In 1960 the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world's first female prime minister.
Almost all of the hotels and villas are geared up for welcoming families with fantastic facilities, and friendly, experienced staff. The concept of the family is as important in Sri Lanka as anywhere and so you will find that travelling with your children and loved ones will actually enrich your journey through the island.
Families with young children
For families with toddlers a beach holiday in Sri Lanka is probably the best option. Between September and March the south coast is ideal. The currents can be strong but there are safe bathing beaches and pools. Wijaya Beach, close to Galle, is particularly good for young children as there is a large pool sheltered by a reef, so the water is shallow and the waves are not too high. There are several luxury villas and hotels on this stretch of coast with large suites and interconnecting rooms that are suitable for families.
A family holiday itinerary in Sri Lanka should include a visit to the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage where children can see baby elephants being bottle-fed and also the elephants bathing in the river. Many of these are wild elephants that have been rescued after injury and sickness. The Elephant Gathering in Minneriya National Park, which takes place between July and September is a must if you are in Sri Lanka at this time. It is thought to be the largest coming together of the animals in the world and is a real wildlife spectacle.
Families with older children
For older children staying in a tented safari in Yala National Park is a popular way to spend part of a family holiday in Sri Lanka. A BBC study has found this area of land in Sri Lanka’s deep south to have the highest density of leopards in the world. It is great fun traveling along dirt roads in a jeep, looking out for the elusive cats, sloth bears, pythons and rare birds.
If you are considering taking a family holiday in Sri Lanka with older children, then there are plenty of other adventure activities to try. These include white water rafting in Kitulgala, which was the setting for the film Bridge over the River Kwai. Another wonderful way of discovering true Sri Lanka is walking through the Knuckles Mountain Range where you will come across remote villages, stunning views and waterfalls.
For those feeling really energetic, then it is well worth climbing Adam’s Peak, one of the highest mountains on the island and a place that is sacred for four religions.
Families who are interested in history and culture will find that their imaginations come alive in Sri Lanka’s ancient cities. Anuradhapura is home to soaring red brick dagobas, which until a few years ago were covered in plants and trees after lying abandoned for almost one thousand years. Sigiriya Rock Fortress is also fascinating; especially to imagine that King Kasyapa lived here in the 5th century and even bathed in luxurious baths right on top of the rock.
The incredible variety of landscapes, climates and activities make Sri Lanka a fantastic destination for a family holiday.