Two Weeks Sri Lanka Itinerary From a Local
Our curiosity when it comes to new places is endless and we take every opportunity to appease it. The fact that Sri Lanka was ranked top country for travel in 2019 by the Lonely Planet only made us more inquisitive and we thought we’ll go find a local to help us out. Luckily, we have met Chamarra Lasantha from Sigiri Lanka Tours who has put together for us this amazing two weeks itinerary in Sri Lanka. This is a guest post written by Chamarra, and while it does talk about the two weeks in Sri Lanka itinerary they offer, it is not a sponsored post. We are happy to host such passionate collaborators who bring destinations to life for the delight of both us and our readers. For those who would rather do this tour on their own, we have added restaurant and hotel recommendations at every location. For hotel booking, we have inserted a few friendly affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them, we get a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for supporting us in this way!
With its rainforests and unspoiled beaches, rich wildlife, timeless ruins, endless tea plantations, friendly people, and amazing food, Sri Lanka is generally known as either “the pearl of the Indian Ocean” or “the teardrop of India”. We prefer to think of it as the land of serendipity, the word itself being derived from “Serendip”, the old name given to the island by the Arabs and Persians. The fairy tale “The Three Princes of Serendip” has its heroes “always making discoveries of things they were not in quest of” and is how the word serendipity entered the English language.
Known as Ceylon for the greater part of its history, Sri Lanka gained its independence from the British in 1948 and became a republic in 1972. Following thirty gruesome years of civil war, the country is working since 2009 to build its infrastructure as a tourist destination. We would be more than happy to show you around our amazing country, which is best covered in a two-week itinerary.
DAY 1 NEGOMBO
As you land at Colombo Bandaranayaka International airport, you will be greeted by the Lion Flag of Sri Lanka which dates back to 162 BC and is one of the oldest in history. It is the only flag in the world to acknowledge different religious beliefs, as the bo leaves represent Buddhism, the orange color Hinduism, and the green is associated with Islam.
We will pick you up directly at the airport and take you to Negombo, a small town nearby famous for its beaches and lagoon. The intimate character of Negombo’s old quarter and plenty of dining opportunities will provide a nice atmosphere to relax after your long flight.
DAY 2 ANURADHAPURA
After a 200 km drive, you will reach the capital of the North Central Province, Anuradhapura. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the capital of the first kingdom of Sri Lanka, about 2500 years old. The well-preserved ruins of the ancient city are part of the World Heritage Sites and the largest construction in brick in the ancient world. The ruins are still considered sacred by Buddhist and the city is thus surrounded by monasteries.
Make sure to check off these sites during the visit to Anuradhapura.
- ISURUMUNI VIHARA
- JETHAWANA VIHARA
- SRI MAHA BODHI (the oldest tree ever planted, dating back 2000 years)
- ABHAYAGIRI VIHARA
- SANDAHIRU SEYA
- KUTTAM POKUNA (TWINS POND)
- SAMADHI BUDDHA STATUE
From our longtime experience as tour guides, the best hotels in the area are:
All restaurants have both a menu card and a buffet, so enjoy fantastic Sri Lankan dishes at either SEEDEVI FAMILY or CEYLAN LODGE restaurants.
DAY 3 TRINCOMALEE
Your next stop is Trincomalee, located on the eastern coast in Sri Lanka. Its famous beaches Nilaveli, Uppaveli, and Marbal will invite you to relax and enjoy the day. The nearby Pigeon Island is a paradise for diving and snorkeling, while the less active ones can enjoy dolphin and whale watching. We’ll make sure you are comfortably set up in a hotel at the seafront, so you can experience everything Trincomalee has to offer.
If you fancy going for a walk, you can see the Hanuman Hindu Temple and the Fredric Fort built by the Dutch.
DAY 4 POLONNARUWA
Polonnaruwa follows Anuradhapura historically, being the seat of the second kingdom of Sri Lanka. Another World Heritage Site, it was declared capital by king Vijayabhahu in the 11th century AD and it was continuously ruled until the 13th century. Before entering the citadel, you can pay a visit to the Archaeological Museum to get an idea of the historical importance of the site. It can be explored by car or you can rent a bicycle and ride around.
Make sure to check off these sites during the visit to Polonnaruwa.
- ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
- ROYAL PALACE
- AUDIENCE HALL
- SWIMMING POOL
- SACRED QUADRANGLE
- SHIVA DEVALAYA
- PABALU VEHERA
- RANKOTH VEHERA
- KIRI VEHERA
- LANKATHILAKA BUDDHA STATUE
- GAL VEHERA
If you decide to spend the night here, we recommend the SUDU ARALIYA HOTEL and the MAHANUGE restaurant, although it might be best to choose Habarana or Sigiriya for your overnight stay.
DAY 5 SIGIRIYA
Sigiriya is considered to be the eighth wonder of the world and it was built over 1600 years ago by King Kasyapa. The citadel up a 200 meters rock is one of the most visited places in the country, due to the amazing technological achievement it represents and the breathtaking decorations employed. It takes about three hours to climb up and back down, but the effort is thoroughly worth it. The ruins of the upper palace are found on the flat top of the rock, while mid-way you can admire the Lion Gate and the frescoed mirror wall. A lower palace is located behind the luxurious lower gardens.
Make sure to check off these sites during the visit to Sigiriya.
- SIGIRIYA LION ROCK
- SIGIRIYA MUSEUM
- PIDURANGALA ROCK
- DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLE
- MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK
We recommend finishing your day doing a little tour in the settlement to get a grasp of authentic village life and enjoy a traditional dinner. The restaurant SENADI is our best recommendation.
DAY 6 KANDY
On the way to Kandy, our tour makes a stop to visit the Dambulla Golden Temple built in a cave in the 16th century.
Kandy is one of the most important cities in the country, comfortably cuddled between the hills of the homonymous plateau, covered with tea plantations. As an administrative center, Kandy, also known as Senkadagalapura, was the seat of the last kingdom of Sri Lanka until 1815 when the British rule started. One of the most sacred places of the Buddhist world, Kandy is home to The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), and a world heritage site. The Kandy Esala Perahera cultural festival draws visitors here as well.
Make sure to check off these sites during the visit to Kandy.
- SACRED TOOTH RELIC TEMPLE AND MUSEUM
- BAHIRAWAKANDA TEMPLE
- KANDY LAKE (BOGAMBARA LAKE)
- ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDEN
- EVENING KANDY DANCING PROGRAM
Tea enthusiasts should take time to visit the Ceylon Tea Museum near Kandy, where you can learn all about the history of Ceylon tea.
Our guests are advised to take an evening walk around the Kandy lake, before joining us for an evening of traditional dances that ends with fireworks.
In terms of accommodation, we recommend the OAK RAY SERENE GARDEN HOTEL as well as the Royal Buffet Restaurant.
Search below for more accommodation opportunities in Kandy!
DAYS 7 and 8 NUWARA ELIYA
Affectionately known as little England, Nuwara Eliya is our next destination. The city is overlooked by the tallest mountain in the country, the Pidurutalagala, and it is known for its temperate climate, being the coolest region in Sri Lanka.
On the way, we take our guests to see the Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya, a tea plantation and a tea factory.
The Seetha Amman Hindu Temple, a little bit outside the city, can also be visited. In the evening you can take a relaxing walk around the Gregory lake.
In the early morning, we take guests to visit the Horton Plains National Park in Nuwara Eliya. It is located at the end of a 30km drive up along a narrow road.
DAY 9 ELLA
No Sri Lanka itinerary is complete without the iconic train experience, a slow ride among tea plantations, undulating hills of lush vegetation, waterfalls, and tunnels. We will take you to the Nanuoya railway station in Nuwara Eliya and you will reach the Ella railway station after 3 hours, where we will pick you up again.
Ella is the ideal location to enjoy an active holiday, as you can stay in some of the best guesthouses in the country, enjoy stunning views through the Ella Gap, and take relaxed walks among tea plantations, waterfalls, and temples. Little Adam’s Peak and the Nine Arch Bridge are only two landmarks worth visiting before you enjoy a fantastic dinner.
DAY 10 TISSAMAHARAMA
We travel next to Tissamaharama, famous for the leopards in the Yala National Park, which is the day’s main attraction. The Buddhist temples Tissamaharama Raja, Maha Viharaya and Kataragama are also worth a stop beforehand, as normally the evening time is better recommended to visit the national park.
DAY 11 GALLE
After breakfast, we will make a short stop in Mirissa, a famous beach town on the southern coast, before reaching Galle.
Our destination is a world heritage site as it constitutes a prime example of a fortified city built by Europeans in Asia, a coherent blend between Portuguese architectural styles and local traditions. The city was fortified by the Dutch in the 17th century and we will visit these fortifications before reaching the actual city. Besides the city’s natural harbor, the National Maritime Museum, and St. Mary’s Cathedral, you’ll visit Unawatuna and Jungle, which are among the most beautiful beaches in the world.
DAYS 12 and 13 HIKKADUWA
You’ll end your two weeks Sri Lanka itinerary at this famous resort, ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing. Enjoy a couple of relaxing days after a memorable sojourn in our country. The best times to visit Hikkaduwa are from November to April.
DAY 14 DROP OFF AT THE AIRPORT
The Colombo Bandaranayaka International Airport is a three hours drive from Hikkaduwa, and we will arrange it accordingly such that you have enough time before your flight.
This is the itinerary we usually recommend our guests, but we are most happy to personalize it according to your specific time frame/budget/and interests. Feel free to contact us directly, or via the contact form of Dream, Book, and Travel. We are looking forward to welcoming you to Sri Lanka!