The misty mountains of Sri Lanka's Hill Country take center stage on this engaging five-day itinerary.  Start in the historic city of Kandy, then head south with an unforgettable train journey through the lush tea estates of the Central Province. After a night in the hilltop village of Nuwara Eliya, explore the flora and fauna of Horton Plains National Park before traveling to the west coast for your final night in the laid-back beach town of Negombo.

Highlights

  • Visit the Buddhist temples of Kandy
  • Experience a scenic train journey through the Hill Country
  • Discover the highland tea estates of Nuwara Eliya
  • Hike to the World's End in Horton Plains National Park
  • Relax on the sandy beaches of Negombo

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kandy Kandy
Day 2 Kandy & Peradeniya Kandy
Day 3 Nuwara Eliya Nuwara Eliya
Day 4 Horton Plains & Negombo Negombo
Day 5 Depart from Negombo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kandy

The Temple of the Tooth, Kandy.
The Temple of the Tooth, Kandy.

Your adventure begins in Kandy, capital of the Central Province. Strategically nestled amongst three mountain ranges, the city serves as a welcoming gateway to Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

After settling into your accommodation, spend the afternoon visiting Kandy’s historic Royal Palace, which sits at the edge of Lake Kandy. Stroll through the palace’s shrines, temples, and gardens, before visiting its crown jewel: Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth.) The intricate temple complex dates to the 16th century and is home to Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic: a tooth from the Buddha, housed in a series of gold caskets.

Day 2: Kandy & Peradeniya

An avenue of royal palms at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya.
An avenue of royal palms at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya.

Day two is devoted to exploring Kandy and its surrounding areas. Start the morning with a visit to one of the traditional villages on the city’s outskirts. These hidden communities are well known for making traditional Sri Lankan drums. During the visit, you’ll help villagers gather animal hides and wood from local trees, and join the time-honored process of crafting the instruments.

Spend the rest of your day exploring the Royal Botanical Gardens, situated just outside Kandy in Peradeniya. Once reserved exclusively for Kandyan royalty, the stunning, 150-acre gardens now welcome visitors with a stately avenue of palms. Highlights include the fragrant spice garden, extraordinary cannonball fruit trees, and a towering 130-foot Burma bamboo.

Day 3: Nuwara Eliya

Tea fields above Nuwara Eliya.
Tea fields above Nuwara Eliya.

Today you’ll set out for the heart of tea country. After a spectacular train journey winding through lush tea fields and green hillsides, you’ll transfer to Nuwara Eliya. This magical highland town is situated 6,200 feet above sea level, with a climate unlike anywhere else in Sri Lanka. Its misty altitudes and cooler temperatures make it a haven for growing colorful flowers and exquisitely flavored teas. Colonized by the British and often referred to as “Little England,” Nuwara Eliya still retains the feel of the “old world.” Famous for horse racing, the town also boasts an impressive Golf Club, which dates back to 1889 and several hotels with a grandiose colonial style.

Spend the day exploring the town’s gardens, temples, museums, and tea plantations, before settling in for a peaceful evening in the Hill Country.

Day 4: Horton Plains & Negombo

The view from World's End, Horton Plains National Park.
The view from World's End, Horton Plains National Park.

Day four starts with a journey south to the famous Horton Plains National Park. This pristine nature reserve boasts almost 25,000 acres of rolling hills, forests, and grasslands, and is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna. Elk, deer, wild boar, porcupines, and leopards roam the park’s high plateaus, while rare and endangered highland birdlife flourishes in its forests. The area’s best-known hike is the climb to “World’s End,” a 2,880-foot precipice that offers fabulous views that stretch to the distant southern coastline.

When you’ve had enough hiking for the day, head for the west coast and the laid-back beach town of Negombo. Colonial architecture and meandering canals hint at the city's intriguing past. Known as “Little Rome” for its strong Catholic influence, Negombo transitioned over the centuries through Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial rulers. Today its sandy beaches, welcoming locals, and colorful streets make it the perfect spot to enjoy your last evening in Sri Lanka.

Day 5: Depart from Negombo

Negombo's long, sandy beaches.
Negombo's long, sandy beaches.

Bid Sri Lanka “ayubowan” (farewell) this morning, as you transfer to the nearby Bandaranayake Airport for your departing flight.

Map

Map of Explore Sri Lanka's Hill Country - 5 Days
Map of Explore Sri Lanka's Hill Country - 5 Days