How to get to Sri Lanka

Getting to Sri Lanka is more accessible than ever, with plenty of flight options connecting it to major cities across the globe. Whether you're jetting off to this Southeast Asian island on a solo adventure, a romantic getaway, or a family vacation, here’s our guide to how to get to Sri Lanka. 

How to get to Sri Lanka

At present, the only way of getting to Sri Lanka is to fly. To get to Sri Lanka, you can fly directly into Colombo, the capital city, from major airports worldwide. Alternatively, you can explore indirect routes through connecting flights via hubs like Dubai, Doha, or Singapore.

Where to fly into Sri Lanka?

Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Colombo is the main gateway to Sri Lanka. It serves as the primary hub for international flights and is located approximately 35 kilometers (21 miles) north of Colombo, the capital city. Some common airlines include:

  • SriLankan Air
  • Emeriates
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Ethihad Airways
  • Air India
  • Thai Airways

Air fares remain fairly constant year-round – in general, the further ahead you book your flight, the better chance you have of getting a good deal. Another possibility is to pick up a package deal. For a more in depth look at when to time your holiday, see our guide to when to go to Sri Lanka.


Rickshaw in Sri Lanka © Shutterstock

How to get to Sri Lanka from the US?

Travelling from the US to Sri Lanka often entails a connecting flight. Some popular options include Emirates via Dubai, Qatar Airways through Doha, or Singapore Airlines with a layover in Singapore. 

From the east coast, the most straightforward option is to fly to London and then pick up one of the onward connections described above. 

Travelling from the west coast, the most direct routes go via east or Southeast Asia, stopping in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Shanghai or Guangzhou, all of which have non stop connections on to Colombo. 

  • Flight durations vary depending on the route, but direct flights from New York to Colombo typically take around 20-24 hours
  • Round-trip ticket prices range from $800 to $1500, depending on the airline and time of booking.

How to get to Sri Lanka from the UK?

If you’re coming from the UK, direct flights to Sri Lanka are available from several airports. Carriers like SriLankan Airlines, British Airways, and Emirates operate frequent flights from London Heathrow, Gatwick, Dublin, and other major airports to Colombo. Connecting flights are commonly found through hubs like Dubai, Doha, or even Abu Dhabi.

  • The flight duration from London to Colombo is approximately 10-12 hours.
  • Round-trip ticket prices start from £500 to £1000.
Girl leaning out of a train, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Trains © Sotnikov Misha/Shutterstock

How to get to Sri Lanka from Europe

There are plenty of options for those based in Europe:

  • From West Europe: Direct flights to Sri Lanka can be found from major cities in countries like France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Airlines such as KLM, Lufthansa, and Air France operate popular routes straight to Colombo. 
  • From East Europe: Your journey to Sri Lanka might involve a bit of hopping. Indirect flights with layovers in major European or Middle Eastern cities are typical, but are a great excuse to see a new city on the way.
  • From Southern Europe: Countries like Italy and Spain have indirect flight options to Sri Lanka with layovers in European or Middle Eastern hubs.

How to get to Sri Lanka from Canada?

Travellers from Canada can reach Sri Lanka with connecting flights via major international hubs such as London, Dubai, or Doha. Airlines like Air Canada, Emirates, and Qatar Airways offer convenient routes to Colombo.

  • Flights from Toronto to Colombo typically have a duration of 20-24 hours, including layovers. 
  • Round-trip ticket prices range from CAD 1000 to CAD 2000.
Lord Ganesh Temple at Sella kataragama Sri Lanka © Lihil Sankalpa/Shutterstock

Lord Ganesh Temple at Sella kataragama Sri Lanka © Lihil Sankalpa/Shutterstock

How to get to Sri Lanka from Australia

For Aussies looking to jet off to Sri Lanka, you've got some solid options. Direct flights from major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane will take you straight to Colombo Airlines such as SriLankan Airlines, Qantas, and Singapore Airlines offer direct services.

  • Flights range from 10 to 12 hours
  • Round-trip fares usually start from AUD 800 and can go up to AUD 1,500 or more.

How to get to Sri Lanka from New Zealand

If you're planning your Sri Lankan adventure from New Zealand, you'll likely be catching connecting flights through major hubs like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Dubai. Airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, and Emirates offer connecting services from cities like Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch to Sri Lanka.

  • Total travel time from New Zealand to Sri Lanka varies but generally falls between 15 to 20 hours, including layovers. 
  • Round-trip ticket prices typically range from NZD 1,200 to NZD 2,000.
View on Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque or Red Masjid Mosque is a historic mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka © streetflash/Shutterstock

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

How to get to Sri Lanka from the rest of Asia

Sri Lanka is a destination that can easily fill an entire itinerary on its own. That said, if you're planning to include it as part of a larger trip across Asia, you'll find plenty of convenient connections.

  • From India: You have lots of options with SriLankan Airlines. They offer regular nonstop flights to key cities like Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kochi, and Tiruchirappali. 
  • From China: SriLankan Airlines flies to Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. 
  • From Thailand: For those who want to extend their trip to Bangkok, you can catch a flight with SriLankan Airlines or Thai Airways. 
  • From Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur International Airport serves as a hub for flights to Sri Lanka, with carriers like SriLankan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines offering direct routes.
  • From Singapore: You’ll find there are frequent direct flights between these two countries.

Do you need a visa?

Most travellers visiting Sri Lanka require a visa. This can be obtained online through the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system before arrival or upon arrival at the airport. The ETA allows for a short stay of up to 30 days for tourism, business, or transit purposes.

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 23.05.2024

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