A ‘teardrop’ in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka’s shores encircle ancient ruins in verdant jungle, national parks where leopards roam, cinnamon trees and tea plantations, shrines and temples, a splash of modernity and millennia of history.
From Buddhist, Hindu and Christian temples and churches, to Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial buildings, and from haunting remains of once opulent palaces to the haunts and habitats of leopards and elephants, turtles, dolphins, and rare endemic birdlife, Sri Lanka has something for everyone, experienced on our Grand Tour of Sri Lanka.
Colombo is the island’s capital, reflecting the history and diversity of Sri Lanka with landmarks from the huge Buddha in its oldest urban park, to modern malls, the 65-hectare Beira Lake, and an oceanfront promenade hemming the sunset shore.
Among other prominent towns, beguiling Galle covers a south coast promontory, protected by UNESCO and by its historic fortress walls. These encircle a magical mooching ground, an inspiration for artists and writers, abuzz with shops and cafés, and all enveloped in an old-world backdrop.
In the central southern mountains, Nuwara Eliya is a pocket of ‘little England’, built for British civil servants, with a golf course, a boating lake, and lawns and roses around colonial houses. Said to have the country’s coolest climate, the town sits amid tiered plantations of its famed orange pekoe tea.
Right at the heart of the island, Kandi is Sri Lanka’s last ‘old kingdom’, its 7,000ft-high setting assisting its fiercely independent inhabitants to repel invaders. Their singular culture is still celebrated today, an exotic addition to the parks, palaces, Buddhist temple, and riverside Royal Botanical Gardens.
Sightseeing meets sandy shores at characterful Chilaw, where fish, fruit and veg markets bring a buzz to the easy-tempo town, and ‘must see’ monuments include the Catholic Cathedral, the calm Sri Vijayarama Viharaya Buddhist Temple, and incredibly ornate Munneswaram Hindu Temple.
Sri Lanka’s rural topography ranges from lush valley landscapes to untamed jungle, and well-tended tea-growing slopes. In scenic Dambulla region, Habarana is at the heart of the country’s ‘cultural triangle’, encompassing shrines and statuary in the remains of 12th-century Polonnaruwa; the expansive ruins of ancient Anuradhapura, hidden for a thousand years and now a place of Buddhist pilgrimage; the Sigiriya Rock Fortress atop its massive granite monolith; and the murals and Buddha statues of Dambulla Cave.
Yala is the country’s most visited National Park, a mix of grassland, lagoons, forestry and sand dunes, forming the habitats for 44 mammal species, 47 reptile, and over 200 types of resident and migratory birds. Lizards and crocodiles, sloth bears and spotted deer share the park with its famed elephants and burgeoning leopard population; and amid the wilderness are the ruins of a lost civilisation.
For a small island, just north of the equator, Sri Lanka has a surprisingly varied tropical climate, experiencing monsoon rains at different times in the different regions. Daytime temperatures on the coast average 28°, with hours of sunshine even in the November-December rainy season, while northern inlands are above 32° all year, and upland areas hover around 16 to 20°, and are frequently cloudy and chilly at night. A general summary of the whole island would be warm to hot, and often humid, year-round.
Jules Verne tours are planned for the months most comfortable for touring both coastal and mountain regions.
While Yala National Park answers the call of the wild, six of Sri Lanka’s seven UNESCO listed sites cover its history and culture.
Meeting a variety of interests, tours take you to 5th-century Sigiriya citadel and the astonishing, 1st-century Dambulla Cave Temple; the ancient and sacred relics of Anuradhapura, the country’s first capital; beautiful Kandy, the ‘cultural capital’, with the holiest Buddhist shrine; Polonnaruwa, with medieval architecture and the ruins of a garden city; and colonial Galle, its two city gates displaying the Dutch Coat of Arms on one side and the British on the other.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Our journeys in Sri Lanka include following the tea trail from plantation to production, a train journey on the Nanu Oya to Peradeniya line, and a cultural show in Kandy.
Our guided tours to Sri Lanka are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.
Grand Tour of Sri Lanka
Discover the tremendous diversity of the ‘tear-drop isle’ on this varied tour of Sri Lanka, viewing the architecture of its colonial past, the animals of its national park, the ancient remains of citadels and temples, and the amazingly varied landscapes in between