Colombo - Anuradhapura - Dambulla - Sigriya - Minneriya - Polonnaruwa - Kandy - Pinnawala - Negombo - Colombo
Explore Sri Lanka’s most iconic destinations during this diverse 7-day itinerary.
Visit two of the most amazing national parks in Sri Lanka staying in luxury campsites as you discover a staggering diversity of animal species in exclusive drives, and enjoy a whale watching excursion in Mirissa.
Conquer the heart of the island visiting heritage sites like Sigiriya and Dambulla, visit a traditional Vedda community, immerse in the raw nature of Wasgamuwa and Minneriya National Parks, and relax at the beaches of Trincomalee.
Experience the beautiful landscapes, beaches, waterfalls, wildlife along with ancient cities and temples of Sri Lanka. See the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, explore the ancient city Polonnaruwa, Pigeon Island in Trincomalee, Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Golden Temple of Dambulla, experience a safari adventure in Minneriya National Park, Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage and Colombo city.
Sri Lanka in a nutshell. Explore the cultural hub of Kandy, make village visits in Dambana, take scenic train rides over tea plantations, relax at idyllic beaches, and discover its rich wildlife at national parks like Udawalawe, Horton Plains and Sinharaja.
Get closer to the heart of Sri Lanka's wildlife with this tour that takes you around Udawalawe, Yala and Horton Plains National Parks. Leopards, bears, elephants and a wide array of migratory birds awaits.
This 11-days luxury tour is specially designed for couples who want to spend their first 5 days of the honeymoon exploring the cultural side of Sri Lanka and relax the rest of the days on a luxury resort by a tropical beach in Maldives.
Experience the beautiful landscapes, waterfalls, wildlife along with ancient cities and temples of Sri Lanka. See the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, enjoy the beautiful Landscape of Horton Plains, train ride to Nanu Oya, experience a safari adventure in Minneriya National Park and white water rafting session in Kitulgala.
The relaxing Buddhist Pilgrims tour shows you the sacred places around Sri Lanka as well as the beautiful landscapes of the island. Practice meditation at various sacred places, listen Buddhist Sermon, Offer flowers, partake in arms giving ceremony and much more.
This tour is all about nature and wildness. From breathtaking landscapes to a safari adventure, you will spend 10 unforgettable days exploring the wild side of Sri Lanka. Starting with some bird watching and endemic species in Sinharaja Forest Reserve, you will continue to the Udawalawe National Park, famous for the many elephants and abundant wildlife. Spend few days in Yala National Park doing jeep safaris. In the way back to Colombo you will pass by the beautiful tea plantation landscape of Nuwara Eliya and hike in one of the country’s most scenic hiking trails, Horton Plains. Get ready to explore the wild side of Sri Lanka!
Embark on this epic adventure all around Sri Lanka, take in the heritage sites of the center of the island, relax on the blissful beaches of the south, and discover the cultural melting pot of the northern region.
Uncover the true Buddhist experience in Sri Lanka. Climb Adams Peak, practice meditation at various sacred places, listen Buddhist Sermon, visit the prominent sites of Buddhism and much more.
Follow the footsteps of the Buddha in Sri Lanka visiting its most sacred sites in this 5 days pilgrimage express tour, and get closer to the history of Buddhism in this rich and devout country.
Pay your respects in the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and Gangaramaya temples in Colombo, meditate under the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, planted from a branch of the very same tree under which the Buddha attained enlightment, wander around the remains of the World Heritage city of Polonnaruwa, explore the exquisite Buddhist frescoes and sculptures of the Cave Temple of Dambulla, lose your breath at the ancient remains of Mihintale, and soak in the mysticism of the temple of the holy tooth relics in Kandy.
Take a walk on the wild side of Sri Lanka. Spot its precious wildlife at Udawalawe, Yala and Wilpattu, pay your respects at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, and enjoy the sun and sand of the beaches of Mirissa.
Discover one of the countries with the most biodiversity as you explore five different wildlife reserves in Sri Lanka, and close this adventure relaxing at the palm-fringed beaches of Tangalle.
Explore Sri Lanka’s most iconic destinations during this diverse 7-day itinerary.
Immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s wild side through some of the country’s most impressive national parks and tea-growing landscapes.
Spend a week soaking up the sun, sand and surf on Sri Lanka’s magnificent southern coastline.
Spend a week exploring central Sri Lanka’s most enchanting destinations on this itinerary through the highlands.
Combine a visit to Sri Lanka’s most important archaeological sites with a glimpse of its off-the-beaten-path east coast.
Embark on a 7-day Buddhist pilgrimage to visit some of Sri Lanka’s most sacred sites.
Situated south of the Indian subcontinent, the island nation of Sri Lanka is beloved for its spirituality and culture as much as its beaches and wildlife.
Six cultural sites within the country have attained UNESCO World Heritage listing, ranging from sacred ancient ruins to colonial cities.
With a coastline spanning 1600 kilometres, Sri Lanka is abundant in golden sand beaches, lush greenery and plenty of sunshine all year round.
As you lay on the sandy shores of the beaches of Sri Lanka, you may see wooden poles standing above the waves a few metres into the sea.
For photographers, both professional and amateur, traveling constantly exposes you to inspiring and exotic landscapes, architecture and people.
Here are five tips to help you get creative and produce some compelling images the next time you stumble across a landmark that has been photographed millions of times.
The fortified ‘sky palace’ of Sigriya, situated on an 180-metre high granite peak, is surrounded by some of the oldest known landscaped gardens in the world. Wander its ancient ruins, marvel at its elaborate frescoes and the ‘Mirror Wall’ Sinhalese texts, and float above in a hot air balloon.
The undulating plains, monsoon forests and wetlands of Yala National Park are a wildlife-lover’s paradise, where Sri Lankan leopards, elephants and sloth bears can be spotted on jeep safaris. Immerse yourself in the wild at one of its luxury lodges, surrounded by the calls of its 200+ resident bird species.
With its impressive Golden Buddha statue and five cave complex overlooking the town below, the Dambulla cave temple dates back to the 1st century BC. Now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it exhibits more than 150 Buddha statues, together with impressive frescoes in the Kandyan school style of painting that overlay ancient art works.
Sparsely vegetated Udawalawe National Park offers wildlife viewing opportunities that rival its most famous East African counterparts, with large herds of elephant, water buffalo, toque macaque, wild boar and occasional leopards spotted on jeep safaris. November through to April is ideal for water bird watching when migratory birds visit from the north.
Minneriya National Park hosts the country’s most impressive wildlife spectacle during the dry season when immense numbers of elephants converge on the edge of the Minneriya Tank, an ancient artificial lake, to drink and playfully bathe in the waters. Situated in the central north of the country, it also provides a refuge for spotted dear, sampan and purple-faced langur monkeys.
Situated in the central highlands on a plateau at more than 2000 metres, the mist-covered lakes and montane forests of Horton Plains National Park offer fantastic hiking amidst a rich biodiversity that includes sambar deer and bear-faced monkeys. Witness the cascades of Baker’s Falls, go birdwatching in the early morning hours and venture to the spectacular escarpment of World’s End that drops to the tea plantation-covered valley below.
Home to more than 80 Asian elephants, the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage was founded to care for unweaned orphans found wandering through the island’s jungles. Visitors can get up close to these gentle giants, participate in feeding time, and watch them playfully bathe in the nearby river.
Sri Lanka’s commercial and financial capital, Colombo, is a bustling metropolis where wide, shady boulevards, lined with grand colonial architecture, are juxtaposed against elaborate Buddhist and Hindu temples. Explore the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple on the shores of Beira Lake, join the local shopping chaos in the Pettah Market, and take a sunset stroll along Galle Face Green Promenade and the historic Fort district.
Situated in the Central Province, the UNESCO-listed religious capital of Buddhism, Kandy, is home to the elaborate Temple of the Tooth Relic, which draws devotees and tourists alike to its sprawling Royal Palace complex. Wander the shores of tranquil Kandy Lake, explore the historic Royal Botanic Gardens, experience a Kandy cultural dance show, and join the annual celebrations of the Esala Perahera.
Dubbed ‘Little England’, the cool-climate former British hill station of Nuwara Eliya in the central highlands is a bizarre blend of Southeast Asian eccentricities amidst a distinctively English countryside feel. It is a place to escape the heat of the plains, wander through landscaped gardens and tea plantations, and indulge in high tea overlooking its mist-covered mountains.
The ancient archaeological site of Anuradhapura in the central north was once one of Ceylon’s most sacred Buddhist cities and its Sri Maha Bodhi tree is still an important pilgrimage site for devotees. Wander the ruins of its atmospheric UNESCO-listed palaces, monasteries and pools, witness the impressive Jetavana and Ruwanwelisaya Dagobas, and join the annual Poson Festival celebrations.
Combining elegant Brahminist temples with Buddhist monuments and buildings, the ancient UNESCO city of Polonnaruwa served as Ceylon’s capital from the 10th century. Located 100km to the southeast of Anuradhapura, its captivating ruins include the ornate Vatadage, built to house the sacred tooth relic of Guatama Buddha, while the rock sculpture of Gal Vihara is one of Sri Lanka’s most renowned ancient works of art.
Home to atmospheric colonial architecture, magnificently fused with elements of traditional Sri Lankan design, the fortified city of Galle in Sri Lanka’s south is the most impressive of its kind in Southeast Asia. Admire the interior of the Dutch Reformed Church, take in the views from the British-built lighthouse, and wander the old Portuguese ramparts as the sun sets over the Laccadive Sea.
Considered sacred by Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, the small, sleepy town of Kataragama in Sri Lanka’s southeast comes to life during the evening puja when pilgrims descend on its Sacred Precinct to pay their respects. Watch devotees bathe in the sacred Manik Ganga, visit the Kiri Vehera pagoda, and join the annual Esala poya celebrations during the full moon of late-July or early-August.
With the sacred Sri Pada footprint at its summit, Adam’s Peak in the centre of Sri Lanka is a pilgrimage site not only for Buddhists, but also Christians, Muslims and Hindus, with sunrise treks offering fantastic views of the day’s first rays illuminating the island below.
A designated UNESCO World Heritage site, the virgin rain forests of Sinharaja are a biodiversity hotspot and bird lover’s paradise, including 20 of the island’s endemic species, best spotted during early morning treks.
Sri Lanka holds strong ties to the Hindu epic Ramayana and tours along its trail not only combine some of the island’s 50+ Ramayana sites, but offer an in-depth understanding of Hindu beliefs and culture.
Situated on the magnificent Kelani River, Kitulgala is the base for adrenalin-pumping white water rafting expeditions in Sri Lanka, which cut through lush jungle that is rich in birdlife, and home to cascading falls and historic caves.
Embark on a whale watching tour from the laid-back beach of Mirissa, where Blue, Sperm and sometimes even Killer whales can be seen plying its waters between November and April, alongside a number of dolphin species.
Explore Sri Lanka’s Solosmasthana during a Buddhist pilgrimage tour. These 16 sacred religious sites, many of which were visited by Gautama Buddha on his 3 trips to the country, include Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, the sacred mountain peak of Mihintale, Kataragama’s Kiri Vehera and the Kalyanam Temple where it is believed he preached.
Venture off on a day trek from the tiny highland village of Ella to the spectacular cliff face of Ella Rock, offering stunning views across Ella Gap and the tea plantations that sprawl below.
From the convenient airport resort of Negombo to the remote beaches of Trincomalee in the northeast, Sri Lanka offers countless opportunities to laze away the days on an Indian Ocean beach. Visit the turtle hatcheries of Bentota, surf the famed breaks of Arugam Bay, soak up the nightlife of Unawatuna, or find your paradise on the tranquil stretches of sand around Tangalla.
South, West and Central Highlands - The southwest ‘yala’ monsoon brings heavy rains to this region and the highlands from April through to September, sometimes extending into October/November. December through to March is more reliably dry, and while temperatures remain fairly constant throughout the year, nights in the highlands can get very cold. For whale sightings, visit between November and April.
North and East - The ‘maha’ monsoon impacts the north and east coasts between November and March, although the majority of rain falls during November/December. While relatively clear skies prevail from April through to September, there is an inter-monsoonal period in October that can impact anywhere across the island. For optimal conditions across the entire island, opt to visit between January and April.
Translating as ‘people of the forest’ the Vedda are Sri Lanka’s indigenous people, believed to have descended from Prince Vijaya in the 6th century BC. Traditionally hunter-gathers, today their village camps around Dambana allow visitors to participate in forest trek hunts, fish for fresh seafood, and collect honey which is traded for other goods.
Held throughout July and August each year in Kandy, the Esala Perahera pays homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Gautama Buddha that is enshrined in Kandy’s Sri Dalada Maligawa temple. Elaborately adorned elephants parade through the streets, along with traditional Kandyan fire dances, with the celebrations culminating in a water cutting ceremony on the Mahaweli River.
Celebrated over several days during July or August, the Hindu Vel Festival is a celebration of triumph over evil with elaborately adorned chariots paraded through the streets and Kavadi dancers. The main celebrations are held in Colombo where traditionally dressed devotees march through the streets to pay their respects at the Bambalapitya Temple.
The Buddhist festival of Vesak is held each May and celebrates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha with beautifully decorated lanterns and lit pandols adorning the streets. Devotees dressed in white attend prayer ceremonies at temples, while food and drinks are freely offered from dansala stalls.
Exhibiting influences not only from the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists, but also heavily drawing on the cuisine of Southern India, Sri Lankan food centres around rice, accompanied by multiple curries, pickled vegetables and sambols. Both ground coconut and coconut milk are used as a base in many dishes, while the island’s history in the spice trade is evident in the flavouring of both savoury and sweet dishes with multiple spices.
A popular breakfast food, string hoppers, or idiyappam, are made from rice flour, salt and water, then squeezed into thin noodle strands before being steamed. They make a great alternative to rice and are normally served with a side curry and coconut chutney.
Curry features in almost every meal in Sri Lanka, with not only meat and vegetables as the main ingredient, but also sometimes fruit. Try sour fish curry, cooked with the sour dried goraka fruit, or green jackfruit curry, spiced with mustard seeds and turmeric.
Another breakfast favourite is Pittu, red-rice or wheat flour mixed with shredded coconut. It is steamed in a cylindrical shape and usually served with curry and sambol.
A legacy of the Dutch Burgher community in Sri Lanka, lamprais combine spice-infused rice with a mixed-meat curry, picked aubergines and seeni sambol in an oven-baked banana leaf, all topped off with crispy-fried meatballs known as frikkadels.
With a strong history of traditional craftsmanship in the country, together with arts introduced by colonial powers, shopping in Sri Lanka offers a good selection of unique souvenirs and antiques, although licenses are required to take the latter out of the country. While tourist markets are widespread, purchasing direct from local artisans or specialist factories offers superior quality products and the opportunity to see it being made. Larger shops operate on a fixed price basis, but in beach-side stalls bargaining is expected, although buyers should be aware that purchasing shells or coral is illegal.
Traditionally worn during kolam dance ceremonies, brightly painted masks of all sizes, typically depicting the bird demon Gurulu Raksha and Gara Yaka, are widely available. The best place to purchase them is in the southern mask production centres of Ambalangoda, Benthara, and Wathugedara.
Kandy is renowned for its traditional handicrafts, such as embossed metalwork, drums, and both wood and stone carvings. While they are distributed throughout the island, the artisan workshops within the city allow you to purchase direct from the maker.
Originally introduced to Sri Lanka from Indonesia by the Dutch, Batik artwork is now widespread throughout the island, with both traditional and contemporary designs found on clothes, tablecloths and wall hangings. For the best selection, visit the batik factories around Mahawewa.
High-quality Sri Lankan tea is exported around the world, but purchasing it direct from the plantation house offers not only a fun tasting experience, but the opportunity to purchase unblended ‘single estate’ varieties that retain the unique characteristics of the plantation and growing season.