Embark on a cycling odyssey through Sri Lanka that will take you to some of this island nation's most stunning locales. Over six days, you'll ride all over, from the highland heart of the country down to the lowland coasts. Along the way, you'll pass all manner of landmarks—both natural and man-made—which include forests, fishing villages, golden beaches, ancient temples, colonial fortresses, and more.


  • Cycling along the coast and mountains of Sri Lanka
  • Visit ethnic villages and sleepy fishing towns
  • Tour ancient temples and colonial forts

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Peradeniya, Transfer to Dambulla Dambulla
Day 2 Ride to Kantale, Transfer to Trincomalee Trincomalee
Day 3 Ride to Pulmoddai, Transfer to Mullaitivu Mullaitivu
Day 4 Ride to Parantan, Transfer to Kilinochchi Kilinochchi
Day 5 Kilinochchi Tour, Train to Jaffna Jaffna
Day 6 Cycling Tour of Jaffna, Depart Sri Lanka  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Peradeniya, Transfer to Dambulla

The tea plantations around Kandy, Sri Lanka

Welcome to Sri Lanka! This captivating island nation boasts a long history. The Sinhala Kingdom was founded here in 543 BCE, and eventually, that gave way to the colonial presence of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British during the early modern period. Besides history and culture, Sri Lanka is famous for its natural beauty. Its northern plains, southern savannas, central rainforests, and stunning coastline make this a great country for outdoor activities—particularly mountain biking. 

That's exactly what you'll be doing over six days of rides throughout the country. You won't waste any time, either, because upon arrival, you'll transfer by vehicle to the central highlands and the historic mountain town of Kandy, known for its surrounding tea plantations. In the suburb of Peradeniya, you'll meet your cycling guide and receive a safety briefing.

After getting all your gear in order and inspecting the bike, you'll hit the road on your maiden voyage. This route will take you north from Peradeniya through rural towns and then along the Kandy-Jaffna road to the suburb of Palapathwela. At the end of the ride, you'll transfer by vehicle about an hour north to the town of Dambulla, where you'll overnight.

Day 2: Ride to Kantale, Transfer to Trincomalee

The historic cave temple in Dambulla

After breakfast at the hotel, you might have time to see the sights in town. Dambulla is most famous for its cave temple complex, which is the largest and best preserved in the country. Inside this UNESCO World Heritage Site are Buddhist mural paintings and over 150 statues.

At the appropriate time, you'll hop back on the bike. Today's route will take you 37 miles (60 km) northeast along the A6 road to Kantale. This town is unique in that it sits on an ancient reservoir that was built under orders from a Sinhalad king back in the early seventh century. The ride is gorgeous, and will take you along lush forest and rice paddies.

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Upon arrival in Kantale, a vehicle will pick you up for the drive to Trincomalee, a port city on the northeast coast. Here, you'll tour some of the historical landmarks in the area, like the 17th-century Thirukoneshwaran Temple and Fort Fredrick. The latter is a Portuguese-colonial stone fortress built in 1624 from the debris of a destroyed Hindu temple. At the end of the day, you'll have dinner and retire to the hotel where you'll overnight. 

Day 3: Ride to Pulmoddai, Transfer to Mullaitivu

Ride along the coast of Sri Lanka
Today is the first leg of the ride along the stunning eastern coast of Sri Lanka. Leave Trincomalee and cycle north, passing the palm-lined beaches of Nilaveli, one of the most popular coastal resort towns in the country. Your destination is the town of Pulmoddai, and the route to get there is about 33 miles (54 km). Along the way, you'll pass long stretches of wild beach as well as humble seaside villages where you'll glimpse the culture and daily routine of the locals. Once in Polmuddai, you'll transfer by vehicle to the fishing village of Mullaitivu, where you'll overnight. 

Day 4: Ride to Parantan, Transfer to Kilinochchi

Pudukuduirippu Victory Monument

Leave in the morning for a ride around the fishing villages along this part of the coast. It's a great opportunity to spend more time with locals and experience the authentic side of life in Sri Lanka. You'll also get to visit Mullaitivu's main beach. On this wide and inviting stretch of sand, waves lap gently at the shore, creating the perfect environment for some downtime. One incredible sight here is the hulk of the Farah III, a cargo ship that ran aground in 2006.

After spending time in the local communities, you'll embark on the main cycling trip of the day: a ride from Mullaitivu northwest to the town of Parantan. This inland route runs about 37 miles (60 km), and on the way, you'll stop at some interesting sites. One highlight is the Puthukkudiyiruppu War Museum, which recounts the dark history of the almost 30 years of civil war that began in 1983. Next to the museum is the impressive Victory Monument, which is dedicated to the fallen and depicts a soldier carrying his weapon and the national flag.

Continue the scenic ride along rice paddies as you pass through villages home to the Tamil people (native residents of the northern Jaffna region). This is another chance to witness cultural traditions unique to this part of the country. Upon arrival in Parantan, you'll transfer a few minutes by vehicle to Kilinochchi and your hotel for the night.

Day 5: Kilinochchi Tour, Train to Jaffna

Kilinochchi - Jaffna (Train Ride)
Take a train to Jaffna

After breakfast at your guesthouse in Kilinochchi, you'll hop in a vehicle for a driving tour of the major landmarks in the region. Much of the area's recent history revolves around the civil war, as Kilinochchi was the de facto capital of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), a Tamil militant insurgency. The war ended in 2009 when Sri Lankan Army troops recaptured the city.

You'll visit remnants from this conflict, none more evocative than the fallen Kilinochchi Water Tower, which insurgents destroyed during the final stages of the war. Another highlight is the War Memorial, a massive block sculpture designed to appear as though cracked by a mortar shell. Later in the afternoon, transfer to the Kilinochchi Railway Station, where you'll take a one-hour train ride to Jaffna, a port city on the northern tip of Sri Lanka.

Day 6: Cycling Tour of Jaffna, Depart Sri Lanka

Jaffna Fort

In the morning, you'll embark on a guided 2-mile cycle (3.5 km) from your hotel to Jaffna Fort. One of the most enduring symbols of colonialism in Sri Lanka, this fortress was built in 1618 by Dutch occupiers. Its pentagon shape and coastal location ensured it was a solid defensive structure. At various times during colonial rule, the interior of the fort boasted military barracks, warehouses, police quarters, powder rooms, churches, and even a residence for the Dutch Lt. Governor.

A couple of miles away lies the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, which dates to the 10th century and is one of the most significant Hindu temples in Jaffna District. After visiting Nallur Kandaswamy, ride through local villages and admire the slower pace of life until you reach Kadurugoda Viharaya. One of the few Buddhist temples in Jaffna, its collection of ancient stupas dates to the early 10th century.

From there, continue north to the coastal suburb of Keerimalai, which is famous for its mineral springs. Another highlight here is Keerimalai Naguleswaram, an ancient Hindu temple dating to the sixth century. The last leg of the ride covers 15 miles (24 km) up the coast to the northernmost point of the country (be sure to take plenty of photos). Afterward, a vehicle will transfer you back to your hotel to collect your things before transferring to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Sri Lanka Cycling Expedition - 6 Days
Map of Sri Lanka Cycling Expedition - 6 Days