Sri Lanka Itinerary – Sri Lanka is becoming a more and more popular tourist destination in Asia. After spending a month there, I can tell you that the teardrop of India is a country you should definitely visit. It has a rich and diverse culture, great historical sites, breathtaking scenery, and beautiful heavenly beaches.
In this blog post, I’m going to list the cities that I visited during my trip to Sri Lanka; it should help you plan your own itinerary according to what is more interesting and appealing to you. As I said, I spent one full month in Sri Lanka so if you are just spending few weeks over there, just cherry-pick the cities you prefer from the list below.
But before to start, feel free to watch this short video of my best travel moments in Sri Lanka:
My Trip to Sri Lanka
The most interesting attractions in Sri Lanka are in the center, west and south of the country. In the center is the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka with the country’s ancient capitals. The west is where the capital city Colombo is located as well as the city of Negombo which is close to the main international airport of the country. The south is where the most beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka are.
Here is the list of cities I’ve been to in Sri Lanka in the order in which I visited them:
- Nuwara Eliya
As you can see in the map below, the itinerary forms a kind of loop:
To visit this part of Sri Lanka, the best time would be from December to March. It’s the country’s dry period and you won’t be bothered by rain or bad weather. FYI, I went to Sri Lanka in February.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Colombo
Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka and is, therefore, one of the most developed cities in the country. Sri Lanka International Airport is not far from Colombo but is even closer to the city of Negombo. Since you’ll be traveling to and from Sri Lanka by air, the first and last city you’ll be visiting would technically be Colombo or Negombo. I followed my instincts and started by visiting Colombo when I arrived in Sri Lanka, then I spent a few nights in Negombo right before leaving the country.
As far as Colombo is concerned, it’s an urban city, so it’s not the most interesting place in the country. But you can still visit beautiful temples there and have a first glimpse of Sri Lanka for one day. More information on what to visit in Colombo here: Things to do in Colombo Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Bentota
After Colombo, I really wanted to go to the beach so I headed south to the city of Bentota. It has a beautiful coastline and this great Buddha statue at the Kande Viharaya temple (see picture above). It also has nice houses that belong to renowned Sri Lankan architects; I tell you more about it here: Bentota Sri Lanka.
Galle, a beautiful walled city
Galle is a beautiful fortified city that was built during the Portuguese and Dutch colonization period. You can visit the fort which is a timeless monument. The region of Galle is very enjoyable and offers beautiful beaches including Jungle Beach which is one of my favorites. More details about it here: Galle Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Mirissa
Mirissa is a heavenly place where you can swim in crystal clear water. It is one of the most touristic cities in southern Sri Lanka but honestly, it doesn’t feel crowded or anything and that’s probably thanks to the size of its beach. Other places are worth visiting in Mirissa so make sure to take your time to wander around it. All my tips to visit this city I gathered up for you here: Visit Mirissa.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Tangalle
Compared to the two previous cities, Tangalle is a city that is much less visited and a little neglected actually. It is nonetheless beautiful with a splendid coastline and great temples to visit like the Wewurukannala Raja Maha Viharaya. More info here: Tangalle Sri Lanka.
There’s also a very famous national park near Tangalle. It’s the Yala National Park and you can book a tour here. Elephants and leopards live there so keep your eyes wide open!
Ella, a magical mountainous region
Ella is a magical place I guarantee you will fall in love with. It’s a mountainous region where I spent some refreshing time after the hot days I spent in the south. Ella has also beautiful natural landscapes to offer like the Lipton Seat or the nine-arch bridge you can see above.
I tell you everything I know about Ella here: Ella Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Nuwara Eliya
Sri Lanka is a country known for producing one of the best teas in the world! I’m talking about the famous Ceylon tea that has kept the old name of the country. To visit beautiful tea plantations, head to Nuwara Eliya. You can visit the plantations but also the local tea factories.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Kandy
Kandy is a former capital of Sri Lanka and is a fairly developed city, much like Colombo, but in different proportions. The most famous attraction in Kandy is the Temple of the Tooth, which is home to a sacred Buddhist relic: a Buddha’s tooth.
Discover the Cultural Triangle in Dambulla
We’re in the famous Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka! It is an absolutely fascinating historical region where you can visit many places that have marked the history of the country. The main attraction in Dambulla is the Golden Temple and its mysterious sacred caves.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Sigiriya
This has become one of the great symbols of the country! The Lion Rock you see above is located in Sigiriya, only a few kilometers from Dambulla. In addition to being a rock with an unusual shape, it hides an old fortress at its summit that you can also visit. More info here: Sigiriya and its lion rock.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Polonnaruwa
The city of Polonnaruwa is a real open-air museum! It is also one of the former capitals of Sri Lanka and is home to 1000-year-old ruins! The city’s historical site is amazing and well-maintained and I cannot recommend it enough. More about it here: Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka.
Anuradhapura, the Holy City
Anuradhapura was also a former capital of the country for about a millennium. It is at the heart of Sri Lankan culture and has an area called the Holy City where you can visit old temples and Buddhist stupas. Make sure to check out the nearby town of Mihintale, which is the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – Negombo
Last but not least is the very pleasing fishing village of Negombo. It is a calm seaside village to wrap up your itinerary of Sri Lanka with. The fish market is the most picturesque place in the city and offers authentic scenes of the daily life of fishermen in the area.
Our trip has come full circle! I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that it helped you figure out which cities you want to visit in Sri Lanka. Let me know which ones you picked out in the comments below.
See you around,