The Asian country Australians are choosing for their 2024 winter holiday

Silhouettes of the traditional stilt fishermen at sunset near Galle in Sri Lanka
Silhouettes of the traditional stilt fishermen at sunset near Galle in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is attracting droves of sun-seeking Australians this winter and with its rich history and lush landscapes, it’s not hard to see why

With ‘winter sun destinations’ cracking into the top five Aussie searches online, Sri Lanka is rising the ranks to become a beloved destination. With a history spanning over 3,000 years, this Asian country holds some of the world’s most ancient cities including Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Digamadulla – destinations with palaces, temples, monasteries and theatres that were once bustling meccas before they were abandoned with time and overgrown by jungles. This fascinating ancient history is just one reason why Australian Google searches for Sri Lanka skyrocketed by 400 per cent in 2023.

Sri Lanka’s tourism is bouncing back, five years after the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks on Catholic churches in 2019 and the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.

The country has made a significant investment in luxury hotel and wellness development throughout the country recently, and its location directly in the middle of the Australia-Europe flight path make it an ideal transfer point for Aussie long-haul travellers. Turning the stopover into a mini-tropical holiday allows travellers to experience Sri Lanka’s biodiversity, national parks and wildlife reserves.


Boasting one of the highest rates of biological endemism in the world, Sri Lanka is home to 91 mammal species including Asian elephants, sloth bear, leopards, sambar and wild buffaloes. Sri Lanka is also home to three species endangered by habitat loss: the red slender loris, toque macaque and purple-faced langur.

In Sri Lanka, visitors can find the world’s oldest human-planted tree – a sacred fig or bo-tree aged 2,300 years old and called Sri Maha Bodhiya. Legend says that Sri Maha Bodhiya’s mother tree was the one under which the Buddha reached enlightenment.

The island nation boasts over 100 waterfalls, many of which allow swimming. Overall, the country’s natural waterfall system supplies the majority of the country’s electricity through hydropower plants. Travellers to Sri Lanka should also be sure to taste some of the country’s cinnamon; Sri Lanka is now the main exporter for the ingredient.


Those looking for a chance to re-centre themselves can partake in the country’s native healing system, Ayurveda, which was established more than 5,000 years ago. Based on herbs and diet, it was the region’s only treatment method until the introduction of Western medicine in the 19th century.

Sri Lanka seems to be a destination that captures the heart of visitors, too, with 20 per cent of arrivals during the first two months of 2024 repeat tourists. Sri Lanka’s racial and religious diversity means a plethora of festivals and celebrations year round, leading to its status as the country with the highest number of celebrations and holidays. Sri Lanka was also the first country to have a woman as prime minister with the election of Sirimavo Bandaranaike in July 1960.

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