Sri Lanka Highlights in 10 Days - Handpicked Itineraries
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One might say Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight, as travellers have spent years trekking through all of the lands that surround this tiny teardrop shaped island in the Indian Ocean, but now this has all changed. Incredible landscapes of seemingly untouched beaches, magical ancient temples, crashing waves, emerald tea terraces and misty mountainsides are now welcoming visitors from all over the world. Come and discover this hidden gem…
BY Kayleigh Causton
Luxtripper Travel Editor

Experience the best of Sri Lanka with this fantastic itinerary!

Day 1 - Arrival, Sigiriya Rock and Water Garden Sigiriya

Touch down onto Colombo airport, pop on your sunglasses and hitch a ride to Sigiriya Rock fortress. Sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenic journey through Sri Lanka'sdiverse landscape for the next couple of hours as the cityscape turns into lush soaring forests. Spend the evening climbing and walking around the incredible ancient fortress that lies on top of Sigiriya Rock, not only is this UNESCO World Heritage site a remarkable example of Sri Lankan architecture from over 1500 years ago, but it also provides stunning sweeping views of the landscape and the golden sunset, start your journey by feeling like you’re on top of world!

The beautiful Water Garden Sigiriya boasts an incredibly tranquil location along many peaceful waterways, and features gorgeous modern architecture blended with natural elements and furnishings that showcases Sri Lanka's heritage. All of the luxurious private villas come equipped with beautiful canopy beds, dual basins and plush bathrobes and slippers. After a long hike why not unwind by slipping into the warm waters of your private hydro tub, booking a table for two and dining al fresco on delicious Sri Lankan cuisine under the twinkling stars, or simply retiring to your private villa for a refreshing dip into your private plunge pool overlooking Sigiriya Rock in the distance. 

Day 2 - Polonnaruwa, Kaudulla National Park and Water Garden Sigiriya

Enjoy a breakfast of hopper eggs and freshly-squeezed fruit juice by the pool before heading off to Polonnaruwa Ancient Ruins. Spend the morning walking through the crumbling ruins of one of Sri Lanka’s ancient capitals and witness how religious beliefs and medieval culture blended seamlessly to create such a vast and beautiful complex. When you’ve finished soaking up the culture, head to Kaudulla National Park for a jeep-led safari through the lush tropical forests and steamy wetlands, and brace yourself for a bumpy but exciting ride! Witness rare birds, sloth bears, macaques and spotted deer living among their natural habitat, and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the world’s largest gathering of Asian elephants.

Day 3 - Dambulla Caves, Temple of the Tooth and Elephant Stables

Head just 30 minutes down the road and spend the morning exploring Dambulla Caves. A huge golden Buddha statue welcomes you to the ancient site, and the five incredible cave temples house over 150 remarkably well-preserved Buddha statues surrounded by beautifully ornate and colourful cave walls. After exploring the ruins, hop over to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Kandy and visit the world-famous Temple of the Tooth. As soon as you walk into this opulent temple you’ll be hit with the trailing scent of burning incense and the sound of drumming echoing through the colourful walls if you happen to walk in during one of the daily prayer rituals. 

After all of that excitement, escape to the Sir David Leans Bungalow at Elephant Stables for a truly relaxing evening. Perfectly encompassing Old World charm and lavish luxury, this property was used for filming major scenes in the famous Hollywood movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai. Take you meal however and whenever you want it along your beautifully furnished private terrace, and admire the breathtakingly spectacular view of lush hillsides and seemingly endless misty green mountainsides that disappear into the distance.

Day 4 - Kandy City and Santani Resort

If you’re feeling energetic, head into Kandy and explore the colourful houses and colonial buildings that line its ancient streets. Head to one of the many colourful and eclectic bazaars for elephant-shaped trinkets and woven baskets or stop by one of the local restaurants and sample one of Sri Lanka’s delicious curries, but make sure to visit Helga’s Folly Hotel and be dazzled by the incredible abundance of paintings, relics and antiques that cover every square-inch of the colourful estate while enjoying one of Kandy’s finest afternoon teas.

For a truly blissful evening, drop your bags off at Santani Resort & Spa and unwind within a relaxing abundance of nature. Escape to the cedar wood sauna, and take in views of the emerald paddy fields and the Knuckles mountain range before enjoying the open-air thermal salt soaking pool. Savour every delicious bite of your perfectly crafted evening meal that has been tailored to your needs, and take a dip in the expansive infinity-edge swimming pool.

Day 5 - Tea Country and Camellia Hills

After waking up to the mesmerising sunrise over the endless mountain ranges, enjoy a nutritious and mouth-watering breakfast al fresco along the beautiful wooden terrace before hopping into the car and heading into the beautiful Tea Country. Watch as your scenery changes into beautiful sprawling tea paddies of lucid green. Wave at the colourfully-dressed local women as they hand pick the tea leaves while you drive by, and spend the day exploring the beautiful dam, tranquil lakes and magnificent landscapes. Be sure to visit one of the many tea factories that live high in these hills and drink some of world’s finest Ceylon tea.

Spend a peaceful evening at the beautiful and recently opened Camellia Hills, an intimate five-bedroom estate that sits on a mountainside overlooking lucid green tea plantations. Refined and rustic, your beautiful room is guaranteed to provide you with a calming and relaxing place to retire to after a long day of exploring. Swim some laps along the cool waters of the infinity pool or liaise with your private butler and chef so your evening meal is absolutely perfect. Finish the day with a relaxing cup of Ceylon tea on the terrace, while watching the sun drop behind the mountains revealing a night sky full of stars.

Day 6 - Train to Ella and the 98 Acres Resort and Spa

Catch the world’s most beautiful railway journey to the idyllic village of Ella, be sure to get a 2nd class ticket so you can open the windows of the carriage and snap that iconic shot down the side of the railway! The train leisurely cruises through spectacular landscapes of emerald paddy fields, lucid green mountainsides and over the world-famous nine-arches bridge. Once you’ve arrived in Ella, take in the captivating views through Ella Gap of the misty mountains, wander the tea plantations, explore the ancient temples and take a quiet moment to sit along one of the many cascading waterfalls.

Continue enjoying your new surroundings at 98 Acres Resort & Spa through their beautifully designed colony of rustic and contemporary hillside chalets. Relax and soak up the sun before it sets around the edge of the beautiful swimming pool, unwind with a luxurious Royal Aroma Bath of herbal oils and milk laden with beautiful flower petals at the spa, or simply spend the evening along the wooden balcony of your private villa with a cup of tea overlooking the gorgeous landscape as day turns to night. 

Day 7 - Yala National Park and Wild Coast Tented Lodge

In the afternoon head down to the south coast of Sri Lanka to the world-famous Yala National Park for an evening safari through the vast 1259 square-kilometres of grasslands, shrubs and sandy dunes. As your jeep cruises through the diverse environments of soaring trees, arid deserts and water holes, you’ll get the chance to spot leopards, elephants, jackals, birdlife and so much more, make sure your camera is charged and ready to go, you don’t want to miss anything!

The Wild Coast Tented Lodge Resort is one of our favourite accommodations, nestled along a stunning location where the jungle meets pristine beaches and the dazzling Indian Ocean, gorgeous arched fabric structures imitating rocks and boulders house absolutely gorgeous explorer-influenced interiors. You’ll truly feel like you’ve stepped back in time to discover this beautiful land as an intrepid explorer. Dine on gourmet Sri Lankan dishes under the night sky, or escape to the spa for a glow-revealing Ceylon cinnamon body scrub. Whatever you do, just make sure you make time for a luxurious evening of taking in the jungle surroundings while soaking in the beautifully handmade copper free-standing bathtub, bliss!

Day 8 - Yala National Park and Wild Coast Tented Lodge

Begin the day bright and early with a morning safari! Keep a look out for the usual suspects, but what makes this national park so special is that the world’s largest gathering of leopards congregate within these tropical forests. After that incredible morning adventure, head back to the Wild Coast for a breakfast banquet of delicious Sri Lankandishes, and spend the rest of that day as you choose. Visit the gorgeous virgin beach to soak up the sun and listen to the crashing waves or if you prefer to stay close to your gorgeous living quarters, take a dip into your beautiful private plunge pool.

Day 9 - Talpe Beach, Unawatuna Beach and The Owl and Pussycat

Today you’ll be heading to the beautiful Talpe Beach for a day of rest and relaxation. Along this coastline you’ll get the chance to spot Sri Lanka’s stilt fishermen who sit on a long stilt in the waters catching fish, so grab a colourful cocktail and keep your camera poised for that beautiful photo of the fisherman against the orange and golden sunset. After sundown, hop in a tuk tuk and ride just 20 minutes down the road to Unawatuna Beach where you’ll find mesmerising pastel lights dancing the beats of large speakers, towering fire pits sending smoke trails into the night sky and large colourful beanbags set along the sands.

Perfectly capturing the unpretentious, relaxed and quirky atmosphere of this charming location sits Owl and the Pussycat Hotel. Contemporary design meets artistic sculptures and luxurious comfort at this boutique resort, and you’ll love the character and colours that jump off the walls of your private suite. Round off the evening overlooking the dazzling Indian Ocean waters from the comfort of your two-seater swinging chair before retiring to your king size bed. 

Day 10 - Colombo and Shangri-La Colombo

Just a short drive to the coast will bring you to a cruise ship for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to participate in whale watching! Spend the morning on the look out for the sperm whale and the majestic blue whale, both of which are the biggest mammals in the world and this is the best location to a catch a rare sighting of them together. When you’re back on dry land, you’ll drive along the stunning shoreline to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s most exciting and vibrant city for an afternoon of collecting last-minute souvenirs of Ceylon tea, handcrafted wooden animals and heavily beaded saris.

Spend your final evening at the luxuriously comfortable Shangri-La and enjoy the excellent services, hospitality and facilities that make Shangri-La so world-renowned. Dine on a final banquet of exquisite and colourful Sri Lankan dishes of curries, rice dishes and baked fare with a perfectly paired glass of wine, escape to CHI Spa for a luxurious deep tissue massage to get you fully rested and relaxed before your day of travelling, or simply enjoy a luxurious soak in your bathtub before getting into your plush bathrobe and taking a seat by the wide windows to take in that dazzling view of the Indian Ocean and the starry night sky. 

Day 11 - Departure

Breakfast dependant on your flight times, we wish you a safe journey home or to your next destination!

Hotels in this article

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The Elephant Stables Hotel
Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka
Nestled within the heart of Sri Lanka’s beautiful rolling hills and lush greenery sits Elephant Stables, an exclusive luxury retreat that perfectly blends colonial heritage architecture with traditional Sri Lankan accents and decor to provide guests with a secluded haven

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£1,609.00

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Water Garden Sigiriya
Dambulla, Sri Lanka
Don’t just gaze upon Sri Lanka’s beautiful landscape of dazzling lakes and endless lush forests, be part of it. Water Garden Sigiriya’s innoviate and unique design puts guests in the heart of the stunning wilderness just 6km away from the

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£2,077.00

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98 Acres Resort and Spa
Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka
A staggering 98 acres of incredible seemingly untouched lush mountainsides, legendary tea plantations, tranquil waterfalls and enchanting temples await those who dare to be different in Ella, Sri Lanka at the aptly named 98 Acres Resort and Spa. Perfect for

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£1,646.00

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