Sri Lanka flights - cheap international flight tickets and hacker fares to Colombo
Flights to Colombo in Sri Lanka. Book plane tickets to Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo.

Sri Lanka is open to international tourism

Sri Lanka reopened its border to foreign tourists in June 2021. All travelers can enter the country quarantine-free; the requirement of pre-departure and on-arrival PCR tests has been removed.

Most tourists visiting Sri Lanka must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) in advance to receive a visa on arrival. Citizens of Maldives, Seychelles, and Singapore are exempt from the ETC requirement and are entitled to a free visa on arrival.

Transiting through Sri Lankan airports is permitted, as long as the connecting flight is within 10 hours of arrival (you’ll still need an ETA document). If you want to leave the airport between flights or if you’re planning a stopover in Sri Lanka, you should apply for a Transit Visa that allows staying in the country for up to 2 days.



Arriving in Colombo

  • If you are flying to Colombo from abroad, you will most likely land at one of its biggest international airportsits main international airportBandaranaike International Airport CMB, located about 30 km(18 miles) north of the city.

    The second airport in Colombo — Ratmalana Airport RML — has resumed flight operations in 2022 after being closed for 54 years. It currently serves limited routes and airlines. Due to its relatively smaller runway compared to the CMB airport, RML is likely to focus on flights to neighboring countries like Maldives and India, using smaller aircraft.

    There are several transport options available for passengers arriving at CMB airport, including metered and fixed-rate taxis (around 45 min to the city center), ride-sharing services like Uber and PickMe (can be booked via smartphone apps using the airport's free Wi-Fi), public buses (routes 187 and 187E operate between the airport and Colombo Fort), airport shuttle (offered by several private companies), and car rental services
    .

    These are also the best (and the cheapest) airports to fly into Colombo. As they are used by many airlines serving the same routes, the competition for passengers is fierce – with decreased airfare as a result.
  • Once in Colombo, take advantage of frequent intercity flights operated by domestic airlines such as SriLankan Airlines, Cinnamon Air, Helitours, Senok Air, and Fly Southern. Those in-country carriers typically offer lower fares, operate from smaller airports located closer to city centers (you save on ground transportation), and provide flexible schedules – with a wide range of departure times.
  • Planning to explore the region? Popular destinations near Colombo can be easily reached with regional low-cost carriers (LCCs) by the likes of Air Arabia, AirAsia, Flydubai, IndiGo, SalamAir, Scoot, and SpiceJet. If you have a layover in Colombo and plan to fly only a short distance to one of its neighboring countries, these budget airlines are an excellent way to save money. However, the “no-frills” carrier may not provide free checked baggage allowance, complimentary food, in-flight entertainment systems, and fast customer support. You may not even get to choose your seats, unless you pay extra.

Airports of Colombo

Best airports to fly into Colombo: Bandaranaike Airport (CMB) and Ratmalana Airport (RML)
Colombo has two international airports – Bandaranaike International Airport CMB, located about 35 km (18 miles) north of Colombo's city center (in the town of Katunayake), and Ratmalana Airport RML, situated approximately 15 km (9 miles) south of the city.
Things to know before flying to Colombo
Airlines flying to ColomboAeroflot, AirArabia, AirAsia, Air Canada, Air France, Air India, Air Mauritius, Azur Air, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern Airlines, Cinnamon Air, Edelweiss Air, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Finnair, FitsAir, FlexFlight, FlyDubai, Garuda Indonesia, Gulf Air, Iberia, IndiGo, Japan Airlines, Jazeera Airways, JetBlue Airways, KLM, Kuwait Airways, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Neos Air, Oman Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, Salam Air, Singapore Airlines, SpiceJet, SriLankan Airlines, SWISS, Turkish Airlines, Vistara
Airlines of Sri LankaSriLankan Airlines, Cinnamon Air, Fly Southern, Serendib Airways, Senok Air, Helitours, FitsAir
Airports in ColomboBandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
Ratmalana Airport (RML)
Regular price (roundtrip)✈ €600 – €900 (from Europe)
✈ $900 – $1200 (from USA)
Flight hacks 40% — 80% off regular fare
Airline discountsDiscounted airline tickets to Colombo (student/family/seniors/military)

Low-cost flights from Colombo

Stay ahead of the game. Fly to popular destinations at a fraction of the regular fare.

Get your visa in advance

Most tourists visiting Colombo need to apply for a Sri Lanka tourist visa (only nationals of Singapore, Maldives, and Seychelles are exempt). This is easily done online, and your visa will usually be valid for 30 days, with an option to extend it to 90 days. We recommend applying around a week before the trip, as it usually takes 24-48 hours for the visa approval to come through.

Alternatively, you can obtain a Sri Lankan visa on arrival at the Colombo Airport (at a slightly higher price). The caveat is that during the peak travel season you could end up waiting in line for a long while.

The cheapest time to fly to Colombo

The best time to find the cheapest flights to Colombo tends to be during the low season – May to August. December is also an off-peak month if you don’t travel on dates around Christmas and New Year. With fewer tourists, flight prices to Sri Lanka are the cheapest, as airlines discount fares due to lower demand. Additionally, many hotels offer lower rates, and tourist attractions reduce admission fees.

Months between May and August mark the rainy season when the country experiences a Yala monsoon coupled with low humidity. It affects the southwestern part of the island, including Colombo, with heavy rainfall. However, this is the best time for trips to the north of the island or the east coast – an interesting option for travelers who are into the laid-back surf scene (a surfing mecca in Arugam Bay is particularly worth checking out).

Know your time zone

Sri Lanka has only one time zone – it observes India Standard Time (IST) all year, which is UTC+05:30 time zone. As a result, clocks in Colombo are 5 and half hours ahead of London and 9 hours and 30 minutes ahead of New York. IST does not have an associated daylight saving time.

When checking flights and airport transfer times, ensure you know the local time zones. The departure time on your plane ticket is always listed based on the time zone of the departure airport. We suggest resetting your watch during the flight – it will help your brain adjust to the new time zone and to deal with jet lag.

Duty-free rules

Sri Lanka is serious about the duty-free concession. There is a limit for bringing in certain items. Strong alcoholic drinks such as spirits cannot exceed 1.5 liters per person, and you can also bring 2 bottles of wine. Customs regulations of Sri Lanka do not permit any tobacco products to be brought into the country. In addition to personal items, you may carry items up to a value of $250.

Anything above those limits must be declared – at the Colombo Airport, head to the Red Lane to declare your goods.

Next tips

Flights to Colombo from United States and Canada

  • There are no direct flights from the US or Canada to Colombo. However, most major hubs in Asia have non-stop flights to Colombo, as do some larger airports in the Middle East – your journey will have at least one stop.
  • Colombo is well-served via one-stop flights from North America. Flights to Colombo with one layover depart from most major North American airports, including Atlanta ATL, Dallas DFW, Denver DEN, Chicago ORD, Los Angeles LAX, Las Vegas DFW, Miami MIA, Seattle SEA, Houston IAH, New York JFK, and San Francisco SFO in the United States and Toronto YYZ, Vancouver YVR, Calgary LAS, and Montreal YUL in Canada.
  • The best airlines to fly to Colombo from the US and Canada are: SriLankan Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Malaysia Airlines, and Singapore Airlines. They are top full-service carriers, offering exceptional customer service, in-flight comfort, a generous checked baggage allowance, and reliable customer support channels – all included in the ticket price.

US and Canada to Colombo.
Ticket prices in April 2024.

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Long waiting times when calling the helpline?

Social media is usually a faster way to reach the airline when a problem arises. Use Twitter or Facebook Messenger to contact the airline customer service and get a response and solution within minutes (see detailed guides for Air India, Emirates, GoFirst, and others).

When it comes to Twitter, there’s one more trick to get in touch with the airline faster: mention the airline in a tweet about your issue (add “@airline_handle”, for example: “@flysrilankan” for Sri Lankan Airlines). The customer care team will often notice it immediately, ask you for a direct message, and respond privately.

Avoid currency exchange kiosks at airports

Airports are infamous for making an exuberant amount of money from their currency exchanges due to the extremely high margins, and Colombo Airport is no exception. Airport kiosks usually charge higher fees which are sometimes hidden within the poorer exchange rates they offer – their business is based on charging extra for being a convenient, last-minute option.

It is always a good idea to bring cash with you to Colombo, as the country runs on cash and many places don’t accept card payments. Plan ahead and exchange some money for the Sri Lankan rupee at home, or use one of the many ATMs located at the airport and in the city.

Next tips

Flights to Colombo from UK, Germany, France, Netherlands and other countries in Europe

  • There are no direct flights from Europe to Colombo — you’ll need to get a connecting flight from elsewhere in the Middle East or in Asia. Direct flights from Europe to Colombo are about 9-11 hours long. Only some of the largest European hubs have a nonstop connection to Colombo – among them are Frankfurt FRA, London LHR, and Paris CDG. Those flights arrive at the main international airport in Colombo – Bandaranaike International Airport CMB and are operated year-round by only one airline: SriLankan Airlines. However, there are some seasonal direct flights via Edelweiss Air (from Zürich ZRH), Air France (from Paris CDG), and Neos Air (from Milan MXP).
  • Airlines that frequently fly from the UK, Germany, France, and other European countries to Colombo include SriLankan Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Finnair, KLM, and Lufthansa.
  • Consider departure airports in neighboring countries to increase your chance of spotting the best deal. Especially look for large airports that serve as hubs for multiple airlines. For example, if you live in Western Europe, check air tickets to Colombo from Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, and Rome. Leverage frequent promotions from European budget carriers like RyanAir, EasyJet, and Eurowings to reach a major hub; from there, take a cheaper long-haul flight to your final destination, potentially saving hundreds of euros.
  • These major European airports are excellent departure points for trips to Colombo: London LHR and Manchester MAN in the United Kingdom, Frankfurt FRA and Munich MUC in Germany, Paris CDG and Nice NCE in France, Amsterdam AMS in the Netherlands, Madrid MAD and Barcelona BCN in Spain, Rome FCO and Milano MXP in Italy, Brussels BRU in Belgium, Copenhagen OSL in Denmark, Oslo OSL in Norway, Stockholm ARN in Sweden, Zurich ZRH in Switzerland, Lisbon LIS in Portugal, Vienna VIE in Austria, Warsaw WAW in Poland, Prague PRG in the Czech Republic, and Dublin DUB in Ireland.

Europe to Colombo.Flight schedule and ticket prices.

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Last-minute flights to Colombo. The real cost of convenience.

Last-minute flights are often touted as a great way to save money, but the reality is far from it. Booking last-minute flights to Colombo almost always never works out. The convenience of being able to book a flight on the fly is a dangerous game of chance, and you will most likely end up paying significantly higher than booking in advance.

Last-minute flight cost spike
Late booking penalty: The flight prices rise as departure draws near. Last-minute flights are almost always more expensive than booking in advance.

The common perception may be that airlines decrease ticket prices to fill empty seats as the departure date approaches. However, the truth is that airfares depend on demand. Based on years of research and current customer data, the airlines know what people are willing to pay for specific flights and dates. They are also well aware that people are willing to pay a premium for flights they need to take immediately. To make the most money, the airline will sell its cheapest fares first and then increase the prices right before the flight to take advantage of business travelers and others who are willing to pay the premium price for late booking.

Occasionally, airlines can put some seats on sale to fill the remaining seats, but these are for unusual times and unpopular places. Popular destinations and dates around peak travel times tend to sell out quickly.

Planning ahead is key to securing a good deal on your flight. Last-minute flight deals are hard to come by, so as soon as you have a tentative travel timeline, book your flight. The earlier you book, the more likely you are to save money. If you are looking for a good deal, the best time to book your flight to Colombo is 2-8 months before the takeoff.

Looking for the best deals for Colombo? Check different departure airports.

Airlines often have varying prices for flights to Colombo from different airports – even if they are in close proximity to one another. So don’t limit yourself to just your nearest airport. The neighboring cities may have lower-priced flights that include a layover at Colombo, or may even have direct flights that are more budget-friendly.

For example, if you’re looking to fly from Paris to Colombo, it may be worth checking prices for flights departing from London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, or Rome. Yes, you may have to fly a few hundred kilometers to these hubs, but domestic low-cost airlines like EasyJet, RyanAir, or WizzAir will happily take you there for less than €100.

Book flights from many departure airports
By entering more than one departure city in the flight search engine (at the top of this page), you can quickly find the airport with the cheapest flights to your destination

The same goes for long-haul flights to Colombo from anywhere in the world. By broadening your search to include neighboring airports, you may discover lower-priced options that can save you hundreds of euros!

Domestic flights from Colombo

Most domestic routes in Sri Lanka are operated by local carriers. When traveling to popular tourist destinations such as Dehiwala, Galle, Jaffna, Moratuwa, Negombo, Kandy, Kalmunai, Vavuniya, Dambullam, and Batticaloa from Colombo Airport , you’ll likely fly with one of these domestic airlines: SriLankan Airlines, Cinnamon Air, Helitours, Senok Air, and Fly Southern.

This is often the best transportation method, providing speed, convenience, and cost-effectiveness. Local airlines often offer multiple daily flights to key destinations, providing flexibility in scheduling and competitive pricing. They also serve smaller regional airports, enabling access to a wider range of Sri Lankan destinations.

Flights to Colombo from Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia and New Zealand are well-connected with popular Asian destinations, including Colombo. In addition to domestic airlines – Qantas, Jetstar Airways, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand – routes from Australasia to Asia are operated by large international carriers such as ANA, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.

    Currently, there are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand to Colombo. You’ll need a layover in one of the major hubs in Asia.
  • Airfare costs can vary widely depending on the route and the airline’s pricing strategy. To find the cheapest flight to Colombo, compare ticket prices from various international airports in Australia – Sydney SYD, Brisbane BNE, Melbourne MEL, Perth PER, Adelaide ADL, Cairns CNS, Gold Coast OOL, Canberra CBR, and in New Zealand – Auckland AKL, Wellington WLG, Christchurch CHC, Queenstown ZQN, and Dunedin DUD.
  • For optimal savings, consider flying from Australia or New Zealand to a key Asian hub, then connect to Colombo via a regional low-cost carrier. Among budget airlines that fly to Colombo are Air Arabia, AirAsia, Flydubai, IndiGo, SalamAir, Scoot, and SpiceJet.

    For the first leg, use the budget carriers that fly out of Australian airports, leveraging sales and promotions they run frequently: AirAsia (connects with Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore), Cebu Pacific (Manila), Jetstar (Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo), Scoot (Singapore), VietJet Air (Ho Chi Minh City), Bamboo Airways (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing), and Batik Air (Jakarta, Singapore).

Australia and New Zealand to Colombo.Flight ticket prices today.

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“Hot seats” on long-haul flights

Those days seat selection is considered an optional, extra paid service – seats with extra legroom (front and exit rows) are usually priced higher. However, if you’re about to take a long-haul flight to Colombo, those “hot seats” are worth considering – expect to pay $50-$100, which is much less than upgrading to Premium Economy.

If you want to choose your seats, do this early (ideally during the booking) for a more extensive selection of available options.

Booking hot seats (preffered seats with extra legroom) on plane
Choosing a hot seat during the flight booking process is usually worth it. For a reasonable price, you will get more room to stretch your legs, as well as a wider seat pitch.

Booking group flights to Colombo

Flights are cheaper when purchased in bulk rather than as individual tickets. Booking group flights to Colombo can be a cost-effective option for a school trip, family reunion, or corporate group traveling to a conference.

To qualify for the special group rate, the group must usually have at least 10 passengers. Discounts depend on the airline, group size, and travel dates, and typically range from 5% to 20% off the regular airfare.

Airlines and flight search websites typically limit automatic group bookings to 10 passengers. This limit reflects the complexity of managing larger groups, which require personalized service and more time to coordinate. To get the price quote for your group, you’ll need to contact the airline or a travel agent directly.

If you’re open to different airlines or want more personalized service, a travel agent may be a better choice. Travel agents may have access to discounted group rates to Colombo and can help with logistics and scheduling.

Flights to Colombo from Bali, Bangkok, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, and other major hubs in Asia

  • Many airport hubs in the Asia Pacific region have direct flights to Colombo, including Bangkok BKK, Beijing PEK, Dhaka DAC, Guangzhou CAN, Hong Kong HKG, Jakarta CGK, Kuala Lumpur KLM, Male MLE, Seoul ICN, Shanghai PVG, Singapore SIN, and Tokyo NRT.
  • Asia is probably the best continent for short-haul and mid-haul flying. The sheer scale of this most populous region on Earth is reflected in the type of aircraft operating many shorter routes: intra-Asia flyers benefit from comfortable, wide-bodied aircraft by the likes of Boeing 777, 787 or Airbus A350, A330, and A380. When booking your flight to Colombo look for these bigger planes as they will almost always give you the best experience in every cabin, including better seat pitches, higher ceilings, and larger overhead bin space.
  • Asia is also home to most of the world’s best airlines. There are only ten airlines that received the prestigious 5-star mark of quality from Skytrax, and all of them are from Asia: ANA, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines. Choosing one of these airlines for your trip to Colombo will guarantee a pleasant journey – delicious meals served during the flight, great in-flight entertainment, and above-average airline customer service.
  • Asia is extremely well served by low-cost regional airlines. If you are visiting Sri Lanka and want to see several other countries on a tight budget, they often have great sales with rock-bottom prices, while still offering a relatively comfortable flight experience. Among the best Asian budget airlines you can book without hesitation are AirAsiaCebu Pacific, Citilink, FlyDubai, Indigo, Jetstar Airways, Scoot, SpiceJet, and VietJet Air. The cons? Being no-frills airlines they may not provide free baggage allowance, inflight meals, or onboard entertainment. The departure times may also be quite inconvenient as they try to save money by flying at off-peak hours.
  • Most major Asian airports have convenient and frequent flights to Colombo — including Changi (Singapore), Dubai (UAE), Hong Kong (China), Incheon (Seoul, South Korea), Indira Gandhi (New Delhi, India), KLIA (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Narita (Tokyo, Japan), Denpasar (Bali, Indonesia), Soekarno–Hatta (Jakarta, Indonesia), Ninoy Aquino (Manila, Philippines), Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok, Thailand), Taoyuan (Taipei, Taiwan), and others.

Colombo from major Asian airports.Flight prices in April 2024.

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Proof of onward travel – a simple hack

Travelers who go on long trips often don’t have a set itinerary and fly on one-way tickets. The problem? For many APAC countries, proof of onward travel is a legal requirement. If you arrive at the airport without an onward ticket (from Sri Lanka to another country), you’ll either be forced to buy one online or forbidden from boarding the plane altogether.

The cheapest solution? Renting an onward ticket! Use the websites such as OneWayFly or OnwardTicket to get a flight reservation for a limited amount of time (usually 2 to 14 days). They work by actually booking you on a real flight out of Sri Lanka and giving you a confirmable flight reservation with a PNR (Passenger Name Record) under your name. After the time limit, your spot on the flight is automatically canceled. Such “temporary tickets” tend to cost anywhere from $10 to $20.

Confirmed flight ticket reservation
Proof of onward travel: confirmed flight ticket reservation (source: OnwardTicket)

Fly now, pay later

Book Now Pay Later (BNPL) plans for flights have become a popular trend in the travel industry, allowing travelers to book flights and pay in installments. Among the airlines that offer this option are American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Qantas, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines. They partner with external financial companies to offer their loan services on the checkout page.

The BNPL plans come with varying terms and fees. Some may be interest-free but have fees for late-payments and require forced autoplay on your bank account, while others may have high annual percentage rates (up to 30-40% APR).

When considering BNPL financing for your flight to Colombo, it’s crucial to carefully evaluate the pros and cons, and thoroughly review the terms and conditions.