This relaxed, 11-day family vacation combines Sri Lanka's classic highlights with some lesser-visited gems. Bouncing between the Hill Country, the Cultural Triangle, and the quiet northeastern beaches of Trincomalee, you'll embark on a series of hands-on experiences and excursions for all ages. Learn to play the Sri Lankan drums, take a forest walk with the island's last indigenous tribe, cycle through country villages, and snorkel amid tropical fish and reef sharks.


  • Discover Sri Lankan traditional music with drum lessons & an evening cultural show
  • Learn about life in the forests with the island's last indigenous tribe
  • Explore the ancient sites of Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Dambulla Cave Temples
  • Take cycling & boating excursions through unspoiled Sri Lankan countryside
  • Snorkel in the tropical reefs & turquoise waters of Pigeon Island

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Kandy, City Tour & Evening Cultural Show Kandy
Day 2 Botany & Storytelling at Peradeniya Gardens, Learn Sri Lankan Drumming Kandy
Day 3 Transfer to Mahiyanganaya, Sorabora Wewa Boat Ride Mahiyanganaya
Day 4 Vedda Forest Walk, Transfer to Sigiriya via the Cave Temples of Dambulla Sigiriya
Day 5 Village Cycling Tour at Hiriwadunna, Boat Trip to Bird Island Sigiriya
Day 6 Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Trincomalee Trincomalee
Day 7 Pigeon Island Snorkeling Excursion, Explore Koneswaram Temple Trincomalee
Day 8 Whale Watching in Trincomalee Trincomalee
Day 9 Free Day in Trincomalee Trincomalee
Day 10 Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 11 Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Kandy, City Tour & Evening Cultural Show

Kandy's lakeside Royal Temple
Views across Lake Kandy to the Royal Temple 
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, your driver will be waiting to transfer you northeast to Kandy. Gateway to the country's picturesque Hill Country, Sri Lanka's cultural capital lies amidst a stunning landscape of hills, valleys, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. The UNESCO-listed city is known for its grand Royal Palace, which sits on the edge of serene Lake Kandy.

Take a wander through the lively city streets and stop at the Gem Museum, where all ages will be captivated by the beauty of the dazzling exhibits. Browse some of the city's arts and crafts shops for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, and end your tour at the Bahirawakanda Buddha statue for spectacular views over the city. As evening falls, experience a live Kandyan cultural performance. Kids will be delighted by the traditional dances depicting birds and animals, energetic acrobatic performances, and stunts like plate-spinning and the dramatic "fire walk" which ends the show.

Day 2: Botany & Storytelling at Peradeniya Gardens, Learn Sri Lankan Drumming

Children can explore the incredible trees and plants of Kandy's Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
With a remarkable collection of delicate orchids and established trees and plants, Kandy's Royal Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind in Sri Lanka and a joy to explore as a family. Once reserved only for royalty, today the gardens are steeped in tales of history and science, which your guide will share as you stroll through the enchanting grounds.

In the afternoon, head 20 minutes outside of the city to the home of a traditional drum teacher. This ancient instrument has been a cornerstone of Sri Lankan music and cultural events for over 2,000 years, and today you can test out your rhythm with lessons from the local teacher. Over a cup of Ceylon tea, you'll learn about the history of traditional drum types and uses as you learn to play in the Sri Lankan style. Children will love the educational and interactive experience, which ends with the chance to try on the elaborate drummer's headdress.

Day 3: Transfer to Mahiyanganaya, Sorabora Wewa Boat Ride

Take a traditional boat out on the waters of Sorabora Wewa
Discover more of the UNESCO-listed city of Kandy with a tour of its Royal Palace, which houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha within the Dalada Maligwa (Temple of the Tooth). An important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world, an evocative soundtrack of traditional drumming sets the scene as you explore the magnificent series of shrines, temples, and gardens.

Afterward, you'll meet your driver and transfer west to the small city of Mahinyanganaya, located on the banks of the Mahaweli River. Another sacred pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Mahiyanganaya is believed to be the site of Lord Buddha's first visit to the island. Its location between the Central Highlands and the Knuckles Mountain Range also makes it the perfect base for outdoor explorations, including excursions to meet the area's native Vedda people.

After settling in, spend some time in nature with a tranquil boat ride along the shores of Sorabora Wewa. Located less than a mile outside of Mahiyanganaya, this vast, glassy lake is actually an ancient reservoir that dates back to the 2nd century BCE and is considered one of the great creations of Sri Lankan engineering. Today the lake supports the local community with fresh water and is rich in fish and birdlife. 

Day 4: Vedda Forest Walk, Transfer to Sigiriya via the Cave Temples of Dambulla

Intricate ancient art fills the temples of Dambulla
Learn more about the forest from its oldest inhabitants today, as you visit one of the last communities of the Vedda–the forest-dwelling, indigenous people of Sri Lanka. Dating back to the 6th century BCE, the Vedda inhabited Sri Lanka long before the Buddhists arrived, and their hunter-gatherer lifestyles have remained mostly unchanged. Your Vedda guide will invite you on a walk and bring the forest alive with stories of their ancestors, as kids learn about the tribe's use of medicinal plants, ancient hunting grounds, and cave dwellings. 
Then it's time to head north with a transfer towards Sigiriya and Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle. Along the way, stop to explore the popular cave temple complex of Dambulla, a UNESCO-listed site that dates back to the 2nd century BCE. Wind your way deep into the rock-cut, cliffside caves to admire some of the country's most important religious art. Gilded interiors, painted frescoes, and over 153 Buddha statues line the cave interiors, some of which are still used for meditation by monks. Afterward, climb to the dramatic clifftops for panoramic views.
Plan your trip to Sri Lanka
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Day 5: Village Cycling Tour at Hiriwadunna, Boat Trip to Bird Island

Explore the Sri Lankan countryside on a family cycling tour
Head out into the countryside today on a guided family cycling tour through rice paddies and back roads. Pedaling around a hidden lake, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the peace and quiet as you spot native birds and wildlife en route. Along the way you can stop at a local house for a refreshing cup of tea or herbal drink served by a villager, then continue to a local temple for a good luck blessing. After working up an appetite, end the ride with an authentic Sri Lankan rice and curry lunch freshly prepared by a local family (if you are interested you can also join them for a cooking session!)
In the afternoon, you can join a local fisherman and their family on their traditional boats for an afternoon paddle to observe the remarkable Bird Island. This small rocky formation lies close to the south banks of the shallow Parakrama Samudraya reservoir and attracts thousands of birds, who roost and raise their young in the protected colony. Kids can take turns paddling the boat, then continue to another island for a tea break and some swimming as the sun sets. 

Day 6: Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Trincomalee

Ascend the carved fortress of Sigiriya
Ascend the carved fortress of Sigiriya

Explore one of Sri Lanka's most treasured monuments today as you climb the 1,200 steps to Sigiriya Rock. Admire the intact 1,600-year-old frescoes and other relics of the carved fortress as you ascend through giant carved lion's paws to reach the top—where sweeping views across the surrounding countryside await. Countless hidden wonders along the way make the long climb relatively easy for the whole family, but younger children can also opt for a less strenuous hike to the halfway point.

Little ones can rest tired legs and catch up on some naps in the afternoon as you transfer northeast to the coastal town of Trincomalee. Famed for its pristine beaches and natural deep-water harbor, nearby you'll find many historic Buddhist and Hindu sites, as well as the ancient hot springs of Kanniya. After settling into your accommodations, head to the beach for an afternoon of sandcastles and sunbathing.

Day 7: Pigeon Island Snorkeling Excursion, Explore Koneswaram Temple

Snorkel amid tropical fish and colorful coral
Dive into the crystal clear waters of Pigeon Island today as you snorkel through an underwater world of dazzling corals and tropical fish. Located just half a mile off the coast of Trincomalee, this protected marine reserve is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving in the country. The clear, shallow waters make the spot a great fit for kids, who will love spotting rare sea turtles, reef sharks, and colorful angelfish among the living coral reefs.

Back on dry land, pay a visit to Sri Lanka's most important Hindu landmark, located on a dramatic clifftop overlooking the Indian Ocean. Dating back as far as 400 BCE, the great Koneswaram Temple was pillaged during centuries of colonization but over the years many priceless artifacts were recovered from the surrounding seas and reinstalled in their rightful places. Today you can find colorful and intricate sculptures of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, and Goddess Parvati, along with countless other treasures that showcase the temple's significance as a place of worship to Sri Lankans. 

Day 8: Whale Watching in Trincomalee

Watch for blue whales and dolphins in the waters around Trincomalee
Catch a glimpse of some of the ocean's most majestic inhabitants in their natural habitat on an exciting whale watching trip. During peak season, sightings of large groups of whales are commonplace around Trincomalee and provide an incredible experience for the whole family. Marine life such as sperm and blue whales, false orcas, spinner and bottlenose dolphins, and turtles thrive in the Indian Ocean waters of Sri Lanka due to the deep, nutrient-rich waters, and if you're lucky you'll spot several different species on today's excursion.

Day 9: Free Day in Trincomalee

Spend the day on Trincomalee's idyllic beaches
Today is free for you to spend at your leisure—relaxing on Trincomalee's pristine beaches, indulging in some local watersports, or enjoying the many resort amenities. 

Day 10: Transfer to Negombo

Colorful fishing boats line the canals of Negombo
Head back to the west coast today as you transfer to the laid-back beach town of Negombo, known for its melting pot of Dutch, Portuguese, and British influences. With golden beaches, peaceful canals, colorful streets, and welcoming locals, it's the perfect spot to enjoy your final night in Sri Lanka. 

Day 11: Transfer to Colombo & Depart

Spend your last morning in Sri Lanka at the beach

After a final morning at the beach, it's time to bid Sri Lanka farewell as your driver transfers you to the airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels and ayubowan (the traditional Sri Lankan blessing of long life).

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Map of Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days
Map of Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days