Best of Colombo

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Colombo
The dynamic city of 800,000 residents is home to outstanding museums, a vibrant dining scene, and a countless array of historical attractions. A good place to start is in the historic Fort district with its colonial-era buildings and unique architecture, such as Sambodhi Chaithya Buddhist temple and the Old Galle Buck Lighthouse. Colombo’s other neighborhoods also make for memorable exploring, especially Pettah, which has a colorful array of Hindu temples, mosques, and Christian churches.

It’s worth taking a guided tour through the Colombo National Museum, which has a sprawling collection that covers ancient cave paintings, sculptures, masks, traditional clothing, and many other facets of Sri Lankan arts and culture. Another worthwhile excursion takes you on a city tour of Colombo, past vibrant markets through historic districts, and out along the seaside.  For deeper insight into Sri Lanka’s unique culinary traditions, you can enjoy a meal of Jaffna cuisine at a local home.
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A traditional boat in the Maldives
Map of Explore Sri Lanka & The Maldives - 14 Days
Explore Sri Lanka & The Maldives - 14 Days

This 14-day island-hopping trip offers equal parts exploration and relaxation. Uncover the history and culture of Sri Lanka, a jewel of the Indian Ocean, from ancient rock fortresses and historical capital cities to quiet tea plantations and national parks home to elephants and other endangered wildlife. You'll spend some time unwinding on the beaches of Unawatuna before heading to the capital city of Colombo to catch your flight to the Maldives. You'll spend the last few days of the trip snorkeling, swimming, and enjoying epic sunsets in this island paradise.

A leopard in Yala National Park
Map of Best of Sri Lanka's Wildlife - 7 Days
Best of Sri Lanka's Wildlife - 7 Days

From elephants to leopards to whales, the wildlife of Sri Lanka awaits as you embark on this weeklong adventure around the country. You'll go on Jeep safaris in national parks, spotting magnificent animals and birds along the journey. Then you'll continue onward to the coast, where you'll see blue whales during a boat tour off the coast of Mirissa. Rounding out the itinerary are a handful of cultural experiences, including a cooking class at a safari camp and time for sightseeing in the capital city of Colombo.

Colorful boats in a Sri Lankan harbor
Map of Discover Sri Lanka & the Maldives - 10 Days
Discover Sri Lanka & the Maldives - 10 Days

On this 10-day tour of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, you'll enjoy an excellent mix of cultural sightseeing and relaxation. Start in Negombo on the tropical island of Sri Lanka, touring various destinations to learn about the country's history at temples, palaces, forts, and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then hop on a quick flight to the Maldives, where you'll enjoy swimming and sunbathing on idyllic beaches, snorkeling in a lagoon, and spotting dolphins from the boat deck on a sunset cruise.

A distant view of  Sigiriya Rock
Discover the Best of Sri Lanka - 5 Days

Experience the natural beauty and fascinating culture of Sri Lanka on this whirlwind 5-day trip around the country's highlights. You'll begin with sightseeing in the historic port city of Colombo; then, you'll venture to the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya and spend some time exploring the region's rice paddies and green landscapes on a bicycle. Keep your eyes open for elephants on a wildlife safari in Minneriya National Park before you finish the adventure with visits to two of the country's most important temples in Dambulla and Kandy.

Immerse in nature at Ravana Falls
Map of Discover Sri Lanka's Wildlife & Nature: 6 Days
Discover Sri Lanka's Wildlife & Nature: 6 Days

Marvel at the diverse scenery and wildlife of Sri Lanka during this compact six-day trip. Start by exploring the beaches of Negombo before heading east into the misty mountains of Nuwara Eliya. Visit a nearby tea plantation, where you'll learn about tea and, of course, taste it. Go on an evening safari in Udawalawe National Park and get up close to its elephants and other wildlife. Witness baby elephants being bottled-fed at a local sanctuary before getting lost in the frenzy of the vibrant city of Colombo.

A wild deer in Horton Plains National Park
Outdoor Adventure in Sri Lanka - 7 Days

Sri Lanka is a paradise for outdoor adventurers with expansive national parks, peaceful reservoirs, and rushing rivers. This 7-day tour, well-suited to families and active travelers of all ages, leads you around the country's natural wonders. Go whitewater rafting on the Kelani River, trek through the Knuckles Mountain Range, look for elusive leopards in Horton Plains National Park, and paddle a canoe through the quiet waters of Samanalawewa—it's all on the agenda.

Watching the waves roll in on Unawatuna Beach
Map of Sri Lanka for Families: Cultural Triangle & South Coast - 7 Days
Sri Lanka for Families: Cultural Triangle & South Coast - 7 Days

With a mix of cultural highlights, hands-on activities, and plenty of beach time, this 7-day Sri Lankan itinerary is perfect for families. Go for a gentle cycle through the countryside of the Cultural Triangle, spot elephants on safari in Minneriya National Park, and learn the beats of traditional drumming in Kandy. After picking tea leaves in the lush mountains of the Hill Country, it's time to transfer to the coast to enjoy the warm, turquoise seas around Unawatuna.

Paddle across the peaceful lagoons of Kalpitiya
Map of Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Path Family Adventure  - 7 Days
Sri Lanka Off the Beaten Path Family Adventure - 7 Days

This week-long itinerary is perfect for adventurous families looking to get off the beaten path and introduces you to some of Sri Lanka's quieter corners and undiscovered gems. Paddle across the biodiverse lagoons of Kalpitiya, search for rare Sri Lankan leopards on safari in Wilpattu National Park, hike to waterfalls in the lush countryside of Mahiyanganaya, and travel deep into the jungle to meet the island's last indigenous tribe.

Enjoy the experience of seeing elephants in the wild on a sunset Jeep safari
Map of Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

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.

Traditional carved masks in Galle
Map of Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days
Arts, Crafts & Culture in Sri Lanka - 9 Days

From intricate lacquerware to carved masks and exquisite weaving, Sri Lanka's traditional arts and crafts hold a special place in its cultural heritage. On this fascinating nine-day itinerary, you'll take a deep dive into the island's historical and contemporary artistry. You'll visit the famed weavers of Divulapitiya, admire the ancient treasures of Dambulla, learn the basics of ceremonial mask-making in Galle, and sit down with some of the island's pre-eminent artists in Colombo and Kandy.

See how tea is picked in the highlands of Sri Lanka
Map of A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days
A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days

This nine-day itinerary takes you on a flavorful journey through Sri Lanka's culture and cuisine—from the beaches of the Indian Ocean to the heart of the Cultural Triangle. Alongside an itinerary of ancient temples, wildlife spotting, and countryside cycling, you'll learn the secrets of a perfect curry in Galle, take afternoon tea among the lush gardens of the Hill Country, and embark on a fascinating and fragrant tour of Kandy's Spice Garden.

A monkey samples some Sri Lankan coconut
Map of Flavors of Sri Lanka - 9 Days
Flavors of Sri Lanka - 9 Days

Delight your senses and broaden your palate with this nine-day exploration of Sri Lankan culture and cuisine. Beginning and ending in Colombo, you'll circle the island's south, checking off must-see highlights as you sample local dishes. Bike to a rural village for an unforgettable curry lunch, explore Kandy's colorful street food scene, see how world-class tea is made in Hill Country, and taste the freshest seafood on the tropical beaches of Ahangama.

Visit a tea plantation in Sri Lanka
Best of Sri Lanka - 10 Days

This 10-day itinerary around Sri Lanka features outdoor activities and cultural attractions for all ages, including a dolphin-watching boat tour, a Sri Lankan cooking class, and multiple Jeep safaris around national parks. Marvel at massive Buddha statues, spot elephants and leopards in the wild, and go snorkeling in the clear waters of Pigeon Island National Park — you'll have plenty to do and see on this lively trip!

Kelani River in Sri Lanka
Outdoor Adventure in Sri Lanka - 10 Days

From mountainous national parks to rushing rivers to the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, the landscapes featured on this tour around Sri Lanka are paradise for travelers who love the outdoors. On this action-packed itinerary, you'll hike and cycle, try whitewater rafting, and spot elephants in the wild. You'll end up at the beach for a free day of water sports, swimming, and sunbathing before the trip comes to an end.

A statue of Shiva at Trincomalee's Koneswaram Temple
Map of Ancient Cultures of Northern & Central Sri Lanka - 10 Days
Ancient Cultures of Northern & Central Sri Lanka - 10 Days

This 10-day itinerary takes you off the beaten path to discover Sri Lanka's remarkable cultural and spiritual diversity. Traveling from the little-visited northern shores to the remote forests of the southeast, you'll seek enlightenment under the branches of Anuradhapura's sacred Bodhi tree, tour the colorful Hindu temples of Jaffna, admire the beachfront statues of Trincomalee, and learn about life in a Vedda village—home to the island's last indigenous forest-dwelling tribe.

Combine ancient wonders with relaxing beach time as you explore Sri Lanka as a family
Map of Family Fun in Sri Lanka: Ancient Cities, Tropical Beaches & Exotic Wildlife - 10 Days
Family Fun in Sri Lanka: Ancient Cities, Tropical Beaches & Exotic Wildlife - 10 Days

See Sri Lanka's wonders from coast to coast on this 10-day tour that includes ancient sites, Indian Ocean beaches, and plenty of hands-on fun. Start in Anuradhapura to explore the ancient Citadel of Yapahuwa, and then it's off to the white-sand beaches of Pasikudah for snorkeling, dolphin-watching, and a family movie night under the stars. Visit the temples of UNESCO-listed Kandy, see brightly-colored birds and butterflies in Hanthana, and end with a tuk-tuk ride through the bustling streets of Colombo.

Swim in two waterfalls in the Sri Lanka countryside toward the end of the trip
Map of Sri Lanka Culture & Nature Tour  - 11 Days
Sri Lanka Culture & Nature Tour - 11 Days

This 11-day tour covers a wide selection of Sri Lanka's best highlights. Starting in Colombo, you'll head north to visit a range of UNESCO-listed ancient cities with palaces, temples, and historic treasures, including the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Continue the journey through the picturesque Hill Country mingling cultural activities with hiking, biking, and swimming in waterfalls. Finish the adventure with a well-deserved beach day on the south coast overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Footprints on the sweeping beaches of Tangalle
Map of Sri Lanka Luxury Getaway - 12 Days
Sri Lanka Luxury Getaway - 12 Days

Twelve days of ancient temples, mountain tea estates, and tropical beaches await on this luxurious Sri Lankan escape. Sit back as your private driver whisks you through the island's natural wonders and historical monuments in style, from the Cultural Triangle to the Hill Country and on to the wildlife haven of Yala National Park. End your trip with a Champagne toast and some blissful free time on the palm-fringed beaches of Tangalle.

Enjoy the views from Little Adam's Peak, Ella, Sri Lanka
Map of Sri Lanka Summer Tour - 12 Days
Sri Lanka Summer Tour - 12 Days

This 12-day escape combines the best of Sri Lanka, from history and culture to action and adventure. In Colombo, you'll tour historic colonial landmarks before heading into the central highlands to visit ancient temples and romantic waterfalls. Other adventures include train trips through tea plantations, mountain hikes, safaris in national parks, and visiting the mystical rock fortress of Sigiriya.

Take in the sweeping vistas of the ocean from Rumassala's Japanese Peace Pagoda
Map of Sri Lanka Nature, Culture & Architecture - 12 Days
Sri Lanka Nature, Culture & Architecture - 12 Days

This itinerary mixes the outdoors, culture, and history to create the perfect vacation in Sri Lanka. Witness history in the form of colonial landmarks and marvel at the country's beauty on visits to highland tea plantations and mountain waterfalls. After touring the Sigiriya rock fortress and Japanese Peace Pagoda, end the trip by visiting buildings designed by Geoffrey Bawa, one of the most famous architects in Asia.

Meditation Rock at the Mihintale ancient city near Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Map of Cultural Journey through Sri Lanka: Kalpitiya to Colombo - 15 Days
Cultural Journey through Sri Lanka: Kalpitiya to Colombo - 15 Days

Combining cultural wonders, wildlife safaris, and tropical beaches, you'll get to know Sri Lanka from north to south on this far-reaching, 15-day itinerary. Spend some time exploring the island's little-visited north before cutting through the heart of the interior to reach the beaches of the southern coast. Along the way, you'll discover three diverse national parks, tour the ancient temples and palaces of the Cultural Triangle, and get a glimpse of authentic Sri Lankan life in off-the-beaten-path villages.

Enjoy a safari adventure in Wilpattu National Park
Map of Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days

With a colorful cultural history and rugged landscapes ideal for outdoor adventures, Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination for a family vacation. This two-week tour around the island features a dolphin-watching tour, multiple safari adventures, a Sri Lankan cooking class, and visits to ancient fortresses. Thanks to the mix of hands-on activities and cultural education, it's an excellent option for travelers of all ages.

Discover Sri Lanka's lush tea hills and plantations
Map of Tea Hills & Tropical Beaches of Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Tea Hills & Tropical Beaches of Sri Lanka - 13 Days

This 13-day adventure will whisk you from Sri Lanka's lush hillsides and tea plantations to the laid-back beaches of its southern coast. Start in Negombo, with its rich history, then move on to Kandy to climb the mountaintop tower of Ambuluwalwa. Go tea tasting in the verdant Uva Highlands before kicking back in paradise on the golden sands of Tangalle. Beyond the beaches, you'll have plenty of time for excursions to a turtle sanctuary, the Rock Temples of Mulkirigala, and the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary.

Sunset over a beach in Tangalle
Map of Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Ancient History & Pristine Beaches in Sri Lanka - 14 Days

This two-week itinerary around Sri Lanka offers an ideal mix of activity and relaxation. You'll begin in Negombo and work your way around the island, stopping to visit ancient temple complexes, Buddhist shrines, and palaces carved into mountainsides. Along the journey, you'll spend two nights observing wildlife in Wilpattu National Park, enjoy the calm coastline in Pasikudah, explore charming colonial villages, and relax on breathtaking beaches with snorkeling and diving opportunities easily accessible offshore.

Take a trip on one of the world's most beautiful train journeys
Map of Discover Nature & Culture in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Discover Nature & Culture in Sri Lanka - 14 Days

Journey through the heart of Sri Lanka on this 14-day loop around the island. Start your trip in the capital city of Colombo, then move on to Adam's Peak for an unforgettable early morning hike with sunrise views from the summit of the sacred mountain. Continue to Nuwara Eliya, where you'll learn about tea production, then take an epic train ride to Kandy. Travel back in time to the historical sites of Sigiriya, Dambulla, Mihintale, and Anuradhapura, stop to see elephants in Minneriya National Park, and end up on the beautiful sandy beaches of Kalpitiya, where the trip finishes.

Spot Sri Lankan elephants on safari
Map of Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Wildlife Adventure - 14 Days

Experience the best of Sri Lanka's nature and wildlife experiences on this two-week family-themed itinerary. Looping through the island's southern and central regions, you'll embark on a series of fun-filled safaris, nature walks, biking excursions, and boat trips, with nights spent in comfort at gracious eco-lodges and safari camps. Search for leopards in Yala National Park, see the monkey-filled ruins of Polonnaruwa, watch elephants swim in Gal Oya National Park, spot rare primates on a nocturnal jungle hike, and discover the colorful marine life of Pasikudah.

Sunset over the beaches of Weligama
Map of Sri Lanka Family Vacation: Safaris, Temples & Beaches - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Vacation: Safaris, Temples & Beaches - 14 Days

Plenty keeps the little ones entertained on this two-week, family-friendly adventure through Sri Lanka. Tour the temples and shrines of the Cultural Triangle by tuk-tuk, take a scenic train journey high into the tea fields of the Hill Country, and head out on safari in the savannah-like wilds of Yala National Park. After ticking off the highlights, wind down with plenty of playtime on the tropical beaches of Weligama.

Traditional fishing stilt aparatus of Koggala Beach, Sri Lanka
Map of Sri Lanka Winter Holiday Adventure - 15 Days
Sri Lanka Winter Holiday Adventure - 15 Days

Eschew the frigid winter for the sun-kissed beaches and verdant mountains of Sri Lanka. Over 15 adventure-filled days, you'll experience the highlights and natural beauty of this mystical gem of the Indian Ocean, from its highland tea plantations to its gilded southern shores. In between, you'll tour ancient cities, enjoy jungle safaris, explore cave temples, swim at romantic waterfalls, go whale watching, and much more.

Recently hitched? Head to Sri Lanka for the perfect honeymoon adventure
Map of Honeymoon Adventure in Sri Lanka - 15 Days
Honeymoon Adventure in Sri Lanka - 15 Days

Ancient temples, sun-kissed beaches, romantic waterfalls, and rolling green hills are the ingredients to create a honeymoon for the ages. Over 15 days, you and your newlywed partner will embark on active adventures and leisurely outings like picnics at waterfalls, nature hikes in rainforest reserves, visits to tea plantations, tours of Buddhist shrines, and explorations of cave temples. Plus, you'll hike up to Sigiriya, the country's iconic rock fortress.

Sunrise across the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Treasures of Sri Lanka - 20 Days

Discover the magic of central and southern Sri Lanka on this immersive 20-day itinerary. Setting out from Colombo, you'll wind your way through a land rich with culture, history, and natural beauty—visiting countless highlights and hidden gems along the way. Spot elephants and leopards on safari, hike to towering waterfalls, explore ancient ruins and sacred temples, and savor some downtime on idyllic Indian Ocean beaches.

Views from "World's End" in Sri Lanka's Horton Plains National Park
Sri Lanka Outdoor Adventure: Rafting, Hiking & Waterfalls - 12 Days

Perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, this jam-packed 12-day itinerary highlights Sri Lanka's most dramatic and diverse landscapes. Hike to five of the country's most scenic waterfalls, raft down the raging Kelani River, see rare wildlife in Horton Plains and Udawalawe National Parks, and end your adventure with some well-earned downtime on the white sand beaches of Weligama.

Views across the Sri Lankan city of Kandy
Wonders of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Ahangama -10 Days

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.

Meet the stars of Disney's "Monkey Kingdom" in Polonnaruwa
Map of Sri Lanka Family Discovery: Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella, Yala & Tangalle - 10 Days
Sri Lanka Family Discovery: Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella, Yala & Tangalle - 10 Days

See the best of Sri Lanka on this 10-day family trip that loops around the country's southern half. Begin with a countryside bike tour and a hike to the summit of Sigiriya Rock, then hop over to Kandy to tour the Temple of the Tooth and swim in crystal-blue waterfalls. Take a train through the misty valleys of the Hill Country, hike to the incredible Nine Arch Bridge, and see elephants on a safari through Yala National Park. Your vacation winds down with family-friendly fun on the golden beaches of Tangalle.

Playing in the tea fields around Nuwara Eliya
Map of Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days
Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days

Equal parts fast-paced adventure and laid-back beach holiday, this two-week itinerary hops around central Sri Lanka with family-friendly tours of cultural landmarks, national park safaris, and a scenic train journey into the mountains. Then it's time to slow down with a week on the south coast beaches of Tangalle, where a private oceanfront villa serves as your base for fun day trips, family watersports, and plenty of beach time.

Twilight over Kalpitiya's lagoon
Sri Lanka Glamping Adventure - 13 Days

Sri Lanka's natural beauty takes center stage on this diverse and adventurous 13-day itinerary. Beginning and ending in the capital of Colombo, you'll spend your days exploring ancient temples and fortresses, hiking to secluded waterfalls, relaxing on idyllic beaches, and spotting rare wildlife in two of the country's most spectacular national parks. At night, the sounds and sights of nature will lull you to sleep at a succession of luxurious "glamping" properties.

The golden statue of Shiva at Trincomalee's oceanfront Koneswaram Temple
Map of Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days
Family-Friendly Sri Lanka: Kandy to Negombo - 11 Days

This relaxed, 11-day family vacation combines Sri Lanka's classic highlights with some lesser-visited gems. Bouncing between the Hill Country, the Cultural Triangle, and the quiet northeastern beaches of Trincomalee, you'll embark on a series of hands-on experiences and excursions for all ages. Learn to play the Sri Lankan drums, take a forest walk with the island's last indigenous tribe, cycle through country villages, and snorkel amid tropical fish and reef sharks.

Other popular travel destinations in Sri Lanka
Kandy · Sigiriya · Negombo · Ella · Nuwara Eliya · Yala National Park · Galle · Udawalawe · Tangalle · Wilpattu · Anuradhapura · Dambulla · Bentota · Pasikudah · Mirissa · Habarana