Sri Lanka Itinerary – The Best Of Sri Lanka In Two Weeks

by | Last updated Sep 12, 2019

Are you planning a trip to Sri Lanka and looking for a Sri Lanka itinerary for your trip? Here we have put together an itinerary filled with what we consider to be the highlights of Sri Lanka.

We first visited Sri Lanka in 2014 and fell totally in love with this beautiful country and island in the Indian Ocean, just off the southeast tip of India, – it`s stunning nature and beaches, wildlife, delicious food, ancient temples, and last but not least the lovely and friendly Sri Lankan people! It soon became our new favorite country in Asia, and we have been back to Sri Lanka several times since then. 

This is our recommended two-week Sri Lanka itinerary filled with all our favorite places to see and what we think are the top things to do in Sri Lanka. It is flexible and can easily be extended or shortened depending on the length of your Sri Lanka trip. Along with descriptions and travel information for each location and how to get around, we have also included some recommendations for places to stay. These are based on the extensive research we did for our own trips, as well as tips from other travelers we met along the way.

None of the hotels recommended here are paid placements or have sponsored our stay in any way. If you book through any of our links, we make a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep our site running – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥

We hope you find this Sri Lanka guide helpful in planning your trip! 

Our Ultimate Two Weeks Best Of Sri Lanka Itinerary

Day 1 // A full day, 1-2 nights
Colombo

Depending on what time you arrive (in the morning or in the evening), spend one or two nights in the capital Colombo so that you get a full day to explore this busy and energetic city.

With its 647 000 inhabitants, Colombo is full of contrasts – from huge impressive colonial-style buildings and big parks and lakes, strange and creepy temples, to busy and chaotic areas with narrow streets packed with people shopping for the latest in Sri Lankan fashion.

Jump on a tuk-tuk (they are everywhere and will hunt you down and follow you until you take their offer) and let the tuk-tuk driver take you around the highlights of Colombo. This will save you a lot of time and a heat stroke. 🙂

The Colombo National Museum - Sri Lanka Itinerary

The Colombo National Museum

End your day in Colombo by going for a stroll at the Galle Face Green, a huge green lawn area by the sea promenade. Watch the beautiful sunset, grab a snack or two from one of the many street food vendors selling delicious and cheap Sri Lankan specialties. If you are in the mood, join the locals in some cricket, football or kite flying, or just sit and watch them play. Great fun!

⇒ Read more:  10 Cool Things To Do In Colombo

How To Get To Colombo

When you arrive at the Colombo/ Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), there are two ways to get into Colombo City – by car/ taxi or bus. The drive from the airport to Colombo takes about 30-45 min depending on the traffic. There is no airport train. 

Your best and most convenient option is to pre-book your car & driver, who will be waiting for you in the arrival hall holding up a board with your name on it.

Book a car and driver from the airport here

The second best alternative is to use the Airport Taxi Service. There is a counter in the arrival lobby at the airport, and you can find the exact taxi prices to your destination at their webpage. The big international airplanes usually arrive at Colombo International Airport around the same time, so you might have to stand in line at the taxi service to wait for a taxi as this area will be packed with tourists. 

The cheapest but slowest alternative is public buses that leave from the airport ever 15 minutes to the central bus station in Colombo (Pettah area). But if you have big luggage and are tired and jetlagged from your flight, I do not recommend taking the bus. 

You can easily get to and from Colombo to other parts of Sri Lanka by hiring a private car & driver or taking the train or bus. You can take trains from/ to Colombo from most parts of the country, except for the south and southeast area of the island as they don´t have train tracks. The main train station in Colombo is called Colombo Fort. 

The only way to buy online train tickets in Sri Lanka is at 12Go Asia, as Sri Lanka Railway does unfortunately not have an online ticket system yet. 

⇒ Buy train tickets in Sri Lanka at 12Go Asia

Where To Stay In Colombo

Fairway Colombo
We stayed at this newly opened mid-range hotel in February 2017 and loved it! First of all the location is absolutely perfect, it’s right behind the old Dutch hospital with its restaurants and shops. It’s a great place from which to start exploring Colombo. The rooms are new, clean, and modern with very comfortable beds, flat screen tv, safe and air con. The staff was very helpful both when we arrived in the middle of the night and in helping us arrange transportation to our next destination.
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Cinnamon Red Colombo
The Cinnamon Red hotel offers excellent value for money. This modern hotel is centrally located close to Galle Face Green. The hotels standout feature is its large rooftop pool and bar. Perfect for relaxing after a day sightseeing around Colombo. Rooms are large, comfortable and come with free wifi. The breakfast is excellent.
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Day 2 // A day-trip, 0 nights
Galle

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The Galle Fort wall surrounding the city is perfect for an afternoon stroll

The old part of Galle, Galle Fort, was built by the Dutch in 1663. It is an architectonic masterpiece, like suddenly being in an old colonial European city. We loved strolling down the narrow streets, visiting the many unique artistic shops and galleries, and having lunch and dinner at the many nice cafes and restaurants.

Make sure to go for an afternoon walk on the city wall surrounding Galle Fort, and enjoy the sunset and scenic view of the ocean and the old lantern. Galle is a must-see when visiting Sri Lanka!

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Sri Lankan rice and curry 

Wrap up your day in Galle with a real Sri Lankan dinner – rice and curry at the rooftop restaurant Mama`s, while you admire the spectacular view over the city.

Everything (shops and restaurants) closes early in the evening, but there are several nice boutique hotels in Galle Fort if you want to spend the night. If you want to move on, either spend the night in close-by Unawatuna (a small beach city) or head down to Mirissa after dinner (a one-hour drive).

⇒ Read more: Welcome To Galle – An European City In Sri Lanka

How To Get To Galle

I really recommend taking the train to Galle as it is one of the most scenic train trips in Sri Lanka. You can store your luggage at the Galle Train Station. They don´t have lockers, but just ask one of the staff at the station and they will put your bags in a storage room and you are given a receipt. 

The express train from Colombo train station (Colombo Fort) down to Galle takes 2 hours and 20 minutes. This is a beautiful train trip along the coast of South-West Sri Lanka with stunning sea view all the way. You can find train schedules here (search Start Station: Colombo Fort, End Station: Galle).

Buy train tickets to Galle here

Where to Stay in Galle

Galle Fort Hotel
This is a boutique hotel that perfectly blends modern luxury and traditional Sri Lankan ambiance. Originally a part of the old Fort itself, this beautifully restored colonial-style mansion’s architecture adds much character to this high-end boutique hotel. The rooms are large and kept in the classic style, while still providing all modern comforts. There is also a lovely pool. Located centrally in Galle Fort, it’s an ideal base from which to explore the area.
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Antic Guesthouse
Antic Guesthouse is an affordable alternative to the many boutique hotels in Galle. Ideally located inside the Fort on a quiet side street. The interior was decorated by a local artist and is modern, light and colorful. The rooms are spacious, clean and have air-con, TV and fast, free wifi. The owner and staff are renowned for their friendliness and will surely welcome you with open arms. They also serve a delicious breakfast.
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Day 3-5 // 2-3 nights
Mirissa

Mirissa has a great relaxed and laid-back beach atmosphere.  There is no stress here, very few beach vendors will hassle you, just pure beach bliss. Mirissa is a great place to swim and nearby the surfers have their own little beach break.

One of the many things to do in Sri Lanka - Surfing

One of the many things to do in Sri Lanka – Surfing

Find a spot to put down your towel, and let the time fly away while you work on your tan. If you are not careful you may find yourself staying much longer than planned. In the evening, the beach gets transformed into beach restaurants serving delicious fresh seafood. The perfect place for a romantic candle-lit dinner by the sea.  

This south-west and south coastline (between Bentota and Tangalle) is packed with stunning white beaches, so you can easily get to the next one on a day-trip.

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A relaxed and laidback atmosphere at Mirissa beach

Mirissa is a popular place from which to go on a whale and dolphin watching safari, as it is geographically the closest to where the whales are. Many tour operators sell tickets along the beach, you really can’t miss them. You can also book it through your hotel.

There are also various dive operators that can arrange dives along the coast.

⇒ Read more: Beach Paradise Mirissa

A good alternative, if you want to stay at a beautiful beach closer to Colombo, is Bentota Beach. Bentota Beach is even more pristine and peaceful than Mirissa, even though it has some big hotel resorts. Bentota is perfect for families with kids.  

How To Get To Mirissa

The drive from Galle to Mirissa only takes about one hour, so you can easily get from Galle to Mirissa by taxi, tuk-tuk, or Uber. We took a tuk-tuk, yep, we managed to fit us two plus our two big backpacks inside it. 🙂

Another option is to take the train or local bus. The train trip from Galle to Mirissa takes about one hour and is beautiful, as it goes along the sea. Be aware that the trains in Sri Lanka are usually delayed, so it might take more than one hour. You can find train schedules here (search Start Station: Galle, End Station: Mirissa).

Where To Stay In Mirissa

Imagine Villa Hotel
Imagine Villa is a beautiful boutique hotel run by Marnix, a friendly Belgian gentleman, that goes out of his way to make your stay very special. It has its own private beach and large swimming pool and an amazingly tasty dinner menu that changes every night. Mirissa beach is a 5-minute tuk-tuk ride away. The rooms are large and elegantly furnished, with all modern amenities like flat screen TV, air-con, wifi, safe and a mini bar. We really enjoyed our time here.
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Esprit d’Ici Hotel
This mid-range hotel, located on the hillside east of Mirissa beach, offers excellent value for money as long as you don’t mind the 10-15 minutes walk to the beach. Rooms are spacious, clean and modern with air-con and balconies, some have ocean views. There is a rooftop terrace and a large pool that looks lovely. The buffet breakfast is excellent. Wifi is unfortunately only available in public areas.
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Villa Peacock
This family-run guesthouse is the very definition of Sri Lankan hospitality. On two separate occasions, while traveling through Sri Lanka, we met travelers that raved about this place. Located in a quiet area just a short 5-minute walk from the beach in a beautiful modern villa. The rooms are large, spotlessly clean and have private bathrooms as well as free wifi and a fridge. The balcony offers a stunning view of the jungle and the wild peacocks. Downstairs rooms have air-con.
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Day 5-7 // 2-3 nights
Tangalle

Picture a white sandy beach that stretches out as long as your eyes can see, with beautiful turquoise water – and you have Tangalle. Tangalle is a pure beach paradise and our favorite beach in Sri Lanka! ♥

Tangalle beach, Sri Lanka

The beach paradise of Tangalle

Tangalle is even more beautiful, clean, and pristine than Mirissa. It is wild and untouched and not crowded at all. Tangalle = sand, sea, and sun.

Go for a stroll or run along the beach in the afternoon, look for newly hatched sea turtles and enjoy the amazing sunset. The only real drawback to Tangalle is that the sea is rough and bathing is not really possible except in small protected coves. But some of the hotels have swimming pools, like our favorite Sri Lankan hotel, which is located at Tangalle Beach, the Serein Beach Hotel

⇒ Read more: Tangalle – The Perfect Beach

How To Get To Tangalle

Tangalle is located at the southern tip of Sri Lanka. It takes about 1,5 hours to drive from Mirissa to Tangalle. There are no trains going this south in Sri Lanka (the southernmost train station is in Matara city). You can take a taxi, tuk-tuk, rent a car & driver or Uber to get to Tangalle, or of course the local bus. 

Where To Stay In Tangalle

Serein Beach Hotel
We stayed at Serein Beach Hotel, a fairly new eco-friendly hotel situated right on the beach and we absolutely loved it! The rooms are spacious, nicely decorated, and have a balcony with beach view. The food and service were excellent. If you are looking for a quiet, out of the way place to relax then this is perfect.
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Day 8 // a day-trip, 0 nights
Yala National Park

Yala is the most famous and popular national park in Sri Lanka. The park is home to 44 varieties of mammals and 215 bird species and has the world’s biggest concentration of leopards. You have a good chance of seeing wild elephants as Yala has 300-350 wild elephants. 

You get to see lots of animals like wild elephants, plenty of deer, crocodiles, buffaloes, wild pigs, monkeys, and lots of colorful birds. If you are lucky, you can even see the shy leopard. Unfortunately, we were not that lucky…..But we saw plenty of other fantastic animals like a bunch of elephants, and we had a great safari trip! 

⇒ Read more: Into The Wild At Yala National Park (our guide to doing a safari in Yala)

How To Get To Yala National Park

From Tangalle, hire a private car & driver, or Uber to Yala National Park (a 2-hour drive). Ask the driver to wait for you while you do the Safari tour in Yala (either the morning or afternoon 3-hour safari tour). 

Day 8 -10 // 2 nights
Ella

Ella is an incredibly green and lush little mountain town, right in the middle of tea plantations, surrounded by mountains some around 2000 meter high. It is a sleepy village with great scenery.

Go for hikes in the mountains, or visit one of the many tea factories and plantations in the area. We loved this place and ended up staying much longer than we planned.

A good alternative to Ella is the popular tea and hiking village Nuwara Eliya, a two-hour drive from Ella.

Little Adams Peak

Stunning view from Little Adam`s Peak in Ella

⇒ Read more about what to see and do in Ella:

How To Get To Ella

After the safari in Yala National Park (morning or afternoon), ask your private car & driver (arrange for the driver to wait for you while you do the Safari Tour in Yala) to drive you to the mountain village Ella in the middle of Sri Lanka. The drive from Yala National Park to Ella takes about two hours. 

Where To Stay In Ella

Ravana Heights
We ended up staying at Ravana Heights for a week (had originally planned for two days) and had a spectacular time. The owner is a real character, very friendly and loves to chat. He can arrange trekking trips both with or without a guide. The higher priced rooms are brand new, very modern, spacious and beautiful and have air-con, flat screen TV, and free wifi. And the view from their balcony is spectacular! The Sri Lanka / Thai fusion dinner set menu that changes every night was probably the best food we had on our entire trip to Sri Lanka. Breakfast is lovely and plentiful and is served outside.
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The Mountain Heavens
You would stay here for the absolutely spectacular view. Situated high up on the mountainside this hotel probably has the best view over the Ella Gap of any hotel in Ella. The rooms are fairly basic but clean and the beds are comfy. There is hot water and a ceiling fan. Breakfast is simple, but the view from your breakfast table is unbeatable.
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Day 10 – Train Trip
Ella – Kandy

The most scenic train trip in Sri Lanka is the one between Ella and Kandy. It is a real must when visiting Sri Lanka. It is a long journey, 7 hours, but the beautiful mountain scenery passing by outside your train window is breathtaking and well worth getting a slightly sore butt for. 🙂

Also, just watching the passing villages and the locals getting on and off the train at each station is fascinating and give you an insight into Sri Lankan daily life. At each stop, vendors selling snacks, drinks and food get on and off, so there are plenty of Sri Lankan specialties to indulge in.

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The view from the train between Ella and Kandy is awesome – so green and lush!

Check train schedules here (search Start Station: Elle, End Station: Kandy). There are two express trains a day, departing from Ella at 06:40 and 09:24.

I recommend that you pre-book your train tickets from Ella to Kandy online here, as this train ride is extremely popular and usually gets fully booked.

You can, of course, do this train ride the other way around, from Kandy to Ella. It is the same tracks so you will see the same beautiful landscape no matter which way you go. Buy train tickets from Kandy to Ella here

⇒ Read more:  The World´s Most Beautiful Train Trip? Ella To Kandy

Day 10-12 // 2 nights
Kandy

Kandy is famous for the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic that houses Sri Lanka`s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of Buddha himself! We visited the temple in the afternoon, just after dark, and it was a very atmospheric and a bit mysterious experience. Traditional dance shows are also very popular in Kandy.

Kandy has the Royal Botanical Garden which is a nice park to stroll around in. The Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage is located not that far from Kandy (a 1,5-hour drive one way).

⇒ Read more: In Search Of Buddha´s Tooth – Kandy (our recommended things to do in Kandy)

⇒ Read more: Elephant Orphanage

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, a 1,5-hour drive outside of Kandy

Where To Stay In Kandy

Elegant Hotel
This hotel looks fantastic, with a great location and fantastic views! Best of all, it has a huge swimming pool! The breakfast is apparently spectacular, the staff friendly, and the beds super comfy. It’s a little outside the center, but transport is cheap and easily available. This is our first choice if we ever return to Kandy.
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Sharon Inn
This is where we stayed. It’s an okay guesthouse within walking distance of the Lake. The rooms are basic and a little dated, but with a private bathroom. They helped us arrange transportation to our next stop, and we were happy with the service. The best thing was the tasty Sri Lankan rice and curry buffet dinner in the garden in the evenings.
Click here for latest prices

Day 12 // A day-trip, 0 nights
Sigiriya

Sigiriya, or Lion Rock, is a gigantic rock (200 meters high) located in the middle of the jungle. Sigiriya was once the capital of Sri Lanka, where the king`s palace was on top of the rock. You can actually see ruins of the palace at the top.

Lion rock, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The famous Lion Rock, or Sigiriya

We used about two hours on the climb (stairs), but it is totally worth all the sweat – the view is awesome! 

⇒ Read more: Journey To The Lion Rock – Sigirya

How To Get To Sigiriya

There are no trains to Sigiriya. Hire a private car & driver to drive you from Kandy to Polonnaruwa, with a stop in Sigiriya to hike the Lion Rock. The driver will wait for you at the car park while you do the climb to Lion Rock. You will probably use about 2-3 hours on the climb up and down Lion Rock. The drive from Kandy to Sigiriya takes about 2,5 hours one way. 

On your way to Sigiriya, you can stop at the beautiful Dambulla Cave Temple. 

Day 12-14 // 2 nights
Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa was the capital of Sri Lanka for three centuries. The beautiful Ancient City of Polonnaruwa is packed with old temples and ruins located in the middle of the green jungle.

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Lots of beautiful temples and ruins to see at the ancient city Polonnaruwa

Rent a bike and bike around the temple area at your own pace, and soak in the atmosphere. It is a great bike ride!

Pollonaruwa is part of what is often referred to as the Ancient Cities of Sri Lanka. The others being Sigiriya and Anuradhapura.

If you want to explore more ancient ruins after Pollonaruwa then Anuradhapura, the largest and oldest of the ancient cities is located between Pollonaruwa and Negombo but slightly further north. The ruins there are spread across a very large area covering more than 40km². There is no train connection to Anuradhapura so your best bet is to hire a car and driver. It’s about a 2-3 hour drive from Pollonaruwa to Anuradhapura.

⇒ Read more: 10 Must-See Things In The Ancient City Polonnaruwa

How To Get To Polonnaruwa

After your hike to Lion Rock in Sigiriya, your private driver will drive you to Polonnaruwa. The drive from Sigiriya to Pollonaruwa only takes about one hour. 

Where To Stay In Polonnaruwa

Tishan Holiday Resort
This is a budget-friendly place that is getting rave reviews and offers excellent value for money. It is well located for exploring the ruins and offers 10 basic but very clean rooms. Travelers highlight the excellent food and friendly service. Air Conditioned rooms are available and all rooms have free wifi access. The pool looks great, and bikes are available for rent.
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Deer Park Hotel
Deer Park Hotel is probably the best high-end hotel in Pollonaruwa. This hotel location can’t be beaten as it overlooks the beautiful Giritale Lake. Rooms are very spacious, has an excellent view of the lake and provide all modern amenities such as Satellite TV, AC, mini-bar and free in-room Wifi. There is also a large gym and an excellent pool. In the evening you can sit and watch as Elephants come down to the Lake to drink and bath! Travelers rave about the excellent food and personal attention to service.
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Seyara Holiday Resort
This is the small family driven hotel where we stayed. The owner and his family are very friendly and made us feel right at home. The traditional Sri Lankan breakfast was excellent. The rooms do vary greatly in standard and our room was fairly basic. Wi-fi is available in public areas, but not in the rooms. Since we were there they have build a large pool that looks excellent.
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Day 14 // 0-1 night
Negombo

Instead of heading back to Colombo to stay there the last night or the day of your departure, we recommend that you head out to the west coast to the beach town Negombo. 

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Negombo beach

Negombo is closer to the airport than Colombo, located only a 15 minutes taxi drive from Colombo International Airport, making it the perfect place to “wait” for your plane.

We did not spend a night in Negombo but had a late flight out of Sri Lanka (after midnight), so we spent our last day in Sri Lanka hanging out at the Negombo Beach. We had brunch (Sunday brunch buffet) at one of the many nice beach resorts located right on the beautiful Negombo beach. They also let us use their pool. 

⇒ Read more: Last Day In Paradise – Negombo Beach

How To Get To Negombo

The easiest and quickest is to hire a private car & drive to drive you from Polonnaruwa to Negombo. The drive takes about five hours. 

If you want a cheaper, but much slower trip from Polonnaruwa to Negombo, go for the train. You first have to take the train from Polonnaruwa to Colombo (about 6,5 hours). At Colombo Fort Train Station, change train to Negombo. The train ride from Colombo to Negombo takes about 1,5 hours. So all in all the train ride from Polonnaruwa to Negombo will take about eight to nine hours including changing the train. 

Where To Stay In Negombo

Heritage Negombo
This is a relatively new hotel in Negombo with a great location in a quiet area of the beach. All rooms have a sea view and are spacious, modern and comfortable. The garden and pool are lovely. The breakfast buffet is varied and plentiful. It’s a fairly expensive hotel but a great choice if you want to splurge a bit on your last nights in Sri Lanka.
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Tranquil Negombo Boutique
If you prefer a small boutique hotel with more personal service then this is a great place to stay. Located about 3km away from Negombo city this is a quiet little oasis. The rooms are large, well equipped and decorated in a modern style and the pool area is lovely.
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Jetwing Lagoon
Situated a little outside Negombo city in beautiful and relaxing surroundings in-between the Indian Ocean and a large lagoon. The rooms are spacious and well decorated in a modern minimalistic style with open-air showers and huge comfortable beds.The hotel has a Sri Lanka’s largest swimming pool, 100 meters long! There are not a lot of restaurants in this area but the hotel food is good and the airport is just 30 minutes away.
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Tropical Villas
Tropical Villas is a new budget place that is getting rave reviews right now. Large, clean rooms, nice pool and a location within walking distance of the beach means this family-run place won’t stay a “secret” for long.  Breakfast is tasty, plentiful and served at a time of your choosing. They even have free bikes available.
Click here for latest prices


There you go, our recommended two week Sri Lanka travel itinerary. As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Sri Lanka. You will love this stunning country and have an amazing trip! ♥

This itinerary can, of course, easily be done the other way around – starting in Negombo next to the airport, to Kandy and through the Hill Country, down to the south and southwest coast, and end up in Colombo.

But since we love the beach and wanted to have some relaxing beach time at the start of our trip, we chose to travel south along the South-West coast of Sri Lanka first before heading inland for some mountain hiking and cultural sightseeing. But you can easily save your beach-time to the end of your trip if you like. 

To sum up, the highlights of Sri Lanka (for me) are the beaches (Tangalle, Bentota, and Mirissa are our favorite beaches in Sri Lanka), safari in Yala National Park, hiking in Ella, visiting Nuwara Eliya, and climbing Lion Rock in Sigiriya. 

If You Have Less Than Two Weeks In Sri Lanka

If you have less than two weeks in Sri Lanka or simply want to take things a bit slower, you should cut down on the number of places to visit, both along the southwest coast and on the number of places to visit inland. 

If you have less than two weeks in Sri Lanka, I recommend that you consider skipping: 

  • Colombo 
    It is not a huge highlight of Sri Lanka, simply another big capital city. 
  • Train trip Ella to Kandy 
    Instead of taking the 7-hour train ride Ella – Kandy, opt for the shorter train ride Nuwara Eliya – Kandy (it is part of the Ella – Kandy trip, only half as long). The train station in Nuwara Eliya is called Nanu Oya (or Nanuoya), a 15 min taxi or tuk-tuk ride from the city. 
  • Ella 
    Skip Ella and instead visit Nuwara Eliya which is closer to Kandy so that your travel time is shortened down. Unless you have time to do some hiking in Ella, then I recommend visiting Nuwara Eliya instead of Ella. The best part of Ella is hiking. Nuwara Eliya is a nicer town than Ella with more things to do and see if you don´t have the time or want to go hiking.   
  • Beach 
    Choose either Tangalle Beach, Mirissa Beach, or Bentota Beach, and not all of them. Bentota is closer to Colombo International Airport and will shorten down your travel time. 
  • Yala National Park 
    Instead of Yala, do a safari tour in Udawalawe National Park, which is more on the road between Tangalle and the Hill Country. Yala is on the east coast and a bit of a detour from Tangalle and Mirissa. 
  • Polonnaruwa
    Unless you are very interested in the ancient history of Sri Lanka, you can skip Polonnaruwa as it is a long drive from Kandy and a bit out of the way compared to the rest of the highlights of Sri Lanka. If you choose to go to Polonnaruwa, you should at least spend one or two nights there to have the time to fully explore the Ancient City and all its temples and ruins. 

If You Have More Than Two Weeks In Sri Lanka

This is, however, a quite tight two-week Sri Lanka itinerary. Ideally, you should have more than two weeks on this itinerary, since it is fairly busy. That will allow you to take things a bit slower. You will have more time to enjoy each place and relax on the beach.

You can also easily visit a couple of more of the beautiful beaches on the southwest coast, like Hikkaduwa Beach, Koggala Beach, Weligama Beach, and Talalla Beach.

This itinerary can easily be expanded to a three-, four- and five-week trip. You can, for instance, add these places to your itinerary: 

  • Nuwara Eliya 
    Located between Kandy and Ella, this cute little town high up in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka is surrounded by green and lush tea plantations. The town has an English colonial vibe to it, as it was founded by the British to escape the heat. The temperatures are much cooler here than in the rest of Sri Lanka. Expect temperatures below zero Celsius in the night, so bring warm clothes! One of the most popular Sri Lankan hikes can be done here, in the Hortons Plain national park where you can hike to The World´s End. It takes about three hours to drive from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, and two hours to drive from Ella to Nuwara Eliya. 
  • Bentota Beach 
    Located just south of Colombo, on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, this small peaceful beach town is one of our favorite beaches in Sri Lanka. The soft white beach is very long. It takes about 1,5 hour to drive from Colombo to Bentota one way. 
  • Adam´s Peak
    The most epic mountain climb in Sri Lanka is Adam´s Peak (2243 m above sea level). It is a pilgrim site so try to avoid doing this hike during weekends and public holidays as the stairs (5500 steps) will be packed with people. 
  • Anuradhapura 
    If you want to see more of the ancient history of Sri Lanka, after Polonnaruwa, you can head over to Anuradhapura, the other great Ancient City of Sri Lanka with beautiful old temples. The drive between Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa is about two hours one way. You can also take the train. 
  • Kalpitiya 
    North of Colombo, on the west coast, is the best place to go kitesurfing in Sri Lanka. Kalpitiya has some beautiful beaches, but also a big freshwater lagoon perfect to kitesurf on. It takes about four hours to drive from Colombo to Kalpitiya one way. 
  • Jaffna 
    A city on the northern tip of Sri Lanka has several sights like a huge Hindu temple, an archeological museum, and a fort. The drive from Colombo to Jaffna takes six to seven hours one way. 
  • Trincomalee 
    A beach town on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka, with beautiful white beaches like the Nilaveli Beach. Trincomalee is popular among divers and snorkelers. The nearby Pigeon Island has extremely clear water. Trincomalee is famous for whale watching. The whale season in Trincomalee runs from March until August. The drive from Colombo to Trincomalee takes about six hours. 
  • Arugam Bay 
    The surfer’s paradise on the southeast coast of Sri Lanka has stunning white beaches, some of the most beautiful and pristine in the country. It is located close to Yala National Park, so a visit to Arugam Bay can easily be combined with Yala NP. It takes about seven hours to drive from Colombo to Arugam Bay, but only two to three hours to drive from Yala NP to Arugam Bay. 
Sunset and waves at the stunning Tangalle Beach in Sri Lanka

Sunset at the stunning Tangalle Beach, our favorite beach in Sri Lanka

How To Get Around Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an easy country/ island to travel around. It is quite small and the distances between the sights are relatively short. 

However, getting around Sri Lanka can be time-consuming and a bit frustrating as many roads are narrow, windy, and not in the best conditions. The trains and buses are cheap and a fantastic way to see the country, but they are old, slow, and often delayed. 

Instead of relying on public transportation, a popular option is to hire a private car & driver. You can either rent a car & driver for day-trips and single distances, as we suggest in this itinerary. Or you can rent your private car & driver, that also function as your guide, for part of or your entire Sri Lanka trip. It is the most convenient but also the most pricy way to travel around Sri Lanka. Other options are to hire a motorbike, tuk-tuk, taxi or Uber.  

For more in-depth information on how to get around Sri Lanka, check out our Ultimate Guide To Getting Around Sri Lanka.

Hammocks at Tangalle Beach in Sri Lanka

Tangalle Beach is a stunning beach on the south coast of Sri Lanka

When To Visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an all-year holiday destination. The most popular time to visit Sri Lanka is between November and March when the weather is nice and sunny on the west and south coast. 

The small island is rather complicated weatherwise but the weather in Sri Lanka is dictated by two key monsoon seasons and one short intermediate monsoon:

  • Yala Monsoon – May to August
    Brings rain to the south and west coast, as well as the Hill Country (Nuwara Eliya and Ella area). It is wettest in May and June.
    You should consider heading to the north and east coast if you are visiting Sri Lanka in May, June, July, or August, as these areas have the sunniest and driest weather. 
    May to August is, however, low season in Sri Lanka, and you can find some good deals on hotels at the west and south coast as the prices are at their lowest.
  • Maha Monsoon – October to January
    Brings rain to the east coast, north area, and Ancient Cities (Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura). It is wettest in November and December.
  • Inter-Monsoon – October & November
    Sudden heavy rain and thunderstorms can occur at any time and anywhere in Sri Lanka.

Luckily the two key monsoons alternate, making Sri Lanka a great country to visit any time of the year.

The weather does not run by the clock, however. There is no exact start and end date of these monsoon seasons and they vary a bit from year to year. And even during the monsoon seasons, it does not rain constantly. Normally there is most rain in the evenings, nights, and early mornings.

When To Do This Itinerary

September to April is the best time to do this itinerary with sunny and dry weather on the west and south coast, as well as the Hill Country.

If you plan on following this itinerary and visit the most popular beaches in Sri Lanka (the west and south coasts) and the Hill Country, September to April is the best time that will give you the sunniest and dryest weather. December to March is high season in Sri Lanka (southwest and south coast is dry and sunny) and makes the prices on accommodation peak. 

If you, however, are visiting Sri Lanka between May and August, and don´t like rain, then you should do some changes to this itinerary. Instead of going to the west and south coast, you should head to the east coast and visit the beautiful beaches of Arugam Bay and Trincomalee. 

If you plan on seeing the east coast and the north part of Sri Lanka, you’ll get the best weather from February to September.

April and September are shoulder seasons in Sri Lanka and gives the best odds for good weather in the entire country. Mid-April is, however, New Year in Sri Lanka and the celebrations lead to packed trains and sold out train tickets.

Travel Guides

We used the Lonely Planet`s Sri Lanka travel guide on our trip, which we love. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below:

Sri Lanka Lonely Planet      Sri Lanka Rough Guide

PIN IT FOR LATER!
Hoover over the pictures below and press the green PIN IT button that pops up

THE BEST OF-5     THE BEST OF-4

Sri Lanka Itinerary     Sri Lanka Itinerary

Have you been to Sri Lanka? If so, do you agree that these are the highlights? Any places we missed out on? What is your recommended itinerary for Sri Lanka? We would love to hear your opinion in the comment area below.

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