17 days through Sri Lanka

Even though Sri Lanka is “just an island”, there is so so much to see and do, that 2 or even 3 weeks are no where near enough to explore and do it all. But who says it was the first or only time to visit? 🙂

No matter how long you will stay on the magical island, I’m sure you will have a great time!

In this Sri Lanka travel guide I will share a way (the way I did it) how to travel around Sri Lanka in 2-3 weeks.

my travelling route

Day 1:
Arrival, ride to Colombo city hostel, food shopping/cooking/getting to know fellow travelers

Sightseeing: Nothing

Accomodation: Colombo City Hostel (in Colombo)

rooftop hangout area at Colombo City Hostel

Day 2:
Exploring Colombo: temple (entrance 300 for both temples: Gangaramaya temple & Seema Malaka), tuk tuk to Pettah Market, Jami Ul Alfar Mosque, walking through streets

Jami Ul Alfar Mosque

Pettah Market

Gangaramaya temple & Seema Malaka

Gangaramaya temple & Seema Malaka
Sightseeing: Gangaramaya temple & Seema Malaka, Pettah Market, Jami Ul Alfar Mosque (in Colombo)

Accomodation: Colombo City Hostel (in Colombo)

Day 3:
Taking train at 10.35am from Colombo to Kandy (190 rupee) arrived at 2pm, got to know people in hostel (Kandy city hostel), went out to a traditional dancing show from 5.30-6.30pm (1000 Rupien), met another girl from hostel for dinner at kandyan muslim Hotel (pretty cheap and good – was highly recommend by hostel), then stayed up late exchanging tips and talking to people from all around the world at hostel’s rooftop hangout area

my all time favorite food in Asia: fried rice vegetable

Sightseeing: train ride, traditional dancing show (in Kandy)

Accomodation: Kandy City Hostel (in Kandy)

rooftop hangout area in Kandy City Hostel

Day 4:
Exploring Kandy during the day: arranged a tuk tuk driver who would drive us around for 3 hours to all the places we wanted to see: view point, temple of the tooth, big Buddha, local store to get some food for taxi ride ahead.

Then hanging out at rooftop of our hostel till driver came to pick us up. Kandy definitely doable in 1 day/1 night!

Shared a taxi to Sigiriya with a girl I met last night. In Sigiriya stayed at lovely and unique jungle vista (highly recommended!), got to know fellow travelers, talked into the night

view point

temple of the tooth

temple of the tooth

big buddha

view from the big buddha
Sightseeing: view point, temple of the tooth, big Buddha (in Kandy)

Accomodation: Jungle Vista (in Sigiriya)

Jungle Vista

Jungle Vista Food Area

Day 5:
Got up at 4.30am to do Pidurangala Rock (500rs), made it up just in time for sunrise, unfortunately not too pretty that day.

Then did lions rock ($32): pretty expensive but I think worth it: different perspective and atmosphere.

Headed back to Jungle Vista for breakfast, some yoga and relaxing in the hammock.

In afernoon took bus to Kandy (direct line) for 3 hours, went to eat dinner.

Another new and great night getting to meet other travelers and exchange tips, journeys, stories in the hostel.

the “small rock”

view from the “small rock” towards Lion’s Rock

at the bottom of Lion’s Rock

view from Lion’s Rock

view from Lion’s Rock

view from Lion’s Rock
Sightseeing: Pidurangala Rock, Lions Rock (in Sigirya)

Accomodation: Kandy City Hostel (in Kandy)

Day 6:
Took first train from Kandy towards Ella. Tip: don’t get in the train in Kandy station. Rather one station before: Peradeniya – almost no tourists, for sure will get on the train.

Sri Lankan New Years holiday started: huge crowds of people on the train, and many people couldn’t fit on the train in Kandy..

Luckily I made it on the train: had an amazing time with the people I met on there: where taking turns to sit down in doorway, were singing and laughing the whole time. Tip: often times locals sit in doorways. If you want to sit there too, just ask. One Indian girl told locals she wanted to appreciate their country and would love to look outside and asked if she could be close to the door (haha isn’t this so smart?!) – I tried it and it works! Train is a great way of meeting people. Be prepared and expect it to be shoulder on shoulder with no seat for 8-9 hours. Still worth the experience plus beautiful landscape!

Got off in Nuwara Eliya: keep in mind, no train station there – get off at Nanuoya! Took tuk tuk to hostel in Nuwara Eliya where I met my “friends” (that I had just met 2 days ago). Unfortunately couldn’t see much of Nuwara Eliya as rain poured down the whole time. Walked through rain for dinner, then sipping on cups of tea in chilly but so homey environment in our hostel (Hi Lanka) – not the prettiest place I’ve been to so far but really great vibe among fellow travelers.

Sightseeing: Train ride

Accomodation: Hi Lanka (in Nuwara Eliya)

Day 7:
Woke up at 5am to be picked up at 5.30. The 5 girls of us who met the night before payed 4500 for taxi to take us on the 1.30 hour ride to the Worlds End Peak: beautiful scenic ride through changing landscape. Spend almost 4 hours in the park.

Another girl and I got dropped off at train station. Took famous train to Ella train station – great in morning when not too foggy or rainy. Had an incredible experience and time: met amazing, funny and cool travelers and locals: a few locals were playing drums and singing in the train. Other locals offered us their seats. Started conversations and laughed the whole time. While taking pictures locals watched our stuff as if it was gold 🙂 In Ella I met so many people I’ve met on my travels before.

Checked in to hostel Sleep Cheap: very nice owner, amazing location: in town right next to train tracks

Went out to dinner with people I met on my trip all over Sri Lanka: Restaurant 360: beautiful atmosphere, very pretty restaurant. Bit more expensive than rest of Sri Lanka but great food (not vegan but ask for it)

at the World’s End Peak

at the World’s End Peak

ever changing nature in the World’s End Peak Park

waterfall in the World’s End Peak Park

train ride

train ride

Sightseeing: Worlds Eng Peak (in Nuwara Eliya), train ride

Accomodation: Sleep Cheap (in Ella)

entrance to the hostel across the train tracks

Day 8:
Woke up at 5am to walk on train tracks to 9 arch bridge. Highly recommended to do it in very early morning: no tourists!!! Had the whole bridge to ourselves + very mystic but beautiful atmosphere with fog over the fields. Plus not too hot.

Then little Adams peak: cross bridge and immediately afterwards take small jungle path up the hill through the forest. Pass jungle and few houses until you hit a street. Turn right, walk down street until it makes 90 degree turn. Turn left.

Little Adams peak: lots of steps, free entrance, amazing view. 2 more mountain hills connected to first one, keep walking to escape tourist crowds. However really steep and more of a hiking climb than just casual walking -> closed shoes

Finished loop by walking back to Ella town. Asked a random tuk tuk driver for secret waterfall: 1500 rupee. Arrived at waterfall where many locals were bathing and even showering. Kept on hiking up the stones (slippery and not that easy again) till we made it to a hidden waterfall where no one was but us: jumped in the cold refreshing water

Went to “hippie cafe” for an afternoon snack called one love located in city center. Great vibes, good music from cafe next door, delicious drinks (not vegan, but ask for it and they will prepare whatever drink you want – seriously best chocolate banana shake I ever had!).

In a group of 10 solo travelers from all over the world, different hostels and all ages we went out for dinner at fish and chips. Also not vegan, but again ask for it. Had a great time, delicious fried rice and yummy banana juice.

Ella: super cute and somehow hippie town. Very touristic, but feels kind of homey because if you travel there towards end of trip, you will run into so many people you’ve somewhere seen before. Delicious places to eat. Incredibly beautiful landscape. Breathtaking and must do tourist attractions. Small town, so all walkable distances.

early morning walk to the 9 arch bridge

early morning walk to the 9 arch bridge

9 arch bridge

9 arch bridge

9 arch bridge

9 arch bridge

at the top of Little Adam’s Peak

at the top of Little Adam’s Peak

at the top of Little Adam’s Peak

view from little Adam’s Peak

keep walking and hiking until the very end for less tourists

the secret waterfall

the cute café we had delicious shakes at
Sightseeing: 9 arch bridge, little Adam’s Peak, secret waterfall (in Ella)

Accomodation: Sleep Cheap (in Ella)

Day 9:
Took bus from Ella to Matara (Bus line 485) for 5 and a half hours. Really crowded and super hot (37 degrees). Didn’t get a regular seat, but got to squeeze right next to the bus driver in the very front – great view.

In Matara took bus towards Weligama. Wanted to stop in Marissa for late lunch at a vegan restaurant (ahimsa vegan restaurant) but was still closed because of ongoing New Years holidays. Found a resort right at the beach with great view where we had a juice.

Continued with bus to our hostel: Go Happy Island. Luck on our side: got upgraded from dorm room into private room – exactly what we needed after a day in the bus. Hostel: very beautiful charm and atmosphere, highly recommend, right at the beach, outdoor movie nights, owner Mo is super friendly, one of the best places (if not the best place) I stayed at in Sri Lanka.

We asked around for good food to eat dinner: Dulnetha homestay & restaurant: local family preparing a few dishes in their home kitchen, super delicious and great service, very homey and highly recommended.

Decided to go for a cold coconut water with a view: hostel next door (hangtime hostel) has rooftop bar with live music – great vibes and lovely to be for a drink after a long day: also offer yoga classes, tours around Weligama, restaurant, beds

witnissing crazy traffic in packed busses that drive the craziest of them all

after a long day in the bus this is what we needed
Sightseeing: bus ride, Weligama

Accomodation: Go Happy Island (in Weligama)

Day 10:
Slept in, went for breakfast at hangtime restaurant: breathtaking view, delicious food, great music.

Walked to train station to check time of leaving trains. (Even though there is an app, times always change).

Relaxed at beach for few hours.

Took train at 1.40pm to Hikkaduwa. Took about 1 1/2 hours.

Checked into my friends Yoga and surf retreat The Earthlinks.

Went to watch sunset at beach: Hikkaduwa has magical and beautifully intensely colored sunsets

breakfast with a view

sunsets in Hikkaduwa are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen

sunsets in Hikkaduwa are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen

sunsets in Hikkaduwa are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen

sunsets in Hikkaduwa are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen
Sightseeing: explored Weligama, train ride, beach sunset (in Hikkaduwa)

Accomodation: The Earthlinks retreat (in Hikkaduwa)

Day 11 – 16:
Stayed at the Yoga & Surf Retreat the Earthlinks in Hikkaduwa:

Early morning surfing classes

Amazing vegan, delicious, large breakfast

Relaxing time in hammock

Movie nights

Day trip to Galle: stopped at Silk farm: 460 cocons for 1 square meter, die after 2 months, process takes 2 months.

Visited Fort in Galle. Can walk on the Fort. It’s like entering a different world. Beautiful views, magical little streets. Try to go early morning or evening: 1. Supposed to be really beautiful with sunrise/sunset 2. Not as hot

on Galle Fort

in Galle
Went to Tsunami Museum: no entrance fee, only donation based. Ownded by a lady who shows pictures and tells stories from very first tsunami in Sri Lanka. The museum is the house of her aunt and uncle. She and her kids survived. Really sad but I believe a must to – such a huge part of beach history and population.

Then went to turtle sanctuary: 500 rupees entrance fee, they escue injured turtles, keep them/feed them/teach them till ready to release to ocean. They also buy back stolen turtle eggs to raise them safely.

Surfing classes (got massive sunburn haha – really use sunscreen!), try to go surfing very early morning: to avoid strong and intense sun + catch good waves – after 11 waves too small

Sunrise yoga at the beach

being apart of a traditional ceremony

being apart of a traditional ceremony

Last day:
Rented scooter for 1000 per day, drove to Dalawella Beach: because of changing season crazy waves – no beach and no swimming allowed. It’s like that for about 1 week during end of April.

Therefore went to Unawatuna beach

Took train at 3 to Colombo. Went to store, cooked own food

Dalawella Beach

Dalawella Beach

Unawatuna Beach

Somewhere between Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa
Sightseeing: beach hopping with scooter: Dalawella beach, Unawatuna beach

Accomodation: Colombo City Hostel (in Colombo)

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