map

11 POPULAR SRI LANKA TRAVEL ROUTES

Table of Contents

We carefully scratched the annal of Sri Lanka trips and formulated this blog post with 11 best Sri Lanka travel route/s for holiday trips in Sri Lanka. If you are considering to have a Sri Lanka tour, one or several options below can be considered as Sri Lanka route/s for your trip

HOW TO FIND THE BEST SRI LANKA TRAVEL ROUTE?

Finding the best Sri Lanka travel route can be a daunting task for most travellers, who wish to have a memorable trip of Sri Lanka, especially for the foreigners. A large number of travellers write us emails and inquire about the best Sri Lanka travel route.

Due to the ever-increasing number of questions such as what is the best travel route in Sri Lanka? and what is the best trip to Sri Lanka? we thought of writing this article elaborating several popular travel routes of Sri Lanka, that you least hit once in the lifetime.

Benefits of having the best travel route for Sri Lanka trip

Choosing the best travel route is a critical factor for the success of your Sri Lanka tour. It is very important, especially if it a short trip such as 1 day Sri Lanka trip or 2 days Sri Lanka tour. None of us likes to waste time on travelling and always try to reduce the time of travelling to spend more time sightseeing and leisure.

Having a short trip means you have only very limited time for sightseeing and saving time on travelling is very important. Even if it is a multi-day Sri Lanka trip such as 5 days Sri Lanka tour or a 1 week Sri Lanka trip, reduce the time on the road means you can add many other interesting places that are not already included in your trip.

What are the 11 Popular Sri Lanka travel routes?

We have already written a detailed blog post on Sri Lanka trips on a previous occasion. We carefully scratched the annal of Sri Lanka trips and formulated this blog post with 11 best Sri Lanka travel routes for holiday trips in Sri Lanka. If you are considering to have a Sri Lanka tour, one or several options below can be considered as the route/s for your trip. Most of these routes provide an easy gateway to many popular one day trip places in Sri Lanka.

  1. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Kataragama. …
  2. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Matara – Expressway …
  3. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Nuwara Eliya via Kitulgala. …
  4. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Arugam Bay via Kandy. …
  5. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Anuradhapura via Puttalam. …
  6. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Trincomalee via Dambulla. …
  7. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Kandy via Kegalle. …
  8. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Rathnapura. …
  9. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Bandarawela via Haputale. …
  10. Sri Lanka travel route Nuwara Eliya to Bentota via Kithulagla. …
  11. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Sigiriya via Kurunegala. …

1. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo-Kataragama:

The beauty of this coastal travel route from Colombo to Kataragama cannot be convinced by words. It would definitely fun to cruise along the pristine beaches of west and southern Sri Lanka.

This is one of the most popular travel routes on the island. The travel route is very popular among the local travellers as well as foreign travellers as it leads to many dozens of interesting places.

There are many places on this route that you can’t simply ignore. So plan your tour with several hours more for the stops. This is a very popular route among the foreign travellers because it brings them to some of the best beach resorts in the island such as Bentota beach, Kalutara, Galle, Hikkaduwa and many other beach resort in Southern Sri Lanka.

Using the normal road on this travel route

The same route from Colombo to Kataragama can be used to reach south coast beaches such as Matara, Tangalle and Hambantota. Now the travellers can reach south coast beach resorts from the Colombo international airport via the southern expressway and avoid Colombo city, which definitely save a lot of time for travellers.

Using the southern expressway on this route

With the opening of the southern expressway, the travel time between south coast beaches and Colombo is reduced by around 3 hours. Being able to avoid heavy traffic in Colombo enables travellers to save a lot of time on their trip to the south coast. However, if you need to visit sightseeing places from Colombo to Kataragama you need to drive on the usual coastal road.

Road Trip Condition:: the distance of the route from Colombo city tour to Kataragama is 284 km, it lies very close to the sea, and it has an average altitude between 1-3 meters above sea level, throughout the trip.

There are many attractions to stop along the way from Colombo to Kataragama and beaches are the main highlight on this road trip, all the way from the beginning of the trip to the end. The road is open throughout the year and the road is in very good condition too. The journey takes about 2 days with stops for sightseeing and activities. Best time to visit from November to April.

Places to stop on the Sri Lanka travel route from Colombo to Kataragama:

  • Kalutara: Gamgatilaka temple, Kalido beach
  • Beruwala: Kachchimale mosque
  • Bentota: Bentota beach, water sport centre
  • Balapitiya: Madu river safari, sea turtle farm
  • Hikkaduwa: Hikkaduwa beach, Hikkaduwa marine sanctuary, Mask Museum, Moonstone mines
  • Galle: Galle fortress
  • Unawatuna: Unawatuna beach, stilt fisherman
  • Weligama: Weligama beach, Kustarajagala temple
  • Matara: Polhena beach, whale and dolphin watching, blowhole, the star fort
  • Kataragama: Yala wildlife reserve, Kataragama temple

Visit 3 tourist hotspots on the travel route from Bentota to Kandy. Peradeniya botanical garden, pinnawala elephant orphanage and tooth relic temple, Tea gardens in one day from USD 35

Tea Gardens
40 Places to see in Sri Lanka, Places to visit in Sri Lanka, important attractions Sri Lanka, best places to visit in sri lanka, places to go in sri lanka
Temple of the tooth relic
3 Days In Sri Lanka

2. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Matara – Expressway:

This is a very convenient weekend gateway from Colombo, a road trip of Sri Lanka to Matara is an activity that most local residents fond of, which provides a perfect setting for a peaceful beach tour of Sri Lanka. Don’t forget to make a whale and dolphin watching in Mirissa and beach hopping in the beaches of Mirissa. The picturesque palm-fringed beaches and shallow torque water of the Indian ocean calming those jittery nerves.

Drop into a beach restaurant and sample a fresh seafood dish, while enjoying the perfect sunset on the horizon. So if you are near Colombo or somewhere in the west coast pack your self and set off on this memorable journey. Road Trip Condition:

The total distance of the expressway from Colombo to Matara is 158 km and time taken for the drive 2 hours (time required to reach the expressway entrance is not calculated). Two-wheelers are not allowed on the expressway and the maximum speed that can be maintained is 100 km per hours. Best time to visit from November to April.

Some of the places to stop on this Sri Lanka travel route are:

  • Matara: Star Fort, Hummany/natural fountain, Whale watching in Mirissa

3. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Nuwara Eliya via Kitulgala:

A perfect travel route for Sri Lanka 3 days tour through the tea country. The graceful blend of beautifully landscaped tea garden of Sri Lanka’s hill country and cascading waterfalls of perennial waterways in Nuwara Eliya are sights to behold.

The newcomers in the city are taken by surprise by its sheer beauty. When the trip is extended from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy, the travellers are completely mystified by the breathtaking scenery along the way.

The winding roads, high elevation and healing climate of the hills make it an amazing road tour of Sri Lanka and will etch a permanent spot in your heart for an eternity.

You traverse the mountain terrain and it is a challenging ride, need your best attention, but the beauty of this Sri Lanka trip hidden uncertainty of the terrain. If you drive to Nuwara Eliya from the airport or from Colombo this is the most convenient way of reaching your destination. The drive is long, however, it is very enjoyable as you drive along with the lush green vegetation.

Road trip conditions: The road spans 176 km through the mountains. A sharp increase of elevation of the road starts in Awissawella and it ends at an altitude of 1800 meters above sea level in Nuwara Eliya. The journey will take around 1 day with sightseeing stops. The best time to visit from November to April.

water rafting kitulgala, Sri Lanka Tour Deals, sri lanka holiday deals, sri lanka discounted tours, sri lanka special offers
water rafting kitulgala
  • Highlights-Water rafting, Boat tour, Rainforest trek, Visit temples, Jeep safari
  • Duration-4 Days
  • Places- Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Kithulgala, Tooth relic temple, Sinharaja forest, Udawalawe national park, Mirissa, Galle Fort, Bentota
  • Start/End-Colombo
  • Transport-Private vehicle
  • Accommodation 3-star hotel
  • Meals-Breakfast and Dinner
  • Availability-From Nov 2019 to Nov 2021

Special Price US$ 550, save $125, Regular Price US$675

Some of the places to stop on this Sri Lanka travel route are:

  • Kitulgala: Adventure sports centre for water rafting, trekking, bird watching etc
  • Talawakele: Devon fall, St.clairs waterfall
  • Nanuoya: Horton plains national park
  • Nuwara Eliya: Ambewela farm, strawberry farm, Seetha Amman temple, Haggala gardens
Sri Lanka travel route

4. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Arugam Bay via Kandy

This is one of the best roads on the island at present, and well worth your time. You start the journey on the west coast and end the tour on the east coast of Sri Lanka, at the widest point of the country.

The journey will take around 8 hours without any stops, so calculate the time required for the tour with all the stops for sightseeing and other breaks along the way. The trip to Arugambe from Colombo is one of the most popular activity among the road trip enthusiasts in Sri Lanka. If you have good driving stamina, you will be able to reach Arugam Bay within 2 days with visits to important tourist attractions.

This will be a very picturesque and experience-rich road trip of Sri Lanka, you will encounter mountains, escapements, patches of forests, beaches and all other geographical conditions available on the island.

This route from Kandy to Arugambe via Bibile is one of the most beautiful trips through forests in Sri Lanka, that you will ever take.  Plan your road trip on a motorbike, so that you can enjoy the refreshing, unpolluted air in this greenish area.

Road trip conditions: The road spans 329 km through the central mountain range. You start the journey at lower elevated areas in the west coast and ends the journey at the east coast beaches, while halfway down the track you will touch the point, which is 500 meters above sea level.

  • Highlights- Yala national park, Galle fort, pinnawala elephant orphanage, Spice garden, Tooth relic temple, Tea factory and plantation, Bentota beach, Galle, Madu River Estuary, Sea Turtle Conservation Center
  • Duration-8 Days
    Places- Yala, Galle, Kandy, Mirissa, Bentota, Colombo, Nuwara Eliya
  • Start/End-Colombo
  • Transport-Private vehicle
  • Accommodation 4-star hotel
  • Meals-Breakfast and Dinner

Special Price US$ 690, save $100, Regular Price US$790

Some of the places to stop on this Sri Lanka travel route are:

  • Kandy: tooth relic temple, Peradeniya botanical garden
  • Kegalle: Pinnawala elephant orphanage
  • Arugam bay: beach hopping

Visiting tooth relic temple: what you need to know

All visitors to these sacred places suppose to dress in a particular manner to uphold its religious value. There is a set of rules that every visitor of religious site observe while visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. If you are wondering what these rules are? Check this article “13 RULES TO OBSERVE WHILE VISITING SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TEMPLE, SRI LANKA TEMPLE DRESS CODE AND TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH DRESS CODE“.

5. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Anuradhapura via Puttalam

The travellers can’t put forward an awesome road trip of this nature along pristine beaches and through the untamed wilderness. This road trip will be a memorable experience due to the fascinating blend of wildlife, coastal, cultural and historical experience. So much in a one road trip! so, get prepared yourself and hit the road.

However, it is recommended to combine your trip on this route with a cultural triangle tour, so that you can see many interesting cities in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka such as Sigiriya.

This is a very picturesque Sri Lanka travel route through some of the least populated areas in the central province, you drive the large part of your trip through the wildlife reserve, there is a high possibility of spotting wild elephants as you travel from Puttalam to Saliyawewa.

Road trip conditions: The road spans 207 km along with north-west Sri Lanka and makes sharp turn inland at Puttalam. The journey takes around 4 hours. The moderate traffic can be experienced between Colombo and Puttalam and the road is empty after that. Be careful as you have to travel through the forested areas after Puttalam. It is best to avoid travelling at night on this Sri Lanka travel route due to the wild elephants.

  • Highlights-Sinharaja Rainforest, Udawattekele, Galway’s bird sanctuary, Horton plains, White water rafting, Udawalawe national park, Yala national park, waterfalls, Spice garden, tooth relic temple, tea factory and plantation, Bentota beach
  • Duration-5 Days
  • Start/End-Colombo
  • Transport-Private vehicle
  • Accommodation 4-star hotel
  • Meals-Breakfast and Dinner

Special Price US$ 530, save $80, Regular Price US$610

Some of the places to stop on this Sri Lanka travel route are:

visit Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka Buddhist tour

6. Sri Lanka tour from Colombo to Trincomalee via Dambulla

This is another popular Sri Lanka travel route to reach the east coast of Sri Lanka from Colombo, you avoid going through the central mountain range in this road trip and your destination is located more towards the North-east part of the island.

This is a popular road trip of Sri Lanka among the foreign travellers because of every year a large number of traveller heading to Trincomalee beaches in the month of July, August, September and October. This is one of the busiest roads in Sri Lanka and you have to pass many heavily populated cities such as Dambulla, Kurunegala.

Therefore, it will take around 6 hours to reach the east coast of Sri Lanka from Colombo on this route. You will travel through the highly forested area after Habarana, which is a part of Gal Oya national park.

There is a high possibility of encountering a family of the wild elephant as you traverse through the forest. The entire distance you have to cover is 268 km and it will take around 6 hours for this road trip of Sri Lanka.

The Essence of Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle- Kandy and Sigiriya Tour

Some of the places to stop on this Sri Lanka travel route is:

sigiriya rock Discovered in 18s

7. Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Kandy via Kegalle

By far this is the busiest Sri Lanka travel route and one of the most popular road trips of Sri Lanka, mainly due to the ending point of the route, which is Kandy. Kandy is one of the most popular UNESCO world heritage sites in the country and there are many dozens of interesting places to visit in Landy. Kandy is one of the most popular travel destinations in the mountains and harbours a large number of tourist attractions. It is believed that every Sri Lanka tour package should be included with Kandy.

Kandy is the cultural centre of Sri Lanka and the most popular holiday destination on the island. Kandy is the most important transport interchange in the central province and connects all corners of the country and important cities. Therefore most road leading to Kandy is very busy, especially the route From Colombo to Kandy.

You have to plan the road trip with the time you lose in the traffic. This Sri Lanka road trip to Kandy is something every traveller wishes to take, and it is an easy gateway from most parts of the country. The picturesque lush green foliage can be seen for the most part of the trip and this is a trip to relax and unwind you.

Road trip conditions: The distance you have to cover is 115 km. This Sri Lanka road trip requires a little bit longer than usual due to the mountain terrain, and the journey takes around 4 hours from Colombo to Kandy. This is one of the best road trips in Sri Lanka for photography, be careful, the battery of your camera will be drained, sooner than you expect.

Kandy One day tour from Colombo and Bentota

Some of the places to stop on this Sri Lanka travel route are:

  • Kegalle: To visit Pinnawala elephant orphanage
  • Mawanella: to visit Embekke Devala, Gadaladeniya
  • Pilimathalawa: Tea factory
  • Kelaniya: Kelaniya temple
  • Peradeniya: Royal botanical garden
  • Kandy: Temple of the tooth relic
Sri Lanka travel route Colombo to Rathnapura

8. Travel route Colombo to Rathnapura

This scenic road between Colombo and Ratnapura put most Sri Lanka western province road trips to shame; this main road is one of the most favourable among nature lovers. The Ratnapura itself is a city in the woods and claim for a part of the most valuable patch of forest on the country known as Sinharaja rain forest.

As you get nearer to Ratnapura the foliage gets denser and can see the canopy formed by the gigantic trees on either side of the road. Ratnapura is a major city with high rainfall on the island, and therefore coming often underwater, during the monsoon rain.

Check on the weather before you start with this Road trip. And plan your trip with at least 2 days of sightseeing in the area, here you get waterfalls, rainforest, trekking sites, museum, and many many more.

Road trip conditions: It will take around 2 hours to cover this short stretch of 75 km and makes an enjoyable road trip. There will be noteworthy traffic congestion at the beginning of the trip but it diminishes gradually as you drive towards Ratnapura and road become very much empty once you have done with the first half of the trip.

Adventure Lanka – Sri Lanka 5 Nights Tour

Some of the places to stop on this route are:

  • Rathnapura: Bopath Ella waterfall, saman Devala temple, Sinhraja, Sri pada

9. Sri Lanka travel route from Colombo to Bandarawela

Perfect Sri Lanka travel route for a Sri Lanka 2 days tour or a 3 days tour. Bandarawela is not a foreign word for any citizen of Sri Lanka and it is also very popular among foreign travellers, who are fascinated about healing climate and beautiful mountains. However, bandarawela is one of them off the beaten track tourist place in Sri Lanka for most foreign travellers.

Bandarawela is one of the most beautiful visits on the island with mountains, valleys, tea gardens, and patches of forests. Bandarawela also hides a large number of cascading waterfalls and some of them simply difficult to miss such as Diyaluma fall.

The most fascinating feature of Bandarawela is its healing climate, where the night temperature goes down the freezing point some times. During the day the temperature hovering around 25 degrees Celcius.

This route from Colombo to Bandarawela via Ratnapura is by far the easiest road to get there. One distinct feature of this off the beaten path Sri Lanka travel route is the lack of traffic compared to the other popular Sri Lanka route (Colombo-Kandy-Ella-Bandarawela) that leads to Bandarawela. The road is also in very good shape, means you can speed up, but be careful with the bends.

Much of the road goes through the countryside and you do encounter only a very few busy cities. You also drive along the picturesque mountains and valleys means to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. A large part of the drive takes place through the lush green vegetation dominated by Tea plantations. However, this upcountry road is narrow compared to most leading travel routes of Sri Lanka and get considerably steeper after Ratnapura.

Road trip conditions: The distance of the trip 190 km. The traffic moves swiftly at the beginning of the trip due to the lack of traffic but it gest slower as you get closer to your destination. And you have to maintain the speed due to the sharp curves. Duration of the journey would be around 5 hours. Very photogenic route with coconut plantations, patches of forests, Rubber plantations, mountains, waterfalls, streams and rivers.

Some of the places to stop on this route are:

  • Rathnapura: Visiting a gem museum, Sman Devala temple
  • Haputale: Tangamale forest reserve, Adisham bungalow
  • Bandarawela: Tea gardens, waterfalls
Sri Lanka water falls, sri lanka travel routes
Waterfalls

10. Sri Lanka travel route from Nuwara Eliya to Bentota

This travel route from Nuwara Eliya to Bentota rush through Sri Lanka’s upcountry and is one of the most beautiful Sri Lanka travels routes, it is very popular among locals as well as foreign travellers. Usually, this is the last leg of Sri Lankan multi-day trip that includes, cultural places in the triangle, Kandy, Tea country and beach. Tea country invariably means Nuwara Eliya, you head on to west or southern coast beaches on this route.

The route starting from Nuwara Eliya to Bentota is very beautiful and you will see only the lush green vegetation throughout the trip. Travel west-ward from Nuwara Eliya via Hatton and Thalawakele, you also come across Kitulgala on this route, which is the adventure playground of Sri Lanka. Here you get you to have the opportunities to do many adrenaline-pumping activities such as whitewater rafting, Kayaking, rainforest trekking, waterfalls abseiling…  

The trip on this route from Nuwara Eliya to Bentota lasts about 5 hours 3 minutes and you will drive 215 km.

Some of the places to visit on this Sri Lanka travel route are:

  • Hatton: Devon Fall, St.clairs fall, St.clairs Tea centre
  • Kitulgala: whitewater rafting, rainforest trekking and other adventure activities
Sri Lanka 5 days tour, Sri Lanka itinerary 5 days, 5 days sri lanka itinerary, places to visit in 5 days In Sri Lanka

11. Sri Lanka travel route from Colombo to Sigiriya

By far Sigiriya is the most visited historical monument on the island. this UNESCO world heritage site attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every day, especially during the peak holiday season in Sri Lanka.

A large number of foreign travellers book Sri Lanka one day trip from Colombo to Sigiriya and local tour operators like Seerendipity tours offers one day Sigiriya trip on a daily basis. Due to the popularity of Sigiriya as historical monuments, this is one of the most popular Sri Lanka travel routes among the travellers.

The trip to Sigiriya from Colombo mainly takes place via Kurunegala on Colombo-Polonnaruwa main highway, which is the best travel route to reach Sigiriya from Colombo. The road is in very good shape and less crowded except in major cities. This Sri Lanka travel route scratches the northern dry zone of Sri Lanka for the most part of its 175 km trip.

Usually, this is the first leg of Sri Lanka multiday tours because most tourists visit historical monuments lying in the northern plain at the start of their trip. The journey from Colombo to Sigiriya takes around 4-5 hours.

Few stops to make on this route are

If you wish to make any Sri Lanka road trip on an above mentioned Sri Lanka travel route, please do get in touch with seerendipity tours by sending an email to admin@seerendipitytours.com.