Sri Lanka has become a bigger and bigger destination for travelers. For a good reason if you ask us. The country is stunning and there is something for you to do – whether you like history, culture, nature or beautiful beaches. The perfect travel itinerary for Sri Lanka consists of all these things.
3 weeks is the most ideal length for a route in Sri Lanka. Thereby you have the opportunity to experience the biggest sights, the hidden gems and enjoy the weather and incredible beaches.
It’s relatively easy to travel from A to B in Sri Lanka. But it can be a time-consuming process. So keep that in mind when planning your Sri Lanka trip.
Below you can read our complete 3-week travel itinerary for Sri Lanka. As well as a few suggestions, if you have more time in Sri Lanka or want to readjust the travel itinerary.
Day 1 – 2: Colombo
Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka. It’s not the city closest to the airport but it’s a good first stop when in Sri Lanka. With 1 full day in Colombo, you have the opportunity to see the sites, do some shopping or just relax if you are jetlagged.
Colombo to Kandy
Going to Kandy from Colombo you have a few options: bus, train, or taxi.
We would recommend the train as the train routes in Sri Lanka are some of the most beautiful ones in the world.
Day 3 – 5: Kandy
Kandy is the second-largest city in Sri Lanka. In this city, you get to experience the Sri Lankan culture at close hand as well as some extraordinary sights. Temples, Buddha, Sri Lankan dance, and botanical garden – you name it. This is all something you can see when in Kandy.
When in Kandy a must-do is a day trip to Sigiriya Lion Rock. It’s 1 of the 8 Unesco World Heritage sights in Sri Lanka – And when you experience it you understand why. Therefore, it’s one of the things you must-do when in Kandy.
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
The primary way of traveling from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is by train. And we would definitely recommend this trip, as it’s one you can’t miss. The scenery is beautiful and the diversity in the plant growth is quite amazing. Another plus is that you can hang out of the doors and windows during the train ride.
Day 6 – 7: Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is a small town known as Little England. A reason for a stay here should be to see the tea plantations or Horton Plains National Park. Especially Horton Plains is a must when visiting Sri Lanka. It’s an amazing park with beautiful nature and quietness you can’t experience anywhere else in the country. It’s definitely a must-do if you ask us but if you’re not that big of a nature-lover you may like some of our suggestions further down.
Nuwara Eliya to Ella
Going from Nuwara Eliya to Ella you should take the train. We would recommend you to buy and plan all your train trips in Colombo. Thereby you will have all your tickets, as well as sorted everything out so you don’t have to think about these things during your 3-week route in Sri Lanka.
Day 8 – 11: Ella
When you arrive in Ella you will be surrounded by nature. You will find beautiful waterfalls, high peaks, vantage points, and the incredible Nine Arches Bridge. So, don’t worry you won’t have any problems finding something to do when in Ella. Even if you have some extra days they won’t be wasted in this breathtaking nature and fascinating sights.
Ella to Udawalawe
The best way of traveling to Udawalawe is by car. You can either hire a private chauffeur or a taxi. We arranged transportation with our hotel in Udawalawe, which was quite easy and comfortable after a lot of train rides.
Day 12 – 13: Udawalawe or Yala
When you travel to Sri Lanka you should not cheat yourself from a visit to one of the 2 popular national parks. We went to Udawalawe National Park and were very pleased with the safari. The park is not as big as Yala National Park but there should be more elephants. And if you are lucky (most people are) you will see a lot of different animals.
Though you should know that Yala is the park where you have the biggest chance to see leopards. We didn’t visit the park because our time was limited, but hopefully we will get the chance to come back.
No matter which national park you decide to visit it will be an incredible experience to be so close to the wild animals. If you ask us and have the money for it, you should visit both parks – because going on safari is just amazing.
Udawalawe to Mirissa
Like our trip to Udawalawe, we arranged transportation with our hotel to our next stop in Mirissa.
Day 13 – 15: Mirissa
After days filled with amazing nature, wild animals, and culture kicks it’s time to relax. The perfect place to relax is in Mirissa. Here you find nice beaches and delicious restaurants, as well as beautiful sunsets.
If you like to go snorkeling we would recommend a day trip to Hikkaduwa. This is another town where you can experience nice beaches, beautiful coral reefs, and wild turtles. A must on your Sri Lanka route if you ask us.
Mirissa to Galle Fort
The trip from Mirissa to Galle Fort is the easiest to do by car. So agree with your hotel to get transportation.
Day 16 – 18: Galle Fort
In the 18th century, the Dutch built their headquarters; Galle Fort. These beautiful buildings still stand and have been made part of Unesco’s World Heritage. Today the old buildings have been rebuilt into modern cafés, shops, and galleries.
The atmosphere in the Fort and the cozy streets is a must-do when in Sri Lanka. The fort is filled with history, but if you like shopping or an incredible sunset this is also something you can find here.
If your time is limited you can take a day-trip to Galle Fort. Because one thing is sure – You can’t miss the amazing Galle Fort in Sri Lanka.
Galle Fort to Negombo
Going to Negombo you should arrange transportation with your hotel.
Day 19 – 20: Negombo
Negombo is a relaxed city compared to Colombo. You should though be ready for the city vibe when arriving from quiet Galle Fort. The city is close to the airport so it’s a good way to be close and still relax before traveling.
Day 21: Journey home
The last day is reserved for your journey home – or to another incredible country if you are lucky.
If you want to extend your 3-week travel itinerary in Sri Lanka you can find some suggestions below.
Trincomalee is a small town on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. Here you find some of the best and most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka. The town is surrounded by hills, animals, and rock formations.
Jaffna is in the Northern part of Sri Lanka. The town opened its doors for tourism in 2009 after the civil war. It’s a town which has experienced a lot of influence from India, which you will see on your walks and taste in food.
Arugam Bay is known as a surfers paradise. If you plan on going on Safari in one of the National Parks a visit to Arugam Bay can be a good idea. Yala National Park is especially close.
Unawatuna is another town with beautiful beaches. If you want some extra time to relax, eat delicious food, and see more sites, Unawatuna is a good choice for you. But if your time is limited it’s also possible to visit Unawatuna on a day trip.