1. Watching Pinnawala’s elephants take a river bath
  2. Marvelling at the panoramic views from Sigiriya
  3. Riding the rails to the lush tea plantations of Hatton
  4. Exploring the old Dutch fort town of Galle
  5. Relaxing in Sri Lanka’s finest boutique properties

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo

Explore cosmopolitan Colombo at leisure, taking in the pretty Galle Face Green, the wonderful restaurants of the Old Dutch Hospital and the shops and stalls of Cross Streets. Overnight at Paradise Road Tintagel.

Day 2: Colombo to Dambulla

Visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, accompanying the animals to the river to watch their daily bathing routine. After a traditional Sri Lankan lunch, proceed to Dambulla. Overnight at Amaya Lake.

Day 3: Dambulla

Embark on a day trip to the ancient capital of Anuradhapura, an architectural treasure trove once at the centre of Buddhist civilisation, and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Overnight at Amaya Lake.

Day 4: Dambulla

Begin the next day trip by climbing the iconic rock fortress of Sigiriya before visiting the medieval city of Polonnaruwa. Later, proceed to a temple where monks will teach you more about Buddhism. Overnight at Amaya Lake.

Day 5: Dambulla to Kandy

Travel to Kandy, stopping off at Dambulla’s ancient cave complex en route. After marvelling at the frescoes a further stop is made at Matale Heritage Centre – a fascinating handicrafts complex. Overnight at The Kandy House.

Day 6: Kandy

Explore the lakeside city of Kandy, including the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens and the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic, said to hold one of the Buddha’s teeth. Overnight at The Kandy House.

Day 7: Kandy to Hatton

Board the train to Hatton for one of Sri Lanka’s most scenic rail journeys. At an altitude of 1,250 metres, you’ll explore tea estates in landscapes reminiscent of England’s rolling hills. Overnight at Ceylon Tea Trails.

Day 8: Hatton

Explore one of the working tea estates with a resident tea planter. See tea pickers at work – one of Sri Lanka’s defining images – before observing the refining process and, of course, plenty of tasting. Overnight at Ceylon Tea Trails.

Day 9: Hatton to Galle

Journey along the southern coast to the old Dutch fortified town of Galle. Once the domain of Marco Polo, spend the day wandering its cobbled streets, pretty boutiques and seafood cafes. Overnight at Galle Fort Hotel.

Day 10: Galle

Spend the day at leisure, perhaps walking Galle’s ramparts and photographing the lighthouse, or watching a game at the International Cricket Stadium. There’s also, of course, the call of the beach. Overnight at Galle Fort Hotel.

Day 11: Galle to Colombo

Venture north up the coast to Colombo, stopping off at Bentota for a beachside lunch en route. Your final evening in Sri Lanka is spent at leisure. Overnight at Paradise Road Tintagel.

Day 12: Colombo

Proceed to the airport for your return flight home.

Activities to consider

  • A 3-night beach extension in Bentota, Koggala, Habaraduwa, Hikkaduwa, Mirissa, Negombo, Tangalla, Talpe or Unawatuna
  • Dinner with a Sri Lankan historian at Colombo’s Gallery Café
  • Game drive through Minneriya National Park
  • Village cycle tour near Dambulla
  • Private viewing of the tooth relic in Kandy
  • Taking tea with a prominent Sri Lankan artist
  • Visiting the Foundation of Goodness, which has helped rebuild the tsunami-ravaged village of Seenigama
  • Exploring the Handunugoda Tea Estate, home of the famous Virgin White Tea
  • Learning about turtle conservation at the Kosgoda Hatchery
  • Discovering Mulkirigala’s seven rock temples
  • Roaming the Portuguese-built Matara Fort
  • Visiting a lace workshop
  • Seeing the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum

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