Experience the natural beauty and fascinating culture of Sri Lanka on this whirlwind 5-day trip around the country's highlights. You'll begin with sightseeing in the historic port city of Colombo; then, you'll venture to the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya and spend some time exploring the region's rice paddies and green landscapes on a bicycle. Keep your eyes open for elephants on a wildlife safari in Minneriya National Park before you finish the adventure with visits to two of the country's most important temples in Dambulla and Kandy.

Highlights

  • Discover the lively port city of Colombo on a tour
  • Go on a catamaran cruise followed by a bonfire and barbecue
  • Cycle around the countryside and tour Minneriya National Park
  • Explore the country's best-preserved cave complex
  • Catch a dazzling sunset over the Indian Ocean

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Sightsee  Colombo
Day 2 Discover the Ancient Rock Fortress of Sigiriya Dambulla
Day 3 Go on a Cycling Tour of Hiriwadunna & Minneriya National Park Dambulla
Day 4 Explore Temples in Dambulla & Kandy Kandy
Day 5 Depart Sri Lanka - End of Trip   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Sightsee

Welcome to Colombo—your first stop on your Sri Lankan adventure
Welcome to Colombo—your first stop on your Sri Lankan adventure

Welcome to Sri Lanka! A melting pot of cultures and commerce, Colombo is a lively city with a fascinating history. Arab sailors frequented these ports to trade with the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists that occupied the city. Visit impressive cultural sights, including Buddhist temples and Hindu kovils (a type of Hindu temple). At sunset, head to the Galle Face Green Promenade. Overlooking the Indian Ocean, the promenade's sweeping views attract locals and tourists alike, who gather here to watch the sun sink into the sea and sample a variety of street food.

Day 2: Discover the Ancient Rock Fortress of Sigiriya

Lions Paw
The giant stone paw at Sigiriya

Have breakfast at the hotel, then transfer to the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Some say the site should be named the eighth wonder of the world. The name translates to "Lion Rock," a reference to the way visitors traditionally began their final ascent to the top of the monument, passing through the open jaws and throat of a lion. Unfortunately, the only remains of this lion figure today are the gigantic paws sculpted into the side of the rock. The fortress, rising up high from the jungle, is an incredible sight to see. 

In the evening, you will enjoy a boat ride in a catamaran with views of the sunset over the lake. Back on dry land, a barbecue dinner will be served by a bonfire. 

Day 3: Go on a Cycling Tour of Hiriwadunna & Minneriya National Park

Go on an elephant safari in Minneriya National Park
 Elephants in Minneriya National Park

Head out into the countryside today on a guided cycling tour through rice paddies and back roads. You'll have the chance to interact with local farmers and learn about rural life here. Then pedal onward to a quiet lake, where you will enjoy a boat trip out onto the water. Afterward, cycle around the lake, keeping your eyes open for exotic birds. Take a break for a cup of tea or a fresh coconut along the journey. You'll end the tour by having lunch with a local family inside a mud hut.  

After lunch, head to Minneriya National Park to go on a wildlife safari. A dry season feeding ground for Sri Lanka's elephant population, this park is a great place to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. If you're lucky, you might also get to catch a glimpse of rare and endangered Sri Lankan sloth bears and Sri Lankan leopards. 

Day 4: Explore Temples in Dambulla & Kandy

Kandy Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Continue to Dambulla. It's known for its Cave Temple, the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Featuring impressive mural paintings and 157 statues, including a massive Buddha monument, it's a sacred pilgrimage site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The history of the place dates back to the first century BCE when King Valagambahu took refuge here. Today, it's worth visiting not only for the cave temple but also for the beautiful view over the countryside.

Next, it's onward to Kandy, strategically situated between three mountain ranges, and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The impressive temple complex, dating back to the 16th century, is made up of numerous buildings decorated with paintings and carvings depicting Buddha. As the name suggests, it's home to an important relic, the tooth of the Buddha, which is carefully guarded by security night and day. 

Day 5: Depart Sri Lanka - End of Trip 

It's time to say goodbye to Sri Lanka
Workers in the tea fields of Sri Lanka

The journey has reached its conclusion. You'll transfer to the airport to catch a flight out. Safe travels!

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