Sri Lanka has seduced travellers for centuries. Marco Polo described it as the finest island of its size in the world, while successive waves of Indian, Arab and European traders and adventurers flocked to its palm-fringed shores, attracted by reports of rare spices, precious stones and magnificent elephants. Sri Lanka has eight World Heritage Sites packed into such a small area. Its 2000-plus years of culture can be discovered at ancient sites filled with mystery. Legendary temples boast beautiful details crafted by artisans through the centuries. Safari tours of Sri Lanka’s pleasantly relaxed national parks encounter leopards, grouchy water buffaloes, all manner of birds and a passel of primates. When you’re ready to escape the tropical climate of the coast and lowlands, head for the hills, which are verdant, virescent and virally infectious with allure. Impossibly green tea plantations and rainforested peaks beckon walkers, trekkers or just those who want to see it on a spectacular train ride. The beaches! Dazzlingly white and all so often untrod, they ring the island so that no matter where you go, you’ll be near a sandy gem. Should you beat the inevitable languor, you can surf and dive world-class sites without world-class crowds. Distances are short: see the sacred home of the world’s oldest living tree in the morning (Anuradhapura) and stand awestruck by the sight of hundreds of elephants gathering in the afternoon (Minneriya). Find a favourite beach to call your own, meditate in a 2000-year-old temple, exchange smiles while strolling a mellow village, marvel at birds and wildflowers, try to keep count of the little dishes that come with your rice and curry. Stroll past colonial gems in Colombo and then hit some epic surf. Sri Lanka is spectacular, it’s affordable and it’s still mostly uncrowded. Now is the best time to discover it.