How to get to Sri Lanka without flying? IIn this guide, we’ll explore alternative ways to reach Sri Lanka without taking to the skies.

Sri Lanka is an island country located southeast of India, with a distance of only 55 kilometers (34 miles) between them. As one might guess, it is possible to travel from India to Sri Lanka without flying.

Traveling to Sri Lanka without flying can be tricky. I know many of you might choose to fly because it’s cheaper and more convenient. In that case, I kindly ask you to consider donating 10% of your ticket cost to a climate charity. Carbon offsetting isn’t very effective, so it’s better to support effective nonprofits suggested by Giving Green instead.

In the first part of this guide, we will explore how to get there without flying from India. In the second part, we will see if it’s possible to reach Sri Lanka from other directions.

Ferry from India to Sri Lanka
The ferry from India to Sri Lanka

How to Get from India to Sri Lanka without Flying

Is it possible to walk from India to Sri Lanka?

No, it is not possible to walk from India to Sri Lanka. For some reason, this question seems to be popular on Google searches, so I decided to tackle it right away. Despite their proximity, the waters of the Palk Strait separate the two countries, and there are no bridges connecting them.

However, the coast of India and the northwestern coast of Sri Lanka are connected by a feature called Rama Setu or Adam’s Bridge, a chain of mostly underwater sandbars. In the distant past, this landform has occasionally created a land bridge between the countries.

Is there a ferry between India and Sri Lanka?

In 2023, there is a ferry connection between Sri Lanka and India. After years without a ferry connection, a new ferry started operating in April 2023. The ferry operates twice a week between Puducherry in India and Jaffna, North Sri Lanka. The journey takes around four hours.

There seems to be some contradicting information online about the ferry ticket prices. According to one source, the tickets cost around $50 one way, while another source states that’s the price for a round trip.

I tried to reach out to fellow travelers, to learn more about the ferry prices, but received no reply. If you know more about the ferry route, you can share your knowledge in the comment section below.

Are there other ways to get from India to Sri Lanka without flying?

According to WikiVoyage, cargo ships are not allowed to transport passengers from India to Sri Lanka. It is also possible to take a cruise from India to Sri Lanka, but it’s worth noting that cruises usually produce more CO2 emissions than commercial flights.

The most sustainable way to fly to Sri Lanka
The shortest flight from India to Sri Lanka

If the ferry is not an option, you can limit your CO2 emissions by taking the shortest direct flight possible. The shortest regular flight from India to Sri Lanka seems to go from Madurai in India to Colombo in Sri Lanka, with prices starting from around $140. The flight covers 350 kilometers (220 miles) in approximately one hour.

Overseas routes to Sri Lanka
Sailing to Sri Lanka

Departing from Other Countries

Is Sri Lanka connected to any other countries?

Sri Lanka doesn’t have any close neighbors besides India. The island nation of Maldives is located around 750 kilometers (500 miles) away in the southwest, while traveling east would require going over twice as much distance to reach the coast of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Sri Lanka is a popular stop for cruises in southern Asia, but there are no regular passenger ship connections to Sri Lanka from other directions.

Can I sail to Sri Lanka?

It is possible to sail to Sri Lanka from Southeast Asia and the Maldives. Although there isn’t much information available online about these journeys, I did find a few sailing reports during my research.

In 2019, Amy and David from Out Chasing Stars sailed from Phuket in Thailand to Sri Lanka in one week. A sailing family from South Africa reported sailing from Maldives to Sri Lanka in four days back in 1996.

If you don’t have access to a sailboat, you can try to find a passage on websites such as and These services connect captains with crewmates willing to work for their passage.

Traveling on a cargo ship as a passenger
The author traveling on cargo ship Cap Capricorn

Can you get there on a cargo ship?

Finally, I’ll cover my favorite mode of transport: freighter travel. While I haven’t traveled to Sri Lanka on a cargo ship myself, I spent 16 days on a cargo ship from New Zealand to California. Compared to cruises, freighter travel is considered nearly CO2 neutral.

To book a freighter voyage, the easiest way is to use a specialized travel agency. I used Freighter Travel (NZ) on my ranspacific journey, but other companies such as Cargo Ship Voyages, Slowtravel, and Voyages en Cargo work just as well.

I haven’t heard of any direct freighter voyages from Europe to Sri Lanka. I’m under the impression that the freighters prefer a counterclockwise loop of the Indian Ocean, traveling to Australia first before returning to Europe closer to the coast of Asia.

The easiest way to travel to Sri Lanka on a cargo ship is to depart from Singapore. A freighter voyage from Singapore to Colombo in Sri Lanka takes five days and costs approximately $550 in total or $110 per day, including meals.

Strangely enough, the same freighter also offers a non-stop journey from the US East Coast to Sri Lanka. This epic journey takes 32 days and costs about $3,500.

Travel to Sri Lanka by ship
Flightless routes to Sri Lanka

How to Get to Sri Lanka without Flying

In conclusion, there are several alternative ways to reach Sri Lanka without taking to the skies. While overland travel from India to Sri Lanka is not possible due to the separation by the Palk Strait, a ferry connection has been reestablished between Puducherry in India and Jaffna in North Sri Lanka.

Additionally, sailing from Southeast Asia and the Maldives to Sri Lanka is also a viable option. If you don’t have your own sailboat, you can try to find a passage through online platforms connecting captains with crewmates.

It is also possible to reach Sri Lanka on a cargo ship. The shortest freighter journey takes five days, departing from Singapore, but you can even spend a month on a journey from the United States to Sri Lanka.

Whether it’s taking the newly restored ferry connection, embarking on a sailing adventure, or venturing on a freighter voyage, each alternative offers its own charm. If you’re seeking a more sustainable way to reach Sri Lanka, consider embracing the various non-flying options available to you.

A flightless or sustainable travel guide