Sri Lanka Itinerary Quick Notes

Travellers message me everyday just asking for some “quick notes” on places I have visited, so I thought I’d start posting these up. By no means are these notes comprehensive or complete, but will hopefully be of some use to you, and also saves me having to write to everyone that messages me! (Not lazy, honest, just too busy travelling!) Accommodation is only listed if I stayed there and would happily stay there again!

Sri Lanka

Visa Info: 30 day electronic visa for a lot of countries

Weather Info: Read this carefully, Sri Lanka is not straight forward!

Sim card I used: Airtel

Quick Overview of Route: Negombo, Dambulla, Kandy, Adam’s Peak, Ella, Udawalawe National Park, Mirissa, Welligama, Unuwantuna, Galle, Hikkaduwa, Colombo

Length of time I spent in Sri Lanka: 3 weeks, and could have easily made this 4 if we wanted to.

Why you should go to Sri Lanka: Great food, amazing scenery, very friendly and welcoming locals, a good mix of culuture, cities and beaches, easy to get around, great wildlife to be seen, yoga, surfing, beach parties, scuba diving (if in season)

Places I stayed:
Accommodation: Sea Esta Holiday Inn
We started here as this is actually closest to Colombo airport! However if in a rush I’d skip this. Not the nicest beaches or town. If you can, I’d head straight to Dambulla or south to the coast on the day you land.
Activities: Beaches, walk/cycle along the canals, shop.

Dambulla (2 local buses from Negombo around 4-5 hours in total)
Accommodation: Sundaras Resort and Spa (reviews were mixed online due to staff but when we there, they were all great. Good budget place with pool)
Activities: We used this as our base for the “cultural triangle”, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura etc, you can also catch a nearby safari from here, and explore the caves in Dambulla.

Kandy (took a local bus from Dambulla, around 3-4 hours)
Accommodation: Amrita (up a hill, but a pleasant walk with good views)
Activities: Wander around the lake and town. Visit the Temple of The Tooth and go on a spice tour.
Quick tip: If you know when you’re leaving, buy your onwards train ticket ASAP to get a seat/view. Also get cash out of the ATM!

Adam’s Peak (train to Hatton from Kandy, then bus to Adam’s Peak)
Accommodation: Hugging Clouds (a few minutes walk from the start of the trek)
Activities: Trekking up the 5000+ steps at Adam’s Peak! We left our guesthouse around 2am to catch the awesome sunrise.
Quick tip: If a group of you get off at Hatton station wanting to trek Adam’s Peak, then maybe hire a mini bus taxi together?

Ella (took a train from Hatton Station around 3-4 hours)
Accommodation: Nimsara Homestay (excellent view and breakfast here)
Activities: The train from Hatton is an activity in itself, the views are awesome so make sure you get a window seat! You can also hire scooters and explore the surroundings including a bridge and a waterfall. There are also 2 well known treks here; Little Adam’s Peak, and Ella Rock. I’d recommend setting off early for Ella Rock to beat the heat and make sure you take plenty of water with you.
Quick tip: use the app “” to do the two walking trails here and climb Ella Rock! (yes you will have to go down a train track, so be careful) Don’t let the locals lead you. They will want money!!

Udawalawe National Park (2 local buses from Ella, around 4-5 hours)
Accomodation: Mansala Safari House (have dinner and breakfast here, and organise Safari with them too)
Activities: Udawalawe National Park! You can see elephants, buffalo, various birds and sometimes leopards here).

Mirissa, Welligama, Unuwantuna, Galle, Hikkaduwa (local bus from Udawalawe around 3-4 hours)
Mirissa Accomodation:Pearl Resort Mirissa or stay at Hangover Hostel
Hikkaduwa Accommodation – Hotel Finlanka (great breakfast)
Loads of places you can stop off here depending on time. Mirissa, Welligama, Unuwantuna, Galle, Hikkaduwa etc.
Activities: Depends what you want, whale watching (if time of season), beach parties, yoga, surfing, scuba diving, culture etc! Quick tip: You can also use one of these places as a base if you don’t want to keep changing accomodation, then get a daily bus/walk, rickshaw to another beach.

In Hikkaduwa you can learn to surf with Reef End, eat and drink at Top Secret.

Colombo (train from Hikkaduwa, around 2 hours)
Of course you can do this loop in reverse but I liked doing cultured stuff first then relaxing on the beaches.

Other places worth considering that I didn’t go to: Jaffna, Trincomalee, Hortons Plain National Park, Tangalle, Arugam Bay and Yala National Park. I’ve heard Arugam Bay is amazing when it’s the right season but apparently was dead when we visited Sri Lanka.

Useful links:

Sri Lanka Scuba Diving Sites

Yala or Udawalawe National Park?

A guide to trekking Adam’s Peak

Any feedback or your own recommendations? Then please comment below!


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