With six days in Sri Lanka, you can visit three to four destinations. Balance heritage sites and popular spots like Kandy with outdoor adventures in Knuckles, perfect for first-timers, or take the summer to indulge in three nights in Trincomalee, suited to beach lovers. Alternatively, wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate spotting elephants in Udawalawe National Park. Meanwhile, those interested in a more in-depth experience might want to get off the beaten path and discover Sri Lanka by bike.

Itinerary #1: Best of Sri Lanka

See the best of Sri Lanka on this classic itinerary, perfect for travelers visiting the country for the first time. You'll experience a mix of urban adventures in Kandy, heritage site visits (including the impressive Sigiriya fortress), and a glimpse of rural life with a hike through the Knuckles Mountain Range.

colorful boats are docked along the banks of Hamilton's Canal in fishing village district of Negombo
Count the colorful boats docked along the banks of Hamilton's Canal in Negombo
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Sigiriya via Dambulla  Sigiriya
Day 3 Visit Sigiriya, Transfer to Knuckles Knuckles
Day 4 Hike Knuckles Mountain Range, Transfer to Kandy Kandy
Day 5 Explore Kandy & Visit Temple of the Tooth Kandy
Day 6 Depart Kandy  

Start your Sri Lanka experience in Negombo with a trip to the fish auction and a stroll around the streets to admire the Dutch and Portuguese architectural influences. On Day 2, drive to Dambulla, home of the Cave Temple, an important pilgrimage site and UNESCO World Heritage Site containing numerous murals and 157 statues, including a 47-foot-long Buddha statue. Spend Day 3 in Sigiriya exploring the ancient ruins of the iconic rock fortress—another UNESCO World Heritage Site—and enjoy panoramic views of the lush landscape below before continuing to Knuckles.

Head out for a hike on a scenic trail within the Knuckles Mountain Range, where you'll have the chance to see waterfalls, tea plantations, terraced rice paddies, and rural villages along the scenic trails. After a full day immersed in nature, freshen up and transfer to a homestay in Kandy. Day 5 is dedicated to Kandy, the central province's capital and home to the sacred Temple of the Tooth. Take a tour of the city, including visits to the Temple of the Tooth and Peradeniya Botanical Garden. Grab some souvenirs to remind you of your Sri Lanka experience before heading to the airport on your final day. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Sri Lankan Summer Highlights 

Travelers looking for a Sri Lankan beach vacation with a bit of culture and wildlife will appreciate the relaxed pace, leisure time for sunbathing and snorkeling in Trincomalee, wildlife viewing at Minneriya National Park, and heritage site visits, including Sigiriya Rock Fortress, on this summer highlights tour.

Enter the mouth of a lion at Sri Lanka's iconic Sigiriya rock fortress
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Sigiriya via Dambulla, Jeep Safari in Minneriya National Park Sigiriya
Day 3 Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Trincomalee with City Tour Trincomalee
Day 4 Beach Time in Trincomalee Trincomalee
Day 5 Dolphin & Whale Watching Trip, Free Afternoon Trincomalee
Day 6 Transfer to Colombo, Depart  

Stretch your legs with a walk around the Negombo waterfront on arrival, then sit down to a Sri Lankan dinner. Drive to Sigiriya on Day 2 with stops at Dambulla and Minneriya. Marvel at the murals in Dambulla's Cave Temple, the best-preserved cave temple complex in the country. Then enjoy wildlife viewing in Minneriya National Park, a reservoir that attracts elephants, deer, and migratory birds, particularly in the dry season (June to September). Climb the steps to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, where you can check out the ruins, cave frescoes, and ancient gardens, as well as sweeping views of the countryside. 

Head for the coastal city of Trincomalee and take a tour that includes 17th-century Fort Frederick, the restored Koneswaram Temple, and the colorful Hindu temple, Pathirakali Amman (also known as the Kali Kovil Temple). On Day 4, soak up some sun at one of the area's beaches, sip a cocktail at a beach bar, or try a snorkeling excursion at Pigeon Island National Park. Embark on a whale and dolphin watching boat tour on your final day in Sri Lanka, then spend the afternoon beach hopping before a final celebratory seafood dinner. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Discover Sri Lanka's Wildlife & Nature

Wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers will enjoy this itinerary which includes a train ride through verdant Hill Country, a wildlife safari in Udawalawe National Park, and a visit to Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home. In addition, you'll have the chance to experience the cultural hubs of Negombo, Kandy, and Colombo with tours and visits to museums, temples, and heritage sites.

Immerse in nature at Ravana Falls
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Kandy, Explore Kandy Kandy
Day 3 Transfer to Nuwara Eliya via Thalawakele Nuwara Eliya
Day 4 Transfer to Udawalawe, Evening Jeep Safari Udawalawe
Day 5 Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home, Return to Colombo Colombo
Day 6 Depart Colombo  

Explore the canals and colonial architecture of Negombo, dubbed "Little Rome" due to its Catholic influence, then take a boat around the Negombo Lagoon, watching for monkeys and herons. Transfer to Kandy on Day 2, the gateway to Hill Country. You can visit UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sri Dalada Maligawa ("Temple of the Sacred Tooth"), shop for souvenirs, and sample tea at the Ceylon Tea Museum. Board the train in Thalawakele on Day 3 and head for Nuwara Eliya to enjoy lush green spaces, including Victoria Park, home to a variety of endemic birds, such as the Kashmir flycatcher.

Immerse further in nature with a trip to nearby Horton Plains National Park, a highland reserve with misty cloud forests, rugged gorges, and abundant wildlife. It's off to Udawalawe National Park on Day 4, with a stop at Ravana Falls in Ella en route. Head out on a Jeep safari in search of elephants, jackals, and sloth bears, then spend the night in the tented camp. Stop by Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home to observe the care of orphaned elephants. Next, hit the road to Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital city, for your final guided tour with a stop at Pettah's bazaars, followed by a Sri Lankan dinner. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Sri Lanka Cycling Expedition

This itinerary is suited to adventurous travelers who want to experience Sri Lanka at a slower pace. Each day, you'll cycle a new route, passing rice paddies on the way to Kantale, traveling scenic coastlines and exploring fishing villages near Trincomalee, and visiting the temples and historic sites of the Kilinochchi region. 

Take a sunset bike ride in Sri Lanka
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Peradeniya, Transfer to Dambulla Dambulla
Day 2 Ride to Kantale, Transfer to Trincomalee Trincomalee
Day 3 Ride to Pulmoddai, Transfer to Mullaitivu Mullaitivu
Day 4 Ride to Parantan, Transfer to Kilinochchi Kilinochchi
Day 5 Kilinochchi Tour, Train to Jaffna Jaffna
Day 6 Cycling Tour of Jaffna, Depart Sri Lanka  

Meet your cycling guide in Peradeniya, a suburb of Kandy, and receive your gear before setting out for your first ride, passing through rural towns toward the Palapathwela suburb. Transfer by vehicle to Dambulla, where you'll rest up for tomorrow's ride. Rise early to visit Dambulla's cave temple complex before jumping back on your bike to ride 37 miles (60 km) northeast to Kantale, cruising past forests and rice paddies en route. Your driver will meet you there and transfer you to the coastal city of Trincomalee. Tour the sites, including the 17th-century Thirukoneshwaran Temple and Fort Fredrick. 

Cycle the palm tree-lined coast to Pulmoddai, then transfer by vehicle to Mullaitivu. On Day 4, cruise around the fishing villages and relax at the beach before cycling 37 miles (60 km) to Parantan, with stops at Puthukkudiyiruppu War Museum and Victory Monument en route. Take a driving tour of Kilinochchi, including visits to the War Memorial and Kilinochchi Water Tower, then board the train to Jaffna. On your last day, bike to Jaffna Fort and Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, then onto the Buddhist temple of Kadurugoda Viharaya. Take a final 15-mile (24 km) scenic ride up the coast before departure. 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 outdoor adventures, family-friendly trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 


Map of 6 Days in Sri Lanka - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 6 Days in Sri Lanka - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas