For a short but sweet trip to Sri Lanka, try one of these 5-day itineraries. You might focus on the country's top highlights, featuring visits to UNESCO-listed temples and a safari in a national park, or you may focus more exclusively on wildlife viewing. Alternatively, cool off on a laid-back tour of Hill Country—excellent for tea lovers—or spend your time exploring the beautiful beaches of the Sri Lankan coastline. Find out more about your options by reading the itineraries below.

Itinerary #1: Highlights of Sri Lanka

On this 5-day itinerary around Sri Lanka's top highlights, you'll see ancient temples, spot elephants and monkeys in the wild, and enjoy a beach day in Bentota where you can boat, swim, and sunbathe.

Sunset over the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive, Discover the Temples of Dambulla & Sigiriya Sigiriya
Day 2 Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Minneriya National Park Sigiriya
Day 3 Tour the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic Kandy
Day 4 Relax on the Beach in Bentota Bentota
Day 5 Sightsee in Galle & Depart  

Welcome to Sri Lanka! The journey begins with a visit to the cave temples of Dambulla. The complex dates back to the 1st century BCE and features a 47-foot (14-meter) reclining golden Buddha. Then it's on to the rock fortress at Sigiriya, where all that remains of a massive lion sculpture are a pair of giant carved paws. Explore Minneriya National Park in the afternoon, spotting elephants, leopards, and monkeys on the way. 

Continue on to Kandy, where you'll tour the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, home to a carefully guarded tooth of the Buddha. Then you'll have a full day to relax on the beautiful beaches of Bentota. Go scuba diving or deep-sea fishing on a traditional outrigger canoe, or try windsurfing. You'll finish the trip in Galle, where a 17th-century Dutch fort serves as an old town that's wonderful to wander. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Wildlife & Beaches of Sri Lanka 

Explore Sri Lanka's great outdoors on this 5-day trip that highlights the wildlife and beaches of the central and southern provinces, including safari tours in national parks and relaxing days by the coast in Mirissa and Bentota. 

A leopard in Yala National Park
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive, Go on Safari in Udawalawe National Park Udawalawe
Day 2 Visit the Elephant Transit Home & Yala National Park Yala
Day 3 Explore the Beautiful Beaches of Mirissa Mirissa
Day 4 Wander the Old Town of Galle & Relax in Bentota Bentota
Day 5 Sightsee in Colombo & Depart   

Your outdoor adventure kicks off with a safari in Udawalawe National Park, considered one of the best places in the world to see elephants in their natural habitat. You'll likely see more elephants, plus monkeys, spotted deer, sambar, wild boar, wild buffalo, sloth bears, jackals, and mongoose on the next day's game drive in Yala National Park. You'll also visit a rehabilitation center for orphaned baby elephants as they prepare to be released back into the wild.

Next, travel down the coast to Mirissa, where turquoise bays and pristine beaches await. Both here and in Bentota, you'll have time to relax on the sand and try a variety of water sports. Try scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, or windsurfing on the Laccadive Sea. On the last couple of days of the trip, you'll also wander around the old town of Galle, once a Dutch fort, and do some sightseeing and shopping in the capital city of Colombo. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Explore Sri Lanka's Hill Country

The hills are alive with the sound of traditional Sri Lankan drums on this 5-day journey through the national parks, hilltop villages, and tea plantations of Sri Lanka's Hill Country.

A train overlooks tea estates on the way to Nuwara Eliya
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kandy & Sightsee Kandy
Day 2 Enjoy the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya Kandy
Day 3 Learn About Tea Production in Nuwara Eliya Nuwara Eliya
Day 4 Explore Horton Plains National Park & Negombo Negombo
Day 5 Depart Negombo  

Begin in Kandy. You'll do some sightseeing and temple visits on the first day, including one to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Then you'll visit a traditional drum-making village and go to the Royal Botanical Gardens in nearby Peradeniya the next day, where highlights include a fragrant spice garden, cannonball fruit trees, and Burma bamboo. Once reserved exclusively for Kandyan royalty, the gardens are now open to the public.

Continue on to high-altitude Nuwara Eliya, where the cool environment is ideal for the harvesting and production of tea. You'll learn all about it on a dedicated tour. Take some time to explore the town's English-style gardens and houses, then venture onward to Horton Plains National Park. You'll spot elk, deer, wild boar, porcupines, and leopards while exploring the park’s high plateaus. Don't miss a hike to the high precipice known as the “World’s End." Then finish with a relaxing day by the beach in Negombo. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Sri Lanka Beach Getaway

Whether you want to snorkel through clear water, see whales off the side of a catamaran, ride a boat through a bird sanctuary, or just relax under a towering palm tree, this 5-day beach tour of Sri Lanka is for you.

Mirissa Beach
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive & Beach Day in Tangalle Tangalle
Day 2 Visit Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary & See Turtles at Night Tangalle
Day 3 Relax on the Beach in Mirissa Mirissa
Day 4 Whale-watching Tour in Mirissa Mirissa
Day 5 Tour Galle, Shop in Colombo & Depart  

The trip starts in Tangalle, a small fishing port with reminders of the 18th-century Dutch colonial era. Visit the beautiful bay of Seenimodera, protected from the ocean by a reef, and venture out to the beach after dark to witness marine turtles coming ashore to nest. You'll board a boat to cruise through Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary on day two, spotting a diverse array of birds along the way. Return to the beach for another chance for nocturnal turtle sightings.

Relax on the beaches of Mirissa for the second part of the trip. On day four, you'll go on an unforgettable whale-watching tour off the coast. Various other activities are optional, like surfing, renting a motorbike, visiting a snake farm, and swimming at Turtle Beach (also known as Polhena Beach). You can also just relax on the sand and enjoy the scenery, sun, and sea. On the last day, you'll stop in Galle to tour the old Dutch fort, then swing by the capital city of Colombo to shop for souvenirs before heading to the airport. Learn more

More Great Sri Lanka Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these other Sri Lanka itineraries, with active adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 


Map of 5 Days in Sri Lanka - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 5 Days in Sri Lanka - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas