This eight-day itinerary will take you on an exciting journey around Sri Lanka's most revered cultural sites and natural wonders. Start by ticking off two phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Sites at the rock fortress Sigiriya and Kandy's Temple of the Tooth Relic. Head out on an evening Jeep safari in the Kaudulla National Park to spot majestic elephants, then head into the Hill Country to discover the process of Ceylon tea making from tea bush to teapot in Nuwara Eliya.


  • Visit the colossal granite monolith of UNESCO World Heritage Site Sigiriya
  • Take a once-in-a-lifetime evening Jeep safari in Kaudulla National Park
  • Explore the world-famous Buddhist site, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
  • Enjoy the lush flora and fauna of the Royal Botanical Gardens 
  • See the entire process of tea making from tea bush to teapot in Nuwara Eliya

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Explore Negombo's Lagoon & Beaches Negombo
Day 3 Transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya Sigiriya
Day 4  Ancient Ruins of Polonnaruwa & Evening Jeep Safari Sigiriya
Day 5 Transfer to Kandy, Tour the Sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth Relic Kandy
Day 6 Transfer to Nuwara Eliya, Tour a Working Tea Plantation Nuwara Eliya
Day 7 Transfer to Colombo, Discover the Vibrant Capital Colombo
Day 8 Depart Colombo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo

Stretch your legs with a stroll along Negombo's Dutch-style canals

Welcome to Sri Lanka! After a meet and greet at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, you'll transfer to the coastal fishing town of Negombo, around 9 miles (15 km) away. Get settled into your hotel, then spend the rest of your afternoon resting after your flight or heading out to explore Negombo's charming blend of meandering canals and colonial architecture.

Day 2: Explore Negombo's Lagoon & Beaches

Negombo is famous for its sandy beaches & fishing industry
Negombo is famous for its sandy beaches and fishing industry

Negombo is yours to explore today. Known as "Little Rome" for its strong Catholic influence, the town transitioned through Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial rule. Colonial buildings from this period remain to remind visitors of days when Negombo supplied the highly lucrative cinnamon trade, and you'll find echoes of this storied past sprinkled throughout its colorful streets

Hop in a tuk-tuk to enjoy a spin around the town's historical highlights, then follow meandering canals to reach its famous lagoon, which supports the thriving local fishing industry with diverse marine life. In the afternoon, Negombo's miles of golden, sandy beaches beckon—the perfect way to settle into your Sri Lankan vacation and unwind before tomorrow's adventures. 

Day 3: Transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya

The dramatic sight of the colossal rock fortress of Sigiriya

Meet your driver for a transfer northeast to your next destination: the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya. After checking into your hotel, join your guide for an immersive look at one of the most remarkable architectural wonders in Sri Lanka. Carved into a massive granite monolith, the rock fortress rises nearly 700 feet (213 m) above one of Asia's most well-preserved ancient landscaped gardens. The fortress was originally constructed in the shape of a lion, but today the giant lion's paws and intricate surrounding brickwork are all that remain of the forbidding entrance to the ancient Upper Palace.

Stretching across nearly 3.5 acres (1.5 ha), the palace on the flat plateau summit was home to King Kasyapa for over 20 years. The floor plan of the palace is still clearly visible, as is the King's throne and his bathing pool. A climb up the 1,200 carved stone steps to the top of the fortress will reward you with sweeping views across the lush surrounding countryside, and you'll have plenty of time to explore before your driver takes you back to the hotel for the evening.

Day 4: Ancient Ruins of Polonnaruwa & Evening Jeep Safari

Travel through the Kaudulla National Park on an evening Jeep safari

Start today with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Polonnaruwa. With its ruins in a splendid state of preservation, this was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th centuries. The ancient city is dotted with palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds, and irrigation lakes. The Gal Vihara temple complex, cut from a single granite wall, consists of statues of the recumbent, standing, and seated Buddha and ranks highly among Sri Lanka's most revered masterpieces. You can easily explore on foot or jump on a bicycle to get around the surrounding area's well-maintained roads.

Later, you'll hop in a Jeep and head out on an evening safari at Kaudulla National Park, a newly established national park in the heart of Sri Lanka's famed "Cultural Triangle." Situated on the fringe of the ancient reservoir of Kaudulla Tank, the park provides a 16,447 acre (6,656 ha) corridor for elephants between Somawathiya National Park and Minneriya National Park. It's also home to leopards, fishing cats, sambar deer, endangered rusty-spotted cats, and sloth bears, and you'll keep an eye out for all these and more as you watch the plains come alive with wildlife at dusk.
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Day 5: Transfer to Kandy, Tour the Sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth Relic

The sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy

Your driver will take you due south today to reach Kandy, the capital of Sri Lanka's Central Province. Considered the gateway to the famed Hill Country and the country's cultural capital, the city holds the distinction of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its Royal Palace sits at the edge of idyllic Lake Kandy and is home to the city's crowning jewel: Sri Dalada Maligawa ("Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic"). The intricate temple complex dates to the 16th century and holds Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic: a tooth from the Buddha.

After checking into your hotel, your guide will take you for a midday tour of this remarkable site, admiring its complex architecture and history as you stroll through the palace's shrines, temples, and gardens. Afterward, you'll have the afternoon free to explore more of the city at your own pace. 

Day 6: Transfer to Nuwara Eliya, Tour a Working Tea Plantation

The lush tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya

Start this morning with a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens, situated in Peradeniya, 4 miles (6 km) from the center of Kandy. Once reserved exclusively for Kandyan royalty, today, the stunning 148-acre (60 ha) garden, with its fine collection of orchids and spice gardens, is open to the public. Among the highlights are a stately avenue of royal palms, the extraordinary, aptly named cannonball fruit tree, and 131-foot (40 m) high Burma bamboo. In the gardens, you can also see the giant Javan fig tree on the great lawn, with its colossal central trunk and umbrella-like canopy of branches.

After your visit, you'll transfer south into the misty mountains of Hill County and the highland village of Nuwara Eliya. Known as "Little England" for its colonial architecture and temperate climate, it's surrounded by lush tea fields that produce one of the country's most famed exports—Ceylon tea. Upon arrival, you'll get to see the tea-making process from tea bush to teapot with a tour of a working tea estate. Watch the colorfully dressed tea pickers hard at work on the sloping hills, learn how leaves are chosen, sorted, and rolled, then experience tasting some of the world's finest tea at its source.

Day 7: Transfer to Colombo, Discover the Vibrant Capital

Explore the bustling markets in Pettah, Colombo, east of the city center

Bid the mountain air farewell this morning as you meet your driver for the transfer west to Colombo. A melting pot of cultures and commerce, Sri Lanka's capital is a lively city with a fascinating history. Ancient Arab sailors frequented these ports to trade with the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists that occupied the town. Scattered throughout town you'll find an impressive mix of cultural sights, Buddhist temples, and Hindu kovils that highlight the diversity of religion, ethnicity, and customs of the local people.

After checking into your hotel and resting after the drive, set out on an evening driving tour to see the city lit up at night. Wind through the commercial center known as the "Fort," where grand colonial-era buildings stand alongside modern hotels and office structures. Explore the vibrant markets and bazaars in Pettah, then discover museums and art centers with fine collections of antiques and artifacts. Afterward, celebrate the final night of your trip with a memorable dinner of some beloved Sri Lankan delicacies. 

Day 8: Depart Colombo

Golden Buddha statues at sunset in Colombo

After an early breakfast, you'll say your goodbyes to Sri Lanka as you check out from the hotel and head to Bandaranaike International Airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Map of Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days