How to travel to Sri Lanka with kids

Ties Lagraauw

written by
Ties Lagraauw

updated 06.06.2024

In the past few years, travelling to Sri Lanka with kids has become easier, with the country rapidly improving its transportation infrastructure. Still there are some key elements to consider. If you're planning your family holiday to Sri Lanka, you’re in the right spot. In this article, we'll delve into why Sri Lanka is the perfect destination for family travel,  with tips and insights from our local travel experts to make your journey as memorable and stress-free as possible for you and your little ones.

Is Sri Lanka suitable for kids?

If you're wondering whether Sri Lanka is kid-friendly, the answer is a definite yes. The country's got a ton of great things to do for families. 

Sri Lanka boasts a rich history and culture, highlighted by UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Sigiriya and Kandy. Its beautiful beaches provide ample opportunities for kids to enjoy activities such as swimming and building sandcastles. This country is also known for its wildlife— and you're all likely to have a blast spotting the diverse animals. 

Overall, a trip to Sri Lanka is a unique experience that you and your family are sure to not forget.


Try new fruits when traveling to Sri Lanka with kids  © Shutterstock

Sri Lanka with infants and toddlers

Sri Lanka is a safe destination for families with babies. However, you'll want to wait until your baby is at least 8 months old, as the journey might be too demanding for younger children. 

Strollers can be impractical due to uneven roads, so it's best to leave them behind if you're travelling with a toddler. Fortunately, Sri Lanka offers a variety of food options, and major cities have plenty of baby shops where you can find supplies. Keep in mind that diaper sizes tend to run small. 

Private cars are worth the extra money for families with young children, as buses and trains can be crowded and time-consuming. Lastly, highchairs are scarce in Sri Lanka, so you might want to bring a booster seat from home .

Sri Lanka with kids and pre-teens

Travelling to Sri Lanka with kids offers a great opportunity to create lasting memories as a family. While budget is of course important, convenience really pays off (and often worth the splurge) when travelling with little ones.

Though Sri Lanka boasts numerous bus routes, many operated by private companies, they may not be the most suitable option for families. You might want to consider alternative modes of transportation such as taxis, private drivers, or pre-arranged transfers for a more comfortable and hassle-free journey.

The sun can be intense in Sri Lanka, so make to remind your kids (and yourself!) to drink plenty of water while on your trip.

When it comes to accommodations, several hotels in Sri Lanka cater specifically to families. Look for establishments with features like children's pools, play areas, babysitting services, and kids' clubs to keep the little ones entertained and engaged.


Elephants, Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Sri Lanka with teenagers

A trip to Sri Lanka can be a fantastic experience for teenagers. Consider setting up camp at a beachside retreat, where your kids can soak up the sun and surf to their heart's content. Places like Arugam Bay or Hikkaduwa are hotspots for surfing enthusiasts, offering lessons for beginners and challenging breaks for the more seasoned wave riders.

For a day of excitement, you might want to take the family white water rafting. Kitulgala is a popular spot for this exhilarating activity, sure to get the whole family's hearts pumping.

Another fun thing to do for easily bored teens is to head to the Kalu-Aggala water park. Here you’ll find a large array of water slides and pools surrounded by lush greenery.

For teenagers who enjoy trekking, Sri Lanka is home to some fantastic hiking trails, leading to iconic peaks such as Adam's Peak or Ella Rock. The challenging treks are well worth the effort.

For the best trip, involve your teens with the trip planning process. Researching destinations and activities together can make the trip more enjoyable and exciting for them.


Nuwara eliya, Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Things to do in Sri Lanka with kids

There are plenty of fantastic things to do  in Sri Lanka while travelling with your family. For more inspiration, see our pick of the best things to do in Sri Lanka.

Hit the beach

Sri Lanka boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world, making it the perfect destination for a family beach vacation. Bentota, located on the southwest coast, offers calm waters ideal for swimming and water sports. 

Mirissa, known for its picturesque bay and whale watching opportunities, is another must-visit beach destination, especially for families with older children.

Arugam Bay on the east coast is a surfer's paradise, where you can enrol your kids in surf lessons or simply relax and enjoy the laid-back vibe.

Visit a turtle sanctuary

Sri Lanka is home to several turtle hatcheries dedicated to conserving endangered sea turtle species. The hatcheries provide a safe environment for turtle eggs to hatch and for young turtles to grow before being released into the ocean. 

You can visit hatcheries along the southern coast, such as the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Project, where you and your children can learn about the different species of sea turtles, their life cycle, and the threats they face in the wild.

Consider visiting the hatcheries early in the morning or late in the afternoon to witness turtle releases.


Rickshaw, Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Visit ancient kingdoms “ruled” by monkeys

Most children will be able to tackle the climb up Sigiriya, a royal citadel remarkably perched atop a weathered hunk of rock at the centre of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle – though a head for heights is needed for the metal staircase that marks the final push to the summit.

After this, you should be able to fit in another sight before temple fatigue kicks in, so pick the former capital of Polonnaruwa. Fifty-five kilometres to the east, it's colonised by macaques and enlivened with tales of King Parakramabahu I (and his 300 wives).

Take the world's most scenic train ride

Sri Lanka’s Hill Country can make a refreshing respite if you’re coming from the parched plains of the Cultural Triangle or the South Coast’s beaches.

But for many people it’s the getting here that counts: the dramatic ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is considered one of the world’s great train journeys. Weathered locomotives heave themselves up through eucalyptus forests to a rolling landscape of immaculate tea estates. Stand (carefully) in the open doorways and watch some of the finest scenery in Sri Lanka roll by.

Learn to surf on a laidback beach

The best waves in Sri Lanka crash onto the long expanse of beach that curves around Arugam Bay, a low-key settlement in the southeast of the country. The vibe here is very different to the more popular west coast, and it’s a good place to drop out from a sightseeing itinerary for a few days.

Several surf schools run lessons for children around Arugam Bay and Pottuvil Point further north; Baby Point is an aptly named break to start things off on.

To convince you that Sri Lanka is one of the best places for beach holidays, check out our guide to the best beaches in Sri Lanka.


Take the train with kids in Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Watch turtles lay their eggs by moonlight

The coast around Tangalle is one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka, attracting weekenders from Colombo and sun-worshipping tourists – and hundreds of nesting sea turtles.

Turtle-watching tours are run on Rekawa Beach, where you’re likely to see a green turtle laying a clutch of shiny white eggs in the moonlight before (very) slowly returning to the sea.

Get lucky and spot leopards on safari

Mongoose? Check. Crocodiles? Tick. Elephants? You bet. The animals at Yala, a beautiful national park of forested scrub and tree stump-studded lakes, are like a roll call of wildlife encyclopaedia favourites.

But leopards add a real "wow" factor – and with a higher concentration of these beautiful big cats here than anywhere else in the world, you've got a good chance of seeing one prowling through the forest or lounging up a tree after (its)

Watch back-flipping dancers

What child is not going to like the sound of a town called Kandy? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main sight here concerns a tooth – the Buddha’s, housed in the striking Temple of the Tooth. But the big treat for kids is an evening visit to a traditional Kandyan drumming and dancing show.

Clad in elaborate silver headgear, troupes of dancers feverishly whizz through a number of acrobatic routines, accompanied throughout by the incessant pounding of their backing drummers.


Kandy, Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Where to stay with kids

Sri Lanka has a lot of options for places to stay if your planning an itinerary with your family.


As the capital city, Colombo is brimming with family-friendly attractions. The National Zoological Gardens is a hit with the kids, boasting a wide array of exotic animals. Viharamahadevi Park provides a serene escape from the city buzz, complete with playgrounds and open spaces. And for more wildlife encounters, the Dehiwala Zoo is another must-visit spot.

Yala National Park

For an adventure-packed wildlife experience, head to Yala National Park. Home to leopards, elephants, and countless bird species, Yala offers thrilling safari tours suitable for families. Many tour operators cater specifically to families, ensuring knowledgeable guides and comfortable safari vehicles for an unforgettable experience.


Kandy is a treasure trove of cultural and natural wonders. Start with a visit to the revered Temple of the Tooth Relic, an important Buddhist site. Then hop aboard a scenic train ride through the picturesque countryside – a sure hit with kids and adults alike. And don't forget to explore the sprawling Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, where a vast array of plant species awaits. Wrap up your day with a mesmerising cultural show featuring traditional dance and music.


For a laid-back beach escape with plenty of activities, Bentota is the place to visit. Its pristine beaches are perfect for sunbathing and water sports like snorkelling and jet skiing. Make sure to stop by the Bentota Turtle Hatchery, where efforts to conserve sea turtles are underway. Watching baby turtles make their way to the ocean is an experience the whole family will cherish.


Adam Peak, Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Sri Lanka itineraries with kids

Here are some itineraries for your trip to Sri Lanka with kids, created by our local Sri Lanka travel experts. You can skip the hassle of researching and instead focus on enjoying your family trip with our tailor-made trip service. Our trips are completely customisable, and you’ll have support 24/7 during your journey.  See the rest of our existing Sri Lanka itineraries for inspiration.

Sri Lanka family adventure itinerary

On this 12 day itinerary, you’ll discover ancient Buddhist temples and fascinating historic fortresses. You and your family can explore lush green tea plantations and say hello to friendly wildlife along the way. Then, unwind on beautiful golden beaches while enjoying delicious rice and curry meals together. 

Start by touching down at Bandaranaike International Airport on the first day and then hop over to Negombo for a chill evening beachside or poolside. The second and third days are all about relaxing in Negombo and checking out the ancient Yapahuwa Rock Fortress in Dambulla. 

The fourth day takes you to Polonnaruwa Ruins, then it's off to Kandy on the fifth day to wander through botanical gardens and temples. Elephant encounters await on the sixth and seventh days at Pinnawala, followed by a scenic train journey to Ella. 

Days eight through ten promise tea estate walks, nature vibes in Koggala, and a stop at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery. Dive into Galle's historic fort on the eleventh day, and wrap up your trip on the twelfth day with breakfast before catching your flight home. Book this trip.


Dambulla Cave, Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Sri Lankan wildlife itinerary

This 10 day itinerary takes you and your family through the best natural sites that Sri Lanka has to offer. 

Your journey kicks off on the first day with an arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, followed by a breezy transfer to your hotel for check-in and some well-deserved relaxation. 

On the second day, you'll dive straight into the vibrant Sinharaja Rainforest. Day three is spent elephant safari at Udawalawe National Park. 

Day four brings wildlife spotting at Yala National Park, while the fifth day treats you to breathtaking views in Ella before heading to Nuwara Eliya. 

Brace yourself for a scenic train ride to Kandy on the sixth day, where you'll explore the spice gardens and the Dambulla Cave Temple on day seven, where you'll get to see ancient artwork in person. Day eight kicks off with a hot air balloon ride and a visit to the iconic Sigiriya Rock Fortress. 

Enjoy a leisurely day in Habarana on the ninth day, with optional activities to suit your mood. Finally, on the tenth day, it's time to bid farewell as you head to Colombo for departure. Book this trip.


Ella, Sri Lanka  © Shutterstock

Tranquil relaxing holidays in Sri lanka - Tangalle © leoks/Shutterstock

Hit the beach when going to Sri Lanka with kids  © Shutterstock

Practical tips for travelling to Sri Lanka with kids

Travelling with kids adds a whole new dimension to your journey. Here are some practical tips to ensure your Sri Lankan escapade is a memorable one for the whole family.

#1: Stay hydrated and nourished

Sri Lanka's climate can be warm and humid, so ensure your children (and you!) stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. 

Carry refillable water bottles and consider water purification tablets or filter water bottles, especially if you plan to be in remote areas. 

Try local snacks and fruits like bananas, mangos, and rambutans to keep their energy levels up during the day. Be mindful of food hygiene and opt for freshly cooked meals from reputable eateries to avoid stomach upsets.

#2: Choose your accommodation wisely

Look for family-friendly accommodations that offer amenities like swimming pools, spacious rooms, and kid's clubs. Many hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka cater to families and provide services like babysitting if needed. 

Accommodations near major attractions or beaches can minimize travel time and enhance convenience. Some recommended family-friendly areas include Bentota for its safe swimming beaches and Kandy for cultural experiences.

View on Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque or Red Masjid Mosque is a historic mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka © streetflash/Shutterstock

View of Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, Colombo, Sri Lanka © streetflash/Shutterstock

#3: Consider the shoulder season

Consider traveling to Sri Lanka during off-peak seasons to avoid crowds and make your family adventure more enjoyable. Shoulder seasons, typically between April to June and September to November, offer milder weather and fewer crowds, making it an ideal time to explore popular attractions without the hustle and bustle. Plus, you may find better deals on accommodations and activities during these quieter periods.

For more detailed information, see our guide to when to go to Sri Lanka.

#4: Manage expectations

Set realistic expectations for your family trip to Sri Lanka and be prepared for unexpected challenges along the way. Not every moment will be picture-perfect, and there may be moments of fatigue, frustration, or cultural differences that require patience and understanding. Embrace the highs and lows of family travel, and focus on creating meaningful connections and cherished memories with your loved ones.

#5: Take breaks and pace yourself

Children can get tired easily, so plan regular breaks during your travels. Allow time for rest and relaxation, especially if you're exploring multiple destinations in a day. Sri Lanka offers numerous parks, like Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo, where children can play and unwind. Include some downtime at the beach or by the pool to recharge. Keep itineraries flexible to accommodate unexpected delays or the need for spontaneous rest stops.

Ties Lagraauw

written by
Ties Lagraauw

updated 06.06.2024

Ties is a true world explorer - whether it be for work or leisure! As Content Manager at RoughGuides, and the owner of Dutch travel platform, Ties is constantly on the move, always looking for new destinations to discover.

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