Sri Lanka is a fantastic destination for a family holiday, but we know that travelling with young children can be daunting – especially if you are heading to an unfamiliar country.
When it comes to holidays with young children, there are so many points to consider: the safety of the destination; travel times and transport; type of accommodation, and choice of activities – and, on top of that, ensuring time for your own rest and relaxation.
Browsing through online information can be totally overwhelming as there is just so much choice, and it is hard to be confident in your decisions without the reassurance of those who know the country well.
With so many different landscapes so close together, Sri Lanka offers exciting variety with minimal travel, and there are a host of quality accommodation and activity options to keep the children entertained while giving parents peace of mind and the chance to unwind. It is a bonus that Sri Lankans are some of the friendliest people in the world, and will dote on your kids from beginning to end.
Remove the confusion and use this guide to discover how to plan the perfect Sri Lanka family holiday for young children. We mean it when we say that Sri Lanka is one of the best travel destinations in the world, for people of any age!
How to plan a Sri Lanka family holiday
1. Design a personalized itinerary
We all want a good-value holiday, but as each child is unique, it is rare that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ package deal will be enjoyable for the whole family. Creating a tailor-made Sri Lanka holiday won’t break the bank, and gives you more options for each element of your trip.
2. Get a great chauffeur-guide
The best transport option for a Sri Lanka family holiday is to use a private English-speaking chauffeur-guide. Travel at your own pace in a comfortable a/c vehicle. Quality varies, so make sure your chauffeur-guide is an experienced driver and a licensed national guide.
3. Use a trusted travel company
Speaking to someone who knows Sri Lanka intimately will help you cut through the overwhelming options available online and guide you to the right choices for your family. They can also offer valuable health and safety insights. We recommend Red Dot Tours because of their 20-year experience and commitment to honest, independent advice.
4. Explore accommodation options
Many Sri Lanka travel companies only recommend a limited number of hotels to families. There are a wide variety of hotels in Sri Lanka to suit young children, from beach resorts with lots of facilities to luxury campsites in the wilderness. Browse family-friendly Sri Lanka hotels.
5. Visit the national parks
Sri Lanka has 26 national parks across the country. Choose between snorkelling in a protected marine area, walking in a nature reserve with amazing views or going on a jeep drive in search of elephants, leopards and more. Whale watching is also possible.
6. Don’t dismiss historical sites
Often, culture and history is too much for little ones – particularly if the sun is shining and there is a swimming pool at the hotel! But some historical sites in Sri Lanka are very accessible for young children, particularly the climb up Sigiriya Rock and the sensational Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy.
7. Take the tea train
Sri Lanka is home to one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world, according to Lonely Planet, and kids will love the views and the hustle and bustle of local life. Kandy to Ella, the full route, is almost six hours, so to stop little ones getting bored it is best to just do the most scenic portions – Nuwara Eliya to Ella, or Hatton to Nuwara Eliya.
8. Choose the right beach(es)
There are so many amazing beaches in Sri Lanka, it can be hard to know where to begin. Some are peaceful, some are popular, surfing spots are in abundance, and there are endless opportunities for water-sports. However, not all beaches are safe for swimming, and different parts of the coastline come into season at different times of the year.
9. Be inventive with activities
As well as the run-of-the-mill tourist hotspots, there are a wide variety of things to do in Sri Lanka for young children. Learn to play a Sri Lankan drum; go on a tuk tuk tour of Colombo; go white-water rafting, and carve your own traditional Sri Lankan mask.
10. Don’t forget about food
Not all parts of Sri Lanka are geared up to provide food for children who are used to Western fare. Make sure you ask your holiday provider to recommend hotels with a good choice of child-friendly dishes, or places that are happy to create special menus for children.