A Wonderful 2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary for First-Timers

Looking for a perfect 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary for first-timers? I recently looped around the country and here’s how you can do it too even if you only have two weeks!

If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful island nation, you’re in for a treat.

Sri Lanka is a country that has it all – from pristine beaches to lush green forests, ancient temples to modern cities, and everything in between.

With so much to see and do, planning the perfect 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary can be overwhelming, but I’ve got you covered!

In this post, we’ll take you through a day-by-day itinerary that covers all the must-see attractions in Sri Lanka. This is the exact route I did myself and I was very happy with everything I got to see in 14 days.

Getting Around Sri Lanka

I found getting around the country on my 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary an adventure in itself.

There are several options available, including trains, buses, and tuk-tuks and I tried them all. Here’s what you need to know about each mode of transportation:

By Train

Taking the train is a popular way to travel in Sri Lanka, and for good reason. The train routes are scenic and offer stunning views of the countryside, not to mention it’s an affordable way to get around.

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

There are three main train lines in Sri Lanka: the Coastal Line, the Main Line, and the Hill Country Line. The Main Line is the most popular and runs from Colombo to Kandy and on to Badulla.

The Hill Country Line is also a must-do, as it takes you through the tea country and up to Ella. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to travel this route because it was during a holiday and the train was packed (there were people actually hanging from outside the train!).

This would be my #1 recommendation when planning your Sri Lanka itinerary – check if there are any major holidays going on because it can affect your trip!

Moreover, make sure to book your train tickets in advance, especially if you’re traveling during peak season. You can book your tickets online or at the train station. First-class tickets are available, but second and third-class are more affordable and still offer a comfortable ride.

By Bus

Buses are also a common mode of transportation in Sri Lanka and are a budget-friendly option. The buses can get crowded, but they’re a great way to travel short distances.

There are two types of buses: local and express. Local buses stop at every town and village along the way, while express buses only stop at major towns. Express buses are faster, but local buses are more affordable.

Make sure to bring small bills and change when taking the bus, as the conductor will come around to collect the fare.

By Tuk-Tuk

Tuk-tuks are a really fun way to get around Sri Lanka! While I wouldn’t recommend them for long distance rides, I used them a lot to get from beach town to beach town that weren’t too far away from each other.

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

Make sure to negotiate the fare before getting into the tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks don’t have meters, so the price is usually negotiable. It’s also a good idea to agree on the price before starting your journey.

Tuk-tuks are also available for hire for the day. This is a great option if you want to explore a certain area or if you have a lot of stops to make.

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

I thought it was a perfect itinerary because I made a full loop around the country and covered a ton of destinations and activities.

One of the most impressive things about Sri Lanka is that, even though it’s small and you can get from A to B in a short amount of time, the landscapes and overall vibe can change a ton in just a matter of miles!

This itinerary shows exactly what I mean. In fact, I think I can easily split it into three sections: Culture and history, wildlife and nature, and last but not least, beaches.

Day 1 – 3: Kandy

Kandy is one of the most picturesque cities in the country and a wonderful place to start your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary because it has tons to see and do. I landed in Colombo and took the train directly to Kandy to start the adventure.

I recommend spending at least three days as there are plenty of , not to mention you’ll want to have time to soak up the culture and local life as well.

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

On your first day, head to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, which is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the world.

The temple is located in the heart of Kandy and is home to the tooth relic of Lord Buddha. It’s also surrounded by stunning gardens, which make for a perfect spot to relax and unwind. Afterward, you’ll have plenty of time to explore more of the things to do in Kandy.

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

On your second day, visit Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Sri Lanka.

The ancient city of Sigiriya is located on top of a massive rock and is surrounded by lush greenery. You can climb to the top of the rock and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Finally, head to Pidurangala Rock, which is located just a few kilometers away from Sigiriya. The rock offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, and it’s a great place to watch the sunrise or sunset.

Where to Stay in Kandy

  • Budget: Kandy Backpackers Hostel – This hostel offers clean and comfortable dormitory rooms with shared bathrooms, as well as private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. The hostel also features a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city and a common area where guests can socialize and relax.
  • Mid-range: Theva Residency – Theva Residency is a boutique hotel that offers stunning views of the Kandy cityscape. The rooms are beautifully designed and come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. Prices start at around $80 USD per night.
  • Luxury: Earl’s Regent Hotel – Earl’s Regent Hotel is a luxurious option that offers all the amenities you could want. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the hotel has a range of facilities including a spa, fitness center, and pool. The hotel is located just a short drive from the city center. Prices start at around $150 USD per night.

Don’t forget to get travel insurance for your trip! As always, I recommend Safety Wing for great prices and coverage abroad. It starts at only $45 USD per month and will have you covered with everything you may need during your trip! Check them out here.

Days 3 – 5: Nuwara Eliya & Horton’s Plains

After exploring Kandy, it’s time to head to the picturesque town of Nuwara Eliya, also known as Little England.

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

The train ride to Nuwara Eliya takes around 3-4 hours, but the scenic views along the way make it worth the journey, so much that it’s actually considered an activity in itself (you’ve probably seen pictures all over Instagram of people on the train!)

Once you arrive in Nuwara Eliya, you’ll immediately notice the cooler climate and lush greenery. This is a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature. Take a stroll around Lake Gregory, visit a tea plantation, or simply enjoy the fresh air and stunning views.

One of the highlights of your time in Nuwara Eliya will be a visit to Horton’s Plains National Park.

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

The park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including some endemic species to Sri Lanka. The most popular trail in the park is the World’s End Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys and finished in what is thought to be the “End of the World”).

2 Week Sri Lanka Itinerary

I personally loved the hike and consider it one of the highlights of my 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary. You’ll get to see plenty of animals, waterfalls, and beautiful landscapes. The hike itself is not very challenging for the most part.

You can also visit the nearby Pidurutalagala Mountain, the highest mountain in Sri Lanka, for panoramic views of the area. Another must-visit attraction is the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, which is home to a wide variety of plants, including some rare and endangered species.

Where to Stay in Nuwara Eliya

  • Budget: Leisure Nest Hostel – Leisure Nest Hostel is a great budget option, located just a short walk from the Nuwara Eliya city center. The hostel offers clean and comfortable dormitory and private rooms, as well as a shared kitchen and lounge area. Prices start at around $10 USD per night.
  • Mid-range: Jetwing St. Andrew’s – Jetwing St. Andrew’s is a charming colonial-era hotel that offers a comfortable stay in Nuwara Eliya. The rooms are elegantly decorated and come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. Prices start at around $70 USD per night.
  • Luxury: Heritance Tea Factory – Heritance Tea Factory is a luxurious option that offers a unique and memorable stay in Nuwara Eliya. The hotel is housed in a converted tea factory and offers stunning views of the surrounding tea plantations. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the hotel has a range of facilities including a spa, fitness center, and pool. Prices start at around $150 USD per night.

Days 5 – 7: Ella & Diyaluma Falls

Next on your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary in Ella, a charming little town in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and the perfect place to unwind, hike, and explore tea plantations.

On day 5, wake up early and catch the train to Haputale. This train ride is considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the world and you’ll see why as you wind your way through tea plantations and over the Nine Arch Bridge.

Once you arrive in Haputale, you can hire a tuk-tuk to take you to Diyaluma Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka where you can take a refreshing dip in the natural pools at the base of the falls.

On day 6, spend the day exploring the town. There are lots of fun things to do in Ella like visitisitng tea plantations and learn about the process of growing and harvesting tea leaves, checking out temples, and more.

Last but not least, wake up early on the 7th day of your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary and hike to the top of Little Adam’s Peak for a stunning sunrise.

This is an easy hike that takes about 45 minutes and the views from the top are breathtaking.

After your hike, head back to town and relax for the rest of the day. Enjoy some more Sri Lankan food, shop for souvenirs, or simply sit back before you travel to Tissamaharama, the closest town to Yala National Park.

Where to Stay in Ella

  • Budget: Ella Eco Lodge – Ella Eco Lodge is a great budget option, located just a short walk from the Ella city center. The lodge offers clean and comfortable dormitory and private rooms, as well as a shared kitchen and lounge area. Prices start at around $15 USD per night.
  • Mid-range: Zion View Ella Green Retreat – Zion View Ella Green Retreat is a charming mid-range hotel that offers a comfortable stay in Ella. The rooms are elegantly decorated and come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. Prices start at around $50 USD per night.
  • Luxury: 98 Acres Resort and Spa – 98 Acres Resort and Spa is a luxurious option that offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and tea plantations. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the hotel has a range of facilities including a spa, fitness center, and pool. The hotel is located just a short drive from the Ella city center. Prices start at around $200 USD per night.

Days 7 – 8: Yala National Park

Next up, it’s time to take a safari to see lots of elephants and if you’re as lucky as I was, maybe even a leopard!

Yala National Park is the ultimate spot to take a safari in Sri Lanka. The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, sloth bears, and hundreds of bird species.

You’ll want to start your day early to catch a glimpse of the elusive leopards, as they are most active during the early morning hours.

Your safari jeep will take you through the park’s dense jungle, grasslands, and waterways, giving you a chance to spot a variety of animals in their natural habitat.

After your morning safari, you can head back to your hotel for breakfast and some rest before heading out for your afternoon safari. During this time, you might spot elephants grazing in the grasslands or crocodiles basking in the sun near the waterways.

In the evening, you can relax and unwind at your hotel or take a stroll around the nearby town of Tissamaharama.

Where to Stay in Tissamaharama

  • Budget: Rice of Life by Tissa Inn – Located in the heart of the town, Tissa Inn offers a comfortable stay at an affordable price. The hotel features clean and spacious rooms with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and private bathrooms with hot and cold water. 
  • Mid-range: Kithala Resort – Kithala Resort is a charming mid-range hotel that offers a comfortable stay in Tissamaharama. The rooms are elegantly decorated and come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. The hotel is located just a short drive from the Yala National Park. Prices start at around $60 USD per night.
  • Luxury: Jetwing Yala – Jetwing Yala is a luxurious option that offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean and Yala National Park. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the hotel has a range of facilities including a spa, fitness center, and pool. The hotel is located just a short drive from the Tissamaharama city center. Prices start at around $200 USD per night.

Day 8 – 11: Tangalle

It’s time to leave central Sri Lanka and head south in order to discover what it’s beaches have to offer!

I loved Sri Lanka’s coast. Not only are the beaches absoltey beautiful, but the towns are small and cozy and don’t feel very touristy.

Tangalle was by personal favorite beach town out of all the ones I visited, which is why I decided two days to it. 

During your stay in Tangalle, you can spend your days lounging on the beach, taking a dip in the ocean, or exploring the nearby attractions.

One of the most popular places to visit is the Galle Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site located about an hour’s drive away. This historic fort is home to a variety of museums, art galleries, and restaurants, making it a great place to spend the day.

Where to Stay in Tangalle

  • Budget: Palm Paradise CabanasPalm Paradise Cabanas is a great budget option, located just a short walk from Tangalle Beach. The hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms at affordable prices. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. Prices start at around $20 USD per night.
  • Mid-range: Lagoon Paradise Beach Resort – Lagoon Paradise Beach Resort is a charming mid-range hotel that offers a comfortable stay in Tangalle. The rooms are elegantly decorated and come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. The hotel is located just a short walk from Tangalle Beach. Prices start at around $70 USD per night.
  • Luxury: Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort – Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort is a luxurious option that offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the hotel has a range of facilities including a spa, fitness center, and pool. The hotel is located just a short drive from the Tangalle city center. Prices start at around $300 USD per night.

Days 11 – 13: Hiriketiya

Hiriketiya is another beautiful Sri Lankan beach town that is known for its pristine beaches and excellent snorkeling opportunities. You’ll be spend the next two days relaxing, soaking up the sun, and exploring the underwater world.

The first thing you’ll notice about Hiriketiya is the stunning beach. The bay is surrounded by lush green hills, and the water is crystal clear. You can spend your days lounging on the beach, reading a book, or taking a dip in the warm water. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent snorkeling gear and explore the vibrant coral reefs just off the shore.

The waters around Hiriketiya are home to a variety of colorful fish, sea turtles, and other marine life. You can also take a boat tour to explore more of the surrounding area.

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, you can take a short tuk-tuk ride to nearby Unawatuna. This popular beach town is known for its lively nightlife and bustling markets.

Where to Stay in Hiriketiya

  • Budget: Dots Bay House – Dots Bay House is a great budget option, located just a short walk from Hiriketiya Beach. The hotel offers clean and comfortable dormitories and private rooms at affordable prices. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. Prices start at around $20 USD per night.
  • Mid-range: Jasper House Sri Lanka – Jasper House Sri Lanka is a charming mid-range hotel that offers a comfortable stay in Hiriketiya. The rooms are elegantly decorated and come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. The hotel is located just a short walk from Hiriketiya Beach. Prices start at around $70 USD per night.
  • Luxury: The Cove – The Cove is a luxurious option that offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the hotel has a range of facilities including a spa, fitness center, and pool. The hotel is located just a short walk from Hiriketiya Beach. Prices start at around $300 USD per night.

Day 14: Mirissa

You’ve made it to your final day in Sri Lanka, and what better place to spend it than in the sunny beach town of Mirissa, a not to be missed town in Sri Lanka? Wake up early and take a stroll along the palm tree-lined shore to watch the sunrise over the Indian Ocean.

The main reason I wanted to visit Mirissa on my 2 week Sri Lanka was to take a whale watching tour and it definitely did not disappoint. I usually expect to see a couple of whales on these tuype of yours, but I saw dozens of them in Mirissa!

Alternatively, you could take a leisurely boat ride along the coast, stopping off at secluded coves and beaches along the way.

For lunch, don’t miss out on trying one of the many seafood restaurants in Mirissa and sample some of the freshest fish you’ll ever taste. Be sure to try the local specialty, devilled prawns, which are cooked in a spicy sauce and served with rice.

Afterward, you can either explore the city or simply lounge at the beach or check out a beach bar before making your way to Colombo to take your flight back.

Another option is to take a tuk-tuk to nearby Weligama and try your hand at surfing. The waves here are perfect for beginners, and there are plenty of surf schools offering lessons if you’re a newbie. 

Where to Stay in Mirissa

  • Budget: Hangover Hostels Mirissa – Hangover Hostels Mirissa is a great budget option, located just a short walk from Mirissa Beach. The hostel offers clean and comfortable dormitory and private rooms at affordable prices. The hostel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. Prices start at around $10 USD per night.
  • Mid-range: Paradise Beach Club – Paradise Beach Club is a charming mid-range hotel that offers a comfortable stay in Mirissa. The rooms are elegantly decorated and come with all the necessary amenities. The hotel also has a restaurant that serves delicious Sri Lankan and international cuisine. The hotel is located just a short walk from Mirissa Beach. Prices start at around $50 USD per night.
  • Luxury: Sri Sharavi Beach Villas & Spa – Sri Sharavi Beach Villas & Spa is a luxurious option that offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean. The villas are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the hotel has a range of facilities including a spa, fitness center, and pool. The hotel is located just a short drive from the Mirissa city center. Prices start at around $200 USD per night.

Sri Lanka Travel Tips

  • Pack clothes for warm weather in general but bring a bit of cold-weather clothes too (think a sweater and maybe a light jacket) as the highland region can get pretty chilly.
  • Tap water in Sri Lanka isn’t safe to drink, so always make sure you buy bottled water always. Another great alternative (and a more eco-friendly one) is to bring a GRAYL water bottle with you. This water bottle purifies tap water by eliminating bacteria, viruses, and chemicals in just a few seconds. I’ve used it all over the world and it works wonders.
  • Cover up when visiting temples and religious places. This applies to men as well. Make sure to wear pants instead of shorts when visiting holy sites in Sri Lanka.
  • Respect local customs. Sri Lanka is a conservative country, so it’s important to dress modestly and be respectful of local customs. For example, it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering a temple.
  • Try the local cuisine. Sri Lankan food is delicious and diverse, with influences from India, China, and Europe. Be sure to try local specialties like hoppers, kottu roti, and string hoppers.
  • Be aware of scams. Like any tourist destination, Sri Lanka has its fair share of scams. Be wary of people offering tours or services that seem too good to be true, and always negotiate prices in advance.

Travel Insurance for Sri Lanka

Don’t forget about travel insurance to travel to Sri Lanka!

Sri Lanka is a prime spot for adventure, so having travel insurance to back you up is essential.

If you’re still on the lookout for travel insurance for your trip, I always recommend HeyMondo for great prices and coverage abroad (they’ll cover medical expenses in case of any accidents, travel delays, cancellations, and much more).

Check them out here. You can also get 5% off if you book via this link!

Frequently Asked Questions: 2 Sri Lanka Itinerary

How long should I plan my Sri Lanka trip for?

For a 2 Sri Lanka week itinerary, you can cover most of the major attractions and experience the culture the country has to offer.

However, if you have more time, you can explore the country in-depth and visit some off-the-beaten-path destinations.

What are the must-see places in Sri Lanka for a 2-week itinerary?

Some of the must-see places in Sri Lanka include Kandy, Sigiriya, Ella, Yala National Park, Mirissa, and Hiriketiya. These places offer a mix of history, culture, nature, and adventure.

What is the average cost for a 2-week Sri Lanka itinerary?

The average cost for a 2-week Sri Lanka itinerary can range from $400 to $1500, depending on your travel style, accommodation, food, and activities.

I personally spent a total of $585 USD, but that’s considering I sometimes shared room costs with my friend or we stayed at hostels. You can see a breakdown of my expenses on this post: The cost of traveling Sri Lanka on a budget.

If you’re not into backpacking, there are plenty of amazing hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka that are still surprisingly affordable.

Overall, traveling Sri Lanka is very easy on the wallet even if you go for a luxurious trip.

Can I visit both Sri Lanka and Maldives in 3 weeks?

Yes, you can visit both Sri Lanka and Maldives in 3 weeks. You can spend 2 weeks in Sri Lanka and 1 week in Maldives. There are frequent flights from Colombo to Male, the capital of Maldives.

What are some recommended activities for a 2-week Sri Lanka itinerary?

Some of the recommended activities for a 2-week Sri Lanka itinerary include visiting ancient temples, climbing Sigiriya rock fortress, hiking in the hill country, exploring national parks, taking a train ride, whale watching, and relaxing on the beaches.

How many days are enough to explore Sri Lanka?

You can explore Sri Lanka in as little as 5 days, but we recommend spending at least 10 days to get a taste of the country’s diverse culture, history, and nature.

If you have more time, you can explore more off-the-beaten-path destinations and have a deeper experience of Sri Lanka.

2 Sri Lanka Itinerary: Conclusion

I hope this 2 Sri Lanka itinerary has given you a good idea of what this beautiful country has to offer.

From the ancient temples of Kandy to the stunning beaches of Mirissa, Sri Lanka truly has something for everyone.

Whether you’re a budget traveler or looking for a luxurious getaway, there are plenty of options for accommodation and activities to suit your needs in this gorgeous island country!