Most holidays in Sri Lanka will involve a stop in Colombo, Negombo or the surrounding region. It really pays off to relax into the holiday and the slower pace of life by spending the first night or two before embarking on any long journeys.
International flights arrive into an area called Katunayake, between 30 minutes and an hour north of Colombo in day time traffic. Therefore, Colombo itself is not an obvious choice for a first night if you are heading north to the Cultural Triangle or inland towards Kandy. However, Colombo works for a first night if you are heading south, or for a last night if you are on your way home from the south. Due to heavy traffic during peak hours, we would not recommend going through unless you want to stop there.
Colombo itself has changed enormously over the years that we have known it and it has returned to something like its former glory as the 'garden city' of Asia. So whilst that might be over-stating the case a little, it is certainly a great place to spend a few days poking about the historic areas, visiting the incredible pettah market, taking one of the superb walking tours on offer or just shopping and eating at some of the many excellent restaurants.
The city has some grand historic hotels and several beautifully converted houses, which are now boutique hotels: peaceful oasis' in the busy city. There are a range of larger 5-star style properties in Colombo that we can suggest depending on the nature of your booking. You'll find there is something for everyone and we'd be delighted to suggest some options that might suit.
Negombo, a busy town and beach resort, or surrounding smaller towns are a much closer bet. The area is home to many hotels close to the beach, though often our clients prefer to stay in one of the smaller properties just inland. There are some lovely small hotels which allow you to relax gently into the Sri Lankan pace of life.
Popular Sri Lanka Holiday Ideas:
Compact Sri Lanka
With careful planning, it's possible to see the beauty and diversity of Sri Lanka but with limited tiring journeys.
In Depth Sri Lanka
For those with more time to spare, this 3-weeker is our ultimate island tour. Distinctive experiences and tucked away gems (as always).
Boutique Sri Lanka
Our flagship itinerary for curious first-timers. An alternative perspective on Sri Lanka with characterful boutique hotels.
Essential Sri Lanka with East Coast (May to Sept)
The east coast has calm seas and the island's best weather from May-September, making this is a good option for a summer holiday.