A couples’ guide to backpacking in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has quickly become a backpacker’s hotspot which is understandable since there aren’t many countries in the world that offer such a variety in a relatively small area. If you and your partner have decided to backpack through the island, you’re in luck. Use our easy guide to help you navigate through the ins and outs of the country. 

When To Visit 

The great thing about Sri Lanka is that it’s always a good time to visit! This tropical wonderland is blessed with a year-round summer, and when the monsoon rains do come, it doesn’t hit the country all at once but rather from coast to coast! Here are prime ‘seasons’ for each coast:

  • North & East Coast – April to September
  • South & West Coast – December to March

Where To Visit 

Deciding which parts of Sri Lanka you want to visit can be tough. You want to do as much as possible, but at the same time, you don’t want your itinerary to be jam-packed because otherwise, you may not enjoy your trip. Since you’ll be travelling with your partner, the options below are away from the crowds to ensure the two of you will have a private and relaxing experience.

  • On the North: Jaffna
    Jaffna is the northernmost town on the island. The town was once ravaged by war, over the years, is slowly but surely developing. Although the Civil War has been over for more than a decade, the north doesn’t attract as many visitors, which is why it makes for an excellent getaway for you and your love. The town has an interesting history, delicious food and good beaches- what’s not to love?
  • On the South: Tangalle
    Wedged between the two bustling cities of Matara and Hambantota, Tangalle is the perfect beachside haven. Along with tall swaying palm trees, verdant seaside shrubbery encroaches onto the golden beaches of Tangalle, giving it a more wild beach vibe. The large rock boulders that make small coves are ideal for a private place to watch the sunset from. 
  • On the East: Batticaloa
    Often overlooked, Batticaloa is a small sleepy town found on the east coast. The town has a long and rich colonial history, apparent today by a scattering of colonial structures like the lighthouse and the Batticaloa Fort. This is also a wonderful place to experience east coast wildlife. 
  • On the West: Kalpitiya
    Kalpitiya is best known for two things: kitesurfing and whale watching. While Mirissa is often deemed as the premier whale watching destination on the island, this is certainly not the case. In Kalpitiya you will get some excellent sightings of whales and dolphins minus all the crowds! Please keep in mind the season for whale watching on the west coast is from November to April. 
  • In the Centre: Haputale 
    Nestled in the southern edge of the Sri Lankan hill country, Haputale is a wonderful place for you and your partner to experience the best of the misty mountains. Most visitors opt for visiting Ella, but Haputale has some excellent walking/hiking trails, is the country’s tea capital and is extremely scenic. Here are some cosy spots to watch the sunrise from with your other half.

Where To Stay

Nowadays, it’s really easy to find a place to stay, a quick Google search will provide you with an extensive list of hotels, hostels and homestays. Here are some of the popular hostels for each location:

  • Jaffna: Sky Park View Guest House
  • Tangalle: Neem Jay Beach Cabanas 
  • Batticaloa: York Inn
  • Kalpitiya: Kitelantis Glamping 
  • Haputale: Leisure Hostel 

How To Travel 

Sri Lanka was made for backpackers, travelling around the island has never been easier. You don’t have to hire our private transport; railway lines and bus routes connect the whole country, the only thing to keep in mind is that some rides can take a long time and can be quite hot- but that’s all a part of backpacking!

Travel Advice and Tips

English is widely spoken throughout the country so that already makes travelling a lot easier. Just a few things to keep in mind: 

  • Although Sri Lanka is a safe country, please take the necessary precautions for looking after money/valuables.
  • Tourist-crowded cities can be overpriced, so if you’re looking for a budget trip, head to the lesser-known towns.
  • If you’re using a tuk-tuk make sure there’s a meter before getting in.

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