Sri Lanka may be a very small island, but it still boasts a whole lot of activities that can be enjoyed by travellers of any age. Much like the diversity in the local cuisine, Sri Lanka offers tons of different adventures—from leisurely ones to those that are more challenging—which parents and children can bond in together. To help you plan your itinerary, we’ve listed down all the family activities in Sri Lanka worthy of checking out. Pens out, it’s going to be an amazing journey!
For Children 0-4 Years Old
1. Travel back in time at the ancient Galle
Uncover the colonial history of Sri Lanka by taking a quick day out at this charming little city called Galle. Roads are sights to see, and establishments were constructed beautifully. But these are not the sole reasons why this quaint town is worthy of your visit. Here, you can visit the Maritime Museum, take a leisurely stroll with the kids going to the scenic lighthouse, and admire the beautiful mosque leading to the sunset. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galle, with its rich heritage dating way back during the Dutch era, is definitely the place to spend your holidays with kids in Sri Lanka.
2. Release baby turtles into the ocean
Teach your kids how to care for the wildlife at an early age. At Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, the aim is to protect the eggs of sea turtles and increase hatchery rate. They also keep an eye on wounded ones, treat, and care for them. Apart from learning a lot on how to conserve the environment, your kids partake in releasing baby turtles back to the ocean during sunset. This is easily the kids’ favourite memory of their trip.
Address: 13A Galle Road, Kosgoda
Entrance Fee: Rs. 500
Fee for Joining the Releasing Activity: Rs. 1500
3. Chill by the beach
What good is going to Sri Lanka if you won’t visit at least one of its palm-fringed golden beaches? One of the main essences of going to the island is experiencing the unparalleled tranquillity of its prime beaches. Being surrounded by the emerald-green waters of the Indian Ocean, there are tons of options in Sri Lanka for you to choose from. To help you out on that one, we highly recommend Unawatuna and Mirissa. These are some less-crowded, off-the-beaten-paths where you can laze around and go picnic with the whole family.
For Children 5-8 Years Old
1. Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth
Buddhist or not, visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth is a must. Why not? Believers say that this place is where the actual relic of the Lord Buddha’s tooth is. This is a good way to spark curiosity in your kids’ minds. What’s even more interesting about the temple is the fact that it was originally built way back in the 16th century.
Villa Finder’s tips: Follow the dress code. Your upper wear should cover your shoulder, while your bottom wear should extend up to the knee. It is compulsory to remove your footwear before entering the temple. We suggest wearing foot socks on the day of your visit.
Entrance Fee: Rs. 1500
Address: Sri Dalada Veediya, Kandy
Operating Hours: 5:30am – 8:00 pm
2. Get charmed at a whale watching cruise
If you and your kids are in for a thrilling adventure, whale watching is the perfect activity for you. Because the southern tip of Sri Lanka is apparently close to the deep waters of a continental shelf, the southern coast is one of the best places in the whole world to get up close with majestic blue whales.
There are several travel tour companies offering whale watching cruises, but we recommend going for an eco-tour specialist. These ones are mindful of keeping the whales from being stressed out by maintaining a comfortable distance from them. For this, we suggest Jetwing Eco Holidays.
3. Bond with elephants in their natural habitat
Did you know that 10% of the world’s elephant population is in Sri Lanka? Yes, you read that right. Elephants have long been part of the island’s colourful and vibrant culture. Spend a heartwarming day observing orphaned baby elephants and see them rush to be fed with milk at Udawalawe Elephant Orphanage. The good thing about this particular sanctuary is that guests are kept a few good meters where the animals are, as this keeps the animals from getting stressed out. After raising the babies into big and strong elephants, they go on and release them back into the wild. With this, we know how genuine they are when it comes to taking care of these wild animals.
Entrance Fee: Rs. 500 for adults, Rs. 250 for children up to 12 years old
Address: C.P.D. De Silva Rd, B427, Udawalawa
Operating Hours: Open every day from 8:45 am – 10:30 am, 11:45 am – 1:00 pm, 2:45 pm – 4:30 pm & 5:45 pm – 7 pm
4. Mingle with wild animals
If your kids just can’t get enough of animals, you can go on and meet some more at Yala National Park. The safari’s biggest draw is their Leopards. Other animals that you might encounter are sambar deers, spotted deers, buffalos, wild pigs, mongooses, langur monkeys, toque monkeys, golden jackals, and Indian palm civets. This jeep safari experience offers one of the best in the whole of Asia, so prepare yourself and your kids to get your adrenaline rush going!
Entry tickets: $15 for a foreign adult, $8 for a foreign child (conversion to local money depends on the current exchange rate); an additional fee will be charged for the jeep safari
Address: Hambantota, Sri Lanka
Opening Hours: Open every day from 6:00 am – 6:00 pm
For Children 9-12 Years Old
1. Immerse yourselves in a village tour
Give your children a different kind of experience by discovering the indigenous roots of Sri Lanka and learning about its tribal people’s culture. Meet the Veddas through a one-of-a-kind village tour. The Veddas are the only preserved tribal community on the island. Tour operators offer packages that will allow you to immerse yourself in the kind of living that these indigenous people have. You can even set foot in the private home or their chief, have a little talk, and learn how to use the bow and arrow. This is an educational experience that will also allow you to contribute to the Vedda’s welfare.
2. Fish Like a Local
The local people in the south of Sri Lanka do fishing in a very unique way. Called stilt fishing, locals use stilt poles to perch on when trying to catch a fish. As this balancing act appeals to many kids, it is a very great opportunity for a parent-child bonding activity.
3. Learn how to surf with your kids
Due to great waves and uncrowded beaches, Sri Lanka is famed for being an awesome surfing destination. Contrary to common belief, surfing can be enjoyed by kids too! The good thing is that there are sheltered beaches on the island that produces small and beginner-friendly waves. So don’t miss out on this chance for your kids to learn the sport as early as now! We suggest checking out Lucky’s Surf School. They’ve got amazing instructors who can guarantee your kids to learn in no time.
Address: 487 Weligama By Pass Rd., Matara
Contact Number: +94 72 169 0919
4. Go snorkelling at Pigeon Island National Park
If your kids just can’t get enough of water, we recommend taking them to Pigeon Island National Park, this time, to try snorkelling. The island’s fine white sand and clear blue waters are captivatingly perfect for the activity. Kids will enjoy the motorboat going to the deep sea and will even be more mesmerised once they catch an eye on the ocean’s wide array of colourful fishes and stunning corals.
Address: Public, Nilaveli Beach Rd, Nilaveli
Contact Number: +94 71 322 7050
Operating Hours: Open everyday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
5. Climb the Lion’s Rock
Cap off your family trip in Sri Lanka with a quick climb at the top of Sigiriya Fortress a.k.a. The Lion’s Rock. Now also identified as UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s a waste of an opportunity to miss out on this majestic site. Invite the whole family to take on this adventure while learning about the interesting history behind this stunning mammoth rock. To start with, Sigiriya Fortress was actually chosen by King Kasyapa as his royal residence, to protect himself from potential attacks from his brother Moggallana, the rightful heir to the throne.
Entrance Fee: $30 for foreigners (including entrance fee to the museum)
Address: Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Operating Hours: Open every day from 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Did this get you more excited or what? We told you so! It’s going to be an epic vacation for the whole family. We wish you the best time and safe travels!