This diverse five-day itinerary introduces you to some of Sri Lanka’s most beloved cultural and natural wonders. Starting at the sacred cave temples of Dambulla, you’ll climb the great Sigiriya Rock Fortress, observe elephant herds in Minneriya National Park, and relax on the golden beaches of Bentota before ending your trip in the beautifully preserved fortified port of Galle.

Highlights

  • Explore the ancient cave temples of Dambulla
  • Scale the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Spot elephants, leopards, and monkeys in Minneriya National Park
  • Discover Bentota's golden beaches and clear waters
  • Wander the cobbled streets of the 17th century Galle Fort

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Dambulla & Sigiriya Sigiriya
Day 2 Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Minneriya National Park Sigiriya
Day 3 Kandy & the Temple of the Tooth Kandy
Day 4 Bentota Bentota
Day 5 Galle & Colombo Airport  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Dambulla & Sigiriya

Pagoda & Buddha Statues Dambulla Cave Temple
Pagoda & Buddha Statues Dambulla Cave Temple

Your first day in Sri Lanka starts at the remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dambulla. This sacred cave temple complex dates back to the 1st century BCE and is home to some of the country’s most important religious artifacts. Wander through its series of five caves to marvel at the gilded interiors, dramatic murals, and an incredible collection of holy statues, including a 47-foot long reclining golden Buddha. The temple’s rocky clifftops offer sweeping views across the surrounding forests and countryside of the Central Province.

In the afternoon, make your way 30 minutes north to Sigiriya, where you’ll settle into your accommodation for the night.

Day 2: Sigiriya Rock Fortress & Minneriya National Park

Wild Asian elephant herds in Minneriya National Park.
Wild Asian elephant herds in Minneriya National Park.

Today you’ll spend the morning exploring the ancient city of Sigiriya, considered the eighth wonder of the world. The rocky monolith rises 650 feet out of the lush jungle and is home to the remains of an ancient fortress built in the late 5th century CE. Giant lion’s paws are carved out of the rock face, and intricate frescoes line the granite walls.  

After lunch, head to Minneriya National Park, a vast preserve of forest and grasslands. Located between Habarana and Polonnaruwa, the park’s 20,000 acres are home to elephants, leopards, sambar deer, and langur monkeys. At its heart is the extraordinary Minneriya Tank. Created by the Anuradhapura civilization over 1,800 years ago, its peaceful shores are the perfect place to observe herds of elephants and flocks of painted storks.

Plan your trip to Sri Lanka
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 3: Kandy & the Temple of the Tooth

View across Kandy Lake to the Temple of the Tooth.
Views across Kandy Lake to the Temple of the Tooth.

Day three takes you to Kandy, capital of the Central Province and your base for the night. Strategically nestled between three mountain ranges, the city serves as a welcoming gateway to Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

Spend the morning in one of the many traditional villages on the city’s outskirts, where you can try your hand at the art of fan making with local artisans. Sesath are round fans and sunshades originating from the time of Sri Lankan kings. Since then, the fans have become a hand-woven symbol of prosperity and a vibrant relic of history and heritage.

Spend the afternoon visiting Kandy’s historic Royal Palace. Explore the shrines, temples, and gardens, before visiting its crown jewel: Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Tooth.) This ancient temple complex dates to the 16th century and is home to Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic: a tooth from the Buddha.

Day 4: Bentota

Bentota Beach at sunset.
Bentota Beach at sunset.

Today you’ll head southwest to the golden beaches of Bentota. Calm seas and miles of pristine beaches make this laid-back resort a favorite holiday playground. Bentota is a mecca for watersports: try scuba diving in the coral-rich waters, go deep-sea fishing on a traditional outrigger canoe, or try your hand at windsurfing on the resort’s gentle waves. As evening approaches, sample the local cuisine with a dinner of fresh-caught seafood before watching a memorable sunset over the Laccadive Sea.

Day 5: Galle & Colombo Airport

The historic fortified port of Galle Dutch Fort.
The historic fortified port of Galle Dutch Fort.

Your final day starts in Galle, the bustling provincial capital and administrative center of the south. Stroll its palm-lined promenades, explore the exquisite circular cove of Unawatuna Bay, and walk the ramparts and narrow alleys of the 17th-century Dutch fort that serves as its old town. 

As afternoon approaches, it’s time to bid Sri Lanka a fond farewell as you transfer to Colombo Airport for your flight home.

Map

Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka: Sigiriya, Kandy & Bentota - 5 Days
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka: Sigiriya, Kandy & Bentota - 5 Days