My Complete 10-Day Sri Lanka Itinerary

Sri Lanka, although a relatively small island country, has an incredible amount to see! You could easily spend weeks to months exploring this country and you would have plenty to do. Given my short 10 days I had allocated to visit Sri Lanka, I created an itinerary that would allow me to maximize the number of locations on this trip.

 

After researching other itineraries on Pinterest and leveraging useful information provided by several business school classmates, I created my own 10-day mini loop around the country starting from the west coast to central Sri Lanka, down to the south and back up the entire west coast. While I didn't see everything that this country has to offer, I definitely packed in a ton of different cities and landscapes in just ten days! 

 

Below you'll find my 10-day Sri Lanka itinerary (be sure to pin it on your Pinterest board and easily leverage it when you’re ready to plan your Sri Lanka trip). Stay tuned for my full Sri Lanka guide, where I will be highlighting my experiences and opinions on everything I did there.


 

SRI LANKA 10-DAY ITINERARY

 

 

Day 1 / Flight to Colombo, Sri Lanka

 

Early Morning: NYC to Colombo flight (layover in Kuwait; total flying time 17.5 hours)

 

Arrival: Pre-arrange airport pick-up to accommodation, especially if you are arriving late at night (approx.1600 LKR). There are also taxis and shared vans on arrival, as well

 

Accommodation:  I recommend staying in Negombo as it is less commercial than Colombo and only a 20 minute drive away. My recommendations - Villa DominikkuAmagi Aria, and Jetwing Hotels


 

Day 2 / Day in Negombo

 

Early Morning: Breakfast at hotel (usually included)

 

Late Morning: Explore Negombo

 

Afternoon/Evening: Relax and enjoy the day at Negombo Beach. Several hotels, such as Camelot Beach Hotel, offer affordable day passes to enjoy their pools and beach access if your hotel isn't beachfront. Be sure to catch the stunning sunset over the ocean!

 

Accommodation: Night in Negombo. My recommendations -  Villa DominikkuAmagi Aria, and Jetwing Hotels

 

negombo

Balcony views from Villa Dominikku


 

Day 3 / Drive to Pinnawala

 

Early morning: Breakfast at hotel

 

Early afternoon: Pre-arranged car service to Pinnawala through hotel (approx. 2 hour drive)

 

4pm: Check-in at Elephant Park Hotel

 

Evening: Dinner in Pinnawala

 

Accommodation: Elephant Park Hotel

 

pinnawala

Elephant river bathing

 

*While I visited Pinnawala, I would recommend skipping Pinnawala completely and going straight from Negombo to Kandy. I would either add an extra day in Kandy or add Yala National Park after Ella

 

 

Day 4 / Pinnawala + Kandy

 

Early morning: Breakfast at hotel

 

10am:  Elephants arrive in river for bathing

 

12pm: Elephants leave river and return to Elephant Sanctuary

 

1pm: Check-out & drive to Kandy by car service or tuk-tuk

 

3pm: Check-in at Kandy hotel

 

Afternoon/Evening: Explore Kandy. Be sure to visit The Temple of Truth, Kandy Lake, and Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue

 

Accommodation: Night in Kandy. My recommendations - Skyloft Kandy, Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge, and Ellerton Bungalow

 

kandy

Sri Dalada Maligawa 


 

Day 5 / Train ride to Ella

 

6am: Breakfast at hotel

 

7am: Pre-arranged tuk-tuk pick-up from hotel to Kandy train station

 

7:30am: Purchase 2nd class train tickets to Ella (counters 1 & 2). 2nd class tickets are the most popular as they have the open windows and allow you to sit in the door entries, so be sure to arrive early! The first train leaves around 8:40am, so by 8am the train station is packed with fellow travelers and backpackers all with the exact same plan (1st class air-conditioned seats - windows do not open - can be pre-booked through hotels, travel agents, or by visiting the station days in advance)

 

8:40am: Train ride from Kandy to Ella; take in the breathtaking views from both sides of the train. You’ll likely be standing for the first couple of hours, but seats will slowly start opening up after this point

 

4pm: Arrive in Ella Station / Check-in at hotel

 

Evening: Dinner in Ella town; Try AK Ristoro or Ella Flower Garden Restaurant

 

Accommodation: Night in Ella. I stayed at Alpine Resort which had incredible views of Little Adam’s Peak; however, it was a bit more rustic than in pictures and not the best option for someone that wants a bit more comfort and style. If you’re looking for something a little bit more upscale and unique, also with amazing views, check out 98 Acres Resort & Spa and Ella Jungle Resort

 

Train ride to ella

Open windows in 2nd Class Seating


 

Day 6 / Ella

 

Early Morning: Breakfast at hotel

 

Morning: Hike to Little Adam’s Peak. Don’t let them scam you to take a tuk-tuk ride there; the entrance is totally walkable from Ella town. Be sure to check out the tea plantations along the way!

 

Noon: Lunch in Ella town. Cafe Chill and Matey Hut are among the most popular spots!

 

Afternoon: Explore Ella; walk to Nine Arches Bridge (check the train times so that you can get some great shots of the train passing over the bridge)

 

Evening: Dinner in Ella town. Check out Ceylon Tea Factory Restaurant for a nice dinner atmosphere

 

Accommodation: Night in Ella. My recommendations - 98 Acres Resort & Spa and Ella Jungle Resort

 

Ella

Nine Arches Bridge


 

Day 7 / Mirissa + Weligama

 

Early Morning: Breakfast at hotel

 

Morning: Shared van to Mirissa (approx. 10,000 LKR). You can pre-book this with your hotel or directly with the drivers in Ella town. Total drive time approx. 5 hours

 

Early Afternoon: Arrival in Mirissa; check-in at hotel

 

Afternoon/Evening: Explore Mirissa Beach. Grab lunch at Papa Mango. Go whale watching in Mirissa or take a surf lesson at Weligama Beach, nearby

 

Accommodation: Night in Mirissa. My recommendations - The Spice House MirissaSounds of Nature, and Casa Colombo Mirissa

 

mirissa

Lunch at Papa Mango


 

Day 8 / Unawatuna, Talpe, & Galle

 

Early Morning: Breakfast at hotel

 

Morning: Tuk-tuk to Unawatuna (30 minute drive)

 

Morning: Explore Unawatuna beach; witness the iconic stilt fishing in Talpe

 

Afternoon: Head to Galle to visit the famous lighthouse and explore the adorable boutiques and cafes within the fort

 

Accommodation: Night in Unawatuna, Talpe, or Galle

My recommendations:

UnawatunaSergeant House, Galle Henna Beach HouseTree House (super unique; for groups)

Talpe - Skinny Beach House (for groups)  

Galle - Mango HouseFort BazaarGalle Fort Hotel, and Taru Villas Rampart Street

 

galle

Lighthouse

 

 

Day 9 / Dalawella (optional day in galle)

 

Early Morning: Breakfast at hotel

 

Morning: Explore Dalawella beach; the famous swing is located here at Dream Cabana (because of its popularity I have heard that they have begun to charge 500 LKR per person)

 

Afternoon: If you didn't have time to visit Galle the previous day, this is another opportunity to go explore the town as it's only a short tuk-tuk ride away

 

Evening: Car service to Negombo (pre-arranged with hotel). Total drive time approx. 2 hours

 

Accommodation: Night in Negombo. My recommendations - Villa DominikkuAmagi Aria, and Jetwing Hotels

 

*If your flight departs late the next day, you can opt to stay one more night in Galle and drive directly to Colombo International Airport on Day 10

 

dalawella

Rope swing at Dream Cabana

 

 

 

Day 10 / Fly to the Maldives (or back to the U.S.)

 

Early morning: Breakfast at hotel 

 

Morning: Ride to Colombo International Airport

 

 

Day 11 - 15 / Maldives

 

I will create a separate itinerary for the Maldives so stay tuned for that!


 

Day 16 / Return to the U.S.

 

Afternoon: Return flight to Colombo International Airport

 

Evening: Return flight to NYC

 

Til next time!

❥  Ashley

 

Don't forget to pin this to your Pinterest board for your future Sri Lanka planning!