uniqe shopping experience to its customers. Preethi and Neelamani Jayawardana decided to open their second location, co-incidentally their previous store, on Duplication Road, Colombo 4, due to the overwhelming requests from loyal customers who missed the convenience and proximity of the store. “Once we opened the House of Fashions Mall in Borella, we were happy and we had no intention of opening another. Otherwise, we would not have closed this building for four years. Our customers requested from us repeatedly and thus we decided to reopen”, explained the dynamic duo. Maintaining the familiarity of the store, minimum changes were done. The ground floor is dedicated to household items such as linens, towels, pillows, kitchen utensils and other items. The open space floor also features a tea corner with a fine selection of Ceylon Tea, a range of Sri Lanka spices, coconut products and souvenir t-shirts. The elegant spiral staircase takes customers to the first floor ladies wear collection. The section displays pants, trousers, skirts, dresses, blouses, t-shirts, nightwear and office wear in a variety of designs, colours and sizes. One floor up, the children’s section is full colour and fun. Intended for the comfort of the child