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The compact, tear-drop shaped nation of Sri Lanka lays afloat in the Indian Ocean, barely 200 kilometres from its closest neighbour, India. A haven for curious travellers seeking unique experiences, Sri Lanka boasts a stellar combination of scenery, culture and history, beautiful palm-fringed beaches; lush national parks teeming with elephants and tigers; ancient ruins; verdant tea plantations, and a proud and welcoming people.

The country lays claim to over 3000 years of colourful history one of the longest documented in the world. Dutch, Portuguese, British and Indian visitors have all left their mark in a myriad of forms including colonial architecture, the refined cultivation and devoted consumption of tea and spices, and a national love of cricket.

Within what is predominantly a rural country, Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, is a microcosm of all that defines the scenic nation. The beating heart of Colombo is found within its markets awash with colour, lush gardens, and buildings both humble and grand. The nation's former capitals of Anuradhapura and Polunnuawara are famous for their stunning, well preserved ruins, and Sri Lanka's picturesque mountains cocoon rock fortresses and palaces including Sigiriya, who towers regally over her surrounding forest.

The fortified port city of Galle in Sri Lanka's South West is a fascinating place to explore. Sixteenth century Dutch settlers built the immense 36 hectare fort on the scenic headland, and much of it is in use today for residential and every-day civil purposes. Unrestored vintage buildings, architectural wonders and dramatic views are best discovered on foot as you wander the town's streets and encircling walls.

Sri Lanka is also rich in natural wonders. The extensive and well preserved Dambulla cave complex is renowned for its ancient paintings, while the Sinharaja State Forest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a World Biosphere Reserve. The Yala National Park, vast in its 1000 square kilometres, contains an impressive catalogue of six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries. It plays a crucial role in the conservation of Sri Lanka's endangered elephant and is an ideal location to spot the elusive leopard as it claims the largest population of leopards in the world.

No trip to this beautiful nation is complete without a visit to Kandy. Nestled within mountains, by a pretty lake, it is an excellent base to explore and imbibes everything that this wonderful nation has to offer. The delightful mix of antique shops, a bustling market and a great selection of hotels and restaurants serving Sri Lanka's fabulous and underrated cuisine, make Kandy a popular tourist destination.

Sri Lanka is a haven for walkers keen to explore the many trails on offer including six that lead to the imposing Adam's Peak. The sleepy village of Ella, nestled high in the mountains, and the towns of Nuwara Eliya and Kitulagala offer picturesque landscapes, stunning views and beautiful waterfalls (of which Sri Lanka boasts an extraordinary 103).

After exploring Sri Lanka's national parks and townships, an interlude on one of its many beautiful beaches is a must. Easy-going beach villages, lagoon trips and excellent surfing spots offer everything, and more, to travellers in need of rest and relaxation. From the popular hot-spot of Unawatuna, to sedate Mirissa, you are sure to find a stretch of sand that suits you.

Sri-Lanka's west coast, south coast and Hill Country.are best visited from December to March. April to September is the best time to visit the east coast and ancient cities region. Coastal temperatures average 27C all year around. Kandy's 'Esala Perahera' (the Festival of the tooth) takes place annually in July/August (exact date changes each year).

Click here for our suggestions on events and places to go at various times of year