Ancient history, fascinating culture, outstanding natural areas, and beautiful beaches—this six-day itinerary takes in the best of Sri Lanka's dry season. After arrival in Colombo, you'll be quickly immersed in the lushness of Minneriya National Park. Climb the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and marvel at its unlikely and enduring construction. Learn about the country's colonial past at Trincomalee, then wind down your trip with relaxing beach days or an exciting whale watching trip.

Highlights

  • Take a safari among herds of Sri Lankan elephants at Minneriya National Park
  • Tour the Dambulla Cave Temple with its intricate carvings and exquisite murals
  • Climb into the Lion's Jaw as you ascend the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Snorkel vibrant coral reefs or look for blue whales on a wildlife-watching cruise

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Sigiriya via Dambulla, Jeep Safari in Minneriya National Park Sigiriya
Day 3 Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Trincomalee with City Tour Trincomalee
Day 4 Beach Time in Trincomalee Trincomalee
Day 5 Dolphin & Whale Watching Trip, Free Afternoon Trincomalee
Day 6 Transfer to Colombo & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo

Negombo is famous for its sandy beaches & fishing industry
Negombo is famous for its sandy beaches and fishing industry
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at the Colombo Airport, you'll be greeted by your chauffeur for the short ride to Negombo, your base for the first night. Settle into your hotel and, if time permits, explore the colonial sites of this important waterfront city, visit its bustling fish market, or just dig your toes into one of its sandy beaches. Celebrate your first night in Sri Lanka with dinner at one of Negombo's casual restaurants.

Day 2: Transfer to Sigiriya via Dambulla, Jeep Safari in Minneriya National Park

Elephants congregate in Minneriya National Park

Meet your chauffeur at the hotel lobby after breakfast and drive to Sigiriya via Dambulla and Minneriya. Your day begins at Dambulla, known for its Cave Temple, impressive mural paintings, and 157 statues, including a 47-foot (14 m) statue of the recumbent Buddha. A UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized as a sacred pilgrimage destination, this cave monastery is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka.

Afterward, you'll continue to Minneriya National Park, known for its sheer diversity and number of mammals and native and migratory birds. During the dry season, which runs from June to September, the grassy fields around the Minneriya Tank, a third-century CE reservoir, attract herds of hundreds of Sri Lankan elephants. It's also a prime viewing spot for sambar deer and spotted axis deer, as well as migratory birds and small and large mammals. At the end of an action-packed day, check into your hotel in Sigiriya. 

Day 3: Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Transfer to Trincomalee with City Tour

Visit Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Enter through the Lion Gate at Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Plan your trip to Sri Lanka
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Your day begins with a tour of the fifth-century CE Sigiriya Rock Fortress, among the most visited and memorable sites in Sri Lanka. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sigiriya sits on top of a rock plateau, and many of its structures are formed from the solid rock face. You'll enter Sigiriya through the Lion Gate, a stairway that once led through the jaw of a massive lion head—today only the sizeable paws remain. In addition to structural remains, you'll discover colorful cave frescoes and ancient gardens. 

Once you finish your visit to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, it's about a two-hour ride northeast to the coastal city of Trincomalee, where you'll transfer to your hotel before setting out on a tour of one of Sri Lanka's most historically and spiritually important locations. Its natural deep-water harbor has long made Trincomalee a strategic prize. Key historical sights include 17th-century Fort Frederick and the restored Koneswaram Temple. Nearby, traffic zips past the dizzyingly elaborate Pathirakali Amman, or Kali Kovil Temple.

Day 4: Beach Time in Trincomalee

Leisure Stay on the Beach
Relax on the beach at Trincomalee
The coastline north of Trincomalee Harbor has nearly 19 miles (30 km) of uninterrupted sandy beaches, with key areas known as Uppuveli, Nilaveli, and Kuchchaveli. Spend the day on one of Trincomalee's beaches and enjoy some relaxation, underwater exploration, or a little of both.

Up and down this stretch of gentle coastline, you'll find soft, wide beaches, funky beach bars and restaurants, cabana rentals, and shaded areas. There are some rocky areas suitable for snorkeling near shore, or take a private or group excursion to Pigeon Island National Park, located just a short distance from Nilaveli Beach. A true island paradise, this protected area is known for its wild interior, sandy coves for sheltered swimming, and the colorful coral reefs that surround it. With dive gear or even just a snorkel and mask, expect to spy hundreds of varieties of fish, as well as sea turtles and other marine life.

Day 5: Dolphin & Whale Watching Trip, Free Afternoon

Dolphin & Whale Watching Trip in the Sea off Trincomalee
Dolphins in the sea near Trincomalee
The Indian Ocean waters off Trincomalee are renowned for their concentration of marine mammals and other wildlife — see how many species you can spot on a dolphin and whale watching boat tour from Trincomalee. Typical sightings might include whales, dolphins, sea turtles, and a host of other wildlife. It's one of the best places in the world to catch sight of sperm whales and their even rarer cousins, blue whales.

The largest mammal on earth, blue whales reach a length of up to 98 feet (30 m) and have a heart that's about the size of a Mini Cooper. They travel in familial pods of up to scores of whales and are known to congregate in the waters off Trincomalee, where they're joined by spinner and bottlenose dolphins and dozens of other cetacean species. After your whale watching tour, spend your last afternoon on Trincomalee Beach.

Day 6: Transfer to Colombo & Depart

Goodbye to Sri Lanka!

It's time to say goodbye to your newfound friends in Sri Lanka. Meet your chauffeur at the hotel lobby at the arranged time and drive to Colombo International Airport for your departure flight. Safe travels!

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Map

Map of Sri Lankan Summer Highlights - 6 Days
Map of Sri Lankan Summer Highlights - 6 Days