Sri Lanka : A comprehensive itinerary


For a country as small as Sri Lanka, it has so much to offer. From rolling hills of tea plantations, stunning beaches, ancient temple ruins, gorgeous colonial towns, lush green national parks to multitude of cultural and historical attractions, it has all.


Car : It's easy to rent a car with a driver and you can make advance bookings online. If you wish to drive yourself you need to have a valid international driving license that can be validated by car rental company however if you don't posses one you can get a temporary international license for about 6-10 USD from DMV which is valid for 30 days.

Bus : Buses are definitely cheaper option but are crowded and not that comfortable. However, I did rode on a bus in Sri Lanka for commuting small distances.

Train : Sri Lanka is well connected by trains but you might not get first or luxury compartment in every train however it is recommended to take atleast one ride to experience the picturesque landscapes in the country.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1

Most probably you will be landing in Colombo. First day you can explore the city by visiting street of Pettah and Jami-ul-Alfar mosque. Spend the evening in one of the roof top restaurants or bar to have a panoramic view of the city and soak in all the vibes.

Day 2

You can drive or take a bus to Galle. It takes around 3-4 hours. My favourite place here is Galle fort and the historical complex. It has all European feel with cute patio restaurants and shops. Other attractions include the lighthouse and a Dutch reformed Church.

Day 3 & 4

Depending upon time in hand you can visit these two beautiful and serene beaches : Mirissa and Unawatanu. Visit the iconic, instagrammable palm forest in Mirissa next to Sea star lodge. You can also visit Weligama fishing village, another iconic photo opp place. Beaches of Unawatuna are gorgeous as well. You can laze around or go for a snorkelling trip which can be arranged by your hotel or there are a lot of options on the beach itself. You can visit Instagram famous Unawatuna swing at the time of sunset for some great photo opp.

Day 5

You can make your Sri Lankan experience by doing a wildlife Safari. There are a lot of game reserves most popular being Yala National Park. You can drive from coast to the park in around 4-5 hours. Safaris can be booked from your hotel and costs basis the days and the number of people. You can also book private safari for 2. Cost may vary from 40 USD to 200 USD. You can spot variety of animals most prominent being elephants. Alternatively you can also visit Udawalawe National Park.

Day 6 & 7

You can drive to Arugam Bay for a laid back beachy vibes. There are multiple activities to do here. You can take surfing lessons. Visit pottuvil lagoon and ancient monastery. Also, you can indulge in local food here.

Day 8 & 9

From here you can either take a train in the morning to Ella to visit tea plantations and nine arch bridge and come back or you can drive straight to Sigiriya which would take around 7-8 hours. Visit the Golden Temple and Lion Rock at Sigiriya. I recommend you to climb on the opposite rock (Pidurangala) to admire the view and to avoid crowd. Go early in the morning or at the time of sunset.

Day 10 & 11/12

One of my favourite places is Ella and Nuwara Eliya. Lush green tea plantations in acres of land as far as you can see. It is a scenic drive on hills with low lying clouds and it was drizzling while I was there to make it even more beautiful. You can visit any of the tea estate that offers a day tour. Visit lovers leap waterfall and iconic nine arch bridge. If you have an extra day in hand you can take a stopover at Kandy while coming from Sigiriya to Nuwara Eliya.

This blog was originally published on The Travelling Lipstick.

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