Sri Lanka Route Guide: a 3-week travel itinerary

Sri Lanka Route Guide: a 3-week travel itinerary

Sri Lanka owns a lot of interesting destinations you shouldn’t miss on your trip. Three weeks is ideal for this Sri Lanka route. This island is easy to travel although getting from A to B can be time-consuming because of the traffic conditions. Get around by bus, train, tuk-tuk, motorbike, taxi or Uber. We created a 3-week Sri Lanka route guide but give you some additional options to add to your route through Sri Lanka.

Quick jump guide:

Sri Lanka Route Guide Drone Shot

Flight Tickets Sri Lanka

It can be hard to find cheap flight tickets to Sri Lanka. Depending on the date of your visit, you can pay double the price of a ticket in low season. We found our ticket deal via SkyScanner. We paid €410 for a return from Amsterdam which is around $440. With a 7-hour layover in Abu Dhabi. The layover was a tough one but worth it once we hit our beds in Negombo.

Read more about the Sri Lanka route

beaches sri lanka talpe rock

Sri Lanka Route Guide

We improved our own 3-week itinerary through Sri Lanka and created a day by day Sri Lanka route. We did lose 1,5 day just by getting in Colombo from Amsterdam. Also, notice that time is 5,5 hours ahead from Amsterdam. Please change your days based on your time of flying. To be faster, you can also explore Sri Lanka by arranging tailor made tours and hire a driver with a car.

Some days contain links to much larger articles about that specific location.

Sri Lanka route guide map

Day 1 – 2: Flying and relaxing (Negombo)

Save one or two days for your trip to Negombo or Colombo. Negombo is a better to stay because it’s much closer to the airport.

Day 3: Kandy

Make sure to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens on your way to Kandy! Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, walk around the lake or do something more cultural. We made a list of things to do in Kandy.

Read more: Things to do in Kandy

Sri Lanka route guide Kandy

Day 4: Sigiriya

Climb up the Lion Rock or his little brother that’s on the opposite side of the Lion Rock. And a much better affordable place to visit.

Day 5: Kandy

Head back to Kandy to catch one of the most beautiful train rides you’ll ever get.

Read more: Sri Lanka Train: One of the world’s most Beautiful Train Rides

Sri Lanka route guide train kandy ella

Day 6 – 7: Nuwara Eliya

Get off the train in Nuwara Eliya and see little England in Sri Lanka. Visit the beautiful tea plantations and factories.

Read more: Beautiful greens of Tea in Nuwara Eliya

In the middle of all this reading, sit back and enjoy our Sri Lanka video. ?

Day 8 – 10: Ella

Visit one of the most chilled out places in Sri Lanka. Climb to higher levels on Mini Adams Peak or Ella Rock.

Read more: Things to do in Ella

Sri Lanka route guide Ella

Day 11 – 13: Arugam Bay

Ready to catch some waves? Arugam Bay is one of the best surfing points in Sri Lanka. Many surfers make this their home from April to October.

Read more: The 7 paradise Sri Lanka Beaches

Day 14: Visit a National Park

Go and find huge groups of wild elephants and other wildlife in Udawalawe National Park, Yala National Park or one of the other many beautiful national parks in Sri Lanka.

Read more: Best place to see Elephants in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka route guide national park

Day 15 – 16: Mirissa

Mirissa is all about the beach, relaxing and great restaurants. We’ve had some of our best Sri Lankan sunsets at Mirissa.

Day 17 – 19: Unawatuna

The Unawatuna area has the most famous beaches in Sri Lanka. From there you can easily visit Galle Fort, Koggala Lake, and many other places.

Read more: Things to do in Unawatuna

Sri Lanka route guide Palm swing
Sri Lanka route guide Mirissa

Day 20: Colombo

Finish your trip and stay close to the airport in Colombo. Make sure to visit Barefoot and the restaurant on the back.

Day 21: Return home ?

Optional places

Do you have even more time than 3 weeks in Sri Lanka? Extend the route and visit the northern part of Sri Lanka. These are other popular places to visit.

  • Trincomalee
  • Jaffna
  • Dambulla
  • Polonnaruwa

Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a year-round destination. There isn’t a perfect period to visit because each side of the island has it’s own “best time to visit”. ☀️

  • North – May to September
  • Center – January to April
  • South – December – March

Sri Lanka Visa

You need a Sri Lanka visa to be allowed into the country. Arranging a visa isn’t difficult at all. Just make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months. You have several options for obtaining a visa for Sri Lanka.

Online visa Sri Lanka

The first option is applying for your Sri Lanka visa online at It’s wise to apply at least a few days before your arrival. Usually, the applications are approved within a few hours and you will receive your eTA (Electronic Travel Authorisation). This 30-day visa will cost you $30 and can only be paid by credit card.

Sri Lanka Route Guide street

Visa Bureau

If you don’t have a credit card then head over to a visa bureau. You will pay a little extra but they will arrange this for you without having to own a credit card.

Visa on Arrival

Even if you have not applied for eTA can get a Visa on Arrival on arrival for Sri Lanka. There is a counter at the airport in Colombo where you can go to. For this service, you will pay $5 extra and you have to wait long.

Sri Lanka Route Guide Galle Lighthouse

Costs of traveling through Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, they pay in Rupee. The Sri Lankan Rupee is not the same as in India. At this time, 150 rupees is equal to 1 dollar.

Cost of a room in Sri Lanka

It is quite difficult to find a room for under $10 per night. If you’re looking for a pretty good room in a nice guesthouse go quickly towards the $15 to $20 per night for a double room. Dorms are hardly in Sri Lanka and those that do exist are quite expensive.

Sri Lanka route guide accommodation

This was our view in Ella.

Costs of transportation

It’s not typical in Sri Lanka, but to hire a car + driver will usually cost about $50 per day. Buses are a very cheap option. It’s just a few dollars for a full day of traveling by bus, most of the time they are packed and you will have to stand. Don’t expect an air conditioning but luckily there’s a TV with Sri Lankan music videos on it.

Sri lanka 3 week route transportation

Taking the train is a must in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka owns some of the most beautiful train rides in the world. The price for a second-class cabin varies from $1.50 to $4. Sometimes they run out of seats, meaning you have to stand or sit on the floor. But this a beautiful experience itself.

Costs of food & drinks

Sri Lanka has a delicious kitchen. A local rice and curry cost about 100-400 Rupee which is $1 – $3. Alcohol can be hard to get in some parts of Sri Lanka because of their religions. The price of a Tiger beer is around $2.

Sri Lanka route guide map smoothie

Vaccinations Sri Lanka

Whatever the length of your trip is, it’s recommended to get two vaccines:

  1. DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Polio)
  2. Hepatitis A

Staying away for several months? Then you probably should get vaccinations against Hepatitis B and rabies. Malaria occurs in the north of Sri Lanka. It is wise to always use DEET.

We got you a $15 discount at if you book via this link, you’re welcome! ?

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Blog comments (23)
  • Awesome post, guys! Beautiful pictures too! I’ll definitely use this if/when I head to Sri Lanka. I pinned it to save it for later. :)

  • Awesome post, and we can vouch for a lot of it as we did such a similar trip to you guys! Our top tips would be Mirissa, Sigiriya and Ella!

    Mark and Mim x

  • Ah zo leuk! Ik vertrek vrijdag en heb echt zoveel aan aan jullie blogs gehad :)

    Weten jullie toevallig ook welke wereldstekker ik moet gebruiken? Ik ging even googlen maar ik lees zoveel verschillende dingen. Thanks!!

    • Hi Lidianne,

      Super leuk, we zouden graag met je mee gaan :) De wereldstekker was voor ons ook een raadsel omdat degene die Nederland te koop zijn allemaal niet passen. Uiteindelijk hebben we op de eerste dag direct 2 kleine stekkers gekocht. Ze hebben die echt bij iedere mini supermarkt liggen.

      Heel veel plezier!

  • So excited about this, as my husband and I are going there in March for our honeymoon!
    We got very lucky and found tickets at 475euros from Hanover with a short layover in Amsterdam and one in Abu Dhabi. It’s gonna be a long journey, but without a doubt worth it!!
    I have lots of reading to do! :D

    • Hi Aryane! First of all, congratulations with your marriage! :D Sri Lanka is the perfect country for your honeymoon, it has everything. Thats a great ticket price btw! Hope you’ll have a great time!

  • I absolutely adore that map!

    Looks like you did only a couple of extra places than our trip although we only had two weeks.

    For anyone interested, our 2 week itinerary, check our website.

  • This is so useful! Bloody love your little map graphic – Did you use something like Adobe Sketch to make it?!

  • Guys Awesome post for sure…The picture are out of the world guys….Really enjoyed the post….guys you should visit Meemure village on your next trip…Situated with the range of knuckle mountains…Kandy…Between Kandy and Matale….A lovely remote village…..Can have more adventure there…..

  • Hi, I noticed that from Ella, your next destination was Arugam Bay… I was thinking of the same, but is having a hard time planning how to reach Arugam Bay from Ella (actually I will come from Nuwara Eliya, but i am thinking maybe I should just choose Ella over NE).

    I would love to hear how you reached Arugam Bay. Thank youuuu!

    • Hi! Yes if you have to choose, please choose Ella over Nuwara Elia. You can only get to Arugam with bus or taxi from Ella. But it’s good to find a few other travelers in town to share a taxi to Arugam Bay.

      Have a great time!

      • A lot of people had been suggesting the same (to choose Ella over Nuwara Eliya), and I am now reconsidering changing my plans to skip NE, mainly coz I need to go Arugam afterwards.

        OK, here’s another question. You said I can get to Arugam by bus (taxi would be my last option as it is expensive).
        1) Is there direct bus to Arugam Bay? If not, kindly advice how to go about (what did you do?).
        2) Is the bus frequently leaves Ella to Arugam? Meaning, do I have to wake up very early to catch a bus, or i can go anytime as it’s frequent enough?

        Thank you again, you are wonderful!

        • Hi Ib,

          We shared a taxi so I’m not sure how to get there by bus.
          What I do know is that as bus leaves every 10 minutes to Monaragala but you’ll have to ask or search for the times somewhere. From Monaragala you can take the bus to Pottuvil or Panama. Borth near Arugam.

          Good luck and enjoy!!


  • Robert Chimne

    Nice place to visit specially on Summer. Good and helpful people. Also the tour operator we hired provided us with best accommodation and travel experience. Was a sweet trip.Actually its the best thing during a tour to get accompanied by someone who know the place exactly.

  • Tamara Hewitt

    Love the video and the map, really helpful guide and stunning photos! Sorry if i missed it, but i can’t seem to see what time of year your traveled this trip? And what year? (to see if costs are still relevant).

    My partner and i are planning a three week trip to Sri Lanka in August – I can’t wait!

    Also can i ask if you pre booked accommodation and transport before? Or did you just wing it while there?

    Thanks in advance :)

    • Hi Tamara,

      We visited Sri Lanka in September 2016 so prices should be the same in that period. We did not pre book our stays, only the trip in Udawalawe National Park.

      Have a beautiful trip together!

      • Tamara Hewitt

        Thanks so much for that. I am just planning our route now and we actually only have 16 full days, not including the arrival and departure days (mis-calculation among other travel plans). Is there anything you would recommend cutting out? And did you do a day trip to Sigiriya from Kandy or did you stay the night there? Thanks so much :)

        • Hi Tamara!

          It’s best to stay a night in Sigiriya. Maybe skip Mirissa or Unawatuna to have one beach destination. Also, don’t spend any night in Colombo. :D

  • Henrik Hansen


    Wonderful video. Inspired by you guys I have ordered a DJI phantom 4 pro. But I was wondering what video editing software you use?



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