Highlights of Sri Lanka
This private guided tour takes in some of the main cultural and scenic highlights of Sri Lanka. Visit the Dambulla cave temple with its ancient Buddha sculptures, climb to the top of the ruins of the Sigiriya rock fortress soaring high above the rainforest, spot Asian elephants in the wild and discover the Temple of the Sacred Tooth in Kandy. Take an unforgettable train ride to Nanu Oya, visit a tea plantation and marvel at the beautiful collection of orchids at Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.
8 days/7 nights | Prices from £2,359 per person
Including international return flights, private transfers, the services of English–speaking representatives and guides, and all accommodation on a mixed basis.
Highlight of the trip
An early morning climb to the ruins of the rock fortress in Sigiriya where you can enjoy outstanding views of the surrounding landscape. The safari in Minneriya to see wild elephants. The dry season, May to September, is usually the best time to observe elephants that come to drink, bathe and feed during what is known as the Gathering – the largest meeting of Asian elephants in the world. The delightful train journey to Nanu Oya.
- Negombo for 1 night
- Sigiriya for 2 nights
- Kandy for 2 nights
- Nuwara Eliya for 1 night
- Colombo for 1 night
Day 1– Arrival into Colombo
Be met by our English-speaking representative and chauffeur-guide at Colombo airport and be transferred (10km, 25 mins) to your hotel in Negombo.
Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, and dinner and overnight at your hotel.
5 star tour: Stay at Wallawwa, Negombo for 1 night on half board basis.
4 star tour: Stay at Jetwing Beach, Negombo for 1 night on half board basis.
Day 2 – Negombo via Dambulla to Sigiriya (150km, 3 hours)
The Dambulla cave temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla was founded in the 1st century. Ancient sculptures and paintings of the Buddha and various Hindu deities and are located in five central caves. The original sculptures and paintings have gained additions throughout the centuries and stand monument to evolving artistic styles of the ancient Ceylonese. Arrive in Sigiriya, the centre of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, in the late afternoon. Enjoy free time, dinner and overnight stay in the hotel.
5 star tour: Stay at Water Garden, Sigiriya for 2 nights on half board basis.
4 star tour: Stay at Aliya Resort & Spa for 2night on half board basis.
Day 3 – Sigiriya to Rock Fortress to Sigiriya, Sigiriya to Minneriya to Sigiriya (40km, 1 hour)
An early morning start to hike the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya, an ancient and exceptional architectural, artistic and engineering landmark. Carved into the rock on the orders of King Kashyapa, he used the rock to build a fortress to provide the ultimate protection against attack. Near vertical granite walls soar above the canopy of the rainforest to the ruins of an almost impregnable ancient fortified palace. Having scaled the vertiginous staircases attached to sheer rock walls, the rewards are unforgettable: spellbinding views of mist-wrapped forests, water gardens and cave shrines.
Return to the hotel for brunch before leaving for Minneriya. This is one of the best areas of Sri Lanka in which to see wild elephants. Plenty of scrub, forest and wetlands also provide shelter for toque macaques, sambar deer, buffalo, crocodiles, leopards and abundant birdlife. During the dry season, from May to September, witness as many as 200 elephants feeding and bathing during what is known as the Gathering. Large numbers of elephants can be seen here at other times of year too.
Return to the hotel for diner and overnight stay
Day 4 – Sigiriya to Kandy via Matale (100km, 3 hours)
After breakfast check out from the hotel and proceed to Kandy, with a visit, en route, to the Spice Garden in Matale. Spices have always been a famous and important export of Sri Lanka. They have been cultivated in such gardens over the years and have not only been used to aromatize food but to also make medicine and cosmetics. The visit to Matale will add to your knowledge of spices such as cinnamon, ginger, pepper, vanilla and cardamon.
Enjoy free time, dinner and overnight stay at your hotel.
5 star tour: Stay at Mountbatten Bungalow, Kandy on half board basis for 2 nights.
4 star tour: Stay at Amaya Hills, Kandy on half board basis for 2 nights.
Day 5 – Kandy to Peradeniya to Kandy (25km, 1 hour)
After breakfast, visit Peradeniya Royal Botanic Garden. Established in 1821 the garden now covers 140 acres within a loop of Sri Lanka’s longest river, the Mahaweli. Host to over 4,000 species, it is home to one of the largest collections of sub-tropical plants in the world. The orchid collection is of particular note.
An evening visit to the Sacred Temple of Tooth follows. This temple houses the famous relic of Lord Buddha’s tooth and is Kandy’s most important landmark. Daily ceremonies are held every morning and night to honour the relic. Visitors see the golden casing, where the relic is kept, during the ceremony. The ritual includes traditional drummers and is a must for all those visiting the holy city.
Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 6 – Kandy to Nanu Oya by train ( 3 hours 30 mins) and Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya by road (15km, 40 mins)
Sri Lanka packs in some of the world’s most thrilling rail journeys and the scenic train ride to Nanu Oya is no exception. The original steam engines may have been replaced by colourful diesel locomotives, but they have still have a thrilling evocative effect as they weave and dissect their way amidst the emerald green Sri Lankan landscape.
Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
5 star tour: Stay at Goatfell, Nuwara Eliya for 1 night on all-inclusive basis.
4 star tour: Stay at The Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya for 1 night on half board basis.
Day 7 – Nuwara Eliya to Colombo (170km, 5 hours)
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and head to Colombo, visiting the Pedro Tea Factory en route. Sri Lanka is famous for its tea which is a favourite of many tea enthusiasts around the world. The climate and soil make Sri Lanka the perfect place to grow and the country is home to multiple tea plantations and tea retail outlets.
On arrival in Colombo enjoy a city tour of Sri Lanka’s commercial capital and largest city. Drive through Fort, the former administrative zone and the central business district, Pettah, the major commercial area and the residential enclave of Cinnamon Gardens. Highlights include Independence Square, Galle Face Green, The Town Hall, and old colonial buildings including the old Parliament and the current Parliament in Kotte.
Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
5 star tour: Stay at Uga Residence, Colombo for 1 night on half board basis
4 star tour, Stay at Ramada, Colombo for 1 night on half board basis.
Day 8 – Return to the UK
After breakfast transfer to Colombo airport (30km, 45 mins) for your return flight to the UK.
- Porterage and tips are paid locally
- Camera and video permits are paid locally
- Lunches on tour are paid locally
- Daily tour durations vary between1 & 6 hours
- We recommend travelling light with no more than one piece of hold luggage and a day bag
- Single travellers – please call us for prices if you wish to book a single room or twin for sole use
- On Poya day, and other religious days, alcohol will not be served in hotels and restaurants
- Please dress respectfully when visiting religious sites; cover arms, and legs to the ankle
- A visa needs to be obtained online (http://www.eta.gov.lk) before traveling to Sri Lanka at a cost of $35 USD. Visa on arrival is allowed but we do not recommend it as it can be time consuming.
- Local Covid-19 insurance ($ 12) underwritten in Sri Lanka is MANDATORY for all travellers for the moment irrespective if vaccinated or not or whether travellers already have a travel insurance from their country of origin. This insurance can be purchased – https://portal.pionline.lk/covidinsurance/ (We recommend purchasing 2 weeks before departure as regulations can change)
- Accommodation in hotels as specified
- Transportation by car for 1 – 2 Pax with an English speaking chauffeur (or for small group tour 3 – 6 Pax in a people-carrier type van with an English speaking chauffeur (including pickup and drop-off at the airport).
- Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the tour
- Local government taxes & service charges
- Meals, as per the itinerary
- Welcome flower garland on arrival
- Departure gift