Mount Lavinia

Urban Bliss!!!

Picture a mile of resorts, perfect beaches, and a sea breeze washing past your villa. Does that excite you? Fantastic! That means Mount Lavinia is where you need to visit; this beach resort town is located just ten kilometers south of Colombo. It is best known for its Golden Mile of beaches and resort hotels.

It’s one of the few relaxing escapes near to the busy capital.

The origin of the name of the town is based on a beautiful—and true—story. In the early 19th century, the Governor of Ceylon, Sir Thomas Maitland, fell in love with a local dancer who performed at one of his parties.

He defied convention and had her brought to his mansion by a secret tunnel. When Maitland had to leave Sri Lanka, he named the manor after his lover: Mount Lavinia House.

The Mount Lavinia Hotel is the heart of the city. It attracts movie shoots, wedding parties, beach lovers, and Ayurveda enthusiasts alike. Let’s learn more about this beautiful place.

Things to Do

Mount Lavinia Hotel

Image of View from a hotel in Mount Lavinia
View from a hotel in Mount Lavinia | Source:  Chr. Offenberg/Shutterstock.com

Built on a promontory overlooking the sea, the Mount Lavinia Hotel is set amongst some  stunning scenery, and has direct access to Mount Lavinia Beach.

The original part of the hotel dates back to 1806, when it was the mansion home of the British Governor General of Ceylon who hosted important dignitaries in his time. As one of the oldest hotels in the country it has a colonial heritage feel to it with decor to match.

Nowadays, it is a popular holiday resort and wedding venue (during wedding season the hotel can get busy, and service sometimes suffers).

They have a swimming pool, restaurant, gym, and Wi-Fi.  

Location: No. 100 Hotel Road, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia | Transportation from Bandaranaike International Airport: Taxi or drive: 55-60 min | Website: https://www.mountlaviniahotel.com | Contact Number/Email: +94 11 2711711 | reservation@mountlaviniahotel.com

Image of White hotel near a tropical beach
White hotel near a tropical beach | Source:  EMJAY SMITH/Shutterstock.com
Image of The beach near Mount Lavinia hotel in Sri Lanka
The beach near Mount Lavinia hotel in Sri Lanka | Source:  Vitaliy Vasenkov /Dreamstime.com

Sri Lanka Air Force Museum

Set over a vast area the Sri Lanka Air Force Museum is an intriguing place to spend a few hours.

It’s a perfect day trip for visitors staying in nearby Colombo and will especially appeal to anyone interested in aircrafts.

There are a variety of aircrafts on display including several English, Japanese, and LTTE aircrafts.

The local guides are engaging while the interactive exhibits and flight simulator is fascinating.

It is perfect for families with children thanks to the various hangers full of real aircraft, and the lovely garden area where children can run around.

They also have a children’s play area and a gift shop.

They sometimes hold model workshops, and you may be able to purchase models at the gift shop (although the shop may not always be open).

Duration: 2 hours and 30 minutes | Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9am-5pm | Cost for foreign visitors: Adults: $15; Children: $10. | Location: New Airport Rd, SLAF Base Ratmalana, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia | Distance from Colombo: 18kms | Website: http://www.airforcemuseum.lk | Contact Number: +94 11 2 625615

Note: Make sure to follow the strict designated boundaries as there are national security rules in place due to the local Air Force Base next door. Also be sure to check with the museum staff about restrictions on photography and videography. 

Mount Lavinia Beach

Image of View of colombo shoreline from mount lavinia sri lanka
View of colombo shoreline from Mount Lavinia | Source: Michael Smith /Dreamstime.com

If you are in Colombo you should put Mount Lavinia Beach on your must-see list.

It is a beehive of activity during the daytime and makes for a relaxing spot in the evening. Come sunbathe, watch the sunset, or take a stroll.

It is a family friendly beach with some eateries situated along the beachfront. Swimming is not recommended due to the riptides, although you can stay close to the shore if you are careful (it is possible to use the private pool at the nearby Mount Lavinia Hotel for a small fee).

Duration: 3 hours (best time to visit 8-11am or 3-6pm) | Location: Mount Lavinia

Image of Sandy beach of the city of Colombo
Sandy beach of the city of Colombo | Source:  Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock.com
Image of Umbrella on a tropical beach at mount lavinia
Umbrella on a tropical beach at mount lavinia | Source:  EMJAY SMITH/Shutterstock.com
Image of Mount Lavinia Beach Colombo
Mount Lavinia Beach Colombo | Source:  Jenny Rainbow/Shutterstock.com

National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka

Image of Monkey eats banana
Monkey eats banana | Source:  kb-photodesign/Shutterstock.com

The original land at the gardens was used by the Hagenback family in the early 1900s as a holding area for wild animals which were to be sent to Europe’s zoos. When their company went bankrupt the land was taken on by a government department as an entertainment attraction.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the focus become more about conservation and scientific research and the facility began to focus more on animal welfare and education.

The venue has undergone refurbishments since then and is now a family friendly visitor attraction.

They have a wide range of animals and birds, and are famous for their elephant show.

The special animal shows allow guests to get up close with elephants, birds, and the resident sea lion; ticket prices are additional to entrance fee and cost from LKR 3,000 to 5,000.

Shows run throughout the week so be sure to check the timings on their website (http://nationalzoo.gov.lk/zoo/activities/).

Duration: 2-5 hours | Opening Hours: 8:30am-6pm daily (last ticket sales 5:30pm) | Cost for foreign visitors: Adults: LKR 2500; Children: LKR 1250 Animals shows cost extra. | Location: 120 Quarry Road, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia | Distance from Colombo: 12kms | Website: http://nationalzoo.gov.lk | Contact Number: +94 11 2 712752

Sea Turtles Conservation Project

Image of Newborn turtles in water seaturtles
Newborn turtles in water seaturtles | Source:  Nomad_Soul/Shutterstock.com

The “Our Turtle Conservation Project” has been running since 2003 with a small team of  volunteers and is funded by donations and entrance prices.

The aim is to protect the local turtles and help with conservation efforts. Of the seven turtle species in the world, five can be found in Sri Lanka.

At the onsite hatchery they have Leatherbacks, Green Turtles, and a Hawsbill. Visitors can hold the turtles as well as take photos with them.

Some visitors find it to be a ‘tourist trap’ more than a sanctuary, while others value their visit here.

If you have concerns make sure to do your own research before making a visit here, or indeed to any other turtle conservation projects, as the ‘money making’ aspect of it can be alarming for some visitors.

Duration: up to 2 hours | Opening Hours: Sun- Sat 8am-6pm | Cost for foreign visitors: up to LKR 1000. Donations are actively pursued. | Location: 73/23 St Rita Road, Mount Lavinia | Website: http://ourturtleproject.wixsite.com/otcp | Contact Number: +94 11 4 277195

Image of Small turtle migrates to the ocean
Small turtle migrates to the ocean | Source:  photostock77/Shutterstock.com

Seafood Cove

Image of Many tasty prepared lobsters cut into two pieces sri lanka
Lobsters in Sri Lanka | Source: Oskanov /Dreamstime.com

The Mount Lavinia region is famous for seafood and offers many fantastic options. Enjoy a quiet meal in Seafood Cove situated in the grand Mount Lavinia Hotel, with its expansive views of the beach and the Indian Ocean.

The restaurant serves an excellent choice of fresh seafood from its fish market – which can be grilled, sautéed, fried, or prepared in any style that you prefer.

Prices for the fish are calculated per every 100g, and they have several seafood varieties on offer such as garupa, lobster, red mullet, and king prawns.

There is a live calypso band in the evenings which adds to the scene as you enjoy a seafood dinner on the beach.

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun an a la carte menu is available during the daytime. Dinner service runs from 7pm to 10:30pm (Happy Hour 6-7pm) | Location: Mount Lavinia Hotel, 100 Hotel Rd, Mt Lavinia | Website: https://www.mountlaviniahotel.com | Contact Number/Email: +94 11 2711711 | reservation@mountlaviniahotel.com

Where to Eat

Options for delicious food abound in Mount Lavinia. Our top recommendations are:

Image of Chicken colombo typical dish of the tradition sri lanka
Chicken colombo typical dish of the tradition sri lanka | Source:  Edoardo Nicolino/Dreamstime.com

1. La Rambla

La Rambla is famous for traditional Sri Lankan delicacies. They cook their food in the authentic Sri Lankan style! There are many eateries La Rambla eateries that specialize in Asian, English, Chinese, and continental foods.

2. Loon Tao

Loon Tao is another popular restaurant right on the beach. They specialize in Chinese, Shanghai, Szechuan, and yummy seafood.

3. Bu Ba

Bu Ba is definitely a hidden treat! This awesome seafood pub is right on the sandy beach and immensely popular.

4. Governor’s Restaurant

No—you did not guess it right, this place is definitely not owned by the governor! However, this restaurant is immensely popular for it’s sprawling buffet and the multiple cuisines they serve.

Where to Sleep

There are multiple options that cater to different tastes. Check out any of these below.

1. Mount Lavinia Hotel

Image of White hotel near a tropical beach
White hotel near a tropical beach | Source:  EMJAY SMITH/Shutterstock.com

Do you have a rich taste and a desire to experience the best? Mount Lavinia Hotel is definitely the place for you to stay. With an impactful history and fantastic service, this premium hotel is an iconic landmark in the region.

2. Tropical Inn

Managed by a family and operational for more than three decades, this highly rated hotel is known for its comfortable ambience and unmatched hospitality.

3. Royce Hotel

Located a stones throw away from Mount Lavinia beach, this charming hotel is top rated and provides many facilities like airport transfer, free Wi-Fi, attached washroom with hot shower, and more.

4. The Villa in Lavinia

This place is known to provide accommodation at affordable rates without compromising on quality—it’s a very popular hotel. It’s tastefully decorated and equipped with stunning architecture to cater to your needs.

When to Go

Image of Hotel near a tropical beach in colombo sri lanka
Hotel near a tropical beach in colombo sri lanka | Source: Michael Smith /Dreamstime.com
Image of View of colombo shoreline from mount lavinia sri lanka
View of colombo shoreline from mount lavinia sri lanka | Source: Michael Smith /Dreamstime.com
Image of Fried rice with fish curry and cashew nuts
Fried rice with fish curry and cashew nuts | Source:  FKavinda/Shutterstock.com

Best time: The best time to visit is from January to March when average temperatures hover at 30°C.

Time to avoid: The monsoon season comes twice to Sri Lanka: May to July, and October to January. It is during May to July that the Southern coastal towns are affected by the monsoon so it is best to avoid these months.

Clearly if you want a fun time with a little history—and great architecture—on the side, then Mount Lavinia is the stop for you! Savor an Ayurveda treatment, or relax and sunbathe at the beach, or indulge in some regional shopping.

Not only can you enjoy some of the best beaches in Sri Lanka—and the greatest food—but there’s plenty of interesting sites to keep you busy.

Visit the landmark Mount Lavinia Hotel, eat at Sea Food Cove, and don’t forget to stop at the National Zoological Gardens!