With tropical forests, sandy beaches and crumbling ancient ruins, planning what to see in Sri Lanka is a difficult task. Not to worry – these three epic Sri Lanka itineraries have got you covered.
If you’re not already planning a trip to Sri Lanka – why not? It’s a country blessed with idyllic beaches, lush jungle and plenty of culture to boot. Not to mention a ridiculously underrated cuisine that should be on everyone’s lips.
Not sure where to start? I’ve compiled three incredible itineraries that will help you, intrepid traveller, make your way across the country in just two weeks. The only difficult part is choosing the right itinerary for you.
Handy Tips for Planning Your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Group Tour or Independent Travel?
When it comes to travelling around Sri Lanka, I’ll be totally honest and say that I prefer curating my own personal tour. Why? I love the freedom of being able to do what I want, when I want.
That said, it can be a good idea to organise half-day tours like this one for Yala National Park. This takes the logistical stress out of planning your trip.
What to Pack for Your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Wondering what to pack for your Sri Lanka trip? Start with my ultimate packing guide – but the following items are particularly useful.
- Sarong – useful for covering up in temples and as a beach accessory.
- Light Waterproof Jacket – to keep you dry in the country’s tropical showers.
- Sandals – a pair of sturdy walking sandals like Birkenstocks.
- Broad-brimmed hat.
- Insect repellent.
- Water bottle and Steripen.
- Mosquito net.
- Lonely Planet Sri Lanka
- Universal travel adapter.
Before booking your trip, check out these useful sites:
Skyscanner: Look, there’s nowhere else I would rather search for flights. They find you the best deals and make it easy to book your flights.
Booking.com: Compare hotels and book your accommodation all around Sri Lanka.
Tripadvisor: A travel info site with reviews, photographs and forums about hotels, restaurants, activities and more.
Get Your Guide: Compiles the best tours into one place, making it easy for you to compare.
Rentalcars.com: Find the best prices of different car hire companies, from luxury and economy to family rental cars.
The easiest way to get around Sri Lanka, without a doubt, is by hiring a rental car. This means that you can be totally flexible (and follow these cracking itineraries) and you won’t need to rely on the very unreliable public transport.
2 Weeks in Sri Lanka Itinerary 1: Colombo + The Western Provinces
Destinations: Negombo, Gampaha, Colombo, Mount Lavinia, Deniyaya
Excited? You should be. My first Sri Lanka 2 week itinerary focuses on things to do in Colombo along with destinations in and around the Western Province of the country.
One of my favourite travel tips for Sri Lanka is to spend a little time in Colombo before going to explore the rest of the island.
As the capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo spreads over forty kilometres and is home to around eight hundred thousand locals. The city of Colombo is diverse with towering, tiered temples slotted between bustling shopping centres and colonial ruins.
While Colombo offers few tourist hotspots, the west coast of Sri Lanka boasts a selection of cool lagoons, animal sanctuaries and long stretches of golden beaches. This itinerary will help you make the most out of your two weeks in Sri Lanka.
Day 1 – 3: Negombo
After the long flight to Sri Lanka, I imagine you’ll want to rest up before you start your Sri Lankan backpacking adventure.
Day one of your Sri Lanka 2 week itinerary will be spent unwinding on Negombo beach before heading into the city centre to find a bite to eat, while days two and three can be a little bit more full-on.
Things to do in Negombo
One of the most beautiful beaches in the area, Negombo Beach is super windy but well worth perching on for a couple of hours. I won’t blame you for having a post flight snooze on the sand…
Take some time to explore the city. The Angurukaramulla temple, Dutch Fort and several fish markets found in Negombo are the perfect places to begin.
Day Tour Around the Lagoon
Taking a day tour around Negombo lagoon is a must! Several rivers and canals flow into the lagoon while you’ll find rice paddies, coconut plantations and grasslands in the surrounding area.
Getting to Negombo
Once you’ve landed in Katunayake you’ll need to take a taxi for about twenty minutes to reach Negombo.
Suggested Stay for Negombo on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Heritance Negombo is where you’ll want to stay in this part of Sri Lanka. A stunning, albeit lowkey, resort with incredible ocean views.
Day 4: Gampaha
Zig-zagging across to Gampaha, day four of your 2 weeks in Sri Lanka will be spent in the bustling, urban city.
Things to do in Gampaha
Attanagalla Rajamaha Viharaya + Botanical Gardens
A few of my favourite spots in Gampaha include the Attanagalla Rajamaha Viharaya temple and the Henarathgoda Botanical Gardens. Both are pretty tranquil ways to kick off your time in Gampaha.
Alternatively, you could take a tour of the city or of the wildlife in Gampaha.
Chow Down on Traditional Food
If you take one piece of my advice, grab some food at the Letona Cafe for a taste of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine.
Getting to Gampaha
The easiest way to reach Gampaha is by taking a taxi. You can get a bus, but you’ll need to go via Colombo.
Suggested Stay for Gampaha on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Don’t write off the Covanro Airport Hotel as just a spot for people in transit – it’s one of the most beautiful places to stay in the area.
Day 5 – 9: Colombo
You might think that by heading to the capital you would be in for an urban feast, but you would be pretty wrong. The next few days in Colombo are all about rest, relaxation and spirituality.
Things to do in Colombo
Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is the perfect place to relax and catch a bit of sun in Colombo. The five-hectare urban park stretches across the coast and opens out onto the Indian Ocean.
Gangaramaya is easily the most famous temple in Colombo, with carved buildings and statues of Buddhas lining the walls. Spend some time taking in the history held in relics, stupas and shrines around the site.
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara
Another incredible temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka, the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara boasts beautiful grounds and stunning views nearby the River Kelani.
Beira Lake is a must on any Colombo itinerary. Whilst exploring the sixty-five hectares of gardens surrounding the famously green lake, make sure to stop off at the Seema Malaka temple.
Pettah Floating Markets
With over ninety stalls selling everything from fresh fruit to handmade jewellery, a trip to Colombo is not complete without hours lost haggling with stall owners at the Pettah Floating Markets.
Getting to Colombo
Trust me, it might only be a short journey, but getting between Gampaha and Colombo is easiest by taxi.
Suggested Stay for Colombo on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
For those seeking a little bit of luxury, Residence by Uga Escapes has it in spades. Gorgeous, bright rooms and dreamy views are common here.
Day 10 + 11: Mount Lavinia
The next few days could be spent either wandering the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka or exploring the Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya. There’s also a bird sanctuary and Elephant House to pass your time with.
Things to do in Mount Lavinia
Mount Lavinia Beach
Once you arrive in Mount Lavinia I suggest heading straight to the sun-soaked, sandy Mount Lavinia Beach.
National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan and Asian wildlife are in abundance at the National Zoological Gardens of Sri Lanka. This is an unmissable spot filled with reptiles, mammals, birds and more.
Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya
This Buddhist temple might be relatively low-key compared to some of the others in and around Colombo, but trust me when I say that it is one of the most tranquil.
Cocktails + Dinner
Getting to Mount Lavinia
Travelling a little bit further out of Colombo, you’ll either want to hire a car or take a train to Mount Lavinia.
Suggested Stay for Mount Lavinia on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Modern AND on the beach? Staying at The Villa is a no-brainer. It’s near the train station and also boasts an outdoor pool.
Day 12 – 14: Sinharaja Forest Reserve (+ Back to Colombo)
The distance between Mount Lavinia and Sinharaja might be long, but I promise you it’s worth it. I hope you’re ready to delve deeper into nature, as that’s exactly what you’re about to get at the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.
After a couple of days in Sinharaja, it’s time to go to Colombo.
To break up the long trip back towards Katunayake airport I suggest travelling first back to Colombo. Here you can break for a few hours while dipping in and out of shops, snacking in cafes, and wandering along the western coastline of Sri Lanka.
Things to do in Sinharaja Forest Reserve
One of the best things to do while you’re in Sinharaja is to go hiking around the Sinharaja Forest. The reserve spreads to around twenty-one kilometres and is home to many different species of animals including elephants, Sri Lankan blue magpies, tree frogs and butterflies.
Getting to Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Most of day 12 will be spent travelling to Sinharaja Forest Reserve. Again, you can either choose to rent a car or take public transport.
Suggested Stay for Sinharaja Forest Reserve on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
For a totally magical experience, there’s nowhere better to stay than Sinharaja Rainforest Views Villas. Immersed in nature, you’ll really be able to chill out in one of these gorgeous lodges.
2 Weeks in Sri Lanka Itinerary 2: Southern Sri Lanka Itinerary
Destinations: Colombo, Unawatuna, Galle, Tangalle, Kataragama, Sithulpawwa, Yala
After spending time deciding how to plan the perfect Sri Lanka trip, my second itinerary for Sri Lanka in two weeks is based around Galle and the Southern Province of Sri Lanka.
The south of the island and the bordering Sabaragamuwa region are the homes of many temples, churches, and ruins – perfect for if you want to take it easier or are travelling in Sri Lanka with a young child.
This area is surrounded by beaches and dotted with National Parks, offering travellers no end of things to do in the Southern Province of Sri Lanka. I’ve covered everything from forts to flamingos in this second sightseeing two week itinerary for Sri Lanka.
Day 1 + 2: Colombo + Unawatuna
The first stop after arriving in Sri Lanka (likely in Colombo) is in Unawatuna. A coastal town, Unawatuna is famed for its coral reef and jaw-dropping beaches. I can think of worse places to kick off a Sri Lanka trip, right?
Things to do in Unawatuna
It’s far too easy to spend a day weaving between the palm trees lining Unawatuna Beach. Remember your sunblock, folks.
After spending the afternoon sprawled on a colourful towel spread on the sand, we’d recommend heading to the strip of shops selling textiles, jewellery and souvenirs in the centre of Unawatuna.
Getting to Unawatuna
You’ll land in Colombo and then need to transfer to Unawatuna. I recommend hiring a car as it saves you the hassle of transferring in Galle.
Suggested Stay for Unawatuna on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Cute and intimate, the Secret Garden Fort is an adorable hotel in Unawatuna, kitted out with everything you need for a cosy stay.
Day 3 + 4: Galle
As the capital of the southern province of Sri Lanka, Galle is a must-see during your two-week trip.
As one of the top things to do in the area, exploring Galle Fort is a must. The fort, constructed in 1588, is a monument of both historical and architectural interest and is often the main draw to the city of Galle.
Things to do in Galle
Covering fifty two hectares, Galle Fort also has its own museum worth visiting. After a day on your feet we’d recommend a sugar boost in the form of crepes at the Crêpe-ology cafe.
Galle Lighthouse + Dutch Hospital
Galle is peppered with historical sights. Spend some time taking a trip to the Galle Lighthouse, Galle Clock Tower and The Old Dutch Hospital.
Shops, Cafes and Restaurants
Surprisingly, Galle has a whole host of brilliant places to dine. Church Street Social, The Arch and Coconut Sambol are my top picks when it comes to places to eat.
Getting to Galle
You’ll land in Colombo and then need to transfer to Unawatuna. I recommend hiring a car as it saves you the hassle of transferring in Galle.
Suggested Stay for Galle on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Surrounded by the iconic city walls, The Galle Fort Hotel is perfect for history lovers. Spacious rooms are blessed with impressive city views.
Day 5 + 6: Tangalle
Next up: You’ll be heading to Tangalle, where an abundance of coastal delights await you. I hope you’re ready to spend the next couple of days in Sri Lanka with sandy toes and salt in your hair.
Things to do in Tangalle
Take my advice and head straight to Goyambokka Beach after you arrive. Although the waves can be a little rough to swim in, here you can relax and sunbathe before exploring some of the sights of Tangalle.
Head out on the Rekawa Lagoon before driving for fifteen minutes to see the nearby Hummanaya Blow Hole, the second biggest blow hole in the world. You could also visit Bundala National Park while in Tangalle.
Getting to Tangalle
Renting a car is the easiest way to get around this section of Sri Lanka.
Suggested Stay for Tangalle on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
For a tranquil stay surrounded by nature, there’s nowhere more serene than the Good Karma Ayurvedic Resort.
Day 7 + 8: Kataragama
Kataragama is a very peaceful town where many Hindus make a pilgrimage to. Expect to see plenty of temples and shrines around (as well as an abundance of gorgeous photo opps).
Things to do in Kataragama
While you’ll be exploring Yala National Park from day eleven onwards, it’s also worth visiting Lunugamvehera National Park during your 2 weeks in Sri Lanka.
A day trip around the park promises close encounters with leopards, elephants, deer and buffalos.
Temples + Shrines
You could plan out your day to make detours to each temple, or you could take a laidback stroll through the centre of Kataragama and discover them all for yourself. I recommend the latter.
Getting to Kataragama
The journey to Kataragama takes around 40 minutes by car.
Suggested Stay for Kataragama on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
For a totally pared-back stay in the heart of nature, book a couple of evenings at the Heina Nature Resort. Rooms are simple, but it’s the tranquillity that you’ll really appreciate here – and the budget-friendly prices.
Day 9 + 10: Sithulpawwa
Sithulpawwa is most famous for its ancient Buddhist monastery, with history dating back over 2,000 years. Head here for a spiritual retreat after spending some time on the beaches of Sri Lanka – spot plenty of rock caves, murals and statues.
Things to do in Sithulpawwa
Sithulpawwa Rajamaha Viharaya Buddhist Monastery
One of the most sacred sites in Sri Lanka, this Buddhist monastery is a great place to get to know the religion’s place in ancient and modern Sri Lankan culture.
Head to Patangala Beach for incredible views of the Padikema Rock, followed by an afternoon of beach-bumming, obvs. Did you think we were done?
Getting to Sithulpawwa
It takes less than an hour to travel from Katagarama to Sithulpawwa, though you’ll struggle unless you have your own vehicle.
Suggested Stay for Sithulpawwa on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
The simple but homely Pelican View cottages boast lakeside views and friendly staff – what more could you ask for?
Day 11 – 14: Yala (+ Colombo)
To complete your 2 weeks in Sri Lanka you’ll travel an hour from Situlpawwa to Yala. Here you’ll stay in Yala National Park.
For the next few days you’ll go on safari trips around the park, sit around campfires and enjoy Sri Lankan cuisine. Yala National Park is home to elephants, deer, and has the largest population of leopards in Sri Lanka.
Things to do in Yala
The main draw of Yala is its safari opportunities. I recommend booking a safari tour well in advance (like this one). You could easily spend a couple of days hanging out in the lush jungle, surrounded by native wildlife.
Getting to Yala
Take a winding round around the countryside towards Yala. It takes just over an hour but boasts beautiful views of the monastery for most of the drive.
Suggested Stay for Yala on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
There’s no better place to base your wildlife adventure than at the Cinnamon Wild Yala. It’s a fairly luxe camping experience with plush accommodation and even an outdoor pool on site.
2 Weeks in Sri Lanka Itinerary 3: Kandy + The Central Provinces
Destinations: Kandy, Sigiriya, Nilaveli, Kuchaveli
My third and final itinerary to help you explore Sri Lanka in 2 weeks will take you through Kandy, the capital of the Central Province, and around the eastern coast and north side of the island.
I hope you’re ready to spend 2 weeks exploring, hiking and trekking across the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka.
Day 1 – 6: Kandy
Kandy is the first stop – and I guarantee you’ll fall in love. Tucked between forest-covered hills, Kandy is home to many beautiful gardens, palaces, and temples.
Things to do in Kandy
Temple of the Tooth
Fancy spotting Buddha’s actual tooth? That’s what you can do (apparently) at this sacred Buddhist site in Kandy. Aside from this, it’s ridiculously beautiful to look at (and snap a million photos of).
Royal Palace of Kandy
This iconic cultural landmark of Sri Lanka was built-in the 14th century and once home to Kandyan Kings. Head here to spot intricate wooden carvings and stunning garden surrounds.
Udawatta Kele Sanctuary
In the centre of Kandy sits this lush forest reserve. This is an unmissable spot for those who want to escape the bustle of the town and head back into nature.
Hanthana Mountain Range
While the Hanthana Mountain Range could be conquered in one day, if you’d like the chance to hike every peak, you’d need to pace yourself over two days. There are seven peaks in the range with the Uura Kanda peak climbing to three thousand and eight hundred feet.
Getting to Kandy
It’ll take an hour flight, or three-hour drive, to reach Kandy from Bandaranaike International Airport.
Suggested Stay for Kandy on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
For a classy stay, opt for the Radisson Kandy – it boasts everything you would expect from an upmarket chain, including stellar views and plush suites.
Day 7: Sigiriya
Next it’s time to head from Kandy to Sigiriya, where the main draw lies in its ruins.
Things to do in Sigiriya
Dambulla Cave Temple
I suggest stopping off first in the five, art-adorned caves that form the Dambulla Cave Temple before continuing on to reach the Sigiriya Ruins.
The ruins are the main reason so many people visit this region of Sri Lanka – and for good reason. The Sigiriya Ruins are the remains of a fifth-century city and also feature an ancient rock fortress.
Getting to Sigiriya
Fair warning: You’ll need to travel for several hours to reach Sigiriya. It’s well worth the drive though, I promise.
Suggested Stay for Sigiriya on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Nowhere in the area does R&R better than Resort Amaya Lake. Hang out in your spacious room, take a tip in the HUGE pool, or spend some time being pampered at the spa – sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?
Day 8 – 11: Nilaveli
Nilaveli might just be my favourite spot in Sri Lanka. It’s a relatively overlooked town but it’s jam-packed with brilliant things to do. From soaking in culture at temples to witnessing the spectacular marine life, there’s something for everyone here.
Things to do in Nilaveli
You need to see the Velgam Vehera temple while in the area – it’s stunning. Once you’ve spent a few hours exploring the Buddhist temple you’ll be able to explore Nilaveli and head out to Nilaveli beach.
Pigeon Island National Park
The Pigeon Islands are located one kilometre from Nilaveli. While you’ll spend one day exploring the two islands, the other will be dedicated to snorkelling and scuba diving in the coral reefs.
You’ll need to head back to Nilaveli each evening to find somewhere to eat and a place to stay.
Kokkilai Bird Sanctuary
It’ll take approximately two hours to reach the town of Kokkilai. On the eleventh day of your 2 weeks in Sri Lanka I suggest taking a trip to the Kokkilai Lagoon and to the Kokkilai Bird Sanctuary.
Other than these two spots there’s not a whole lot to do in the town of Kokkilai.
Getting to Nilaveli
Don’t worry – it only takes around two hours to reach Nilaveli.
Suggested Stay for Sigiriya on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
As you might be able to tell by the name, the Nilaveli Beach Resort is an ocean-side hotel that you totally need to stay at. It offers a laidback escape from your busy days spent exploring.
Day 12 – 14: Anuradhapura (+ Back to Sigiriya)
For the last few days of your 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, you’ll head to the city of Anuradhapura.
After several days of long journeys, put your feet up a little and head out to see a few of the temples in the city such as the Ruwanwelisaya temple, Mirisawetiya Stupa and the Isurumuniya temple.
Before heading home, you’ll take an hour flight from Sigiriya to Bandaranaike International Airport.
Things to do in Anuradhapura
Like I’ve mentioned, the temples are the real reason many people visit Anuradhapura – Ruwanwelisaya temple, in particular.
There’s plenty to fill a couple of days here – the best way to see them is by getting out on foot and having a wander.
Getting to Anuradhapura
It’s a two hour drive from Nilaveli – public transport is very hard to come by so you’ll need to rent a car.
Suggested Stay for Anuradhapura on your Sri Lanka Itinerary
Colourful and opulent, Hotel White House is the perfect base for exploring Anuradhapura on your last couple of days in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Two Week Itinerary – Map
Love this? Save and Share on Pinterest!