The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
Flavours of Sri Lanka has been designed with the help of journalists from Food & Travel, the UK’s leading food and travel magazine, and allows you to savour the full diversity of the Sri Lanka’s distinctive cuisine as well as the beauty and history of the island. Try the huge variety of traditional curries throughout the island, including hawker stalls, explore spice and fruit plantations in the lowlands and tea plantations in the hills, indulge yourself with the freshest seafood while on the coast and also sample some award-winning modern fusion cooking along the way.
Upon arriving in Sri Lanka, head south to the nearby capital of Colombo. This is a compact and relaxed city, abounding with confidence and ambition once more. During your two days in the city, we have two excellent experiences to kick-start your culinary tour. Firstly, you will join a genial Sri Lankan host who will give you a professional cooking class on the terrace of her own home. Your host’s no-fuss approach means that the art of curry making is easy to replicate at home. After cooking you will sit down to enjoy lunch together.
Your second experience takes you to Bayleaf Restaurant in Colombo where you can learn about a fascinating industry that has had a presence in Sri Lanka since 1867. Join the founder of Sri Lanka’s first designer tea brand for a tea-tasting masterclass and discover the journey of this famous drink. On your final evening, consider a meal at one of Colombo's top restaurants, led (but by no means the only choice) by the wonderfully atmospheric Gallery Café.
Take an early domestic flight from Colombo to Jaffna, on Sri Lanka's northern tip. Jaffna cuisine is renowned for its use of the fresh seafood readily available along the coast, particularly the signature dish: crab curry. Learn the secrets to cleaning fresh sea crabs and all the secrets to preparing a traditional Jaffna crab curry. To finish off the experience, sit down to one of the best crab curry meals you’ll have while in Sri Lanka. Spend the rest of the day exploring Jaffna town where sacred Hindu kovils dedicated to various gods are found in every street corner. Visit the ruins of Jaffna Fort, stroll around the bustling markets and snack in small local eateries and cafes. During the migrant birding season from September to March, flamingos and other water birds in their thousands line the Jaffna lagoon: a spectacular site not to be missed.
The following day, board a small boat to Delft Island, a remote and charming island where wild horses, left by the Portuguese, graze the barren plains. Delft Island - located in the Palk Strait, between India’s state of Tamil Nadu and the Northern part of Sri Lanka – is about as remote as it gets in Sri Lanka. View the old Delft Fort, an ancient Baobab tree and learn how Palmyra toddy and crafts are made with local farmers. End the day with a simple lunch with a local pastor and his wife at their humble home. You may like to round it off with a relaxing swim by an undeveloped beach.
Travel south by car to The Cultural Triangle where the chance to look upon the ruins of Polonnuruwa or Anuradhapura, and a potential clamber up the awe-inspiring Sigiriya rock as the heat falls out of the tea gives you an experience of Sri Lankan culture. Spend the next village at a remote village near Habarana – an area the locals call ‘God’s village,’ that is said to have been a refuge of King Wasaba (66-110 AD). Take a tractor journey alongside paddy fields, through miniature forests and vegetable and fruit plantations and stop along the way refreshing fruit slices and native aromatic herbal brews served in coconut shells. The journey also includes a feast of fresh vegetables harvested from the fields you have just explored, prepared in Sri Lanka’s traditional clay cooking pots and served on a lotus leaf.
Today you journey towards the hills to Jim's Farm Villas (all categories). This well-appointed boutique hotel offers great value and is set on a serene 50 acre organic farm with mountain views, midway between Dambulla and Kandy. Eat farm-fresh produce either in the privacy of your own villa or on a convivial group dining table. A restful day which allows you the chance to read on your terrace or take a swim in tranquil surroundings.
This morning you will wind your way into the heart of Sri Lanka's hill country. If you wish you can savour the 'Tea Experience' at a hill country tea factory or take a stroll through a tea plantation to discover gorgeous mountain vistas once gazed upon by the great tea entrepreneurs in colonial times. We have a range of activities to consider building into your stay in this cooler and entrancing climate.
Journey to the south coast and spend three days relaxing by its cove-like beaches and turquoise seas. Here, fresh seafood is brought ashore soon after dawn by local fishermen and buffalo are a reminder of the region's penchant for fresh curd and treacle. For the more active, Mirissa Water Sports, based at the Mirissa harbour offers several activities including whale watching, snorkeing, sailing, river trips, and sea kayaking. Rekuwa is a small fishing village near Tangalle where a fascinating Marine Turtle Conservation project is helping to save this endangered species.
Travel along the picturesque southern coast to the historic city of Galle. En route learn about the growing of cinnamon, particularly suited to the gentle coastal hills of southern Sri Lanka. This major export of Sri Lanka is used in both cooking and medicine. A local cinnamon planter will greet you at the border of a vast cinnamon plantation and will take you on a walking tour through a working cinnamon. Later you can try your hand at cinnamon peeling and visit a cinnamon factory. Explore its Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hours can be spent exploring the maze of narrow streets lined with Dutch and British period buildings still in use, the sturdy ramparts looking out to sea, the growing collection of art galleries, antique shops, cafes and restaurants. On your second day in Galle, learn to cook Biriyani, a native dish to the Indian subcontinent consisting of spiced rice usually served with meat and vegetable side dishes such as curried peas, malay pickle, cashew curry and raita. Learn to make this rich and delicious dish in the home of a local Muslim family with a long history in Galle Fort for an experience that is as cultural and authentic as it is delicious. With the assistance of her three daughters your host will take you through the basics of a biriyani, allowing you to take a hands-on role in the cooking process so that you will learn how to prepare, marinade, season, and cook the biriyani from scratch. Once you’ve finished cooking sit down for a meal with the family to enjoy the food you’ve made.
Soon it will be time to head up the motorway to the airport, full of good food and wonderful memories.
Galle Face Hotel, originally constructed in the 19th century, incorporates traditional Victorian features with stylish contemporary design. It is an attractive alternative to Colombo’s modern business hotels: the stately wooden panelling and staunchly Victorian rooms are resonant of a bygone age.
Jim’s Farm Villas is an escapist retreat set on a strikingly attractive, 50-acre coconut and spice estate near Matale. With Kandy and Dambulla both about an hour away, it offers a hill-country atmosphere in an entirely secluded setting
Strathdon by Jetwing (formerly Mandira Strathdon) is a colonial-style bungalow in the outskirts of Watawala just minutes from Dickoya in the south-west highlands. Flanked by three giant bamboo groves, it has a balcony terrace with spectacular mountain views and modern comforts. It sleeps 10 and can be booked in whole or part.
The Last House, so called because it was Geoffrey Bawa's architectural swansong, is positioned on an idyllic strip of land - lagoon on one side, beach on the other - on the outskirts of Tangalle. It has long been one of best villas in the south coast and also operates as a small boutique hotel. Few villas have a better beach.
Heritance Kandalama is a minimalist contemporary hotel cleverly designed by Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s famous architecture guru.
Galle Fort Hotel evokes a subtle sense of colonial grandeur. Enter through the unassuming doors, and a dramatic interior unfolds – verandahs and courtmetres, columns and arches, carefully restored to its original grandeur. Interiors are elegantly furnished with a minimalist style, blending old and new.
The Thinnai is a 39-suite luxury hotel located in the quieter part of Jaffna town. Closely situated to many of the interesting and historical sites in the Northern peninsula, Thinnai is a great place for families and friends.
Red Dot selects only the best accommodation in Sri Lanka, in its particular price range. Please suggest which of the three categories might most appeal to you. (You can tick more than one box).
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