What to do in Sri Lanka? There is so much to see, and the country offers so many different types of holiday. The adventurous can head to the mountains for hiking. While those looking for some sun can make their way along the coastlines. Yet you don’t need to find yourself torn between safari or surfing, this 10-day itinerary has it all! We’ve compiled a whistle-stop tour of some of Sri Lanka’s highlights making sure you make the best of your holiday.
Day 1 – Colombo
Colombo has Sri Lanka’s main international airport and so your visit here is inevitable. Colombo can be daunting for some and its busy streets often trigger culture shock for unprepared travellers. We recommend you use this day to relax, acclimatise, overcome the jet lag and get your first taste of Sri Lankan foods. Park Street is a nice evening out with plenty of food choices and a tourist-friendly atmosphere. With bars and restaurants lining the cobbled street you’ll be able to relax into holiday mode sat beneath the twinkling fairy lights.
Day 2- Colombo to Kandy
There are many ways to travel around Sri Lanka but none capture the beautiful landscape quite like Sri Lanka’s ancient trains. The winding red train takes you on one of the world’s most scenic rides between Colombo and Kandy. The slow meandering train snakes its way into the heart of the country, immersing you in tea plantations and stunning vistas. You can easily buy tickets from any station or online and they have a 1st class carriage with panoramic windows.
On arrival in Kandy, you’ll be struck by how different it is to Colombo. Kandy is small and filled with culture and history. We recommend spending the day seeing some of the stunning temples or by the picturesque lake. The Temple of the Tooth is popular and impressive while the Royal Palace of Kandy is another stunning piece of architecture.
Day 3-Day trip to Dambulla
Using Kandy as a base travel further north to the Dambulla cave temple. This world heritage site is a collection of 80 caves forming a large and remarkably well-preserved temple complex. The caves form the temple set at the base of a 160-meter high rock. While the surrounding flatlands make this structure quite the spectacle as you approach, venturing inside does not disappoint. While the 153 statues of Buddha fill the temple, the large murals adorn the walls. This is not to be missed if you are keen to experience the ancient history of Sri Lanka.
Day 4- 5 – Kandy to Ella
Hop back on the red train for a journey that gets increasingly scenic. However, if you are pressed for time hire a driver to take you along this stretch, but be sure to have him stop at the best viewpoints! When you arrive in Ella you will be struck by how small it is. The main street forms the majority of the town but with plenty of restaurants to choose from its a great place to spend an evening. The main attraction of Ella is its position in the middle of a valley. The surrounding mountains are perfect for hiking and the views from the top of Ella’s rock are not to be missed! We recommend hiring a guide and waking up early for a sunrise hike. As the mist clears from the valley, you can pause to make the most of the views.
Day 6- Safari time!
From Ella head south to Yala National park. Buses run between Ella and the southern towns and onwards to Yala. However, if you are pressed for time Sri Lankan buses are not the way to travel, so consider a driver for this stretch! Yala is home hundreds of birds and mammal species including one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, hence Yala park is not to be missed! You can pre-book tickets to Yala’s own jeep lead safaris online. Where you will be assigned a knowledgable guide for the day to give you the best chance of spotting wildlife.
Day 7, 8 and 9- Time to relax!
After a week of adventure, we recommend finishing off your holiday with some sun and sea. The south beaches are stunning and the natural coves make sheltered bays. We recommend Mirissa or Weligama if you are looking for calm child-friendly waves. While These beach towns may seem small they are lively communities and the main focus is Surfing. Try your hand at surfing the small waves and move round the coast to Unawatuna if you are in search of more of a challenge.
Day 10- Last minute shopping in Galle Fort
Galle forts stunning selection of shops selling high-quality Sri Lankan handicrafts. At 119 KM south of Colombo, it makes a great stop before heading on to catch a flight. While Colombo’s shopping is great, Galle’s contained walled fort is just big enough to fill your final day. The chic bars and restaurants are a great last pit stop for sampling Sri Lankan food. Meanwhile, the many Gem shops will be sure to stock something you fall in love with! Wondering where to shop? Check out the best shopping spots in Galle Fort!
This 10-day itinerary is perfect for anyone looking to hit all the highlights Sri Lanka offers. The mountains, the flatlands and the beaches are all stunning sights to behold and this 10-day tour will ensure you see them all.
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