Visiting Sri Lanka with kids was on our bucket list for ages, but, it never transpired. Then, a sudden chance to relocate somewhere completely different came up! We could work remotely and be wherever we wanted to be.
In our true adventurous spirit, we moved our family of 6 to Sri Lanka at the end of 2022. Having never been to Sri Lanka, we had no idea what to expect.
We chose Galle as our home which is on the South West Coast. It’s known for its beautiful Dutch fortress and coastline towns. We play ‘tourist’ every weekend and school holiday’s since our arrival in Sri Lanka with kids and have loved exploring this incredible country.
If you are thinking about visiting Sri Lanka with kids we are so excited to share our wealth of experience on what to expect, ideas on things to do, itineraries and when to visit.
In this post, we also cover the finer information like what is the food like in Sri Lanka for kids? what to pack and how to get around.
You can always jump over to my Instagram to watch any of my reels or saved Sri Lanka highlights to put this post into context.
Sri Lanka For Kids
Sri Lanka is a teardrop-shaped island in the Indian Ocean. It has a rugged coastline with sloping palm trees, a dense jungle with all kinds of wildlife, soaring mountains covered in tea plantations, sacred temples with centuries of history and the warmest people you will ever meet!
Sri Lankans absolutely love children and travelling around the country with little ones is likely to open up so many friendly conversations with locals who will want to greet you! They are ever so friendly.
Safety In Sri Lanka
There is no doubt there have been tough times for Sri Lankans in recent years with its economy in turmoil. 2018 was one of the best years for Sri Lanka, it was the absolute peak of tourism.
I certainly remember my Instagram feed being full of people on the famous train ride over the nine arch bridge.
More recently, this has not been the case in Sri Lanka. Tourism took a huge hit following a trail of issues and subsequently the economy was in dismay.
Having lived here for a number of months, I get asked regularly on my Instagram and Facebook accounts if I feel safe here. The honest answer is yes, we feel safe, and we have not witnessed anything to worry about in terms of political unrest.
We exercise the same caution as every other country. We don’t leave belongings lying around and we don’t travel around late at night.
My biggest issue when it comes to safety in Sri Lanka is the roads. The bus drivers are crazy, to say the least. However, this is no different from many neighbouring countries.
When To Visit Sri Lanka With Kids
In theory, Sri Lanka is an all-year-round destination. However, your itinerary will be very much dictated by the month you choose to visit.
The southwest of Sri Lanka experiences warmer temperatures and monsoons from late April onwards. Tourists tend to travel around the southwest between December and April.
Whereas the East coast of Sri Lanka is best from May through to October.
Central parts of the country such as Sigirya, Kandy and Ella which are loved by tourists can be incorporated into an itinerary any time of year.
I was wondering what monsoon would be like on the southwest coast and essentially the beaches become more wild and are not as beautiful.
It’s possible to visit any time of year with the right itinerary, however, the most popular and easily accessible spots are between December and April. There is a fantastic highway which runs from Colombo through the southwest which makes exploring a lot easier.
Sri Lankan Bank Holidays
It is worth noting, Sri Lanka has some different holidays in their calendar. Full moon day also known as Poya is a holiday once a month. Liquor stores are closed and alcohol is not served in any hotels restaurants, shops or bars.
There is also the Sri Lankan New Year (Avurudu) which is one of the most significant cultural celebrations in Sri Lanka, usually occurring in mid-April.
It marks the beginning of the new year according to the Sinhala and Tamil calendars. Families come together and play traditional games, prepare special meals and go to the temple.
Vesak, also known as Buddha Purnima, commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and passing away of Lord Buddha.
It is a major Buddhist festival celebrated with vibrant decorations, lanterns, and religious observances. Vesak usually takes place in May and includes activities such as visiting the temple, engaging in acts of charity, and lighting oil lamps.
The streets are filled with businesses giving out complimentary food to the people of Sri Lanka. Many businesses close and under no circumstances is liquor sold anywhere during the holiday.
Getting to Sri Lanka With Kids
Sri Lankan Airlines fly direct from a number of different countries worldwide. We have found them to be ok on short haul travel, however my only criticisim is they are not great with dietary requirements and kids meals.
If you use SL Airlines, it may be worth bringing some snacks just in case.
For those travelling from Europe, there are a number of carriers which may offer a stopover in the Middle East. This may make flights more affordable.
Examples of such are Etihad with an Abu Dhabi stopover, Emirates with a Dubai stopover and Qatar with a Doha stopover.
Make sure to checkout the following tips for flying with kids of all ages:
Things To Remember Before Visiting Sri Lanka With Kids
- Having travel insurance when visiting any country is important. Make sure to buy a policy in advance of travelling and ensure there is good medical cover with repatriation.
- Most large resorts, hotels and some restaurants accept credit and debit cards. However, for the most part, it is best to have cash in Sri Lanka.
- The local currency is Sri Lankan Rupee. It is best to carry a variety of 500rps and 1000 rps notes. 5000 rps notes are available, however, they are quite big notes, especially when paying in local outlets.
- We’ve always withdrawn money from our overseas bank accounts at Bank Of Ceylon ATMs without any issues. Remember to always withdraw in local currency when asked to avoid high bank charges.
- Most Sri Lankan plugs are the same as the UK ( type G) with 3 rectangular pins. Some places have the type (type D) which is 3 round pins. In this case, it is best to bring a travel adapter.
- Make sure to pick up a Sri Lankan sim card at the airport for very affordable WiFi. 100 GB of data with Dialog costs around 7 USD. We use the Netgear Router for our travels. It’s amazing as many devices can connect at once and it’s usually pretty fast.
- Another option is picking up a Skyroam router which you can pay by the day and again multiple devices can connect. We’ve found this very useful for long journeys.
How To Get Around Sri Lanka With Kids
Hire A Driver
There are a variety of ways to get around Sri Lanka with kids. However, the most comfortable and easy is hiring a driver.
We are happy to share recommendations of drivers we have used during our time here that drive safely and have a nice cars with working AC. Feel free to reach out to me on Instagram.
Make sure to get a trusted driver who can also act as a tour guide if you so wish. From our experience, cars don’t always have good AC, some are very small and not so comfortable for long journeys.
A driver doesn’t necessarily have to stay with you for the entire trip. They do the long legs of the journey and you could use a tuk-tuk in the local areas during stationary periods.
It is probably best to bring a car seat for younger children. Some high-end tour operators will have car seats for families travelling to Sri Lanka with kids but that is certainly not the case for all.
Another (less reliable) but very affordable way of getting around is by using the Pick Me App. It is essentially the same as Uber.
Drivers can be a little painful and may haggle once they realise you are a tourist for a few extra rupees. However, if you are happy with the hustle, the prices on Pick Me are very good.
The driver generally calls once they’ve picked up the job on the app to clarify the details of the journey and this is a good time to check if they have good working AC.
There are lots of vehicles available on Pick Me in general. From tuk-tuks to large vans and everything in between.
Ride The Trains & Tuk Tuks
Trains are fantastic when travelling around Sri Lanka with kids on a budget. It is very affordable and there are many routes across the country. Generally speaking, there are options for first, second and third classes.
For example, a first-class trip between Colombo and Galle costs 1000 rps which is approximately £2.50 or 3 USD.
To secure a first-class seat, it is best to book at least 48 hours in advance on the train website. It’s an easy website to use.
Certain routes are notoriously late whilst others are generally on time. One of the most famous train routes is through tea country from Kandy to Ella.
This train ride takes 9 hours but is one of the most stunning journeys on a train in the world. The views are incredible. Unfortunately, though, this train is always late!
This may not work for younger kids on a routine but it is probably fine when travelling around Sri Lanka with kids that are a little older with plenty of snacks!
Upon arrival at your destination, it is always easy to pick up a tuk-tuk to take you to your hotel or nearby attractions.
Prices for tourists are always inflated so it is worth getting an idea of what the ‘local’ rate is on the Pick Me App as a bartering tool if you are trying to watch your budget.
Using tuk-tuks to get around is easy for shorter journeys. However, for anything over 30 minutes, we’ve found it a little uncomfortable.
Avoid The Buses !!
There are tonnes of bus routes across the island and many are run by private buses. It causes competition amongst the buses to get the next customer, hence the crazy driving.
Personally, I would not travel on the local buses in Sri Lanka with kids. They are reckless drivers and frankly dangerous.
Hire A Car Or Tuk Tuk
Many tourists choose to rent a car or tuk-tuk to explore the island when visiting Sri Lanka with kids. I would say anyone who wants to self-drive will need to be a fairly confident driver.
We rent a car here nowadays but we have become accustomed to the ways of the road. It took us ages to commit to renting! Believe me, we have driven in countries all over the world but Sri Lanka is ‘special’ shall we say.
We have met a few young adventurous families who have rented out a tuk-tuk and were exploring the entire island in it with their kids!
They were travelling for quite a while so had the luxury of shorter trips and pit stops. It is totally possible to travel around much of Sri Lanka with kids in a tuk tuk but it rules out using the highway which makes the journey a lot quicker in the southwest.
Best Things To Do In Sri Lanka With Kids
There is such a variety of activities to enjoy in Sri Lanka with kids. The land is so diverse and with that comes a wide range of experiences.
No trip to Sri Lanka with kids is complete without a safari drive. As safari goes, it is some of the easiest drives we’ve ever done with kids.
We’ve been on safari in Tanzania as well as South Africa and Kenya. They were all amazing but it is a huge trip before seeing the animals in some cases.
There are tonnes of national parks dotted across the island which are home to a variety of wildlife. Close to Sigiriya, there are three parks. Namely, Minneriya National Park, Kaudulla National Park and Hurulu Eco Park which are ideal to enjoy safari when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
Whilst in the south, Udawalawe and Yala National Parks are two of the most popular. This is because they have a wider variety of wildlife.
In Udawalawe, there are crocodiles, elephants, water buffalo, wild boar, with lots of birds and deer.
Whereas Yala has all of that plus leopards. Inevitably, Yala is the busiest park as everyone wants to see a leopard!
Going to the less busy parks is just as good as any other when visiting Sri Lanka with kids as they are generally mostly in awe of the elephants.
Eastern Sri Lanka also has Kumana National Park which is more untouched than others. For this reason, it is probably one of the most authentic safari experiences in Sri Lanka.
Visit Sigiriya & Damballa
My personal favourite place in all of Sri Lanka with kids has to be the Sigiriya and Damballa region. We created core memories of climbing the Sigiriya Rock at sunrise.
My kids were 5 and 8 at the time. We had a little pep talk first to ensure they were up for the challenge and they smashed it. It’s such a great achievement, not to mention an adventure.
The kids absolutely loved a lake tour in a local traditional boat in Sigiriya. The tour guide made hats and necklaces out of the lily pads in the water. We were blown away by the creations and it was just so unique.
The weather in Sigiriya is best in February, it’s in a dry zone of Sri Lanka so it doesn’t experience a monsoon, however, it is more cloudy from April onwards.
Another top attraction in the area is the Damballa Rock Temple. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated on top of a majestic rock which is a wee bit of a walk to the top.
The temple complex consists of five fascinating caves adorned with colourful murals and many statues of the Buddha.
Our kids loved checking out each cave and were mesmerised by the different practices going on around them.
From the intricate artwork to the panoramic views, the Dambulla Rock Temple is one of my most favourite places to visit in Sri Lanka with kids.
Check out this lovely tour which incorporates the Sigiriya Rock and Damballa Rock Temple.
Wander Through Beautiful Temples
Damballa Rock Temple is not the only temple to explore, there are hundreds to discover. No matter what area you visit, the chances of passing by a beautiful temple are pretty high.
There are certainly more pretty and well-maintained temples which are very much on the tourist track. Especially if the temple has a significance in Buddhism.
For example, the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy is one of the most significant Buddhist religious sites in the world. It is very busy, especially as the day goes on.
We’ve had some wonderful experiences exploring random temples. For example at the temple in Hikkaduwa, the resident monk spent ages with our family showing us every inch of the the building and explaining everything to us.
When we visited another less well-known rock temple close to Tangalle, it felt truly ancient and dilapidated, but, it added to the experience.
We watched monkeys jumping and bathing in the temple ponds. It was quite a unique experience as there was no one else around. Wherever you visit in Sri Lanka with kids, make sure to put a nice temple on your itinerary.
The locals and resident monks are so lovely and welcoming even when they are practising. If you happen to be in Sri Lanka with kids on a full moon known locally as Poya Day, the temples are busy but so interesting to see it in full swing with worshippers.
Explore The Tea Country Region
Since Ella or Nuara Eliya can be pretty much visited any time of year, it is a stunning place to add to any itinerary in Sri Lanka with kids.
Seeing the tea plantations on the side of the soaring hills is absolutely incredible. The area is much cooler than other parts of Sri Lanka and can be a welcome relief for those coming from cooler destinations.
There are many different factories to explore and understand the process of tea production, it is super interesting for families visiting Sri Lanka with kids. Not to mention, a number of lovely hikes, one easy one for families is Little Adams Peak.
There are also waterfalls, the famous Nine Arch Bridge, cute villages and so much more to explore in this area of Sri Lanka with kids.
Enjoy The Beaches
Sri Lanka has no shortage of amazing coastlines. Off the south coast, there is nothing in the vast Indian Ocean until Antarctica, so, needless to say, the beaches can be pretty wild!
Many people visit Sri Lanka to enjoy surfing and some areas are known as surf towns and certainly attract those who love to chase the waves.
When it comes to family-friendly beaches that are safe for children, there are a few that we love.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note even beaches considered ‘safe’ can look quite calm one minute and very different the next, so, it’s really important to keep this in mind when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
There are lots of opportunities for children to learn how to surf in Sri Lanka which is a lot of fun. Surfing is one of the top things to do with kids in Sri Lanka.
Hirikiteya Beach ( the tip of the southwest ) – this beach is in a horseshoe bay and is quite sheltered. Sometimes it has perfect little waves and it’s shallow on the edge. However, this can very much change so it’s important to be vigilant and speak to locals if you are unsure. There are some spots to see turtles on this beach too.
Dickwella Beach (also on the tip of the Southwest) at the end closest to Smoke N Bitters Restaurant and Bar is quite calm, it gets steeper at it wraps around. There is a section called Turtle Point where you can reliably swim with many huge turtles – don’t forget your snorkel!
Mirissa Beach is another well-known place on the southwest coast which attracts many tourists in peak season. Whilst it can be quite busy, the beach is pretty nice for families visiting Sri Lanka with kids. Make sure to check out the famous coconut hill nearby.
Weligama Beach is another popular spot with tourists, digital nomads and families visiting Sri Lanka with kids. Its a huge bay and features an incredible hotel on a tiny island that can be reached when the tide is out.
Both Mirissa and Weligama have tonnes of nice cafes and restaurants to enjoy when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
Sahana Beach is our local beach and is quite steep at the further end and a little shallower at the more northerly part. Our kids learned to surf on this beach. It is not a particularly sandy beach but it is pretty nice in season to surf some baby waves.
The beach is lined with surf shops and cafes. They are not necessarily our favourite cafes to hang out in but Palm Leaf is one of the nicer places to station for a surf and drink a coconut.
Bentota Beach is a lot closer to Colombo so many tourists coming from the Middle East and neighbouring countries choose to hang out in Bentota when visiting Sri Lanka with kids. The beach is lovely and is nice for families with lots of water sports.
Pasikuda Beach is one of our picks for those visiting the East Coast of Sri Lanka with kids. I have not personally been however one of my very reliable friends assures me she felt it was very safe with her little boy.
Whale watching is a seasonal activity and there are two distinct spots where all the tours depart from.
On the southwest coast, all of the tours depart from Mirissa. Whilst on the east coast they depart from Trincomalee.
Blue whales, sperm whales and dolphins can be seen on the tours off the coast of Trincomalee from May to October. Check out this incredible whale-watching tour in Trincomalee which is ideal for families visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
The season for whales off the coast of Mirissa is from November to April. Blue whales are the most common whilst fin whales and sperm whales are also common. Occasionally, killer whales, Bryde whales, short-finned whales, dolphins and turtles can be seen.
If you or any of your family tend to get sea sick, consider giving this activity a miss or make sure to take anti-sickness tablets or wear sea sickness bands before going out on a Whale watching expedition as the seas can get quite rough.
Check out the whale-watching tour in Mirissa here.
In fact, it’s possible to go snorkelling with blue whales in Mirissa which is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Visit A Turtle Hatchery
There are tens of turtle hatcheries across Sri Lanka. However, it’s important to be mindful that not all turtle hatcheries may be considered ethical.
Some establishments may prioritize commercial interests over the well-being of the turtles. It is crucial to choose a reputable and responsible turtle hatchery that focuses on conservation efforts and the welfare of these incredible creatures.
A visit to a well-managed turtle hatchery allows children to witness firsthand the conservation work being done to protect endangered turtle species.
They can learn about the life cycle of turtles and witness the hatching of baby turtles.
Some hatcheries nurse injured and unwell turtles back to good health. It can be quite upsetting to see turtles damaged from eating plastics in the ocean. Or some get injured from fishing nets and boats!
The hatchery which is considered ethical in Sri Lanka is the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Project. This renowned hatchery focuses on the protection and rehabilitation of sea turtles, making it an ideal destination for an educational experience when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
The project is committed to conservation efforts, ensuring the well-being of the turtles. Children can witness the hatching of baby turtles, learn about the different turtle species, and participate in the heartwarming experience of releasing them into the ocean.
Sri Lanka With Kids Itinerary
There is so much to see and do in Sri Lanka with kids. It may seem overwhelming when it comes to creating an itinerary for your trip.
We have two itineraries for the different seasons. If you are travelling between November and April, check out this Sri Lanka itinerary
Alternatively, if you intend to visit Sri Lanka between May and October, check this east coast itinerary which incorporates some of the central regions.
If you are travelling to Sri Lanka long haul a minimum of two weeks would be ideal. However, 3 weeks would be amazing to fit everything in with some relaxation at the end.
You may prefer to relax at the beach first and do the adventurous parts of the trip at the end. Personally, we always do adventure bits first. However, if you prefer to chill first, just look at the suggested itineraries in reverse.
Nonetheless here are some ideas!
Sri Lanka With Kids Itinerary
Negombo is the perfect starting point for any trip to Sri Lanka. It is a town just north of Colombo and is actually very close to Colombo Airport. There is lots going on, from Negombo beach to the lagoon with beautiful boats.
Not to mention, the Muthurajawela Marsh which is ideal for bird watching. Pay a visit to the Angurukaramulla Temple, known for its magnificent Buddhist sculptures, colourful murals, and giant Buddha statue.
A couple of days in Negombo is perfect. However, if you are on a tighter schedule, a day to rest up is fine.
Best place to stay: The Wallawwa ( only 25 minutes from the airport) is the perfect starting point for a trip. They have family interconnecting rooms and unlimited sorbet which kids love!
The journey from Negombo to Sigiriya is around 3 hours.
Sigiriya and Damballa deserve a few days to enjoy the wonders of this area of Sri Lanka with kids. Make sure to visit the Sigiriya Rock Fortress for an early morning sunrise hike.
You will need to get the tickets the day before as the ticket office is not open early enough.
If you miss out on tickets, Pidurangala Rock is right next to Sigiriya Rock. The entry fee is a lot less, however, there is a little bit of rock scaling required to reach the summit.
Babies and toddlers will need to be in a carrier and smaller kids will probably need a little help. There are plenty of willing locals who can give a hand for a small fee.
Climbing Sigiriya is tough but it is worth every minute. The views from atop are stunning and exploring the fortress is mind-blowing.
Don’t forget the Dambulla Rock Temple as mentioned earlier. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with five intricate caves. It is an incredible insight into the practices, customs and traditions of Buddhism.
To avoid some of the southern Sri Lanka crowds in the safari parks, enjoy a safari at one of the Sigiriya parks.
The tour guides of Minneriya National Park, Kaudulla National Park and Hurulu Eco Park are aware of the location of animals and will advise which park is easiest to visit on the day.
If you are not travelling with a tour guide, arriving outside the park gates, you’ll find tonnes of safari tour guides.
You may need to haggle for the right price. Be aware, there is an entry fee which has to be covered. This is different for locals, SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries citizens and other foreigners.
Best place to stay: Water Garden Sigiriya has lovely family-style villas with 2 bedrooms.
The journey to Kandy from Sigiriya is approximately 2.5 hours by car which is manageable for most families visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
Kandy is a mountainous town rich in culture and history. Driving through the centre of the city, it is easy to see the colonial influences.
There is lots to do in Kandy. One of the must-visits is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. As the name says, the Buddhist temple houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Explore the temple complex, witness religious rituals, and admire the stunning architecture.
The temple is on the banks of Kandy Lake which is nice to stroll around, watch the birds and take in the surrounding landscape.
Peradeniya Royal Botanic Gardens has a diverse collection of plants, trees, and orchids. Our kids loved seeing all the weird and wonderful plants and trees. Not to mention the many birds and monkeys which live in the gardens.
Kids will absolutely love the renowned Kandy Cultural Dance Show. The traditional dance showcases the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. It usually takes place in the evening and features various dance forms, music, and elaborate costumes.
Head to the Kandy Viewpoint, located near Arthur’s Seat, for breathtaking views of the cityscape and the scenic valley below. It’s a great spot to take photos!
Best place to stay: Jetwings Kandy Gallery is a little out of town but is a beautiful spot on the banks of the river. There are lovely family interconnecting rooms.
The journey to Demadora from Kandy is either a train ride which takes 9 hours or a car journey which is a lot shorter. If you choose to take the train, make sure to book tickets a few months in advance.
If you decide to do the journey in a car, the roads are incredibly windy, and the views are stunning but it is not ideal for those who get car sick. Sat Nav says 4 hours but it felt like a lot more, probably around 5.5 hours.
In terms of things to do, make sure to do the very easy hike up Little Adams Peak. It has stunning panoramic views of the surrounding lush green landscapes, tea plantations, and valleys.
Visit the iconic Nine Arch Bridge, a marvel of engineering set amidst scenic tea fields. Try to visit when a train is due to pass by! This is a very popular spot for drone enthusiasts.
Ravana Falls is a beautiful cascading waterfall located a short distance from Ella. If you are driving south, make a pitstop on the way.
No trip to the region is complete without exploring the tea plantations such as Halpe Tea Factory. Learn about the tea production process, take a guided tour and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea!
Best place to stay: Nine Skies is a stunning old tea planter home come small boutique hotel. There is a family wing with interconnecting rooms.
November To April
Whilst the first few stops on the suggested itinerary above are fine no matter the season. The final part will change depending on the month you visit. Here is our suggestion if you are visiting between November to April.
Dickwella or Bentota
Our two favourite areas in southwest Sri Lanka for relaxing beach vibes are Dickwella and Bentota. Bentota is a lot closer to Colombo which may be preferred for those who don’t want a prolonged journey back to the airport.
Dickwella on the other hand is around 3 hours from Colombo. It has several nice bays, some nice cafes, and restaurants. As mentioned above, it’s a reliable location to swim with turtles in their natural habitat.
Where to stay in Dickwella: Ginger Palm Villa. It is incredibly family-friendly and rents rooms out individually or the villa as a whole.
Bentota on the other hand doesn’t have tonnes of cafes like you and I may be accustomed to for brunches, lunches and all things coffee.
Bentota does have a lovely beach, a number of nice resorts and a lagoon offering a tonne of watersports.
It’s also got an incredible giant Buddha temple and the home of Geoffrey Bawa, an influential architect in the mid-1900s. His home is now a hotel, however, visitors can pay an entry fee to explore the grounds.
The trip back to the airport may dictate your choice.
Where to stay in Bentota: Cinamon Bentota Beach is one of the most family-friendly resorts. It is one of the few hotels in Sri Lanka with a kids club and it’s a really nice one too!
Galle is another really popular area with families visiting Sri Lanka with kids and is the place we call home!
I am going out on a limb here and possibly an unpopular opinion, I am not crazy about some of the beaches in the area which are some of the most popular tourist spots.
They are often steep and not safe for kids. Unawatuna is somewhere mentioned in many posts and I personally find it over-touristy and tacky.
Some building work took place to the natural reef structure on the point at the end of the beach and it caused the topography of the whole area to change.
It is quite frankly an unsafe beach with a terrible undercurrent. Jungle Beach is another place often mentioned in guidebooks we are not keen on!
That’s not to say there is nothing nice about Unawatuna, there are certainly some nice cafes and restaurants which we visit in the area often.
There are some beaches further away from the centre of Galle which are still part of the suburb that are nice. Namely, Ahangama and Weligama beach.
Galle is most well-known for its ancient and charming Dutch fortress. Wander the cobbled streets and visit the many small boutique shops to pick up souvenirs or enjoy some amazing food.
You can walk along the wall of the fortress, best enjoyed close to sunset to avoid the heat. The lighthouse is also super beautiful!
In and around Galle there are many food markets, we love pit-stopping at the fruit market for fresh goods!
The international cricket stadium for Sri Lanka is actually right on the edge of the fortress so it is not uncommon to see a game from the perimeter. The best view is from the top of the fortress wall as often at street level it is boarded up.
Best place to stay: Fort Bazaar
May To October
If you happen to be visiting Sri Lanka with kids between May and October and want some beach action, Arugum Bay is a popular spot. It attracts lots of surfers, digital nomads and families.
However it is a little more difficult to get back to Colombo.
A lot of tourists stay north and cut across from Sigiriya to Trincomalee on the east coast as its only around a 2.5 hour trip. You”ll need to decide if you’d prefer beach over the mountains realistically.
The journey from Ella to Arugam Bay takes around 3 hours by road. The area boasts pristine sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters and is perfect for families visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
Main Beach is the central hub with a lively atmosphere, while other nearby beaches like Peanut Farm and Whiskey Point offer a more relaxed and secluded option.
Arugam Bay was traditionally a fishing village and over recent years has become a holiday paradise for many visiting Sri Lanka with kids. There is plenty to do around the area aside from the beach.
Don’t miss the iconic Elephant Rock. It’s a distinctive rock formation located just off the coast of Arugam Bay.
Visit the ancient Hindu temple at Kudumbigala, or, take a safari drive in nearby Kumana National Park.
Arugum Bay is quite a distance from Colombo so an additional pitstop on route back will be required.
Head further up the East Coast to Batticaloa where an internal flight back to Colombo is possible. It may be the easiest option. when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
Best place to stay: Aprota Villas
Sri Lankan Food
Sri Lanka food is simply delicious. I had expected it to be similar to Indian food but it is actually quite different. In general, I find the cuisine to be much lighter.
Don’t worry if you have fussy kids who may not like to experiment. Many cafes, restaurants and hotels have more familiar foods for those visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
It’s easy to find pasta dishes, avo toast, burgers and chips, salads and so on. However, if your little ones are feeling adventurous and would like to try the local food, there is plenty to discover!
Some of the dishes which kids may love are Sri Lankan rotis which are popular street food. These flatbreads can be stuffed with a variety of fillings such as vegetables.
I don’t advise buying street food from street vendors. However many street foods can be found in clean reputable restaurants.
Hoppers are bowl-shaped pancakes made from fermented rice flour and coconut milk. They can be a fun and tasty option, typically they are served at breakfast but can be enjoyed as a snack.
Kottu roti is one of my personal favourite dishes. It is a popular street food made by stir-frying chopped roti with vegetables. It’s delicious, particularly when it is drenched in dahl.
For parents, rice and curry is one of the most popular dishes. It is mind-blowing how many little bowls full of flavour arrive at the table! If you are vegan like us, this is probably the easiest most reliable dish.
Some of the most common curries served are string beans, beetroot, potato and pumpkin. It’s always served with dahl and poppadums. You can ask for mild but it seems Sri Lankans tend not to understand ‘mild’ when it comes to curry so prepare to have your taste buds fired up.
All jokes aside, the food is incredible.
Eating Out In Sri Lanka
When ordering any local dish for kids just specify you want it non-spicy. It is worth noting many restaurants take a really long time between ordering and the food reaching the table. This is because everything is made fresh. We find this even in some of the nicest restaurants.
This can be particularly tricky at dinner time when little ones are tired. If you are staying at a hotel, it may be worth ordering ahead to navigate long waits for younger kids.
As we have twin toddlers and two older children, we have our firm favourites locally that know us well. We often call ahead to order which is a huge help.
If you are visiting Sri Lanka with a baby or toddler, it is worth noting high chairs are few and far between.
Even in lovely hotels, the high chairs can be precariously high with no belt. I highly recommend bringing a travel high chair to Sri Lanka to ensure meal times are not too stressful.
Make sure to stick to clean reputable restaurants to avoid becoming unwell. The standards of cleanliness are not the same everywhere.
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Packing List For Visiting Sri Lanka With Kids
When visiting Sri Lanka with kids you are going to want all the summer wear. If you decide to visit Ella or Kandy you may want a light layer for the evening.
Rock shoes are pretty handy for some beaches in Sri Lanka.
Don’t forget to bring a really good snorkel to see the amazing marine life which is in abundance.
Bring a few pairs of swim wear, once you hit the beach you’ll be spending plenty of time in the water. Not to mention, most hotels have pools across the country.
Do not forget the mosquito repellent you will need to apply several times a day in some areas.
Sri Lanka is very much an outdoor destination. Make sure to bring plenty of suncream with a high factor.
Sandals are the most comfortable footwear.
Don’t forget a sunhat and sunglasses for the kids.
Entertainment for the kids on the journey
A few familiar snacks from home for travel days
It is worth investing in a Travel high Chair for eating out at Cafes and Restaurants in Sri Lanka.
Travel Health In Sri Lanka
Before visiting Sri Lanka with kids you will need to visit a travel health clinic or healthcare professional to advise on any potential vaccines or precautions.
Please be aware the below is not intended as medical advice. Make sure to check with the necessary professionals.
Sri Lanka is a tropical destination and with that comes some unwanted nastys that has the potential to ruin a trip.
I use the Fit For Travel website for up-to-date information. As it stands, there is no malaria in Sri Lanka. However, there is dengue and a risk of Japanese encephalitis for selected individuals. Both of which come from mosquito bites.
A tetanus booster, typhoid vaccine, hep A, hep B and rabies vaccine may be required depending on the advice you receive from a professional.
We are meticulous every day with repellent and go through bottles of it on a weekly basis.
It is best to be very well prepared when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
- Make sure to research restaurants and ensure it is clean and reputable.
- Only drink bottled water and drink plenty of it to keep well hydrated whilst in Sri Lanka.
- Ensure to have mosquito repellent on day and night and apply regularly. There are a lot of mosquitos in certain areas of Sri Lanka and those with dengue bite during the day.
- Stay in clean reputable hotels with a good rating especially when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
Sri Lanka Facts For Kids
- Sri Lanka is shaped like a teardrop and looks like a tiny dot in the Indian Ocean. It sits just below India and is a similar size to Ireland.
- Sri Lanka is home to a wide variety of animals, including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, and many colourful bird species.
- Sr Lanka was home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations and ancient cities like Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- The country is famous for its tea production. In fact, it is one of the largest tea exporters in the world. The lush hill country is covered in tea plantations.
- Adam’s Peaks is a mountain in Sri Lanka considered a sacred site by multiple religions. It has a distinctive footprint-shaped impression at the top, believed to be the footprint of Buddha, Adam, or the Hindu god Shiva, depending on different religious beliefs.
- Sri Lanka celebrates many of its own festivals throughout the year. The most famous one is the Sri Lankan New Year, where families and friends celebrate together by playing traditional games and enjoying delicious food.
- Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka and the country won the Cricket World Cup in 1996.
- Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth, which houses a sacred relic believed to be a tooth of the Buddha.
Sri Lankan Souvenirs
- There are so many clever craftsmen and women in Sri Lanka. You will certainly find many locally crafted toys. We’ve seen some cute wooden tuk tuks.
- Consider getting colourful batik clothing like dresses, shirts, or sarongs for kids. They are comfortable, vibrant, and widely available in all of the tourist hot spots. The colours very much reflect the local culture.
- Sri Lankan masks are intricately carved and painted, often representing mythological or cultural characters. Masks can be a decorative item for older kids. They may be a little scary for younger children.
- Handwoven items like baskets, mats, or coasters made from natural materials such as reed or palm leaves make eco-friendly and practical souvenirs. Kids can use them for picnics or as decorative items.
- Consider purchasing small musical instruments like a rabana (a traditional hand drum) or a small wooden flute.
- Elephants hold cultural significance in Sri Lanka. Look for elephant-themed souvenirs like stuffed animals, keychains, or decorative ornaments. It could be the perfect keepsake for kids who loved a safari trip.
- Introduce kids to the flavours of Sri Lanka by gifting them small packets of aromatic spices or locally produced tea. It can be a sensory experience and a way to involve them in culinary exploration back home.
Remember to prioritize sustainable and ethically made souvenirs, supporting local businesses. Exploring markets and craft shops are the best places to pick up some souvenirs when visiting Sri Lanka with kids.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the wonders of visiting Sri Lanka with kids. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out via email or social media @travelmadmum.
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