Sri Lanka

Scenic trains to safaris: what to do in Sri Lanka with kids

Last updated 5th October 2023

Tempted by the idea of a family holiday to Sri Lanka? Here are a few of our favourite places to visit with kids this autumn and winter. 

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Traditional fishing boats, Negombo, Sri Lanka

Discover Negombo in western Sri Lanka

The coastal town of Negombo, just north of Colombo is the perfect place to catch your breath after a flight, and explore authentic Sri Lanka street food, markets and local villages. 

  • Visit Main Market for the colourful fish auctions.
  • Take a family cycle along historic Hamilton Canal.
  • Watch traditional fishing canoes bringing home the day’s catch.
  • Go on a guided tour round local villages.
  • Taste some of the country’s miraculous seafood.

Our recommended family resort in Negombo

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View from Lion Rock, Sigiriya, central Sri Lanka

Travel to the heart of Sri Lanka for unforgettable Sigiriya

Travel to the heart of Sri Lanka where ancient cities, astonishing monuments and gentle rural life all come together in one thrilling family adventure. 

  • Climb 200m high Sigiriya Lion Rock and explore the 5th century citadel of King Kashyapa. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and known to locals as the eighth wonder of the world.
  • Cycle round rural Sigiriya with your guide; visit farms and villages, scout for wildlife in the jungle and meet local families.
  • Spend an afternoon in the ruined city of Polonnaruwa, ancient capital of Sri Lanka and another UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Prepare to be awe-struck by the enormous reclining Buddhas of Gal Vihara and enchanted by Polonnaruwa’s atmospheric temples.
  • Tour Dambulla Cave Temple to see the remarkable rock art which spans 2500 years from the 2nd to the 18th century.

Our recommended family hotel in Sigiriya

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Kandy, the ancient royal capital of Sri Lanka

Explore Kandy, the country’s ancient royal capital 

Hustle and bustle, tea houses, remarkable temples and ancient history make Kandy one of the must-see destinations in Sri Lanka with older kids. 

  • Take a Sri Lankan cooking class with a local family in their mountain cottage outside Kandy.
  • Shop for ingredients at Kandy Market.
  • Visit Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, the most sacred site in the Buddhist world.
  • Explore the Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Kandy.
  • Attend a performance of traditional Kandy music and dancing in the Royal Palace complex.

Our recommended family resort in Kandy

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Kandy to Ella by train is an iconic Sri Lanka experience

Take scenic train from Kandy to Ella and go hiking

One of the world’s great scenic rail journeys takes you through soaring mountains and tea plantations to the quaint village of Ella in Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands. Then choose whatever you want to do in Ella, from energetic mountain treks to touring historic tea estates.

  • Take a guided hike through forests and mountains to climb Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak.
  • Catch a Tuk-Tuk to Dambatenna Tea Factory for a guided tour and scenic estate walk.

Our recommended family resort in Ella

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Leopard, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

See leopards up close on family safaris

Yala is Sri Lanka’s most visited national park and home to the country’s ‘big four’: elephant, sloth bear, leopard and wild buffalo. Family safaris here balance amazing wildlife experiences with fun learning for kids.

  • Go on jeep safaris at dawn for top wildlife spotting.
  • Stay in the park’s ‘treehouse’ hotel.
  • Learn traditional fishing skills on Yala lake.
  • Try your hand making authentic Sri Lankan pottery.

Our recommended resort in Yala National Park

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Stunning south coast beach, Sri Lanka

Take a beach break on the stunning south coast

Beachy and beautiful Unawatuna is where you’ll be based for the rest of the holiday. Prepare to discover everything you’ve heard about Sri Lanka’s paradise south coast is an understatement, and get ready for miles of sand, trimmed with coconut palms and unbroken views of the mesmerising Indian Ocean.

  • Unawatuna Beach is one of the loveliest on Sri Lanka’s south coast.
  • Go on a whale-watching cruise from Mirissa and Dondra Point: one of the best areas in the world to see migrating Blue and Sperm Whales from November to March.
  • The documentary ‘Ocean Giants’ was filmed along this stretch of coast and recorded sightings of 30 Blue Whales in a single day.
  • Spend a day in the lovely seaside town of Galle, famous for its 16th and 17th century Portuguese and Dutch colonial architecture.
  • Take a ramble around the Dutch Fort in Galle. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage, Asia’s largest remaining fort, and the sea views are sensational.

Our recommended family resort in Unawatuna

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