Ultimate Sri Lanka Itinerary: 2 Weeks to 4 Weeks

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The beautiful island of Sri Lanka is a place that we cannot recommend enough. It seems to tick every box. There are so many beaches, a vast array of wildlife, mountain ranges, surfing, and delicious local cuisine. You will find that there is something for everyone in this awesome country. Use this Sri Lanka itinerary as your ultimate guide on where to visit to make the most out of your time in this amazing country.

Having had the pleasure of spending a month in Sri Lanka, we wanted to put together a complete itinerary for our trip and show you the best way to spend 4 weeks here. This itinerary can easily be amended to fit both a shorter or a longer trip.

Our guide for Sri Lanka is designed to show you the most incredible places to visit along with a few highlights in each destination. As it is such an incredibly diverse country you will be blown away by just how much you can pack into a 2 to 4-week trip.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Sri Lanka (Travel Guide)

Sri Lanka Itinerary: 2 Weeks to 4 Weeks

Sri Lanka Itinerary

Negombo: Arrival

You will arrive at Colombo International Airport (CMB) and we recommend spending your first night in Negombo. It is just a short 15-minute drive from the airport which is an easy journey after a potentially long international flight.

We recommend spending this first day recovering from your travels and adjusting to the different time zone and climate. If you are keen to get out exploring straight away, then you can visit Negombo Beach or Angurukaramulla Temple in the city center.

Our top recommended tours:

How to get to Negombo: The best way to reach Negombo is by using Uber or the PickMe App. PickMe is Sri Lanka’s version of Uber and offers cheap taxi and tuk-tuk rides. There are local buses available but it is much easier to take a taxi.

Dalawella Beach - Sri Lanka Itinerary
Dalawella Beach, Sri Lanka

Unawatuna: 3 Days

Unawatuna is a quaint little coastal town in the southwest corner of Sri Lanka. It is the perfect first stop on your trip as it has some great beaches and a chilled out vibe.

One of the best beaches in the country, Dalawella Beach, is less than ten minutes away by tuk-tuk. Here you will find a cool rope swing on the beach, loads of turtles and even some waves for you to go surfing.

Galle is also a short distance away from Unawatuna so we highly recommend a day trip here to go and check out Galle Fort.

Our top recommended tours:

How to Get to Unawatuna: From Negombo, you need to take a bus into Colombo Fort as this is where the main train station is. The bus journey takes just over 1 hour and costs around 60LKR ($0.34USD). From the Colombo Fort station, you can catch a train directly down the west coast to Unawatuna. Tickets cost 240LKR ($1.40USD) per person and the journey is 2.5-3 hours long.

We must give you fair warning that the train from Colombo to Unawatuna is extremely busy. It was a struggle to even get on the train and then the first hour was spent body to body with the locals. I wouldn’t want to take a train ride like that very often but it was a great way to immerse yourself straight into your Sri Lanka trip.

Where to Stay in Unawatuna: Our top pick for Unawatuna accommodation is Mr. Funk’s Hostel which costs 2600LKR ($15USD) per night for a private double room with a fan. They offered family-style meals every night which were delicious and were a great way to meet fellow travelers.

Mirissa - Sri Lanka Itinerary
Mirissa, Sri Lanka

Mirissa: 3 Days

Mirissa was our favorite town on the south coast and one of the highlights of the trip overall. There are so many cool places to hang out here including Coconut Tree Hill.

As the name suggests, it is a hill made up of red earth that is covered in palm trees. It is an awesome place to enjoy a sunset, watch people surf or look out for turtles at the top of the hill.

Another one of the best beaches in the country can be found in Mirissa and that is Secret Beach. It isn’t much of a secret anymore but it is certainly worth a visit.

There are two parts to this beach with the main beach offering great snorkeling, while the lagoon around the corner provides a protected natural pool.

While you can surf at the main beach in Mirissa, we also recommend heading to the neighboring town of Weligama to catch some waves and explore somewhere different.

The waves at Weligama are good for beginners and board rentals are available right on the beach.

Our top recommended tours:

How to Get to Mirissa: The public bus is a great way to get here from Unawatuna. Buses are passing along the main street of Unawatuna every few minutes that head directly to Mirissa. The bus costs 70 LKR ($0.40) per person.

Where to Stay in Mirissa: Kavindi Guest House is a great place to stay in Mirissa on a budget. It costs 2400LKR (USD 14) per night for a double room with a fan and includes a huge three-course breakfast. The rooms were large and comfortable and the property was just a few minute’s walks from the beach.

Hiriketiya Beach - 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary
Hiriketiya Beach, Sri Lanka

Hiriketiya Beach: 2 Days

This incredible bay is a bit of a surfer’s paradise. Several different waves break at Hiriketiya Beach offering something for surfers of all skill levels.

If you don’t fancy surfing, there are lots of beach bars and cafes that you can hang out and just take in the relaxed atmosphere that goes hand in hand with a town built around the surf. As well as surfing there is live music to enjoy at Dots, amazing local food in nearby Dikwella and loads of yoga classes.

The nearby town of Tangalle is a great day-trip destination and will allow you to visit Goyambokka Beach which is much less crowded than Hiriketiya.

How to Get to Hiriketiya Beach: While there is a direct bus from Mirissa to Dikwella, it doesn’t come very often. The best way to get here is to first take a bus to Matara, which takes 25 minutes, and then take a bus to Dikwella which takes around 45 minutes. The whole trip should cost around 80LKR ($0.46).

Where to Stay in Hiriketiya Beach: Our recommendation is Chandra Holiday Home which costs 1800 LKR (USD 10) a night here for a double room with a fan. It is a 10-minute walk from Hiriketiya Beach but we chose it as it offered easy access to both Dikwella and Hiriketiya.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

Yala National Park - Sri Lanka
Yala National Park Safari

Yala National Park: 2 Days

Going on a safari is a must-do activity on any trip to Sri Lanka and there is no better choice than Yala National Park. It is one of the places in Asia with the densest population of leopards making this the place to try and catch a glimpse of these majestic big cats.

As well as leopards there are elephants, crocodiles, water buffalo, monkeys and so much more. There are multiple different options to choose from ranging from half-day to multi-day safaris.

We opted for a full day safari and although we didn’t see any leopards we did manage to see several wild elephants.

Another great place to go on safari in Udawalawe National Park. It is not quite as far out of the way as Yala and is a great option to consider if you are on a shorter trip.

Our top recommended tours:

How to Get to Yala National Park: When going on safari at Yala National Park you will most likely stay in the nearby town of Tissamaharama. Most of the safari companies operate from here and will drive you from your accommodation to the national park on the morning of your safari.

The public bus leaves frequently from Dikwella and the journey takes around 2.5 hours to Tissamaharama. A bus ticket for this trip should cost 160LKR ($0.90).

Where to Stay in Tissamaharama: Viveka Guesthouse was one of the cheapest places we stayed in Sri Lanka costing just 1200LKR (USD 7.00) for a double room with a fan. We booked our safari through the guesthouse and we ended up being the first jeep through the gates on the morning of our safari which was a big bonus.

Aragum Bay - Sri Lanka
Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka

Arugam Bay: 4 Days

On the East Coast of Sri Lanka is the popular town of Arugam Bay. People travel from all over the world to surf here. There are lots of different beaches that offer waves from beginner through to advanced surfers.

As well as surfing there is also some awesome things to do here. Go on safari at Kumana National Park, visit Elephant Rock and enjoy the family dinners at the Beach Hut. Although it is a bit of a mission to make it out to Arugam Bay, the result is worth the effort.

How to Get to Arugam Bay: It is possible to take public transport from Tissamaharama to Arugam Bay but it will take most of the day to get there. We recommend hiring a private driver for the journey out there. It is much more expensive but will be a much less stressful journey out there. The journey by car will take just over 3 hours.

Where to Stay in Arugam Bay: Surf and Sleep is a great budget choice for accommodation in Arugam Bay. During the low season, it was just 1200LKR ($6.79) for a double room with a fan although these prices can be as much as four times more expensive in the high season. It is just meters from the beach and across the road from the family dinners at the Beach Hut.

Read reviews and check prices with our Hotel Search Engine, that gives you the best hotel deals found on the web. Our search engine pulls results from all of the major booking places, including Expedia, Hotels, Booking and more. All the options, all the deals, all in one place and just for you.

Ella, Sri Lanka
Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella: 4 Days

Ella is a stunningly pretty town situated high in the Sri Lankan hill country. It offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and is covered in tea plantations.

The best thing to do in Ella is to visit the Nine Arch Bridge at sunset and watch as the train passes through the tunnel and over the bridge. It is a seriously cool bridge that is nestled in amongst the tea fields.

Other great things to do in Ella include climbing Little Adam’s Peak, which offers a 360-degree view of your surroundings and taking a day trip to Diyaluma Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka.

How to Get to Ella: The return journey from Arugam Bay is quite easy. There is a direct bus from Pottuvil, 5-minutes north of Arugam Bay, to Wellawaya which leaves at 6:30 AM and costs 225LKR (USD 1.28). From Wellawaya there are regular buses to Ella which cost 90LKR ($0.50). The whole trip should take around 3.5 hours. It is also possible to hire a taxi from Arugam Bay to Ella but this will be a much more expensive option.

Where to Stay in Ella: One of the best-located places to stay in Ella is called Udayanga Restaurant and Bar which cost 2300 LKR (USD 13.20) per night for a double room with a fan. It is located right in the middle of town giving easy access to all the bars and restaurants. As Ella is quite hilly, even 5 minutes from town may result in a steep hike to your accommodation.

Ella to Kandy Train - Sri Lanka Itinerary
Ella to Kandy Train

Ella to Kandy Train: 1 Day

One of the highlights of any Sri Lanka trip is taking the 7-hour slow train through the middle of the country. The train carves its way through the mountainside past rivers, waterfalls and endless tea plantations.

Stand in the open doorway with the wind whipping your hair and take in the gorgeous scenery. This has to be one of the most beautiful train trips in the world!

Our top recommended tour:

Tip: Avoid taking the train on the weekends and take the earliest train in the morning to beat the crowds as this can be a very busy train journey.

Kandy - Sri Lanka Itinerary 2 weeks
Fire walkers in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy: 2 Days

Kandy is a vibrant city with street markets, amazing food and lots of shopping. While it is a cool city we recommend staying just one night here as there are better ways to spend your time in Sri Lanka.

One of the highlights of Kandy is the Royal Botanical Gardens, the largest botanic gardens in the country. It is only 5.5 kilometers west of the city center making it easily accessible even for an overnight stay in Kandy.

Our top recommended tours:

Where to Stay in Kandy: If you are looking to stay right in the city center on a budget, Kandy City House is the best choice. It costs just 1750LKR (USD 10) per night for a double room with a fan. It is a 2-minute walk from the train station which is ideal after the Ella to Kandy train.

Sigiriya - Sri Lanka Itinerary
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya: 2 Days

Sigiriya Rock, or Lion Rock, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. This unusual rock stands at over 200-meters high and dominates the surrounding landscape.

Whilst in Sigiriya there are several ways in which to enjoy Sigiriya Rock. Firstly, you can climb Sigiriya Rock itself. The entrance fee is $30 and grants you access to remnants of the ruined palace, a network of fortifications, gardens, ponds, and alleyways.

The second option is to hike the nearby Pidurangala Rock which is just over a kilometer away from Lion Rock. This hike offers you the chance to see Sigiriya from a distance and is best viewed at sunrise as the giant rock is basked in the early morning sunlight.

The entrance fee for Pidurangala Rock is 500LKR (USD 2.84) per person. The last option is to catch views of this incredible rock from the pool of Hotel Sigiriya. The pool is a great way to cool off during the day and is open to outside guests if you dine at their bar.

Our top recommended tours:

How to get to Sigiriya: Busses towards Sigiriya leave the main bus station in Kandy every 30 minutes. Take a bus to Dambulla from Kandy and here you will catch a separate bus to Sigiriya. The entire journey takes under 3 hours and costs around 240LKR ($1.36).

Where to Stay in Sigiriya: A great budget option in Sigiriya is Kalana Homestay which cost us 1740LKR (USD 9.90) per night for a large double fan room. It is centrally located and walking distance to Sigiriya Rock.

Trinconmalee Beach- Sri Lanka Itinerary
Beach in Trincomalee

Trincomalee: 3 Days

Another great town situated on the East Coast of Sri Lanka is Trincomalee. As it is quite a bit further off the usual tourist routes we found it to be one of the less touristy towns in Sri Lanka.

It has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country including Nilaveli Beach and Uppuveli Beach. Trincomalee is a great place to go whale watching and has some incredible snorkeling at Pigeon Island National Park. It is the perfect way to end your trip with a relaxing few days on the beach.

Our top recommended tours:

How to Get to Trincomalee: From Sigiriya take a bus back towards Dambulla but get off at Inamaluwa junction. Here you can catch a direct bus to Trincomalee. The entire journey should take around 3 hours and cost 190LKR (USD 1.08).

Where to Stay in Trincomalee: The best area to stay in is just a 10-minute drive north of Trincomalee town center in Uppuvelli. Here you have access to Uppuvelli Beach and some fantastic restaurants. A great budget option is Blue Blu Resort while offering an amazing level of service and comfort. A double room with a fan costs 1650LKR (USD 9.36) per night.

Back to Negombo: Departure Day

After an incredible few weeks exploring Sri Lanka, it is time to head back to Negombo to catch a flight home. Although there is a bus service, it can take over 9 hours by public transport. For longer journeys like this, we recommend hiring a driver to take you back or splitting the journey across several days.

Whether you spend 1 week or 4 weeks in Sri Lanka you won’t be disappointed by all the amazing places you get to experience. This beautiful and diverse island offers so much packed into a relatively small area.

If you have the time, we certainly recommend trying to spend 4 weeks here. You will get to enjoy each place for a little bit longer as well as getting the chance to visit some extra places a bit further off the main tourist route.

You can adapt this Sri Lanka itinerary to meet your own needs but try and visit as many of these places as possible. Sri Lanka is one of our favorite countries we have ever visited and we are sure it will end up being one of your favorites as well.

About the Author

Luke Storey is one of the two faces behind The Coastal Campaign, a couple of twenty-something adventure travelers. The Coastal Campaign is all about exploring off the beaten path destinations and once they get there, ripping around on scooters, cliff jumping, hiking, finding amazing beaches and other epic locations.

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Ultimate Sri Lanka Itinerary: 2 Weeks to 4 Weeks


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