Your Sri Lankan adventure begins in capital Colombo, which combines ancient temples and modern malls. Next, travel to Paramakanda Rock Temple and on to the cultural triangle to see ancient temples at Polonnaruwa and the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, before heading to the Knuckles Mountain Range for hiking trails and mountain views. Continue your Sri Lanka adventure with visits to two national parks: Gal Oya NP offers boat safaris to see elephants swimming and crocodiles hunting, while Yala NP is home to the elusive leopard. Head back to civilisation to explore the colonial mansions and quirky side streets of Galle, before ending your trip back in Colombo.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Yala National Park, Polonnaruwa, Colombo, Knuckles Mountain Range, Galle, Gal Oya National Park, Paramakanda Rock temple
Activity Activity Luxury, Nature & Wildlife, Culture
Physical Level Physical Level Mild
Season Season January - December

Suggested itinerary

Historic markets and modern malls in Colombo

Historic markets and modern malls in Colombo

Day 1–2 in Colombo

Cosmopolitan Colombo is more than just the gateway to Sri Lanka. Here, you can learn about Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic history, with churches, mosques and temples all in a line, street food with influences from around the world, and shopping in a mix of ancient markets and huge malls in Pettah.

Don't miss

Sample diverse Sri Lanka cuisine

Sample diverse Sri Lanka cuisine

From Jaffna crab curry to breakfasts of hoppers (fermented rice crepes), Sri Lankan food has a distinct identity depending on where you visit.

Relax in the jungle

Relax in the jungle

Day 3–5 in Paramakanda Rock temple

Head north to The Mudhouse, an enchanting jungle lodge surrounded by lakes and forest, and at the foot of the mysterious Paramakanda Rock Temple.

Visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa

Visit the ancient city of Polonnaruwa

Day 6–7 in Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa was the medieval capital of Sri Lanka, a thriving centre of commerce and religion. Today, visitors can explore the site’s archaeological treasures, including the Sacred Quadrangle and a number of temples. Combine your trip with a visit to the nearby Sigiriya Rock Fortress.

Don't miss

Get lost in the caves of Dambulla

Get lost in the caves of Dambulla

Explore the five main caves of Dambulla stuffed with statues of Buddha and Hindu gods. The walk up offers great views of Sigiriya Rock.

Go hiking in the Knuckles Mountain Range

Go hiking in the Knuckles Mountain Range

Day 8–9 in Knuckles Mountain Range

The Knuckles Mountain Range – also known as the Dumbara Mountain Range – is home to 34 peaks and offers plenty of treks for hikers to explore, with waterfalls, tiny villages and elusive mountain animals part of the experience.

Boat safari in Gal Oya National Park

Boat safari in Gal Oya National Park

Day 10–12 in Gal Oya National Park

Gal Oya is the most untouched of all of Sri Lanka’s national parks and is the only one where you can take a boat safari. Take to the water on Watawanna Lake to see elephants swimming, crocodiles hunting and birdlife up close.

Go leopard spotting in Yala National Park

Go leopard spotting in Yala National Park

Day 13–14 in Yala National Park

Southeast Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park is the country’s most visited wilderness reserve. Home to leopards, elephants and crocodiles, the park’s trails can get crowded during the high season.

Take a walk through historic Galle

Take a walk through historic Galle

Day 15–17 in Galle

The historic fort town of Galle is best explored on foot, allowing you to take in its grandiose colonial buildings, ancient temples and mosques and many quirky side streets. Make sure to take a walk on the ramparts of the fort, with views out over the ocean.

Don't miss

Cruise down the Kapu Ela river

Cruise down the Kapu Ela river

Enjoy a scenic boat ride down the Kapu Ela River, exploring rural villages and watching grey fish eagles soar through the air.

Where to stay

Classic

The Mudhouse

Surrounded by lakes a nestled in sixty acres of forest at the foot of the Paramakanda Rock Temple lies The Mudhouse — a traditional jungle lodge that combines charming, thatched hut accommodation with a vast range of off-the-beaten-track excursions.

Classic

Gal Oya Lodge

Gal Oya Lodge is situated in the heart of the Gal Oya national park, not far from Sri Lanka’s most sizable inland body of water, Senanayake Samudraya lake, a serene body of water surrounded by forests teeming with colourful wildlife. Furnishings are handcrafted from teak and mara wood by workers in the village, and its open-plan architecture makes the most of the panoramic mountain views.

Superior

KK Beach

A contemporary beachfront hotel with stylish, modern interiors and fantastic service, KK Beach sits on a quiet beach just a 20-minute drive from Galle.

With just 10 rooms and a lovely pool, the property is wonderfully intimate. Rooms range from deluxe, suites and penthouse rooms, all with private terraces looking over the pool, palm trees and beach.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators may cost between £3,150 and £3,900pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

Learn more

Contact us now and we'll connect you with a specialist tour operator with more information on how to tailor and book this itinerary.

Other itineraries you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.

Loading...