Sri Lanka Itinerary 2 Weeks
Sri Lanka Itinerary 2 Weeks Contents
I know you’re here for the Sri Lanka itinerary but I’ve also got some bonus tips for you on what to expect, how to travel around Sri Lanka safely and costs. If you’d rather skip those however just click the link below to jump down to the 2 week itinerary (the route could be done in 3 to 4 weeks as well if you’d rather travel at a more leisurely pace).
This Sri Lanka itinerary is for 2 weeks, even though I didn’t have 2 weeks there myself, since I couldn’t in good conscience recommend that anyone else does the trip I did there. I did this itinerary in 8 days. That meant I had one morning in the whole time where I didn’t have to get up before 6am (because I’m a sensible adult I decided to go out drinking till 6am that day instead). I was broken by the end of the 8 days. Much better to do this itinerary in 2 weeks and actually get to enjoy it properly. If you happen to have even more time to spend on this lovely island here is a 4 week Sri Lanka itinerary to check out as well.
Sri Lanka is amazing. It’s by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve even been in my life. I loved it there. One of the many reasons I loved it is because the country is so varied; you can surf, trek mountains, see Unesco world heritage sights, go on national park safaris, see whales…the list goes on.
It was so beautiful there that even though I was only in Sri Lanka for 8 days, I have 3 albums worth of photos from it on Flickr with over 1,000 photos.
This itinerary involved going to 7 places. Yes, I was there for 8 days and went to 7 places! You should have seen my trip planning for that one! The route I took had me starting in Colombo going down the west coast to the south and then up through the middle and hill country before returning to Colombo. Sadly I didn’t have time to visit the east coast and it wouldn’t have been the best time of year to go anyway since, like with rainy season in Bali, which coast is best to visit depends on the time of the year. In Sri Lanka, December to March is the best time to visit the west coast and do this Sri Lanka itinerary. From March to Septemeber it’s best to go to the east coast. Especially if you’re looking for surf beaches as they have one of the longest lefthand waves in the world at Arugam Bay.
I’m really happy with the route I chose to go but learn from my mistakes and don’t try to cram all of it into 8 days. I feel exhausted just having written this out again and thinking of all the early mornings and long journeys in between. Give yourself more time to enjoy your Sri Lanka trip. When I arrived in Bangkok after Sri Lanka I was basically KO’d. There was no exploring. Me and my bed urgently needed to spend some quality time together.
Sri Lanka Itinerary – 2 Weeks
You can see in the map below how my recommended itinerary for 2 weeks in Sri Lanka looks overall.
And this is how the route plots out by day with the key activities to do in each location:
Day 1 – Explore Colombo
It’s easy to get from Colombo international airport into the city with plenty of taxis and tuk-tuks available there. I booked one in advance through my hostel as I was arriving at 1am but they didn’t show up anyway so I had to get a random one.
Colombo is a big city and not really the prettiest to look at. It has some nice spots and you can still walk down to the seafront but aside from the tourist attractions there it’s not just a cool city like London or Barcelona or Singapore that you’d want to hang out in any way.
The key attractions to see in Colombo are Galle Face Beach, the local markets, Gangaramaya temple (one of the rooms is incredible) and The National Museum.
Read more about what to do in Colombo here.
Day 2 to 3 – Beaches and Surfing in Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is a cool lazy surf and beach town. It’s good for partying too and one of the best places to surf from December to March. Turtles also come up to hang out on the beach in some spots there so if you’re lucky you might get to see one of them too.
Read more about things to do in Hikkaduwa here and how to navigate the train system to get there from the train station in Colombo.
Day 4 to 5 – Discover Historical Galle Fort
Galle Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site. While it takes about 2 hours to get from Colombo to Hikkaduwa, Galle Fort takes no time to get to by train after Hikkaduwa.
The sunsets in Galle are out of this world, I’ve never seen anything like it in all my travels around the world. And because it’s quite a quiet town at night you can see more stars than I’ve ever seen in the sky too, well apart from on Nyepi in Bali.
Read more about things to do in Galle Fort here.
Day 6 to 7 – Go Whale Watching in Mirissa
Mirissa is where everyone goes to go whale watching and it is worth the journey (and early morning).
You go out at sunrise on a large boat but there’s no chasing the whales through the water, or any of the those sketchy behaviors, sometimes used in Bali or the Philippines.
That does also mean, however, that there are no guarantees you’ll see whales.
I got lucky and I mean I knew whales were big but DAAAAAAMN. There’s a nice beach in the center of town too, perfect for chilled-out beach days at cafes with a book.
Read more about what to do in Mirissa here.
Day 8 to 9 – Safari at Yala National Park Tissa
I wasn’t a big fan of the center of Tissa and it didn’t look like there’d be a lot to do there however the safari round the Yala National Park is enough of a reason to go on its own.
You’ll see elephants and boars and leopards all just wandering around. It’s a lot cheaper than doing a safari would be in Africa too.
Read more about doing the safari at Yala National Park Tissa here.
Day 10 to 11 – Climb Little Adam’s Peak and Marvel at Hill Country in Ella
I was short on time on my trip so I asked a friend of mine who used to live in Sri Lanka whether to go to Ella or Kandy and she said definitely don’t skip Ella and I’m so glad she did. If you have time after Adam’s Peak in Dalhousie you could carry on up to Kandy to visit the sacred tooth relic at Sri Dalada Maligawa.
Don’t skip Ella though.
Coming into Ella on the bus the views of the tea plantations will keep you more than entertained.
Once in Ella, you can then climb Little Adam’s Peal, which personally I think has a better view from the top than the real one. There’s also a waterfall to visit and not far from the train station is the center of town is the nine arches bridge which I’m sure you’ve seen a photo or two of at some point.
I didn’t actually leave the town to see it, but I did leave Ella by train (which is the way to do it for the spectacular hill country views) so I very possible went over that nine arch bridge.
Read more about what to do in Little Adam’s Peak Ella here.
Day 12 to 13 – Trek Adam’s Peak Dalhousie
The town of Dalhousie itself is small and not the easiest to get to. I had to get the train from Ella to Hatton (no hardship that one as those were the best views I’ve ever seen on a train before) and then a bus from Hatton to Dalhousie itself.
People go to Dalhousie to climb Adam’s Peak therefore the small town is set up around supplying items to people for the trek, from warm jumpers and hats to torches.
Don’t listen to anyone who says the climb up Adam’s Peak is easy or isn’t challenging. There are 5,500 steps to get to the top. I think you can decide for yourself from that one piece of information if it’s actually challenging!
Read more about climbing Adam’s Peak in Dalhousie here.
Day 14 – Return to Colombo
Your 14 day Sri Lanka itinerary is up now so it’s time to hop on a train back to Colombo to make it back to the international airport in time for your next flight.
Itinerary Duration: As you can see above I’ve plotted this Sri Lanka itinerary for 2 weeks but that still only leaves one night in each location, therefore, you could easily stretch it out to a 3 or 4 week itinerary traveling at a more relaxed pace.
For full posts one each location with information on how to get there, where to stay and what to do in each click the links below:
The Front Row of Seats on Buses – Don’t sit in the front row of seats on buses. I mean you can but if a priest gets on you have to vacate that seat for them and by then the rest of the bus may have filled up leaving you standing.g
Clothing – I had just come from backpacking India when I went to Sri Lanka so I was on high alert for well, everything, and making sure all possible skin was covered up on me at all times. I didn’t need to be so paranoid. Whilst I wouldn’t have walked around in shorts in a lot of places there it certainly felt like I could relax my clothing a little and take my shirt off at times to just have a tank top on or wear shorts in more beachside areas.
I don’t know why but instantly Sri Lanka felt much safer than India and like I could finally relax a little.
Luggage – if you’re just going on a trip to Sri Lanka make sure your luggage is as small as possible. One for the point mentioned below of being able to put it in the overhead luggage storage on trains but also because some busses just won’t stop and pick people up if they see loads of massive bags since they don’t have space for them on the bus and it will take up space they could be putting paying customers in.
Random Strangers – If you’re a solo female you may find a lot of men coming up to talk to you as you walk around different locations, especially in Colombo. None of them seemed at all threatening or to have any ill intention towards me. They even gave me advice on things to go see. Sri Lankan people seemed more intrigued by me than anything else.
This is not one of the countries in Asia where there’s a great tourist-friendly system of busses connecting everywhere, like in Thailand for example. There are local buses and trains and they can be challenging. But that’s just part of the adventure right?
Busses – The busses in Sri Lanka are small and cramped with hard metal seats. Most of the time they don’t appear to go by any very set timetable and the directions to get the bus in some areas involve just standing at a point in the road that locals indicate to you, even though there are no signs or similar to indicate that it might actually be a bus stop.
Even when you are at the big bus stations your life isn’t necessarily going to get much easier. Finding the right bus can be very difficult as no one seems to know what’s going on. People also tend to assume in a lot of instances that they won’t understand you even if all you say is the name of the place you want to go to, point to a bus and give a thumbs up or down to indicate you want to know if it’s that one. I had the most success with writing the names of destinations on my phone and then showing people. It still didn’t make things easy, but easier at least.
Trains – These are much easier to navigate than the busses although hearing what they say in the announcements at the station is tough. The announcements are in Sinhalese and Tamil anyway so obviously there’s the not speaking the language comprehension barrier but you’d think you would be able to pick out the name of the destination of the train to check if it’s yours. Most of the time you can’t. The trains have numbers though and as do your tickets so just double check that as it pulls in.
Most trains in Sri Lanka have at least 2 or 3 classes. Even as a solo female I felt perfectly safe traveling in all classes of the train. You’re just more likely to find a seat on the busier trains if you travel in first. There are floor areas you can sit with your bags in some of the second class sections which is handy. The trains will make it very clear to you why it’s best to travel with a backpack and one that you’re able to lift above your head on your own so you can put it into one of the overhead luggage spaces if a seat does become available.
On some of the train rides, the train platforms don’t stretch down the whole length of the train. This caused me when traveling 3rd class one day to miss my stop as I’d assumed we were just stopped at traffic lights since there was no platform but that had been my station stop. I’d even been following the journey along on google maps on my phone to avoid that exact scenario but it had been slow in updating my location.
Even though it was getting dark and I was the only woman in the 3rd class carriage however the men in the carriage helped me out with finding a tuk-tuk back a the next big city without wanting anything in return or me feeling unsafe at any point.
I booked all of my train tickets on the day of travel while in Sri Lanka but that can mean the class you want to travel in is booked up. If you’d like to make sure you have everything sorted in advance you can book online with 12Go (they even allow you to book cars if you decide to go that route).
Cars – If you’re traveling in a group hiring a car and driver between some of the larger distances does make sense and will make your journey infinitely easier than taking the local busses. Might make for less of a fun adventure though!
It is worth noting that how people drive in different countries varies greatly, and especially in places with large numbers of scooters on the road, it’s probably best if you don’t drive yourself. Asia isn’t exactly known for its calm and predictable traffic.
Accommodation – There are a lot less hostels in Sri Lanka as it isn’t that touristy so for all but 2 of my nights there I had to stay in hotels. The hotels aren’t that expensive, about $20 a night but in comparison to the cost of everything else that will be a fair whack of your daily budget if you’re on your own. Hostels are about $10 a night when you can find one.
Food – Sri Lankan curry is amazing and portion sizes are really generous in a lot of locations. One free hotel breakfast, what I got was enough to feed a family of 5. Street found is just a couple of dollars and restaurants are in the $5-10 range.
I hope you love your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary as much as I did. Leave me a comment below if you have any top tips you’d add.
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The main things to do in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, are to surf and party. I, therefore, headed straight for there as I wanted to surf while I was in Sri Lanka and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I went out and partied during my two months in India,...
I didn't really know what places to visit in Colombo when I arrived. I'd done no research at all. Plus I was going to be there less than 24 hours as I arrived at about 3am and planned to leave for Hikkadua that afternoon if I could get a train ticket so its not like I...
Little Adam's Peak Ella, Sri Lanka Little Adam's Peak in Ella Sri Lanka is incredible. I even liked it more than the real Adam's Peak in Dalhousie and the small one is a LOT less effort to climb so it's really worth checking out. Also, as much as working out which bus...
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