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 Sri Lanka

  • If you are flying to Sri Lanka from abroad, you will most likely land at one of its biggest international airportsits main international airportBandaranaike International Airport CMB in Colombo.

    These are also the best (and the cheapest) airports to fly into Sri Lanka. 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 Sri Lanka, 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 Sri Lanka can be easily reached with regional low-cost carriers (LCCs) by the likes of Air Arabia, AirAsia, Flydubai, IndiGo, Salam Air, Scoot, and SpiceJet. If you have a layover in Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka

Best airports to fly into Sri Lanka: Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB),  Ratmalana Airport (RML) in Colombo, Mattala Rajapaksha International Airport (HRI) in Mattala, Jaffna International Airport (JAF) in Jaffna, and Koggala Airport (KCT) in Galle
Sri Lanka has 22 airports that serve both regional and international destinations. 5 of them function as international airports – Bandaranaike International Airport CMB and Ratmalana Airport RML in Colombo, Mattala Rajapaksha International Airport HRI in Mattala, Jaffna International Airport JAF in Jaffna, and Koggala AirportKCT in Galle.
Things to know before flying to Sri Lanka
Airlines flying to Sri LankaAeroflot, AirArabia, AirAsia, Air China, Air France, Air India, Air Mauritius, Air New Zealand, British Airways, China Eastern Airlines, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Finnair, FlyDubai, Gulf Air, Iberia, IndiGo, Japan Airlines, Jazeera Airways, JetBlue Airways, Kuwait Airways, LATAM, Oman Air, Malaysia Airlines, Neos Air, Oman Air, Pakistan International Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, RwandAir, Singapore Airlines, SpiceJet, SriLankan Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Vistara
Airlines of Sri LankaSriLankan Airlines, Cinnamon Air, Fly Southern, Serendib Airways, Senok Air, Helitours, FitsAir

Main airports in Sri LankaBandaranaike International Airport (CMB) — Colombo
Colombo International Airport (RML) — Colombo
Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport (HRI) — Hambantota
Jaffna International Airport (JAF) — Jaffna
Kandy Airport (KDW) — Kandy
Anuradhapura Airport (ACJ) — Anuradhapura
Sigiriya Airport (GIU) — Dambulla
Koggala Airport (KCT) — Galle
Batticaloa Airport (BTC) — Batticaloa
China Bay Airport (TRR) — Trincomalee
Regular price (roundtrip)✈ €600 – €900 (from Europe)
✈ $900 – $1200 (from USA)
Flight hacks 40% — 80% off regular fare
Official websitesSri Lanka Tourism (official travel website)
Sri Lanka Travel Advice (UK citizens)
Sri Lanka Travel Advisory (US citizens)
Sri Lanka Travel Advisory (Australian citizens)
Sri Lankan Airlines (national airline of Sri Lanka)
Airline discountsDiscounted airline tickets to Sri Lanka (student/family/seniors/military)

Low-cost flights from Sri Lanka

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

Get your visa in advance

Most tourists visiting Sri Lanka 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 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.

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 Sri Lanka 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 airport, head to the Red Lane to declare your goods.

Book a seat in a quiet zone

Some airlines (for example AirAsia X) start to offer child-free “quiet zones” for a peaceful flight experience. Children below 10 years old are not allowed in this section. Those seats are usually located in front of the plane (bonus: less noise from the engines) with soft ambient lighting and early meal service.

Next tips

Flights to Sri Lanka from United States and Canada

  • There are no direct flights from the US or Canada to Sri Lanka. However, most major hubs in Asia have non-stop flights to Sri Lanka, as do some larger airports in the Middle East – your journey will have at least one stop.
  • Sri Lanka is well-served via one-stop flights from North America. Flights to Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka 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.

Sri Lanka from US & Canada.Ticket prices in February 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.

The cheapest time to fly to Sri Lanka

The best time to find the cheapest flights to Sri Lanka 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 (such as Colombo and Galle) 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).

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 Sri Lankan airports are 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 Sri Lanka, 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 almost every city.

Next tips

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

  • There are no direct flights from Europe to Sri Lanka — you’ll need to get a connecting flight from elsewhere in the Middle East or in Asia. Direct flights from Europe to Sri Lanka are about 9-11 hours long. Only some of the largest European hubs have a nonstop connection to Sri Lanka- among them are Frankfurt FRA, London LHR, and Paris CDG. Those flights arrive at the main international airport in Colombo 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 Sri Lanka include SriLankan Airlines, Edelweiss Air, 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 Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka: 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.

Sri Lanka from Europe.Flight schedule and ticket prices.

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Check different departure airports

Consider neighboring cities when choosing the departure airport – especially look for larger cities with airports that serve as hubs for multiple airlines.

For example, if you live in West Europe, check prices for flights departing from Paris, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rome, or Vienna. In 9 out of 10 cases, the cheapest flight to Sri Lanka will depart from one of these hubs, and it may be €500 less or more than your first choice. Yes, you may have to fly a few hundred kilometers to this hub, but low-cost airlines like EasyJet, RyanAir, or WizzAir will happily take you there for €50 – €100.

Use a similar tactic if you depart from the US or another region. It’s one of the best ways to save hundreds on trips.

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

Last-minute flights to Sri Lanka. 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 Sri Lanka almost always never works out.

Based on years of research, the airlines know what people are willing to pay for specific flights and dates. To make the most money, they will sell their cheapest fares first and then increase the prices right before the flight to take advantage of these travelers who are willing to pay the premium price for late booking.

Occasionally, airlines can offer last-minute deals to fill the remaining seats, but these are for unusual times and unpopular places. Popular destinations and dates 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 Sri Lanka is 2-8 months before the takeoff.

Airlines of Sri Lanka

The most know airline in Sri Lanka is Colombo-based SriLankan Airlines. It is one of the leading Asian airlines, well-known for its service, comfort, reliability, warmth, and friendliness. The airline currently operates a fleet of 26 sophisticated aircraft, which includes the Airbus A330 for the long haul, and the Airbus A320/A321 for short/medium haul routes. Sri Lankan has a strong presence in the Indian sub-continent, connecting the capital of Colombo to major Indian cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Trichy, Cochin, Chennai, Madurai, and Hyderabad). It is also a member of the Oneworld alliance with Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, and 10 other major carriers.

When traveling domestically in Sri Lanka, you may be flying with other, smaller country-based airlines, such as Cinnamon Air, Fly Southern, Serendib Airways, Senok Air, and Helitours. They offer decent service, well-maintained aircraft and fair prices; these boutique carriers can be the best option for traveling to remote parts of the country.

Flights to Sri Lanka from Australia and New Zealand

  • Australia and New Zealand offer robust flight networks to key APAC locations, Sri Lanka included. While domestic carriers like Qantas, Jetstar Airways, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand provide solid options, several major international airlines also serve these routes. These include ANA, Cathay Pacific, EmiratesGaruda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways — expanding your choices for travel between Australasia and Asia.

    There are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand to Sri Lanka. You’ll need a layover in one of the major hubs in Asia.
  • Airlines have different pricing strategies for different routes. A flight to Sri Lanka could be significantly cheaper from Sydney than from Melbourne, depending on airline partnerships, demand, and even time of year. Compare fares from different international airports in Australia: Sydney SYD, Brisbane BNE, Melbourne MEL, Perth PER, Adelaide ADL, Cairns CNS, Gold Coast OOL, Canberra CBR, Darwin DRW, Hobart HBA, Alice Springs ASP, and in New Zealand: Auckland AKL, Wellington WLG, Christchurch CHC, Queenstown ZQN, Dunedin DUD, and Hamilton HLZ.
  • If you’re looking to save, consider flying from Australia or New Zealand to a primary Asian hub, then catch a connecting flight to Sri Lanka with a regional budget airline such as Air Arabia, AirAsia, Flydubai, IndiGo, Salam Air, Scoot, and SpiceJet.

    For the initial leg of your trip, full-service airlines such as Qantas or Virgin Atlantic offer premium comfort and exceptional service, albeit at a premium price. However, many Asian airlines, including budget carriers, operate out of Australia and frequently feature sales and promotions. For instance, AirAsia runs deals to Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore; Cebu Pacific to Manila; Scoot to Singapore; VietJet Air to Ho Chi Minh City; Jetstar to Seoul, Singapore, and Tokyo; Bamboo Airways to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing; Batik Air to Jakarta and Singapore.

Australia & New Zealand to Sri Lanka.Flight ticket prices today.

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Booking group flights to Sri Lanka

Flights are cheaper when purchased in bulk rather than as individual tickets. Booking group flights to Sri Lanka 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.

Most airlines have a group booking form or phone number (see examples at Emirates and Qantas). Fill out the form, and the airline will come back to you with the proposed group rate. If your group is large and a scheduled flight cannot accommodate everyone, the airline may offer you a charter flight.

Additionally, there are various perks that your group may be eligible for:

  • free seats (complimentary tickets for every 10 or 20 passengers that book together)
  • free checked baggage allowance
  • dedicated group check-in counter at the airport
  • cabin crew who speak your group’s language
  • flexible booking terms (that allow changes without fees)

Booking group flights to Sri Lanka is similar to booking individual flights. The main difference is that you’ll need to provide personal information for all passengers, and the airline may request additional details, such as meal preferences or accommodations for disabled travelers. A deposit – typically 10-50% of the total cost – may be required to secure the booking. However, some airlines offer deferred payment options where you can secure a reservation with a booking fee and pay the balance later.

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 Sri Lanka and can help with logistics and scheduling.

“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 Sri Lanka, 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.
Next tips

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

  • 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 Sri Lanka 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 Sri Lanka 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. 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 Sri Lanka — 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.

Sri Lanka from major Asian airports.Flight prices in February 2024.

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Lost luggage prevention: Essential tips

Every year, airlines handle millions of bags and a small percentage never make it to their final destinations. Avoid lost luggage nightmares on your trip to Sri Lanka by removing old tags from previous flights on your suitcases – they can confuse baggage handlers and conveyor belt scanners. It’s also a good idea to label your luggage with your name, address, and phone number (both inside and outside the case) and attach a GPS-tracker device like Apple AirTag or Samsung SmartTag.

For peace of mind, consider purchasing travel insurance to cover the full value of your luggage, as airline liability usually doesn’t reflect the actual value of the baggage content.

“Book Flights Now, Pay Later” — is it worth it?

Booking a flight and paying for it later has recently become a popular trend in the travel industry, with many airlines offering delayed payment plans. They will allow you to make flight reservation to Sri Lanka now and then pay the bill in installments. But should you take advantage?

Book Now Pay Later (BNPL) plans are essentially short-term personal loans. By partnering with financial companies such as Affirm, Afterpay, PayPal Credit, Fly Now Pay Later, and Uplift, airlines can offer their loan services on the checkout page. When you book the flight with the BNPL option, the company pays the airline, and you repay the loan in installments over a set period (usually up to 24 months), with a set interest rate.

BNPL providers have varying terms and fees. Some may offer interest-free loans 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). There may also be transaction fees, down payment requirements, and many companies even run a credit check on the traveler.

Fly now pay later - delayed payments for flight reservations
Fly Now Pay Later works with numerous popular travel brands to provide delayed payment options

Among the airlines that offer a “fly now, pay later” option are American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Qantas, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Southwest, and Virgin Atlantic.

Is BNPL financing worth it? If paid off on time, interest-free delayed payment on your flight ticket to Sri Lanka can be a great way to free up your cash flow. However, there may be safer alternatives available – such as taking advantage of an introductory 0% interest offer on a credit card or using flight price “freezing” services like Hopper.

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)