Get to know a country comprehensively and also off the beaten tourist track? This great Sri Lanka round trip from north to south offers exactly that. In northern Jaffna time seems to have stood still. It has a Hindu background and thus offers completely different sights and culinary highlights than the rest of Sri Lanka. You travel through the cultural triangle to Teeland and then by train to the mountains. Finally, you drive to the coast to the original seaside resort of Balapitiya. On this trip you will experience a good mix between the must-sees and untouched regions. Safaris in three important national parks complete the tour.
This is an example of one of our tours and should serve as a source of inspiration. Of course, the itinerary including the destinations can be adjusted and we would be happy to work out a tour tailored to your interests and budget.
Best travel time: Sri Lanka can be traveled all year round. December to May is suitable for this region.
Travel time: 24 days
Travel planning: Edelweiss flies 2 to 3 times a week directly from Zurich to Colombo.
Tip: Would you prefer to travel between May and September? Then simply move your beach stay to the east coast – the rest of the trip is doable all year round.
Day 1: Arrival in Colombo – Negombo – Kalpitiya
After your arrival in Colombo you will be picked up at the airport and afterwards you will get your first impressions of Sri Lanka on a city tour in Negombo. Then continue to Kalpitiya, where you end your day of arrival in Asia on the beach.
Day 2: Kalpitiya
Today is at your leisure. Enjoy a relaxing day by the sea.
Day 3: Kalpitiya – Wilpattu
Kalpitiya is the best area to see whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. Huge schools of dolphins plow through the sea here and offer a daring, magical spectacle.
In the afternoon you travel on to Wilpattu, where in the evening you go on a jeep safari in the national park of the same name. Here you can observe some wild animals such as elephants, crocodiles, turtles, wild peacocks, and with a little luck even leopards from a respectful distance.
Day 4: Wilpattu – Jaffna
On a morning safari, Wilpattu National Park shows a completely different side. You can watch water buffalo and axis deer drinking from the water holes and marvel at the colorful birds. Then continue to Jaffna in the north of Sri Lanka.
Day 5 – 6: Jaffna
The city of Jaffna is located on the Jaffna Peninsula, an area that is only connected to the rest of the island by a narrow strip of land. The city was closed to tourists until 2009 due to the civil war. Visit the city, Nalur Hindu Temple and Jaffna Market Square. The next morning you will take a boat trip to the Nagadeepa Buddhist temple and later visit the Dutch fortress of Jaffna and the Keerimale pond.
Day 7: Jaffna – Anuradhapura
Train ride from Jaffna to Anuradhapura, one of the largest and oldest civilizations in the world with 113 kings and a heyday of more than 1300 years. Anuradhapura was the first capital of Sri Lanka and is now the most famous of the ancient ruined cities in the country.
Day 8: Anuradhapura
After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, take a city tour and learn more about this impressive world heritage site. The historic Anuradhapura is a pilgrimage destination for many Buddhists as well as an important archaeological excavation site. The modern city of Anuradhapura is a few kilometers away as the original city was sacked and destroyed in 993 after an invasion by the Chola dynasty.
Day 9: Anuradhapura – Dambulla In the
morning you climb the Mihintale rock, a pilgrimage site adorned with numerous shrines in the middle of the jungle. Enjoy the breathtaking view! The journey continues to the more than 2,000 year old Aukana Buddha statue. Aukana was carved out of a natural rock wall and is one of the largest standing Buddha statues in Sri Lanka.
In the afternoon you travel to Dambulla. The Dambulla cave temple is a World Heritage Site and the largest preserved cave temple in the country. In these grottos there are numerous statues of Buddha, as well as ceiling and wall paintings depicting the life of the Buddha. The most imposing Buddha statue is over 14 m long and carved out of the rock.
Day 10: Dambulla – Polonnaruwa – Minneriya – Dambulla
Your day begins today with a trip to Polonnaruwa. Take a tuk tuk through the scattered walls of the world heritage site – blessed with stupas, resting Buddha statues, irrigation canals and fantastically carved Hindu sculptures.
Then drive to Minneriya National Park for an evening safari by jeep. Minneriya Park is a national park in the northern central province of Sri Lanka. Leopards and sloths live here; Animals that are rare and threatened with extinction. The park has been declared a wildlife sanctuary.
Day 11: Dambulla – Sigiriya – Hiriwadunna – Dambulla In the
morning you climb the gneiss rock Sigiriya, a popular historical site in Sri Lanka, rising suddenly from the jungle. The 200 m high summit was the place where the citadel of King Kashyapa was in the 5th century and still offers a breathtaking view today. Some niches of the rock have been decorated with colorful frescoes, which are still preserved and world-famous for their amazing beauty. Halfway up is the entrance to the citadel, which is flanked by two lion paws. Sigiriya owes the name “Lion Rock” to these paws.
You will have your lunch today in the sleepy village of Hiriwadunna. On typical Sri Lankan ox carts you drive through untouched landscape and see the fishermen at their daily work on a short boat trip.
Day 12: Dambulla – Matale – Kandy
After an early breakfast we go to the Pidurangala rock and watch an impressive sunrise over the valley. Getting up early is worthwhile here and great pictures are created!
On your drive to Kandy, take a break in Matale, Sri Lanka’s main spice growing area. Visit a spice garden where you can admire almost all tropical spices in the area. Visitors also learn a lot of interesting facts about Ayurvedic medicine.
Then continue to Kandy. The World Heritage Site Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings. It is considered the religious center of Buddhism with the tooth relic temple as the largest sanctuary on the island. Kandy is famous for its rich & magnificent culture. In the evening you will see a traditional dance performance.
Day 13: Kandy
Today you will visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. In the 4th century AD, the Buddha’s tooth was brought to Sri Lanka and hidden in the hair of an Orissan princess. Since then, the relic has gained prestige and sanctity in Sri Lanka and throughout the Buddhist world. It is considered to be Sri Lanka’s most valuable possession.
You will also visit the Peradeniya Botanical Garden, which is particularly known for its beautiful orchids. It is the largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka and is the habitat of numerous endangered plants and smaller insects. A small lake adorned with water lilies forms the center of the garden and invites you to linger.
In the evening you take a tour of the city by tuk tuk and have the opportunity to delve deeper into the neighborhoods of the locals as part of a street food tour.
Day 14: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya
Drive to Nuwara Eliya and visit a tea factory. During the visit to the tea factory you can dress like typical tea pickers and help pick tea leaves. The small town plays a central role in the world’s tea industry. It is famous as a climatic health resort and is a popular travel destination for locals as well as tourists from abroad.
Day 15: Nuwara Eliya – Ella
After a leisurely breakfast, take the train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella (approx. 2.5 hours). This drive goes through lush tea plantations and tunnels that were built in colonial times. From the train you have a breathtaking view of waterfalls and green fields, which make the route one of the most beautiful railway lines in Sri Lanka.
Day 16: Ella
Enjoy free time today in the small town of Ella in the highlands of Sri Lanka. The lively town center has many charming restaurants and the lush landscape around Ella offers ideal conditions for scenic hikes.
Day 17: Ella – Udawalawa
Drive to Udawalawa in southern Sri Lanka. In the afternoon you go on a safari in the national park of the same name, where you can observe not only elephants in the wild, but also impressive water buffalo, monkeys, axis deer and even leopards.
Day 18: Udawalawa – Sinharaja
Today you will visit an elephant orphanage, which was founded in 1995 and is now part of the Udawalawa National Park. His goal is to nurse orphaned elephants and reintroduce them to the wild. Here you also have the opportunity to watch the baby elephants being fed – a heartwarming experience.
Then you travel on to Sinharaja, whose lush national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its immense biodiversity and numerous endemic species.
Day 19: Sinharaja – Galle
After a leisurely breakfast you will explore the Sinharaja National Park, a hilly rainforest, the name of which means “Kingdom of the lion”. Thanks to its inaccessibility, the lush forest was spared deforestation until the area became a protected biosphere reserve in 1978. Then continue to the charming town of Galle.
Day 20: Galle
Galle is a port city in southern Sri Lanka and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is the best example of a Dutch colonial fortification. Today and tomorrow you can ideally explore the lovely little town from your accommodation in the middle of the old town.
Day 21: Galle – Balapitiya
Today you drive to Balpitiya on the southwest coast of Sri Lanka, where a relaxing stay on the beach awaits you. Fine sandy beaches and small fishermen’s houses characterize the image of the traditional place. Freshwater lagoons, crystal clear water, small rocky outcrops and untouched nature surround the picturesque place, which is certainly one of the most beautiful Sri Lankas.
Day 22 – 23: Balapitiya
Enjoy the days on Sri Lanka’s most beautiful beaches in this pristine part of the country, while you review the impressive experiences of the last few weeks.
Day 24: Balapitiya – Colombo / journey home
Even the most beautiful vacation comes to an end. After a leisurely breakfast on the beach, it’s time to say goodbye to Sri Lanka. Transfer to the airport and flight back to Switzerland.