After suffering decades of civil unrest, this tear-shaped, predominantly Buddhist island just off the southern coast of India is on the up and up.
Colombo’s whitewashed British colonial buildings and villas have been given a fresh lick of paint and high-end lodgings at seventeenth-century fort neighbourhood Galle are often so rammed to the rafters that visitors must check into converted 17th and 18th-century Dutch homesteads instead.
But don’t worry – The Shangri-La Colombo, Sheraton Colombo, Mövenpick Colombo, Shangri-La Hambantota and Soneva Jani are all scheduled to open next year so soon there’ll be plenty of gorgeous places to stay! And there’s plenty to see on this spice-rich island.
Sri Lanka, still referred to as Ceylon in the tea world, is one of the world’s biggest exporters of tea and the island is covered in staggeringly beautiful tea plantations. Sigiriya, the 5th century BC citadel built by the rebel king Kashyapa, boasts gardens, bathing pools, colourful frescoes and mountaintop palaces; the island has a glut of national parks and the Sri Lankan riviera, as it is unofficially known, incorporates great swathes of sand around the island’s south and west coastline.
PERFECT FOR COUPLES:
Seeking sensory and spiritual fulfilment.
MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACH:
Affected to some degree by time of year, Unawatuna is popular with tourists and has been said to be one of the island’s most beautiful, but further south is the lovely Marissa, a sweeping pretty bay.
Trekking through the tropical splendours of the Minneriya National Park, famous for its annual gathering of 300 elephants, the world’s largest recorded wild congregation.