There are many different beautiful landscapes and sights to see in Sri Lanka. From lush jungles to clear blue water beaches, we tried to fit in as much as we could during our 30-day trip. After talking with several locals, we decided to head south down the coastline, up into the middle of the country, north east to the coastline, and then back to Colombo. We were very happy with the route that we chose, as it broke up the different scenery well (city, beach, mountains, etc.).
Below is an explanation of how we got to and from each location and how much it cost us. We always took public transportation, but this can be long and tiresome since Sri Lankans’ pack their buses to the brim. So, it may be nice to hire a private driver, if you have a higher budget and little time to spare! Also, we included the different places we stayed, which varied from hostels to 5-star resorts (depending on the mood we were in and the deals we could find). On average our overall cost of living totaled about $28/day including lodging and food.
Although we very much enjoyed this route, we did not think that visiting Nuwara Eliya was worth it, and the hostel we stayed in was very run down with poor service (High Lanka-1,673 rupees or $11). Also, we did not think that Beruwala was a must see. The beaches further south were just as good and had more activities to choose from, such as surfing. We ended up having time left over at the end of our trip, so we went back down south to surf more and to visit Galle. We really loved Galle, and we are glad we spent a night there before leaving. We would suggest definitely adding Galle into your trip for at least a half day.
Three weeks is probably the perfect amount of time to see everything in Sri Lanka, but this route could also work for a two week trip as well.
There are many great restaurants and bars in Colombo (we loved The Colombo Hotel’s rooftop bar - a favorite of many locals. Also, be sure to check out Galle Face while you're in Colombo and get street food at Nana’s Restaurant...AMAZING!
Stay:Bunkyard Hostel ($15 or 2,281 rupees)- Clean, friendly staff, awesome interior decorating, and great included breakfast. We loved it here.
One night in Galle is perfect to break up the trip to Mirissa. Walking the stone streets of Galle, we felt like we went back in time. Galle is famous for the Galle Fort, built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and expanded by the Dutch. Besides the great sight-seeing, Galle has amazing seafood.
Stay:The Entrance Gall Fort ($40 or 6,077 rupees)- Lovely, clean rooms that smell amazing. The staff is extremely caring and helpful. A great breakfast is included-be sure to ask for a Sri Lankan breakfast...you will not be disappointed.
Mirissa has the best night life of the south beaches. We preferred to take a quick 5 minute bus or tuk tuk ride to Weligama to surf in the day, and then head back to Mirissa for a sunset surf session and to sip beers by the beach with new friends. Do not do whale watching here, unless you can find a small boat (wait to do whale watching in Trincomalee -depending on the season).
If you want to snorkel with sea turtles on a beautiful, less-traveled beach, be sure to take a quick bus ride to Aja’s Green Turtle Snorkeling Center in Polhena. Email us if you want more information...it is much cheaper to find his small shop than to book it with a hotel or hostel, and he is so kind and helpful!
Stay:Hangover Hostels ($14 or 2,129 rupees)- Great location, friendly staff, but no breakfast included.
If you end up staying in Weligama, stay at We Escape ($15 or 2,291 rupees)- A very nice and new hostel that offers private rooms as well as dorm rooms. Head to the nearby W15 hotel at night for drinks and live music on the beach.
A great place to see Sri Lanka’s wildlife. We saw so many elephants and beautiful birds on our safari tour! Also, be sure to check out the baby elephant orphanage nearby during their feeding times.
Stay: Enjoy Paradise ($9.50 or 1,446 rupees)- The family that runs this guesthouse is very kind. The food they serve here is delicious! The rooms are clean, but there is no A/C. We booked our safari through Enjoy Paradise and it cost $26.29 or 4,000 rupees per person (which is about the average price of safaris around this area).