The idyllic island paradise of Sri Lanka is home to a treasure trove of wonders for travellers, from turquoise-blue waters and pristine beaches to ancient sacred sites and lost cities. Tropical rainforests and majestic mountains provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures such as trekking through the jungle and exploring nature trails, while thrill seekers will love the adrenaline rush of white-water rafting over the rapids of Kelani River. Yala National Park, the second largest of Sri Lanka’s numerous national parks, is home to an incredible variety of wildlife including elephants, leopards, crocodiles, monkeys and exotic birds. When you’re looking for cheap flights to Sri Lanka, you’ll discover that almost all flights from the UK land at Bandaranaike International Airport about 20 miles north of Colombo, the island’s commercial capital.
Sri Lanka offers guaranteed warm temperatures all year round; however, as the country is affected by two separate monsoons, you need to plan the timing of your trip carefully. From April to September the west and southwest of the island is affected by monsoon weather, while the northeast monsoon period runs from November to March. Then, just for good measure, there is a risk of rain and thunderstorms throughout the entire country during October and November. As a result, the best time to visit the west and south of the island is from December to March, while April to September offers the best weather on the east coast. Prices tend to peak from June to August, so book well in advance to get your hands on cheap fares to Sri Lanka from the UK.
There are a number of options to choose from for flights to Sri Lanka from the UK. You can fly to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport with Emirates via Dubai from Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and London Gatwick. Etihad stops in Abu Dhabi en route from Edinburgh, Manchester and Heathrow, while Doha is the connecting airport for flights with Qatar Airways from Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Heathrow. Your best bet from other UK airports is to fly to London and take a connecting flight from Heathrow. Additional airlines that offer good deals from London include Oman Air via Muscat, and Jet Airways via Mumbai.
Bandaranaike International Airport is located approximately 20 miles north of Colombo city centre. If possible, you should try to arrange your airport transfer in advance, as local transport options are limited. Taxis are available from the arrivals area and the fare to the centre of Colombo is likely to be 2,500-3,000 Sri Lankan rupees (LKR), depending on your final destination. You’ll pay slightly more for a taxi with air-conditioning. It usually takes around 30 minutes to drive to the city centre but during rush hour it can take up to an hour. An express public bus service, the SLTB 187-E3, links the airport with Pettah Bus Station in central Colombo. The journey takes around 25 minutes and the fare is approximately LKR110.
No visit to Sri Lanka would be complete without taking in some of the island’s magnificent cultural monuments and historic sites, many of which are located in the area known as the “Cultural Triangle”. You could start off in Kandy, Sri Lanka’s second-largest city, and pay a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. One of the country’s most holy places of worship, the shrine is home to Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha, which is kept in a well-guarded casket. From there, travel north to the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura, the former capital city of Sri Lanka for more than 1,000 years. Nearby Mihintale is revered as the birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, while the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa features a wealth of ancient Buddhist monuments. Climb the mighty Lion’s Rock to the remains of Sigiriya, the UNESCO-listed “Fortress in the Sky”, and make sure to admire the amazing rock frescoes on your way to the top.
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