Travel Tips and Recommendations
Whether you are here for a weekend or a long stay, we want you to experience the best that this tear drop nation has to offer and after careful research and reviewing we’ve compiled the following tips and recommendations so that you can make the most of your trip!
- Slightly Chilled Guest House – one of the best kept secrets in Sri Lanka, this tranquil guest house is the perfect base from which to climb Adam’s Peak, situated a mere ten minutes away. The rooms are simple, but clean, the staff attentive and the food is delicious. You can’t get a better location if you are going to Adams Peak, the setting and views are just exquisite. (Adam’s Peak, Delhousie, 0513519430)
- Bandarawela Hotel – A historic hotel, which is worth a look. Enjoy afternoon high tea on the lawn. (No. 14, Welimada Road, 057 2222501)
- Jetwing Vil Uyana – lunch or dinner in the second floor restaurant with views to Sigiriya rock. (066 4923583)
- Heritance Kandalama – a great spot for lunch. (066 5555000)
- The Ministry of Crab – this restaurant owned by Dharshan Munidasa and two famous cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara is a great experience. Enjoy delicious crabs, prawn curries and no fuss dining (Dutch Hospital, Col 1, 011 2342722)
- The Gallery Café – previously the studio of the architect, Geoffrey Bawa, this is one of the trendiest spots in town. Great atmosphere and great food. (Alfred House Gardens, Col 3, 011 2582162)
- Lagoon – good for seafood. You can choose from a mini market-style selection of fish, prawns, crabs and lobster and have them cooked to your preference. (Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Col 3, 011 2497371)
- Nihonbashi – fantastic Japanese restaurant (No. 11, Galle Face Terrace, Col 3, 011 2323847)
- Nuga Gama – a traditional village setting in the middle of the city. This is a good place to have Sri Lankan rice and curry although it is outside, therefore it is better to dine here in the evening. (Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Col 3, 011 2582162)
- Park Street Mews – a laid-back café atmosphere in the daytime. Good for lunch. Alcohol is not served but you can bring your own. (50/1 Park Street, Col 3, 011 2300133)
- Barefoot Café – an atmospheric lunch spot serving salads, sandwiches and quiches. There is also a good specials board with other dishes. (706 Galle Road, Col 3, 011 2589305)
- Amangalla Hotel – delicious food, a wonderful atmosphere and great for afternoon high tea. They can also do special occasions such as birthdays beautifully. (10 Church Street, 091 2233388)
- Galle Fort Hotel – a great spot for lunch (28 Church Street, 091 2232870)
- Peddler’s Inn Café – for milkshakes, sandwiches and an informal atmosphere (92 Peddler Street, 0773 141477)
- Fort Printers – A great setting for dinner. (39 Peddler Street, 091 2247976)
- Crep-ology – a great range of sweet and savory crepes in a casual setting. Open for lunch and dinner. (53 Leyn Baan Street 0912 234 777)
- Wok on the Wild Side – A corner side noodle shop serving Chinese and Thai fare, open every day for lunch and dinner (Church Street, Galle Fort)
- Allora – A cozy little Italian restaurant that serves wood fire oven pizzas. Open Monday to Sunday for lunch and dinner (47 Lighthouse Street, 091 2 222029)
- La Clochette – a family run French café across the street from 71 Peddlers open from breakfast to dinner. Hearty sandwiches and a range of croissants, brioches, lemon and chocolate pies. Also does great coffee. Closed on Sundays. (3 Parawa Street (a small road off Peddler street, near the Ramparts, 0912235193)
- Fortaleza – delicious Asian inspired fusion dining in a warm and cozy ambience. (No. 9 Church Cross Street, Galle, 091 2 233415)
- Elita – warehouse-turned-restaurant overlooking the lighthouse in Galle Fort that does great fusion dining
- The Lighthouse Hotel – a great setting for afternoon sundowners with the waves crashing on the rocks below. (Dadella, 091 2223744)
- Aditya – this is a great spot for lunch or dinner. The Thai dishes are particularly good. Aditya is a beautiful boutique hotel situated about 15-20 minutes from Galle. (719/1, Galle Road, Devenigoda, Rathgama, Galle, 091 2267708)
- Kahanda Kanda – a magical lunch spot. Eat in the ambalama with views to Koggala lake and over paddy fields. There is a delicious three-course lunch menu. Afterwards you can enjoy a swim in the dark emerald-coloured pool. (Angulugaha091 4943700)
- Villa Mayurana – A beautiful hill top villa that does great three to five course lunches and dinner. (Pelassa Road, Santhosagama Ahangama, 091 7390083)
- Helga’ s Folly – for something totally different and extraordinary. A good place for a cup of afternoon tea. (Off Mahamaya Mawatha, 081 2234571)
- Kandy House – a great spot for lunch or dinner. The Kandy House is a stunning old family house that has been sensitively restored into a boutique hotel. Make sure your driver knows where it is as it is out of Kandy town but well worth a visit. (Amunugama Walauwa, Gunnepana, 081 492 1394)
- Earl’s Regency Hotel – has a hidden private dining room, which serves good food. (Tennekumbura, 081 2422122)
- Slightly Chilled – is a welcome stop on any trip through Kandy, especially to rest weary feet. There is a relaxed atmosphere, and simple yet scrumptious food. Watching the world go by from the roof top balcony is a must, the view is one of the most outstanding of the city. (No 29a, Anagarika, Dharmapala, Mawatha, Kandy, 94771887255)
- The Empire Café – Conveniently located in center of Kandy right next to Temple of the Tooth. An iconic setting for a relaxed snack or light meal overlooking a UNESCO heritage site. Open all day and serving quality coffee and teas, smoothies, juices, breakfast, salads, Sri Lankan curry, soups, delicious sandwiches, pasta, cakes and snacks. (Temple Street, Kandy, 081 2 239870, open from 07:30 – 19:30)
- The Golf Club is a great place to sit and eat toasted sandwiches for lunch.
- Jetwing St. Andrews – lunch or dinner in the atmospheric wood-paneled dining room. (No.10 St Andrew’s Drive, 052 2223031)
- Tip – stop at one of the strawberry cafes around Gregory Lake and enjoy freshly picked strawberries
- Maya Villa – a good lunch spot. (Old House, Temple Road, Aranwella, Beliatta, 047 5679025/6)
- Amanwella – a romantic spot for dinner in front of the ocean. (Bodhi Mawatha, Wella Mawatha Godellawela, 047 224 1333)
- The Last House – does great lunch and dinners for outside guests. Ananda does an amazing crab curry. (Pubudu Mawatha, Seenimodara, Nakulugamuwa, 081 5638006)
- Manuela’s place on the beach does basic Italian and it is a cool place to hang out
- Coco Tangalla – a wonderful setting for lunch. Enjoy a swim in the pool or the sea too. (Pubudu Mawatha, Seenimodara, Nakulugamuwa, 081 563 8006)
- APA Villas – a good lunch spot, right on the beach. (091 2283320, 78 M.S. Matara Road)
- Wijaya Beach restaurant– for a funky, upbeat beach feel, great food and sea views. (Dalawella, 0777903431)
- Why Beach – for amazing Italian cuisine including homemade gnocci (Uyana Bandarawatta, Matara Road)
- Aqua – a trendy beach hotel with a good menu. The Sri Lankan curry is good as well as the Thai dishes. (Matara Road, Palutugaha Junction, 091 7200500)
- Kingfisher – for great food and cocktails on the beach. (Devala Road, 0773 408 404 / 5)
- One Love – an informal, relaxed setting, great for Sri Lankan rice and curry. (Devala Road)
- Lucky Tuna – simple fresh seafood dishes on the beach (Devala Road, 091 4380346)
Sri Lanka has wonderful jewelry, handloom textiles, books and handicrafts and we find that most people like to a bit of shopping along the way and take something home. The following is a list of some of our favorite shops. This list has been carefully researched by Sri Lanka In Style and is based on personal taste, the quality of the products sold in these shops and the guarantees they give.
Important note: Important Note: We DO NOT recommend any shops we have not listed here and our Chauffeur Guides will not attempt to take you to other shops unless you particularly request them to do so.
As a general rule we think shopping in general is best left to the end of your trip particularly for handlooms, home ware and art. Having said this we find Kandy is probably the best place to buy jewelry from a price-quality perspective as there are many outlets in competition.
- Nishantha Wood Carving: Small gift items to take home as well as furniture. You can also see a carving demonstration. (No.3, 26th Post, Hathamunua Road, 027 2222187)
- Henry Batiks: Interesting to see how batiks are made in a live demonstration. (Sigiriya Road, Inamaluwa, Dambulla)
- Silk Gardens: Here you can find silk saris, scarves, T-shirts. You can try wearing a sari as well as see a demonstration of how silk is made. (Trincomalee Road, Inamaluwa, 066 2286644)
Art & Antiques
- Kandyan Arts and Crafts Centre: Good for buying local craft items. (Next to Queens Hotel)
- Waruna Antiques: An interesting treasure trove of antiques, which includes furniture, paintings and jewelry. (761 Peradeniya Road, 814470925)
- Hemachandras: A reliable jewelry shop. (939 Peradeniya Road, 081 2387387)
- Premadasa: Another established and reliable jewelry shop. (692 Peradeniya Road, 081 2389789)
Clothing & Gifts
- Barefoot – A smaller outlet of the main Colombo store. Great for gifts to take home – colorful sarongs, clothes, toys, books, tea and more. (41 Pedlar Street, 091 2226299)
- Exotic Roots: A fun shop selling bowls, jewelry and colorful paintings. (32 Church Street, Galle Fort, 091 2245454)
- Lolapalooza: A fun shop selling beautiful Mimimango clothes, ideal for the beach. Also bags, jewelry, scarves and gift items. (Pedlar Street, 091 2242702)
- Mimimango: A small boutique selling beautiful clothes by the designer Jo Eden. Beautiful dresses, kaftans, scarves and bags made in light, cool materials that are ideal for the heat. (40 Leyn Baan Street, 091 2234765)
- Orchid House: A great shop for buying gifts to take home – tea, spices, linen clothes, coconut spoons, bowls made from kitul wood and much more. (28A Hospital Street, 091 7429090)
- Shoba Girls: This is a women’s cooperative that sells beautiful lace products including nightdresses and cards. (Pedlar Street)
- KK Shop: A great interiors shop selling fine linen, towels, fabric and other items to decorate the home. This is a partner concept to Kahanda Kanda, the boutique hotel. (36 Church Street, 091 7212391)
- Souk 58: Beautiful homeware items including bowls, candles and bags. Also a good baby / children’s clothing range. (58 Church Street, 091 2222358)
Art & Antiques
- Olanda: A wonderful treasure trove of antiques – beds, Dutch chests, columns, lamps, plates and much more. (30 Leyn Baan Street, 091 2234398)
- Sithuvili: An atmospheric shop selling chests and bowls decorated with traditional Buddhist temple designs including vines and lotus flowers. There are also painted wooden panels and large paintings. (56 Leyn Baan Street, 0777914277)
- The Museum Shop: Full of antique and precious jewelry as well as lots of other interesting artifacts. (31-39 Leyn Baan Street)
- Manjari: Galle’s main department store. Fun to have a browse. Great for colorful trivia – fabrics, beads, sequins, feathers etc! (Wakwella Road)
- The Old Railway: Beautiful clothes and dresses made by Catherine Rawson as well as soft toys and home ware items. There is a good café upstairs too. (942 Havelock Road, Galle, situated on the canal between the railway and bus stations, 0776 263 400)
- Udara Antiques: Worth browsing for antiques, lamps and pots. (266 Matara Road Peellegoda Unawatuna, 091 2224315)
Bath & Body
- Siddhalepa: A good range of ayurvedic products such as balms and creams as well as a spa. (33 Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 07, 011 2698161)
- Spa Ceylon: Beautiful ayurvedic products made using ingredients famous to Sri Lanka such as pink lotus, sandalwood, ginger and ayurveda. A wonderful place to buy treats to take home. Also try out their spa treatments – foot massages, facials and much more. There are three main outlets in Colombo:
– Boutique 8B, Crescat Boulevard, Colombo 3, 011-5544398
– Park Street Mews 48D, Park Street, Colombo 2, 011 5340011/2307676
– Dutch Hospital Courtyard, Fort, Colombo 1, 011 5666663
- Aashkii: Offers handpicked designer ethnic wear and saris. (1 Maitland Crescent, Colombo 7, 0112 699196)
- Barefoot: This shop, café and gallery has become a Colombo institution. Talks, exhibition openings, film showings and quiz nights fill the evenings. During the day you can enjoy browsing for sarongs, gifts, books and toys. Everything sold here is uniquely Sri Lankan. (706 Galle Road, Colombo 3, 011 258 0114)
- Buddhi Batiks: This shop has a stunning range of batik dresses and clothes, as well as wash-bags, rings and notebooks.(Ward Place)
- Crescat: A shopping center in central Colombo. There are Mlesna and Dilmah teashops as well as a Spa Ceylon and a Keels supermarket in the basement where you can buy spices. (77 Galle Road, Colombo 3)
- Dutch Hospital: The restored Dutch Hospital has an Odel department shop, Barefoot, Spa Ceylon for bath and body products, Siddhalepa for ayurvedic products, Colombo jewelers, a teashop and a crafts shop. (Colombo 1)
- Gandhara: An eclectic shop selling furniture, home ware items, books, clothes and much more. (28 Stratford Avenue, Kirulapane, Colombo 6, 011 2596329)
- Melache: A small boutique selling clothes by a handful of talented Sri Lankan designers. (No 29/3 VisakaPvt Road, Colombo 4, 011 2595405)
- Odel: Colombo’s biggest department store. A great place to stock up on winter clothes. (No 5, Alexandra Place, 011 2682713)
- Rithithi: Stunning Indian saris, fabrics, scarves and jewelery. (19, Alfred House Garden, Colombo 3, 011 2581988)
- Paradise Road: This is the well-known brand and chain of shops by lifestyle designer Shanth Fernando. He also owns Tintagel Hotel and the Gallery Cafe in Colombo as well as The Villa Bentota. There are four different outlets in Colombo:
– Paradise Road – The main store selling home ware with a small café upstairs. (213 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7)
– A small outlet at the Gallery Café. (Alfred House Rd, Col 3, 011 2556563)
– The Paradise Road Studio, just next to the Gallery Café, which has books and home ware. (15 Alfred House Gardens, Col 3, 011 2506844)
– The Design Warehouse – For furniture. (61/3 Ward Place, Col 7, 011 2691056)
- Pettah Market: A traditional bazaar area close to the Fort district. Each street specializes in a different product from fabric, beads and sequins to cashews and dates, dried fish, ayurvedic medicinal herbs and gold. Best to go before 11am when it is a bit cooler or in the late afternoon. There are mosques and Hindu kovils in the streets that you can also visit.
- Premadasa: Good for gold jewelry and gems. (560 Galle Road, Colombo 03, 011 2595178)
- Trunk: Great contemporary and funky styles. (Cinnamon Grand, 77, Galle Road, Colombo 03. 0112441232)
Art & Antiques
Clothing & Gifts
- Green Path Fence: Along the fence that runs along the edge of Viharamahadevi Park and Green Path emerging artists display their paintings. Best to visit at weekends when there is more work on show.
- Hempel Galleries: Represents a handful of talented Sri Lankan artists. On appointment only. (30/3 Barnes Place, Colombo 7, 0777907321)
- Paradise Road Galleries: At the Gallery Café. The exhibitions change every six weeks and the gallery shows artists from around the world. (Alfred House Rd, Col 3, 011 2556563)
- Saskia Fernando Gallery: One of the city’s most interesting contemporary art galleries, which represents a host of Sri Lankan talent. (61 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, 011 7 429010)
- Theertha Red Dot Gallery: Theertha is an international network of artists and art organizations that promotes exchange of ideas and innovation within the contemporary visual arts. (39/4 A, D.S Senanayake Street Borella, 0773665548)
- Villa Saffron: Antique and contemporary furniture. (No 15, Bogahahena Road, Battaramulla)
- Ballooning: Sunrise Ballooning, Dambulla – Enjoy seeing ancient ruins, jungle and national parks from the air. Tel: 0773 522013
- Bicycling: Idle Tours in Galle – Offers a selection of great bike rides inland from Galle and Thalpe. Tel: 0777 906156
Peter Bluck in Colombo – Offers wonderful biking holidays. Tel: 0777 66903
- Boat Charter: Deccan – Luxury speedboat. Tel: 0773222662
Borderlands – A6-meter pleasure cruiser, that takes 4 passengers. The boat is moored in Weligama and is ideal for whale watching. Tel: 011 4410110
Sail Sri Lanka – Operates luxury day-long sailing cruises n Beruwela from October to April and Passikudah from April to October Tel: 0711 885 753
- Diving: Unawatuna Dive Centre – From here you can do diving, snorkeling and get your PADI certificate. Tel: 091 2244693 or Pearl Divers Tel: 091 22 42015.
Sri Lanka Diving Tours – Felician Fernando runs good diving tours and day trips on the East Coast. He is aPADI IDC staff instructor. Tel: 0777 648459
- Elephant rides: You can organize this with your chauffeur guide in Sigiriya and Habarana
- Rafting & Canoeing: Borderlands – Canyoning, kayaking and rafting in Kitulgala and other locations around the country. Tel: 011 4410110
Idle Tours, Galle – Paddle the Ginganga River. Tel: 0778 034703
- Rainforest Tours: Rainforest Rescue, Galle – A good range of rainforest walks and Koggala lake boat trips. Tel: 091 2232585
- Tea: Handunugoda Tea Estate, near Koggala – Learn how tea is produced and processed on a guided walk around the estate. Enjoy tasting different teas with a piece of chocolate cake. Tel: 077 3290999
- Turtle Spotting: Rekawa – Turtle Conservation Project. Ask your driver to take you here.
- Watersports: Sunshine Watersports, Bentota: Have fun tubing, water-skiing, banana boating and jet skiing on the Bentota River. Tel: 0777 941857
- Whale Watching
– Mirissa Water Sports: From this centre you can do whale watching, kayaking and much more. Tel: 077 3597731
– Jetwing Lighthouse Hotel: A good whale-watching trip is run from here. They provide you with a packed breakfast. Tel:091 2223744
– Borderlands Boat – A 6-meter pleasure cruiser, that takes 4 passengers. The boat is moored in Weligama and is ideal for whale watching. Tel: 011 4410110
– Deccan Boat charter – A luxury speedboat. Tel: 077 3222662
- Yoga: We can organize a yoga instructor to travel with you for a few days if you like. Here are some yoga centres /spots that we recommend.
– Galle – Amangalla hotel in Galle Fort (Tel: 091 2233388) and Secret Garden hotel (091 2241857) in Unawatuna.
– Colombo –Yoga Café – check the schedule on http://yogacafelk.blogspot.com
– Kandy – The Samadhi Centre, set in a forest, is a great spot for yoga and meditation. Tel: 081 4470925
Colombo to Kandy
- Ambepussa Rest House, Ambepussa – A lovely al fresco setting and a good rice and curry buffet at lunchtime as well as an a la carte menu.
- Wahalkade, Ambepussa – A well-designed restaurant set by a river. A lunchtime rice and curry buffet as well as an a la carte and kid’s menu.
Airport to Cultural Triangle
- Diyadahara, Kurunegala – A Sri Lankan rice and curry restaurant.
- Saruketha, Kurunegala – A Sri Lankan rice and curry restaurant. Tel: 037 4690667
- Gimanhala, Dambulla – A Sri Lankan rice and curry restaurant.
- Jetwing Vil Uyana, Sigiriya – A lovely setting for lunch in the second floor restaurant with views towards Sigiriya rock. Tel: 066 4923585-6
- Kandalama, Dambulla – Great restaurants to enjoy lunch in this architectural marvel of a hotel. Tel: 066 5555000
Cultural Triangle to Kandy
- Ena de Silva, Matale – A wonderful place to stop for lunch on the way from the Cultural Triangle to Kandy. This is the home of Ena de Silva, Sri Lanka’s most famous batik artist. Enjoy seeing how batik patterns are made before settling down for a Kandyan banquet with over thirty different dishes. Book ahead – minimum 4 pax. Tel: 066 2222777
- Ranwelli Spice Gardens, Matale – Delicious Sri Lankan cuisine.
- Sirilak Spice Gardens, Matale – Great setting, good rice and curry.
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
- Ramboda Falls Inn – Lovely setting by a waterfall. Good for Sri Lankan cuisine.
- Blue Field Tea Factory restaurant – Enjoy visiting a tea factory, followed by lunch
Kandy to Bandarawela
- Nuwara Eliya Golf Club – A beautiful setting for a simple lunch. The toasted sandwiches are famous!
- St Andrew’s Hotel – Enjoy a good lunch in the atmospheric wood-paneled dining room. Tel: 052 2223031
Hatton to Tangalle
- Centuria Hotel, Ambalapitiya – Good Sri Lankan cuisine.
- Kitulgala Rest House – Good for Sri Lankan rice and curry.
Yala to Galle
- Amanwella – Expect a fabulous lunch in a stunning beachfront setting. Tel: 047 2241333
- The Last House – Fantastic food. The crab curry is famous. Book ahead. Tel: 047 2241333
- Coco Tangalla – Great food. Book ahead. Tel: 081 5638006
- Taprobane Island – A magical setting. Wade across the water and set foot upon this private island. A great spot for lunch and a swim. Book ahead. Tel: 091 4380275
- Wijaya Restaurant, Thalpe – Great food and a wonderful setting. Try the oven-fired pizzas and the seafood dishes. Tel: 0777 903431
Galle to Colombo (Coast road)
- Lunuganga – Take a garden tour of the late Geoffrey Bawa’s estate. Following this enjoy a delicious lunch on the lawn. Book ahead. Tel: 077 3655865
- Club Villa – A lovely setting to have lunch. Tel: 034 2275312
- Villa Bentota – Just next door to Club Villa, this is a great place to have lunch. The menu includes many of the famous dishes from the Gallery Café in Colombo. Tel: 034 2275311
- Silk Route, Bentota – This restaurant is conveniently located right on the road. It is based on the concept of the Silk Road and fittingly the menu includes many deliciously spiced dishes.