Start your Sri Lanka Grand Tour with a day or two in the lively resort of Negombo, a conveniently short hop from the international airport and home to a wide range of accommodation in all price ranges and one of the island’s best collections of restaurants – as well as a wide swathe of golden sand dotted with the distinctive wooden catamarans of the local Oruwa fishermen and some interesting colonial remains.
From Negombo, hire and car and driver and head north, spending three or four nights in the so-called Cultural Triangle. Visit the magical Buddhist cave temples at Dambulla and the jaw-dropping rock- citadel of Sigiriya, Sri Lanka’s single most extraordinary sight, then spend a day exploring the beautiful monuments of the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, a treasure-trove of ancient Sinhalese Buddhist and Hindu art and architecture.
Head back south next, to the ancient Sri Lankan capital of Kandy, the island’s most historic city, and de facto cultural capital, ringed by spectacular green hills in the northern part of the island’s stunning hill country. Spend two days here visiting the world-famous Temple of the Tooth, one of Buddhism’s most sacred shrines, taking in a flamboyant performance of Kandyan dancing and drumming, and exploring – the city’s myriad other museums and attractions.
Head south again, spending a couple of nights in the village of Ella, spending some time walking through tea plantations and enjoying the spectacular hill country views. Now make your way down to the south coast, overnighting in Yala, whose marvellous national park is one of the best places in the world’s to spot leopards in the wild, as well as boasting other plentiful wildlife including elephants, crocodiles, exotic birds and more.
Head along the coast to Mirissa, and spend a couple of days relaxing on the beach, combined with an early-morning whale-watching trip. Continue for two more nights at the perfectly preserved old Dutch colonial town of Galle, then return to Colombo for a final night and a quick tour of Sri Lanka’s bustling capital before flying home.
Colombo Sri Lanka in a Day … idyllic temples and bustling bazaars
Explore Sri Lanka’s Galle Fort … historic stronghold on the southwest coast
Romantic Sri Lanka … share the love on one of Asia’s most romantic islands
Sri Lanka Family Holidays … something for all ages and interests
Sri Lanka Hill Walk Around Ella … hike through hills and tea plantations
Sri Lanka Journey through History … explore three thousand years of Sinhalese Buddhist art and architecture
Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle … the heart of the island’s most ancient kingdom
Sri Lanka’s Historic Anuradhapura … mapping your way through the myriad ruins and monuments
Sri Lanka’s Kandy in a Day … explore the temples, museums and music of the cultural capital
Sri Lanka’s Polonnaruwa … touring the stunning ruins and shrines of a great medieval capital
Sri Lanka’s Ten Best Beaches … sand and sea, plus plenty of great places to stay
Wild Sri Lanka … take a walk on the wild side through Sri Lanka’s spectacular landscapes and national parks