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30 day itinerary for Sri Lanka

How long to stay in Sri Lanka?

We could and should have stayed in Sri Lanka for 2 months. We still would not have been able to see everything. “Retrospect: the sweetener of life” – Kamand Kojouri. This quote is so true, especially with regards to travelling! We made the decision whilst in the UK to stay for 40 days and then move on to The Maldives. Ultimately, we could have squeezed our 40 days into 30 but we just did not know what to expect. We also wanted to travel a little slower than we were used to. It was important for us to enjoy the busy days exploring with days of “recovery” and time to back up our photos, videos and documents. For our 30 day itinerary we optimised our route to fit into 30 days only incorporating the best of our travels.

Travel clockwise or anti-clockwise?

There are two main logical ways to start your Sri Lanka trip and that is in Negombo (clockwise) or Colombo (anti-clockwise). The best choice for you depends on if you first want to relax on the beach (anti-clockwise) or first want to dive into the culture of Sri Lanka (clockwise) and if you opt to visit mainly the North, South or East. 

Colombo – 1 night

After finally landing in Bandaranaike International Airport it is time for your final 1-2 hour tuk tuk ride towards the main hotel hub in Colombo. Here you can relax by the pool and do all necessary sightseeing in Colombo. To be honest, we just wanted enough time to recover from our jet lag and to get out of the busy city as soon as possible. If you want to read more about Colombo, click HERE or on the photo below. Even amongst the bustling city of Colombo you can find beautiful spots to enjoy nature and an ice cream!

sri lanka colombo

Galle Fort – 2 nights

Galle Fort was for us the perfect introduction to somewhat more local Sri Lankan culture. This historic UNESCO World Heritage Site was bustling with old and trendy cafes, amazing places to eat and local markets to shop. Find out where we ate these amazing dumplings in Galle Fort HERE or by clicking the photo!

Galle sri lanka

Mirissa – 2 nights

Arriving in Mirissa was something magical, departing from the bustling Galle fort and arriving in nature and peace. Our walkthrough to our accommodation in D-Canal House was like stepping in a complete different world. Visit the infamous Coconut Tree Hill and Parrot Rock and you must try some roti at No. 1 Dewmini Roti Shop whilst you’re here. Admittedly, we were here before the usual number of tourists were back in Sri Lanka, and so it was quieter than normal. You get the gist, click HERE or on the photo below ‘Coconut Tree Hill from above’ to hear about the ‘Top 6 things to do in Mirissa’.


Hiriketiya /Dickwella – 4 nights

Hiriketiya was one of our favourite places in Sri Lanka! The nature, the waves, the people! We only stayed three nights but we could’ve stayed weeks, hence why we’ve actually added a night from our 40 day itinerary. See the second largest blowhole in the world, catch some amazing waves and meet some like minded travellers! You can’t miss this one guys, read more about it HERE.

Udawalawe – 2 nights 

There are many National Parks to visit in Sri Lanka. After we researched which National Park was best to see wildlife we decided on Udawalawe. We decided on Udawalawe mainly because it is cheaper than some of the others, less touristy and basically on our route. We had a magical time there. Because it is quite the trek from the previous and to the next destination, do stay a night before and after to keep you sane. If you want to see some elephants click on the photo below or HERE.

sri lanka

After Udawalawe you have a few options for the route of your journey. You can follow the route we did of Udawalawe by tuk tuk to Adam’s Peak, Adam’s Peak by tuk tuk to Nuwara Eliya, onwards to Ella by tuk tuk and then take the train to Kandy from Ella. Although this was insanely beautiful it took a lot of time and more money than it maybe should have. We would suggest you go straight Ella, go from here by train to Nuwara Eliya, then by train to Hatton. From Hatton you will get a tuk tuk to Adam’s Peak and back. Finally travelling from Hatton to Kandy by train. We are going to recommend the latter in this 30 day itinerary, which will probably save you time and money. Whatever you do, make sure you ride the train in this part of the country. Considered to one of the most scenic train routes in the world!

Ella – 3 nights

Ella, another one of our favourites! We thoroughly enjoyed our time here, there is lots to do, see and eat in Ella. There is a welcome change in atmosphere than the rest of Sri Lanka. Curious? Read about it HERE or click on the photo of Tom admiring the view from Little Adam’s peak.

sri lanka

Nuwara Eliya – 2 nights

Honestly, we really enjoyed our time in Nuwara Eliya but we think you’ll have enough time if you stay 2, maybe 3 nights. Visit the main city on day 1 and get up very early the next day to visit the Horton Plains National Park. The next day you can visit Lover’s Leap waterfall and be back in time for a high tea in The Grand Hotel. Read all about Nuwara Eliya HERE or by clicking on the view from Mini World’s End in Horton Plains.

Adam’s Peak /Nallathanniya – 3 nights

We can’t stress this enough but Adam’s Peak is a must! The euphoric feeling you get when you see the sun rise above the clouds is indescribable. It is a very tough climb but so worth it! We don’t know where we got the energy to keep going but we had to finish it! Because you start your ascent at 02:30 we suggest staying the night before and 1 night after to catch up on some sleep. Read all about climbing Adam’s Peak HERE.

Conquering Adams Peak is not the only thing to do around Nallathanniya. We visited some incredible waterfalls and drove through stunning tea plantations on a tuk tuk excursion, so take your time here. Don’t worry we’ll write about it soon! For now, enjoy a view from above of the tea plantations.

Kandy – 3 nights

When we visited Kandy we stayed 5 nights, this was too much for us. We did however fill all of our days with activities and very much enjoyed our time in Kandy. We suggest to stay 3 maybe 4 nights. Look at this insanely cute monkey we saw in the Botanical gardens! Our Kandy blog is coming soon!

sri lanka monkey

Polonnaruwa – 1 night

Visiting the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa was a brilliant day exploring ruins and history from nearly 1000 years ago! Staying one night is enough to visit Polonnaruwa and continue your journey. We stayed in Giritale in the Polonnaruwa District and it was a lovely, quiet place to unwind. Giritale is also very close to the Royal Ancient City, making it the perfect place to avoid the high accommodation costs in the actual city of Polonnaruwa. To find out more about Polonnaruwa, click HERE or below.

Sigiriya/Dambulla – 3 nights

Sigiriya is home to the impressive Sigiriya Rock and Pidurangala Rock and is a must visit! We also combined our stay in Sigiriya with a visit to Dambulla because of its close proximity to each other. We found there wasn’t a huge deal to do in Sigiriya itself and so 1 or 2 nights is enough unless incorporating Dambulla. 2 to 3 nights is perfect when adding a day visit to Dambulla.

sri lanka

Trincomalee – 2 nights

Regrettably, we did not visit Trincomalee on our trip to Sri Lanka! We had to include it in our do-over itinerary. Trincomalee is basically one straight road from Dambulla and so pretty easy to reach on a local bus. Why didn’t we go?! Oh well, another excuse to come back to Sri Lanka!

Negombo – 1 night

Negombo was our last stop in Sri Lanka and we used it to completely relax and to catch up on some work. There are some markets to visit and a few excursions to go on but we would not suggest to stay longer than necessary unless you have lots of time to spare. 

sri lanka

If this blog spiked your interest, check out the video below about our time in Sri Lanka.

Travelling Translated


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Travelling Translated

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