Sri Lanka, a tiny little island county from Asia will give you thousands of reasons to pack your bag and make it your next travel destination. Indeed, one of the most peaceful, beautiful and affordable countries to visit in the world.
Beaches, Hills, History, People, Culture, Cuisine, Spirituality and a lot of Tuk Tuk Rides.
In short, Sri Lanka has it all.
Back in 2015, I visited Sri Lanka for the first time. It was a sort of unplanned backpacking trip for 9 days and it turned out one of the best trips I have ever had.
My travel experiences in Sri Lanka include some of awesome experiences like watching one of the best sunsets at Mirissa Beach, hitched-hiking till mini Adam’s peak from side to side tea gardens, rigorously climbing 1200 steps of the world famous Sigiriya Rock Fortress, visiting the ancient ruins and a few UENSOC world heritage sites, insanely travelling across the states in TUK-TUK, searching leopards in Yala national park, chasing the whales in the Indian ocean, rice & curries & many more..
Travelling to places is absolutely exciting but working on the travel plan and itinerary is a kind of a long quest. I remember the time when we were working on our travel itinerary. Damn, it was confusing and we did not miss anyplace which is worth of visiting.
A good travel itinerary is a blueprint to the forthcoming journey.
The travel itinerary I am sharing today has covered the most travelled destinations and suggestions, what to do where in Sri Lanka. I hope this itinerary will make your job easier to plan your trip to Sri Lanka.
And here we go . . .
Sri Lanka Day by Day Travel Itinerary for 9 Days!
Day 1: Arrival to Colombo
Night Stay – Colombo
Early in the morning we arrived to Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo from Chennai. Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka and usually a first destination for every tourist .It took us around an hour to do immigration formalities. Once the immigration was done, we headed towards Mount Lavania by Tuk-Tuk, where we had booked our first day accommodation, a beautiful house nearby Lavaina beach.
Read about – How to get a Sri Lankan Tourist Visa
Things to do in Colombo
- Take a Colombo city tour by Tuk – Tuk or Private car.
- Wake around Beira Lake
- Visit Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple
- Spend leisure time at Colombo or Mount Lavinia beach
- Do street shopping near Colombo railway station
- Hop on and shop in Odel mall
- Watch Sunset at Galle Face beach
- Try Sri Lankan Cuisine in any local restaurant specially Sri Lankan rice and curry
- Visit Pettah floating market
Day 2: Pinnawala
Night Stay – Sigiriya
Travel to Pinnaawala via Tuk- Tuk or Public bus to visit Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is an orphanage and nursery for Asian Elephants. It is one of the famous tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. The orphanage is established to feed, nurse and house baby elephants found abandoned by their mothers.
Things to do in Pinnawala
- Visit Pinnawala elephant orphanage and spend a day with elephants
- Feed the elephants
- See the elephants bathing session
- Visit spice garden nearby
- Drink herbal tea
- Get a free oil massage in the spice garden
- Buy of herbal products if you want
Day 3: Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya
Night Stay – Sigiriya
Travel to Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya to see the ancient monuments.
Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya are the cultural and archaeological cities of Sri Lanka. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa and the Sigirya Rock Fortress are the UNESCO world heritage sites. It comprises of monuments built by Cholas, sacred temples & stupas, rock craved statues of Buddha and the ruins garden city created back in the 12th century. Unfortunately, most of the monuments and statues are broken, but well maintained and taken cared.
Things to do in Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya
- Spend a day in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa
- See the rock craved statue of sleeping Buddha
- Visit Woodwork workshop and buy a handmade wooden souvenirs
- Visit historical museum of Sigiriya
- Climb 1200 steps of Sigiriya rock fortress and witness the beauty of the city from top of the rock
Day 4: Dambulla and Kandy
Night Stay – Kandy
Travel to Kandy via Dambulla to see Dambulla Cave temple and the Temple of Tooth.
Dambulla Cave Temple in Dambulla and the Temple of Tooth in Kandy are the most sacred places and both are the UNESCO world heritage sites.
Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as “The Golden Temple of Dambulla”. It is a monastery and pilgrim site. It is the largest and best preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. Temple mainly consists of five main cave temples which contain statues and wall paintings of Gautama Buddha and his life stories.
Things to do in Dambulla and Kandy
- Visit Dambulla Cave Temple
- Learn the life story of Buddha through the wall painting and the pictures in the cave temple.
- See one of the tallest statue of Buddha
- Visit the temple of tooth in Kandy
- Watch tradition prayers and chanting in the temple of tooth
- Take a night walk around Kandy Lake
Day 5: Ella
Night Stay – Ella
Travel to Ella via Nuwara Ella.
This is one of the most scenic journeys of Sri Lanka. The route is through the hills and the tea gardens. The Nuwara Ella is called as the England of Lanka because its colorful houses and the structures.
Things to do in Ella
- Enjoy the scenic road journey via Nuwara Ella
- Visit Ashok Vatika, the famous place from the ancient history of Ramayana
- Visit the Vatik Vihar temple
- Take photos in the tea gardens.
- Visit Mackwood tea factory and learn about how tea processing is done.
- Hike through tea garden till mini Adam’s peak
- Get an Ayurvedic full body massage
Day 6: Tissamaharama & Yala National Park
Night Stay – Tissamaharama
Travel to Tissamaharama for Leopard Safari in Yala National Park.
Yala National Park is one of the famous national parks of Sri Lanka, especially famous for Leopard Safari. Unfortunately, we did not see any leopard during our safari, but driving though forest in Jeep was the thrilling experience.
Things to do in Tissamaharama
- Visit picturesque Thisaa Lake
- Try fishing in the Thisaa Lake
- Take a Lake boat ride
- Visit the Stupa
- Go for the early morning Leopard Safari
- See the Elephant rock in national park
- Visit Yala Beach
Day 7: Mirissa
Night Stay – Mirissa
Travel to Mirisaa to see the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is blessed with the beautiful beaches and Mirissa beach is one of them. Watching the sunset at Mirissa after a hectic day was the calmest feeling.
Things to do in Mirissa
- Watch sunset at Mirissa beach
- Go for Whale watching
- Learn surfing at Unawatuna beach
- Go for a night party at Jungle beach
- Try Water Sports
- Visit Turtle Hatchery
Day 8: Galle
Night Stay – Galle
Travel to Galle to see the Galle Fort and Galle Light House.
Galle fort is a historical site and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sri Lanka. It was built by the Portuguese and reinvigorated by the Dutch back in 17th century. Galle fort is also known as ‘Dutch Fort’.
Things to do in Galle
- Take a walking tour of Galle Fort
- Visit a Galle Light House
- Watch Crazy Jumper’s Jump
- Visit International Cricket Stadium in Galle
- Street shopping
- Take a train journey to Colombo from Galle to enjoy the sea view.
Day 9: Colombo
Travel back to Colombo.
Galle to Colombo train journey is one of the scenic journeys of Sri Lanka. On the last day of the trip, we took a train to Colombo to experience the best coastal views from the train. We still had some time before our flight so we spent last few hours in buying gifts and souvenirs.
This is most of it how we spent our 9 days in Sri Lanka. Just to mention, if time permits then add Anuradhapura to your travel list. And the last, after having such an amazing time I promised, Sri Lanka will satisfy your every travel lust and will never disappoint you in any ways.
All the best and keep travelling!!! 🙂