Villas in West Coast, Sri Lanka

The west coast of Sri Lanka is the island’s original tourist hotspot, blessed with numerous picture-perfect gold sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see. These wide beaches are fringed with hotels and restaurants often hidden below the tall, swaying palms. Sandy tracks lead to water-sport facilities, signs point towards intimate spa and Ayurveda centres whilst stone pathways take you to bijou shopping malls where a whole range of island memorabilia can be found.

Local residents are friendly and never fail to offer their services; whether it is to take visitors bird watching inland, to a marine turtle hatchery such as Kosgoda, for a special temple tour, on a surfing safari in Hikkaduwa or on a scenic adventure up the Madhu Ganga River for a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s lush interior.

Between the bigger resort towns, the beaches (Balapitiya to Kosgoda for example) are more unspoilt and often deserted except for a handful of sarong-clad fishermen and their multi-coloured boats. But no beach is ever too far from the main road. Look up to the skies and you will see that the coconut palms in this western region, especially around Bentota, are often connected by tightropes used by toddy tappers - men who climb into the trees to obtain the sweet, milky sap of the coconut blossom that is distilled into the local alcoholic brew, arrack, which you must try at least once!

Just a short distance inland the scenery bursts with different shades of green as paddy fields, coconut and rubber plantations, verdant hills, lush valleys, mangroves, lagoons and foliage-covered buildings represent an authentic Sri Lankan village scene.

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Villas in Sri Lanka by region

Hill Country, North West Coast, South Coast, West Coast

Villas in West Coast by local area

Ambalangoda, Bentota, Hikkaduwa
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Apsara
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Apsara
Bedrooms : 3       Sleeps : 6
Rate starts at TBA

Set on the banks of the shimmering Bentota River, Apsara is a beautifully finished 3-bedroom villa just five-minutes from the beach. An excellent staff team plus top chef attend to all your needs so you can relax by the pool, savour the aquatic views and enjoy the villa’s luxurious facilities.

Key Amenities :
Sri Villas - Araliya (Villa Three)
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Sri Villas - Araliya (Villa Three)
Bedrooms : 4       Sleeps : 6-8*
Rate starts at TBA

The largest of Sri Villas’ trio of contemporary beachside holiday homes that share a big, sunset-view swimming pool and tropical garden, 4-bedroomed Araliya is fully-staffed and great for one or two families. If booked in conjunction with its two neighbouring villas it’s also an excellent choice for extended groups.

Key Amenities :
Max Wadiya
Ambalangoda, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Max Wadiya
Bedrooms : 5       Sleeps : 10-12*
Rate starts at TBA

Wide access onto an almost deserted sandy beach near Ambalangoda coupled with a large palm-shaded garden are highlights of 5-bedroom Max Wadiya. Relaxing, spacious, comfortable and full of colonial antiques, this villa is ideal for extended families, two individual families or groups of friends. Rates include all meals.

Key Amenities :
Sri Villas - Nisala (Villa Two)
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Sri Villas - Nisala (Villa Two)
Bedrooms : 2       Sleeps : 4
Rate starts at TBA

Nisala shares a big pool and beachfront garden plus spectacular sunset views with its sister Sri Villa properties. Fully-staffed, it has expansive living and dining space plus two serene sea-view suites. A great family holiday home or, if all three villas are booked together, an excellent choice for extended groups.

Key Amenities :
Sri Villas - Sagara (Villa One)
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Sri Villas - Sagara (Villa One)
Bedrooms : 3       Sleeps : 6
Rate starts at TBA

Out of Sri Villas’ trio of contemporary beachside holiday homes that share a large pool, tropical garden and spectacular sunset views, fully-staffed Sagara is the most suitable for couples and friends. If booked in conjunction with the other two villas it is also an excellent choice for larger groups.

Key Amenities :
Six Degrees North
Ambalangoda, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Six Degrees North
Bedrooms : 4       Sleeps : 8
Rate starts at TBA

Boasting absolute beachfront on a delicious slice of sand south of Ambalangoda, Six Degrees North is a chilled tropical retreat for a family or group of friends. Homely, relaxed and fully staffed, this 5-bedroom property with palm-peppered garden, pool and garden pavilion also offers a variety of Ayurvedic treatments.

Key Amenities :
Six Degrees North
Ambalangoda, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Six Degrees North
Bedrooms : 5       Sleeps : 10
Rate starts at TBA

Boasting absolute beachfront on a delicious slice of sand south of Ambalangoda, Six Degrees North is a chilled tropical retreat for a family or group of friends. Homely, relaxed and fully staffed, this 5-bedroom property with palm-peppered garden, pool and garden pavilion also offers a variety of Ayurvedic treatments.

Key Amenities :
Sri Villas
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Sri Villas
Bedrooms : 9       Sleeps : 16-18*
Rate starts at TBA

Sri Villas, a fully-staffed trio of boutique seaside properties, share a tropical garden, a large swimming pool and direct beach access. Sleeping 18 in total, these villas are perfect for large groups and for entertaining. Each is fully self-contained with its own living areas, dining space and kitchen.

Key Amenities :
Villa Republic Bentota
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Villa Republic Bentota
Bedrooms : 5       Sleeps : 10
Rate starts at TBA

This 5-bedroom riverside villa in the west coast water sports resort of Bentota celebrates cultural revolutionaries in both name and décor. Furnished with striking oriental pieces set within elegant open-plan living areas, this staffed family friendly villa with swimming pool, garden and private jetty is five minutes from the beach.

Key Amenities :
White House at Bird Lake No. 2
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
White House at Bird Lake No. 2
Bedrooms : 3       Sleeps : 6
Rate starts at TBA

A modern, 3-bedroom holiday home in a picturesque lakeside setting yet close to lively Hikkaduwa. With a simple – though striking – design, The White House at Bird Lake has cosy living and dining areas, a large swimming pool, modern conveniences and a fully equipped kitchen ideal for self-catering families, groups and couples.

Key Amenities :
Aluthgama Wood Carving Centre
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 25/3 River Side Ave, Aluthgama   Tel No. : +94 34 4936501
Wood carving shop with lots of fishermen statues, sculpted elephants and masks. There is an attached workshop where you can see the wood craftsmen in action.

Amaan Spa
Kalutara, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Kani Lanka Resort and Spa, St Sebastian’s Rd, Katuturunda, Kalutara   Tel No. : +94 34 4280801
Take your pick from ayurvedic treatments, body wraps, body scrubs, body polishes, beauty treatments, facials, slimming treatments and honeymoon packages at this boutique resort hotel.

Amaya Hills (Hotel Spa)
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Heerassagala Rd, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 2233521
This hilltop hotel has a great ayurveda centre in a quiet and relaxed setting. You can enjoy body oil massages, steam baths, facials and wraps.

Ambalangoda Beach
Ambalangoda, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Ambalangoda (south).
To the south of town, stretching for a couple of kilometres are Ambalangoda’s best beaches. Here you can stroll for a few kilometres and swim with care from October to April.

Ariyapala and Sons Mask Museum
Ambalangoda, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 426 Main St, Ambalangoda   Tel No. : +94 91 2258373
This huge museum, the larger of two in town, documents the history of kolam (folk) dances and sunni yakuma (healing) dances through interesting, well-laid out displays showing the evolution of each mask and their unique style. There’s a shop here too and you can see mask makers in action.

Azmaara Spa
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Bentota Beach Hotel, Bentota   Tel No. : +94 34 2275178 (ext. 457)
This spa with branches in hotels in Colombo, Bentota and the Maldives offers a number of rejuvenating therapies from massages, wraps and scrubs to beauty treatments including facials, manicures and pedicures.

Bahiravakanda Buddha
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Bahiravakanda Hill, Kandy
From its privileged hilltop perch, Bahiravakanda’s white Buddha gazes protectively over the town. Wander up to this elevated position you can share in the city views.

Bandarawela Hotel
Bandarawela, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 14 Welimada Rd, Bandarawela   Tel No. : +94 57 2222501
This old planters clubhouse dates back to 1893 and is easily the best and most atmospheric place in town to eat.

Bentota Lagoon Fishing
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Malu Banna, 15/3 River Ave, Aluthgama   Tel No. : +94 777117400
This alternative to deep sea fishing, especially during May to October when the rough seas are off limits, also offers glimpses of riverine scenery. Boats are fully equipped, and fish to be caught include mangrove jack, snapper, cat fish and mullet.

Bentota River Safari
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Malu Banna, 15/3 River Ave, Aluthgama   Tel No. : +94 777117400
Head off down the Bentota River to see crocodiles, monitor lizards, bird of prey, kingfishers and giant fruit bats. Trips include a journey through a beautiful mangrove swamp.

Bentota Village Bicycle Tour
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Malu Banna, 15/3 River Ave, Aluthgama.    Tel No. : +94 777117400
Head into Bentota village to explore this rural inland hinterland. You can visit a Buddhist temple and also stop off at Lunuganga for tea. Guided tours are organised through Malu Banna, but they also provide bicycles for hire should you like to explore on your own.

Cargils
Bandarawela, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Welimada Rd, Bandarawela
A fairly well-stocked supermarket with pharmacy that’s handy for self-caterers; they also sell Mlesna Tea and display a limited selection of liquor, beer and wine.

Cargils
Ambalangoda, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Galle Rd, Ambalangoda
Ambalangoda’s best-stocked one-stop-shop for grocery items. There’s also a pharmacy here and a small selection of liquor, beer and wine.

Central Market
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Off New Bazaar St, Nuwara Eliya.
This covered alleyway offers an insight (and a chance to buy) into the range of produce grown in the hill country – both familiar and unfamiliar. There’s also a whiffy fish and butchery section.

Citrus
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Galle Rd, Hikkaduwa   Tel No. : +94 91 4383244
Large resort-style hotel on the beach with an international a la carte menu and frequent buffet and BBQ nights.

Clothes Market
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Off New Bazaar St, Nuwara Eliya
Search out branded skiwear, leisurewear (Colombia, Helly Hanson, Quiksilver), fleeces, jackets and jumpers at this collection of stalls. Bargain hard; stalls fiercely compete for custom.

Coastal Snorkelling Cruise
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Malu Banna, 15/3 River Ave, Aluthgama   Tel No. : +94 777117400
Head to Induruwa Reef and Handharian Gala (rock) accompanied by a trained scuba diving instructor. All equipment is provided and the boat trip affords for stunning coastal views.

Coco Spa (Hotel Spa)
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : The Tea Factory, Kandapola, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94522229526
Set in amongst this glorious converted tea factory is Sri Lanka’s highest spa. The setting is stunning and the treatments – carried out by Balinese experts – are wide-ranging and very good.

De Silva Food Centre
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : New Bazaar St, Nuwara Eliya
The best dining spot in this local establishment is upstairs via an enticing bakery with cakes and savoury pastries (great for a snack). There’s an a la carte menu though it’s mainly limited to Sri Lankan and Chinese style cuisine. The lunchtime rice and curry is good.

Deep Sea Fishing
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Malu Banna, 15/3 River Ave, Aluthgama   Tel No. : 94 777117400
Catch your own fish for dinner; the sea teems with jackfish, barracuda, tuna, red snappers, wahoo, kingfish and sailfish! Head out deep sea fishing on a fully-equipped boat with GPS, life jackets and a toilet. Trips run for four hours and depart at either 6am or 2pm.

Devon Restaurant
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 11 Dalada Vidiya, Kandy
Local restaurant serving up short eats – meat and vegetable-filled rolls, savoury pastries and cakes – on the ground floor, and Sri Lankan cuisine (with North Indian and Chinese options) on the floor above. Service is quick (it gets busy) and food is relatively cheap.

Diya Sisila
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Elpitiya Road, Bentota   Tel No. : +94 777 402138
Cute little terrace restaurant with over water dining huts beside the Dedduwa Lake, 3km from Bentota and on the road to Lunuganga. Orders are taken the day before as all seafood is bought and cooked fresh. Rice and curry is also on the menu though they don’t sell alcohol so you must bring your own

Earl’s Regency
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Tennekumbara, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 2422122
Situated 4km to the east of Kandy, this grand hotel within sight of the Mahaweli River has a well-run restaurant with both a la carte and buffet options, depending upon the guest capacity of the hotel.

Earl’s Regency Spa (Hotel Spa)
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Tennekumbara, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 2422122
This five star hotel has a great spa where you can succumb to a number of treatments ranging from massages and body polishing to herbal baths and a steam room.

Escoffier
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 359, Galle Rd, Warahena, Bentota   Tel No. : +94 34 5625425
Next to Silk Route, this restaurant beside the Galle Road 3km south of Bentota has air-conditioned seating inside and on the terrace, fan-cooled tables. The menu has an international theme with a focus on grilled meats, fish and seafood.

Gangatilaka Vihara
Kalutara, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Galle Rd, Kalutara North
This very popular Buddhist roadside temple sits on the site of a former Portuguese Fort beside the Kalu Ganga river. The dagoba was built in the 1960’s and is the only one in the world that’s hollow.

Grand Ella Motel
Ella, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Ella   Tel No. : +94 57 2228655
The food here isn’t anything special – you’re best off picking rice and curry – but the setting is stunning. Come in the daytime for lunch or for tea to appreciate the best view of ‘Ella Gap’.

Grand Indian Restaurant
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94 52 2222881
Dine on North and South Indian cuisine at this eatery that’s part of The Grand Hotel, a Nuwara Eliya institution. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner; at other times an attached pastry shop soothes simple hunger cravings.

Gunatilaka Batiks
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 173A Rajapahilla Mawatha, Kandy
Come here to browse a decent range of locally produced batiks.

Hakgala Botanical Gardens
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Badulla Rd, Hakgala (10km southeast of town)
Panoramic views down over the velveteen Uva District are a highlight of Peradeniya’s wilder sister where roses, ferns, lilies, camphor, pines, eucalyptus and Monterey cypresses thrive. Bird species adore this natural wonderland and you also might catch a glimpse of elusive bear monkeys.

Handicrafts Bazaar
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : National Holiday Resorts Complex (behind the Golden Grill), Bentota
This little market has a few shops selling a range of souvenirs including wood carvings, sarongs, beach clothing, postcards, spices and other touristy souvenirs.

Hikkaduwa Beach
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Hikkaduwa
The length of sand that stretches from north to south of town is lined with guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, bars and dive operators, and as such is very lively for much of the year. Offshore is a Coral Sanctuary which is popular for snorkelers though much of the colourful coral has died off in recent years. You can charter a glass bottom boat to explore the reefs if you don’t wish to get wet.

Hikkaduwa Farm Shop
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 282 Galle Rd, Hikkaduwa (opposite the bus station).
This is the best place in town to buy fresh chicken and pork (both reared from their nearby farm) as well as beef and some mutton. If you’re after a particular cut – make sure you ask.

Hill Club
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94 52 2222653
The Hill Club offers the best insight into the colonial lifestyle of yesteryear; formal dress is mandatory – men can borrow a jacket from the club’s wardrobe – and you must pay a temporary membership of Rs. 100. White-clothed waiters serve up set lunches, five-course dinners and a selection of a la carte international dishes in atmospheric surroundings. There are also a couple of bars here too.

History
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 27A Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 2202109
This is one of Sri Lanka’s most unique eating experiences: dine on international cuisine in an air-conditioned setting where colonial-era prints and photographs hug walls and a slide show of even more pictures is projected onto the wall. They serve wine here too.

Horse Riding
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Nuwara Eliya Racecourse
Tired-looking ponies can be seen at the entrance to the racecourse or even around Lake Gregory. If you think the animal looks healthy (some do, some don’t), then hop on board (children) or talk your way into the racecourse itself where you can pay to ride on proper steeds.

Horton Plains National Park
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : B339 to Ohiya.
High altitude grassland (2,100m) featuring large patches of bird and wildlife-filled cloud forest, rushing waterfalls and rivers that are the perfect setting for hiking; trails extend up to 22km. Here you’ll also find World’s End, a sheer escarpment that falls steeply for almost 1km to the plains below; a magnificent sight. Try to get there early to beat the cloud and mists.

Humbugs
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Badulla Rd, Hakgala (close to the Hakgala Botanical Gardens   Tel No. : +94 52 2222709
This rustic roadside café, 10km southeast of Nuwara Eliya, is famous for one thing: strawberries! From their little cafe these growers sell strawberries in jam, in punnets, in milkshakes and most deliciously, in pancakes with whippings of cream.

Induruwa Beach
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Induruwa – 3km south of Bentota
South of Bentota, Induruwa Beach is wide and very pretty, and thanks to an offshore reef swimming is safer here than many other west coast spots between October and April.

Jetwing Hunas Falls
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Elkaduwa, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 2470041
Although this beautifully sited hotel is 27km from Kandy, it’s useful for properties tucked to the north of the city and for visits to The Knuckles Mountains. The food is as delightful as the scenic hilly outlook.

Jetwing St Andrews
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 10 St Andrews Drive, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94 52 2222445
The fine dining Old Course Restaurant, in the town’s best hotel beside the golf course, is an oak-panelled beauty where local and international dishes are served from an open-plan kitchen. There’s a wine cellar here (and an atmospheric bar), and the sommeliers give good advice.

Kalutara / Wadduwa beaches
Kalutara, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Kalutara (north) to Wadduwa
This stretch of beach – 8km – is pleasant from October until April and is backed by a number of resort hotels. Great for long strolls, the beaches here are relatively unspoilt.

Kandy City Centre
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 5 Dalada Veediya, Kandy
Modern city mall with a variety of shops including Mlesna Tea, a couple of bookshops, Stone N String (contemporary jewellers, www.stone-n-string.com) and a branch of the well-stocked Keells supermarket. There are also a number of banks with ATMs here.

Kandy Lake Boat Ride
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Kandyan Arts Association, Kandy
Although this cultural show is undeniably touristy, it offers the best glimpse into the dances, the costumes, the music and the traditions of Kandy. Shows feature consistent drumming and end with a daring feat of fire walking.

Kandyan Arts and Crafts Association
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 22 Sangaraja Mawatha, Kandy
This is perhaps the best place to pick up local arts and crafts; you can also watch local artisans at work.

Kani Lanka Resort and Spa
Kalutara, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : St. Sebastian’s Rd, Katuturunda, Kalutara   Tel No. : +94 34 4280801
The restaurant within this boutique hotel set on a narrow spit of land between the sea and the lagoon to the north of Kalutara is a lovely spot for lunch or dinner. Best to book in advance.

King Prawn
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Hotel Glendower, 5 Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94 52 2222501
This good Chinese restaurant boasts a generous menu of tasty chicken, meat, pork, fish, seafood and vegetarian Cantonese-style dishes. The pub-style bar here with lounge is one of Nuwara Eliya’s best; perfect for after dinner drinks.

Labookelie Tea Estate
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Kandy Road, Labookelie, Nuwara Eliya
Standing at an elevation of 2,000m around 20km north of Nuwara Eliya is this tea estate where you can tour the factory, wander the tea gardens and sample a brew from their little café. There’s a shop here too.

Lake Gregory
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Boat Yard, Lake Gregory
Take a pedalo out on the lake for an alternative glimpse at the emerald green tea fields and misty mountains that envelope the town.

Laksala
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 5 Sangaraja Mawatha, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 2222087
Government handicrafts emporium that sells a range of tourist related souvenirs; wood carvings, masks, lacquerware and basketry.

Laksala
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Udupusselawa Rd, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94522222575
Government handicrafts emporium that sells a range of tourist related souvenirs; wood carvings, masks, lacquerware and basketry.

Little Adam’s Peak
Ella, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : The pathway starts from beside a Garden Centre 1km along the Passara Road from Ella
Wander up Adam’s Peak’s smaller brother for the most spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, and views down the famed Ella Gap to the lowland plains in the distance. The walk takes around 45 minutes each way. Ask at your villa for a guide.

Lunuganga
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Dedduwa Lake, Bentota   Tel No. : +94 773655865
This, legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa’s spectacular estate inland from Bentota, provides the most stunning setting for lunch or high tea, both of which must be pre-arranged. Enjoy rice and curry spreads or pick from a selective menu of a la carte meals.

Lunuganga
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Dedduwa Lake, Bentota (6km inland from Bentota via Dedduwa Junction).    Tel No. : +94 773655865
This magnificent 23-hectare estate was the residence of the late architect Geoffrey Bawa. Comprising a beautifully renovated old house, a number of gorgeously-positioned buildings and intertwining terraces designed to overlook the gardens and frame the views; this garden is a true inspiration. Tours are best culminated with a delicious rice and curry lunch or high tea.

Mahaweli Reach Hotel
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 35 P.B.A. Weerakoon Mawatha, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 4472727
This five-star hotel (4km from the Kandy), has a wide ranging menu of western fusion cuisine with frequent buffets. The style is a little bit dated but the food’s good and the river outlook is very serene.

Malli’s Seafood Restaurant
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Pitaramba, Bentota   Tel No. : +94 7785 14894
Little first floor restaurant beside the railway track and opposite The Surf Hotel serving excellent seafood in simplistic though sophisticated surroundings. Downstairs are a number of little shops selling souvenirs, crafts and sarongs.

Mirissa Whale Watching
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Malu Banna, 15/3 River Ave, Aluthgama   Tel No. : +94 777117400
Malu Banna offer whale watching trips with transport included from Bentota, with pickups available at villas south down the coast to Ambalangoda, or further up north towards Beruwala (max 5km). The transfers take 2 hours each way, and the whale watching boats depart at 7am and 2pm daily.

Mlesna Tea Centre
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Dalada Vidiya, Kandy
Situated across from The Pub, here you can buy any number of teas – flavoured or plain – and pick from a range of tea-related memorabilia.

New Chinese Hotel
Bandarawela, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Esplanade Rd, Bandarawela   Tel No. : 94 57 2231767
As its name suggests, this local Chinese eatery serves up a fair range of Cantonese staples from its ground floor restaurant, and is situated opposite a children’s park.

New Curd and Honey Shop
Ella, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Passara Junction, Ella
This dingy looking local establishment beside the main road is not the best looking or the best situated eatery in town, but it serves up great curries along with a number of sweet and savoury snacks (curd and honey) that you can enjoy throughout the day. The owners are very friendly too.

New Hikkaduwa Wine Stores
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Galle Rd, Hikkaduwa (opposite Commercial Bank).
Browse a selection of local spirits (vodka, rum, gin and arrack) as well as a few international brands, notably Smirnoff Vodka, though these are few and far between. Also sells local Lion and Carlsberg beer, as well as a limited selection of wine.

No. 1 Roti Restaurant
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Galle Rd, Wewala, Hikkaduwa (opposite Citrus Hotel
The best rotis in town, in fact in all of Sri Lanka. All sorts of traditional and completely untraditional fillings are on the extensive menu here, sweet or savoury or make your own.

Nuwara Eliya Golf Course
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Nuwara Eliya Town   Tel No. : +94 52 2222835
Winding right through the town and adding a lot to its charm is this colonial golf course, which is scenically landscaped with pines, eucalyptus and cypresses. Rounds include green fees, club hire, caddy and balls, and cost from US$65 on weekdays and $70 at weekends.

Paradise Road
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : The Villa, Mohotti Walauwa, 138/8 – 138/22 Galle Road, Bentota   Tel No. : +94 34 2275311
Tiny outlet of a beloved Colombo institution where you can pick up decorative design pieces, scented candles, leather-bound diaries and deliciously fragranced ayurvedic toiletries.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Peradeniya Rd, Peradeniya   Tel No. : +94 81 2388088
This little restaurant situated in the heart of these famous botanical gardens offers the most serene setting in Kandy for relaxed daytime dining. The garden lawns are a great spot for picnicking too.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Peradeniya Rd, Peradeniya.    Tel No. : +94 81 2388088
Sri Lanka’s finest gardens cover 150 acres and are filled with an enormous variety of local and foreign tree and plant species. Top sights include the Royal Palm Avenue, the Orchid House, the Memorial Trees and the Bamboo Garden as well as the Java Fig that sprawls its boughs over a perfect-for-picnicking lawn. Guides tout their services at the garden entrance.

Poseidon Diving Station
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Seenigama, 2km north of Hikkaduwa
This little island temple just north of Hikkaduwa is dedicated to Dewol, a malevolent deity who is approached by those seeking revenge; as such, it’s a little unusual.

Ramboda Falls
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Nuwara Eliya Rd, Ramboda
Almost mid-way between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya (and just a few kilometres south of Pussellawa) are twin 100m waterfalls that plunge over jungle-clad cliffs. The Ramboda Falls Hotel, situated within view of the falls, has a restaurant that sells soft drinks, Sri Lankan food and some western dishes.

Ranjamina Crafts
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 173 Rajapahilla Mawatha, Kandy
This little shop sells a big variety of kolam (folk) masks as well as some fine Buddha and elephant carvings in sandalwood, teak and mahogany.

Ravana Ella Falls
Ella, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Ella – Wellawaya Rd (6km from Ella)
These 90m falls are one of Sri Lanka’s widest, and they cascade down the mountain and under the road bridge to continue its descent down. There are a few little shacks selling boiled corn and soft drinks.

Richmond Castle
Kalutara, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Palatota, Kalutara
This end of nineteenth century house blends Indian and British architectural styles. Originally built by wealthy spice owner, it is now an educational centre for underprivileged kids. Wander the grand building, admire the Burmese teak in the main hall and stroll the 42-acre estate.

Sahana Spa
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Saman Villas, Aturuwella, Bentota   Tel No. : +94342275435
A beautifully laid out luxury spa; treatments are carried out in private suites with sauna, steam shower, jacuzzi, flower bath, treatment room, dining pavilion and relaxing pavilion, and range from skin treats, facials, scrubs and wraps to ayurvedic treatments, hot stone massages and reflexology.

Saman Villas
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Aturuwella, Bentota   Tel No. : +94 34 2275435
Beautifully positioned restaurant and bar on a rocky promontory with spectacular views of the northern and southern coastline as well as the sea. The food is some of the most expensive in Bentota, but it’s good and there’s lots to pick from on the menu.

Sea Turtle Conservation Project
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Galle Rd, Bentota South (250m south of Escoffier restaurant).
Identify Sri Lanka’s five species of endangered marine turtle in tanks, along with hatchlings and buried mounds of eggs that are safely protected until the babies are ready to emerge.

Silk Route
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 357, Galle Rd, Warahena, Bentota    Tel No. : +94 34 4947947
Roadside restaurant 3km south of Bentota (next to Escoffier) serving dishes from each country on the Silk Route ranging from Moroccan couscous and Turkish kebabs to Thai curries and Indonesian mee goreng

Singharaja
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Galle Rd, Aluthgama
Sri Lankan short eats – filled bread snacks, savoury pastries and sweet snacks – are found on the ground floor whilst upstairs Sri Lankan buffets are put on for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Very reasonably priced and perfect for a quick bite to eat.

Sita Aman Temple
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Badulla Rd, Nuwara Eliya
Just before you reach Hakgala on the Badulla Road to the southeast of town, you find this brightly coloured statue-laden Hindu temple dedicated to Sita. Watch out for the red macaque monkeys.

Spunky Monkey Wakeboard Camp
Hikkaduwa, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Hikkaduwa Lagoon, 3km inland
Operating out of the Kallabongo Lake Resort, Spunky Monkey offers windsurfing, wake skating, waterskiing and banana boating atop the lake, as well as courses in wakeboarding between the months of October and May. You can also rent canoes to explore the lake for yourself.

Sri Ram
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 87 Bennet Soysa Vidiya, Kandy
For inexpensive authentic South Indian cuisine (without alcohol), this very local restaurant prettified by batik wall hangings is the go-to place. The lip-smacking menu includes thalis, dosas and idlis along with a selection of tasty meat and vegetable curries.

The Blue Water
Kalutara, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Thalpitiya, Wadduwa, Kalutara   Tel No. : +94 38 2235067
This boutique hotel’s main ground floor resort-style restaurant offers either air-conditioned dining inside, or fan cooled seating on the veranda. There are frequent buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner although you can also order a la carte. Alternatively, on the first floor there’s a much better fine dining restaurant.

The Devales
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Dalada Vidiya, Kandy
Four Hindu gods traditionally protect Kandy, and each one of these is honoured with a shrine in the city. Three of these shrines - belonging to Pattini, Natha and Vishnu – are situated in front of the Temple of the Tooth, whilst the fourth – Kataragama – is found in the city centre itself.

The Devales
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Kotugoda Vidiya, Kandy
Four Hindu gods traditionally protect Kandy, and each one of these is honoured with a shrine in the city. Three of these shrines - belonging to Pattini, Natha and Vishnu – are situated in front of the Temple of the Tooth, whilst the fourth – Kataragama – is found in the city centre itself.

The Grand Hotel
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94522222881
Overlooking the hotel’s gardens on the ground floor, this big restaurant serves up both eastern and western cuisine, although British style dishes are most typical. The hotel also has a traditional bar and a billiards room.

The Knuckles Range
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Mahiyangana Rd, Hunasgiriya (27km east of Kandy).
The rugged peaks of the wildlife-filled Knuckles are the hill country’s last great unspoilt wilderness; perfect for hiking and wildlife spotting. Guides are essential; ask the staff at your villa to arrange. Alternatively, drive up through Looloowatte village to Corbet’s Gap for stunning range panoramas.

The Pub
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 36 Dalada Vidiya, Kandy   Tel No. : 94 81 2234868
This Kandy institution boasts a first floor balcony that’s easily the best place to sit and watch the world go by. Afterwards, dine on pub-style international food indoors in air-conditioned coolness where premier league football and cricket matches are often shown on a big screen. Great if you’re feeling homesick.

The Tea Factory
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Kandapola, Nuwara Eliya   Tel No. : +94 52 2229600
Created out of the old Hethersett Estate Tea Factory, this five-star hotel - situated 14km east of Nuwara Eliya – serves up an international menu in the main dining room or more uniquely, in restored railway carriages (call ahead to book).

The Temple of the Tooth
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Dalada Vidiya, Kandy (beside the lake)
Sri Lanka’s most revered Buddhist shrine houses the legendary Buddha’s tooth over which is laid a pristine golden roof; a symbol of its importance. Guides hang around the entrance, and the best (though busiest) times to visit are for the pujas (ceremonial worship) held at 6am, 9am and 6.30pm where the doors to the room housing the tooth relic are opened briefly for public peeking. Other significant buildings part of the temple complex (once part of a sprawling Royal Palace) are the Sri Dalada Museum, the Audience Hall, the Raja Tusker Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Kandy Garrison Cemetery.

The Villa Cafe
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Mohotti Walauwa, 138/8 – 138/22 Galle Rd, Bentota.    Tel No. : +94 34 2275311
This restaurant within a beautiful boutique hotel serves up an exciting International menu of dishes sourced from their famed Gallery Café restaurant in Colombo. Seafood is a speciality (for platters order 24 hours before), there’s a wood-fired pizza oven and desserts are numerous.

Udawattakele Sanctuary
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Wewelpitiya Rd, Kandy
To the north east of town, this former royal reserve sprawls over a densely forest hillside. Pathways through the tree-filled sanctuary offer potential viewing of birdlife, monkeys, porcupines and wild pigs.

Victoria Golf Club
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Rajawella, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 712743003
Sri Lanka’s best situated golf course is set beside the Victoria Reservoir and in the shadow of the Knuckles Mountain Range. A little more than 20km to the east of Kandy, green fees start at US$35 a day. Here you can also horse ride too.

Victoria Park
Nuwara Eliya, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Nuwara Eliya
Despite being located in the middle of town, peaceful Victoria Park is an ornithological hotspot with the potential for spotting many endemic species of birds.

Vijitha Yapa Bookshop
Kandy Region, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : 5 Kottugodellie Vidiya, Kandy   Tel No. : +94 81 4474600
Search out English novels amongst a number of Sri Lankan books at this city centre bookshop. Also sells local magazines (mainly), stationery and maps. There’s a branch also in the Kandy City Centre (mall).

Water Sports
Bentota, West Coast, Sri Lanka
Address : Sunshine Water Sports Centre, River Ave, Aluthgama
Go windsurfing (VDWS courses available with ex-Sri Lankan champion), surfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, body boarding, banana boating, tube riding, jet-skiing and deep sea fishing with one of the most established water sports operators in Bentota.

Attractions and things to do
Ambalangoda

Ambalangoda Beach To the south of town, stretching for a couple of kilometres are Ambalangoda’s best beaches. Here you can stroll for a few kilometres and swim with care from October to April.

Ariyapala and Sons Mask Museum This huge museum, the larger of two in town, documents the history of kolam (folk) dances and sunni yakuma (healing) dances through interesting, well-laid out displays showing the evolution of each mask and their unique style. There’s a shop here too and you can see mask makers in action.

Galagoda Sailathlaramaya Temple Home to Sri Lanka’s longest reclining Buddha, this 35m long, 200-year-old statue is housed to the rear of the temple complex. Situated on a hillock, panoramic views extend over the eastern countryside.

Moonstone Mine Have a look at a working moonstone mine just inland from Ambalangoda. You can see the miners in action and also watch a demonstration of how the stones are sifted from the mud. There’s a big shop here too with many other gems on display.

Bandarawela

Hiking Bandarawela has a wonderfully climate that’s perfect for walking and the scenery to match. If you want to get out and explore, ask your villa staff for maps or request a guide to show you the best bits.

Bentota

Bentota Beach Bentota’s fine stretch of sand is great for swimming from October to April, and with care and in places at other times of year. The stretch between the Taj hotel and Club Bentota hotel has lifeguards so look out for flags. The stretch to the south is prettier and quieter though swimming is best in front of the Taj.

Bentota Lagoon Fishing This alternative to deep sea fishing, especially during May to October when the rough seas are off limits, also offers glimpses of riverine scenery. Boats are fully equipped, and fish to be caught include mangrove jack, snapper, cat fish and mullet.

Bentota River Safari Head off down the Bentota River to see crocodiles, monitor lizards, bird of prey, kingfishers and giant fruit bats. Trips include a journey through a beautiful mangrove swamp.

Bentota Village Bicycle Tour Head into Bentota village to explore this rural inland hinterland. You can visit a Buddhist temple and also stop off at Lunuganga for tea. Guided tours are organised through Malu Banna, but they also provide bicycles for hire should you like to explore on your own.

Brief Garden The estate of Bevis Bawa, brother of architect Geoffrey, boasts terraces, manicured lawns, borders of tropical blooms and hidden garden courtyards whilst the low-slung house is filled with interesting artwork, sculptures and personal photographs of Bevis posing with Hollywood movie stars.

Coastal Snorkelling Cruise Head to Induruwa Reef and Handharian Gala (rock) accompanied by a trained scuba diving instructor. All equipment is provided and the boat trip affords for stunning coastal views.

Deep Sea Fishing Catch your own fish for dinner; the sea teems with jackfish, barracuda, tuna, red snappers, wahoo, kingfish and sailfish! Head out deep sea fishing on a fully-equipped boat with GPS, life jackets and a toilet. Trips run for four hours and depart at either 6am or 2pm.

Diving PADI courses and fun dives are available with this operator in Aluthgama from November to April, plus snorkelling trips. Full equipment is provided.

Induruwa Beach South of Bentota, Induruwa Beach is wide and very pretty, and thanks to an offshore reef swimming is safer here than many other west coast spots between October and April.

Lunuganga This magnificent 23-hectare estate was the residence of the late architect Geoffrey Bawa. Comprising a beautifully renovated old house, a number of gorgeously-positioned buildings and intertwining terraces designed to overlook the gardens and frame the views; this garden is a true inspiration. Tours are best culminated with a delicious rice and curry lunch or high tea.

Mirissa Whale Watching Malu Banna offer whale watching trips with transport included from Bentota, with pickups available at villas south down the coast to Ambalangoda, or further up north towards Beruwala (max 5km). The transfers take 2 hours each way, and the whale watching boats depart at 7am and 2pm daily.

Sea Turtle Conservation Project Identify Sri Lanka’s five species of endangered marine turtle in tanks, along with hatchlings and buried mounds of eggs that are safely protected until the babies are ready to emerge.

Water Sports Go windsurfing (VDWS courses available with ex-Sri Lankan champion), surfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, body boarding, banana boating, tube riding, jet-skiing and deep sea fishing with one of the most established water sports operators in Bentota.

Ella

Ella Rock Hike up Ella Rock to feel on top of the world, and enjoy the most striking panoramic views. The hike takes in Little Ella Falls and is tough; it takes around four hours in total. It is best to go with a guide or a very good map – ask at your villa.

Little Adam’s Peak Wander up Adam’s Peak’s smaller brother for the most spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, and views down the famed Ella Gap to the lowland plains in the distance. The walk takes around 45 minutes each way. Ask at your villa for a guide.

Ravana Ella Falls These 90m falls are one of Sri Lanka’s widest, and they cascade down the mountain and under the road bridge to continue its descent down. There are a few little shacks selling boiled corn and soft drinks.

Hikkaduwa

Blue Deep Dive Centre Another good dive operator in Hikkaduwa that has been operating for a number of years (November to April only). Snorkelling trips are also arranged.

Hikkaduwa Beach The length of sand that stretches from north to south of town is lined with guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, bars and dive operators, and as such is very lively for much of the year. Offshore is a Coral Sanctuary which is popular for snorkelers though much of the colourful coral has died off in recent years. You can charter a glass bottom boat to explore the reefs if you don’t wish to get wet.

Mambo’s Surf Tours Hikkaduwa’s surf is legendary, and Mambo’s surf tours are the most established wave operator. They offer good instruction, as well as tours to local beaches; two-day surf and safari trips to Yala; and longer trips to Arugam Bay on the east coast.

Poseidon Diving Station This little island temple just north of Hikkaduwa is dedicated to Dewol, a malevolent deity who is approached by those seeking revenge; as such, it’s a little unusual.

Spunky Monkey Wakeboard Camp Operating out of the Kallabongo Lake Resort, Spunky Monkey offers windsurfing, wake skating, waterskiing and banana boating atop the lake, as well as courses in wakeboarding between the months of October and May. You can also rent canoes to explore the lake for yourself.

Kalutara

Gangatilaka Vihara This very popular Buddhist roadside temple sits on the site of a former Portuguese Fort beside the Kalu Ganga river. The dagoba was built in the 1960’s and is the only one in the world that’s hollow.

Kalutara / Wadduwa beaches This stretch of beach – 8km – is pleasant from October until April and is backed by a number of resort hotels. Great for long strolls, the beaches here are relatively unspoilt.

Richmond Castle This end of nineteenth century house blends Indian and British architectural styles. Originally built by wealthy spice owner, it is now an educational centre for underprivileged kids. Wander the grand building, admire the Burmese teak in the main hall and stroll the 42-acre estate.

Kandy Region

Amaya Hills (Hotel Spa) This hilltop hotel has a great ayurveda centre in a quiet and relaxed setting. You can enjoy body oil massages, steam baths, facials and wraps.

Bahiravakanda Buddha From its privileged hilltop perch, Bahiravakanda’s white Buddha gazes protectively over the town. Wander up to this elevated position you can share in the city views.

Earl’s Regency Spa (Hotel Spa) This five star hotel has a great spa where you can succumb to a number of treatments ranging from massages and body polishing to herbal baths and a steam room.

Esala Perahera Sri Lanka’s most spectacular festival takes place during late July and early August (according to the full moon) and boasts ten days of carefully orchestrated nightly processions featuring hundreds of costumed elephants (including one atop which the tooth relic casket is displayed), dancers and drummers. It’s a dazzling visual feast that attracts huge crowds; reserve seats through your villa well in advance.

Hantana Tea Museum Housed in a converted tea factory 4km south of town, this hillside tea museum showcases colonial-era machinery over four floors, interesting tea-related memorabilia and displays on two of the island’s tea pioneers James Taylor and Thomas Lipton.

Kandy City Tour Wander the city at will; stroll around the Kandy Lake, visit the Temple of the Tooth and Royal Palace Complex, have a gander at the olde worlde style architecture of the Queen’s Hotel and wander down Dalada Vidiya into the heart of town. Your villa may be able to organise a guide.

Kandy Lake Boat Ride Although this cultural show is undeniably touristy, it offers the best glimpse into the dances, the costumes, the music and the traditions of Kandy. Shows feature consistent drumming and end with a daring feat of fire walking.

Millennium Elephant Foundation This elephant retirement home close to Pinnewala is home to seven gentle giants. Here you can learn about their care, give them a scrub in the river, or sit astride one of them for an ‘elephant shower’ or a short trek into the jungle. There’s a museum here and a shop selling elephant poo paper.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens Sri Lanka’s finest gardens cover 150 acres and are filled with an enormous variety of local and foreign tree and plant species. Top sights include the Royal Palm Avenue, the Orchid House, the Memorial Trees and the Bamboo Garden as well as the Java Fig that sprawls its boughs over a perfect-for-picnicking lawn. Guides tout their services at the garden entrance.

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Sri Lanka’s most popular attraction 40km west of Kandy is home to the world’s largest collection of captive elephants. Time your arrival either for the thrice-daily feeding sessions (9.15am, 1.15pm and 5pm) or for when the elephants are taken to the Ma Oya river for a bath (10am-12pm and 2pm-4pm).

Ramboda Falls Almost mid-way between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya (and just a few kilometres south of Pussellawa) are twin 100m waterfalls that plunge over jungle-clad cliffs. The Ramboda Falls Hotel, situated within view of the falls, has a restaurant that sells soft drinks, Sri Lankan food and some western dishes.

The Devales Four Hindu gods traditionally protect Kandy, and each one of these is honoured with a shrine in the city. Three of these shrines - belonging to Pattini, Natha and Vishnu – are situated in front of the Temple of the Tooth, whilst the fourth – Kataragama – is found in the city centre itself.

The Knuckles Range The rugged peaks of the wildlife-filled Knuckles are the hill country’s last great unspoilt wilderness; perfect for hiking and wildlife spotting. Guides are essential; ask the staff at your villa to arrange. Alternatively, drive up through Looloowatte village to Corbet’s Gap for stunning range panoramas.

The Temple of the Tooth Sri Lanka’s most revered Buddhist shrine houses the legendary Buddha’s tooth over which is laid a pristine golden roof; a symbol of its importance. Guides hang around the entrance, and the best (though busiest) times to visit are for the pujas (ceremonial worship) held at 6am, 9am and 6.30pm where the doors to the room housing the tooth relic are opened briefly for public peeking. Other significant buildings part of the temple complex (once part of a sprawling Royal Palace) are the Sri Dalada Museum, the Audience Hall, the Raja Tusker Museum, the Archaeological Museum and the Kandy Garrison Cemetery.

Udawattakele Sanctuary To the north east of town, this former royal reserve sprawls over a densely forest hillside. Pathways through the tree-filled sanctuary offer potential viewing of birdlife, monkeys, porcupines and wild pigs.

Victoria Golf Club Sri Lanka’s best situated golf course is set beside the Victoria Reservoir and in the shadow of the Knuckles Mountain Range. A little more than 20km to the east of Kandy, green fees start at US$35 a day. Here you can also horse ride too.

Wedamedura Ayurveda Centre (Ayurveda Spa) This specialised Ayurveda centre offers massages, reflexology, pedicures, aromatherapy and full panchakarma treatments (a resident Ayurveda doctor can tailor-make treatment plans).

Nuwara Eliya

Ambewela Farm The kids will love this dairy farm where you can watch milking taking place (12.30pm), have a peep into a cheese factory and browse barns filled with goats, bullocks, calves and even rabbits. The journey to get here – through mist-shrouded Scottish-like scenery is part of the adventure.

Coco Spa (Hotel Spa) Set in amongst this glorious converted tea factory is Sri Lanka’s highest spa. The setting is stunning and the treatments – carried out by Balinese experts – are wide-ranging and very good.

Hakgala Botanical Gardens Panoramic views down over the velveteen Uva District are a highlight of Peradeniya’s wilder sister where roses, ferns, lilies, camphor, pines, eucalyptus and Monterey cypresses thrive. Bird species adore this natural wonderland and you also might catch a glimpse of elusive bear monkeys.

Hiking Take advantage of the cooler climes and hike around town or wander up Single Tree Hill to get a panoramic vista of Nuwara Eliya and surrounding mountains. Ask at your villa for a guide or ask at the St Andrews Hotel if you can join in with one of their excellent guided cloud forest nature walks.

Horse Riding Tired-looking ponies can be seen at the entrance to the racecourse or even around Lake Gregory. If you think the animal looks healthy (some do, some don’t), then hop on board (children) or talk your way into the racecourse itself where you can pay to ride on proper steeds.

Horton Plains National Park High altitude grassland (2,100m) featuring large patches of bird and wildlife-filled cloud forest, rushing waterfalls and rivers that are the perfect setting for hiking; trails extend up to 22km. Here you’ll also find World’s End, a sheer escarpment that falls steeply for almost 1km to the plains below; a magnificent sight. Try to get there early to beat the cloud and mists.

Labookelie Tea Estate Standing at an elevation of 2,000m around 20km north of Nuwara Eliya is this tea estate where you can tour the factory, wander the tea gardens and sample a brew from their little café. There’s a shop here too.

Lake Gregory Take a pedalo out on the lake for an alternative glimpse at the emerald green tea fields and misty mountains that envelope the town.

Nuwara Eliya Golf Course Winding right through the town and adding a lot to its charm is this colonial golf course, which is scenically landscaped with pines, eucalyptus and cypresses. Rounds include green fees, club hire, caddy and balls, and cost from US$65 on weekdays and $70 at weekends.

Pedro Tea Estate Just 3km from Nuwara Eliya city centre is this tea factory that offers tours of the factory and wanderings into the neighbouring tea fields. Convenient for town, but not as picturesque as Labookelie.

Sita Aman Temple Just before you reach Hakgala on the Badulla Road to the southeast of town, you find this brightly coloured statue-laden Hindu temple dedicated to Sita. Watch out for the red macaque monkeys.

Victoria Park Despite being located in the middle of town, peaceful Victoria Park is an ornithological hotspot with the potential for spotting many endemic species of birds.

Pampering
Bentota

Azmaara Spa This spa with branches in hotels in Colombo, Bentota and the Maldives offers a number of rejuvenating therapies from massages, wraps and scrubs to beauty treatments including facials, manicures and pedicures.

Sahana Spa A beautifully laid out luxury spa; treatments are carried out in private suites with sauna, steam shower, jacuzzi, flower bath, treatment room, dining pavilion and relaxing pavilion, and range from skin treats, facials, scrubs and wraps to ayurvedic treatments, hot stone massages and reflexology.

Kalutara

Amaan Spa Take your pick from ayurvedic treatments, body wraps, body scrubs, body polishes, beauty treatments, facials, slimming treatments and honeymoon packages at this boutique resort hotel.

Restaurant
Ambalangoda

Sanekvin This Chinese – Sri Lankan eatery is the only real restaurant in town; the menu lists curries, devilled dishes and fried rice whilst buffets are available as well. Take away and delivery are possible to Ambalangoda villas (ask villa staff to arrange).

Bandarawela

Bandarawela Hotel This old planters clubhouse dates back to 1893 and is easily the best and most atmospheric place in town to eat.

New Chinese Hotel As its name suggests, this local Chinese eatery serves up a fair range of Cantonese staples from its ground floor restaurant, and is situated opposite a children’s park.

Bentota

Club Villa Lovely relaxed setting with tables placed either in the open-sided restaurant or in a lush green tree-shaded garden. The cuisine on offer is International fusion with three course meals typically on the menu for dinner (order before lunch); their rice and curry spreads are renowned.

Diya Sisila Cute little terrace restaurant with over water dining huts beside the Dedduwa Lake, 3km from Bentota and on the road to Lunuganga. Orders are taken the day before as all seafood is bought and cooked fresh. Rice and curry is also on the menu though they don’t sell alcohol so you must bring your own

Escoffier Next to Silk Route, this restaurant beside the Galle Road 3km south of Bentota has air-conditioned seating inside and on the terrace, fan-cooled tables. The menu has an international theme with a focus on grilled meats, fish and seafood.

Lunuganga This, legendary architect Geoffrey Bawa’s spectacular estate inland from Bentota, provides the most stunning setting for lunch or high tea, both of which must be pre-arranged. Enjoy rice and curry spreads or pick from a selective menu of a la carte meals.

Malli’s Seafood Restaurant Little first floor restaurant beside the railway track and opposite The Surf Hotel serving excellent seafood in simplistic though sophisticated surroundings. Downstairs are a number of little shops selling souvenirs, crafts and sarongs.

Saman Villas Beautifully positioned restaurant and bar on a rocky promontory with spectacular views of the northern and southern coastline as well as the sea. The food is some of the most expensive in Bentota, but it’s good and there’s lots to pick from on the menu.

Silk Route Roadside restaurant 3km south of Bentota (next to Escoffier) serving dishes from each country on the Silk Route ranging from Moroccan couscous and Turkish kebabs to Thai curries and Indonesian mee goreng

Singharaja Sri Lankan short eats – filled bread snacks, savoury pastries and sweet snacks – are found on the ground floor whilst upstairs Sri Lankan buffets are put on for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Very reasonably priced and perfect for a quick bite to eat.

The Villa Cafe This restaurant within a beautiful boutique hotel serves up an exciting International menu of dishes sourced from their famed Gallery Café restaurant in Colombo. Seafood is a speciality (for platters order 24 hours before), there’s a wood-fired pizza oven and desserts are numerous.

Ella

Grand Ella Motel The food here isn’t anything special – you’re best off picking rice and curry – but the setting is stunning. Come in the daytime for lunch or for tea to appreciate the best view of ‘Ella Gap’.

New Curd and Honey Shop This dingy looking local establishment beside the main road is not the best looking or the best situated eatery in town, but it serves up great curries along with a number of sweet and savoury snacks (curd and honey) that you can enjoy throughout the day. The owners are very friendly too.

Hikkaduwa

Asian Jewel This British-run boutique beauty 3km from town serves up hearty British grub including fish and chips, cottage pie, full English breakfasts and sometimes, Sunday roasts. Call ahead to make a booking.

Chill Space Surf Café (Mambo’s) Seafood, pizzas, juices and milkshakes in a rasta-ready restaurant right on the beach with late night beach bar. This is the town’s top surfer spot where you can get surf instruction, surf tours and equipment hire. Holds frequent parties with DJ’s on Saturday nights during the season (November until April).

Citrus Large resort-style hotel on the beach with an international a la carte menu and frequent buffet and BBQ nights.

Cool Spot Basic cheapie that’s been around for years. Serves up wonderfully authentic Sri Lankan food, juices and milkshakes in rustic surroundings right beside the main road.

Moon Beam Restaurant This rustic beach restaurant with central bar serves up a big menu of generously sized dishes that includes Sri Lankan cuisine and fresh seafood. Lovely beachside setting.

No. 1 Roti Restaurant The best rotis in town, in fact in all of Sri Lanka. All sorts of traditional and completely untraditional fillings are on the extensive menu here, sweet or savoury or make your own.

Refresh Bible like menu offering an exhaustible range of dishes (550 varieties, in fact) ranging from Sri Lankan staples to International cuisine; the best tables are beachside.

Spaghetti & Co. Italian-owned restaurant set in an old colonial house and garden where you can dine on excellent pizzas and pastas accompanied by carafes of house wine. Only open for dinner.

Vibration Roadside restaurant, with basement bar to the back where there are pool tables, table tennis and Friday night parties in season (November to April) with visiting DJ’s, drummers and percussion bands.

Kalutara

Cinnamon Tree Restaurant This road-side restaurant set in an attractive wooden building serves up mainly Sri Lankan cuisine along with some western dishes. There’s a rice and curry buffet most lunchtimes and it’s a handy stop en-route to Colombo

Kani Lanka Resort and Spa The restaurant within this boutique hotel set on a narrow spit of land between the sea and the lagoon to the north of Kalutara is a lovely spot for lunch or dinner. Best to book in advance.

The Blue Water This boutique hotel’s main ground floor resort-style restaurant offers either air-conditioned dining inside, or fan cooled seating on the veranda. There are frequent buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner although you can also order a la carte. Alternatively, on the first floor there’s a much better fine dining restaurant.

Kandy Region

Devon Restaurant Local restaurant serving up short eats – meat and vegetable-filled rolls, savoury pastries and cakes – on the ground floor, and Sri Lankan cuisine (with North Indian and Chinese options) on the floor above. Service is quick (it gets busy) and food is relatively cheap.

Earl’s Regency Situated 4km to the east of Kandy, this grand hotel within sight of the Mahaweli River has a well-run restaurant with both a la carte and buffet options, depending upon the guest capacity of the hotel.

History This is one of Sri Lanka’s most unique eating experiences: dine on international cuisine in an air-conditioned setting where colonial-era prints and photographs hug walls and a slide show of even more pictures is projected onto the wall. They serve wine here too.

Jetwing Hunas Falls Although this beautifully sited hotel is 27km from Kandy, it’s useful for properties tucked to the north of the city and for visits to The Knuckles Mountains. The food is as delightful as the scenic hilly outlook.

Mahaweli Reach Hotel This five-star hotel (4km from the Kandy), has a wide ranging menu of western fusion cuisine with frequent buffets. The style is a little bit dated but the food’s good and the river outlook is very serene.

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens This little restaurant situated in the heart of these famous botanical gardens offers the most serene setting in Kandy for relaxed daytime dining. The garden lawns are a great spot for picnicking too.

Sri Ram For inexpensive authentic South Indian cuisine (without alcohol), this very local restaurant prettified by batik wall hangings is the go-to place. The lip-smacking menu includes thalis, dosas and idlis along with a selection of tasty meat and vegetable curries.

The Pub This Kandy institution boasts a first floor balcony that’s easily the best place to sit and watch the world go by. Afterwards, dine on pub-style international food indoors in air-conditioned coolness where premier league football and cricket matches are often shown on a big screen. Great if you’re feeling homesick.

Theva Residency Easily the most gourmet food in town served up in a boutique hotel setting on the Hantana hillside with spectacular views across town.

Nuwara Eliya

De Silva Food Centre The best dining spot in this local establishment is upstairs via an enticing bakery with cakes and savoury pastries (great for a snack). There’s an a la carte menu though it’s mainly limited to Sri Lankan and Chinese style cuisine. The lunchtime rice and curry is good.

Grand Indian Restaurant Dine on North and South Indian cuisine at this eatery that’s part of The Grand Hotel, a Nuwara Eliya institution. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner; at other times an attached pastry shop soothes simple hunger cravings.

Hill Club The Hill Club offers the best insight into the colonial lifestyle of yesteryear; formal dress is mandatory – men can borrow a jacket from the club’s wardrobe – and you must pay a temporary membership of Rs. 100. White-clothed waiters serve up set lunches, five-course dinners and a selection of a la carte international dishes in atmospheric surroundings. There are also a couple of bars here too.

Humbugs This rustic roadside café, 10km southeast of Nuwara Eliya, is famous for one thing: strawberries! From their little cafe these growers sell strawberries in jam, in punnets, in milkshakes and most deliciously, in pancakes with whippings of cream.

Jetwing St Andrews The fine dining Old Course Restaurant, in the town’s best hotel beside the golf course, is an oak-panelled beauty where local and international dishes are served from an open-plan kitchen. There’s a wine cellar here (and an atmospheric bar), and the sommeliers give good advice.

King Prawn This good Chinese restaurant boasts a generous menu of tasty chicken, meat, pork, fish, seafood and vegetarian Cantonese-style dishes. The pub-style bar here with lounge is one of Nuwara Eliya’s best; perfect for after dinner drinks.

The Grand Hotel Overlooking the hotel’s gardens on the ground floor, this big restaurant serves up both eastern and western cuisine, although British style dishes are most typical. The hotel also has a traditional bar and a billiards room.

The Tea Factory Created out of the old Hethersett Estate Tea Factory, this five-star hotel - situated 14km east of Nuwara Eliya – serves up an international menu in the main dining room or more uniquely, in restored railway carriages (call ahead to book).

Shopping
Ambalangoda

Antique shops To the north and south of Ambalangoda are a number of antiques shops where in amongst the faded window and door frames, peeling pillars and colonial columns can be found some interesting knick knacks including brassware, basketry, timber statues, carved masks and other decorative pieces.

Cargils Ambalangoda’s best-stocked one-stop-shop for grocery items. There’s also a pharmacy here and a small selection of liquor, beer and wine.

Dudley Silva Batiks Just a short distance from the main Galle Road, this little shop has a variety of batiks that have been crafted by a local artist.

Southland Masks Choose from a surprising number of intricately crafted masks, whose designs were originally used for traditional kolam (folk) dances and sunni yakuma (healing) dances.

Bandarawela

Cargils A fairly well-stocked supermarket with pharmacy that’s handy for self-caterers; they also sell Mlesna Tea and display a limited selection of liquor, beer and wine.

Bentota

AIDA Gems & Jewellery This established jewellers has a set up where you can first look at a gem museum, then visit their little factory where you can see gem cutters and designers at work, and finally visit their shop where there are a range of colourful designs on show. If you have a few days, you can design your own piece.

Aluthgama Wood Carving Centre Wood carving shop with lots of fishermen statues, sculpted elephants and masks. There is an attached workshop where you can see the wood craftsmen in action.

Cargils The best-stocked one-stop-shop for grocery items. There’s also a pharmacy here and a small selection of liquor, beer and wine.

Handicrafts Bazaar This little market has a few shops selling a range of souvenirs including wood carvings, sarongs, beach clothing, postcards, spices and other touristy souvenirs.

Paradise Road Tiny outlet of a beloved Colombo institution where you can pick up decorative design pieces, scented candles, leather-bound diaries and deliciously fragranced ayurvedic toiletries.

Hikkaduwa

A-Frame Surf Shop Mambo’s rent and sells the widest variety of equipment and carry out board repairs.

Fish, Fruit and Vegetable markets Situated to the north of the bus station between the Galle Road and the sea, these markets sell a colourful range of fresh produce that provide inspiration to self-caters. Bargaining is expected.

Hikkaduwa Farm Shop This is the best place in town to buy fresh chicken and pork (both reared from their nearby farm) as well as beef and some mutton. If you’re after a particular cut – make sure you ask.

New Hikkaduwa Wine Stores Browse a selection of local spirits (vodka, rum, gin and arrack) as well as a few international brands, notably Smirnoff Vodka, though these are few and far between. Also sells local Lion and Carlsberg beer, as well as a limited selection of wine.

Souvenir Shops Hikkaduwa’s souvenir shops are spread out along the Galle Road; wander at will stalls selling painted masks, wood carvings and spices, and have a look at the colourful local artwork on display. There are also a few clothing outlets and a couple of shops – notably Mambo’s A-Frame Surf Shop – selling surfing essentials: boards, wax and branded clothing.

Kandy Region

Gunatilaka Batiks Come here to browse a decent range of locally produced batiks.

Kandy City Centre Modern city mall with a variety of shops including Mlesna Tea, a couple of bookshops, Stone N String (contemporary jewellers, www.stone-n-string.com) and a branch of the well-stocked Keells supermarket. There are also a number of banks with ATMs here.

Kandy Souvenirs Jewellery, wood carvings, metalwork, leather items and kolam (folk) masks can all be browsed at this tourist-touting shop to the southeast of town.

Kandyan Arts and Crafts Association This is perhaps the best place to pick up local arts and crafts; you can also watch local artisans at work.

Laksala Government handicrafts emporium that sells a range of tourist related souvenirs; wood carvings, masks, lacquerware and basketry.

Mlesna Tea Centre Situated across from The Pub, here you can buy any number of teas – flavoured or plain – and pick from a range of tea-related memorabilia.

Ranjamina Crafts This little shop sells a big variety of kolam (folk) masks as well as some fine Buddha and elephant carvings in sandalwood, teak and mahogany.

Vijitha Yapa Bookshop Search out English novels amongst a number of Sri Lankan books at this city centre bookshop. Also sells local magazines (mainly), stationery and maps. There’s a branch also in the Kandy City Centre (mall).

Nuwara Eliya

Cargils A fairly well-stocked supermarket with pharmacy that’s handy for self-caterers; they also sell Mlesna Tea and display a limited selection of liquor, beer and wine.

Central Market This covered alleyway offers an insight (and a chance to buy) into the range of produce grown in the hill country – both familiar and unfamiliar. There’s also a whiffy fish and butchery section.

Clothes Market Search out branded skiwear, leisurewear (Colombia, Helly Hanson, Quiksilver), fleeces, jackets and jumpers at this collection of stalls. Bargain hard; stalls fiercely compete for custom.

Laksala Government handicrafts emporium that sells a range of tourist related souvenirs; wood carvings, masks, lacquerware and basketry.

Waruna Antiques Antiques den with a huge variety of offerings ranging from early sixteenth century masks, hand painted textiles and jewellery to and Buddhist, Hindu and Christian statues.

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