Tag: Colombo with kids

Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids.

We absolutely loved our time in Sri Lanka and it was easily one of our best family trips to date. You can read here why we think Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids. So we thought we’d share with you our Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids. Feel free to copy it exactly for your own travels, tweak it to fit your own time or interests, or just simply use it for inspiration.

TraveLynn Family in Sri Lanka

We focused on a Southern loop to take in pristine beaches, colonial architecture, a safari to meet elephants and some time in the Hill Country. It was only about 2 to 4 hours generally between destinations which is very doable with young kids. Our preferred mode of transport was train, but if the tracks didn’t go to where we wanted we would opt for a tuk-tuk and time the drive with our 12pm nap/downtime. A car would have been faster, we just prefer to travel in tuk-tuks as they’re open and offer that sense of freedom as you watch the world breeze by. We did miss out some classic tourist spots such as Sigiriya and Dumbulla, but the former particularly requires a lot of climbing for little legs (our boys are aged 2 and 3) and we figured we’d leave that for another trip.

So here is our day by day Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids.

Day 1-2 Colombo

Arrive in Colombo. Head to the train station first thing to book your train tickets (if you haven’t already done this online). Wander around the historic Fort area and old town quarter of Slave Island, visit Gangaramara Temple, let the kids enjoy all that Viharamahadevi Park has to offer – a playground, water fountains to run in, a small train, horse-riding, an aquarium – and head to to Galle Face Green around sunset for dinner from a street vendor and watch the kites and snake charmers. Getting around Colombo is very easy as all tuk-tuks use the meter. Just ensure you have Google Maps downloaded offline to direct them, if necessary. You can read more about Colombo with kids here.

We stayed at: Anugaa in the City

Sri Lanka with kids Colombo

Day 3 Galle

Catch the train to Galle, just a 2.5 hour journey along the coast. Take a walk along the fort walls and explore the Dutch Colonial buildings. Try to time this later in the day to escape the heat and package tourist day-trippers. The full circuit along the top of the wall can be done in under 2 hours. However, for little explorers that like to climb the walls, look for dragons and generally walk a little slower, we suggest splitting the walk in two and saving a section for an early morning stroll on Day 4. Read more about Galle here.

We stayed at Fort de 19 villa

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Galle

Day 4-5 Mirissa

After your early morning stroll exploring more of Galle Fort, take a tuk-tuk to Mirissa (LKR1800, 1 hour), via a turtle hatchery, to enjoy some beach time. The main beach at Mirissa offers a long shady stretch of sandy beach, perfect for building sandcastles. The waves and current are strong, so join the kids in jumping over the waves. You can also visit Secret Beach and walk back to the main beach through the jungle. Ensure you receive clear directions. We got very lost. The walk should take around 40 mins with little legs.

If your visiting between September and April, you may like to go on a whale watching cruise in Mirissa (tours are also running in July and August, but the water may be a bit choppy for little ones). It’s one of the best places in the world to see the blur whale!

We stayed at Lashan Guest House. It’s tucked away in a quiet area 400m from the beach, but the owners will happily drop you at the main beach in their tuk-tuk. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Mirissa

Day 6-7 Udawalawe National Park

It’s time to meet some elephants! Take a tuk-tuk to Udawalawe (3hrs, LKR5000, would be 2hrs in a car). We stayed in glamping tents at Kottawatta Village just outside the National Park. Book your 3 hour safari with the resort for 5:30am. Kids under 5 are free and so the total price for entrance fee, jeep hire and safari guide was LKR7500 for our family of 4. The resort provides snacks for the safari and breakfast on your return. You are pretty much guaranteed to see elephants! When not on safari, enjoy your time at the resort. It has an onsite restaurant, swimming pool with kids’ area, hammocks for napping and you’ll meet monkeys on your veranda. You can read our full post on Udawalawe National Park here.

We stayed at: Kottawatta Village

Day 8-10 Arugam Bay

Another tuk-tuk ride (4.5hrs, LRK7500, 3hrs by car) brings you to Arugam Bay, the surf mecca of Sri Lanka. But there’s more to this surfer town than barrels and boards (that’s as far as my surfing lingo goes!). Wonderful family friendly accommodation awaits at Elephant Road Resort, set back from the main party strip. Air conditioned rooms with two double beds and a comfortable outdoor space (with hammock and hanging bed) overlook a sandy courtyard where your kids can run free. The super-chilled Israeli owner (Miki) has created a community vibe, very welcoming of children. Miki also knows THE BEST spots around Arugam Bay. Our favourites were Elephant Rock Beach, Peanut Farm Beach and watching the sun set from Crocodile Rock. You can read our full post on Arugam Bay with kids here.

We stayed at: Elephant Road Resort

Day 11-12 Ella

It’s time to say farewell to the beaches and head inland to explore the tea plantations and jungle-clad hills of the Central Hill Country. A tuk-tuk will take 4 hours to get to Ella (LRK2000). Again, you can do the journey quicker by car (3hrs), but be weary that there are many hairpin bends as you approach Ella and the open sides of a tuk-tuk may help with kids who are prone to travel sickness. Whilst in Ella, visit a tea plantation (the kids will love seeing all the big machinery in operation), visit the Nine Arches Bridge and climb Little Adam’s Peak (ask a tuk-tuk to take you as far as possible to save those little legs for the steep stairs they need to navigate at the top).

We stayed at Ella Ridge View, a lovely family homestay with lots of toys and other children to play with.

Arthur_summit

Day 12-14 Living Heritage Koslanda
After all that travelling, it’s time to treat yourselves indulge and in some luxury. Take the 1hr train from to Haputale; this stretch of track is perhaps the most stunning in all of Sri Lanka. A tuk-tuk will then drive you down into the valley to the tranquility of Living Heritage Koslanda. The smiling Mr Carrim awaits to escort you to your stylish villa with plunge pool and outdoor shower. Enjoy the incredible infinity pool, take a hike to the private waterfall, or just enjoy the space, freedom and peace that the 80 acres of pristine land offers. You can read our full review here. We only stayed 2 nights, but we seriously wished we’d stayed 3.

We stayed at Living Heritage Koslanda

Day 15 Kandy

Today is your longest travel day. 5.5 hours on a train to Kandy. We found the bustle of Kandy to be quite a shock to the system after the serenity of Living Heritage Koslanda. However, there is a good playground, which the boys certainly appreciated, and a visit to the Temple of the Tooth is a must.

We stayed at River Side Homestay Appartment. This is a lovely family homestay about 5 minutes drive out of Kandy. Tuk-tuk drivers from Kandy will not know the way. Ensure you have the property marked on Google Maps on your phone and take the phone number of the owner with you. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Kandy

Day 16 Back to Colombo

A 2 hour fast train completes the loop and returns you to Colombo. We spent our last day catching up with old friends who live in Colombo, enjoying a swim in their pool and eating pizza.

 

I hope this helps you work out your own Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids. Although feel free to copy ours exactly! If your kids are older, check out this great list of 12 Best Things To Do In Sri Lanka.

Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family was kindly hosted by some accommodations mentioned above.  However the opinions and words are all our own, based on our own experiences. This post also contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

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Colombo with kids

Colombo with kids: top 5 things to do

Had we stepped into a parallel universe? Colombo seemed so familiar; the architecture, the climate, the people, the colours. It could be our home in Bangalore, except the traffic flows, there are no mounds of rubbish, it’s cleaner, the pavements are walkable, tuk-tuk drivers use the meter and there is barely any honking. Life here is certainly calmer than its neighbour, India. Have you considered visiting Colombo with kids?

Colombo with kids - tuk-tuks

In fact, compared to pretty much all Asian capital cities we have visited over our years of travel, Colombo seemed to be the most chilled. However, do not mistake the relaxed city vibe as backward. Colombo’s economy is booming and modernisation is prevalent as shiny new skyscrapers transform the city’s skyline, towering above villages where you’ll still find the essence of the bygone Dutch colony.

Colombo with kids - skyscrapers

Colombo was our first insight into Sri Lanka and we loved it. Many people head straight to the beach resorts of Negombo on arrival, for a lighter introduction. However, we wanted to immerse ourselves as soon as possible into Sri Lankan life and we’re very pleased we did. Here are our 5 top things to do in Colombo with kids.

1. Viharamahadevi Park (Victoria Park)

Colombo with kids - Viharamahadevi Park

Amongst all the green open space, at the north-eastern edge of Viharamahadevi Park you’ll find a superb play area for children! Plan to spend a full morning or afternoon here. There is a big playground, toy train ride, horse rides, a small aquarium and a wobbly bridge over a small lake where you can hire boats. And if it’s a hot day, let them run through the water fountains to cool off.

2. Galle Face Green

Head to Galle Face Green, right on the sea front, just before sunset. Watch the colourful kites soaring high and perhaps buy one and join in, before grabbing some dinner from one of the food stalls to watch the sun set. You may even see a snake charmer. Once night falls, treat the kids to some cheap fluorescent-light toys. It will keep them entertained whilst you stroll the length of the seafront, soaking up the atmosphere.

3. Wandering around Slave Island

Colombo with kids - slave island

We didn’t see another tourist as we wondered around the narrow alleyways of Slave Island (the name has stuck since Dutch colonial times, when slaves were housed in this area which was surrounded by water). The boys loved high-fiving people in the doorways and chatting to other kids as we walked past their homes. One family even offered our boys a selection of battered plastic toys to take home (we politely declined). Such a warm and friendly village atmosphere. We certainly felt like we were seeing a different side to the shiny new skyscrapers popping up around the city. Take a tuk-tuk to the Fort area afterwards as it’s a ‘must do’, although we didn’t find the area too engaging for young kids.

4. Gangaramaya Temple

Sections of Gangaramaya feel more like a museum than a temple, with an eclectic array of artefacts gifted over the years; shiny buddha statues, a life-sized stuffed elephant, bold artwork, Dutch antique collectables, vintage cars and a large Bodhi tree. There is no logical flow to the building, with pathways and steps leading you to different corners and rooms, all contrasting in nature; a wonderful place for the kids to explore! This is not your standard Sri Lankan temple. Ticket entry is LRK200 per adult, but this also includes entry to Seema Malaka, a beautiful temple/meditation centre sitting out on South Beira Lake, just a short walk around the corner.

5. Waters Edge

waters-edge-park

This tip comes from expat friends living in Colombo, who are regulars to Waters Edge with their two young boys. This is a lovely oasis from city life with manicured lawns set around a lake, providing ample space for kids to run free. There is also a playground and an aquarium, which along with the grounds is all free entry. Make a day of it and try out one of the many restaurants, or bring your own food to enjoy in the designated picnic area. If you visit for Sunday Brunch you can also use the pool for free. The swimming area has a separate kids’ pool and kids’ jacuzzi. Entry is normally LKR1000 per adult (LKR500 for children under 13).

Where we stayed

Colombo accommodation is pricey compared to the rest of Sri Lanka. However, this is the capital city. We stayed at the delightful Anugaa In The City in Borella (GBP40 per night on booking.com for a spacious en-suite family room). It’s a little out of the city, but with tuk-tuks being so cheap and plentiful, the 10 minute journey is really not a problem. Plus, if possible, they allow an early check-in free of charge. We arrived bleary-eyed from our night-flight at 4am and were warmly welcomed to our room, carrying our two sleeping boys straight from the taxi into the comfy beds.

Colombo with kids - Anugaa

The staff are wonderfully friendly and accommodating. It can be a bit tricky to find them at times if you need something, but you’re provided with a mobile phone to contact the owner if needed. This is also very handy if you need someone to explain to a tuk-tuk driver how to get you back.

We particularly enjoyed the lovely breakfast spread provided each morning in the quirky dining area (included in room rate); a fantastic array of fruit, traditional Sri Lanka food of hoppers, noodles and curry, as well as omelettes for the boys.

Anugaa breakfast

Getting around

Tuk-tuks use the meter. Coming from India, this was extremely refreshing. Drivers may initially try to quote a higher fare, but if you then ask them to use the meter, they will generally oblige. However, unless you are heading to a major landmark, it’s unlikely they will know the way. Ensure you have offline Google Maps of Colombo downloaded to your phone, with a star locating your accommodation, so you can direct drivers when necessary.

Getting to/from Colombo

Bandaranaike International Airport, a 45 minute drive North of Colombo city centre, is the main airport for Sri Lanka, servicing flights from around the world. Do keep in mind that during the working-week rush hours, getting to and from the airport can take much longer. The easiest way to get to your hotel on arrival is to order a taxi from the desk on the right once you’re through baggage and customs. Our taxi was LKR2100, which is paid directly to the driver. Ask them to use the Expressway (much quicker, even in the middle of the night) and pay the extra LKR300 for the toll.

From Colombo you may wish to head east to Kandy, or south to Galle. Both are on the train network and this is the best way to travel (you certainly want to avoid all those hairpins bends in a car to Kandy!) Book your train ticket as soon as you arrive in Colombo, if you haven’t yet booked them online. As you can see from our Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids, we headed south to Galle. The train journey is just 2.5 hours (LKR400 per adult, children under 3 are free) and much of the track hugs the coastline, affording lovely sea views as the train carves through palm trees and villages.

 

Have you visited Colombo with kids? Any top tips to share? Let me know.

Colombo with kids - pinterest

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

You may also wish to read:
Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids
Udawalawe NP with young kids: meeting elephants in the Sri Lankan wilderness
Arugam Bay with kids: staying at Elephant Road Resort 

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