Sri Lanka tour itinerary

10 Places To Visit on Sri Lanka Tour Itinerary

Make a Sri Lanka tour itinerary from northern Sri Lanka to southern Sri Lanka by train, car, taxi and plane, starting from Colombo, then head on to the cultural triangle in the north-central province of Sri Lanka to witness the ruins of ancient civilization, before darting to south Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches and exploring fascinating wildlife collection …

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Perfect Sri Lanka tour itinerary

With one of the oldest cultures in the world, mouth-watering seafood specialities, ancient Buddhist temples, and amidst evergreen rain forests and beaches of surreal beauty, undoubtedly a Sri Lanka tour itinerary is a feast for the senses.

Make a Sri Lanka trip itinerary from northern Sri Lanka to southern Sri Lanka by train, car, taxi and plane, starting from Colombo, then head on to the cultural triangle in the north-central province of Sri Lanka to witness the ruins of ancient civilization, before darting to south Sri Lanka’s pristine beaches and exploring fascinating wildlife collection.

Colombo starting point of Sri Lanka trip itinerary

Usually, most Sri Lanka trips start in Colombo, where you find the international airport. However, the international airport of Colombo is not located within the borders of Colombo and you need to travel 35 km from the airport to reach Colombo.

Slung along the banks of the Kelaniya River, the bustling metropolis is the base for any Sri Lanka tour itinerary, which shows a fascinating blend of characters of a 21st-century modern metropolis and a colonial city of the medieval period. Make a Colombo sightseeing tour, when the streets are a little bit empty, Saturdays, Sundays and local holidays are the perfect days for it.

Colombo is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka

Colombo was the capital of Sri Lanka and it lost its importance as the capital of the island in 1979, however, Colombo is the heart of Sri Lanka and the hub of the economy. The city with the highest population on the island resides of 2 million people.

Colombo

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Important places to visit in Colombo

Colombo has many important places to visit and most foreign travellers hardly miss an overnight stay during their Sri Lanka tour. Colombo is a cultural melting pot and a large number of people of different races and religions are rubbing their shoulders with each other in its fully packed space.

With dozens of flourishing different cultures, undoubtedly Colombo has the greatest concentration of dining options in Sri Lanka, with everything from street food outlets selling wade – a rounded shape Sri Lankan snack made of deep-fried dhal – to restaurants serving rice and curry.

Usually, most travellers visit Pettah, the bustling shopping area, Galle face area and cinnamon garden during the Colombo city tour. However, most travellers fail to dip into the seaside, less crowded part of Colombo, known as marine drive, where many dozens of seafood restaurants are lined up. Many modern hotels have set up their business on the marine drive in the recent past by utilizing the panoramic view of the Indian Ocean. It makes a pleasant stay if you need to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, and is a spot for an evening chat among friends, beach stroll and family outing.

Pettah

Pettah is an Oceanfront quarter of the city, which was the control room of British colonial rulers, during the British rule in Sri Lanka. The British occupation of the island ceased in 1948, but the presence of colonial rulers is very much intact with dozens of British styles colonial buildings. Queen Victoria hospital, Cargill building and many other colonial buildings are still in use, apart from the commercial benefits they add beauty to the city and colonial charm.

Beira lake and Gangarama temple

On the bank of Beira Lake sits the Ganagrama temple, which is one of the most beautiful temples in Colombo and a place to see a large number of Buddhist paintings and Buddha statues, don’t forget to drop into the temple museum, which exhibits a large number precious and rare artefacts.

At hulfsdorf, the highest point of Colombo sits the Dutch-built Wolvendaal church, which is still in very good shape and still in daily use. This is one of the imposing structures in Colombo that remains from the glory days of the Portuguese era. Visit the church on a weekend morning, when you can join local devotees and explore the church.

Jetawanarama stupa is one of the most ancient constructions in Sri Lanka. Venturing on a cultural drainage tour such as 4 days Sri Lanka cultural tour is the best way to see Jatawanaram and other important monuments in Anuradhapura.

Cultural triangle: Best for ruins in Sri Lanka tour itinerary

The sleeping Buddha of Galvihara is 14 meters in length and the nearby standing Buddha is 7 meters in height, while the meditating Buddha next to the standing Buddha is 4 meters and sitting in the meditating posture. The face of Buddha is beatific, the earlaps of Buddha dangling almost to the shoulders.

Visiting Buddhist temples

A group of devotees enter the open temple, which has only a modern roof and kneels before the Buddha statues. Few of them light the incense sticks and bend low to the ground in prayer. Some of the devotees place flowers in proper order on the altar and fill the entire temple with a scent.

Visiting Polonnaruwa Gal vihara

A legions of pilgrims visit Polonnaruwa, Galvihara, which is a part of most Sri Lanka travel itineraries due to its historical and religious importance. Galvihara temple, dating back to the 11th century is located within the UNESCO world heritage site of Polonnaruwa. Polonnaruwa is a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists and it includes in most Buddhist tours in Sri Lanka.

What to see in Polonnaruwa?

The site is a part of the old city of Polonnaruwa, set amidst a jungle of historical buildings that is dating back many thousands of years, most of them are partly or completely destroyed by the wrath of harsh weather and lack of maintenance. 

Heyday of Polonnaruwa

Some are vandalized by foreign invaders in the past. But the hundreds of ruined temples, palaces, ponds, and many other buildings that are scattered in Polonnaruwa testify to its former glories. From the 11th to 13th centuries, Polonnaruwa was the capital city of Sri Lanka – and the architectural, engineering and cultural achievements made during the Polonnaruwa period continue to resonate today.

Dharmasena Mudiyanse, a local traveller came to see the gal vihara with his family, explaining that people are coming to see the temple and worship the Buddha. “There are many other temples, where you can worship Buddha but Galvihara is unique in many ways, it is a historical temple, it has stone-hued gigantic Buddha statues that you rarely find in other temples,” says Dharmasena.  “Sri Lankan people adore this place,” he says.  “It is a reason to be proud of, to have so precisely carved gigantic rock-cut Buddha statues; it is not easy to make such masterpieces. After all, they did not have the technology that we have today” says Dharmasena.

Sigiriya rock

Iconic tourist attraction Sigiriya

Sigiriya rock fortress is another important tourist hotspot in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka and part of almost every Sri Lanka tour itinerary. Sigiriya rock fortress is much older than Polonnaruwa and dates back to the 5th century AD. Sigiriya is one of the most visited historical sites on the island and a UNESCO world heritage site, featuring rich engineering skills, water management techniques and artistic capabilities of ancient engineers and artisans.

Tour of Cultural triangle Sri Lanka

The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka is consisting of 5 major UNESCO world heritage sites namely Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy. Sri Lankan people are proud of its existence, it provides much-needed evidence to prove the history of Sri Lanka, and that they have managed to protect more than 2000 years of the heritage of Sri Lanka.

Most Sri Lankans believe that the period from the 3rd century BC to 1505 AD (the beginning of the colonial era) was the pinnacle of Sri Lankan culture and history. Sri Lankan people gather in a cultural triangle to witness ancient marvels of ancient Sri Lanka in the form of Palaces, temples, lakes, statues, paintings, sculptures, gardens and an advanced water management system. Ancient people of Sri Lanka not only built palaces and temples, but they also invented rounded letters in the Sinhalese written language.

The dominance of old cities gently diminished over the centuries, as people moved to the interior of the country from the north-central province of Sri Lanka mainly due to the unceasing foreign invasions, and the jungle began to reclaim the site. The cultural triangle was totally forgotten until the early 18s when British colonial historians turn their attention to the cities and the process of restoration began

The contrast between historical cities and Colombo could not be greater: instead of crowded roads and beeping, buzzing tuk-tuks, a handful of cyclists ride past, and beautiful gardens with flowering plants that gently sway with the wind against a backdrop of stupas.

The imposing nine-storied brazen palace of Anuradhapura, with thousands of rooms for monks, was lavishly decorated with intricate carvings, gems studded walls and gold plates. “Cultural triangle is now a laid-back city, where solitary and peace reign,” says Dharmasena. “I think this feeling remains in our mind, deep down, no matter how big or busy the country gets.”

Best of Hill country in your Sri Lanka tour itinerary with Ella

Ella, once well known as the backpacker’s paradise in the mountains has been transformed into a popular holiday destination in the mountains. Five out of every ten travellers of Sri Lanka ask to add Ella on their Sri Lanka tour itinerary now. It was popular as a cheap holiday destination but has had a change of heart. Luxurious hotels, cosy restaurants and cafes, clothing shops, and wellness retreats are popping up all over the hilly resort, inspired by the large extent of forest cover, mountains, waterfalls, tea plantations and trekking sites.

Visiting Ella on the Sri Lanka tour itinerary

As the number of travellers increases in Ella in search of alternative experiences combined with exposure to nature, it is highly possible to encounter travellers that make jungle treks, rain forest explorations, waterfall abseiling, mountaineering and rock climbing instead of basking in the sun.

Sri Lanka mountains

What to do in Ella?

The best place to start your day tour of Ella is the nine-arch bridge, a structure that stands in a valley connecting two mountains. The history of the bridge goes back to the British colonial era. Nine arch bridge is located in Demodara between the railway stations of Demodara and Ella. It had become a tourist hotspot over the last few decades and has seen a sharp increase in visitors to the site due to the bridge’s architectural ingenuity and the natural beauty of the surrounding hillsides.

Hiking/Trekking Ella

Make a hike to the mini Adams peak that sits a few kilometres away from the city centre, the green-capped mountain is the highest point in Ella and provides a breathtakingly, bird’s eye view over the Ella gap. The hike takes place through the beautiful tea plantations and forested areas.

The duration of the hike is a little less than an hour and the hike can be a little bit tiring. However the breathtaking scenery from the mountain is unbelievable and it is the most valuable reward for anyone, who undertakes this arduous journey.

Ella has grown exponentially, and much of its laid-back vibe is diminished over the last few years, as the tourist traffic considerably increased. Tourism is a major industry in Ella and large numbers of families live in it. Most families in Ella now offer homestays, so that they can earn extra cash, while tourists can experience the local life with them, or go trekking in the Ella gap.

Visiting Sinharaja rain forest on Sri Lanka tour itinerary

The trees and plants of the Sinharaja rain forest sit in three different layers, bush, canopy and upper canopy. The two layers of the canopy and upper canopy rise up to 100-150 feet above the ground and this thick green cover in the sky block every spec of sunlight, as you walk in the jungle it feels like being in an old cathedral, which is very gloomy, and silent.

Importance of Sinharja rainforest

This is a jungle country, deep in the tropics of the western province, and every step on the trail that winds through the jungle is a novel experience with a cool compress of sudden downfall. A cool consolation is an extraordinary experience: the primaeval rain forest of Sinharaja, which rises and falls with mountain peaks capped by a thick forest that stand sheer and abrupt against the sky.

Sinharaja rain forest is considered to be the oldest patch of forests in Asia, dating back to 180 million years, its roots first had the grip of the Gondwana supercontinent and existed more than 180 million years ago. This virgin Jungle is protected with the emblem of a UNESCO world heritage site, unaltered by human hand.

The topography of the thick jungle canopy, the evolutionary contest between the trees rising to the empty space in search of sunlight, is solely in the hand of nature. As the trail continues through the wilderness, there is a feeling that this is how the world must have been looked before the origin of humans. Everything is supersized-giant tree trunks that are many meters in diameter and the tree canopy spreads over a large area that can easily cover semi-detached houses.

What to see in the Sinharaja rainforest

Sinharaja pulsated with life, from the insect-eating plants with a bottle-shaped sack, that digest small insects to the “shy plants” who snap their small leaves shut when disturbed by touch, water or even with the wind, not to mention the colourful wild-cock, deer, mongoose, elephants, leopards, and millions of amphibians and insects. As dusk approaches, the big players in the insect world such as the black-winged second beetle join in the chorus, and the pitch rises to that of an ear-shattering fire alarm or an industrial drill.

Hikkaduwa Beach

Including Hikkaduwa beach on the Sri Lanka trip itinerary

Slung along the Indian Ocean on the west coast of Sri Lanka, 90 km south of Colombo, the easy-going seafront fishing village is the cradle Sri Lankan tourism industry, where a large number of backpackers gather in the early days. Hikkaduwa is a popular day outing place in Sri Lanka and attracts a large number of travellers. However, Hikkaduwa is a fully-fledged beach holiday destination now and offers not only affordable beach holidays but also luxurious beach holidays for wealthy guests.

Hikkaduwa is included in the Sri Lanka tour itinerary as a place for a calm and quiet beach holiday, while some travellers visit Hikkaduwa on a day trip to Galle. It is conveniently located on the Galle-Colombo main highway, between Bentota and Galle.

This hippy hangout provides the largest concentration of dining possibilities for travellers in Sri Lanka, with everything from a food cart selling spicy wade (deep-fried dhal) to a beach restaurant that offers seafood specialities.

Sample delicious seafood on your Sri Lanka tour itinerary

Other than the sun, sea and sand, Hikkaduwa is also a very popular place for authentic seafood, hundreds of beach restaurants that sit along the beach offer mouthwatering, delicious, fresh seafood for its visitors and some of them even offer cooking classes. Try a cooking class session and learn the art of making delicious tuna fish curry in the Sri Lankan way.

The most spacious beachfront properties are occupied by star-class hotels and serve affluent customers. But, many of the accommodations in Hikkaduwa are family-run guesthouses, bungalows and rent rooms, near the beach, most of them do not offer sea view accommodation, but the sea is only a few meters away from the rooms. Hikkaduwa still has a narrow stretch of empty beach, where a large number of sun-worshippers concentrated, while some others stroll the seashore and enjoy the sound of the waves.

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Why you should book a Sri Lanka tour itinerary with Seerendiopity Tours?

Seerendipity tour is an entirely locally owned travel company with a head office in Colombo. The highly experienced local staff is a key strength of Seerendipity tours and they can plan your dream holiday to Sri Lanka.

Best price for your Sri Lanka vacation packages

When you book a tour with us, you directly book the tour with the local company, which means there are no middlemen and therefore you can guarantee the best price. Simply get in touch with us and let us know when you travel and what you like to see.

Plan your best Sri Lanka vacation packages with experts

Our staff makes a personalized program for you, which you can change until you find the best package for you. You can also browse our existing tour packages for inspiration; all our ready-made tour packages are customizable and can be tailored to meet all your expectations. Write to us at admin@seerendipitytours.com, Tel 0094-77-440977, WhatsApp 0094-77-4440977

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