21 January 2019 by Simon Langley
As the Lonely Planet’s number one choice for 2019, Sri Lanka is a country on the rise. Here, ancient fort cities perch on giant rocks, leopards crouch in dense jungles and white-sand beaches form an idyllic fringe to it all. To inspire, we’ve picked out two of our favourite Sri Lanka itineraries. There’s one for each half of the year, swapping coasts to avoid the monsoons.
Our top trip: Best of Sri Lanka
Perfect for a winter trip, this itinerary takes in all of Sri Lanka’s highlights. In the company of a private driver, you’ll sweep along the country’s beach-fringed west coast and plunge into the jungled interior, taking in everything from colonial towns and rolling tea plantations to cave temples, the lost city of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya – an ancient rock fortress. You’ll even head out on a safari into Yala National Park to spot elephants and the world’s densest population of leopards. Indeed, it’s all brought to life by private tours, including the likes of dance shows and tea-plantation visits. You’ll also stay in luxury throughout, enjoying nights in a colonial manor house, where a personal chef will treat you to full-board dining, before you end with four nights by the beach in an ultra-luxury resort.
Our top trip: Ancient Kingdoms & East Coast Beaches
This tailor-made route adds in time in the capital and the chance to relax on Sri Lanka’s palm-dotted east coast, making it ideal for a spring or summertime visit. Again with the services of a private driver included throughout, you’ll take in everything from Sigiriya’s ancient rock-top fortress, Polonnaruwa’s medieval temple complex and the royal palaces of tea-plantation Kandy – a colonial jewel. You’ll also enjoy luxury stays on two of the east coast’s best white-sand beaches, where you can return from whale spotting and a whole host of water sports to spa treatments and cooking classes. And, you’ll spend your nights in some of Sri Lanka’s finest hotels, from palatial country manors to a boutique Victorian townhouse in Colombo – Sri Lanka’s vibrant, garden-dotted capital.