- See the world's largest gathering of Asian elephants in Minneriya National Park
- Meet the cheeky residents of Polonnaruwa's "Monkey Kingdom"
- Snorkel in the crystal clear seas around Pasikudah
- Head to the idyllic countryside around Kandy for a riverfront picnic
- Roast marshmallows around a bonfire & enjoy an outdoor family movie night
|Day 1||Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Sigiriya, Safari at Minneriya National Park||Sigiriya|
|Day 2||Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Tour the Ancient Village of Puranagama||Sigiriya|
|Day 3||Transfer to Pasikudah, See the Monkey Kingdom of Polonnaruwa||Pasikudah|
|Day 4||Snorkeling in Pasikudah||Pasikudah|
|Day 5||Transfer to Kandy, Visit the Giragama Tea Factory, Tour the Sacred City||Kandy|
|Day 6||Village Walk, Temple Visit & Riverside Picnic||Kandy|
|Day 7||Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Sigiriya, Safari at Minneriya National Park
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport, you'll get your first taste of warm Sri Lankan hospitality as you're greeted by your representative and escorted to your accommodations in Sigiriya. After settling in, head out on safari this afternoon at Minneriya National Park, the largest gathering place for Asian elephants on earth.
At the heart of the protected reserve, you'll find the great Minneriya Tank Reservoir, built in the 3rd century CE under the rule of King Mahasen. This vast freshwater source draws elephants from all over the country in the dry summer season, who congregate to drink, bathe, and socialize on its peaceful shores. While the elephants may be the star attractions, keep your eyes open as you explore the park by Jeep—its grasslands and forests are also home to rare Sri Lankan leopards, sloth bears, langur monkeys, and remarkable birdlife.
Day 2: Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Tour the Ancient Village of Puranagama
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.In the afternoon, get a rare glimpse into traditional rural Sri Lankan life with a visit to Puranagama. This recreation of an ancient village takes you back in time as you stroll along dirt roads past wooden carts and thatched houses, watching locals demonstrate their time-honored rituals and activities. Sit down for a chat with Gunarathna as he shows you how he grinds chilies and coconut using traditional tools.
Day 3: Transfer to Pasikudah, See the Monkey Kingdom of Polonnaruwa
Today you will be picked up from your hotel by a private car and transferred east to the beautiful coastal village of Pasikudah. Along the way, stop at the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa, where you'll get to meet its clusters of curious primates and their devoted researchers. This UNESCO World Heritage site was once the medieval capital of Sri Lanka and today is dotted with the ruins of palaces, shrines, and statues. The city's stone walls are also home to a thriving population of monkey colonies, including torque macaques, gray langurs, and purple-faced leaf eaters.
Their dwindling numbers were saved by intervention from the Smithsonian Research Center, whose field researchers will guide the whole family around the flourishing monkey kingdom. Children will be delighted by the social interactions and behaviors of the local troops as you stroll around a small part of this area, learning about the challenges and triumphs of monkey conservation. Afterward, continue to explore the ruins before it gets too hot, then get back on the road and head to the beach.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Snorkeling in PasikudahThere is a world of wondrous life beneath the surface of the shimmering Pasikudah waters, and the best way to explore it is to put on some snorkeling gear and dive right in! Snorkeling in Pasikudah gives you plenty to explore as you marvel at its bountiful marine life and intricate stretches of coral reef. Younger children can wade out to the bay in front of the resort for a quick look at the colorful fish, while ages 7 and up can join a guided excursion to dive deeper into the underwater world.
Day 5: Transfer to Kandy, Visit the Giragama Tea Factory, Tour the Sacred City
Transfer west today into a landscape of lush hills, valleys, and the country's best tea-growing climate. Sri Lanka is one of the largest producers of tea in the world, and touring a tea estate is a must for visitors. Visit the emerald fields and bustling factories of Giragama to discover the remarkable process that goes into the perfect cup. From the history to the planting to manufacturing, you'll learn how flavors are created to suit various palates and sample some of the finest, locally grown Ceylon tea.
Then it's on to Sri Lanka's cultural capital of Kandy. The UNESCO-listed city is 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). 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, get settled into your countryside hotel and gather around a beautiful roaring bonfire under the clear night sky. Parents can enjoy a cocktail under the canopy of stars, while kids can roast marshmallows and share stories of their day.
Day 6: Village Walk, Temple Visit & Riverside Picnic
Embrace the slower pace of life in Sri Lanka's Hill country with a day out in the rural countryside. 15 minutes from your hotel in Ellerton lies the beautiful and fertile valley of the Mahaweli River, where you can spend the day walking through the lush paddy fields, visiting the ancient temple of Ganegoda Kataragama Devalaya, and enjoying a picnic of tea and homemade cake by the riverbank.
For an afternoon full of color and fragrance, head back to Kandy and go for a stroll through the dazzling flora of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. 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. Kids will find lots of room to run and plenty of fascinating highlights—don't miss a visit to the popular World Spice Garden and Orchid House exhibits.
As the sun sets on your final night in Sri Lanka, settle in at your hotel for a night of movies under the stars featuring Disney classics like "The Jungle Book" for junior guests and classic subtitled Sri Lankan films or documentaries for the adults.
Day 7: Transfer to Colombo Airport & Depart
After a leisurely morning, 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).
More Great Sri Lanka Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Sri Lanka? Check out these other Sri Lanka itineraries, explore different ways to spend a week in Sri Lanka with your family, or discover the best time to visit Sri Lanka.