Sri Lanka: The Essential Three Week Intinerary

Ella to Kandy Train

Sri Lanka- Three week Itinerary

Sri Lanka is one of the top destinations to travel to in 2019 and rightly so. It’s a country of rich culture, stunning beaches, coconut palms, rugged, lush mountains, tea plantations, wildlife and some of the most hospitable people in the world.

Sri Lanka is a small enough country that you can base yourself in a couple of places during your visit and take day trips to lots of the surrounding areas. So please use this itinerary and adapt it to how you please.


Colombo is the gateway to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. Fly into the city and spend 2 days there exploring the hustle and bustle of the city. Discover some fantastic highlights like the restoration of the Old Fort. Shopping at the modern malls and the markets of long-lived Pettah, or delph deep into Sri Lanka’s Rich History at the National Museum or even discovering colourful and majestic Temples. To end a busy day catch the sunset with an array of locals on Colombos ‘Front Lawn’ at the Galle Face Green.


Mount Lavinia

Not far from Colombo is the quiet and chic suburb of Mount Lavinia. This is the perfect place to stay if you are not a fan of the craziness of big, populated cities. Right on the beach and tucked away from the madness. The beaches are beautiful and not too busy. But the city is still easily accessible by bus.

Mount Lavinia, Sri Lanka

My recommendation would be to stay in this area and if you want to explore Colombo then head in on public transport from here.

Train Travel, Sri Lanka


Take a train from Colombo or Mount Lavinia down to Hikkaduwa. A bustling small beach town that is popular with tourists and surfers. It has always been one of the main Tourist hotspots since the ’70s, which means a lot of development but the golden sands and the remaining tall palm trees are just waiting for you here. My recommendation would be to stay here for one day and one night; There are lots of other more impressive beach towns in Sri Lanka.

Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka
Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka


Or pronounced ‘Gawl’ in English is an unmissable stop on any Sri Lanka Itinerary. A mix of modern and old. Within the Walls of Galle Fort, you will discover some of the most beautiful old Dutch-colonial buildings. The old fort is now a UNESCO Heritage site. And it is well worth spending one day wandering around the walls of the fort. Stay in one of the chic guesthouses within the Fort and wake up early and spend the morning exploring the new town and its markets before heading on to your next destination.

Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka
Galle Tuk Tuk, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort, Sri Lanka


Jump on a bus from Galle and onto the very South where you will be met with some of those luscious beaches, that you always see on Instagram of Sri Lanka although the beach has been developed on over the years with which cafes and bars to hang out. It is still worth the visit to chill for a couple of days. There are an array of spas and places to do yoga in Unawatuna. You also get a mix of beach and jungle here. I would stay no longer than two days before moving on down the road.



Head onto the crazy bus from Unawatuna, onto Welligama was not originally on my list but it is a place I stumbled upon, and I am so glad I did. This charming little town greeted me with friendly locals, delicious seafood and beautiful beaches. If all you want to do is relax and soak in the wonders of the South, then this is the perfect place to do it.
If surfing is something you want to give a try on your trip in Sri Lanka, then look no further than Welligama, perfect waves for a beginner and plenty of schools to teach you.
Welligama is the perfect place to see the Fishermen on the Stilts, although they are about a 5-minute Tuk-Tuk ride along the coast. Also while you are there, you must pay AVM Cream House a visit and try one of their fresh smoothies. They’re amazing. It looks like a small fruit shop opposite the bus station but its also a cafe out the back. Spend around two days here, relaxing, enjoying smoothies and learning to surf.



Catch a bus to Mirissa from Welligamas main bus stop (of course not before grabbing one more fresh smoothie from AVM. The bus ride is no more than 10 minutes. Spend the next two days dozing off in a hammock with fresh coconut on the beaches of Mirissa. Lets the hours slip by in this small slice of paradise. Mirissa is also the best place to go on Whale spotting tour’, but you would need to wake up early on your second day there to do this, as tours usually depart around 6:30 am.

Mirissa Sri Lanka
Mirissa Sri Lanka
Whale Watching Mirissa Sri Lanka


Catch the crazy public bus again from Mirissa to Matara and change there for another bus to Tangalle. There are plenty more beaches here to explore as well as an interesting harbour if you need a break from all the beaches. I would recommend spending 2/3 days here. It is also the perfect place to have as a base for a day excursion to one of the famous National Parks, Either Yala, Bundula or Uda Walawe and go on a safari to see if you can spot any leopards, elephants or other marvellous animals Sri Lanka has.

Tangalle, Sri Lanka
Tangalle Sri Lanka
Yala National Park
Yala National Park at Sunrise


Catch the bus from Tangalle bus station and head North to the beautiful town of Ella. You are surrounded by Mountains, tea plantations and some of the most natural beauty you will ever see. You could easily spend three days here, hiking to Little Adams peak, then another day walking to Ella Rock, as well as discovering some majestic waterfalls. The famous Instagram 9-arch bridge is also situated in Ella.

Ella Sri Lanka
Snake Charmer, Ella Sri Lanka
Ella Sri Lanka
Ella, Sri Lanka
Ella Sri Lanka
Ella to Kandy Train, Sri Lanka


After three days discovering Ella, You must catch the famous Ella to Kandy train route. Tickets need to be bought a day in advance from the train station in Ella. Enjoy one of the most scenic train routes in the world on the way to Kandy. Once you have arrived in the bustling town of Kandy, spend a few hours wandering around the dominating centrepiece of the city; Kandy Lake, an artificial lake dating back to 1807 and built by the last ruler of Kandy. On your second day, discover more about the Ancient Buddha and visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. Just North of the Lake lies a beautiful temple where one of Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist Relic is- A tooth of the Buddha. There also plenty of museums to explore such as World Buddhism Museum and Ceylon Tea Museum. Two days is the perfect time for a taste of Kandy.

Kandy Lake


Get up early and head for a bus from Kandy to Dambulla then change there for Sigiriya. You will arrive in Sigiriya at around 10:45 pm. That’s enough time to spend the day exploring this marvellous sight that is arguably one of Sri Lanka’s more astounding sights. Discover the hidden Buddhists paintings and hike to the top for some stunning views of the surrounding rich jungles.
Just remember to take plenty of water with you.
You could stay at a small guesthouse in Sigiriya that night and relax after an exhausting day of hiking, or you could use Kandy or Dambulla as a base for a day trip here.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka


To close this exciting trip to Sri Lanka, finish the journey in Negombo for some last minute beach time, coconut palms and rich history. Negombo is also very close to the airport, so it’s the perfect place to reflect on the culture rich experience you have had in Sri Lanka. There are still plenty of things to do here, which include discovering more temples, diving and Kite-surfing.

Have you been to Sri Lanka? What were the highlights for you?

Sri Lanka Pinterest

3 Comment

  1. I miss Sri Lanka! I have only been there once for about 11 days but we got to see a lot in the short amount of time we’ve been there. I loved the views over there and the kind people. You have some great suggestions for an itinerary. Next time I am there I’ll need to take it slowly and visit some of the places I have missed like Galle. Beautiful post!

  2. I am hoping to go to Sri Lanka and would love to have three weeks to visit there! Hoping to use this as for future reference for trip planning, thanks for the great resource 🙂

  3. Beautiful pictures! I loved Hikkaduwa and Galle. Will return in a heartbeat. Tangalle and Ella look interesting too. Bookmarked for next time.

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