From ancient temples to mountain villages and national parks, this 10-day itinerary introduces you to the many wonders of southern and central Sri Lanka. Setting out from the laid-back beach town of Negombo, you'll visit some of the country's most remarkable cultural sites like Yapahuwa, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya, and explore the surrounding landscapes with memorable cycling and safari excursions. After a week of discovery and adventure, end your trip with a few days of relaxation on the Indian Ocean beaches of Ahangama.


  • Discover the ancient sites of Yapahuwa, Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya
  • Explore Kandy's sacred Temple of the Tooth 
  • Learn about traditional village life in Heeloya
  • Escape to the tranquil mountain scenery of Ella
  • Spot diverse wildlife on a Udawalawe National Park safari
  • Unwind on the spectacular Indian Ocean beaches of Ahangama

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo Negombo
Day 2 Transfer to Dambulla via Yapahuwa Rock Fortress Dambulla
Day 3 Rural Cycling Adventure in Habarana, Visit Ancient Polonnaruwa Dambulla
Day 4 Transfer to Kandy via Sigiriya  Kandy
Day 5 Experience Village Life in Heeloya Kandy
Day 6 Transfer to the Mountain Village of Ella Ella
Day 7 Transfer to Udawalawe National Park & Wildlife Safari Udawalawe
Day 8 Transfer to Ahangama via Galle  Ahangama
Day 9 Free Day in Ahangama Ahangama
Day 10 Transfer to Colombo & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Colombo, Transfer to Negombo

Colorful boats along Negombo's canal
Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at the Colombo Airport, you'll be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel in the laid-back beach town of Negombo. Known as “Little Rome” for its strong Catholic influence, Negombo transitioned over the centuries through Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial rule. Today its sandy beaches, welcoming locals, meandering canals, and colorful streets make it the perfect spot to enjoy your first evening in Sri Lanka.

Day 2: Transfer to Dambulla via Yapahuwa Rock Fortress

The 13th-century Yapahuwa Rock Fortress
After breakfast, your driver will pick you up for a scenic transfer northeast towards the ancient city of Dambulla. Along the way, you'll stop to explore the ancient citadel of Yapahuwa, located midway between Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. The citadel was built around a huge granite rock that rises high above the surrounding lowlands and was once the capital of medieval Sri Lanka. Later abandoned, the fortress was transformed into a monastery by Buddhist monks. Tour the citadel to see the caves at the base of the rock (which served as shelter for the monks) and the Bodhi tree on the top.
Afterward, you'll continue to Dambulla, where the rest of the afternoon is free for you to settle, rest up, or discover the town's famous cave temples and modern Buddha statue.

Day 3: Rural Cycling Adventure in Habarana, Visit Ancient Polonnaruwa

Explore the ruins of Polonnaruwa
Set out into the countryside today on a guided cycling tour through rice paddies and back roads. You'll have the chance to interact with local farmers and learn about Sri Lankan rural life before pedaling to a quiet lake, where you can enjoy a scenic boat trip out onto the water. Afterward, cycle around the lake, keeping your eyes open for exotic birds. Break for a cup of tea or a fresh coconut along the journey, then sit down for lunch with a local family inside a mud hut.  
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In the afternoon, your driver will take you to visit the ruins of Polonnaruwa, a UNESCO World Heritage site and capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to 13th centuries. Enclosed by stone walls, the city was dotted with palaces, shrines, monasteries, pavilions, parks, ponds, and irrigation lakes. Many of these still stand today, with the most spectacular being the Gal Vihara temple complex. The structure was cut from a single granite wall and contains dozens of statues of reclining, sitting, and standing Buddhas, making it one of the true masterpieces of Sri Lankan art.
As evening falls, your driver will be waiting to transfer you back to Dambulla to relax after a long day.

Day 4: Transfer to Kandy via Sigiriya 

Climb to the towering rock fortress of Sigiriya 

Today you’ll spend the morning exploring the iconic Sri Lankan landmark of Sigiriya. The rocky monolith rises high out of the lush jungle and is home to the remains of an ancient fortress built in the late 5th century CE. The name translates to "Lion Rock," a reference to the way visitors traditionally began their final ascent to the top of the monument, passing through the open jaws and throat of a lion. Unfortunately, the only remains of this lion figure today are the gigantic paws sculpted into the side of the rock. You'll find beautiful water fountains, boulder gardens, frescos, mirror walls, and relics of the castle within the UNESCO-listed site. 

Then it's time to meet your driver and transfer south to Kandy, the capital of the Central Province. Strategically situated between three mountain ranges, the city serves as a welcoming gateway to Sri Lanka’s Hill Country. After settling into your hotel, spend the afternoon visiting Kandy’s historic Royal Palace on the edge of Lake Kandy. Stroll through the palace’s shrines, temples, and gardens before visiting its crown jewel: Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic). The intricate temple complex dates to the 16th century and is home to Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic: a tooth from the Buddha.

As evening falls, you can attend a fascinating cultural show to see some great examples of traditional Sri Lankan music and dance.  

Day 5: Experience Village Life in Heeloya

Heeloya village visit
A change of pace in the traditional village of Heeloya
Immerse yourself in the customs of local Sri Lankan life today with a day trip to the traditional village of Heeloya. You'll help pick fruit and vegetables in the village's fields and gardens, trek to a beautiful nearby waterfall, spot native wildlife, then sit down to a delicious meal of local specialties. After a day of new experiences and new friends, your driver will be waiting to transfer you back to Kandy in time for dinner.

Day 6: Transfer to the Mountain Village of Ella

Breathtaking views from Ella
This morning your driver will whisk you deep into the heart of Sri Lanka's tea country, where you'll discover the charming mountain village of Ella. Blessed with a wonderfully cool climate, the village is surrounded by lush peaks and tea plantations, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to the south coast of Sri Lanka. Ella is also a perfect base for relaxing, with lots of fantastic walks that lead through tea fields to temples and waterfalls. After settling into your hotel, spend the afternoon at your leisure. If you're feeling adventurous, take a scenic trek to Ravana Ella Falls for a quick dip in the cool waters, or climb up to Ella's Rock for breathtaking views across the countryside.

Day 7: Transfer to Udawalawe National Park & Wildlife Safari

Spot elephants in Udawalawa National Park

This morning you'll meet your driver for a transfer southwest towards Udawalawe National Park. After settling into your accommodations, journey into the heart of the park on an unforgettable wildlife safari. With an estimated 400 elephants living within the park's boundaries, you may be able to spot a herd gathering to feed and bath at a waterhole. Keep an eye out for water buffalo, monkeys, water monitor lizards, sambar deer, and even the occasional leopard. There are also many indigenous bird species like hornbills, eagles, and the distinctive red-faced malkoha.

Day 8: Transfer to Ahangama via Galle 

Galle Dutch fort visit
Tour the historic fortified city of Galle
Today's journey takes you southwest towards the coast, stopping along the way to explore the fascinating UNESCO-listed city of Galle. Step back in time as you explore its 300-year-old Dutch fortifications, surrounded on three sides by the Indian Ocean. After a tour of the city's remarkable historic past, you'll have time to explore its Dutch-colonial buildings, historic mosques, grand mansions, and museums. Wander the streets and you'll discover stylish cafes, shops, and boutique hotels owned by local and ex-pat artists and designers.
Back on the road, you'll continue to the coastal town of Ahangama. Get settled into your hotel, then spend the rest of the afternoon discovering its spectacular beaches.

Day 9: Free Day in Ahangama

Picture-perfect beaches on the Bay of Ahangama
Spend your penultimate day in Sri Lanka at your leisure—relaxing on Ahangama's pristine beaches, swimming in the Indian Ocean, or exploring your surroundings at your own pace.

Day 10: Transfer to Colombo & Depart

Sunrise over Ahangama

After breakfast (and maybe one last morning at the beach) it's time to meet your driver for the transfer back to Colombo Airport and your departing flight. Safe travels!

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