Long-term residents of Colombo know that a weekend getaway is necessary sometimes. The hustle and bustle can get to you, and there is no better relief than to jump on a train or bus, or hire a car and driver to take you on the next great adventure. Digital nomads staying in the city will be glad to know that getting out to a villa in a coconut plantation or a beachside surf hotel will still give them great Wifi coverage and no shortage of coconuts, and rice and curry.
The south area of Colombo is full of beaches, from long ones lined with hotels to hidden bays perfect for surfing. Any of the beaches to the south make for a great getaway. To top it off, the Galle Fort is also to the south, with gorgeous boutique hotels and wonderful shops to lose time in.
There are many beaches south of Colombo, and Bentota is one of the nicest and closest to the capital. With plenty of hotels and restaurants, Bentota is a favorite with locals and expats alike.
Galle / Unawatuna / Talpe
A weekend in Galle gives a bit of both worlds. Time can be spent at both the beaches and the fort for a well balanced weekend. While in the fort, stay at the Amangalla or one of the comfy guesthouses. Have an epic iced tea at Prince of Galle, some rice and curry at Hoppa and a walk around the ramparts in the evening. For a lazy beach day, go to Unawatuna or Talpe and set up shop at one of the seaside cafes and restaurants.
Mirissa is known for whale and dolphin-watching excursions. Before leaving Sri Lanka, take a whale safari to see the blue whales off the coast of Mirissa Beach. Spend the long days lounging on the shore and soaking up the Sri Lankan sun. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
If you really want to pamper yourself, check out Cape Welligama, a perfect hotel for families.
Dikwella / Hiriketiya
Dikwella and Hiriketiya are two small beaches between Mirissa and Tangalle. They are perfect surfing spots and a recent hotspot for digital nomads who like working beachside. A great place to stay in the area is The Verse Collective.
Spending a weekend in Tangalle is better done in luxury at the Amanwella or another secluded resort, where you can soak up some sun and get pampered. Tangalle Beach is small and beautiful, making a getaway in Tangalle a memorable one.
North and northeast of Colombo are the beach town of Negombo and other special spots. From coconut estates to windsurfing spots, this area is a bit different from the south.
The beach city of Negombo is the closest to the capital, Colombo. It is the original beach getaway for the locals, and is where the first resorts were built. A weekend in Negombo is great if you don’t want to go very far from the capital. The hotels are nice and so are the beaches. It is usually crowded with tourists though.
The Horatapola Estate is a quaint bungalow in the middle of rural Sri Lanka, only an hour from the airport and an hour and a half from Colombo. The bungalow has five rooms, a pool and amazing food. A (not so well-kept) secret of expats in Colombo.
A bit further north is the Puttalam Peninsula, where kite surfers go to catch some air. Spend the night at one of the old family villas refurbished for guests, like Bethany 101, and enjoy the real Sri Lankan leisure life.
If you also want to escape the heat of Colombo, the best place to go is hill country. The most memorable way to get there is definitely by train.
Ella is the place to go if you love hiking and exploring the mountains. With hotels like the upscale 98 Acres or the quaint Waterfalls Homestay, Ella is a great spot for getting away from the heat and doing some waterfall exploration.
If what you are craving is a colder climate (frost in the mornings!) and some lovely fresh strawberries, the best place to go is Nuwara Eliya. Bask in the mountain sunshine outside a tea planter’s bungalow and enjoy the crisp air.
For a more cultural getaway, head over to Kandy and visit the Temple of the Tooth. For a truly unique experience, stay at Helga’s Folly or the Theva Residency. Walk around the lake and have coffee at Natural Coffee.