Undiscovered Sri Lanka

Getting off the tourist trail in Sri Lanka

If measured by size alone, Sri Lanka would be a middleweight – the planet’s 25th largest island, roughly equal to Tasmania, and significantly smaller than Ireland and Hokkaido. On a map the country appears as a modest dot below the vastness of its northern neighbour India.

But measured by cultural heritage, natural diversity and physical beauty, Sri Lanka is a global heavyweight, which might explain the country’s meteoric rise to prominence as a travel hotspot in recent years.

About this guide

From ancient ruins to a vibrant and welcoming contemporary culture; from lazy afternoons on glorious beaches, to hikes through the rolling hills of tea country and wild elephant spotting in untouched national parks; this is a destination that truly has it all.

Despite having its hard-won stability rocked by the tragic events of Easter 2019, Sri Lanka's tourism infrastructure is developing in leaps and bounds. Hospitality is warm and abundant, transport is convenient, and accommodation – particularly in the independent boutique sector – is world-class.

But there is a downside to the country’s tourism boom. Rampant commercialisation along parts of the southwestern coast has lead to a proliferation of awful resorts and crowded, dirty beaches. Many of the most popular locations are busy, polluted and poorly-managed. Animal tourism, especially involving captive elephants, leaves a dark stain on the country’s environmental credentials.

Fortunately, as this guide shows, it’s remarkably easy to get away from it all and experience what might be called the real Sri Lanka. While the crowds line up at hotel buffets and squabble for sun loungers, you can get well and truly off the tourist trail and enjoy the country in all its diverse and authentic glory.

It might take a little extra effort, and perhaps the assistance of an expert tour operator or travel agent, but an undiscovered Sri Lanka awaits. And it’s certain to be worth the effort.

Authors Vidya Balachander, Ethan Gelber
Editors Matthew Barker
Format PDF
No. of Pages 67
This guide is presented by Yonder

Why Horizon Guides?

Expert travel guide

Expert travel guides

Our guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for reliable and impartial travel advice.

Authentic experiences

Authentic experiences

We curate exceptional trips in underrated places, organised by the very best tour operators who live and breathe their destinations and are passionate about authentic, responsible tourism.

Give back to mother nature

Give back to mother nature

We'll plant 50 trees for every trip booked via the Horizon Guides site in partnership with the International Tree Foundation, who carry out sustainable community forestry projects in Africa.