The best off the beaten path 10 day Sri Lanka itinerary

20190811_151154

After spending some amazing 10 days in Sri Lanka I wanted to share with you the route I travelled on. I explored the East and the Central part of the country, to create this off the beaten path 10 day Sri Lanka itinerary for you. During my 10 days Sri Lanka itinerary I have seen UNESCO sites, fantastic temples and examples of ancient art, I had delicious hoppers for breakfast and ate authentic fish curry for lunch, stayed in wonderful hotels and experienced wildlife as never before. I have told you in my previous post about the most amazing things I experienced in Sri Lanka, now I want to guide you on the same path, by sharing this Sri Lanka off the beaten path itinerary. I have included of course some major sites that you can’t miss during your trip to Sri Lanka but also some lesser known gems that are waiting to be discovered.

 

Is Sri Lanka safe?

DSC06864

This is a question that has been asked many times since April 2019, when the terrorist attacks in Colombo and Negombo have impacted the number of tourists coming to Sri Lanka to spend their holidays. The number 1 country to visit in the world on Lonely Planet’s 2019 best destinations guide has been hit so hard when most of the tourists have cancelled their reservations and chose to spend their holiday in a different place. This not only had an impact on the economy of Sri Lanka but also on the local people, who lost a significant part of their income.

Without tourists, there are no jobs. Without tourists, locals who own small businesses are forced to close them down.

People in Sri Lanka avoid mentioning the attacks. They call the unfortunate events from April as “the incidents” or “what happened”.

The only way to help Sri Lanka and to help the locals directly, is to travel and spend your holiday here. But let’s address the elephant in the room: “Is it safe to travel to Sri Lanka?”.

My experience of traveling to Sri Lanka a few months after the April incidents was a positive one. Security has been raised in the capital but also on the roads, so it is very common to see soldiers holding big guns or to be stopped for a random check if you are driving. The hotels in Colombo have their own security. I stayed at Cinnamon Lakeside for two nights in Colombo and the security there was insane, from checking the car I was in on the inside, outside and underneath, to going through a metal detector and having my backpack scanned. As you probably know, Cinnamon Grand, which is part of the Cinnamon Group, the same as Cinnamon Lakeside, was one of the hotels hit in the April attacks.

I personally did not feel unsafe at all during the 10 days I spent in Sri Lanka.  From June 2019, Foreign Offices around the world have downgraded their travel warnings for traveling to Sri Lanka.

 

How to get to Sri Lanka:

From Europe, the easiest way to get to Sri Lanka is from one of the major hubs such as London, Madrid or Paris, via Abu Dhabi or Doha. I flew from Spain to Abu Dhabi with Emirates, and from Abu Dhabi to Colombo with Sri Lankan Airlines. If you book ahead, you can find cheap fares, especially in the next 6 months in which Sri Lanka has reduced the airport taxes in order to increase tourism. You can check for the best flight using Skyscanner.

 

Prepare your trip to Sri Lanka with a Lonely Planet Guidebook:

 

Things to know before traveling to Sri Lanka:

20190810_133917(0)

Visa for Sri Lanka: Starting the 1st of August 2019, citizens from 36 countries among which England and the United States, have been granted free 6 months touristic visas. Also, the airfares and hotel prices have been reduced, to encourage tourist to come to Sri Lanka, so there is no better time to visit the country but now.

Language: English is very widely spoken all around the country, even if the official languages are Sinhala and Tamil.

Money: Sri Lanka uses the Sri Lankan rupee, which at the moment has a value of 100 rupees = 0.45£. Whilst there are plenty of ATMs around the country, do carry some cash with you. Some of the big shops and the supermarkets will take cards, but to buy water or snacks on the go you need cash.

Socket types: Different hotels have different plugs. The most spread is the UK one which is type G, but in some places you will find the type D which I haven’t encountered before. It is the same as the British one but with round pins. Don’t forget your adaptor at home.

When to visit Sri Lanka: To answer this question, it actually depends which side of the island you want to visit. There are two monsoon seasons in Sri Lanka, the South-Western one which brings rain from May until September, and the North-Eastern one which brings bad weather from October to January. If you travel off season, in September and October (which are the rainiest months), everything is cheaper. Usually December to March is the peak season in Sri Lanka. I travelled to Sri Lanka in August and only experienced rain in Nuwara Eliya and during the night, in Colombo.

Cultural attire: Remember to wear long skirts or pants that cover your knees and tops that cover your shoulders every time you plan to visit a temple. If in doubt, always bring a long scarf with you and wrap it around your waist. Some temples will provide one for you for an extra fee. Also, keep in mind that you need to take your shoes off when you enter a temple, so bring a pair of sandals or flip flops which you can take off easily.

As always, don’t leave home without travel insurance!

 

How to travel around Sri Lanka:

20190811_144305

The best way to travel around Sri Lanka is either by hiring a private driver or by train. I haven’t seen any touristic buses around and during the 10 days spent in Sri Lanka, I have only noticed the local buses or the touristic mini vans. I went to Sri Lanka on a bespoke tour through Jetwing, which I highly recommend. We were a group of seven, split between two minibuses. Our drivers were not only driving the vans, but they were also very knowledgeable guides who put in perspective everything we saw and experienced. Cheers Fernando and Pradeep!

If you are on a strict budget, you can travel by the local bus, but prepare to spend long times reaching your destination.

If you want scenic views, then take the train. Beware though that they are very slow as well.

If you are traveling by yourself, you might want to check out the Pick Me App, through which you can hire drivers to go from city to city. It only seems to work in big cities, such as Colombo or Kandy.

 

Highlights of the off the beaten path 10-day Sri Lanka Itinerary

Day 1-2: Explore Colombo

Day 3: Visit Ridi Viharaya (or the Silver Temple) and experience the local hospitality

Day 4: Explore the Ati Koneswaram Temple and enjoy a bird watching lagoon safari

Day 5: Be amazed by seeing wild elephants in Minneriya National Park

Day 6: Climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Day 7: Visit Dambulla Golden Cave Temple

Day 8: Ride the blue train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Day 9: Visit a tea estate

Day 10: Visit Negombo and enjoy some beach time

 

 

Map of the Sri Lanka 10 days itinerary:

 

Step by step 10 days in Sri Lanka itinerary

Day 1-2: Explore Colombo

20190807_140609

Colombo Airport is actually in Negombo, and it will take you between 45 minutes to an hour to reach the capital, by car.  I recommend booking a door to door transfer, so that your first day in Sri Lanka goes smooth and you can get some rest after the long flight. You can book the airport transfer to your hotel online here, for £37/car. This transfer includes an English-speaking driver who will greet you with a placard at the arrivals lobby, an air-conditioned car and a bottle of water.

Colombo is the capital of Sri Lanka, a very buzzing city with both modern and colonial architecture. Being under so many different occupancies during the centuries, expect to see an array of different architectural influences from the Dutch, Portuguese and British eras.

 

Where to stay in Colombo:

20190806_080714

I stayed at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel during my two days in Colombo. Located on the shores of Baira Lake, the five stars hotel has luxury rooms, 9 restaurants on site, the biggest outdoors pool in the city and a spa. The price for a room at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel starts at 100£ a night. You can check my review of the hotel here, the reviews from Tripadvisor here, or book directly on Booking.com by clicking here.

For a budget option check out Fairway Hotel located in the heart of Colombo, 700 meters away from the Khan Clock Tower, with rooms starting at 40£ a night. You can read reviews of the hotel on Tripadvisor or book directly on Booking.com by clicking here.

 

What to see and do in Colombo:

DSC06829

After flying for probably more than 10 hours to reach Sri Lanka, you will want to go for an Ayurveda treatment. I had my very relaxing full body ayurvedic massage at Siddhalepa Anarva Mount Lavinia Hotel.

In the afternoon take a visit to Petah Market to feel the pulse of the city. It might be a bit chaotic but it’s always an experience in itself to see the local market. You can find everything in Petah market, from fruits and vegetables to clothes and electronics.

The second day is dedicated to exploring Colombo. Start with the Independence Memorial Hall located in the Cinnamon Gardens, a beautiful neighbourhood with avenues lined up with trees. Nearby you can also see the Colombo Town Hall which resembles the Capitol Building in the United States, and visit the National Museum, the largest in Sri Lanka which has a very large collections of antiques.

The Gangaramaya Temple is one of the oldest Buddhists temples in Colombo. The interior is very colourful, with many statues of Buddha in different positions. The smallest statue in the museum has been carved on a rice grain. In the garden there is a Bodhi Tree surrounded by flower offerings.

For lunch head over to one of the cafes and restaurants at the Old Colombo Hospital, one of the oldest buildings in Fort Colombo, which has been restored as a shopping mall.

In the afternoon you have plenty of time to explore the Fort area, with its old Clock Tower, the Galle Buck Lighthouse and St. Peter’s Church.

The sunset is best experiences from Galle Face Green, walking down South of the promenade alongside the narrow beach. There are plenty of street food vendors along the promenade, from where you can enjoy some local flavours.

I explored Colombo with a private driver, which I recommend you do as well. Here are a few of different Colombo tours suggestions:

Day 2-3: Trincomalee

Where to stay in Trincomalee

20190808_221412

Pigeon Island Beach Resort is a no-frills hotel located on Nilaveni Beach. My room was very large, with a separate desk area, tea and coffee facilities and free toiletries in the bathroom. There was both a fan and air conditioning in the room, which was great during the night as I don’t like keeping the AC on while I sleep. The hotel has a pool and sun loungers directly on the beach that you can use freely. The in-house restaurant serves both Sri Lankan and international food, with cooks grilling meat and fish in the evening and making eggs on order in the morning. The cost of a double room at Pigeon Island Beach Resort starts at £32 a night.

You can read reviews about the resort on TripAdvisor or book directly on Booking.com.

 

What to do in Trincomalee

20190809_093227-01

As there are no fast roads in the country, day 3 of this 10 day Sri Lanka itinerary will be mostly spend in the car, driving from Colombo to Trincomalee. However, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and explore some local sights. First, don’t miss the pineapple village from Giriulla. This is a plantation where you can see how the fruit grows whilst tasting the sweetest pineapple of your life. I’ve learned here that a common way to eat pineapple is with salt and chili. In their gardens you can also see papayas and red bananas, which have more vitamin C and beta carotene than their yellow sisters.

The Silver Temple dates from the 2nd century, named after the place where the precious metal used to build Ruwanwelisaya Stupa was found. During my visit here there were no other tourists visiting the temple. I was humbled by the warm welcome from the head monk, who led my group through the grounds and showed us around. This is where I’ve learned about the dripping line, which later during my trip I’ve seen at every temple built inside or next to a cave, which protects the monks from rain, when they meditate. The temple complex is quite spectacular, especially when you think that it’s been standing up for over 18 centuries. Inside the cave I could see ancient murals painted directly on the rocks. After our visit the monk invited us for tea and cakes and showed us around his guest accommodation, where anyone can stay at for free if they want to spend some time at the temple, meditating.

There is no charge to visit the Silver Temple.

DSC06958

On the road to Trincomalee there are beautiful coconut tree plantations on both sides of the road, which make the scenery look very exotic. There are also plenty of tiny shops on the side of the road that sell only king coconut, which you must try! The king coconut water is much sweeter than any other type of coconuts and it refreshes you straight away.

The second day is for exploring Trincomalee and its surroundings. The first stop of the day was at Koneswaram Temple and Fort Frederik. Located on top of a cliff overlooking the beautiful ocean in one of the world’s largest natural harbours, this temple has a very long and tumultuous history, being destroyed several times under the Portuguese and Dutch occupation. Today Koneswaram is a peaceful Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva, around which deer roam free. Whilst the temple is not very big, it can take a while to visit all the surroundings, especially the multitude of statues almost hidden inside the rocks.

After visiting Koneswaram temple head over to the legendary hot springs of Kanniya. The warm water inside the seven wells have different temperatures, even if they come from the same source. Nobody knows how the wells were built but the Ramayana legend says that Great King Ravana made them when he struck the ground seven times with his sword. The entrance fee to the Kanniya Hot Wells costs 50 rupees (0,20£) for foreigners.

20190809_093508

Before lunch, I suggest a walk through the local market of Trincomalee to observe the local community and see what fruits and vegetables are native to here. In this market I’ve learned about the local drumstick, a yellowish-green plant that can grow up to five meters long, which is used to make curry. You don’t eat the exterior of the pod, just squeeze out the interior, once it is cooked.

After a hearty lunch of chicken and fish curry with wild red rice, head over to the Kunchikumban Aru River Estuary for a bird watching boat safari. The lagoon is very quiet because most of the boats here have rows instead of engines. It is a great place to come if you want to observe mostly aquatic birds. You can enquire at your hotel about the boat rides, as they don’t have a website. As an alternative to the lagoon boat safari you can go to Pigeon Island, famous for its turquoise waters and turtles living there, or enjoy an ethical dolphin and whale watching tour.

After finishing all the activities for the day, you should have left a couple of hours before sunset, which I suggest you spend at the beach. The water of the ocean is warm, and you can walk in it for quite some time until it gets deep. It is definitely a great way to relax after a busy day.

 

Day 4-5: Habarana

Where to stay in Habarana

20190812_083555

In Habarana I stayed at the beautiful Sorowwa Resort and Spa which surprised me with their attention to details. Besides the warm welcome and the lighting of the oil lamp ceremony, the staff ar Sorowwa Resort and Spa made sure that my stay was perfect. The room was large, with an equally large balcony overlooking the lake. The bed was huge and very comfortable. After a long day out, when I returned to the room, I found an elephant made out of towels on the bed.

For dinner and breakfast, there were always chefs cooking to order, especially grilling, making salad or frying eggs.

The hotel features a spa and also a large pool, which is so inviting after a long day of hiking. You can read reviews about the resort on TripAdvisor or book directly on Booking.com by clicking here.

 

What to do in Habarana for 2 days  

20190810_141028-01

The first day in Habarana is all about being local and experiencing the wildlife. I started the day with a traditional Sri Lankan village tour, where I’ve learned about how people make a living out of agriculture and how they are still using antique methods of cooking.

I enjoyed so much having lunch in a local house, where the lady cook demonstrated how you can make sambol by using just a big rock, or how to scrape the coconut flesh from the shell with an iron hook. The traditional Sri Lankan food was so good and so colourful, including pumpkin curry, wild rice and dhal. The village tour is the perfect thing to do in the morning, whilst preparing for the big event of the day, the elephant safari. The village tour costs 2500 rupees (around £11) and lunch is an additional 1000 rupees (around £4.5).

The main reason people stop in Habarana is the Minneriya National Park, home to hundreds of wild elephants. During the dry season, between July and September, as many as 300 elephants gather here because of the large water reservoir. The only way to see the elephants from Minneriya National Park is through an organised safari, which costs around 7000 rupees (approximately £32) per person and includes the entrance fee to the park and the 4×4 jeep hire.

20190810_171536

The best times to go for an elephant safari in Minneriya National Park is in the morning between 5:30AM-8:30AM and in the afternoon between 3:00PM-6:00PM, because these are the times when the animals are most active. Seeing elephants in the wild is so special and I was so lucky to witness entire families of gentle giants walking slowly, in herds. It was so amazing! Doing an elephant safari in one of Sri Lanka’s national parks is the only way people should interact with these animals. Elephants are wild animals and they should live only in the wild. When you see a tourist attraction involving them, be it a so called sanctuary where they are chained, elephant rides to temples, parades or any other similar activity, always say no! Never engage with any animal activity and don’t support animal tourism. It is just cruel!

Start the following day with a visit to the second kingdom of Sri Lanka, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa. The capital of Sri Lanka during the 10th century, Polonnaruwa used to be a self-sufficient city with advanced road infrastructure and superior irrigation systems.

The museum of Polonnaruwa portrays the image of how the city used to look like in the 10th century, with majestic tall buildings, round temples and wooden roofs. I highly recommend visiting the museum before entering the archaeological site, to understand better the importance of Polonnaruwa in the ancient times. A full adult ticket to access the archaeological site and visit the museum costs 4425 rupees (around £20). Children pay half price.

20190811_101753-01

Because of its size, the ancient city of Polonnaruwa is best visited by bicycle. It costs only 800 rupees (approximately £4) to rent one but it saves a lot of walking. You will be walking enough to visit the sites inside. Remember to wear skirts or shorts that cover your knees and tops that cover your shoulders. Also, because there are many sacred sites inside Polonnaruwa, I recommend wearing shoes that are easy to take off.

Dedicate the afternoon to climbing Sigiriya, the monument that UNESCO declared as the 8th Wonder of the World. The story says that Sigiriya Fortress, or the Lion Rock, has been built out of fear. Kashyapa, the second king of the royal dynasty of Mauryan of Sri Lanka was so avid of power that he killed his father in order to take his place on the throne. He was so afraid that his brother, the right heir to the throne, will come and seek revenge, that he moved the capital of the country from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya and built his palace on top of the rock. The new built city around the rock had beautiful gardens with pools, ponds and an irrigation system that it is still functional today. The gardens from Sigiriya are actually some of the oldest ancient landscaped gardens in the world. It is said that the entire Western façade of the rock was painted with frescos, but today only a very small part remains still visible and accessible to the public. And to think that all of this happened in the 1st century….

DSC07359

It doesn’t take a very long time to climb Sigiriya, even if when you look at it from the ground, the rock seems impossible to reach. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the top, mostly by stairs. As you pass by the long “Mirror Wall”, you can notice many scribbles and “graffiti” dating from the 6th century. These are some of the oldest examples of written Sinhalese language. Just before the final part of the climb, you will need to pass through two large sculptures depicting a lion’s paws. It is said that in the past the entrance used to be through the head, but that has collapsed long time ago.

The best time to climb Sigiriya is in the afternoon, so you can admire the sunset from up there. The access ticket to Sigiriya for foreigners costs 5500 rupees (25£). Remember that the ticket counter closes at 5PM and the site at 7PM, so if you want to see the sunset, get there before 5PM.

At the end of the day, after so much cycling, walking and climbing, make sure you relax your muscles with a dip in the pool.

 

Day 6-7: Kandy

Where to stay in Kandy

20190812_175226

Mahaweli Reach Hotel was one of my favourite accommodations during my 10 days trip to Sri Lanka. With a massive swimming pool, beautiful large rooms and a great restaurant, Mahaweli Reach Hotel is the place to stay in Kandy if you are looking for relaxation and luxury. As soon as I checked in, I changed into my bathing suit and went swimming into the gorgeous pool.

In the evenings I enjoyed sitting on the balcony from my room, listening to the sounds of nature. Because I checked out from the hotel very early, they even packed breakfast for me.

You can read reviews of the hotel on Tripadvisor or book directly on Booking.com by clicking here.

 

What to do in Kandy

20190813_100116

The road from Habarana to Kandy has many places where you can stop at and learn about the local crafts. And one of the first places I stopped at was a small batik making company, where I learned how this type of fabric is created.

Did you know that it takes about a week for a small piece of batik to be made? This is because everything is done by hand, from the initial design to the wax layers that protect the color. The more complicated the design is, the more time it takes to finish the work.

The next stop, close to the batik shop, was to a silk cooperative. Here I’ve learned how silk is made and why are there different types of it. I also got the chance to try on a Sri Lankan saree, which is different than the Indian one. It was pretty interesting to see how a 6 meters long piece of fabric can be plated so beautifully into a clothing item.

Before lunch, because you have to climb again, visit the Golden Temple from Dambulla, which is a perfect example of ancient painting techniques. The temple complex is built inside several caves with an area of over 2,100 square meters that is painted with natural colours.

20190812_125628-01

The temple complex from Dambulla is dedicated to Buddha and his life, with 153 statues depicting him in different positions, located inside the caves.

I had a late lunch at a spice plantation, where not only that I tasted local flavours but I also learned about the role of different plants in the Sri Lankan culture. Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine developed in the ancient times. In Sri Lanka, Ayurveda is way a life. Translating as “the science of life”, the medicine and treatments used in Ayurveda are solely based on plants and natural ingredients.

The rest of the afternoon I suggest spending it by the pool, enjoying the hotel. That is what I did.

The following morning, a visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kandy is a must. Renewed for its orchid collection, the Royal Botanical Garden is home to more than 4,000 different plant species, including palm trees, spices and medicinal plants. As it rains quite often in Kandy, don’t forget your umbrella at home.

After lunch visit a gem museum to see how the precious stones are mined in Sri Lanka. If you didn’t know, Sri Lanka is often referred to as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, because of the many different gems found on the island. At a gem museum you can see the entire process of creating a mine from scratch and experience a replica of one. You can also see how gems are cut and shaped into jewellery before checking out the ones for sale. Among others, Sri Lanka has underground deposits of sapphire, topaz, ruby, moonstone, amethyst, beryl, alexandrite and many more. If you want to buy a considerable cheaper but authentic ring, this is the place to do so. With a bit of negotiations, you can buy a precious stone ring for around 40£-50£.

20190813_162737

Another interesting place to visit is a wood carving shop. Here I’ve learned about the different types of wood, with the mahogany as the king of all when it comes to price. The little studio with a massive basement for storage employs people with special needs to carve the wood, which I think is very admirable.

Here I’ve learned about the natural paint obtained from the rainbow wood, the same one used many centuries ago for ancient painting. When the dust from the rainbow wood gets in contact with different natural elements such as lime juice, chalk, or even an iron bar, the color changes instantly. It’s interesting to see the difference between natural and artificial colours, on two different pieces of wood painted the same.

 

Day 8-9: Nuwara Eliya

Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya

20190814_161613

In Nuwara Eliya I stayed at the beautiful Araliya Green City Hotel, located in the heart of the city. The rooms are large, with Victorian inspired furniture and the most romantic electric fireplace, that I used in the evenings to warm up. On the table there was a tray with two green apples and a glass of truffles, which made me feel very welcome.

There is a heated pool on the top floor as well, which I enjoyed for a bit before dinner. The food in the restaurant was so good, both for breakfast and for dinner. You can read reviews of the hotel on Tripadvisor or book directly on Booking.com by clicking here.

 

What to do in Nuwara Eliya

DSC07552

This day was very exciting! Even if I had to wake up at 6, I was over the moon to finally ride the famous blue train that appears in pretty much every post about Sri Lanka.

I took the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, which continues to Ella. A first-class ticket with a reserved seat costs 2000 rupees (around 9£). It is recommended to buy a first-class ticket to guarantee a seat on the train, otherwise you might end up standing for the entire 4-5 hours of the journey.

Now, you have probably seen many Instagram photos in which very fit ladies and gentlemen hang on from the doors of the train, leaning dangerously low over the edge. And probably, the same as me, you thought that the train goes very slow so anyone can do it. Well, the truth is that the train is quite fast and it’s also extremely bumpy. Leaning outside requires a lot of strength but also courage, as it is dangerous. You never know when the next branch or tunnel are going to come and it requires at least two people to take the photo: one to warn for hazards and the other one to lean in the same time as you do, to click it. It took me about two hours to take this shot and even if it’s not glamourous as at all, I like it because it kind of shows myself: messy and with two left feet. 😊

In the afternoon you must visit a tea plantation and see the journey it makes from the fields to the cup that you have every day. Just a warning, make sure you don’t visit on a full moon day, which is always a holiday in Sri Lanka, because you won’t see anyone working.

20190815_094946

I visited Pedro Tea estate, which I loved so much for the fact that I could just roam free between the tea plants. Before that though I have taken a tour inside the factory to see how the leaves are sorted, dried and then packaged. Because Pedro Tea estate is producing a very light tea, they only process the leaves at night, when the temperature drops under 15 degrees. After the tour I enjoyed a cup of their Ceylon tea on the balcony of their tea house, overlooking the estate.

The following morning, I explored the city a little bit. Nuwara Eliya is also known under the name of “Little England” and walking around the city you will understand why, seeing all the Tudor style cottages and, of course, experiencing the rain. There is time to see the Gregory lake but also to send a postcard from the Nuwara Eliya Post Office, which I highly recommend. A few years ago, when I still had a fixed address, I used to be obsessed with Postcrossing: sending and receiving postcards from all over the world. That’s when I became fascinated with unique post offices and stamps, and the one in Nuwara Eliya is exactly like this.

High in the hill stations, Nuwara Eliya has a privileged location, among tea plantations, close to many stunning waterfalls. The ones that stand out are Devon Falls, with a height of 97 meters and St. Clair’s Falls often referred to as the Little Niagara of Sri Lanka, 80 meters high.

For more things to do in Nuwara Eliya and around, check out this three days itinerary for the Highlands of Sri Lanka.

20190815_124506

From Nuwara Eliya to Negombo expect an approximate journey time of 6 hours, even if there are only 160 kilometres between the two cities. The road down the mountain is very windy, and if you know you get car sick easily, do take your motions sickness pills before starting the trip. The scenery is so beautiful though, with the road following the tea estates, then going down between the mountains. Closer to Negombo I noticed rubber trees but also pineapple plantations.

 

Day 10: Negombo

Where to stay in Negombo

20190815_193109

Jetwing Sea is the perfect hotel to stay at in Negombo. The hotel is located right on the beach and features a massive swimming pool. My room was at the ground floor, with a very cute terrace and direct access to the pool. The room was luxurious, with the most comfortable bed from the entire 10 days trip in Sri Lanka, and a huge bathtub with a view. I didn’t spend a lot of time here because my flight was at 4:30AM, but I wish to come back, as I do know that this is the perfect hotel to spend a few relaxing days at.

Watching the last sunset in Sri Lanka from the beach whilst enjoying drinks from the bar was magical.

You can read the reviews of the hotel on TripAdvisor or book directly on Booking.com by clicking here.

 

What to do in Negombo

20190815_182650-01

I didn’t get to see Negombo at all, I have to admit, because of my very early flight. However, I can tell you that the beach here is stunning, very wide and with soft sand.

If you still have energy after this packed itinerary and if you still have some more time in Sri Lanka, I do recommend visit Negombo City as well. You can book a city tour for half a day to see the Dutch Canals and the Angurukaramulla Temple, you can visit the fish market (at 6am), or enjoy a fishing trip where what you catch will be cooked for you later on.

 

 

Now tell me about your trip! Have you been to Sri Lanka? Do you want to go? Will you follow my off the beaten path Sri Lanka itinerary, or any part of it? I would love to hear from you, in the comments section.

 

Disclaimer: Please note that I visited Sri Lanka as a guest of the Sri Lankan Tourism Board. However, all the opinions in this article are my own and I would not recommend anything that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself doing or think it was a great place to visit.

Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Sharing is caring!

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

47 Comments

  1. I’d love to visit Sri Lanka and see the elephants. It really does look like a beautiful country with so much to do and I have loved reading about your experiences. I’d be surprised if people didn’t want to visit after reading this to be honest 🙂

  2. Such an amazing and beautiful place. Its on my wish list. Its true where communities depend on tourism, terrorist attacks can ruin the town or country. Mombasa tourism never picked up to its former glory after a terrorist attack in 2014.

  3. I love the action-packed itinerary. When I visit a place I try to do as much as possible in a short time. Sri Lanka is beautiful and the pictures are lovely.

  4. I’m loving how in-depth this guide is. Sometimes I roll across articles that say they’re for 10 days but only provide enough detail for planning a couple of days. Thanks so much for putting this together!

  5. Sad that the terrorist attacks happened on the island this year. But, Sri Lanka is a jewel that no one should miss. It has a lot of beauty and a lot to offer.

  6. I’ve never been to Sri Lanka. Everything looks so colorful, out of all of the suggestions I’d love to start with the National Park if I were there.

  7. We’ve never been to Sri Lanka but of course the world is on our list. This is a great inspiration for our goals.You just bumped up Sri Lanka in our list.

  8. I’ve never considered traveling to Sri Lanka before, but after seeing all these amazing photos of the country, I’ve changed my mind. 🙂

  9. Sri Lanka is quite a beautiful country. I have seen really awesome photos of its national parks and animals. I would love to visit the country soon.

  10. I’m so glad you addressed to the elephant in the room! Sri Lanka is such a beautiful country and I hope more people decide to visit. Your trip looks like an amazing experience!

  11. I did pin this! I didnt know Sri Lanka really thrives and survive off tourism I would love to visit! You did a great job with this itinerary!

  12. I know little or nothing about this fascinating land which is why your blog post was really wonderful to read and intrigued me more about this country.

  13. Your photos are breathtaking. I always love going off the beaten path because you can find some amazing spots. That National Park would be neat to check out–I love elephants.

  14. I love traveling and after going through your post, I felt like I was already in Sri Lanka. I would like to visit Sri Lanka and also follow your Itinerary.

  15. Sri Lanka seems to be an amazing country. I am dying to visit here at the earliest convenience. I love the details you presented so beautifully. Heartfelt thanks.

  16. That’s so wonderful you felt safe in Sri Lanka, I feel pity for the places which are affected by different incidents, as people are not so willing to travel there any longer. It looks like a fairytale contry which I’d like to visit during my next holidays! 🙂

  17. I was not even aware that there were terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka earlier this year. At least it is good to know and I will check before booking my trip. I do find some of the prices quite high compared to similar places in Asia.

  18. I love traveling and Sri Lanka has been on my bucket list! I love off the beaten path itineraries, so I will definitely be checking these places out when I make it there.

  19. I have been wanting to visit Sri Lanka. It looks so beautiful and you really showcased so much fun stuff to do! Hopefully we will make it there soon.

  20. I would love to stay at Mahaweli Reach Hotel- the flowers above the pool on the balconies are gorgeous! I’ve never been, but I would have to eat all the food!

  21. This is such a detailed guide for visiting Sri Lanka — planning, getting around, all of the tips to make any trip a fun one! It is beautiful and one day I will actually visit this country!

  22. It looks like there are so many amazing things to do out there. I can imagine being concerned about safety in travel so that’s very important to allay fears. But just the magnificent things to do would be all worth it.

  23. Very detailed post on each and every place. I have been to all these places in Sri Lanka. Liked the cave temples. Nuwara Eliya is a splendid place. I loved the beach in Colombo.

  24. Srilanka is one of the most beautiful country. It’s in my bucket list from long time and would love to visit Srilanka asap. I really love reading your blog you mentioned each and every single details. Thanks for sharing

  25. Sri Lanka is high on the list for us, unfortunatly we couldn’t make it during our 2 year expidition in Asia, we will be back though and asving this guide for when we do!

  26. I think it would be so amazing to take a trip to off the beaten path in such a beautiful country as Sri Lanka. It’s nice to see all the must-see spots, but it is also fun to experience a more unique adventure.

  27. Looks like an amazing trip! Those hotel rooms are absolutely gorgeous too. I may have to check out Sri Lanka at least once in my life!

  28. I’ve heard a lot of exciting areas to visit in Sri Lanka. Hopefully we can visit this beautiful place with the family. Whenever you travel, it’s always good to be careful always.

  29. I am so glad that you had a positive experience in Sri Lanka. I am also thankful for all of your tips, especially when the airfare is the cheapest!

  30. Looks like you had an adventurous trip! That’s great news about the free visas! I need to get my passport renewed and safe up some $$ and get out more!

  31. What an amazing adventure! All places are interesting however my favourite is Kandy and the bamboo forest. Also, that food looks delicious and so fresh. I’d love to taste the pumpkin curry!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.