February 5, 2020
Teenagers can be moody, disengaged, addicted to their phones and tablets and uncommunicative. They can also be fun, chatty, social, adventurous, and great to travel with! Whichever yours might be when you take a family holiday together you need the right mix of things to see and do and accommodation that will appeal to parents and teenagers, to ensure that your precious holiday leave and family time is memorable – rich in good times, great memories and fun.
Are you considering a family holiday in Sri Lanka? Sri Lanka is undoubtedly a great place for family holidays. (We know this from personal experience as several of our expert Sri Lanka travel planners have lived in Sri Lanka with children and travelled the country widely with their own children and families.) Some of our suggested itineraries for families travelling in Sri Lanka include Sri Lanka Family Explorer and Sri Lankan Family Adventure.
Recently, we’ve noticed greater interest from families wanting to visit Sri Lanka together and looking for holiday options that have suitable activities, accommodation and travel times & distances that work for everyone. If this sounds familiar, below you’ll find a list of our travel tips for places to visit in Sri Lanka and things to do that are pitched at families travelling with teenagers. We also specialise in private tours for families with younger children. You can email us directly to receive an itinerary for travelling in Sri Lanka with small children.
To help you plan a family holiday in Sri Lanka, firstly here are some of the reasons we believe the country is an ideal destination for a holiday with your family.
3 reasons why Sri Lanka is great for family holidays:
#1 Accommodation options for all families
Sri Lanka has a range of great family accommodations at different price ranges. Many of our preferred accommodations are based outside the larger cities, away from crowds and set in naturally beautiful countryside. Places such as Notary’s House. This means more space and often a greater range in the onsite activities offered. Additionally, our experience tells us that most hotels now offer a range of meal options – from local cuisine to a range of food that appeal to the western palate. So no one should go hungry!
#2 Great activities
There are growing number of activities that families can do together when travelling in Sri Lanka and those activities are ever increasing. From hiking to surfing, cycling and cooking classes, there is a range of activities to keep active teenagers engaged and busy. Generally speaking, a lot of the family orientated activities we focus on are outdoor and therefore appeal to an active family with older kids.
#3 More than just big cities
On one of our custom made private tours of Sri Lanka, you and your family can altogether avoid the hustle and bustle of the cities and experience some of the country’s natural beauty and charm. We have many options for places to stay and things to do in quieter locations. Sometimes big cities just don’t work for families – after all there’s a limit to how much general sightseeing and museums any of us can do. Plus there’s the traffic!
To help you understand the activities we are recommending for travel with teenagers in Sri Lanka, here are the reasons why we’ve picked what we have. Generally speaking we have included activities that are fun, adventurous, family-focused and educational in a sense that they add another layer to your travel experience. (As in they are not just sightseeing or laying by the pool). They can be added into a more general Sri Lanka holiday plan such as our Classic Sri Lanka suggested itinerary or we can build an itinerary around these activities.
Additionally, we only recommend activities and places to visit in Sri Lanka that we have personally tried and tested. This way we can be sure that what we include in your holiday itinerary we know works and meets your individual needs.
What can you do with teenagers in Sri Lanka?
Here are 4 great types of activities to do in Sri Lanka during a family holiday with teenagers.
#1 Bike riding in Sri Lanka
Pedal your way through rural Sri Lanka with your family. Cycling is an interesting activity in Sri Lanka’s rural areas. Cycling through little villages will reveal the beautiful landscapes, the smaller communities and the smiling local people. There are also small street food snacks and refreshing coconuts to sample in places too. Many of our preferred hotels in rural areas will often provide cycles which you can use to explore their local areas. There are a number of specific bike riding tours in Sri Lanka we include in our itineraries, including:
Cycling in the Cultural Triangle.
Cycling in the Cultural Triangle (this is the area that includes Anuradhapura, Sigiriya etc.) is one of the unique ways to explore the timeless archaeological treasures this particular area of the country offers. We love the slow-paced cycling in Polonnaruwa. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa is a treasure trove of archaeological gifts. Situated in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, Polonnaruwa was Sri Lanka’s 2nd capital established in the 10th Century BC by the Chola Dynasty. Although there were a handful of Sinhalese kings, Polonnaruwa kingdom was heavily influenced by the South India. It is interesting to see the South Indian influence on almost all the ruins. Polonnaruwa is also a beautiful place with sprawling paddy fields and ancient canals that still carry water to irrigate the paddy fields. Rural homes where traditional hearths warm the rice and curry cooked in clay pots are wonderful to see here too. Pedalling through this beautiful town with so much history is such a unique experience.
Bike riding tours in Galle
Sri Lanka is a country that has many faces to its urban and rural landscape. If you decide to cycle in the Cultural Triangle and want to also explore another location by bicycle, you may pick cycling in the outer circle of Galle. There are number of routes and off-beat paths that are available to pick up. We like a medium to slow paced half-day cycling tour across the countryside. You will pedal through low-country tea estates, rubber and cinnamon plantations.
#2 Walking and hiking in Sri Lanka
There are several impressive attractions in Sri Lanka that involve fairly decent climbs (such as Sigiriya Rock Fortress), as well as some lesser-known paths and ‘rocks’ that make for active hikes and climbs. Here are some of our favourites.
# Can you climb Pidurangala Rock in Sri Lanka? – Yes! And we recommend it!
This is one activity not to be missed out. Years of our travel tell us that Sigiriya Rock Fortress is still high on the list of must see places but Pidurangala Rock adjacent to Sigiriya should also not be missed. A beautiful rock said to have once been a place of worship for the queens of the palace at Sigiriya Rock Fortress still remain under the radar of regular travellers. The last bit of the climb is somewhat challenging as there are no carved-out steps, but you will be mesmerised by the view on the summit once you reach the top. If you are staying at The Other Corner, Habarana you can include climbing Pidurangala Rock in your itinerary.
# Climb Bible Rock
The hike to Bible Rock in the Central Province is about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Kandy. The climb is beautiful and not so difficult meaning the entire family should manage. Generally it takes around half an hour. The summit of Bible Rock has some wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. There is plenty of bird life on the trail and the climb.
What are the best places for walking or hiking in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka offers many interesting walking trails from better-known ones to lesser-known ones that are easily doable and can be fitted into your itinerary. Here are some options which may work for you and your teenagers.
# Trekking at Horton Plains
Sitting prettily in the central highlands of Sri Lanka covered in montane grassland and cloud forests Horton Plains is a beauty in itself. The combination of vegetation at Horton Plains make it so unique including the species that live in the plains. Such terrain is not found anywhere else in the country. The round trail is approximately 9.5 km and takes half a day. Majority of the trail consists of flat terrain with fewer climbs. A fantastic way to spend a beautiful morning in the highlands. You can walk at Horton Plains while staying at Nuwara Eliya. One of our preferred hotels here is Ferncliff Bungalow.
#Hiking in the Knuckles Mountain Range
The picturesque Knuckles Mountain offers a range of hikes. You can pick the most challenging full-day climb to the Elephant Head Rock, or Manigala, as the locals call it. This is a long trail with a couple of steep climbs and downhill paths. Ideal for young adults and families that seek a good full day adventure. The views from the climb and the summit are breathtaking not to mention a variety of wildlife that you would come across.
There are also shorter half-day trails that are great for families. A walk down the forest patch to reach a beautiful waterfall set amidst an open cave is one of them. The trail across the mountainous forest to reach a forgotten village is another. These short 3-4 hour trails are leisurely and cut across beautiful little villages. You will be able to drop by into a local house and enjoy a cup of tea.
# Walking trails through the Sinharaja Rainforest
Sinharaja Rainforest is a UNESCO world heritage site and a biodiversity hotspot. You can opt for a half-day trail or a full day walk here. These trails are certainly for families with a keen interest in wildlife. Do note it is a rainforest and as such, rain is to be expected through-out. (And fair share of leeches, so dress appropriately!)
A visit and hike in Sinharaja Rainforest could be incorporated into our suggested itinerary Wild Sri Lanka.
What water sports can you do in Sri Lanka?
#3 Water sports and water activities in Sri Lanka
Being surrounded by water, Sri Lanka is abundant with beaches, fabulous beach front accommodation, including private villas in Sri Lanka, as well as a range of great water based activities. To find out more about which is the best beach of Sri Lanka for your family – read our in-depth guide to the coasts and beaches of Sri Lanka here.
Here are some tips to water activities in Sri Lanka
# Surfing, diving and water sports – South and the East Coast of Sri Lanka
For families that are active and love water Sri Lanka’s East Coast, especially Arugam Bay and the South Coast are the most preferred ones. Arugam Bay and the surrounding beaches are a surfer’s paradise and has its own unique outlook to life as surfing does. The laid back carefree days of surfing coupled with fresh seafood BBQ on the grill are unique to this place. The South Coast, from Tangalle to Bentota, offers a variety of water-based activities for an active family from surfing to water sports. Coupled with a relaxing beach stay the South Coast is appealing to families.
Tip: The best time of the year in the South is November to April and it’s April to November on the east coast.
Additionally, there are also some inland water-based activities available. We love the light-hearted, easy going and relaxing water-based activities of the inlands such as kayaking, canoeing and bird-watching. Samanala Weva in Belihuloya, Lagoons in Tangalle and Bentota and the less travelled waters of Koggala Lake are some of our favourites.
#4 Wildlife viewing and wildlife safaris in Sri Lanka
Not to be left off the list are family wildlife safaris. Sri Lanka is a wildlife haven with a large variety of mammals, birds, butterflies etc. It is ever so famous for the Big 5 – elephant, leopard, sloth bear, sperm whale and blue whale. When it comes to land-based safaris elephant, leopard and sloth bear have become firm favourites to see. However, we must not forget that Sri Lanka is home to many endemic birds and other animals that would awe children and parents alike. You can pick from one the popular national parks like Yala, Wilpattu, Udawalawe to less-visited ones such as Gal Oya. All these locations firmly fit into your round tour itinerary offering lots of adventure, fun and educational experience for the entire family.
One of the most wonderful things about family life safaris is that your journey is enriched by your stay in unique accommodation options. All the upmarket tented camps and specialist wildlife accommodations provide in-house naturalists. Some of the places we like to stay for the best wildlife lodges in Sri Lanka include Gal Oya Lodge and Ceylon Wild Safaris.
These are some of our suggested activities we believe suit families travelling in Sri Lanka with children, particularly teenagers. There are others too which can be included into a custom made private tour that suits your family and your interests and hobbies. To speak to one of our expert Sri Lanka tour planners based in Melbourne, Australia you can contact us at 1300 889 513 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also like to read our other Sri Lanka travel blogs:
Top 5 places in Sri Lanka you should visit in 2020
Why a train trip to Ella and the hill country in Sri Lanka is a must do
A guide to eating Sri Lankan food: 13 foods worth travelling to Sri Lanka to eat