Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Itinerary – The Best Of Sri Lanka In 10 Days

Are you looking for a Sri Lanka itinerary for a trip you’re planning to the country? Here I have put together A perfect Sri Lanka itinerary filled with what we consider to be the best of Sri Lanka in 10 days.

Sri Lanka can only be described as a small island nation with the generosity of an entire continent. There is everything we can see in Sri Lanka including temples, varied scenery, gorgeous beaches, vast tea estates, relaxed tropical villages, world heritage sites, delectable food, and amiable people.

This is my recommended Ten day Sri Lanka itinerary filled with everything you can experience like my favorite places to see and what I think are the top things to do in Sri Lanka. It is flexible and can easily be lengthened or shortened based on how long you plan to spend in Sri Lanka.

I have also included some suggestions for locations to stay along with descriptions and travel details for each destination and how to get about. These are based on the extensive research I did for my personal trips, as well as tips from other travelers I encountered along the way.

None of the hotels listed here are paid advertisements or in any way supported my trip. I will receive a tiny compensation if you make a reservation using one of these links; this is free to you. Please accept my sincere gratitude for your support in keeping this website running. ♥

I hope you find this 10-day Sri Lanka guide helpful in planning your trip!

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME TO READ THE ENTIRE ITINERARY, DO WATCH THIS VIDEO SRI LANKA ITINERARY

Ten Days Best Of Sri Lanka Itinerary

Day 1 & Day 2// 2 full day, 2 nights

COLOMBO

Because of its rich colonial heritage and creative fusion of various races, religions, and civilizations, Colombo, also known as the port city, has emerged as a must-visit destination. The blend of modern and old buildings, as well as the city’s traffic and insanity, make Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, very appealing to tourists. One can partake in a variety of activities in Colombo, such as shopping on a crowded street or unwinding at a deluxe colonial-style hotel with a view of the Indian Ocean.

The capital of the country, which provides a range of tourist experiences, has made a name for itself as one of the top locations for both opulent vacations and backpacking journeys. Colombo will never let you down, whether you are a history enthusiast or a shopaholic. Whether you want to learn about Indian culture or simply unwind by participating in a culinary class with talented chefs against a breathtaking sea view, Colombo has it all.

WATCH COLOMBO in 2 DAYS, DETAILED VIDEO 

⇒ Read more: Two Days in Colombo

How To Get To Colombo

When arriving at the Colombo/ Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), there are two ways to get into Colombo City – by taxi or by bus. The drive from the airport to Colombo takes about 30-45 min depending on the traffic. There is no airport metro or train available in the city.

Your best and most convenient option is to pre-book your car & driver, who will be waiting for you in the arrival hall holding up a board with your name on it.

⇒ Book a car and driver from the airport here

Else you can directly get a cab from Airport which I found a little expensive.

Public buses that depart from the airport every 15 minutes and travel to Colombo’s central bus terminal are the cheapest and quickest option. However, I do not advise riding the bus if you have a lot of luggage, are exhausted after your travel, or are jet lagged.

By hiring a private car and driver, using the train, or taking the bus, you can travel to and from Colombo to other areas of Sri Lanka with ease. The central train station in Colombo is called Colombo Fort. The majority of the nation may be reached by train, except for the south and southeast area of the island as they don´t have train tracks.

The only way to buy online train tickets in Sri Lanka is here,  as Sri Lanka Railway does not have any online ticket system yet.

Buy train tickets in Sri Lanka here

Where To Stay In Colombo

Luxurious Option

Galle Face Hotel– I stayed at Galle Face Hotel and I must say that was One of the best experiences I have ever had. The hotel itself is a place to visit. They have museums, beaches, beachside restaurants, a library and so many things to explore. The food was too good and the service was amazing. You have to experience it for yourself. The location is excellent, the parking position is excellent and also they have received so many celebrities including Scarlett Johansson, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and so on. With a legacy of 156 years, this hotel brings all the heritage vibes to you.

 

You can check the hotel details here: Galle Face Hotel

Taj Samudra– Another luxurious property and my best pick for Colombo.

You can check the hotel details here: Taj Samudra

Mid-Budget Options

For the mid-budget hotel range, you must pick any of my best preferences from below: (curated from both sea-faced and city hotels with the best location, food, and services)

Budget-Friendly Options for Backpackers

These are my personal choice based on cleaning ness, food, quality, locality, and services

Clock Inn Colombo

Day 3 // A Day Trip, 1 Night

MIHINTHALYA & MINNERIYA NATIONAL PARK

We started our journey early morning from Colombo to reach Mihinthalaya which is said to be the point of meeting between Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka, who arrived from India, and King Devanampiyatissa, where they formed and preached the doctrine of Buddhism, which was the opening point of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is believed that in the month of June, Mahinda arrived from India on Poson Full Moon Poya Day, and stayed here.

Note – Poson, often referred to as Poson Poya, is an annual celebration of the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the third century BC that is held by Sri Lankan Buddhists. The festival is the second most significant Buddhist celebration of the year, after Vesak, and the most significant Poya (full moon) holiday of the year.

In the afternoon, reach the hotel and get freshen up and start your journey toward one of the prominent National Parks called Minneriya National Park.

Minneriya National Park Safari is the best in class while considering the number of elephants living in the area. The National Park is very famous because of the biggest crowd of Asian elephants. Minneriya is the top most liked place for all elephant lovers and photographers around the world. The giant tusker is an icon of the animal kingdom, and this national park has it in abundance.

WATCH MIHINTHALYA & MINNERIYA, A DETAILED VIDEO 

How To Get To Mihinthalya

From Colombo to Mihinthalya, there is no direct local transport available. You have to take a bus from Colombo to Anuradhapura and step down at Mihinthalya’s nearby village. From where you can take tuktuk to reach the main point. Else you can opt for a cab to reach Mihinthalya and later on to reach your hotel at Dambulla or Anuradhapura or Sigiriya.

⇒ Book a car and driver for Colombo to Mihinthalya here

Where To Stay In Mihinthalya / Minneriya

Choose a place from where all of the day trip points are nearby. If you want to explore Mihinthalya, Minneriya, and Sigiriya as a day trip then Dambulla or Habarna would be great options for you to stay. I am giving here a few options for your stay, please choose any one or two as per the nearby attraction, so that you can reach the point a little early instead of traveling a lot of time.

Jet Wing Lake at Dambulla – I stayed at Jetwing lake hotel and loved the luxurious experiences there. First of all the location is absolutely perfect, it’s nearby to all of the day trips like Sigiriya, Mihinthalya and all. The rooms are new, clean, and modern with very comfortable beds, flat-screen tv, safe, bathtub, and air-con. The restaurant was too good and the food was very delicious.

You can have a look here.

Apart from a few hotels which are pretty good, reasonable, and recommended by other travelers are :

Lake View Dambulla    (Cheap option)

Tropical Life Resort and Spa

 

Day 4 // A Day Trip, 1 Night

SIGIRIYA

There are places with stories and locations that convey stories. You may find it difficult to decide between the two when visiting Sigiriya in Sri Lanka because it combines elements of each. Some people think it was formerly the location of a significant Buddhist monastery, while others claim Ravana’s palace from the renowned epic Ramayana once stood here! As per Archaeological evidence (literature from the 5th century AD, inscriptions, carbon dating, poems in the mirror walk, to prove this was constructed by King Kashyapa the first, son of Dhathusena.

Sri Lanka Itinerary

Sigiriya was built by the fifth-century king Kashyapa I, who ruled the native Sinhalese dynasty, the Moriya. The imposing fortress was the capital of the Sinhalese kingdom until Kashyapa was defeated in A.D. 495. So making Sigirya Ravana’s Palace is taking off the credit from the original creator and devaluation Sri Lankan historical information.

WATCH SIGIRIYA, A DETAILED VIDEO 

How To Get To Sigiriya

From Dambulla to Sigiriya, you have to take a bus or tuktuk to reach Sigiriya. Else you can opt for a cab to reach Sigiriya.

⇒ Book a car and driver for Sigiriya here

Where To Stay In Sigiriya

You can book the same hotel as I mentioned above for Sigiriya, Mihinthalya.

 

Day 5,6 & 7 // 3 Days, 2 Night

NUWARA ELIYA

Can you BELIEVE Sri Lanka has a breathtaking hill station? Nuwara Eliya or Little England has so many things to offer, see and cherish.

Believe it or not, this slice of the British colonial era and tea estate can be found here in Sri Lanka, in the misty hills of Nuwara Eliya! When in Nuwara Eliya, do not forget to chase some of the lesser frequented gems (Ramboda, Tea Estate, Sita Eliya, Post Office, Sita Agni Pariksha Sthal) to visit in the City of Nuwara Eliya whilst staying at the Little England style hotel. The Royal Botanical garden and Ramboda Hanuman Temple can be fit into a one-day excursion for those of you who are coming to Nuwara Eliya via Kandy. I highly recommend these places to check out.

Sri Lanka Itinerary

WATCH DETAILED GUIDE OF NUWARA ELIYA

How To Get To Nuwara Elliya

Nanu Oya Railway Station, which is 10 kilometers from the city center, is the closest train station to Nuwara Eliya. You can take a bus or tuk-tuk for 20 minutes to get to the heart of Nuwara Eliya from this station. Outside the train station, tuk-tuks are readily available, with prices beginning at 500 Rs ($2.75).

Check vehicle and transport options here for Nuwara Eliya

Where To Stay In Nuwara Eliya

I stayed at St. Andrews by Jetking, which was elegant, and classy exactly like a fairy colonial house from the British era. They have really authentically decorated rooms with delicious food options. You must try to stay there. Check the property here.

A few properties recommended by fellow travelers are :

Heritance Tea Factory

Haven backpackers

Lake Infinity Luxury Condos

 

Day 8,9 & 10 // 3 Days, 2 Night

GALLE & BENTOTA

Galle is a gem. This historic city, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is a delight to wander through on foot. It is an endlessly exotic old trading port that is home to impressive Dutch colonial structures, historic mosques and churches, large mansions, and museums. While exploring its winding roads, you’ll come across chic cafes, oddball shops, and immaculately restored hotels that are owned by both domestic and international artists, writers, photographers, and designers.

Galle’s central structure, the Fort, a walled enclosure bordered by the sea on three sides, was constructed by the Dutch starting in 1663. The fact that the Fort is more than just a picturesque location is a major draw. I stayed at Bentota and took a day trip to Galle while exploring the Ariyapala Mask museum on the way.

Bentota is an interesting beach city where you can explore a lot. Apart from the sea beach, one can check out beautiful temples, tortoise hatcheries, some fun activities, and many more.  Do not forget to explore Ravana Cave and waterfall while driving from Nuwara Eliya to Bentota via Kandy.

WATCHED A DETAILED GUIDE OF GALLE & BENTOTA

How To Get To Galle & Bentota

To enjoy the old-world and picturesque wonders of Galle, walking is the best way to see the city. You can also use the 3-wheelers or Tuk Tuks which are the easiest way of getting about within the city and are spacious enough for carrying luggage as well.

In Bentota, tuk-tuk and local transports are easily available.

Where To Stay In Galle and Bentota

I stayed at Bentota while taking a day trip to Galle. If you want to stay at Galle and Bentota in both places, you can check out below places to stay:

Taj Bentota Resort & Spa

Mi Casa Bentota

Cinnamon Bentota Beach

EKHO Surf   I Stayed here, one of the best properties with private beach access. Don’t forget to try their buffet dinner.

Jetwing Kurulubedda

Jetwing Lighthouse

If you have more than 10 days in Sri Lanka Itinerary

If you have more than 10 days in hand, like if you want to explore Sri Lanka within two or three weeks, then I will suggest you slow down my above itinerary and enjoy each place thoroughly. Also, you  can include below activities or places (which I skipped due to the short time span)

  • The train trip from Ella to Kandy
  • Explore Ella
  • Explore Kandy
  • Explore Anuradhapura
  • Explore Jaffna
  • Explore Negombo /Mirissa
  • Take a whale-watching trip at Trincomalee
  • Learn Scuba diving at Tangalle Beach

Visa For Srilanka

For Indians, to travel to Sri Lanka, each traveler needs to possess a valid visa (ETA). This ETA is valid for six months, allowing for a single entry into the country, with a maximum stay of 30 days. At the time of applying, no flight ticket needs to book.

Approx $22 is required at the time of ETA application. Apart from, your destination address, your passport scan copy is also required. For more details, please visit the official site of the SL govt here.

Travel Insurance

You will be covered by travel insurance in the event of illness, accidents, theft, and cancellations. It offers complete security in case something goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. 
I generally check online for the best insurance under the best deals, you can check Policy Bazaar or any other reputed online

Best Time to Visit Sri Lanka

The best time to visit Colombo is during the dry season, so January, to March is a good time to visit Sri Lanka. I visited there in the month of July and I found it good too. If you want to travel to Sri Lanka on a budget, do consider April, May, July, or September to travel the country. Because of the off-season, you will get a good deal there.

Is Sri Lanka safe for Solo Female travelers?

Yes, I found it safe even during the crisis period. Although no country is 100% safe, in consideration of its mixed crowd,  I would rather advise you to take a few precautions while traveling in Sri Lanka like we do when traveling to other cities or countries.

  • Try to explore the place in daylight
  • Do not give too much information to a stranger
  • Do not try alcohol or other drugs with strangers.
  • Try to take a city guide map

Here’s an ode to the beautiful Srilanka as we discover a little something about the history, culture, people, and connection between India and Srilanka.

 

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME TO READ THE ENTIRE ITINERARY, DO WATCH THIS VIDEO SRI LANKA ITINERARY

This post is in collaboration with  Sri Lanka Tourism Board, but the experiences and views are mine…

Make sure you check out the rest of my vlogs to explore Srilanka thoroughly. Full series

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8 thoughts on “Sri Lanka Itinerary – The Best Of Sri Lanka In 10 Days

  1. I had no idea there were so many great spots to visit in Sri Lanka. A 10 day visit would give us such an amazing variety in sights. Thanks for the range in the accommodation spots. Where we stay often depends on how long we will use a spot as a base. What a perfect time you had to visit Mihinthalaya. Lovely pic! The fascinating rock in Sigiriya would definitely be worth a visit. We will have to check out the visa requirements for Canadians.

  2. Your post brought back memories of my Sri Lanka trip a few years ago. You really managed to see a lot in 10 days and your guide will definitely help first-time visitors to make the most out of their time in the country. I went to all the places you suggested, except to Bentota. I have heard a lot of good things about the beaches there.

  3. This is an excellent guide to spending 10 days in Sri Lanka – you’ve covered everything from what to see, where to eat, getting to and around the various stops, and where to stay in a very helpful way! That’s great, because I honestly would not know where to begin planning a trip to this destination. I am fascinated by Sigiriya and the monastery likely constructed by King KashyapaI, and would love to visit the Unesco Heritage sites, too. Plus, Iespecially appreciate the safety tips for solo female travelers, since I often travel alone. Now that I know more about the itinerary, I can’t think of a thing that I would change.

  4. What a great guide for first timers visiting Sri Lanka- all the options of things to see, do are right here in your suggested itinerary. I found it especially interesting to read about Sigiriya, the legends and stories. As someone who always adds UNESCO World Heritage sites, I would want to add those to my list.

  5. Sri Lanka is the ideal illustration of a small country that is teeming with gorgeous sights, people, and experiences. I adore Sri Lanka primarily for its historical landmarks and its distinctive cuisine. Sigiraya, Galle, Colombo, and Mihinthalaya are some of my favorite destinations on this journey. I am also looking forward to exploring the other locations on this itinerary.

  6. I have spent 10 days in Sri Lanka a few years ago and loved every minute of my trip to this beautiful country. Going on an elephant safari in Minnerya national park was so special! Sigiriya was such a special place as well, the climb up the rock was spectacular. It’s impossible to think how the fortress has been built on top of the rock and how that lion used to look like when it was still standing. Nuwara Elliya was another great place I enjoyed, walking among the tea plantations and discovering the Little England.

  7. Your 10 day Sri Lanka itinerary looks amazing with so much to offer. Mihinthalya is a historic spot marking the onset of Buddhism in Srilanka and the Minneriya national park has a good crowd of Asian elephants to watch. The Sigiriya rock fort is so enchanting with legends of Ravans and King Kashyapa and the Lion sculpture. The Nuwara Eliya tea estate and old Dutch heritage town of Halle are something I would love to explore in Srilanka.

  8. Wow! I had no idea there is so much to see and do in Sri Lanka. Thank you for sharing these detailed and helpful posts. We’d love to explore Galle and Bentota. Will take your word that it’s a gem. Happy to know there are many accommodation options available.

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