- Walk the paths of emperors at the ancient Citadel of Yapahuwa
- Swim, snorkel, and play along the white-sand beaches of Pasikudah
- Visit the famed Temple of the Tooth in the historic city of Kandy
- See bright-colored parakeets, orioles, and butterflies in Hanthana
|Day 1||Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Anuradhapura, Tour the Citadel of Yapahuwa||Anuradhapura|
|Day 2||Explore Anuradhapura, Safari at Minneriya National Park, Nocturnal Lori Tour||Anuradhapura|
|Day 3||Sigiriya Rock Hike, Visit Hiriwadunna Village||Anuradhapura|
|Day 4||Transfer to Pasikudah, Explore the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa||Pasikudah|
|Day 5||Visit Batticaloa Fort, Family Beach Cinema Night||Pasikudah|
|Day 6||Snorkeling Fun in Passikudah, Dolphin Watching Excursion||Pasikudah|
|Day 7||Transfer to Kandy, Guided City Tour||Kandy|
|Day 8||Hanthana Butterfly Tour, Family Cooking Class||Kandy|
|Day 9||Kandy Botanical Gardens, Transfer to Colombo, Colombo Tuk-Tuk Tour||Colombo|
|Day 10||Depart Colombo|
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Anuradhapura, Tour the Citadel of Yapahuwa
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Your flight arrives in the city of Colombo, where you'll be met by your driver and transferred to the town of Anuradhapura. The country's first historic capital, modern Anuradhapura is a vibrant metropolis with plenty of things to see and do.
After your driver drops you off at your hotel for check-in, start your adventures with a visit to the Citadel of Yapahuwa. This 13th-century citadel, built around a huge granite rock rising more than 320 feet (100 m), was once a bustling capital city. It now serves as a Buddhist monastery, exuding a sense of quiet serenity as you walk the grounds and let the little ones burn off some energy post-flight.
Your family will have a chance to immerse yourselves in the ancient pathways and history here, standing where emperors once walked and climbing the stone stairway to the top. The summit offers panoramic views that seamlessly blend the citadel's grandeur with the beauty of nature, making you feel as if you've stepped back in time. Tonight, relax at your hotel or explore more of the city on your own.
Day 2: Explore Anuradhapura, Safari at Minneriya National Park, Nocturnal Loris Tour
This morning, set out with the family to see more of Anuradhapura. Visit Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba, a giant stupa guarded by 344 elephant statues, and Sri Sarananda Maha Pirivena, where you'll find a meditation area with a large white Buddha. Bask in the serenity of white dagabas—chambers that housed sacred relics—and see the network of reservoirs and canals that once served as the city's irrigation system. End at Mahamewuna Garden, home to the revered Sri Maha Bodhi—a 2,000-year-old fig tree that's said to have been grown from a branch of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment.
Later, take a guided safari into Minneriya National Park, a protected area that encompasses upward of 21,000 acres (8,400 ha). There are more than 24 species of mammals and 170 species of birds here, and you and the kids will get a chance to see plenty on today's Jeep adventure, accompanied by an expert guide. See elephants at Minneriya Tank Reservoir, whose waters bring them from miles around, and make sure the kids keep an eye out for langur monkeys in the trees. If you're lucky, you may even catch sight of a rare Sri Lankan leopard.
After sunset, your family will have the opportunity to experience a nighttime adventure that takes you in search of an encounter with Sri Lanka's elusive nocturnal primate, the loris. This small creature—a large-eyed, slow-moving cousin to the lemur—awakens after sunset and is rarely seen by humans. Your guide will take you to the areas where you're most likely to see them, and if you're lucky, you and the kids might catch a glimpse of the diminutive primates munching on leaves or hunting insects for their dinner.
Day 3: Sigiriya Rock Hike, Visit Hiriwadunna Village
Start the day with a visit to one of Sri Lanka's most treasured monuments, Sigiriya Rock. Rising 1,144 feet (349 m) above the landscape, Sigiriya, also known as the "Lion Fortress," is a masterpiece that has withstood the tests of time. This UNESCO World Heritage Site will take your family back to the bygone era of King Kashyapa, leader of the Sinhalese Kingdom in the late fifth century CE.
Make your way to the main entrance, walking through the colossal lion paws carved into the rock, and begin your ascent of the 1,200 granite-carved steps. You'll travel through the heart of the mountain, taking in the rock walls adorned with vivid frescoes along the way. At the top, you're rewarded with incredible views of the city and surrounding countryside. The climb is considered relatively easy for the whole family, but younger children can also opt for a less strenuous hike to the halfway point.
This afternoon, get a rare glimpse into traditional rural Sri Lankan life with a visit to Hiriwadunna village. You'll meet up with your local guides and make the 30-minute drive to the village, where you'll start with a guided catamaran ride on the nearby river, then let the kids try their hands at traditional farming. Stop by a villager's home for tea and conversation, learning more about the life and history of the region, and end the tour with a traditional Sri Lankan lunch prepared by a local family—the kids can even help with the preparation if they're interested.
Day 4: Transfer to Pasikudah, Explore the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa
Your next destination is the town of Pasikudah, a small coastal resort area known for its incredible beaches and natural beauty. Your driver will collect you from your hotel in the morning for the scenic 2.5-hour drive. Once you've checked in at your accommodations and had a chance to regroup, take a deep dive into the region's hidden history with a family tour to nearby Polonnaruwa.
Meet with your guides at the hotel and make the one-hour drive, then embark on your exploration of what was once a thriving city. Walk along the central reservoir, where you'll find almost perfectly preserved ruins, and the kids might even spot some curious monkeys nearby! Spend time discovering impressive palaces, shrines, and statues within this UNESCO World Heritage Site as your guide explains the history and legends that surround them. And don't miss a visit to the Gal Vihara temple complex, where you'll find dozens of statues of reclining, sitting, and standing Buddhas.
Upon your return to Pasikudah, the rest of your afternoon is free. If the kids are clamoring for beach time, head down to Pasikudah Beach, a lovely stretch of white sand and sparkling blue waters that sits in a protected bay, making for gentle waves that are perfect for little ones. You can grab a meal at a nearby restaurant or stroll along the beach and enjoy the sunset before returning to your hotel.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Visit Batticaloa Fort, Family Beach Cinema Night
Enjoy a family tour to Batticaloa Fort today, located about 45 minutes down the coast in the town of Batticaloa. Built by the Portuguese in 1628, the fort was captured by the subsequent Dutch and British colonizers, who used it as a defensive structure and later as an administrative complex. Even today, certain local government authorities function within the fort.
Your guide will pick you up from your hotel, and you'll drive to the fort's main entrance, where you'll be able to see the four bastions as well as the quiet lagoon that surrounds the structure. As your guide shares information on the fort's architecture and colorful history, you and the kids can climb to the top, where you'll have elevated views of the lagoon and surrounding countryside. Afterward, head back to your resort hotel to relax or spend more time on the beach.
Tonight, the whole family can enjoy movies under the stars at your resort's private beach area. Grab some snacks, settle into comfortable seats, and relish the feeling of sand between your toes as the sun sets across the water. Movies include Disney classics and other children's shows, and classic subtitled Sri Lankan films or documentaries for adults. The kids won't soon forget the experience of watching their favorite movies against the backdrop of star-filled skies and gentle ocean waves!
Day 6: Snorkeling Fun in Passikudah, Dolphin Watching Excursion
Take the family on an aquatic adventure today in the enchanting underwater realm of Pasikudah. Meet with your guides at the hotel, and after an equipment and safety briefing, you're free to dive in! Swim out to the bay's coral reef, where you'll be surrounded by colorful fish and maybe even the occasional sea turtle or ray. Younger children can wade out into the shallow waters to see the fish, while those aged seven and up can join a guided tour of the reef. Learn about the different fish that swim in these waters, finishing up with beachside snacks and refreshments.
For even more views of Sri Lanka's incredible marine life, head out on a dolphin watching excursion, where you and the kids might catch a glimpse of dolphins, sperm whales, blue whales, and other creatures thriving in the Indian Ocean. The continental shelf offers a protected haven for marine life, making for incredible viewing opportunities for the whole family. Do keep in mind that this ocean is rarely calm, so if you've got any family members who are prone to seasickness, consider taking medication beforehand to combat any potential issues.
Day 7: Transfer to Kandy, Guided City Tour
You're off to Sri Lanka's cultural capital today! The UNESCO-listed city of Kandy is most well-known for its Royal Palace, which sits on the edge of serene Lake Kandy and houses the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha within the Dalada Maligwa (Temple of the Tooth). Your private transfer will collect you in the morning, and you'll make the scenic four-hour drive, which takes you inland and through picturesque towns and villages. Once you've checked in at your hotel, it's time to see more of the city with a guided tour.
Start with a stop at the Gem Museum, where any budding geologists in the family will be captivated by the display of natural stones and sparkling minerals. Continue to the highlight of the day, the Royal Palace and Temple of the Tooth. Your family will have a chance to walk through the complex while your guide shares stories and legends about this sacred place.
See the gardens and shrines around the palace, then stroll the shores of nearby Lake Kandy, where the kids might spot egrets, herons, and other birdlife. Spend some time perusing the city's arts and crafts shops for one-of-a-kind souvenirs, ending your tour with a visit to the Bahirawakanda Buddha statue, which offers spectacular views of the city. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and explore more on your own.
Day 8: Hanthana Butterfly Tour, Family Cooking Class
Discover a haven for nature enthusiasts of all ages today as you spend the morning at Kandy's W15 Hanthana Estate. Located just 20 minutes outside the city, this lush plantation is a secret paradise for bird watchers and butterfly enthusiasts. Meet with your guides and embark on a hike through the region's incredible biodiversity, taking in the green landscapes while keeping an eye out for rose-ringed parakeets, black-hooded orioles, or brahminy kites. Sri Lanka is also home to more than 200 species of butterflies, and your family is likely to see quite a few here!
This afternoon, learn more about Sri Lankan life and culture with a family cooking class. Guided by local villagers, you'll learn how to make a traditional Sri Lankan meal, choosing your assorted vegetables and adding chicken or fish to create delicious dal curry, coconut sambol, and papadum. Your instructors will explain the significance of each ingredient, and the kids will be able to try their hand at making dishes as well! Afterward, sit down together with your new friends and enjoy the delicious meal you created.
Day 9: Kandy Botanical Gardens, Transfer to Colombo, Colombo Tuk-Tuk Tour
Make the most of your last morning in Kandy with a visit to the Royal Botanical Garden. Cultivated in 1374 as a pleasure garden for the kings of Kandy, today, the grounds host more than 5,000 species of trees and plants, some rare and endemic to the island. This is a great way for the little ones to burn some energy, and be sure to stop by the popular World Spice Garden and Orchid House exhibits.
After the gardens, you'll be picked up by your driver and transferred back to Colombo, a drive of about three hours. Once you've arrived and checked into your hotel, take the kids out for a guided tour of the city and experience the vibrant spirit of this commercial capital. Start at Independence Square, a national monument built to commemorate the country's release from British rule. From here, you'll hop into a tuk-tuk, Sri Lanka's quintessential mode of transportation, to see more of the city sights.
Visit Gangaramaya Temple, a colorful sanctuary that showcases the intricate fusion of the many architectural styles that have shaped the country, then stop at the Sri Ponnambala Vanneswarar Temple, a large granite structure that stands as an example of the country's ability to blend tradition and innovation. Finish your tour in the city's heart—Pettah, an age-old merchant quarter that traces its roots back to the 17th century. The kids will love the lively streets and vendors, and you'll also get a chance to see the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, a striking masterpiece of red and white brick.
Day 10: Depart Colombo
It's time to bid farewell to Sri Lanka! Your driver will collect you from your hotel this morning, transferring you to Colombo airport for your flight home. Safe travels!
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