Sri Lanka Sample Itinerary
Head to the historic Fort Railway Station for your train journey down to Galle, a town of great beauty with its collection of Dutch-colonial buildings set amongst the old fort walls built by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
Perched on a headland overlooking the Indian Ocean, Galle suffered terribly when a tsunami hit in 2004 but has recovered strongly and now boasts an impressive community of both artists and business people.
Explore more of Galle, taking in the interesting architecture and boutique shops. A walk along the ramparts of the old fort is a must.
After lunch, head east to Tangalle, gateway to the wide-open beaches of southeast Sri Lanka. Along the way you will see the beautiful sight of stilt fishermen sitting motionless on their stilt platforms trying to catch fish to sell at the markets.
Enjoy the day relaxing on one of the nearby beaches. Goyambokka is usually safe for swimming so a good option for the children. There are also numerous other beaches if you want seclusion and stunning scenery.
In the late afternoon make your way to Tissa. Situated on the shores of the pretty Tissa Wella and surrounded by rice paddies this is the ideal gateway to Yala West National Park.
A short train journey takes you to Haputale situated on the southern edge of the hill country region. The legacy of the British tea planters lives on here with tea estates and graceful planters’ cottages dotting the surrounding hillsides. These, combined with the predominantly local Tamil population, tea factories, the beautiful Diyaluma Falls and the stunning views make Haputale a great place to explore.
Take the train to Kandy, one of the most beautiful cities in Sri Lanka. Here you will find numerous attractions to keep you busy including the famous ‘Temple of the Tooth’ which contains the sacred relic of Buddah’s tooth. There is also the impressive Royal Palace and the grand Botanical Gardens.
If you are lucky enough to visit in the month of August you will get to experience the Esala Perehera, an annual ritual of the Sacred Tooth Temple where, amongst other things, they have a parade of elephants dressed in elaborate costumes which are spectacularly lit up at night.
Enjoy a relaxing, travel free day in Kandy. Alternatively, you can head to the Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage, a rehabilitation centre, nursery and orphanage for young elephants. It is pretty touristy but you do get the opportunity to get up close and personal with them and the sight of them all bathing in the river is very cool.
Time to visit the ancient cities and caves situated further north. Your first stop will be Dambullah Cave Temples, five separate caves housing more than 150 Buddha images. From here, make your way to the ancient city of Polonnaruwa which was first inhabited in the late 10th century AD. There are some beautiful reliefs carved in to the stone and, when we were there, we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
Head to the spectacular fortress of Sigiriya, built in 473 AD and situated on top of an impressive 200 metre high rock. You will want to climb this later on in the afternoon to avoid both the heat and the crowds and to make the most of the stunning colours that bounce off the rock as the sun descends lower in the sky.
Visit Yapahuwa, the smaller cousin to Sigiriya but equally as stunning. This rock fortress rises 100 metres above the plains and the steep, ornamental staircase rising up to the top platform affords amazing views. A local monk will happily tell you about the history and show you the ancient frescoes and carvings within a cave temple situated behind the fortress.