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Sri Lanka and the Maldives: the best pairing for far-flung romance

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If you’ve ventured out into the cold, damp streets this February, you might have noticed there’s a hint of romance in the air. Decadent bunches of red roses and cuddly bears seem to be strategically placed on the end of the aisles, restaurants are highlighting their couples specials, and card shops are awash with reds and pinks. It’s safe to say, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching.

But if the ‘romantic dinner for two’ supermarket meals are proving less than appetizing, can we suggest a more far-flung adventure might be in order? Whether it’s a honeymoon, a special anniversary or simply a romantic getaway à deux, the Indian Ocean pearls of Sri Lanka and the Maldives should be high on your list. Think stylish boutique properties, mouth-watering food, once-in-a-lifetime shared experiences, and barefoot strolls on powder-white sands. Tempted? Read on to find out what makes Sri Lanka and the Maldives such a perfect pairing for your next trip.

Slow down to reconnect

Life in Sri Lanka is pleasantly slow. Sure, it can be a little frenetic in Colombo, but outside the cities you’ll find a landscape and people that have happily slipped into second gear. Wander around Polonnaruwa – one of the three main sites of the Cultural Triangle – and you’re likely to fall in love with the detailed stone carvings, giant Buddhas, soaring stupas, and landscaped gardens. You can almost picture courting couples taking a leisurely stroll through the same gardens as you follow in their footsteps, a thousand years later.

Adding to the seductive allure of the Cultural Triangle is its offering of boutique properties. From a private dinner with a view of Sigiriya to a villa with your own pool, these smaller hotels are a more intimate affair with the potential to create personalized experiences for a special occasion. For a truly memorable adventure, little beats the euphoria of floating over the patchwork of paddy fields, ancient ruined cities and tiny villages in a hot air balloon. Watching the sun rise over the horizon as you drift over mist-swathed hills and lush jungle is one for the true romantics.

To bookend a day in the Cultural Triangle with the romance of sunrise and sunset, climb to the top of Sigiriya Rock as the sun begins its descent. This vast natural phenomenon rises 200m from the plains and was once topped by the palace and fortress of King Kashyapa (477 to 495 AD). Colorful frescoes line the route while a giant carved lion guards the entrance. Once at the top, the water gardens, terraces and palace ruins hint at the opulence and grandeur of royal life 1,500 years ago. With sweeping views across the countryside as it unfolds towards the horizon, it’s a picture-perfect spot to sit and watch the sunset with your loved one.

Relive the romance of a golden age of travel

Traveling by train may not conjure up notions of romance if your rail experience is restricted to the daily commute. But picture a charming, colorful train chugging its way slowly through an undulating landscape of hills, over viaducts and past emerald tea plantations. Built by the British in the 19th century to transport Sri Lanka’s prized export, tea, traveling by train here is like stepping back in time. Tiny stations with colorful flowerbeds and hand-painted signs dot the route while the relaxed tempo is a refreshing change from the faster pace of daily life.

Traveling to the Tea Country by train certainly sets the scene for a romantic escape amongst the dramatically beautiful landscapes of tea-dotted hills, cloud-touched peaks and glassy lakes that have drawn travelers for centuries. This tapestry of greens is punctuated with the bungalows that were once home to the British tea planters and their wives, and which retain the elegance of this bygone age. Highly polished floors, pastel-colored exteriors, four-poster beds, roll-top baths and croquet lawns hint at romance, while there can be little better than curling up on the veranda with a cup of tea and your partner to soak in the tranquility of the hills.

If you can be tempted from the peaceful haven of your bungalow, why not indulge in a spot of High Tea in a former gentleman’s club in Nuwara Eliya, or join Sri Lankan lovebirds as they stroll around the Royal Botanical Gardens. Taking a tour of a tea factory offers both fascinating insight into the complex production of this unassuming beverage, and a chance to see just how your partner prefers their morning brew (which some may argue is vital for a long and happy relationship!).

Get to know each other better

While knowing how to prepare a cup of tea is going to keep the tea drinker in your relationship happy, Sri Lanka’s cultural and natural variety is bursting with experiences to help you get to know each other better. Does your partner perform well under pressure? Perhaps test out their nerves as you tackle the rapids on a whitewater rafting trip down the Kelani Ganga to a wilderness camp in Kitulgala. Here, a couple of days spent canyoning, abseiling, or rafting is an opportunity to work as a team while fully escaping the pressures of the real world.

Alternatively, a cooking lesson can be a chance to connect over a love of food while learning recipes and techniques to add a bit of interest to a tired culinary repertoire. This shared experience takes you from the vibrant markets which burst with colorful, intriguing produce, to the process of transforming this bounty into delicately spiced, wonderfully fragrant Sri Lankan dishes.

Ready to pop the question?

Unless this romantic trip is a honeymoon, you might have a big question on your mind. So if you’re thinking of making the trip even more memorable with a proposal, you’re spoilt for romantic settings in Sri Lanka. The top of Adam’s Peak as the sunrise sets the surrounding landscapes aglow? The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy as saffron-robed Buddhist monks wander by? Beneath the historic lighthouse in the Galle Fort? If a new piece of jewelry is needed to mark the occasion, the Galle Fort is conveniently home to a number of chic boutiques and jewelry shops. The narrow streets of the fort perfectly balance their cultural and historic tapestry with a refined and stylish offering of effortlessly cool bars and restaurants, perfect for a glass of fizz after a stroll along the fort walls.

Fall in love with the Maldives

Sri Lanka’s wildlife encounters, cultural gems and web of historic influences are so varied and rich that we’ve barely scratched the surface of a destination with something to suit all tastes, interests and traveling styles. Not only that, but from the Cultural Triangle to Kandy, the Tea Country to the National Parks, you can quite easily travel around the country in seven to 10 days, allowing time in a two-week trip to hop over to the island idyll of the Maldives.

The palm-fringed, dazzling white sands and cerulean blue waters of the Maldives need little introduction. What may be less well-known is how perfectly they pair with Sri Lanka. A short, one-hour 30-minute flight from Colombo to Male, followed by a seaplane or boat trip to your chosen island, and you’re in paradise. Once there, life in the Maldives can be as active, or otherwise, as you wish. Snorkel through a kaleidoscope of tropical fish, scuba dive to some of the world’s finest sites, trek through lush jungle, or simply hop in a hammock with a book.

It’s this balance that makes the Maldives such a dream destination for couples. Whether you want to hang out in your private overwater bungalow and soak in the sea views or jet-ski across the ocean, the choice is yours. Add in the tantalizing selection of photogenic settings for a private dinner, picnic lunches on a remote sandbank, underwater spas, couples massages, and sunset strolls along pristine beaches, and you have a destination brimming with romantic potential.

Delfine in den Malediven bei Sonnenuntergang

Make it happen

If you’re planning a trip for two, whether a honeymoon, anniversary or simply to spend more time with your loved one, our local experts have your best interests at heart. From shared experiences to intimate boutique hotels, draw on their local, firsthand knowledge for your romantic getaway to Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

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