How to Plan a Romantic Honeymoon in Sri Lanka

This island nation is the ideal destination for newlyweds in search of romance.

An aerial view of a newlywed couple on their honeymoon in Sri Lanka.

Inna Rabotyagina / Getty Images

This Southeast Asian island nation, located just off the tip of India, has been the subject of much buzz in recent years, quickly becoming one of the world's most up-and-coming destinations. And we understand why: A Sri Lankan honeymoon guarantees an epic journey where couples can experience an impressively wide array of cultures and experiences in one compact destination.

Everywhere you go leads to discovery: Ancient temples in the Cultural Triangle, artist havens in Kandy, palm-lined beaches in Tangalle, colonial-era buildings in Galle, leopards on safari in Yala National Park, and metropolitan grandeur in Colombo. For years, the island nation was unsafe for western travelers due to decades-long civil war, but since peace was finally achieved in 2009 and political and economic climates have stabilized, Sri Lanka is once again booming. Couples can spend anywhere from 10 days to two weeks exploring all this island nation has to offer, but most of today's honeymooners pair a Sri Lankan itinerary with a stay in the Maldives, the Indian Ocean archipelago famed for its luxe private island resorts, or a stopover in Dubai. No matter how much time you have, it's easy to narrow down your perfect Sri Lankan honeymoon itinerary using this overview as a starting point.

Where Is Sri Lanka?

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Planning Your Sri Lanka Honeymoon

Since 2009, tourism has continued to develop at a rapid pace in Sri Lanka, and while infrastructure is changing quickly, stretches of highway are still in development in many parts of the country and there are few domestic flights. It's entirely possible to get around by plane, car, bus, and train, but expect things to sometimes move a bit slower than what you may be used to. For those who want help with the entire planning process, it's not a bad idea to look for a travel agent or tour operator with a thorough knowledge of the destination to help you plan your trip.

Most trips to Sri Lanka from the United States include a stopover in the Middle East. For example, couples can choose the Qatar Airways overnight departure, direct from New York City to Doha, followed by a five-hour flight into the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo. While this is one of the most time-efficient routes from the States, you'll touch down in the middle of the night. Note that you can likely work with a travel agent or tour operator to arrange a "fast-track" journey through the airport when you land.

Language: Sinhala and Tamil are the official languages, though English is a recognized language spoken by a small portion of the country's population.
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee

When to Go: On the west coast, it's best to visit between December and April—steer clear during the heavy rains of monsoon season, which runs from May to August. On the east coast, it's best to visit between May and October.

How Long to Spend: Between 10 days and two weeks

Getting There: All international flights arrive at the main airport of Sri Lanka, called Bandaranaike International Airport or Colombo International Airport.

Transportation: There are trains and buses across Sri Lanka—some are old and slow, and some are much more modern and provide quick, easy service. Getting around by car is popular, though roads are narrow and often twist and turn, so the driving can be slow, too. It's highly recommended to hire a car service for the duration of your trip, or during the portions when you're traveling within the country. Taxis and tuk-tuks are available locally, too.

Must-Pack: Light layers, a rain jacket, walking shoes, sandals, sunglasses, sunscreen, and swimsuits.

Places to Stay During Your Sri Lanka Honeymoon

From luxurious and all-inclusive beachside resorts to safari camps that place you in close proximity to incredible wildlife, Sri Lanka is home to the continent's most beautiful accommodations. Here are some of our favorites:

ÀNI Sri Lanka

Located on five lush acres of Sri Lanka's southern coast, ÀNI Sri Lanka offers couples a luxurious, all-inclusive experience designed for small groups of guests (it can house up to 30 people). With sweeping views of the Indian Ocean, an emerald lawn, and multiple infinity pools, this stunning resort boasts a dedicated staff of 30 people (note the guest-to-staff ratio), top-tier wellness experiences, specialty dining, and romantic experiences on-site in spades.

The Wallawwa

 The Wallawwa feels worlds away from the bustling terminal from which you just came. Set in a 200-year-old manor home, once owned by the commander of the British Royal Air Force, the Wallawwa has been expertly restored and converted into an intimate boutique hotel. Waking up in your room's airy four-poster bed, surrounded by perfectly manicured tropical gardens, will immediately get you in a peaceful Sri Lankan state of mind—as will the alfresco breakfast and dip in the gorgeous outdoor pool.

Ceylon Tea Trails

A historic resort composed of five converted century-old tea planters' bungalows spread out across the hillside, you'll take your pick among Norwood, Tientsin, Castlereagh, Summerville, and Dunkeld bungalows—there's literally no bad choice. In fact, you don't have to choose just one: Most guests book multiple nights at Tea Trails and will either transfer bungalows midway through or, at the very least, go for lunch at a different one to view the breathtaking landscapes from another angle.

Chena Huts by Uga Escapes

Stay at Chena Huts by Uga Escapes, which sets the standard for safari-style lodging on the outskirts of Yala. There, you'll lay your head in thatched-roof bungalows, which, at first glance, are a contrast to their incredibly chic design, spacious interiors, and private plunge pools. Mornings start early at Uga Chena—after a quick breakfast, you'll hop in the jeep and head for the gates of the park (but skip the long line of vehicles waiting to buy daily safari permits, since someone from Uga Chena arrives even earlier to pick them up for you). After a three- to four-hour game drive, you'll return to camp; take a leisurely lunch, go for a stroll on the beach, or indulge in a spa treatment. Then, it's back in the jeep for a second, evening drive, where you may even get lucky and spot a female leopard with her cubs.

Hottest Hotel Openings This Winter: Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort in Tangalle, Sri Lanka

Courtesy of Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort

Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort

A Sri Lankan honeymoon wouldn't be complete without a stay on one of its southern beaches. The recently opened Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort offers a super-luxe experience on a secluded stretch of beach fronting a 21-acre coconut farm. Each of the 120 guest rooms and 32 villas (with private pools) have comfortable interiors and are spread out across the property for maximum privacy. Spend your days hanging by the pool (where you're given a basket with sunscreen, flip flops, and fresh oranges), play tennis and badminton, take a surf lesson, tour the nearby town of Tangalle, or hop on your complimentary bicycle or electric tuk tuk for a tour of the property. Return to the main building by 4 p.m. for—you guessed it—high tea. Afterward, book a treatment at the extensive spa (the second largest in Sri Lanka, offering full salon and ayurvedic medical services), followed by an intimate dinner at one of four restaurants, which blend Sri Lanka’s distinctive flavors with international cuisines.

The luxury Amangalla Hotel in the Fort City of Galle

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Amangalla should be your home base when visiting Galle. Set in a 1600-era Dutch building, Amangalla oozes romance—from the serene pool ensconced in vegetation to the antique furnishings in your simple yet chic room, and the candlelit piazza where dinner is served to the acoustic tune of classics like "Hotel California," played by a guitar-strumming duo.

Asian Elephant at Yala National Park

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Things to Do During Your Sri Lanka Honeymoon

You'll want to leave plenty of time to explore both the great outdoors and the varied towns and cities in this veritable paradise.

Visit the Ceylon Tea Region

The Ceylon tea region is the heart of the world's finest tea production. Upon visiting, you'll learn that the varying elevations and micro-climates impact the tea's flavors, colors, and depths.

Explore Yala National Park 

Did you know that Sri Lanka's Yala National Park has the highest population density of leopards in the world? That's right, this Southeast Asian island nation is home to tons of wildlife—peacocks, elephants, sambars, chital, crocodiles, and rare black-necked storks—which you can spot on safari. Yala National Park, the second-largest national park in Sri Lanka, is a six-hour drive southeast of tea country. (Yes, that's a long time to spend in the car, but we promise it's worth the hassle.) This 400-square-mile protected wildlife sanctuary is home to more than 40 species of rare mammals, including the leopard and sloth bear (an elusive hybrid of the same two animals for which it's named), in a landscape filled with rainforests, grasslands, wetlands, and sandy beaches.

Wander Through Galle

Make time to explore the historic city of Galle, a Unesco World Heritage Site and former trading port that's filled with Dutch colonial buildings, ancient mosques and churches, grand mansions, and museums. The city is quite small, so you could spend a day wandering its rambling lanes, popping into stylish cafés, and touring historic sites like the Dutch Reformed Church, built in 1640, and the Galle Fort, a walled fortress surrounded on three sides by the ocean—where you'll now find young boys playing games of cricket on the lawn. 

Stay in Colombo

Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka is a port city once situated along ancient east-west trade routes. The history of Sri Lanka—which was ruled successively by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British—is embodied in the city's architecture, which melds colonial buildings with modern high-rises. 

Where to Eat During Your Sri Lanka Honeymoon

The food in Sri Lanka might be just as much of a draw as the incredible wildlife and natural surroundings of the island nation. Couples can look forward to fresh seafood, a huge range of types of curry with boiled rice, fresh fruits, and much more.

The Gallery Café

Located in Colombo, enjoy a curry at the Gallery Café, set in the former offices of world-renowned Sri Lankan architect, the late Geoffrey Bawa. 

Sea Spray Restaurant

Known as one of Colombo's best restaurants, the rooftop here is the place to be. Expect panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, traditional Sri Lankan fare, and some of the best seafood in the country.

The Ministry of Crab

This award-winning restaurant is all about—you guessed it—various types of crabs and crab-inspired dishes. Featuring an open-kitchen style, The Ministry of Crab is housed in Colombo's 400-year-old Dutch hospital and is one of the best places to try  Sri Lankan crab.


Located in Colombo's Galle Face Hotel, couples can expect to find continental cuisine here (mostly European flavors) alongside an impressive wine list, five-star service, and an on-site art gallery

Helga's Folly Kitchen

Located just a 15-minute walk from the ancient kingdom of Kandy, couples will revel in the views of mountains, a lake, and the jungle from this whimsically-decorated hotel restaurant that serves traditional Sri Lankan fare, specializing in biryani.

Budgeting for a Sri Lanka Honeymoon

Flights to Sri Lanka and your accommodations (depending on the level of luxury) will be the largest chunk of your honeymoon budget when planning a trip to Sri Lanka. Flights from the U.S. can hover in the $1,200 to $1,500 range, and while airbnbs and guest houses are incredibly affordable (think as little as $20), all-inclusive luxury resorts can be much steeper (in the $300-$500 range).

However, expect your U.S. dollars to go far in the island nation when it comes to food, drink, domestic travel, and souvenirs.

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