Our Itinerary through Sri Lanka
From December 2019 through January 2020, we took three blissful weeks through the lush jungles and turquoise-blue beaches of Sri Lanka. This was our itinerary.
Colombo: Start off in bustling capital of Colombo, enjoying a few sites, nice hotels and restaurants.
Cultural Sites in North: Travel to the ancient cultural heritage sites of Sigiriya and Polannaruwa. You might stop in Minerya National Park on the way to see the elephants, but they sometimes just cross the road.
Kandy: Work you way down to central Sri Lanka, to the town of Kandy, where the famed train ride through train plantations starts.
Kitulgala: Take a bus from Kandy to Kitulgala, a cluster of a few hotels along the highway. Stay at Adventure Base Camp, and spend a few days playing in the river–rafting, canyoning and jumping off waterfalls.
Adam’s Peak: Take the bus to Hatton–a junction to get to Adam’s Peak. Ask for the bus toward this famous pilgrimage site; get a hotel to catch a few hours of sleep, before starting the trek at 2 a.m. to make sunrise at the peak. Descend for breakfast and carry on the journey.
World’s End: Take the train to Nanoya, followed by the bus to Nuwara Eliyah–little Britain. From here, enjoy trips to local tea plantations, and be sure to take a 5 a.m. ride to Horton Plains to trek the World’s End Circuit. Get there around 7 a.m. so you actually get the views; the clouds fill in around 10 or 11 a.m.
Ella: From here, finish the fame tea plantation ride to the backpacker alcove of Ella. It’s an old backpacker haunt with restaurants, bars and guesthouses that line the streets. You can hear music pumping until early hours of the morning. Rent a scooter and take yourself to the nearby cliffs and waterfalls; don’t forget to hike Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak.
Mirissa & Weligama: Head to the beaches. If it’s winter, the southern coast is the way to go. Hiring a taxi will be well worth the trip, as the bus can take 6-7 hours between Ella and the seaside town of Matara. Stop in Mirissa for great nightlife and restaurants (if not a bit touristy); there are two small breaks on the left and right sides of the beach. Weligama, just a few kilometers down the road is the surf capital with surf rentals lining the entire string of the beach down the street from the Marriott. It does get quiet at night. Further down the way are Middagama, Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa on the eastern coast); a scooter is nice way to travel. There is an old colonial fort in Galle, but also missable if you prefer the waves.
Kalpitiya: Finally, a trip up north to Kalpitiya and Kappalady (much quieter) is worth the trip if you want to windsurf/kitesurf and see consistent winds coming into the forecast (www.winderfinder.com). We heard the winds pick up mid-January, but for the days we went, it never got above 11 knots.