Itinerary Sri Lanka 2 & 3 weeks: the ultimate itineraries for backpacking in Sri Lanka!

The ultimate itinerary for Sri Lanka in 2 or 3 weeks! In this blog, you will find three itineraries for backpacking in Sri Lanka. In the first Sri Lanka itinerary you travel for 2 weeks through the country. Itinerary two is for 3 weeks of backpacking in Sri Lanka including a useful day planning and travel times. Finally, in this blog, you will also find inspiration for a round trip combining Sri Lanka and the Maldives!Lion's Rock us Sigiriya


The ultimate itinerary for Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka is a beautiful and versatile country. It is not big and the distances between destinations are short. You can visit Sri Lanka with a fixed itinerary, but this is not necessary. Booking a hotel last minute is easy and transport is often available without a reservation. Due to the many highlights, it can be difficult to make choices: there is so much to do, even in two or three weeks you will not be able to see everything.

Don’t worry, whatever your itinerary for Sri Lanka is, you’re going to have a fantastic time anyway. To get you started, we have put together three different itineraries for Sri Lanka that will let you experience culture, nature and beautiful beaches. Then you will find a short description of what to expect here a little further in the article per destination in Sri Lanka. This way you can judge for yourself whether you add the destination to your tour through Sri Lanka!

Nilaveli drone shot

Our trip through Sri Lanka:

We ourselves travelled for in total 4 weeks through Sri Lanka. This gave us the time to experience almost every destination in this beautiful country. With our experience, we will help you to make the ‘perfect’ Sri Lanka itinerary. On many of the Sri Lanka highlights and destinations, we have written blogs with information on activities, food, hotels and transport tips. These blogs are linked below the description of the destination.Curry in Sigiriya


Looking for inspiration for nice hotels and unique places to sleep? Then read our hotel guide for Sri Lanka!


Sri Lanka itinerary 2 weeks

Do you want to visit the most authentic destinations of Sri Lanka in just a short time? Then consider the following 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary. With this tour you visit the old capital of Sri Lanka; you can see different beaches and experience the special train journey from Kandy to Ella. You will also visit the beautiful Sigiriya with its characteristic temple on top of the rock and you can enjoy hiking in the beautiful surroundings of Ella. Want to take it slower, then scrap the beach town of Mirissa and use the extra days for Ella or Arugam Bay.

This 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary is as follows:

Negombo – Anuradhapura – Sigiriya – Kandy – Ella – Arugam bay – Dickwella – Mirissa – Colombo

Itinerary Sri Lanka Travel Guide Sri Lanka

Day planning itinerary Sri Lanka 2 weeks:

Day 1: Negombo – Anuradhapura (4-6 hours drive)
Day 2: Anuradhapura
Day 3: Anuradhapura – Sigiriya (2 hours drive)
Day 4: Sigiriya
Day 5: Sigiriya- Kandy (2 hours drive)
Day 6: Kandy – Ella (7 hours train)
Day 7: Ella

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Day 8: Ella – Arugam Bay (3 hours drive)
Day 9: Arugam Bay
Day 10: Arugam Bay – Dickwella (2 hours drive)
Day 11: Dickwella
Day 12: Dickwella – Mirissa (1.5 hours drive)
Day 13: Mirissa
Day 14: Mirissa – Colombo (3 hours drive)

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Sri Lanka Train


Do you want to know how we spent our time in Sri Lanka? Then read my diary blogs about Sri Lanka.


Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks

This 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary takes you past the ancient royal city of Anuradhapura, the spectacular Lion’s Rock, Ella and beautiful beaches. You will also stop here in the old colonial village of Nuwara Eliya where you can visit the traditional tea plantations. Challenge yourself while climbing the most sacred mountain in Sri Lanka: Adam’s Peak. For spotting wildlife, you have to go to Yala National Park. Here you will find herds of Asian elephants and with luck a leopard. You will spend the last days of your trip at the beach and if you haven’t seen enough culture yet, you can always consider a visit to Fort Galle.

This 3 week Sri Lanka itinerary is as follows:

Negombo – Anuradhapura – Trincomalee – Sigiriya – Kandy – Nuwara Eliya – Adam’s Peak – Ella – Yala National Park – Dickwella – Mirissa (Galle) – Colombo

Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks Visit Sri Lanka

Day planning itinerary Sri Lanka 3 weeks

Day 1: Negombo – Anuradhapura (4-6 hours drive)
Day 2: Anuradhapura
Day 3: Anuradhapura – Trincomalee (2 hours drive)
Day 4: Trincomalee
Day 5: Trincomalee
Day 6: Trincomalee – Sigiriya (2 hours drive)
Day 7: Sigiriya
Day 8: Sigiriya- Kandy (2 hours drive)
Day 9: Kandy
Day 10: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya (3 hours train)
Day 11: Nuwara Eliya & Adam’s Peak

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Day 12: Nuwara Eliya – Ella (4 hours train)
Day 13: Ella
Day 14: Ella
Day 15: Ella – Yala National Park (2 hours drive)
Day 16: Yala National Park – Dickwella (safari + 2 hours drive)
Day 17: Dickwella
Day 18: Dickwella
Day 19: Dickwella – Mirissa (1 hour drive)
Day 20: Mirissa (Galle Fort)
Day 21: Mirissa – Colombo (3 hours drive)

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Talalla Beach Paradise walking couple


Visiting the most sacred mountain in Sri Lanka? Then climb Adam’s Peak early in the morning!


Combined trip India, Sri Lanka & the Maldives

A tour through Sri Lanka can also be combined well with the Maldives. From Colombo you can fly to Male in no time and from this travel, if the budget allows it, to a beautiful overwater bungalow. Allow at least 4 days for the Maldives. For backpackers who have more time to spend, India is a nice destination that is easy to combine with Sri Lanka. From Kochi you fly directly to Colombo. Traveling through the Maldives is considerably more expensive than backpacking through India or Sri Lanka. A possible itinerary from which you can further explore each country is:

Kochi – Colombo – Male

Itinerary Sri Lanka India MaledivesDelawella Beach Ries struggling with life


Highlights of Sri Lanka: all destinations at a glance!

Although Sri Lanka is a relatively small country, it has many highlights! For your convenience, we have made a map with all the highlights of Sri Lanka. 

Map with the highlights of Sri Lanka

Map of top attractions of Sri Lanka What to visit in Sri Lanka

The destinations in Sri Lanka are quite diverse. Below we have briefly described what you can expect at each Sri Lankan highlight.

Colombo: International airport

In Colombo you will find Sri Lanka’s international airport. Chances are that you will start your journey through Sri Lanka here. Do not stay here too long, Colombo is mainly a large and busy city. Consider spending your first night in nearby Negombo to acclimate to Sri Lanka.

Anuradhapura tempel 3

Negombo: Beach place

Negombo is not a huge highlight, but a beach place where you can relax perfectly before your trip through Sri Lanka starts.

Anuradhapura: Spiritual place of prayer

Anuradhapura, an ancient royal city of Sri Lanka. A nice place to enjoy a few days of beautiful pagodas and get acquainted with the culture and religion of Sri Lanka. Read all about Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka here.Mihintale Budhha cloudy Anuradhapura

Jaffna: Culture & Island Hopping

Jaffna is located in the quiet north of Sri Lanka. If you really want to get off the beaten track, consider discovering this area. You will meet considerably less backpackers here and the city has only been open to tourists since 2009. Enjoy the beautiful temples or go on an island hop tour in Jaffna!

Trincomalee: beaches

Trincomalee in the northeast of Sri Lanka has beautiful beaches. A nice place to relax for a few days with a cocktail on a beach bed! Read our travel guide about Trincomalee here!Marble Beach Trincomalee

Sigiriya: Lion’s Rock, a beautiful rock formation!

The village of Sigiriya is known for its iconic rock. However, the word rock does not do justice to Lion’s Rock. You can climb this beautiful rock and find on top a temple. Perhaps even more fun is admiring Lion’s Rock from a distance from Pidurangala Rock. This viewpoint is also a nice hike. Click here for our travel guide about Sigiriya!Lion's Rock us Sigiriya

Kandy: busy city + start of the famous train journey Kandy to Ella!

Kandy is a typical Asian city: busy and chaotic! But if you have the time, immerse yourself in this bustle and enjoy the scents, colors and sounds that belong to Sri Lanka! Plus Kandy is the starting point for one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world: the train ride from Kandy to Ella! You can read everything about Kandy in Sri Lanka here.

Oldest hotel of Kandy

Nuwara Eliya: Tea Plantations & Adam’s Peak

On the way from Kandy to Ella, the train also stops in the village of Nuwara Eliya. This green hilly area is known as little England. It is a lot colder here in comparison to the rest of Sri Lanka and very green. Visit one of the tea plantations or depart from Nuwara Eliya to the top of the sacred mountain Adam’s Peak! Read all about Nuwara Eliya in this blog.

Ella: nature and fun!

Ella is known for its many beautiful walks and delicious food. Read here about the seven activities that you should not miss in Ella!

Nine Arches Bridge (credits Dez) Ella

Arugam Bay: surfing!

Arugam Bay in the west of Sri Lanka is a great place to surf. There is a relaxed surf vibe and you will find some nice restaurants here. Read this blog about the best beaches in Sri Lanka to find out which beach destination suits you best. We recommend that you add at least two beach towns to your Sri Lanka itinerary for the necessary relaxation!Surf Sri Lanka Mirissa

Yala National Park: safari in Sri Lanka!

In Sri Lanka you also have several safari parks with elephants and other wild animals. One of these is Yala National Park. A cool park perfect for a safari! Consider this day safari in Yala National Park and Udawalawe National Park.

Dickwella: surfing

Dickwella is the hip and slightly undiscovered sister of Mirissa! Just 1.5 hours away you will find this relaxed village with Hiriketiya Bay as its highlight. The ultimate place to learn to surf as a beginner. Read all about our favorite beach town Dickwella in this travel guide!

Red Beach Talalle

Mirissa: Beaches and whales

Mirissa is known as a relaxed beach spot. You will find cute bays, wide sandy beaches and many beach bars here. Mirissa has now become a real hotspot that attracts many tourists every year. Don’t fancy that? Then consider choosing Dickwella instead of Mirissa. It is possible to spot whales in Mirissa, but read carefully about the animal welfare of such a whale safari! Read all about Mirissa here.

Coconut Three Hill sunrise close up Charlotte Mirissa

Galle: beach resorts & old Dutch fort!

Galle is a large beach town with many beach resorts. Not necessarily the best beach spot, but what is certainly worthwhile here is the old Dutch Fort Galle. Many of the seventeenth-century buildings are well preserved and you can visit them, very nice! Galle Fort is possible to visit as a day trip from Marissa!Galle Lighthouse


Sri Lanka Tips: Good to know before traveling to Sri Lanka!

Finally, some useful tips and facts about traveling through Sri Lanka.

1. Sri Lanka is not an expensive country!

Sri Lanka is by no means an expensive country! For example, you can eat delicious curries at local restaurants for just a few euros. Accommodation is also not expensive and for a few euros you can travel all over the country by public transport. An average daily budget for a backpacker in Sri Lanka is between 30-40 euros.

Curious how expensive a trip through Sri Lanka can be? Read all about traveling on a budget in Sri Lanka here in this blog.

Charlotte walking on the beach at Talalla Beach

2. Good English is spoken in Sri Lanka

Do not worry whether you can make yourself understood: people speak good English in Sri Lanka. In addition, the population is often very helpful and nice.

3. Traveling around Sri Lanka is simple!

Backpacking in Sri Lanka is very simple. The distances between the destinations are not big, the locals are very friendly and public transport is well organized. There are several ways to travel around Sri Lanka and it is good to know that you hardly ever have to reserve your means of transport.Galle street and tuktuk

Transport options in Sri Lanka

You can travel in Sri Lanka by public transport or by private transport:

  • Public transport in Sri Lanka: If you are traveling on a budget, you have to rely on colourful buses or the train. The buses in Sri Lanka connect all over the country and run several times a day. A ticket for the bus is cheap (1-2 euros for a distance of 100-300 km). A ride on the train in Sri Lanka is a special experience (especially between Kandy and Ella!). Keep in mind that the trains are sometimes full and that they do not run throughout Sri Lanka.
  • Private transport in Sri Lanka: If you are in a hurry or need more comfort, you can opt for the tuk-tuk, taxi or pick-up service from the hotel. This is more expensive, but faster than public transport.
  • Independent driving in Sri Lanka: Would you rather be in control yourself? You can rent a tuk-tuk to drive all over Sri Lanka yourself. It is also possible to rent a scooter on location for a day to see the nearby area.

Click here for all my blogs on Sri Lanka
Click here all my blogs about Sri Lanka


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