Highlights

  1. Marvelling at Dambulla’s exquisite cave temples
  2. Climbing to the summit of Sigiriya’s rock fortress
  3. Travelling the world’s most beautiful train journey
  4. Relaxing on the palm-fringed shores of Tangalla
  5. Staying Sri Lanka’s finest guesthouses and homestays

Day 1: Arrive in Negombo

After landing at Bandaranaike International Airport, make the short journey to the seaside town of Negombo, where you’ll check in to The Icebear Guesthouse: a charming beachside property with a huge tropical garden.

Day 2: Negombo to Inamaluwa

Transfer north-west to Inamaluwa, a modest settlement roughly equidistant between Sigiriya and Dambulla. Later, climb to the summit of the former, taking in its magnificent ruins and frescoes en route. Overnight at Hotel Eden Garden.

Day 3: Inamaluwa

Explore the nearby Royal Rock Temple at Dambulla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features approximately 150 representations of the Buddha. The rest of the day is spent at leisure. Overnight at Hotel Eden Garden.

Day 4: Inamaluwa to Kandy

Travel south to Kandy, stopping off at Matale’s Aluvihare Rock Temple along the way. The rest of the day is spent at leisure at River Grove Villa: a delightful homestay to the north of Sri Lanka’s second city, set beside the winding Mahaweli River.

Day 5: Kandy

Begin today by visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which, as its name suggests, holds one of the Buddha’s teeth. Later, visit Peradeniya’s 147-acre Royal Botanical Gardens – once exclusively the preserve of Kandy’s royalty. Overnight at River Grove Villa.

Day 6: Kandy to Ella

Board the train to Ella for what’s considered one of the world’s most beautiful railway journeys. On arrival in the Central Highlands transfer to the family-run Zion View Guest House, which just so happens to offer stunning views of Ella Gap.

Day 7: Ella

Today’s activities are entirely up to you. Perhaps take a trek to Adam’s Peak, also known as ‘butterfly mountain’, or spend time admiring the gushing Ravana Falls. No visit to Ella would be complete, though, without visiting one of the nearby tea estates. Overnight at Zion View Guest House.

Day 8: Ella to Tissamaharama

Head south-west to Tissamaharama, stopping off at the country’s highest rock-cut Buddha statue at Buduruwagala en route. The next two nights are spent at the guesthouse-style Hibiscus Garden Hotel, which is perfectly positioned for exploring ‘Tissa’s’ heritage and wildlife attractions.

Day 9: Tissamaharama

Begin this morning by taking a safari at the nearby Yala National Park. Choose to spend the rest of the day at leisure or by discovering Tissa, the ancient capital of the Sinhalese Ruhuna Kingdom, from its Buddist dagobas to the artificial Tissa Wewa lake. Overnight at Hibiscus Garden Hotel.

Day 10: Tissamaharama to Tangalla

Journey along the south coast to Tangalla, one of Sri Lanka’s prettiest fishing villages and beach destinations. After checking in to the eco-friendly Mangrove Chalets, the rest of the day is naturally spent at leisure, glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice in hand.

Day 11: Tangalla

What you do today is entirely down to you. If you can tear yourself away from the beach then maybe a visit to Rekawa’s Turtle Conservation Project, a few kilometres east along the coast, is in order. Overnight at Mangrove Chalets.

Day 12: Tangalla

Another day on the south coast spent at leisure. While beach bums should stay exactly where they are, the adventurous should consider a visit to Mirissa for a whale-watching excursion or watersports session. Overnight at Mangrove Chalets.

Day 13: Tangalla to Galle

Venture further along the coast to Galle, where you’ll check in to Fortaleza, a refurbished 200-year-old Dutch colonial property, for a two-night stay. Spend the rest of the day roaming the ramparts and taking in sights like Galle’s famous lighthouse.

Day 14: Galle

Your final full day in Sri Lanka is spent at leisure exploring Galle, which manages to blend its centuries-old history with a charmingly bohemian atmosphere thanks to its narrow streets’ numerous boutiques, cafes and art galleries. Overnight at Fortaleza.

Day 15: Galle

Say goodbye to the south coast before proceeding to Bandaranaike International Airport for your return flight home.

Activities to consider

  • Taking a boat ride along Negombo’s centuries-old canals
  • An excursion to Pidurangala Rock with a naturalist
  • Various trekking excursions from Ella
  • Visiting Rekawa’s Turtle Conservation Project
  • Going in search of blue whales from Mirissa harbour
  • Sailing, fishing, sea kayaking or snorkelling from Mirissa

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