With eight days, you can explore the temples, mountains, and beaches of Sri Lanka on a well-rounded itinerary or opt for a nature-packed trip and spend your days spotting wild elephants and taking in expansive views from ancient fortresses. For those looking to pack in as much as possible, embark on a best-of-Sri Lanka tour around the country's famous temples and coastal towns. In contrast, those looking to slow down can enjoy a leisurely tour from Negombo through Nuwara Eliya to the capital city of Colombo.

Itinerary #1: Classic Sri Lanka: Temples, Mountains & Beaches

Explore beautiful landscapes and ancient temples and soak up unique culture on this well-rounded itinerary, perfect for first-time travelers to Sri Lanka. With a mixture of trekking adventures, local family visits, and scenic transfers and topped with a relaxing day on the beaches of Unawatuna and your own private driver, you'll leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by the country's warm hospitality.

Sandy beach in Unawatuna
Sandy beach in Unawatuna
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Sigiriya, Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress Sigiriya
Day 3 Explore Pidurangala, Rural Village Trail in Habarana Sigiriya
Day 4 Transfer to Kandy via Dambulla, Temple of the Sacred Tooth & Cultural Show Kandy
Day 5 Transfer to Ella, Visit Lipton's Seat & Tea Estate Ella
Day 6 Free Day in Ella Ella
Day 7 Transfer to Unawatuna via Galle Dutch Fort  Unawatuna
Day 8 Transfer to Colombo, Depart  

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Your getaway begins with a transfer to the relaxed beach town of Negombo, and after an evening wandering the town's colorful streets, you'll hit the road to Sigiriya. Take in the stunning rock gardens and water fountains of this UNESCO-listed ancient fortress, then the following day, head to the third-century BCE monastery of Pidurangala. Next, another transfer brings you south to Kandy, where you can enjoy an afternoon touring the historic Royal Palace, home to the magnificent Sri Dalada Maligawa ("Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic"), and your evening at a traditional cultural show.

The second half of your trip begins with a scenic drive to the mountain village of Ella, with a stop at the impressive viewpoint of Lipton's Seat along the way. Take a day to explore Ella at your leisure, trekking to Ravana Ella Falls or taking in unmatched views of the countryside from Ella's Rock. Then, your private driver will bring you to the coastal town of Unawatuna, where after a city tour, you can spend your afternoon between the beach and the sea and your evening delighting in Sri Lankan cuisine. Refreshed and rejuvenated, you'll head to the airport the following morning to catch your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Highlights of Sri Lanka

Wildlife enthusiasts will delight in this nature-filled highlights tour that explores sprawling tea plantations, the Horton Plains, and the Udawalawe National Park. Spot wild elephants, watch monkeys playing among the trees, and take in expansive views from ancient temples, all while soaking up the knowledge from your private driver.

Sunrise in Galle
Sunrise in Galle
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Sigiriya Sigiriya
Day 3 Transfer to Kandy via Dambulla Kandy
Day 4 Transfer to Nuwara Eliya Nuwara Eliya
Day 5 Transfer to Udawalawe Udawalawe
Day 6 Transfer to Galle Galle
Day 7 Explore Galle Galle
Day 8 Depart Galle  

Your Sri Lanka adventure begins with a private transfer to the laidback coastal town of Negombo, famous for its fish auctions and colonial-style architecture. After a relaxing evening, transfer to the ancient city of Sigiriya, where a climb up 1,200 steps of Sigiriya Rock Fortress rewards you with breathtaking views of the surroundings. On the road again the next day, you'll soon reach Kandy, home to the 2,500-year-old sacred tooth of the Buddha inside The Temple of the Tooth. Continuing your journey south, you'll reach Nuwara Eliya, known as "Little England" and famous for its scenic tea plantations and cooler climate.

Spend your afternoon on an activity of your choice at Gregory Park, then the next day, a short drive brings you to Horton Plains. Embark on an early morning adventure searching for elk, macaque, and leopards, followed by a transfer to your safari camp in Udawalawe National Park. Home to wild elephants, water buffalo, and monkeys, you'll delight in watching these animals bathe and feed until it's time to transfer to Galle. With your last two days in this UNESCO-listed city along the southern coast, you'll have time to swim in Unawatuna Bay and wander the stylish streets before catching your flight home. Learn more

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Itinerary #3: Best of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Tangalle

Over eight days, this action-forward adventure packs in visits to Sri Lanka's famous sites of Sigiriya, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, and Udawalawe National Park, among others. Perfect for those who enjoy keeping on the move, you'll get a well-rounded taste of Sri Lanka's impressive landscapes, from a 6,200-foot (1,890 m) high tea plantation to the charming coastal town of Tangalle.

Kandy's Temple of the Tooth Relic
Kandy's Temple of the Tooth Relic
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sri Lanka, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Sigiriya, Explore the Site Sigiriya
Day 3 Explore Dambulla & Kandy Kandy
Day 4 Train Ride to Nuwara Eliya Nuwara Eliya
Day 5 Transfer to Udawalawe, Evening Jeep Safari Udawalawe
Day 6 Transfer to Tangalle, Turtle Watching at Rekawa Beach Tangalle
Day 7 Day at Leisure in Tangalle Tangalle
Day 8 Depart Sri Lanka  

After arriving at Bandaranaike International Airport, settle into life in Sri Lanka with a relaxing evening roaming the streets of Negombo and watching a live fish auction. Refreshed, you'll transfer to Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress jutting 600 feet (183) out from the lush jungle below before another transfer brings you to Kandy the following morning. Along the way, stop at Dambulla's famous painted cave temple, then enjoy an afternoon exploring the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Next, it's time to board a train and journey into the heart of the tea country to Nanu Oya, followed by a short drive to Nuwara Eliya.

Embark on a guided drive to learn about the production of Ceylon tea; then, it's back on the road to Udawalawe National Park, where, while staying at a safari camp, you'll have the chance to spot wild elephants and water buffaloes. After a memorable evening, it's time to transfer to Tangalle, your home, for your last two nights. Spend your days between Tangalle Beach and the rock temples of Mulkirigala and your evenings watching turtles nest at Rekawa Beach as the sun sinks into the Indian Ocean. Before you know it, it'll be time to say goodbye to Sri Lanka and catch your flight home. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Snapshot of Sri Lanka

With two nights each in Negombo and Sigiriya and a leisurely journey through the highlands of Nuwara Eliya, this culture-focused itinerary is perfect for those who want to slow down and take in Sri Lanka's relaxed pace of life. Along the way, you'll have time to spot wild elephants and wander famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites while enjoying the local knowledge of your private guide and driver.

Enjoy the magical experience of seeing elephants in the wild on a sunset Jeep safari
Enjoy the magical experience of seeing elephants in the wild on a sunset Jeep safari
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Explore Negombo's Lagoon & Beaches Negombo
Day 3 Transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya Sigiriya
Day 4  Ancient Ruins of Polonnaruwa & Evening Jeep Safari Sigiriya
Day 5 Transfer to Kandy, Tour the Sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth Relic Kandy
Day 6 Transfer to Nuwara Eliya, Tour a Working Tea Plantation Nuwara Eliya
Day 7 Transfer to Colombo, Discover the Vibrant Capital Colombo
Day 8 Depart Colombo  

Begin your Sri Lanka trip with a short transfer from Bandaranaike International Airport to Negombo. You'll spend your first two days dusting off any jetlag with relaxing strolls along picturesque canals and an exciting tuk-tuk ride to its famous lagoon. Refreshed, join your private driver for a transfer to Sigiriya and explore the ancient rock fortress and Upper Palace, once home to King Kasyapa. Wake up early the following morning for an action-packed day exploring the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, then join an evening safari in Kaudulla National Park, home to wild elephants, fishing cats, and sloth bears.

Day five of your trip begins with a drive south to Kandy in the Central Province, where your guide will take you on a tour of the Royal Palace. Before departing, wander the 148-acre (60 ha) Royal Botanical Gardens, then it's off to the highland village of Nuwara Eliya. Learn the ins and outs of the tea-making process and sample fresh tea until it's back on the road the next morning to the capital city of Colombo. With nearly a full day to explore, you'll have time to check out the Buddhist temples and bustling markets in Pettah and celebrate the final evening of your trip with a memorable dinner. 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, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.


Map of 8 Days in Sri Lanka - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas
Map of 8 Days in Sri Lanka - 4 Unique Itinerary Ideas