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The Perfect 1 Month Sri Lanka Itinerary And Travel Guide

Sri Lanka may be a small country, but this beautiful island in the Indian Ocean has a whole lot to offer!

There are beautiful beaches, green mountains, even greener tea plantations, ancient and impressive Buddhist temples, colorful and detailed Hindu temples, and much more.

This 1 month Sri Lanka itinerary will help you make the most of your Sri Lanka trip.

Even if you don't have time to spend a month in Sri Lanka, I hope this post will give you plenty of inspiration on which places to visit in Sri Lanka.

1 month Sri Lanka itinerary

Table of Contents show

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How to plan the perfect Sri Lanka trip

I have written several posts about our trip, and together with this itinerary, it should provide you with all the information you need to plan your trip to Sri Lanka!

My other Sri Lanka posts can be found here:

Sri Lanka 1 month itinerary: map

In the map below you can find our one-month Sri Lanka itinerary.

Sri Lanka itinerary

Click here for the interactive map.

Sri Lanka one month itinerary: summary

  • Day 1: arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport in Negombo
  • Day 2-3: go sightseeing in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka
  • Day 4-5: explore Galle and around
  • Day 6-8: go diving, surfing, or just relax in Weligama
  • Day 9: snorkel in Talalla
  • Day 10-11: go on a safari at Udawalawe National Park
  • Day 11-13: hike around Ella
  • Day 14-15: walk in the green tea fields in Haputale
  • Day 16: explore Nuwara Eliya
  • Day 17-18: discover cultural Kandy
  • Day 19-20: visit Sigiriya and admire the iconic Lion Rock
  • Day 21: wander around ancient Anuradhapura
  • Day 22-23: travel north to colorful and quiet Jaffna
  • Day 24-26: relax in laid-back Kalpitiya

Plan your trip like a pro with these tools:
✈️ Find the best flight deals on
? Get the best car rental deal for your road trip on
?️ Find your dream accommodation on or Agoda.
? Book the best tours via Get Your Guide, Viator or Klook.
? Plan your journey with the Lonely Planet.
?️ Travel safely and get reliable travel insurance from Safety Wing.

Sri Lanka travel itinerary: facts and figures

  • I traveled around Sri Lanka with my husband.
  • Our 1-month trip started and ended at Bandaranaike International Airport (Negombo).
  • We traveled from place to place by public transport. We took trains, tuk-tuks, and a lot of colorful old buses. In this post, I will provide as much detail as I can about how we got from A to B.
Colorful bus in Sri Lanka

Where to stay in Sri Lanka on a budget

To help you plan your Sri Lanka trip, I've created this list of the best budget hotels in Sri Lanka that cost less than $40 a night.

Note: our trip to Sri Lanka was a couple of years ago and prices have increased. However, there are still plenty of excellent budget accommodations available in Sri Lanka.

While we've personally stayed at most of the hotels in this post, some hotels we stayed at during our trip are no longer available due to Covid-19.

I've done my utmost to find a suitable alternative that I'd be happy to book myself.

I list the Sri Lanka budget accommodation prices in USD and Euro. Check the current exchange rates for the Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) on

LocationHotel namePrice per nightAgodaBooking
AnuradhapuraHeaven Upon Rice Fields€16/$17Click hereClick here
ColomboStay Lost & Found€21/$22Click hereClick here
EllaElla Alpine Resort€29/$30Click hereClick here
GalleThe One€17/$18Click hereClick here
HaputaleAurora View Inn€16/$17Click hereClick here
JaffnaFlamingo Villa€30/$31Click hereClick here
KalpitiyaSalt Bay Kite and Dive Resort€39/$40Click hereClick here
KandyThe Travellers Home€14/$15Click hereClick here
NegomboErandi Holiday Home€11/$12Click hereClick here
Nuwara EliyaSeeming Lodge€21/$22Click hereClick here
SigiriyaThal Sewana€17/$18Click hereClick here
TalallaTalalla Leisure€26/$27Click hereClick here
Udawalawe JunctionEagle Safari Family Bungalow€7.50/$8Click hereClick here
WeligamaTinara River Inn€29/$30Click hereClick here

Note: Prices for these hotels depend on the time of year and how far in advance you book. Therefore, the prices mentioned above are a rough indication of the price per night to help you compare the different options. Use ‘click here' to see the latest prices on Agoda and Booking and book ahead to get the best deal.

Day-by-day Sri Lanka itinerary

Day 1: arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport in Negombo

We arrived at Negombo airport in the middle of the night. Luckily the owner of our accommodation, Erandi Holiday Home, picked us up with his tuk-tuk and quickly drove us to his place.

We were exhausted and asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

How to get from Negombo to Colombo

Erandi Holiday HomeNegombo Bus Stationtuk-tuk (owner of Erandi)250 rupees
Negombo bus stationPattah bus stationbus200 rupees pp
Pattah bus stationFort train stationfootfree
Fort train stationKollupitiya Railway Stationtrain20 rupees pp
Kirulapona stationStay Lost & Foundfootfree

Day 2-3: sightseeing in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka

Colombo wasn't my favorite place in Sri Lanka, but if you have one or two days to spare the city does have some nice places to visit. We did 2 days of sightseeing in Colombo, here are my recommendations.

Things to see in Colombo

The T Lounge by Dilmah Colombo Fort
T Loungy by Dilmah
  • Hotel the Pilawoos ⇒ famous for its kottu, a typical Sri Lankan dish. We had it for breakfast and it was very tasty indeed!
  • National Museum ⇒ learn more about Sri Lanka and its complicated and turbulent history.
  • Old Town Hall and Vihamaradevi park ⇒ a lovely green park for an afternoon stroll.
  • South Beira Lake ⇒ we walked around this lake on our way to Galle Face Green.
  • Galle Face Green ⇒ this is an excellent spot to catch the sunset.
  • Fort Old District ⇒ we explored the historic district of Fort. I especially liked the Clock Tower and the beautifully renovated Dutch Hospital.
  • The T Lounge by Dilmah ⇒ one of the best cafes in Colombo, with delicious and refreshing tea!

Where to stay in Colombo: Stay Lost & Found

2. Colombo, Stay Lost & Found

How to get from Colombo to Galle

Kollupitiya Railway StationGalle train stationtrain180 rupees pp
Galle train stationThe One Apartmenttuk-tuk100 rupees

Day 4-5: exploring Galle and around

Galle historic center Sri Lanka

We spent 2 days in Galle and I liked this city a lot more than Colombo. It's quite small and easy to get around on foot.

Galle Fort

We spent one day exploring the historic Galle Fort. While I cannot always be proud of Dutch history (like how we exploited our colonies) the Dutch Fort in Galle is a fine piece of architecture.

Plus, it helped to protect (part of) Galle from the terrible tsunami in 2004…

Explore the area around Galle 

Green fields around Galle Sri Lanka

On our second day in Galle, we rented a scooter from the owner of our apartment and explored the area around Galle.

We visited the Virgin White Tea estate (Handunugoda), drove through green fields and to the villages Hikkaduwa and Unawatuna.

Where to stay in Galle: the One Apartment

The One Apartment Galle breakfast
Home-cooked breakfast at the One Apartment in Galle

How to get from Galle to Weligama

The One ApartmentGalle train stationtuk-tuk100 rupees
Galle train stationWeligama train stationtrain60 rupees pp
Weligama train stationTinara River Inntuk-tuk150 rupees

Day 6-8: diving, surfing, and relaxing in Weligama

Palm trees, Sri Lanka

I liked Weligama a lot, it's a laid-back place with nice beaches, and great for surfing and scuba diving.

Surf lesson

Our first-ever attempt at surfing! We took a one-hour lesson at ‘My Brothers School’ but didn’t pick a very good day, there were almost no waves!

We did get to practice standing up and even caught a couple of very shallow waves!

Relax at the beach

There are many small beaches around Weligama, we found a pretty beach near Fishermans Bay and spent a lot of time there…


I love diving, it’s one of my favorite travel activities! We did 2 dives with Weligama Bay Dive Center (at Yala Rock and Patch Point).


I was glad we were staying in Weligama instead of Mirissa, there were so many loud bars in Mirissa (I know, I'm old and boring).

Nevertheless, it was a nice place to spend an afternoon. We found a beach bar with lounge chairs, perfect for a drink and watching the sunset.

Where to stay in Weligama: Tinara River Inn

How to get from Weligama to Talalla

Tinara River InnMatara bus stationbus50 rupees pp
Matara bus stationWajirawana Maawatha bus stopbus50 rupees pp
Wajirawana Maawatha bus stopTalalla Leisurefootfree

I kept an eye on Google maps (offline, using the GPS function) to check where to get off the bus for Talalla.

The Wajirawansa Maawatha bus stop is a little past Talalla village, across the bus stop is a small road leading to the beach and several hotels.

Day 9: snorkeling in Talalla

Looking for sea turtles in Talalla

Talalla beach, South Coast Sri Lanka

Talalla is a lovely little village on the South coast of Sri Lanka. There isn't that much to do in Talalla, but there is a beautiful beach and it's good for snorkeling.

Unfortunately, we didn't see a turtle, but a fellow traveler at our hotel saw two turtles when he was snorkeling so you never know…

Where to stay in Talalla: Talalla Leisure

How to get from Talalla to Udawalawe Junction

Wajirawana Maawatha bus stopEmbilipitiya bus stopbus110 rupees ppBus 11
Embilipitiya bus stopUda Walawe Junctionbus50 rupees pp
Uda Walawe Junction Eagle Safari Family Bungalowfootfree

Day 10-11: safari at Udawalawe National Park

Wild elephant in Udawalawe National Park Sri Lanka

Safari in Udawalawe National Park

On day 10 we traveled from Talalla to Udawalawe Junction and booked a safari for the next morning at our accommodation. I had never been on a safari before and it was amazing!

First, we witnessed a beautiful sunrise and once the sun was up we saw lots of animals: elephants, buffaloes, deer, colorful bee-eaters (birds), peacocks, a big lizard and… crocodiles!

The safari was definitely one of the highlights of our Sri Lanka trip.

Wild elephant in Udawalawe National Park Sri Lanka

Note: bring a jacket, I found it quite chilly in the early morning (5.30am)!

Also be sure to bring some water and food. Our safari took 4 hours and I was very happy we brought something to eat and drink.

Where to stay in Udawalawe Junction: Eagle Safari Family Bungalow

A to Z Family Guest Udawalawe Sri Lanka

How to get from Udawalawe Junction to Ella

Uda Walawe JunctionWelawaya bus stationbus100 rupees ppBus 98
Welawaya bus stationElla (bus stop is next to the Curd Shop)bus70 rupees pp
EllaElla Alpine Resortfootfree

Day 11-13: hiking in Ella

After the safari, we traveled to Ella, a beautiful village in the mountains and my favorite place in Sri Lanka. We stayed in Ella for 3 days and did lots of hiking!

Little Adam's Peak and Nine Arch Bridge

The views from the top of Little Adam's Peak are phenomenal, on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean on the South coast. It wasn't that clear the day we hiked up, but the views were still amazing.

From Little Adam's Peak, we walked to Nine Arch Bridge and arrived just in time to see the 10.56 train drive over the bridge. The total loop took us around 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Ella Rock 

View from Ella Rock

This was another beautiful hike, but a bit longer and steeper than the hike to Little Adam's Peak.

However, it was definitely worth the effort, the views along the way and from the top are gorgeous! The return hike took us 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Where to stay in Ella: Ella Alpine Resort

How to get from Ella to Haputale

Ella Alpine ResortElla (bus stop next to Curd Shop)footfree
EllaBadulla bus stationbus50 rupees pp
Badulla train stationHaputale train stationtrain80 rupees pp
Haputale train stationAurora View Innfootfree

The easiest way is to go directly from Ella to Haputale by train. However, we wanted to cross the Nine Arch Bridge by train…

And in order to do that, you have to travel by train from Badulla. Therefore, we took a bus from Ella to Badulla (1 hour) and boarded the train there.

Another hour later we crossed the beautiful bridge and arrived once again in Ella. Needless to say, we stayed on the train until we reached Haputale;-).

Day 14-15: walking through tea fields in Haputale

Dambatenne Tea Factory in Haputale, Sri Lanka

The trip to Haputale is an activity in itself, the train ride from Badulla to Haputale is one of the most beautiful ones in the world and it costs just 80 rupees (something like 50 cents in €/$)!

Haputale itself is also very nice, the village is located on the ridge of a hill and there are amazing 360 views! We stayed in Haputale for 2 days and did some more hiking.

Adisham Monastery

Unfortunately, we couldn't visit this lovely-looking monastery (it's closed on weekdays) and only take a peek through the trees. We hiked back to our guesthouse via the tea plantation.

Lipton's Seat 

View from Liptons Seat at the Dambatenne Tea Factory in Haputale

From the Haputale bus station, we took a bus to the Dambatenne Tea Factory (30 rupees pp). From the factory, it was a beautiful 7 km hike through the vivid green tea fields to reach Lipton's Seat.

The views from Lipton's Seat were not bad either…

Fun fact: it's called Lipton's Seat because Sir Thomas Lipton used to sit here and look out over his estates.

Where to stay in Haputale: Aurora View Inn

Dambatenne Tea Factory Sri Lanka Haputale

How to get from Haputale to Nuwara Eliya

Aurora View InnHaputale train stationfootfree
Haputale train stationNanu Oya train stationtrain80 rupees pp
Nanu Oya train stationNuwara Eliya (T-junction at Lake Gregory)bus25 rupees pp
Nuwara Eliya (T-junction at Lake Gregory)Seeming Lodgetuk-tuk

There is no train station in Nuwara Eliya so we had to change to a bus at Nanu Oya station. We got out at the T-junction at Gregory Lake and took a tuk-tuk to our accommodation.

Day 16: explore Nuwara Eliya

The Grand Cafe

Coffee at The Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya

I didn't like Nuwara Eliya very much, but that was probably because it was grey and rainy… We spent most of our time indoors drinking cups of cute cat coffee.

Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya: Seeming Lodge

How to get from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy

Seeming LodgeNuwara Eliya (T-junction at Lake Gregory)tuk-tuk
Nuwara Eliya (T-junction at Lake Gregory)Nanu Oya train stationbus25 rupees pp
Nanu Oya train stationPeradeniya train stationtrain160 rupees ppchange at Peradeniya
Peradeniya train stationKandy train stationtrain(same ticket)
Kandy train stationKatugasthota bus stopbus12 rupees ppBus 602
Katugasthota bus stopTravellers Homefootfree

Our original plan was to go to Dalhousie and hike Adam's Peak. Unfortunately, the weather was terrible throughout the duration of our stay in Nuwara Eliya.

It's a lot less fun to hike in the rain so we went directly to Kandy instead.

Day 17-18: cultural Kandy

Walk around the lake and hike up to the viewpoint

View over Kandy, Sri Lanka

We strolled around Bogambara Lake and spotted many turtles and large lizards! A little uphill we found a nice viewpoint overlooking Kandi city center.

Sri Mahabodhi Maha Viharaya

Instead of the famous Temple of the Tooth, we visited this much quieter temple on a hill in Kandy.

Where to stay in Kandy: The Travellers Home

Travellers home Kandy Sri Lanka homestay

How to get from Kandy to Sigiriya

Travellers HomeKatugasthota bus stopfootfree
Katugasthota bus stopDambulla bus stationbus100 rupees pp
Dambulla bus stationSigiriya bus stopbus35 rupees pp
Sigiriya bus stopThal Sewana Homestayfootfree

Day 19-20: Sigiriya and the iconic Lion Rock

Walk around the famous Lion Rock

We arrived late in the afternoon and took a quiet stroll around the moat of the famous Lion Rock. We even saw a crocodile, very cool!

Climb Pidurangala Rock 

View over Lion Rock Sigiriya from Pidurangala Rock

For the best views of Lion Rock we climbed up Pidurangala Rock (the entrance fee is 500 rupees per person). It was very hot and sweaty but so worth it…

Read more about the famous rock formation of Sigiriya

Where to stay in Sigiriya: Thal Sewana Homestay

How to get from Sigiriya to Anuradhapura

Thal Sewana HomestaySigiriya bus stopfootfree
Sigiriya bus stopDambulla bus stationtuk-tuk400 rupees
Dambulla bus stationAnuradhapura Colombo bus stationbus190 rupees pp
Anuradhapura Colombo bus stationHeaven Upon Rice Fieldstuk-tuk

Day 21: ancient Anuradhapura

Anuradhapura temple tour

Temples in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

There are so many Buddha statues and temples in Anuradhapura… We checked out 8 sites, including the famous Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree and the beautiful white Ruwanwelisaya stupa.

However, the colorful statue (pictured above) in the lesser-known Isurumuni Viharaya temple was my favorite!

Where to stay in Anuradhapura: Heaven Upon Rice Fields

How to get from Anuradhapura to Jaffna

Heaven Upon Rice FieldsAnuradhapura train stationtuk-tuk
Anuradhapura train stationJaffna stationtrain340 rupees pp
Jaffna stationFlamingo Villafootfree

Day 22-23: colorful and quiet Jaffna

Rent a scooter and explore! 

Not many travelers make it this far north but I am glad we did, Jaffna was one of the highlights of our 1 month Sri Lanka trip!

We rented a scooter and drove around roads less traveled on the beautiful islands of Velanai and Karainagar.

The roads are peaceful now, but this area suffered severely from the Sri Lankan civil war which ended only in May 2009…

Palm trees lining road in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Where to stay in Jaffna: Flamingo Villa

How to get from Jaffna to Kalpitiya

Flamingo VillaJaffna stationfootfree
Jaffna stationAnuradhapura train stationtrain340 rupees pp
Anuradhapura train stationPuttalam bus stationbus140 rupees pp
Puttalam bus stationKandakuli Junctionbus70 rupees pp
Kandakuli JunctionNathu Villatuk-tuk300 rupees

Day 24-26: laid back Kalpitiya

More scooter exploring 

Sunset Kalpitiya Sri Lanka

Our accommodation was located a bit out of town so we rented a scooter for 2 days to get around. And to do some more exploring of the Kalpitiya peninsula!

On our last day, we watched the most amazing sunset… A perfect way to say goodbye to beautiful Sri Lanka!

Where to stay in Kalpitiya: Salt Bay Kite and Dive Resort

How to get from Kalpitiya to Bandaranaike International Airport in Negombo

Salt Bay Kite and Dive ResortKalpitiya bus stationtuk-tuk500 rupees
Kalpitiya bus stationNegombo bus stationbus250 rupees pp
Negombo bus stationAirport bus stationbus50 rupees pp

Sri Lanka travel itinerary: in conclusion

We had a really great time in Sri Lanka and like I said at the start of this post: it's a really diverse country!

We covered a lot of ground in 1 month, but there is still much more to see. For example, we didn't get to visit the East coast of Sri Lanka due to the monsoon season at the time of our visit (February).

Below you can download a table with the activities listed in this itinerary. If you have less time available to explore Sri Lanka, check out this 2-week itinerary!

Enjoy your trip to Sri Lanka!

This post was updated in November 2022.


Monday 1st of November 2021

Hi, thanks for giving great information. keep posting.


Tuesday 9th of November 2021

Hi Neeraja,

Thank you for reading:-)



Friday 28th of February 2020

Hi Lotte.. I appreciate your blog so much, full of great info. I'm heading to SL next week and keen to go diving there. How would you rate your diving experience there - were there lots of corals and marine life? Did you see anything unusual or exciting? Are there many places to dive in SL?

Many thanks for your help.



Monday 2nd of March 2020

Hi Adam,

Thanks for reading and happy you like the blog:-) Regarding your question, I thought diving was good, though not as good as in Malaysia and the Philippines. We went to 2 dive sites: Yala Rock and Patch Point. We saw a banded sea krait (sea snake) which was pretty cool and lots of colorful fish, but no turtles or rays. There are more places to dive and I've heard good things about Batticaloa. We didn't visit the East coast as it was monsoon season on that side of Sri Lanka at the time of our visit and many dive schools are closed during that time. Hope this helps, have a great trip!



Friday 24th of January 2020

Wow, amazing blog post. I really appreciate the work done here on how to get from A to B, as I really lack that information in the internet. I actually found that most people choose to hire a car with a driver instead of using the public transport. And unfortunately this option is soo expensive :( We're travelling to Sri Lanka in March and will be there for 15 days. Hopefully we will manage to commute with buses and trains as well. Could you maybe please advise on how much time those transfers between cities / region took? This is something that worries me quite much that from our 15 days there we will spend so much time commuting.


Wednesday 19th of February 2020

Hi Iga,

Apologies for my late reply! Happy to hear you've found this post helpful, I've tried to include as much useful information as possible:-) If you've got 15 days, I'd choose a couple of areas instead of trying to cover the entire country. Personally I loved the mountains (Ella, Haputale) and the ancient sites (Sigiriya and Anuradhapura), these are all relatively close to each other. That would mean you'd have to skip the beach in the South, but you can always come back for a second trip;-) Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact travel times anymore but if you base your itinerary around the places I mentioned above, you definitely wouldn't spend all your time commuting!

Enjoy your trip! Lotte

Elly Baldock

Monday 5th of August 2019

We have just retired and are off on our 5 month adventure round India, spending a month at least during December travelling around Sri Lanka. All our vaccinations are up to date, apart from Japanese Encephalitis. There is varying information out there and it’s difficult weighing up the risks vs side effects of the jab, so I am wondering if you and your family had the inoculation against Japanese Encephalitis? Many thanks! :)


Tuesday 6th of August 2019

Hi Elly,

Wow that sounds wonderful! I'm very curious about India as I haven't been there yet and it must be such an overwhelming and intense country... Regarding the vaccine, we didn't have an inoculation against Japanese Encephalitis but I'm not a medic so I'd check with your doctor or the organisation in your country in charge of traveler health/advice.

Happy travels! Lotte


Thursday 13th of December 2018

Hi Lotte,

I am very impressed with your blog, as it has pretty much everything required to make a travel plan and execute it well. My eyes are on Sri Lanka now. You should definitely plan visiting INDIA, i would be really glad to help you on it. Have a great journey ahead.


Saturday 15th of December 2018

Dear Raghul,

Thank you very much for your kind words! I'm happy to hear you find my blog useful in planning your Sri Lanka trip:-) I would love to visit India one day and will definitely reach out for tips.

Thanks again and enjoy your trip! Lotte