Sri Lanka’s forests and striking mountains have many hidden delights and surprises just waiting for you to uncover. You’ll fall head over heels in love with Sri Lanka’s beaches, too: think pale sands, bright-blue seas and palm trees galore.

Experience the cultural rush of capital city Colombo, enjoy delicious seafood, and soak up the historical sights of Galle. Sri Lanka is a true feast for the senses.

Popular ports in Sri Lanka

Port of Colombo

colomboOnce you arrive at the Port of Colombo, head straight to the city centre. It’s Sri Lanka’s capital so has everything you need in terms of food and shops. Whether you want to lounge on the beach, try fresh seafood or explore Buddhist temples, Colombo has it all. It’s easy to walk around the city, but if you want something more exciting, hire a tuk-tuk. Aromatic, flavoursome seafood is the local delicacy and there are many places to try it. You can head to the waterfront and pick a restaurant along the pretty Galle Face promenade – you’ll be able to eat gorgeous cuisine while overlooking the Indian Ocean. The Pettah district is best for lively market stalls: haggling for souvenirs, clothes and food is an experience not to be missed. Take in cultural sights like the iconic R Premadasa Stadium, too, which hosts the international cricket matches.

Port of Galle

The Port of Galle is much smaller than Colombo and is around four hours south of the capital city, on the most southern tip of Sri Lanka. It’s a short distance to the city of Galle, where you’ll find an astounding collection of landmarks, buildings and greenery. It’s easy to explore Galle on foot, or you can hire a tuk-tuk for the day. The impressive temples and imposing fort are free to access, and you can walk along dusty footpaths to reach them. Three miles from the centre of the city is the stunning Unawatuna Beach. It’s a gorgeous place to relax and swim, and you can even snorkel or dive to see its shipwrecks, corals, exotic fish and turtles.

sri lanka

What are the best cruise ships for a cruise to Sri Lanka?

When you cruise to Sri Lanka, you’ll see some incredible sights. So choose a boat that lets you take in the mesmerising scenery, while ensuring comfort and affordability.

Boudicca

Sri Lanka is a small island, so a travelling on a smaller cruise ship like Boudicca means you can get closer than usual. Part of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Boudicca is a cosy and friendly ship with many brilliant facilities. Her traditional style and relaxing activities guarantee a civilised, tranquil cruise. The two pool areas and surrounding sun decks have incredible views over the ocean and incoming landscapes, and one pool is big enough to swim generous-sized laps in. You’ve also got indulgent spa treatments on hand, as well as a large fitness centre and a pair of golf nets. For something quieter, you can take to the library or explore the quiet, snug areas. There are three on-board restaurants and several venues for evening entertainment.

MSC Splendida

After you’ve finished exploring Sri Lanka’s tropical rainforests, bustling towns and beautiful beaches, you’ll love coming back to MSC Splendida’s luxurious rooms and facilities. With gilded, golden interiors, MSC Cruises ensure you’ll travel in style to all of your destinations. There’s plenty of activities on offer: try out the running track, have a game of squash or give a sport like volleyball a go. Splendida also has four large swimming pools – and her very own aqua park. The on-board spa is the height of indulgence and has a wide array of treatments on offer. Evening entertainment ranges from casinos and theatre shows to bars and clubs. Splendida has a wide variety of restaurants, too – from Mediterranean dishes to Tex-Mex.

Shore excursions

Sri Lanka may be small, but it’s packed with plenty of exciting sights and gorgeous landscapes. These excursions round up the very best on offer.

The highlights of Colombo

Take in the best of Colombo on this tour: from its most iconic sights to its local delicacies. After walking round the city, you’ll be rewarded with a buffet lunch filled with traditional Sri Lankan dishes. You’ll journey through two different neighbourhoods: Fort and Pettah. It’s easy to see where old meets new, as sleek skyscrapers meet ancient monuments. In between the old colonial buildings like the Town Hall and the Old Parliament are bursts of colour from markets and lush gardens. You’ll get the chance to visit the Asokaramaya Temple, too: it’s a Buddhist shrine overflowing with bright statues.

Sri Lanka’s turtles and old towns

sea turtleSri Lanka is famous for its nesting turtles and conservation efforts – and here’s your chance to witness it first-hand. You’ll arrive at Kosgoda first with its protected hatchery full of baby turtles. The island has five species of turtle nest on its beaches, and this hatchery has helped over two million turtles survive their journey to the sea. Next up is Galle. It’s a hugely interesting city due to its patchwork of Dutch buildings, colonial architecture and ancient mosques. You can stroll around the harbour, see the port – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and visit traditional lace-makers and wood-carvers.

The tour for tea drinkers

If you’re an avid tea drinker, then you’ll know how great Ceylon tea is. And on this tour, you get the chance to visit a working plantation and try some of the best tea in the world. Ceylon tea is produced in Sri Lanka (Ceylon is Sri Lanka’s former name), so you’ll head to a working plantation where a guide will demonstrate the art of tea-leaf plucking. A tea-factory tour is up next, where you’ll learn about the manufacturing process and how tea quality is graded. Naturally, once you’ve finished the tour, you can sit back with a hot cup of Ceylon tea.

The haven for beach lovers

Don’t forget to fit some beach-time into your itinerary – Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Thirty minutes south of Colombo is the coastal town of Mount Lavinia – but it feels like worlds apart. Situated at the top of a cliff and surrounded by panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, it’s the perfect place to soak up the sun, go for a dip or relax with a book. The dazzling blue water is warm and inviting, while the golden sands stretch into the horizon. You can get lunch at the 200-year-old Mount Lavinia Hotel, too.

Top ports of call in this destination