Ultimate Sri Lanka Itinerary 2 Weeks or Longer

If you're preparing your Sri Lanka itinerary 2 weeks is a good amount of time to see some highlights but 3 weeks in Sri Lanka will give you a bit more time to soak up the beach scene or do some hiking in the mountains. Here's a roundup of all the best places to visit in Sri Lanka with recommended time in each so you can put together you're own Sri Lanka itinerary as well as our recommendations for the best 2 and 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary. 

Beautiful little Sri Lanka may be the greenest country I've ever been to. But as well as the rolling hills of tea plantations and jungle this island also has stunning white-sand beaches, ancient temple ruins, gorgeous colonial towns and is affordable and relaxed to travel around. So here's everything you need to know about where to visit in Sri Lanka. 

views over the tea fields in Sri Lanka, a must-see in Sri Lanka

Basic Facts About Sri Lanka

Population: 20.3 million

Language: Sinhala, Tamil, English is widely spoken

Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee (LKR) €1 ≈ 191 LKR

Religion: Buddhism is the majority religion in Sri Lanka but there are also large populations of Hindus, Muslims and Christians. 


Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Peak travel season in Sri Lanka is between November and March but all year round there is good weather to be found. Between April and November weather on the East coast is better and the hill country may be very wet. Temperatures stay around 30°C the entire year and it is often very humid. 

Transport in Sri Lanka

public bus in Sri Lanka the cheapest way to get around Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is quite a small country for getting around but there are sometimes long distances to be covered. The train system works well and is very affordable. Tickets for the reserved seats often sell out a few weeks in advance and are only available through travel agencies and increased prices. The unreserved sections are busy but fine for shorter trips. 

If you want to book train tickets before your trip (including the famous Kandy to Ella train) head to 12Go Asia where you can get reserved tickets at decent prices without having to negotiate the ticket office.

Public buses cover most of the south and are regular and affordable. Purchase tickets from the closest bus station or ask your guesthouse to help.

Many people hire a driver to get around Sri Lanka and while this is a lot more expensive than public transport it is very convenient especially for a larger group. Expect to pay €60-100 per day or you can arrange transfers separately along the way. 


Accommodation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a huge range of affordable and good quality accommodation. For budget backpackers there are plenty of hostel choices in the main cities and beaches and prices start from around €5 per night. There are large hotels in the cities and a range of apartments and guesthouses on the coast and in the tea area. For an authentic experience you could also look at homestays in Sri Lanka.

In the map below blue dots are cities or towns, red are beaches and green are national parks. 

Best 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary

Colombo - 1 day

Dambulla and one part of the Cultural Triangle - 2 days

Kandy - 2 days

Ella - 2 days

Beach of your choice - 2 days

Galle - 1 day

National Park visit - 1 day

(plus travel days)

make sure the cultural triangle is part of the best sri lanka travel itinerary

Best 3 week Sri Lanka Itinerary

Colombo - 1 day

Dambulla and Cultural Triangle - 3 days

Jaffna - 2 days

Kandy - 2 days

Ella - 3 days

Beach or two of your choice - 4 days

National Park trip - 1 day

Galle - 2 days

plus travel days



colombo city is one of the best places to visit in sri lanka

Most trips to Sri Lanka will start and end in the capital city of Colombo. There's enough here to fill up a day or two of sightseeing if you need to recover from jetlag or have some spare time. But don't go out of your way to spend time here, it's busy, hot and there are far better places to visit in Sri Lanka.

Recommended time: 1- 2 days

Things to see and do: Fort area, Red Mosque, National Museum and surrounding park area

Where to Stay: Mid-range - YWCA Colombo

                         Budget - Colombo Downtown Monkey


Dambulla/Cultural Triangle

best itinerary for sri lanka travel annuradhapura

Dambulla makes a good base for visiting the sights of the cultural triangle. You can also stay at each place but if you plan to see them all in a short time frame, Dambulla is in a good location to get to each one as a day trip. 

Recommended time: 2-4 days (depending on how many sites you visit)

Things to see and do:

Dambulla - cave temple, spice garden tour, markets

Anuradhapura - ancient capital with a complex of temples and ruins to visit by tuk-tuk or cycle tour. 

Sigiriya - Ancient city ruins and rock fortress with stunning views.

*Tip* Climbing Pindurangala Rock is cheaper and than Lion’s Rock (fortress) and the views are just as beautiful!

Polonnaruwa - Ancient temple ruins. 

Where to Stay: Dambulla - New Peacock Resort

                         Anuradhapura - Treasure House Tourist Rest

                         Sigiriya - Amba Sewana Homestay

                         Polonnaruwa - River Nature Park



consider putting Jaffna on you Sri Lanka itinerary to see sights like this Hindu temple

Only recently safe for tourists after the civil war in Sri Lanka this is an off the beaten path option. It's location on the far northern tip of the island mean that few tourists make it there. Plenty of cultural sights, local life and coastal views make Jaffna an interesting addition to your Sri Lanka itinerary.

Recommended time: 2-3 days

Things to and see and do: Jaffna Fort, Jaffna Public Library, Fish Market, mineral springs, beaches and islands

Where to Stay: Mid-range - D'Villa Garden House

                         Budget - Yaarl Hostels



Beach in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka one of the top places to visit in Sri Lanka

Trincomalee is a port city and home to some beautiful beaches. Like many cities in Sri Lanka the buildings have a colonial influence and there is lots to be seen by simply wandering. The area is also popular for diving and whale watching. 

Recommended time: 1-2 days

Things to see and do: Whale watching, snorkeling, Kanniya Hot Springs, Koneswaram Temple, beaches.

Where to Stay: Mid-range - Lali Beach Villa

                         Budget - Trinco Water Sport



The kandy botanic gardens are one of the best attractions in Sri Lanka

Kandy is a bustling little city set among beautiful, green mountains. Most people pass through on their way higher into the mountains or back to Colombo but it's definitely worth stopping for a couple of days to see some of the sights before taking the iconic Kandy to Ella train journey which you can read all about here. 

Recommended time: 2-3 days

Things to do and see: Temple of the Tooth, Kandy Lake, Royal Botanical Gardens, Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue

Where to stay:

Mid-range - Amazingly friendly hosts, large clean rooms and the best breakfast we had on our trip! Book now -Cottage 99

Budget - Great place with a pool, free breakfast and cooked dinner on the rooftop most nights. Book now - Kandy Backpackers Hostel



train coming over the nine arch bridge in ella, sri lanka

Beautiful Ella is the jewel in Sri Lanka's crown and as a result has become very popular with tourists over the last few years. Nestled in the mountains with simple attractions such as waterfalls, hikes and views, Ella is a logical and worthwhile stop on the transition from north to south (or vice versa). Many people also stop off on the way to/from Hatton to climb Adam's Peak. 

Recommended time: 2-3 days

Things to do and see: Little Adam's Peak hike, Ella Rock hike, Ravana Falls, Nine Arches Bridge, visit a tea plantation (we recommend Amba Estate as an ethical choice) For more info about things to do in Ella check out this Ella Guide.

Where to stay: Mid-range - Namal's Great View Guesthouse

                         Budget - Sleep Cheap Ella



Sri Lanka itinerary Galle-min.JPG

Galle Fort is a beautiful little town with lots of gorgeous colonial buildings. Many of them were damaged during the 2004 tsunami but since Galle has been named a UNSECO heritage site there has been funding to restore the buildings to their former glory. Here you'll find lots of little cafes, restaurants and gift shops as you wander the streets. 

Recommended time: 1-2 days

Things to do: Galle Fort walls, Lighthouse, cricket stadium, National Museum, Historic Mansion Museum

Where to stay: Mid-range: Beach Haven Guesthouse

                         Budget: Pedlar's Inn Hostel


Beaches in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka itinerary Dikwella-min.jpg

Whether your a surfer or not you'll want to spend at least a couple of days on the stunning Sri Lankan coast. This article will help you decide which beach is right for your interests and where it fits in your Sri Lanka itinerary - Best Beaches in Sri Lanka


National Parks in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka itinerary national park-min.jpg

If you're a nature and animal lover make sure to schedule a visit to one of the many national parks in Sri Lanka. Most of them are reachable in a day trip from other areas of Sri Lanka. Make sure you check the season and where the animals are likely to be. We went on a very disappointing safari because we didn't do our research and the elephants had already moved south. Have a read about the different options and work out which one (or more) fits with your timing and route - Best National Parks in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has so much to see and do and with everything on one compact little island it's very easy to make the most of your two or three weeks in Sri Lanka.

Planning a trip to Sri Lanka? Read about the best places to visit in Sri Lanka with recommended time in each so you can put together you're own Sri Lanka itinerary! #srilanka #srilankaitinerary #itinerary #asia #travel #beaches #backpacking

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