Last updated on February 21, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka itinerary 2 weeks – The ultimate 3 daily plans with maps

When you plan well in advance, there is so much you can experience in a 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary.

To help you with this, I have prepared this guide with three daily plans for exploring the best beaches, the historical and cultural attractions, or just a bit of everything, all in 2 weeks in Sri Lanka.

But let’s begin

You can read also

Sri Lanka itinerary 2 weeks – In a nutshell

In this guide you have three options for a 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary based on my own experience, including a detailed day by day plan

The following map shows the more popular areas to visit on a first or second trip to the country.

I have also added below additional maps, with the full route, for each Sri Lanka itinerary in 14 days.

Best area to stay in Sri Lanka
Best area to stay in Sri Lanka
  • 2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary for beaches, surfing and sea: there’s no question that Sri Lanka has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. There are some great easy going waves, as well as some challenging surf spots. Consider also whale-watching if it’s the right season. Read more below about the day-by-day plan.
  • 2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary to visit all you can: there will be a lot of experiences to be had on this itinerary, but you will be on the go most of the time. To relax at the beach and recharge your batteries, I always recommend that you add one or two extra days at the end of your trip. Read below for the detailed travel plan
  • 2 weeks in Sri Lanka – The relaxed itinerary: if you want to have a relaxing trip, this is the best plan for you. There will still be many places to see and activities to do, but you will also have some time for relaxation, including some beach time. Check out below my daily plan with a map.
  • Do you have a few more days to spend in the country? As I usually say, the longer the better. I have organised two itineraries for 21 days or more in sri Lanka that you should check out.

For each destination of in the itinerary you will find also recommendation on the accommodation. Check out more ideas on this guide to the best places to stay in Sri Lanka.

Plan your trips always with some spare time because the winding roads can make any journey longer than you expect, especially in the centre of the island

Busses or trains connect most of the areas on the map above.

You can also arrange private transportation, which can significantly shorten travel times by up to 50%.

In around 2-3 hours, you can reach Galle and Hikkaduwa from Colombo. Approximately three to five hours are required to travel to the east (Kandy) or north (Dambulla, Anuradhapura).

From Colombo, it can take up an entire day for a transfer to other areas of Sri Lanka.

For example, getting from Colombo to Arugam Bay, famous for its beaches and surfing, takes 7 to 8 hours. It will be faster from Galle/Hikkaduwa.

I usually pre-book my internal transportation with the 12Go website, a great website also for private transfers.

Check Sri Lanka transportation

You can also book your bus directly at the bus station or any travel agency

The Sri Lankan train system is actually quite good, besides being also very picturesque, but it may be not as quick.

You can check the train network as well as the timetable directly on the Sri Lanka Railways website.

2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary for beaches, surfing and sea

October to April is the best time to visit the south coast (Galle, Hikkaduwa, etc), meanwhile Arugam Bay and the East Coast have usually better weather and waves between May and September

The shoulder months work great if you want to visit both the south and east coast.

You can check here the weather based on your travel dates in Sri Lanka. Once in Sri Lanka, you can check the daily weather directly on the Government Website.

2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary for beaches, surfing and sea
2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary for beaches, surfing and sea

Day 1 (overnight in Hikkaduwa)

You have two options once you land at the Colombo Airport.

You could catch the local bus to Colombo where you can spend the rest of the first day. Then, on day 2, you can take another bus to Hikkaduwa.

However, although Colombo has a lot to offer, I recommend more the second option, which is bypassing the capital with a private transfer from the airport straight to Hikkaduwa (2 hours), where you will spend the first four nights

Stopping in Colombo is not really worth the effort if your travel plans are all about the beach, sunbathing and surfing.

In no time, you can be straight at the beach for a swim.

Day 2-4 (overnight in Hikkaduwa)

Discover Hikkaduwa Beach and Narigama Beach, which are just one kilometre apart.

The breaks are suitable for beginners as well as advanced surfers, making it a good place to improve and fine-tune your surfing skills.

Both beaches offer great snorkelling too.

You can also enjoy a relaxing day at Turtle Beach (10 minutes from Hikkaduwa).

As the name suggests, there are plenty of turtles there, including some giant ones (no touching or grabbing them).

The Local Hikkaduwa Village Tour is also a great opportunity for anybody who wants to know more about the village and its families, food, and traditions.

  • Accommodation in Hikkaduwa: Cozy Sea view Inn (spacious room with of course a balcony with a view), Villa Vidisa (private bungalow in a lovely garden with pool)

Day 5-6 (overnight in Galle)

There is no beach in Galle, but it would be such a pity to overlook this town, one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka.

As I mentioned in another post, Galle has a fabulous old town with a characteristic and picturesque Dutch Fort, also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

But do not worry, there are beaches a short distance from the old town.

The closest spot to the city is Unawatuna Bay, a great place for surfing as well.

You also have Lazy Left and Lazy Right in Midigana, Weligama, Mirissa in Galle’s south.

During the right time of year, between November and April, you shouldn’t miss a boat trip for whale watching.

Even though it started at 6AM, this was one of my favourite experiences in Sri Lanka.

I highly suggest booking this tour in advance (they tend to get easily booked out) and since there is a 24 hour free cancellation policy, you can change your plans if needed.

They usually pickup and drop off directly from/to your accommodation. Most of the tours leave from the Mirissa Port.

Check price for whales watching

  • Accommodation in Galle: Le Jardin Du Fort (lovely B&B with lots of natural light in the old town), Amari Galle (I still remember, like yesterday, the beautiful view)
And here is the spectacular view of two whales jumping out of the water
And here is the spectacular view of two whales jumping out of the water

Day 7-8-9-10 (overnight in Arugam Bay)

Time to travel to the magical Arugam Bay, your next holiday stop.

For this trip, I suggest booking a private transfer with a stop on the way to the Pareiyan Ella Falls, a hidden attraction that you will probably share with just a bunch of locals

The trip with the stop will take the entire day. The driving alone is 5-6 hours

Dinner at Why Not Restaurant for the famous roti

Spend the remaining three full days exploring this east coast jewel.

There are two beaches in particular that are popular with surfers 

  • Learners should take their boards from town to Elephant Rock, which has easy waves.
  • The waves at Arugam Bay, in the town’s southern part, are more challenging

Surfboards and lessons can be rented from several surf shops in town. All at a bargain price.

Peanut Farm Beach, a few kilometres south of Elephant Rock, is another magical beach

The Pottuvil point is one of the safest beaches in the area, and it is located around 6km north of Arugam.

The following restaurants are hotspots for foodies in Arugam:

Accommodation in Arugam Bay: Danish Villa (one of the best value accommodations in Sri Lanka)

Day 11-13 (overnight in Pasikudah)

Take a local bus north to Pasikudah, the last holiday stop, for the next 3 nights.

This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka, however, not as popular as you would expect.

In the 70s, it was one of the prime destinations for hippies and VIPs, however, the civil war in the north-east of the country started in the early 80s and Pasikudah became suddenly unreachable.

When things were starting to get back to normal, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami destroyed all the efforts made to rebuild this tourist destination.

I visited it just before the Covid-19 pandemic and I was totally impressed.

You can read more about my experience and the things you can do there (including plenty of photos)

Guide to Pasikudah

Pasikudah Bay and Kalkudah Beach and 2 epic resorts
Pasikudah Bay and Kalkudah Beach

Day 14 (trip back to the Colombo Airport)

This is the last day of your 2 weeks in Sri Lanka.

You can take a public bus back to Colombo (7-8 hours) or take a private transfer that will save you plenty of time (5-6 hours)

You could even think of making a stop on the way to see the Sigiriya Fortress on top of the Lion Rock

Accommodations and experiences:

Best things to do in Sigiriya - The fortress and so much more
Best things to do in Sigiriya – The fortress and so much more

2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary to visit all you can

This itinerary focuses more on a cultural trip, including a few historical sites in Sri Lanka.

You will get the best out of the country, however, unfortunately you will miss out on the beaches of the east coast.

Two weeks in Sri Lanka is not enough to experience the entire island.

2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary to visit all you can
2 weeks Sri Lanka itinerary to visit all you can

Day 1 (overnight on the train)

This Sri Lanka 2 week itinerary starts straight away with an overnight train to Jaffna, up in the country’s north, closed to tourism only till a few years ago because of the civil war.

From the Colombo Airport, catch the bus to Fort Colombo Main Station, one of my favourite spots in the capital for travel photography.

The train leaves Colombo at around 8:30pm (check the Sri Lanka Railways website for the latest timetable) to arrive in Jaffna at around 5-6am.

The train trip is an experience by itself, like in a time machine back to the old British Empire.

If you have some spare time in Colombo, check out my guide to the city attractions. There are a few interesting things to do, including some little gems.

Day 2-3 (overnight in Jaffna)

Sri Lanka’s north is one of the country’s most underrated and yet-to-be-discovered regions.

You will see Sri Lanka as it used to be. The downside, however, is that there are not as many hotels, so make sure to book early.

You should attempt to explore the city at sunrise and the fort as soon as the gates are opened.

The fishing market (where you are likely to be the only tourist) and the port are definitely worth a walk.

It’s all about experiencing the local life and you will feel a bit like Indiana Jones in an almost unexplored area.

The Jaffna guide I wrote includes everything you can see and do in this gem of Sri Lanka.

Ultimate guide to Jaffna

  • Accommodation in Jaffna: Jetwing Jaffna (opened recently, with a rooftop cocktail area and rooms decorated with a local interior design)
Jaffna, Sri Lanka - Full guide with map and places to visit
Jaffna, Sri Lanka – Full guide with map and places to visit

Day 4-5 (overnight in Anuradhapura)

You will spend the next two nights in Anuradhapura, one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals, 3-5 hours by bus or train south of Jaffna. 

At 9am there is a handy direct train to Anuradhapura (3 hours, however, check the Sri Lanka Railways website for late changes) 

It is only since the 19th century that Colombo has been Sri Lanka’s capital.

Anuradhapura served as the capital of the Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka for over 600 years, until it was taken over by the South Indian army.

As with Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the city had been abandoned and was covered by the jungle.

As a result, almost all of Anuradhapura’s temples, monuments, and other sites remained in immaculate condition.

Anuradhapura became a Buddhist pilgrimage center when British researchers discovered it back in the 19th century.

You can rent bicycles almost anywhere in the ancient capital, making it an ideal way to explore this fascinating historical town.

Another option if you can’t ride a bike is to hire a tuk-tuk with a driver.

Day 6-7 (overnight in Sigiriya)

In the morning of day 6, take the bus to the Sigiriya area where you can experience possibly the most iconic site in Sri Lanka, the Lion Rock Fortress.

Buses or private vans take about 2-3 hours to get there.

In my guide, I describe many of the fascinating attractions of the Sigiriya area.

Check in at your hotel and get ready for an elephant safari at the Minneriya National Park 

While you can do it on your own, it will take some time because you need to arrange the transportation from the hotel to the park, then you need to negotiate for the jeep within the park and then finally buy your tickets in (if they are not sold out).

As a result, I strongly suggest booking your safari in advance, which includes your transportation back and forth from your accommodation. A no worries experience door to door.

The last hours of the day before sunset are the best time to experience the safari, when the animals come down to drink at the lake.

Book your Elephants Safari

We actually got very close to the elephants
We actually got very close to the elephants

On day 7, set out for the magical Sigiriya Fortress early in the morning, ideally as soon as it opens.

In this way, you will still get some fresh air while being almost on your own at the usually very crowded attraction.

Due to the steep incline and many stairs, there is only one way up and you will have to wait if there are many travellers walking at different speeds.

Relax at your accommodation in the afternoon.

Consider climbing up the Pidurangala peak to view the sunset if you still have some energy.

  • Accommodation in Sigiriya: Water Garden Resort (unique, in a water lagoon), Jetwing Lake (rooms to die for, with an outstanding view to the lake, great experience)

Day 8-9 (overnight in Kandy)

Get a bus (around 3 hours) to Kandy on day 8. 

It’s also possible to take a private driver to Kandy and make the trip through the Mini World’s End, a stunning national park with cliffs as steep as those in the Norway fjords.

The detour will, however, keep you busy for the entire day because you’ll drive for 5 hours and walk for 2-3 hours.

Kandy itself has so much to offer that I’ve written an exhaustive guide to Kandy’s attractions, very useful to plan your time there.

10 great things to do in Kandy

  • Accommodation in Kandy: SWP Eco Lodge (in the centre, with view to the lake, at a bargain price), Mahaweli Reach Hotel (a real peaceful heaven, 10 mins from the city)

Day 10-11 (Nuwara Eliya)

It’s time to get to experience a tea plantations area and Nuwara Eliya is right in the centre of a world famous one.

From Kandy, take the morning train to Nuwara Eliya, also called the “Tea Train”.

That was the most valuable $2 (cost of the ticket) I have spent on my trips to Sri Lanka.

The train goes through one of the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen in my life.

In fact, this 3 hours trip is rated as one of the most beautiful train trips in the world.

Once checked in at the accommodation, ask if they can organise a trip to a nearby Tea Factory for the afternoon (it’s a very popular attraction).

I suggest using day 11 to explore the area. This tour will take you to Ella and the Little Adam’s Peak, besides other lovely attractions like the popular 9 Arch Bridge.

It is something you can do it also by yourself but it would require many more days than just one.

I have written a full guide on how to plan your time in the tea plantations areas where you can read more about Nuwara Eliya.

A guide to the Tea Plantations

How to choose your Sri Lanka tea plantation hotel [with tips on a map]
How to choose your Sri Lanka tea plantation area [with tips on a map]

Day 12-13 (Galle)

On day 12, take a bus or private transportation to Galle, on the south coast.

This is a long trip that can take from 6 hours (private transfer) up to 8 hours or more (public bus).

It’s not the distance but the winding road. I can’t personally remember over 200 metres straight on that driving day.

With the private transfer, you can arrange a small 1 hour detour (there may be a fee for that) to Pareiyan Ella Falls, one of the hidden gems of Sri Lanka and highlights of my trips there.

The old town of Galle is absolutely magnificent and the Dutch Fort is UNESCO listed.

The town does not have really a beach but you can visit a few just a stone away.

  • Accommodation in Galle: Le Jardin Du Fort (lovely B&B with lots of natural light in the old town), Amari Galle (I still remember, like yesterday, the beautiful view)

Day 14

On Day 14, you can take the bus or private transportation back to the Colombo Airport

In case you have another spare day, I suggest either staying 24 hours more in Galle or visiting Colombo.

The Sri Lankan capital is a bit underrated, in my opinion. The main issue is that the city is widespread, and it’s difficult to get around.

This is the issue I had on my first trip there. I didn’t give up though, and I visited it again more extensively, enjoying my time there so much.

I suggest planning your itinerary in Colombo with this guide that I have written based on my experiences.

How to plan the best out of Colombo

From Colombo, you can also book a private transportation to the Airport which is a real bargain if you are in a group of 2 or 3 people.

Accommodations and experiences:

2 weeks in Sri Lanka – The relaxed itinerary

This is a coast to coast itinerary, leaving from Colombo on the west coast and going to Pasikudah, to the east coast.

There is a bit of everything, from beaches to historical sites, all visited in a more relaxed way, with time to chill out by the water.

2 weeks in Sri Lanka - The relaxed itinerary
2 weeks in Sri Lanka – The relaxed itinerary

Day 1 (overnight in Colombo)

The adventure starts in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, where you can spend the first day.

To begin on a high, I recommend booking your accommodation at the Mövenpick, one of my beloved hotels of Sri Lanka, with an infinity pool on the rooftop and a view to the ocean to die for.

Buses are available from the airport to the Colombo centre. You can also organise a private transfer, of which this private car is a fantastic deal if you can share it with one or two people.

Colombo is a misleading capital. To be honest with you, I was a bit disappointed on my first visit.

It took me a second visit to really appreciate the city, mostly because I did not plan an itinerary on my first trip and the city attractions are far from each other, hard to navigate and easy to get lost.

Out of my experience, I have written this guide to the things to do in Colombo that you can use to organise your time there.

Iconic and hidden things to do in Colombo

Day 2-3-4 (overnight in Kandy)

Start the second day with a local transfer to the Fort Colombo Main Station where you can catch a train to Kandy (2.5-3 hours)

Spend the afternoon wondering around the old town and the lake. I am not sure why, but I have such a great feeling about this town, I really love it.

On your second day in Kandy, take an early start and visit the local fish and meat market. 

Have a break for a pot of coffee or tea and head to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, probably the most iconic attraction in town, a unique experience.

In the afternoon, take your time to visit the local cathedral and one or more of the temples around town.

With two trips there, I ended up writing an exhaustive guide to Kandy that will help you immensely to plan your stay there

The guide includes also a description of the Esala Perahera Festival, one of the most colourful religious pageants in Asia, that runs in the first 10 days of August.

It is a unique event that I would suggest to everyone. There is an important thing, though.

Book your accommodation as early as possible because hotels tend to be booked out even 12 months in advance.

19 things to do in Kandy

Top things to do in Kandy - Sri Lanka
Top things to do in Kandy – Sri Lanka

On your last day in Kandy, I recommend visiting one of the tea plantation areas (more on my guide to the Tea Plantations in Sri Lanka and how to visit them)

I have found an excellent local organised tour that will assist with the “Tea Train” to Nuwara Eliya and back to Kandy by van

Basically, you are going to kill two birds with a stone.

The first bird is the “Tea Train”, running between Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, recognised as one of the best scenic train routes in the world.

The second bird is a visit to a tea plantation and factory on the way back by van, where you will have the opportunity to experience a short guided tasting class.

The drive back will be also a great opportunity to experience the interior of the island, the villages and even a waterfall (Ramboda Falls), something not possible with the train.

Organised Tour back to Kandy

  • Accommodation in Kandy: SWP Eco Lodge (in the centre, with view to the lake, at a bargain price), Mahaweli Reach Hotel (a real peaceful heaven, 10 mins from the city)

Day 5-6-7-8 (overnight in Pasikudah)

It is time for a relaxing break at the beach, one of the most beautiful in the country, a real heaven: Pasikudah.

If possible, take a bus (6-7 hours) or private transfer (4-5 hours) from Kandy in the early morning.

This will give you still some light to have a swim in the ocean before sunset.

The water is so warm that I spent literally over an hour just splashing around, so amazing.

This area has an interesting story that I explain more extensively in my guide to Pasikudah, made of rising and falling time.

It went from worldwide hippy and VIP destination in the 70s to inaccessible and falling apart in the 80s.

Pasikudah is today a rather developed (but not overdeveloped) beach, with a few lovely resorts and hotels.

Cross the small peninsula where you can find the Sunrise Point and you will be in Kalkudah Beach, a 15km long pristine beach to enjoy mostly on your own and a few locals.

Guide to Pasikudah attractions

Day 9-10-11 (overnight in Sigiriya)

On day 9 of your holiday, take a bus or a private transfer to Sigiriya, one of the most iconic places in Sri Lanka, thanks to its 2 amazing attractions, the Sigiriya Rock fortress and the elephant safari in the Minneriya National Park

I highly suggest booking a hotel with a pool. You will need it. This is one of the warmest parts of Sri Lanka.

And this is where I suggest spending the afternoon, by the pool, relaxing.

Begin your day 9 with an early hike on top of the Sigiriya Rock fortress, also called Lion Rock, possibly as soon as they open the gates.

In this way, you will get to share the places only with a bunch of other travellers. This popular place can be really busy in the late morning.

There is also another great advantage with an early start. You will not queue during the narrow hike, especially in the last part when the steps are literally carved into the rock monolith.

After lunch, get back to the hotel for a relaxing break and later in the afternoon take an elephant safari in the Minneriya National Park

The best time to spot the wild animals is in the latest part of the day, just before sunset when they go down to the lake for some water.

Visiting the park during the day will be disappointing, as you will see only a fraction of the elephants in the park, if any. They are all mostly sleeping or hiding in the forest.

You can organise the safari by yourself but it will take time because you need a transfer back and forward to your hotel, you will have to bargain a price with the jeep safari driver and finally buy the tickets to the park.

For a no worries experience, book directly online this jeep tour, so much easier and, unless you are a bargaining star, it is going to be at a similar price as a DIY safari.

Reserve your last day in Sigiriya for some relaxation by the pool or check out other attractions in the area as the Dambulla Cave Temples.

You could also climb to the Pidurangala peak, for the unique view of Lion Rock and the National Park in the foreground, best on sunset time.

Alternatively, select one of the other experiences I have written about in my guide to Sigiriya.

7 things to do in Sigiriya

  • Accommodation in Sigiriya: Water Garden Resort (unique, in a water lagoon), Jetwing Lake (rooms to die for, with an outstanding view to the lake, great experience)
Best things to do in Sigiriya - The fortress and so much more
Best things to do in Sigiriya – The fortress and so much more

Day 12-13-14 (overnight in Negombo)

It is time to drive back (bus or private transfer) to the west coast.

Negombo is a great beach town, just 10km north of the Colombo airport, where you can spend the last 3 days

Beside the beach, have a walk in the old town, the fish market and what is left of the local fort.

You can also take a direct train to Colombo (1h20m-1h30m) for a day trip in the capital.

Plenty of options.

Negombo, being so close to the airport, is also very practical if you have an early flight when you leave the country.

Accommodations and experiences:

Tea plantations in Sri Lanka
Tea plantations in Sri Lanka
The "Tea Train" from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
The “Tea Train” from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka
Anuradhapura, one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka
Contrasting colours at the Praying at the Buddha at the Gangaramaya Temple
Contrasting colours at the Praying at the Buddha at the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo
Fort Railway Station in Colombo - Train arrival
Fort Railway Station in Colombo – Train arrival
Amazing view from the infinity pool of the Movenpick Hotel Rooftop
Amazing view from the infinity pool of the Movenpick Hotel Rooftop in Colombo
Swimming Pool at the Lion Rock
Swimming Pool at the Lion Rock
Peak of Sigiriya
Peak of Sigiriya
The main station in Colombo, great spot for travel photography
The main station in Colombo, a great spot for travel photography
The beautiful Kandy in the early morning
The beautiful Kandy in the early morning
Lanes and alley of Kandy town centre
Lanes and alley of Kandy town centre
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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