No matter your child’s age or interests, they'll find their ideal adventure on Sri Lanka's shores. From the hills of tea country and the bustling streets of Colombo, family is central to Sri Lankan culture, and warm smiles welcome children everywhere. And if your family relishes nature, Sri Lanka is a haven for kid-friendly activities.
The true charm of Sri Lanka lies in its ability to seamlessly blend cultural exploration, wildlife adventures, and sun-soaked beaches, giving visitors a diverse experience no matter where they venture.
Is Sri Lanka good for kids?
Whether your older kids delight in learning about history or your younger ones squeal with joy at animal encounters, the "pearl of the Indian Ocean" has something for everyone. Sri Lanka is also an ideal family destination for its range of accommodations and transportation options that cater to every budget (and under-12s usually stay for free).
From intimate homestays that immerse guests in local life to lush hotels with attentive butlers, accommodation in Sri Lanka usually provides hassle-free dining – with full- or half-board options, where your meals are included in your stay.
High chairs are scarce, however, so bring a travel version with you if your child requires one. It’s also worth noting that changing tables are a rarity, but changing diapers in public areas isn't frowned upon in Sri Lanka.
Train travel – especially the Kandy to Ella route – is a popular choice for families.
Despite winding roads and lengthy travel days, strategic stops on your Sri Lankan road trip will create lasting family memories. Traditional playgrounds may be scarce, but gardens and public spaces offer opportunities for little ones to stretch their legs during your travels.
If car sickness isn't a concern, hiring a private driver is best for a comfortable and flexible journey. It allows you to take breaks at your leisure, with roadside vendors offering everything from fresh coconut water to kothu roti (a popular street food item). Your driver will also know the best toilet and rest stops on route – a godsend when traveling with little ones in Sri Lanka!
While not obligatory, it's advisable to travel with your own baby or child-booster seats (even though some tour agencies may provide them). Also, call ahead to confirm that your vehicle has properly fitted seat belts – these aren’t always a given.
Where is best in Sri Lanka with kids?
While Colombo offers a dose of dynamic city life and varied urban experiences, you can enjoy a slower pace and a serene change in scenery by heading towards the beach towns or hillside.
Explore the southern reaches of the country – popular with locals too – by visiting Bentota for water sports and whale-watching excursions.
For kids who enjoy a dose of history and culture, don't miss out on a visit to Galle to see the Galle Fort.
If you’ve got younger kids, venture towards Kandy and Dambulla in the central province, for a taste of ancient Sri Lanka – you’ll find the temperatures here are much cooler, and a refreshing change to the beach towns of the south.
When planning your list of things to do in Sri Lanka with kids, also be sure to consider the varying monsoon seasons on each coast and time your visit accordingly.
Best things to do in Sri Lanka with children
Immerse yourself in the world of wildlife
For an island its size, Sri Lanka offers an unmatched diversity in wildlife – which makes it a great place for kids to learn about ecology. Sunny days at Turtle Beach, Hikkaduwa offer numerous turtle sightings. Hatcheries in Galle and Hikkaduwa play a crucial role in relocating sea turtle eggs to safer environments, providing an immersive educational experience that may involve releasing hatchlings into the wild.
Joining a whale-watching trip in Mirissa or the Dondra Harbour is a must – humpback, sperm or blue whales enchant both kids and adults, not to mention dolphins are seen here too. Be mindful of varying sea conditions and stay in close contact with your tour operator as they often share weather updates to help plan your excursion seamlessly.
Don't miss the chance to safari in one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks. You’ll create lasting family memories as you watch elephants, leopards, monkeys, water buffalos (and more) in the wild.
Embark on a culinary adventure and savor unfamiliar flavors
Sri Lankan cuisine is genuinely distinctive and diverse. Amid the array of spicy curries found in every restaurant, there are also kid-friendly options like string hoppers, coconut rotis, and pittu. There’s always the reliable choice of fries, fresh fruit, or locally made plain, creamy curd (similar to yogurt) for pickier eaters.
You can elevate your family’s culinary experience by joining a cooking class, where you can have fun learning skills like opening and scraping a coconut or preparing a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast together.
Embrace adventure and explore the unknown
Of course the pearlescent beaches are an attraction on their own, but Sri Lanka’s coastlines offer a plethora of exciting activities. You can surf in Arugam Bay and Hikkaduwa, master the art of kiteboarding in Kalpitiya or Vella Island, navigate exhilarating rapids whitewater rafting in Kitugala, or soar through Ella’s treetops on a zipline.
Most tour companies provide a range of options catering to various skill levels, ensuring that even young children can actively participate and make the most of these exhilarating experiences.
Best things to do in Sri Lanka with tweens and teens
For older kids, make sure to include activities such as climbing Sigiriya, the iconic rock fortress, snorkeling around Pigeon Island at Nilaveli Beach, and cycling through the ancient city of Anuradhapura to your itinerary. In places like Weligama, well-established surf camps are affordable for kids eager to learn to “hang ten” and vibrant coral reefs make for excellent snorkeling. Many tours provide guidance and gear to make this a stress-free experience.
On the off-chance your kids are cricket enthusiasts, take in a match at the Colombo Cricket Club Ground or the R. Premadasa Stadium.
Best things to do in Sri Lanka with babies and toddlers
Children are warmly welcomed everywhere, so you can take them to restaurants, embark on hikes such as Adam’s Peak (don't forget the baby carrier!) and explore temples. Visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic or Kataragama will certainly entertain young ones with their colorful flowers and soothing prayer chants.
If you’re traveling to Sri Lanka with babies and toddlers, it's best to stay at resorts instead of homestays if your budget allows. Apart from the bliss of unwinding poolside, you’re guaranteed access to cribs (a convenience not always available at homestays).
And if you have all your supplies, consider heading north to Jaffna — a great option for those looking for a smaller city with easy access to beaches, temples and historical sites. The area is still off-the-beaten-path and you will find tranquility at Manar Island and the picturesque Casuarina Beach.
As welcoming as Sri Lanka is to families, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a seamless trip. When it comes to accommodation, it’s a good idea to confirm the presence of an air conditioning unit in your room, as many guest houses may not offer this amenity. Even though Sri Lanka is malaria-free, it’s best to be vigilant about mosquitoes and carry mosquito patches and bug bite cream.
For parents of young children traveling in South Asia, aside from obtaining recommended vaccinations, maintaining a steady supply of diapers and bottled water is crucial, especially when exploring smaller towns and villages. Note that larger-sized diapers (size 4 and above) are challenging to find across Sri Lanka, so be sure to travel with a sufficient stock. You’ll also want to swap the stroller for a baby carrier for better mobility.
If you’re looking to stay within a budget, remember that most hotels and sightseeing tours in Sri Lanka are free – or discounted – for children under the age of 12. Contact tours ahead of your trip to confirm.