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Our 40 day itinerary for Sri Lanka

When we researched places to go for our Sri Lanka trip we realised very soon that even though Sri Lanka is a relatively small country, we would not have enough time to see all of it within 30 days. There were so many amazing places to discover and we needed to make decisions of where to go and what to skip. We researched the weather throughout the country and we designed a plan that best suited our interests. Join us as we talk about our 40 days in Sri Lanka below.

How long to stay in Sri Lanka?

To be honest, I think we could have stayed in Sri Lanka for 2 whole months and still not have seen everything. But, we decided to stay for 40 days and then move on to The Maldives. We wanted to travel a little slower than we were used to. Therefore, having some days where we could do work and “recover” from the busy days exploring. So, if you are not a digital nomad or you get bored quickly, you can definitely take a few days off here and there. We also have a 30 day itinerary HERE, to be able to see the most of this beautiful country in one month without having to extend your visa!

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. We wanted to get our Visa Extension sorted in person as soon as possible and thus started in Colombo. 

Colombo – Nights 1-2

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. With two nights we had enough time to relax by the pool and do all necessary sightseeing in Colombo. To be honest, we just wanted enough time to recover from our jetlag and to get out of the busy city as soon as possible, two nights was ideal for us. If you want to read more about Colombo, click HERE or on the photo below.

Sri Lanka Colombo

Galle Fort – Nights 3-4

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. Read more about what to do in Galle Fort HERE or by clicking the photo!

Sri Lanka galle

Mirissa – Nights 5-6-7

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 to hear about the ‘Top 6 things to do in Mirissa’.

Hiriketiya /Dickwella – Nights 8-9-10

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! Do some yoga, catch some amazing waves and eat some of the freshest food! You can’t miss this one guys, read more about it HERE.

Udawalawe – Nights 11-12-13

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 and spent a few extra nights to get some work done. 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. If you want to see some elephants click on the photo below or HERE.

Adams Peak /Nallathanniya- Nights 14-15-16

We can’t stress this enough but Adams 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! Read all about it HERE.

Conquering Adams Peak is not the only thing to do around Nallathanniya. We visited some incredible waterfalls and drove through picturesque tea plantations, so take your time here. Don’t worry we’ll write about it soon!

Nuwara Eliya – Nights 17-18-19-20-21-22

Honestly, we really enjoyed our time in Nuwara Eliya but we think you’ll have enough time if you stay 2 to 3 nights. Booking all accommodation beforehand is always tricky as you’re basing your amount of time on other people’s suggestions and feelings. Truthfully, we thought Nuwara Eliya was bigger than it is. We decided to stay 2 nights in the Northern part, 2 nights in the main city and 2 nights a little South to be closer to Horton Plains National Park. Eventually, all accommodation was around 30 minutes apart so this was definitely not necessary… 

Ella – Nights 23-24-25

Ella, another one of our favourites! We thoroughly enjoyed our time here and would’ve liked to stay another 1 to 2 days. There is lots to do, see and eat in Ella and it is a welcome change in atmosphere than the rest of Sri Lanka. Curious? Read about it HERE or click on the photo of our day ziplining!

sri lanka ella

Kandy – Nights 26-27-28-29-30

Again, whilst booking our accommodation for Kandy we made the same mistake as we did with Nuwara Eliya. We did however fill all of our days with activities and very much enjoyed our time in Kandy. If you have less time we suggest to stay 3 to 4 nights. Look at this insanely cute monkey we saw in the Botanical gardens! Our Kandy blog is coming soon!

sri lanka monkey

Giritale – Nights 31-32

Giritale in the Polonnaruwa District was a lovely quiet historical place to unwind from the busyness of the city life we had experienced in previous weeks. Very close to the royal ancient city of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa, 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 – Nights 33-34-35

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 to your time here. 2 to 3 nights is perfect to incorporate a day visit to Dambulla.

Negombo – Nights 36-37-38-39

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 4 nights unless you have lots of time to spare. 

sri lanka

As you might have noticed, there are a few things we would do differently next time. Overall, we had an amazing time and we didn’t know exactly what to expect beforehand… We hope that this and our other blogs will help you to get an idea of how long to stay in certain places. There are definitely some places we have missed and would include in our visit next time to Sri Lanka. We would love to return and visit more North, including Jaffna and the East including Arugam Bay and Trincomalee. In retrospect we would have spent at least 2 months in Sri Lanka. Booking in advance due to Covid restrictions and budget meant that changing our plans was not possible. Ultimately, we can’t wait to return!

If you’re wondering how much we spent then no look no further! We have it for you here, ‘How expensive is travelling in Sri Lanka?’. 

Travelling Translated 

Travelling Translated

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