10 day sri lanka itinerary

Best Sri Lanka 10 Day Itinerary 2024

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If you’re thinking about visiting Sri Lanka, you’ll need an epic itinerary that will allow you to explore every corner of this beautiful island including one of the most underrated hidden gems in Asia!

Most travellers only visit for a short time, so here’s how to make the most of a Sri Lanka 10 day itinerary, especially if you love nature, the outdoors and wildlife!

10 day itinerary sri lanka
10 day sri lanka itinerary

Disclaimer: My trip to Sri Lanka was supported by the National tourist board. As always, all words and opinions are my own. This article may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to yourself.

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Epic 10-day Sri Lanka Itinerary

Day 1 – Colombo

What To Do

Take an open top double-decker bus tour of the city.

You’ll learn about Colombo’s history, culture and heritage whilst on this “urban safari”.

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sri lanka tour itinerary

The highlights of the tour include Colombo National Museum, Colombo Lighthouse, Galle face green, Pettah Bazar, Independence square, Floating Market, Cinnamon Garden and the newly built Lotus tower.

On top of that, snacks are provided as well as fresh coconuts (the best way to start your holiday in my opinion!).

After this, visit Gangarama Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo.

Located on the Beira Lake, home to dozens of pelicans, it is easy to see why this beautiful temple is the most visited in the city.

Top Tips

  • If you want to see the city come alive, do the night version of the bus tour which includes a boat ride on Diyawanna Lake
  • Wear white to the temple and dress modestly, covering your knees and shoulders.

Where to Stay

The Kingsbury Colombo or the Galle Face Hotel, both have great buffets and stunning pools!

Best Sri Lanka 10 Day Itinerary 2024 1
The pool area of the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo

Day 2 – Habarana

What To Do

It’s time to see elephants in the wild!

10 days in sri lanka itinerary
sri lanka tour plan

Start early and drive from Colombo to Habarana which is approximately – 185Km / 4 Hrs.

Depending on the time of year, the elephants migrate between 3 areas, so make sure you book an afternoon tour for the correct National Park so you don’t miss these majestic creatures.

Hurulu Eco Park (December to March)

Minneriya National Park (May to September)

Kaudulla National Park (October to November)

I visited in February 2022 so did a 3 hour jeep safari in Hurulu Eco Park.

We saw dozens of elephants including babies during this time, and were able to get close to them.

There are also plenty of other animals found here including leopards, rusty-spotted cats, star tortoise, jungles fowl, parrots, hawks, water buffalo and peacocks.

Note: You must stay in the jeep at all times, but there is an opportunity to get out and walk to the top of a hill for a panoramic view of the eco park, I highly suggest doing this.

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best itinerary for sri lanka

Top Tips

  • Visit on a weekday if you can, we went on a Saturday and it was very busy with locals.
  • Take a raincoat just incase, we got hit by a 15 minute shower that quickly cleared up and led to a beautiful double rainbow, but with an open jeep you want to be covered!
  • Bring 2 x 100 LKR as a tip for your driver and tracker
sri lanka 10 day itinerary
10 day itinerary Sri Lanka

Where to Stay

I stayed at the Cinnamon Lodge Habarana, this is where I sampled one of Sri Lanka’s best dishes, egg hoppers for the first time and definitely recommend them!

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Elephants in their natural habitat at Hurulu Eco Park

Day 3 and 4 – Sigiriya

What To Do

Drive 20 minutes from Habarana to Sigiriya. You can explore this area for the next two days.

In that time, try out one of the many adventure activities on offer such as hot air ballooning and hiking.

My favourite activity was climbing Sigiriya (Lion Rock).

This unique rock fortress or “castle in the sky” is 600 ft above the ground. The top of the rock, houses ruins of a former royal palace, and provides beautiful views of the surrounding area.

You can spend half a day here, however the climb up is only 45 minutes so don’t worry about difficulty.

For locals the entry cost is 50 Rupees and for foreigners the cost is 30 USD (5000 Rupees).

I would also suggest climbing Pidurangala Rock, we didn’t have time to do this (this is why I suggest staying 2 days).

It is located just opposite Sigiriya Rock fortress and provides an amazing panoramic view of the area and the majestic palace.

The entry cost is only 500 LKR per person and you don’t need to pre book just pay when you arrive.

The hike is only 30-45 minutes to the top, and sunrise is the perfect time to climb up.

sri lanka itinerary 10 days
View of Pidurangala Rock from Sigiriya

Top Tips

  • Hike in the morning before it gets too hot, both hikes are relatively short so this should be doable for any fitness level. Note: Sigiriya is open 7am till 5:30pm, and Pidurangala Rock is open 5am till 5pm.
  • There are a lot of monkeys found along the Sigiriya hike, they are very playful and fun to watch, but always be careful of your belongings (especially food!)

Where to Stay

Habarana is very close so you can remain at Cinnamon Lodge or maybe try out an awesome treehouse in Sigiriya.

Best Sri Lanka 10 Day Itinerary 2024 5
Monkeys at Sigiriya

Day 5 and 6 – Knuckles Mountains

What To Do

knuckles mountains sri lanka
sri lanka itineraries

Drive 3 hrs (110km) from Sigiriya to Rangala.

This is your chance to get away from the crowds and visit one of Sri Lanka’s best hidden gems.

The Knuckles mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage site that features 34 peaks ranging from 900m to 1900m, of which 5 have a striking resemblance to the knuckles of a clenched fist.

The Knuckles mountains are one of the best places for hiking within Sri Lanka and include beautiful plenty of trails such as the High Knuckles Trek, Waterfall Trek, Heel Oya trek, Corbett’s Gap trek, and Burnside.

heel oya trek sri lanka
Scenery in Knuckles Mountains in Sri Lanka

I suggest staying here for 2 days so you can experience multiple hikes.

Including the Heel Oya trek, a full day hike which takes you through tea estates, pine forests, terraced paddy fields, waterways, misty hills and even a waterfall you can swim in (bring a towel and swimwear).

The next day you can try one of the other hikes on offer at Wild Glamping Knuckles including the High Knuckles Trek, Waterfall Trek, Corbett’s Gap trek, and Burnside.

Top Tips

  • Take waterproofs, and warm clothing, it is much colder in the mountains than the rest of Sri Lanka
  • Bring a head torch if you have one, hand torches are provided but handsfree is always easier
  • Alcohol is not served here, but you can bring a bottle or two from Sigiriya

Where to Stay

Stay at the amazing Wild Glamping Knuckles resort.

knuckles mountains in sri lanka
sri lanka suggested itinerary

This resort only has a generator for a few hours a day, so be prepared to go off the grid, embrace the beautiful surroundings and leave catching up on your emails for after this experience.

Each glamping tent sleeps 2 and has a desk, wardrobe, and an ensuite bathroom with hot water.

Traditional Sri Lankan breakfast and lunch are served, and for dinner there is a daily BBQ by candlelight.

This luxury tent stay, was my favourite experience in Sri Lanka, and is just one of the best reasons for visiting Sri Lanka ASAP.

glamping in knuckles mountains sri lanka
Wild Glamping Knuckles

Day 7 – Nuwara Eliya

What To Do

Drive 3.5 hrs from Rangala to Nuwara Eliya.

Nuwara Eliya, nicknamed Little England, is a city in the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka.

It is the best place to visit a tea plantation and do a tea plucking tour or a factory tour.

The city itself is home to British colonial-style buildings, a beautiful lake and a unique post office.

sri lanka travel itinerary 10 days
Tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya, photo by Passport and Pixels

Top Tips

  • Bring warm clothing, Nuwara Eliya experiences cool and crisp evenings.

Where to Stay

10 days in sri lanka
sri lanka tour itineraries

Stay at the stunning St.Andrew’s Hotel, a historical hotel with beautiful common rooms and gorgeous English style gardens.

In the evenings, put the log fire on, and enjoy a cosy night in with a book or a glass of wine.

best sri lanka itinerary 10 days
St Andrews Hotel

Day 8 and 9 – Mirissa

What To Do

Drive 6 hours (230 Km) from Nuwara Eliya to the Southern coast of Sri Lanka.

The first stop is Mirissa, one of the most popular beach destinations in Sri Lanka.

It is great for those who enjoy surfing, snorkelling, swimming, sailing, fishing and scuba diving.

The first day will be mostly traveling, but you can relax or do any of the above activities in the afternoon or evening, or head over to the Ayurvie Weligama retreat and have an Ayurveda massage (I can recommend their leg massage!).

10 days in sri lanka what to do
Mirissa Beach

The next morning you will need to wake up early and leave at 6am to go whale watching.

Mirissa harbour is only 10 minutes drive from the hotel, and breakfast and lunch will be provided as part of the whale watching sailing tour.

Mirissa is the ideal place for whale and dolphin watching between November and April.

You can spot sperm whales, killer whales, Bryde whales, short finned whales, bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins and the elusive blue whale (the largest mammal in the world!).

We spent the morning onboard the boat, and saw dozens of dolphins up close and one baby blue whale several times.

The sailing trip also included time to swim or paddle board in the ocean, so make sure you bring a towel and swimming costume.

The excursion finishes at around 2pm and you can either spend more time in Mirissa enjoying the beach or immediately transfer 1.5 hrs to Bentota to enjoy the evening there.

Top Tip

  • Leave early from Nuwara Eliya at around 7 or 8 am so you can arrive in Mirissa after lunch and have time to explore or relax by the beach.
  • Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen and a hat onboard the sailing boat, you will need them!

Where to Stay

Stay at the Mandara Resort, this beachfront hotel has a great pool, beach bar and private beach area.

sri lanka honeymoon itinerary 10 days
Mandara resort in Mirissa

Day 10 – Bentota

What To Do

Bentota beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sri Lanka.

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10-day explore sri lanka

In the morning you can do a river safari in Bentota Mangrove Lagoon.

Expect to see monitor lizards, river birds and jellyfish as you cruise along the tranquil waters.

madu river sri lanka
Bentota Mangrove Lagoon

In the afternoon, try some of the watersports on offer such as sailing, windsurfing, parasailing, jet skiing or paramotoring.

If you want to just relax, then the pool at the Taj Bentota Spa and Resort can’t be beaten!

taj bentota spa and resort
Pool at Taj Bentota Spa and Resort

Top Tip

Where to Stay

Stay at the Taj Bentota Resort and Spa, book dinner at the S.H.A.C.K seafood restaurant on the lawn, and enjoy the many amenities on offer – this is the kind of resort you don’t need to (or want to) leave!

That’s a wrap on this Sri Lanka 10 day Itinerary

That’s the end of this awesome itinerary for Sri Lanka for 10 days that is perfect for wildlife, nature and outdoor adventure lovers.

If you want to include more history and culture, consider swapping the Knuckles Mountains for a few days in Kandy, where you can see a traditional Kandyan dance show and visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic or visit Anuradhapura if you want to experience Sri Lanka’s most important archaeological site.

kandy traditional dancing
Traditional Kandyan dancers

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