In April 2018, at the end of high season in the southern area, we went to Sri Lanka for a 2-week trip. The idea was to spend about 1 week inland to hike and discover hill country and spend the remaining week at the coast to enjoy the sun and see. I’ll share our travel tips and exact route in this 2-week Sri Lanka itinerary: A travel guide.
We decided to book all hotels upfront since it was high season, although I wouldn’t say that was completely necessary. What I liked about it though, is that you don’t have to walk around and search for places to stay.
Day 1: Amsterdam to Habarana
Day 2: Relax from flight in Habarana
Day 3: Sigiriya Rock and head to Kandy
Day 4: Explore Kandy
Day 5: Kandy to Ella train ride
Day 6 & 7: Explore Ella and surroundings
Day 8: Ella to Udawalawe
Day 9: Elephant safari and head to Mirissa
Day 10: Explore Mirissa
Day 11: Head to Hikkaduwa
Day 12: Back to Mirissa
Day 13 & 14: Beach day in Mirissa
Day 15: Mirissa to Negombo
Day 16: Flight back home
After a 1,5 hour’s ride, we arrived in Kandy. We weren’t staying in Kandy town but a little bit outside, to enjoy a view. It wasn’t my favourite view though. I wouldn’t recommend 2 nights in Kandy. 1 night is more than enough if you are not really into visiting all the paid sights.
One of the most scenic train rides in the world brought us to Ella. We didn’t buy tickets in advance and were lucky enough to buy tickets at the station. This meant we didn’t have seats and thus had to stand for around 7 hours. Luckily, we could sit somewhere after 3 hours. To fully enjoy the train ride, you might want to prearrange tickets. Ella itself has enough to offer, such as the Ella Rock, Nine Arch Bridge and Little Adams Peak. Read all about Ella in this full guide.
Ella is home to amazing places to stay, with stunning views and kind hosts. If you want to splurge (which is still affordable in Sri Lanka), I could highly recommend you to stay in either EKHO Ella or Zion View Ella Green Retreat. If you are into great views but want to benefit from the lower prices in the country, there are also amazing stays between 25 and 45 euros a night, such as Glorious Nature Inn, Guest Inn Avendra, Country Homes or Arana Sri Lanka Eco Lodge.
A car brought us to our next destination in Udawalawe. We went to the bus stop and got offered a fairly cheap taxi ride. This is a good tip! Try to get your transport at the bus stop, as negotiation is easier as they are aware you are willing to take the bus.
At the resort (Kottawatta Village) we were able to book a safari tour for the next morning. Read all about a safari in Udawalawe in this guide. As there is not much more to do in Udawalawe, we decided to continue our journey to Mirissa straight after the safari.
Straight after the safari, we were planning on taking the bus to Mirissa. However, waiting at the bus station, we again were able to arrange a tuk-tuk for a pretty good price. 2 hours later we were in Mirissa, where we mainly spend our time at the beach, pool and drinking beers. We walked up Parrot Island, visited the famous palm trees and did a whale-watching tour. Check out the full Mirissa Guide here.
Our first stay there was supposed to be 2 nights, but in the end, we went back as we didn’t like Hikkaduwa, staying another 2 nights.
We’d heard Hikkaduwa was the more lively beach destination and when we booked our hotels and hostels, we decided to spend more time in Hikkaduwa than in Mirissa, as we wanted to visit a place with some more nightlife. Well, we couldn’t have been more wrong in April. Hikkaduwa was empty and the guesthouse we booked was horrible. So after a night of no sleep, we decided to go back to Mirissa for the last days of the holiday.
There are many other small beach towns in the south, such as Tangalle, Weligama and Unawatuna. I would recommend combining one of those with Mirissa. Something else I would have liked is to climb Adam’s Peak.
For our 2-week Sri Lanka itinerary we decided to go for a mix between nature and beach, and ended our trip with relaxation. Sri Lanka knows different seasons within the country, and as we went in April, the beaches in the south would still be most suitable.
We choose to do the Udawalawe Safari instead of the Yala Safari as we heard it would be slightly less touristy, but you might have a bigger chance of spotting elephants. There will still be many jeeps driving around, but I would recommend the experience!