How long to spend in Sri Lanka is highly irrelevant, when it comes to planning a holiday package to Sri Lanka because even you plan for a 7 days Sri Lanka tour or shorter holiday package, you will still be guaranteed of an enjoyable adventure? Be careful not to over-schedule your tour itinerary and plan it correctly. “Less is more” is the best approach in order to plan an effective Sri Lanka tour package, and count on exploring few important destinations.
How Many Days Should I Spend in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka is a travel destination for a few hours to many weeks
In Sri Lanka, there are many different tour itineraries, from few hours short tours to months-long Sri Lanka trips. Whether you are on a short vacation, and look for some interesting places to explore or on a tour with many days in hand and wish to explore the island in details, it is not a daunting task to find a Sri Lanka trip for every time frame.
Sri Lanka is a travel destination for many centuries
You can easily spend many weeks in Sri Lanka, in fact, I know that many travellers spend months exploring Sri Lanka. The island was popular as a destination to explore for many centuries, Ibn Battuta was one of the travellers, who was in Sri Lanka during the medieval period, and spent many weeks on his visit.
Fa Hien another Chinese traveller, who journeyed far and wide, exploring the island in 2nd century AD, had spent many years while travelling from place to place. Chinese monk came to the island to study Buddhism, but he was Fascinated by the islands beauty and scrapped plans to move on to other countries and went on to stay many years.
Sri Lanka is a travel destination for any budget
You might not be able to allocate months for a holiday package, but be ready for an equally spellbinding first impression nonetheless. Sri Lanka is not a popular destination among the backpackers, however, Sri Lanka is visited by a number of backpackers and they do spend many weeks exploring the island, there is a good reason for that: you need to see it all, from sandy, snow-white beaches if Sri Lanka’s west coast to all the way to the central mountain range with green-capped mountains and tea gardens passes up east and north and everything in between, of course.
Even you plan for a 7 days Sri Lanka tour or shorter holiday package, you will still be guaranteed of an enjoyable adventure. Be careful not to over-schedule your tour itinerary. “Less is more” is the best approach in order to plan an effective Sri Lanka tour package, and count on exploring few important destinations. You will have to content yourself with the limited sites that you are going to encounter this time, but do not worry, Other tourist attractions of Sri Lanka will still be waiting for you to explore.
Best program for the 5 days Sri Lanka tour
- Day 1: Colombo
- Day 2: Anuradhapura
- Day 3: Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa
- Day 4: Dambulla, Pinnawala
- Day 5: Kandy, Colombo
What are the best places to visit on a Sri Lanka trip 5-7 days
With 7 days or less in Sri Lanka, you will need to consider exploring Colombo, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Kandy, mainly the important cities in the classic loop known as the “Cultural triangle of Sri Lanka”. Landing in Colombo, take a look at the beautiful garden city of Asia, recently crowned as a Ramsar wetland city, which is the heart of Sri Lanka’s economy. Try to allocate a couple of hours to explore rich, colourful; markets, visit the museum, historical monuments, temples and beaches.
Investing time on Colombo sightseeing tour
With a half-day Colombo sightseeing tour, you will be able to explore much of the important places in Colombo. At the national museum of Colombo, you have the opportunity to see thousands of artefacts dating from pre-Christian ear to modern time and arts and religious objects of Sri Lanka.
Usually, most travellers look into the most important landmarks in the city, due to the time constrains. Sits such as Pettah market, Dutch-built Wolvendaal church and hospital (now converted to a shopping mall), Gangarama temple, Viharamahadevi, and Independent square are highly important places an should be included in the city tour. Colombo is divided into 15 overlapping zones.
The colombo1 or better known as Pettah remains one of Colombo’s most atmospheric quarters, which had been the ruling capital of Sri Lanka during the British colonial Era (1796-1948). Many Dutch, as well as British built buildings, are standing in the middle of Pettah even today. Taking a walk is the best way of exploring Pettah; after all, you cannot travel through Pettah due to the hordes of shoppers on the bazaar-lined streets.
Sri Lanka Heritage Tour With Twist Of Adventure
You can find many reasons to stay longer in Colombo, perhaps exploring the northern part of Sri Lanka where you find pristine beaches such as Negombo, or the fashionable boutiques in the central Colombo and still squeeze in a short trip to visit Colombo zoo. Or you could head to so call “golden mile” better known as Bentota beach and Galle fortress in southern Sri Lanka– it is just 2 hours drive from Colombo- and spend marvelling at splendours of southern Sri Lanka towards the tail end of your trip. Southern Sri Lanka is home to much popular beach resort, water sports centres, temples, and one of the most important iconic tourist attractions of Sri Lanka Galle Fort.
Alternatively, if you have visited the northern part of Colombo and southern Sri Lanka, you can spend time with important monuments in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. It may take around 2 days to cover most important historical monuments in the cultural triangle; however, you need to embark on a 3 days Sri Lanka tour in order to complete the entire circuit of Sri Lanka cultural triangle (Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa and Kandy).
Spend a few days touring the thousands of year’s old cities, where you encounter palaces, temples, parks, lakes and gardens, many sites are UNESCO designated world heritage sites. Then finish your trip with relaxing on the west coast beaches of Sri Lanka.
Best program for the 10 days Sri Lanka tour
- Day 1 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Meet and greet by Seerendipity tours and Colombo sightseeing tour
- Day 2 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Colombo to Negombo sightseeing tour
- Day 3 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Negombo to Anuradhapura
- Day 4 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya
- Day 5 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Minneriya, Dambulla
- Day 6 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Sigiriya to Kandy
- Day 7 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Kandy sightseeing tour
- Day 8 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
- Day 9 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Nuwara Eliya to Ella
- Day 10 of 10 days Sri Lanka tour: Ella to Colombo
With 10 days Sri Lanka tour to explore the island, you can follow the same program that we discussed earlier for the 5 days tour in Sri Lanka. But since you have 5 more days than the earlier program, you can easily venture into the mountains of Sri Lanka and the southern part of the country.
Sri Lanka Culture Cocktail Tour
Hop a taxi to Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Ella-breathtaking Mountains and backpacker’s paradise in the hills-located towards the southern slope of Sri Lanka mountain range-filled with mountains, tea plantations, trekking sites, waterfalls and patches of forests.
Sri Lanka’s upcountry or Tea country is best known for tea that comes with the best quality, but you will find many interesting historical monuments, botanical gardens, adventure sites to explore year-round. If you are an adventure enthusiast explore the adjacent laid-back city of Kitulgala, where you can engage in many adventure activities such as water rafting, mountain climbing, trekking, waterfall abseiling etc.
Make a stop at Kandy, which is the cultural hub of Sri Lanka and home to many ethnic and religious groups. Kandy was the last stronghold of Sri Lankan kings, which was ceded to the British crown in 1815. However, Kandy remains an important tourist attraction and harbours many interesting places to visit such as tooth relic temple, Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Udawattakele sanctuary and many other historical places such as Gadaladeniya. The stunning lakeside palace complex, tooth relic temple are the main tourist places of Kandy, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, the 18th-century palace complex houses left eye tooth of Buddha today.
From Kandy town head to Nuwara Eliya, the stunning mountain resort, which had been a holiday spot for many centuries and British colonial rulers developed transformed it to a resting point for travellers, especially for wealthy British planters. Today Nuwara Eliya is a most popular among family trip places in Sri Lanka.
The city is equipped with parks, promenades, lakes for trout fishing, golf course, racecourse, brewery and a little town. The city remains a small town even today and mostly local travellers hovering around the city.
Nuwara Eliya is a beautiful lakeside locality sits 1800 meters above sea level and also known as Little England due to some similarities of weather to English weather. The travellers can see many Theodor styled houses and mansion around the lake. Taking a boat tour in the lake on the placid water is in the bucket list of every traveller, who travel to Nuwara Eliya, horse riding, bird watching, exploring beautiful gardens, trekking is some of the past time activities here.
Nuwara Eliya is one of the most scenic quarters of the island has a unique tempting atmosphere for any type of travellers. Whether you are fancy of adrenaline-pumping activities or easy-going leisure activities you can find something to enjoy. The mountains of Sri Lanka is full of Tea gardens, rich wildlife reserves, cascading waterfalls, streams, rivers, lake, patches of forests and not forgetting historical monuments and temples.
From Nuwara Eliya make the rest of the journey by train, the railway trip from Nuwara Eliya to ell and vice-a-versa considered being one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. Take the train in Nanu Oya Railway station, which is the nearest railway station to Nuwara Eliya, and you need to make a 15 minutes drive towards Thalawakele to get there.
You might consider spending one whole day exploring top sights and it is well worth if you can afford it. Of you are mainly a leisure seeker, just take a stroll along the picturesque promenade of Gregory Lake and grab the sights of colourful gardens around the lake.
Nuwara Eliya is popular for flowers and garden are full of colourful flowers mainly in the flowering season (April, May and June), so don’t forget to drop-into the Victoria park, here you can see hundreds of different flowering plants and trees.
Southern Sri Lanka tour
Best program for the 2 weeks in Sri Lanka tour
- Pinnawala, Dambulla
- Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa
- Kandy sightseeing
- Nuwara Eliya
- Galla and Bentota
- Leisure on the beach
- Leisure on the beach
- Leisure on the beach
Having 2 weeks to explore the island, you will be able to have a leisurely tour and stretch your legs a little bit more. You can complete the classical round tour circuit and add a few days’ leisure on the beach. Most importantly you can maintain your own pace and spend some extra time in the places that you fall in love with.
Usually, the most travellers add few days of beach stay towards the tail end of the trip and you can also sleep few days in a west coast beach resort and enjoy the palm-fringed pristine beaches of Sri Lanka, or head to southern Sri Lankan city of Galle, where you encounter beaches, Forts, temples and national parks.
If you are thirsting for more tourist hotspots- and new experiences-then make a trip to Kitulgala or so-called adventure playground of Sri Lanka, where you can engage in many dozens of adrenaline-pumping activities such as whitewater rafting, waterfall abseiling, trekking, mountain climbing etc.
From Kithulgala head to Sinharaja Rain forest, which is the last remaining primaeval rainforest of Sri Lanka and one of the oldest patches of rainforests in the world dating back to Gondwanaland era.
Cultural triangle tour
From Sinharaja rain forest head to Kandy the spiritual capital of Sri Lankan Buddhist community, here you can start to explore the cultural trainable of Sri Lanka while travelling in the anti-clockwise direction. Immerse in the spiritual ambience and take a glimpse into the dedication of Sri Lankan Buddhists to their religion and customs.
From Kandy, head to Sigiriya and Habarana in the central province of Sri Lanka, where the travellers base themselves, in order to explore the thousands of years old historical monuments. Many of them are UNESCO world heritage sites, means investing the time of these sites are not a waste of time and money.
Take a jeep safari in one of the national parks nearby and see hundreds of elephants gathering near the lakes and grasslands. A village tours another interesting activity that allows you to learn the village life of Sri Lanka and make close contact with the village folk.
Depending on your pace, that’s all you, can accomplish on this trip and you still have done a lot. But if you can still continue, you can head to the east coast of Sri Lanka, which is a quite under-explored destination in the island. Here you encounter a sizable Tamil community and see a large number of Hindu temples as well as some of the best beaches of Sri Lanka. Aru Gam Bay, the surfing capital of Sri Lanka is just a few hours away from Trincomalee and you will meet a large number of experienced surfers as well as novices in the sport.
3 or 4 Weeks in Sri Lanka
First of all, you must be lucky to have a month for a holiday if you are not a pensioner. If you can afford to spend one month in Sri Lanka, you will have lots of stunning Holiday spots and sights at your disposal. You can go by the same program that we discussed earlier for the 2 week Sri Lanka trip, but take more time to explore southern Sri Lanka, cultural triangle and east coast of Sri Lanka. Same times you can venture into northern Sri Lanka (Jaffna peninsula), where you can find many interesting Hindu temples. Jaffna is not a much happening city for travellers and it had a very grim past and much of its glory burnt down during the civil war that ended 2009. Half burnt ghost towns and building are still standing, which are reminiscent of the war.
You can book southern Sri Lanka tour, and drive to Bentota and make your way to Galle, Matara and Yala in the southern tip of the island. Spend some time sampling delicious Sri Lankan seafood dishes, southern Sri Lanka is most popular for delicious seafood curry. In the areas like Hikkaduwa, Bentota, Galle, Unawatuna you will encounter hundreds of beachfront seafood restaurant that delivers mouthwatering seafood menus.
From Yala keep the upward journey towards Nuwara Eliya, a former British territory that is now home to vast tea plantations, mountains, rivers, waterfalls patches of forests and isolated villages. Consider visiting a tea factory and witness the preparation of world-renowned Ceylon Tea.
You can make a quick trip to Horton plains national park from Nuwara Eliya, which is one of the few last remaining cloud-forests in the island and a place to hug the nature. The vast terrain of the land is crowned with grasslands and type of forest that you will not encounter anywhere else on the island. The bio-diversity at Horton plains is considered to be very high and it harbours a large number of endemic fauna and flora species.
Then head to the thriving temple towns of Kandy, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya. You end destination will be Anuradhapura, but you can explore one of the national parks in the central province, which is centrally located in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.
Longer than a month in Sri Lanka
If you have more than 4 weeks in the bucket, you can explore all the places mentioned above and do all the activities without any hustle and bustle-ad more. Drop into all major attractions, but allocate a day or two here and there to divert over to smaller villages and out-of-the-way towns.
You can also make your way along the North West sea route, which is a fast becoming a popular beach holiday destination on the island and is a leading whale and dolphin watching area of Sri Lanka and also the best spot for kitesurfing in Sri Lanka. If you are hoping to stay longer than a month in Sri Lanka, consider taking an Ayurveda wellness package, mediation course or engage in a voluntary program and help poor people in a village.
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