2 Weeks In Sri Lanka Itinerary
Sri Lanka is a country that I initially didn’t know much about, and I never thought I would visit… but my short time spent immersed in this culturally rich country has now put it high on my ‘must visit’ list! 2 weeks in Sri Lanka is a perfect amount of time to explore and discover all the hot spots and hidden gems that this destination has to offer. From the pristine coastlines to the verdant hill country landscapes, there is awesome adventures to be had for everyone! Here is the overview of my 2 Weeks In Sri Lanka… I hope you find some inspiration for your travel plans in this article!
DAYS 1 & 2
I arrived at Colombo International Airport in Sri Lanka, which is located on the far west side of the island. I decided to head south and start my adventures at Hikkaduwa Beach. I was travelling with 3 friends and we took a private taxi from the airport to Hikkaduwa which cost 8,000 Rupees ($80) and the drive takes around 2 hours. There are much cheaper options available such as the train or a bus, though this journey takes a lot longer.
By Bus: Take bus 187 from the airport to Colombo Fort Central Bus Station (100 Rupees). You will have to transfer buses here and take any bus that is clearly labelled Galle, Tangalle, Matara, Hikkaduwa (300 Rupees). Buses run every 15 minutes. Just ask the driver to notify you when the bus stops in Hikkaduwa. Total journey time: 3-4 hours.
By Train: Take bus 187 to Colombo Fort Railway Station (100 Rupees). Buy a 2nd or 3rd class ticket (150 Rupees) to Hikkaduwa but don’t expect to get a seat, these trains are packed. Total journey time: 4-5 hours.
Hikkaduwa is a thriving coastal town with plenty of things to do and see, including snorkelling trips, ancient buddhist temples, surfing, juice bars, railway adventures and local cuisine. The best time to visit is between November and March.
DAYS 3 & 4
From Hikkaduwa I headed south to Unawatuna which is located on the south west coast. The local buses are the best means of transport between the towns as they are cheap and very frequent. You can get the bus from Hikkaduwa bus stop to Unawatuna and the journey takes one hour for only 50 Rupees.
Unawatuna was one of my favourite spots in Sri Lanka and I recommend spending 2 days here to see everything. I rented a scooter for 2 days to get around which cost me 2000 Rupees. There are a number of rental shops in the town, all you will need is your passport as a deposit. This worked out cheaper than having to take tuk-tuk rides everywhere.
On the 1st Day I went to Galle and allowed 2 hours to visit the Dutch Fort and The Lighthouse. Galle is approx 15-20 minutes drive north of Unawatuna. The Galle Fort is a UNESCO world heritage site and definitely worth the visit.
In the afternoon I visited the Yatagala Temple, a 2300 year old buddhist place of worship. The temple is made up of 4 huge granite boulders that create a natural cave that is used as a meditation hall. Yatagala Temple is a 20 minute drive from Galle.
For sunset I visited the Instafamous Palm Tree Rope Swing at Dalawella Beach. This spot is just 10 minutes south of Unawatuna and the rope swing is one for “the bucket list”! Click Here to see the full blog post.
On the 2nd Day in Unawatuna I visited Jungle Beach and the Japanese Peace Pagoda. These locations are short 15 minute walk from the main street in Unawatuna. The hike around the rocky headland is a lot of fun with amazing views of the Peace Pagoda and then a refreshing swim at the secluded Jungle Beach is rewarding!
That afternoon, I drove 10 minutes south of Unawatuna to the Habaraduwa Sea Turtle Hatchery. This is a non-profit organisation, which is maintained for the survival of sea turtles for the next generation. This particular hatchery has released more the 500,000 turtles to the ocean!
DAYS 5 & 6
My journey continued south to Weligama Bay, which is on the south coast of Sri Lanka and a short 45 minute bus ride from Unawatuna.
On the 1st Day, after checking in to my accomodation, I walked to the main street in Weligama to rent a scooter. Again, there are several rental shops in the town and a scooter costs 1000 Rupees per day. By following the main beach road, you can explore the beaches all the way along Weligama Bay. I stumbled across a beautiful beach that is tucked away on the headland that is on the eastern side of Weligama Bay. Click Here to see the full blog post and location of The Secret Beach.
On the 2nd Day, head around to Midigama Beach, a 5 minute drive from Weligama. This spot attracts really good waves in the months of November – March. You can rent a surf board from the local surf shop for 30,000 Rupees per hour. Midigama also has a skate park with boards available to rent there also. You can see my photo blog post and other things to do in Midigama Beach by clicking Here.
DAYS 7 & 8
After spending the first week exploring some awesome locations and beaches down the west coast, my friends and I decided to leave the coast and head inland to Udawalawe National Park. There are many National Parks in Sri Lanka and this one is on the way to Ella, which was our next stop on the list.
From Weligama to Udawalawe you can catch a local bus that takes around 3-4 hours. The drive through the lush landscapes as you leave the coast and head inland is absolutely amazing.
The Udawalawe Safari is an epic tour through a huge national park, getting up close and personal with some of Sri Lanka’s exotic wildlife, including wild elephants and crocodiles to name a few. I recommend to spend one night in Udawalawe and to organise a sunrise safari for the following day.
Click Here to see the full blog post of where I stayed, how to book and the cost of the safari.
DAYS 9, 10 & 11
Continue your journey north to Ella from Udawalawe by taking a tuk-tuk, a private taxi or the public bus. The journey time is approx 2 hours, give or take, because the roads are quite steep and there can be traffic. A tuk-tuk will cost 3,500 Rupees, private taxi 7,000 Rupees and a public bus 300-400 Rupees.
Ella has quickly become a popular spot for travellers for its profuse scenery and numerous fun adventures to be had in the region. You could easily spend a week here if you had the time, you will see why when you arrive. This place has a really positive and laid back vibe about it!
On your 1st Day in Ella I would recommend going straight to the Nine Arch Bridge. Only 30 minutes walk from the main street in town, you will find the Nine Arch Bridge amongst the tea plantations. This structure is a man-made masterpiece with the construction dating back as far as World War I. Click Here to read the full blog post.
Spend your 2nd Day heading down to Ravana Falls. This waterfall is very easy to find with easy access from the main road. Just 10 minutes drive down the valley from Ella, you can go swimming and adventuring around this amazing 3 tier, cascading waterfall! Click Here to see some awesome shots from my adventures at these falls!
If you time it right, you can also visit Little Adam’s Peak for sunset on the same day. This is one of Ella’s most popular hikes because it is an easy to moderate, self guided hike to the top with amazing panoramic views of the region! The hike only takes 45 minutes – 1 hour to reach the summit and watching the sunset from here is not to be missed! Click Here to see the full post of this hike, along with the location and some epic sunset shots.
Day 3 in Ella should be spent doing a sunrise hike to the summit of Ella Rock. Unfortunately I was not able to do this hike as I fell sick with a fever, but I heard nothing but good things from other travellers. You can do this hike with or without a guide and the climb to the top is 3-4 hours. You can obtain an area map for these hikes from the Tourist Centre in the main street of Ella or simply download ‘Maps Me’, an offline maps application that clearly shows all possible routes to take.
DAYS 12 & 13
The famous train journey from Ella to Kandy is often described as the worlds most scenic and a definite bucket list item! The journey is a long 7 hours for only $1.50. There is 1st, 2nd and 3rd class tickets available. You definitely want to book a 2nd or a 3rd class tickets so you are able to hang out the doors and windows while the train cuts in and out of the mountains.
The 1st train to leave Ella Station is at 6:40am and the 2nd one leaves at 9:20am. Personally, I recommend getting the earliest possible to try and avoid the crowds. I was sitting on the floor for half the journey before any seats became available, but it was fun to hang my legs out the train door!
By the time you get in to Kandy it will be late afternoon but you can squeeze in a few of the sites before night falls. My pick would be to visit the Temple Of The Sacred Tooth, a buddhist temple that houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Kandy is the second largest city in Colombo and also listed as a World Heritage Site. Close by to the temple is Kandy Lake and also Udawatta Kele Sanctuary.
On the 2nd Day I decided to do a day trip from Kandy to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. I jumped on a local bus from the main bus station in Kandy to Karandapuna Junction, where I then transferred to another bus that goes directly to the orphanage. The journey each way is 1.5 hours.
This is an orphanage, nursery and captive breeding ground for wild Asian elephants. The orphanage was founded to care and protect the many orphaned, unweaned wild elephants found wandering in and near the forests of Sri Lanka. Some of the elephants are chained and poked with metal tip sticks by the local staff if they get aggressive, purely for the safety of tourists. I did not agree with this set up as it seemed that there was more love for the money from the tourists then there was for the care of the elephants.
There are good and bad reviews of this location and everyones opinion is different. I did however enjoy seeing the elephants free to roam while bathing in the river, which was an unforgettable experience!
A 4 hour bus journey from Kandy to Colombo is the best way back to the capital city. Buses leave as early as 4am from the main bus station in Kandy.
I was only in Colombo for a short time and was able to visit one location which was the Jami Ul-Afar Mosque. The mosque is also known as ‘Red Masjid’ or the ‘Red Mosque’. Built in 1909, this is one of the oldest and most interesting mosque’s in Sri Lanka.
I hope this article finds you well when it comes to planning your itinerary for Sri Lanka. Please leave me any comments or questions below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.