Sri Lanka Route

Sri Lanka Route

The ultimate travel itinerary for Sri Lanka in 4 weeks, 3 weeks or even in 2 weeks! In this article, we share our favorite destination in three different itineraries to discover this beautiful island. From the cozy suffers atmosphere in Hikkaduwa to spending the night among the elephants at The Kingdom Ecolodge. Read on quickly for our ultimate Sri Lanka itinerary!

sri lanka backpacking
sri lanka route
sri lanka
sri lanka backpacking

What is the best time to visit Sri Lanka

The best travel time to visit Sri Lanka is from February to April. During these two months you have the least chance of rain in all regions. Sri Lanka has a combination of different climates and two monsoon seasons. The southwest monsoon is called the Yala and lasts from mid-May to late September. During this period it is dry in the east and north. From October to mid-April is the northeast monsoon, called the Maha. Then more rain falls in the northeast and east. The bottom line is that there is always a shower somewhere in Sri Lanka. The worst months to visit Sri Lanka are from October through December. That’s when a lot of rain falls all over the island.

We visited the north and east in early March and that was also fine. There were occasional showers, but they were often very brief.

How many weeks do you need for your Sri Lanka trip

Sri Lanka is relatively small about 1.5 times the Netherlands, making it a perfect destination if you have a little less time. Moreover, the travel distances are short so fortunately you don’t lose days traveling which really makes Sri Lanka a top destination to see a lot in a short period of time.

3 weeks or more is perfect for exploring Sri Lanka. In 3 weeks you can perfectly combine nature, history, wildlife and beach. 2 weeks for Sri Lanka is also possible, but that is the minimum number of days to make a nice tour of the island. We had a total of 4 weeks, which was perfect for us! We were able to see a lot and travel slowly.

sri lanka backpacking
sri lanka route
sri lanka

From north to south? Or the other way around!

We decided to start in the south and end in the north. This is because we were already in Sri Lanka in mid-February and the climate in the north can still be quite unpredictable then. In retrospect, we regretted this a bit. Indeed, the south is quite hip, crowded and lots of beach. But when we just arrived in Sri Lanka, I just needed to see a lot, eat local food and couldn’t really find the peace to sit with my bottom in the sand or appreciate the hip hot spots on the south coast yet.

sri lanka backpacking
sri lanka backpacking

The beach and hip eateries as a finale might have been a little better, because after 2 weeks of curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner and miles in the legs, I was so hungry for hip smoothies and relaxing on the beach.

Depending on the period you are visiting Sri Lanka, I would choose to start in the north and end in the south with some days at the beach.

Sri Lanka itinerary 4 weeks

  • Negombo (or Colombo) – 2 nights
  • Anuradhapura & Wilpattu – 2 nights
  • Trincomalee – 2 nights
  • Sigiriya – 2 nights
  • Kandy – 2 nights
  • Nuwara Eliya – 1 night
  • Ella – 3 nights
  • Arugam Bay – 3 nights
  • The Kingdom Ecolodge of Yala National Park – 1 night
  • Tangalle – 2 nights
  • Mirissa or Dickwella – 2 nights
  • Galle -1 night
  • Hikkaduwa – 2 nights
  • Negombo – 1 night
sri lanka backpacking
sri lanka route
sri lanka

Sri Lanka route 3 weeks

  • Negombo (or Colombo) – 2 nights
  • Anuradhapura & Wilpattu – 2 nights
  • Sigiriya – 1 night
  • Kandy – 2 nights
  • Ella – 3 nights
  • The Kingdom Ecolodge of Yala National Park – 1 night
  • Tangalle – 2 nights
  • Mirissa or Dickwella – 2 nights
  • Hikkaduwa – 2 nights
  • Negombo – 1 night
sri lanka route
sri lanka

Sri Lanka itinerary 2 weeks

  • Negombo (or Colombo) – 1 night
  • Sigiriya – 1 night
  • Kandy – 1 night
  • Ella – 2 nights
  • The Kingdom Ecolodge of Yala National Park / Yala National park – 1 night
  • Mirissa or Dickwella – 2 nights
  • Negombo – 1 night
sri lanka backpacking

Which destinations should definitely not be missed in Sri Lanka

We like some quiet places, lots of nature but also the occasional trendy smoothie bowl is not wrong either. We would NEVER skip the following destinations:

  • The Kingdom Ecolodge: sleeping among the elephants. We found this to be one of our highlights during our trip through Sri Lanka
  • Hikkaduwa: relaxed surfer vibe. Be sure to book accommodation near Narigama Beach.
  • Dickwella: super cozy charming surfers place
  • Tangla Lé: if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the south coast
  • Ella: the green heart of Sri Lanka

Extra mention for Arugam Bay, which we unfortunately had to skip but was high on the list. We hear only positive stories about this. It is a hip surfer town with a laid-back vibe and hip hotspots.

sri lanka backpacking

The ultimate backpacking itinerary through Sri Lanka

Negombo

Although you land in Sri Lanka’s capital, we found Negombo to be a better starting point for our trip. In terms of distance from the airport, it makes almost no difference from Colombo. Why Negombo? The city is a lot cozier, quieter and cleaner than Sri Lanka’s capital and is just as conveniently located from the airport (20 -30 minute drive). We booked 2 nights here because we didn’t arrive until late in the evening and could take it easy on our first real day in Sri Lanka.

Negombo travel guide
Negombo tips

Anuradhapura & Wilpattu -.

Travel time from Negombo to Anuradhapura: 2 hours by cab or 4 hours by bus

Anuradhapura is the city in Sri Lanka for visiting various temples. The city itself is not very beautiful, but it is the place where you have a chance to learn more about Sri Lankan culture and history. Moreover, you can perfectly combine Anuradhapura with Wilpattu National Park. However, during our search for a nice safari in Sri Lanka, we read varying stories about Yala and Udawalawe. It would be very crowded and some people would also have their questions about animal welfare. Therefore, we decided to skip these 2 parks and end our trip in Sri Lanka with a safari in Wilpattu.

Anuradhapura Tips
Anuradhapura Sri Lanka
wilpattu sri lanka

Trincomalee

Travel time from Anuradhapura to Trincomalee 2 hours by cab or 4 hours by bus

If you want to start or end your trip with some days at the beach, Trincomalee is the perfect stop. Is it an absolute must-visit? It might not. If you don’t have that much time to explore Sri Lanka, you could skip Trincomalee. Because we had a little longer and wanted to finish with a few days on the beach, we still found Trincomalee to be a fine destination.

Trincomalee tips

Sigiriya

Travel time from Trincomalee to Sigiriya 2 hours by cab or 4 hours by bus

Sigiriya is where you can admire the famous Lion Rock. But even beyond this world-famous attraction, Sigiriya has much more to offer, including the ancient botanical gardens, the palace and the beautiful surroundings. We found this to be a very nice destination.

lion rock

Kandy

Travel time from Trincomalee to Sigiriya 2 hours by cab, 3 hours by bus
or book a day trip from Kandy to Sigiriya by tuktuk making several stops along the way

If we are completely honest we did not find Kandy fantastic, but for a night it is a fine stopover. It is for most people the start or end point of the famous train journey. We decided to book a food tour in Kandy which still made this a very nice destination during our trip.

Kandy Tips
Kandy Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya

Travel time from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya 4 hours by train

To break the 8-hour train ride from Kandy to Ella, we decided to book a night in Nuwara Eliya. Do leave early by train so that your day is still really meaningful. After all, the surroundings are beautiful. We rented a tuktuk for an afternoon to visit various tea plantations and waterfalls.

Ella

Travel time from Nuwara Eliya to Ella 4 hours by train

Ella should definitely not be missed during your Sri Lanka trip. It is the green heart of Sri Lanka. The surroundings are beautiful and you can spend a few days here just fine. From viewpoint hikes, jungle, giant waterfalls to scooter rides through the tea plantations. It’s all possible here.

Ella Tips
Ella Sri Lanka
Ella

The Kingdom Ecolodge of Yala National Park

Travel time from Ella to The Kingdom Ecolodge 4 hours by bus

Want to spot elephants without other tourists? With the assurance that the elephants have a fine and free existence? Where you wake up in the middle of nature? Then The Kingdom Ecolodge in Sri Lanka is a big fat tip!

sri lanka elephant
kingdom ecolodge
elephant safari sri lanka
sri lanka elephant

Tangalle

Travel time from The Kingdom Ecolodge to Tangalle 4 hours by cab (very difficult to reach by ov)

After busy Mirissa and Unawatuna , we decided to spend a few days in Tangalle. Just what we needed. No trendy hotspots, busy roads or crammed beaches. Tangalle is a lovely quiet beach destination.

Tangalle Sri Lanka

Mirissa or Dickwella

Travel time from Tangalle to Mirissa 2 hours by bus

Mirissa is one of the most popular beach destinations on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. From trendy hot spots to beach parties. Don’t expect an undiscovered gem. Mirissa is visited en masse throughout the year, and for good reason. Then again, we found Dickwella a little more relaxed, calm and still poopy hip though. You can surf perfectly here, so definitely recommended.

Tip! Mirissa, Unawatuna and Unawatuna are all close to each other. Choose one and visit the other places by scooter and/or tuktuk.

Mirissa Sri Lanka
unawatuna jungle beach
unawatuna
unawatuna tips

Gallé

Travel time from Mirissa to Gallé 1 hour by bus

Absolutely a gem! Bit touristy, but that doesn’t make this old fort less beautiful. You can book a beautiful accommodation here, but it is not necessary. In fact, you can also visit Gallé just fine in a day from HIkkaduwa or Mirissa.

Hikkaduwa

Travel time from Galle to Hikkaduwa 1 hour by bus

This small surfing town can be found about 100 kilometers from Colombo just north of Galle. Hikkaduwa is hip, cozy and just incredibly nice! It is the place to work on your surf skills and hang out at hip hot spots. Book an overnight stay near Narigama Beach. At this beach no big resorts but a nice quiet and relaxed atmosphere.

HIkkaduwa Restaurants
Hikkaduwa hotspots

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