Where to Stay in Sri Lanka

sri lankan manor house

There are many options for accommodation in Sri Lanka. Whether traveling to the hill country in the center of the island country or the tropical lowlands and beaches, there is a range of places to stay for international visitors.

It is important to decide on your accommodation before making the journey, as this information is required when completing the Sri Lanka visa application.

Find the options for you with this guide to the best places to stay in Sri Lanka.

Types of Accommodation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka accommodation comes in a number of different forms. Types of lodgings include:

  • Guesthouses
  • Luxury hotels in old colonial buildings (e.g. in the hill country)
  • Beach resort hotels
  • Eco-tourism
  • Villas and bungalows

The best accommodation in Sri Lanka depends on each traveler’s needs. Those traveling on a budget may prefer guesthouses, while others might prefer to spend more on a luxurious hotel. Learn more about prices and expenses in Sri Lanka.

Staying In a Guesthouse in Sri Lanka

Guesthouses are usually attached to or part of a family’s home. They are ideal for visitors on a budget as they tend to be more affordable than hotels.

Food is often provided and the owners are usually sociable and ensure visitors have a comfortable stay.

Hotels and Resorts in Sri Lanka

As in many places, hotels can vary. Hotels in the hill country in Sri Lanka are often in big old colonial buildings, which are worth seeing in their own right. They tend to be more expensive and luxurious options than guesthouses, but offer a fascinating glimpse into what life was like in the past.

In the coastal lowlands of Sri Lanka, resorts can be found. Hotels in these areas are popular with European visitors and can be busy during the high season, but offer easy access to the beach and many are located close to important landmarks.

Eco-Hotels in Sri Lanka

In recent years, various eco-hotels and lodges have opened in Sri Lanka, particularly in the mountainous interior of the island. Visitors can stay close to nature, while still enjoying some of the luxuries of hotel accommodations

There are bungalows and campsites located in some of the country’s national parks. Camping outside these designated sites can cause problems with locals and landowners, so it is not recommended to pitch a tent in any other location.

Areas to Stay in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is divided into 2 main areas: the hill country in the center of the island and the coastal lowlands.

The lowlands are the perfect place to stay for travelers looking for a beach holiday or surfing in Sri Lanka. The warm, tropical temperatures and proximity to the coast are ideal and the hotels and resorts in these areas cater to these types of visitors.

It is advisable to make sure that your room is equipped with air conditioning or a fan, as humidity is high in the lowlands.

Learn more about the weather in Sri Lanka and the best time to visit.

The higher altitudes of the hill country mean that temperatures are cooler and as a result, there is heating in most forms of accommodation. Sri Lanka has more than just beaches to offer visitors, as the lush green peaks in the center of the island prove.

Visitors to the hill country can experience the following:

  • The historic city of Kandy
  • The town of Ella, home to the 2000-year-old Dhowa Buddhist Temple
  • The scenic train ride between Kandy and Ella
  • Hiking up Adam’s Peak and Lipton’s Seat
  • Visiting tea plantations
  • Seeing wildlife in Horton Plains National Park

What Is the Best Area to Stay in Colombo?

Colombo is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka, while the official administrative capital is nearby Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte (which is part of the Greater Colombo area). Colombo offers some of the best places to stay in Sri Lanka in the heart of a cosmopolitan city.

The Kollupitiya neighborhood is in the epicenter of the city, with shopping centers, restaurants, cultural attractions, and nightlife all close at hand. The impressive Gangaramaya Temple and the Colombo Museum can be found nearby.

Wellawatte is an area of Colombo known for its artistic and alternative spirit and is an attractive place to stay for visitors. Its arts and crafts shops, historic cinema, and proximity to the beach are its main draws.

For those wanting a quieter visit, the neighborhood of Borella is less commercialized and more laid-back, despite only being 15 minutes from the center of Colombo.

Sri Lanka Accommodation and Visa

Before traveling to Sri Lanka, most people will need to obtain a Sri Lanka ETA (electronic travel authorization), a visa waiver. Visitors from a minority of countries are required to apply for a consular visa at a Sri Lankan diplomatic mission instead.

When applying for either of these, the traveler must list the address in Sri Lanka where they will be staying. For this reason, it is important to book accommodation in Sri Lanka beforehand.

Visitors who will be staying in more than one location should put the address of the first place they will be staying at when they arrive in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka ETA online application process is quick and easy and eliminates the need to travel to an embassy.

Check the requirements for the Sri Lanka ETA to see if you are eligible.