26 days in Sri Lanka Itinerary

26 days in Sri Lanka Itinerary

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Route & dates

26 days in Sri Lanka Itinerary

Start: Johannesburg
Fly + Taxi:  20​h 45​min
1
Dambulla
— 1 day
Drive:  1​h 15​min
2
Anuradhapura
— 4 nights
Drive:  3​h
3
Jaffna
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 30​min
4
Trincomalee
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h
5
Polonnaruwa
— 3 nights
Drive:  2​h 30​min
6
Kandy
— 3 nights
Fly + Taxi:  1​h 15​min
7
Mirissa
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 15​min
8
Hikkaduwa
— 6 nights
Drive + Fly:  26​h
End: Johannesburg

1
day
Dambulla

Dambulla ©
On a trip to Dambulla, visit the largest and best-preserved cave temple complexes in the country, declared a World Heritage Site.
On the 27th (Sun), soar above the sights with a balloon tour and then Head underground at Golden Temple of Dambulla.

For where to stay, reviews, and tourist information, use the Dambulla itinerary planner.

Johannesburg, South Africa to Dambulla is an approximately 21-hour combination of train, flight, and taxi. You'll lose 3 hours traveling from Johannesburg to Dambulla due to the time zone difference. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Sun) early enough to drive to Anuradhapura.

Things to do in Dambulla

Outdoors Tours Nature
Highlights from your plan
Golden Temple of Dambulla ©
Golden Temple of Dambulla

4
nights
Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura ©
Explore the well-preserved ruins of an ancient Sri Lankan civilization and its former capital at Anuradhapura, a World Heritage Site and erstwhile center of Theravada Buddhism set amidst peaceful green parks.
Get some historical perspective at Sri Maha Boodhi Temple and Ritigala Forest Monastery. Get some cultural insight at Isurumuniya Temple and Mihintale. Explore Anuradhapura's surroundings by going to Habarana (Dambulla Cave Temple & Dhilip De Alwis). There's still lots to do: make a trip to Jethawanaramaya Dagoba, snap pictures at Gal Palama (Stone Bridge) over Malwathu Oya, contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, and explore the ancient world of Ranmasu Uyana.

To see where to stay, reviews, other places to visit, and other tourist information, read our Anuradhapura online driving holiday planner .

Drive from Dambulla to Anuradhapura in 1.5 hours. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 31st (Thu) so you can catch the train to Jaffna.

Things to do in Anuradhapura

Historic Sites Parks Wildlife

Side Trip

Habarana
Highlights from your plan
Isurumuniya Temple ©
Isurumuniya Temple
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi ©
Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi
Ritigala Forest Monastery ©
Ritigala Forest Monastery

2
nights
Jaffna

Jaffna ©
A center of Tamil culture, the city of Jaffna remains in the process of rebuilding after suffering greatly during the civil war.
Kick off your visit on the 1st (Fri): take in the spiritual surroundings of Nallur Kovil, then take in the spiritual surroundings of Dambakola Patuna Sangamitta Temple, and then hike along Kayts Causeway. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: take an in-depth tour of Jaffna Archaeological Museum, delve into the distant past at Kantharodai Viharaya, then steep yourself in history at Jaffna Fort, and finally take in the spiritual surroundings of Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil.

To find maps, where to stay, reviews, and more tourist information, read our Jaffna journey maker website .

You can take a train from Anuradhapura to Jaffna in 3 hours. Another option is to drive. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 2nd (Sat) so you can go by car to Trincomalee.

Things to do in Jaffna

Historic Sites Outdoors Trails
Highlights from your plan
Nallur Kovil ©
Nallur Kovil
Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil ©
Naga Pooshani Ambal Kovil
Kantharodai Viharaya ©
Kantharodai Viharaya

3
nights
Trincomalee

Trincomalee ©
A center of Tamil culture and language, Trincomalee suffered greatly during the 30-year civil war, but the troubles haven't dimmed the natural and cultural charms of the place.
Explore hidden gems such as Nilaveli Beach and Trincomalee War Cemetery. Let the collections at Hoods Tower Museum and Sri Lanka Navy Museum capture your imagination. There's much more to do: contemplate in the serene atmosphere at Koneswaram Temple, kick back and relax at Trincomalee Beach, see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour, and take in the architecture and atmosphere at Saint Mary's Cathedral.

To see other places to visit, reviews, ratings, and more tourist information, read our Trincomalee trip builder website .

Drive from Jaffna to Trincomalee in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 5th (Tue) to allow time to drive to Polonnaruwa.

Things to do in Trincomalee

Outdoors Historic Sites Beaches

Side Trip

Nilaveli Beach
Highlights from your plan
Nilaveli Beach ©
Nilaveli Beach
Trincomalee War Cemetery ©
Trincomalee War Cemetery
Sri Pathrakali Amman Temple ©
Sri Pathrakali Amman Temple

3
nights
Polonnaruwa

Polonnaruwa ©
Lying 216 km (134 mi) from Colombo, Polonnaruwa offers a rich history second in Sri Lanka only to Arunadhapura.
Get some cultural insight at Polonnaruwa Archaeological Ruins and Polonnaruwa. Step off the beaten path and head to Polonnaruwa Vatadage and Pethikada. Go for a jaunt from Polonnaruwa to Habarana to see Minneriya National Park about 50 minutes away. Next up on the itinerary: steep yourself in history at Lankathilaka Image House, appreciate the history behind Gal Vihara, and delve into the distant past at King’s Council Chamber.

To see other places to visit, photos, where to stay, and more tourist information, refer to the Polonnaruwa itinerary planning app .

Traveling by car from Trincomalee to Polonnaruwa takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train. Finish your sightseeing early on the 8th (Fri) to allow enough time to drive to Kandy.

Things to do in Polonnaruwa

Nature Parks Historic Sites

Side Trips

Pethikada, Minneriya National Park
Highlights from your plan
Lankathilaka Image House ©
Lankathilaka Image House
King’s Council Chamber ©
King’s Council Chamber
Polonnaruwa Vatadage ©
Polonnaruwa Vatadage

3
nights
Kandy

Kandy ©
Nestled between mountains in inland Sri Lanka, Kandy proudly bears its World Heritage Site designation while remaining culturally independent and colorfully picturesque.
Your cultural itinerary includes sights like Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and Nature & Wildlife Tours. Your inner history buff will appreciate Kandy Garrison Cemetery and Mahamevnawa Amadahara Buddhist Monastery Pinnawala. When in Kandy, make a side trip to see Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala, approximately 1h 15 min away. And it doesn't end there: explore the activities along Kandy Lake, get engrossed in the history at Raja Museum, see the interesting displays at Kandy Brasswear Village, and take in the spiritual surroundings of Asgiriya Maha Viharaya.

To see where to stay, ratings, maps, and tourist information, refer to the Kandy road trip website .

Getting from Polonnaruwa to Kandy by car takes about 2.5 hours. Other options: take a train. Finish your sightseeing early on the 11th (Mon) to allow enough time to travel to Mirissa.

Things to do in Kandy

Historic Sites Museums Parks

Side Trip

Pinnawala
Highlights from your plan
Kandy Garrison Cemetery ©
Kandy Garrison Cemetery
Kandy War Cemetery ©
Kandy War Cemetery
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic ©

2
nights
Mirissa

Mirissa ©
The fishing town of Mirissa has developed into a notable tourist destination.
On the 12th (Tue), get up close to creatures of the deep with a dolphin and whale watching tour and then stroll through Mirissa Beach. Here are some ideas for day two: enjoy the sea views from Dondra Head Lighthouse, then experience rural life at Handunugoda Tea Estate, and then examine the collection at Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum Complex.

To find out how to plan a trip to Mirissa, use our trip itinerary maker.

Do a combination of taxi and flight from Kandy to Mirissa in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of train and bus. In February, daily temperatures in Mirissa can reach 37°C, while at night they dip to 26°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 13th (Wed) early enough to drive to Hikkaduwa.

Things to do in Mirissa

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trips

Dondra Head Lighthouse, Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum Complex, Handunugoda Tea Estate
Highlights from your plan
Mirissa Beach ©
Mirissa Beach
Dolphin & Whale Watching

6
nights
Hikkaduwa

Hikkaduwa ©
One of the most scenic beach resorts in Sri Lanka, Hikkaduwa features a number of long white sand beaches with palm trees and gentle waves.
Appreciate the collections at Community Tsunami Museum and EXOTIC ROOTS. Your inner history buff will appreciate Galle Fort and Sri Vijayarama Viharaya. Get out of town with these interesting Hikkaduwa side-trips: Galle (Embark, Dutch Reformed Church, & more), Ahungalla Beach (in Ahungalla) and Unawatuna (Jungle Beach & Japanese Peace Pagoda). And it doesn't end there: enjoy the sand and surf at Hikkaduwa Beach, stroll through Narigama Beach, identify plant and animal life at Sea Turtle Farm, and explore the galleries of Saffron Robes Gallery and Studio.

To see traveler tips, ratings, more things to do, and other tourist information, go to the Hikkaduwa tour itinerary maker tool .

You can drive from Mirissa to Hikkaduwa in 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train. February in Hikkaduwa sees daily highs of 37°C and lows of 27°C at night. On the 19th (Tue), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Hikkaduwa

Parks Outdoors Beaches

Side Trips

Galle, Unawatuna, Tsunami Photo Museum, Bentota Beach, Ahungalla Beach
Highlights from your plan
Ahungalla Beach ©
Ahungalla Beach
Tsunami Photo Museum ©
Tsunami Photo Museum
Narigama Beach ©
Narigama Beach

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