We loved every bit of this gem of a country – the stunning landscape, beautiful beaches, delicious food and the super friendly locals. Although Sri Lanka may look like a small island, there is a lot to see and do here. We did an extended weekend getaway to celebrate my dad’s milestone birthday and mainly covered the Southwest coast – Bentota, Galle and Colombo.
Here are the 5 things we loved about Sri Lanka
Our itinerary over 4 days
Bentota: About 80km from Colombo – this laid-back coastal town was our first destination. Famous for its long golden beaches and turquoise blue waters – it was the perfect place for us to begin the birthday celebrations. We stayed at Vivanta by Taj and spent our time soaking up the sun, swimming in the ocean and sipping mojitos.
Our ever smiling driver made us explore the town a little as well and we covered the following:
Day trip to Galle – A beautiful old Dutch fort town – This serene seaside town has a charm that’s hard to forget. The drive to Galle via the Hikkaduwa town is gorgeous.
We spent our time walking along the Galle Fort (Dutch colonial fort) and its ramparts for stunning views. The Fort and old town has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Within the walls, there are streets to explore – where old buildings are being restored. We found a beautiful café at the Dutch hospital complex with great ocean views.
After lunch, we wandered aimlessly along the narrow lanes of the old town to find hidden shops, art galleries and pretty corners.
Kande Viharaya Temple – Also called Temple on the Hill – this is a famous 300-year-old Buddhist temple in Bentota which has the tallest seated Buddha statue in the world.
Madu River Safari – The river flows through a thick jungle of mangroves and spreads out to a very wide area creating about 25 to 30 tiny islands. The safari is around 3 hours. During the Madu river cruise, the highlight was the stop at the cinnamon island! Over a refreshing cup of cinnamon tea — we learned about how cinnamon is produced. The fine layer of outer bark is gently scraped off, rubbed with brass and the inner bark is expertly cut away and kept for drying.
The sticks you see on top are cinnamon sticks.
Fun fact – Sri Lanka produces around 90% of the world’s highest-quality cinnamon.
We also covered this tiny island called the ‘5 cent’ island – Satha Pahe Duwa (Local name for an island is Duwa). While some say the island got it name since it was bought a long time ago for 5 cents, others say its shape is similar to old 5 cents coin. There is only a small temple located here.
Colombo : After 2 days in Bentota, we were back in the capital city Colombo. Colombo is not usually a favourite among travellers especially as compared to rest of Sri Lanka and we kind of agree. One can easily skip Colombo and maybe visit Ella or Kandy. We still made the best of our time here and did the following :
- Walking around Colombo we saw huge monumental buildings dating back to the Dutch and British era of Sri Lanka.
- Sipping away some refreshing teas at the beautiful t-lounge by Dilmah in Colombo. The place has a great ambiance with a wide variety of gourmet teas to enjoy.
- Visiting the serene Buddhist temple of Seema Malake in Colombo. The temple is situated within the Beira Lake. A great getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city – this temple is mainly used for meditation.
On our last day was the Sinhalese New Year, the traditional New Year of the people in Sri Lanka. It is a major festival celebrated and begins at the sighting of the new moon. While most of Sri Lanka was shut and celebrating the new year – we spent most of our time kite flying near the Galle sea front in Colombo!
While we had a short and sweet trip to this little paradise, I for sure know that we will be back someday to explore more of this beautiful country.