Unveiling the best of Sri Lanka: A 21-day itinerary for ultimate exploration

by | Oct 10, 2023

Sri Lanka may be a teardrop-shaped island in the vast Indian Ocean, but the experiences it offers are immense. History, wildlife, beaches, watersports, wellness, culture, and cuisine will enthrall you endlessly. From beach hopping to jeep safaris, surfing to sailing, Sri Lanka will keep you busy. So, a week won’t do, and even two weeks will not suffice. Let’s learn why a 21-day itinerary is the magic number for your Sri Lankan holiday.

Things to do in Sri Lanka

History – with thousands of years of dated history and even older legends and myths, Sri Lanka has a fascinating history to offer. Rock fortresses, sacred summits, pagodas, relics, temples, and cave complexes are speckled across the verdant landscape, sometimes imposingly and sometimes hidden. The white and grey stupas, monolithic statues, stone carvings, cave paintings, palatial ruins, and hidden monasteries tell a story of a great civilization.

The beaches – Sri Lanka boasts an array of beautiful beaches along its dramatic coastline. Whether it’s the sandy bay of Weligama, the turtle-nesting Tangalle, or the shallow, crystal clear waters of serene Nilaveli and Pasikudah, you can never tire of beaches in Sri Lanka.

Surfing – the southern coast and the eastern coast offer world-class surf spots. Mirissa, Hikkaduwa, Weligama, Ahangama, Unawauna, and Arugam Bay entice surfers of every skill level from around the world.

Watersports – besides surfing, Sri Lanka’s coast sets the scene for scuba diving, snorkeling, kite surfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, jet skiing, water skiing, and sailing. The inland rivers and waterways offer opportunities for white water rafting, kayaking, and canoeing.

Wildlife & nature – embark on thrilling wildlife safaris in bio-diversity-rich national parks like Yala, Wilpattu, Udawalawe, and Minneriya to spot elephants, leopards, sloth bears, and countless bird species. There are 26 national parks in Sri Lanka.

Whale-watching & dolphin-watching – head to Mirissa, Trincomalee, or Kalpitiya for an unforgettable whale-watching experience. Blue whales, sperm whales, Humpback whales, and dolphins frolic in the deep blue waters.

Ayurveda & Yoga – Sri Lanka offers the ancient healing powers and wellness traditions of Ayurveda and yoga to travelers seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, and holistic well-being. Almost every luxury hotel has an Ayurveda spa, and numerous wellness retreats are set in some of the most beautiful and tranquil locations across the island.

Cultural Immersion – immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s vibrant culture by attending traditional dance performances, exploring local markets, and participating in colorful festivals. Kandy’s annual Esala Perahara is a stunning spectacle that happens each year.

Cuisine – discover local culinary crafts and fusion food, from street stalls to fine dining, at the country’s top restaurant. Sri Lankan rice and curry is truly a unique affair. The varying flavors of the South, Central Hills, and Jaffna will have you feasting in no time.

Scenic train rides – the Colombo to Badulla railway is so enthralling; it’s become a bucket list for many travelers to Sri Lanka. Twisting and turning through 46 tunnels, the train snakes past a high montane canopy, fertile riverine valleys, and tea estates. The Nine Arches Bridge still remains an engineering feat to this day.

Tea Country – travel to the central hills, where tea plantations flourish. See how tea is grown, harvested, and processed. Sip some of the best tea in the world fresh off the factory.

21 Day Itinerary for an ultimate exploration of Sri Lanka


It is the unofficial capital city and vibrant commercial hub of Sri Lanka, captivating you with experiences that combine the country’s colonial history, modernity, and cultural diversity. Colombo has a fascinating history reflected in its diverse architecture. Explore colonial buildings, religious temples, and modern skyscrapers, all harmoniously coexisting in this metropolis.

The Galle Face Green, National Museum of Colombo, Floating Market, Lotus Tower, Gangaramaya Temple, Independence Square, Temple of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil, and Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque are just a few of the notable landmarks. Tuk Tuks are ideal for getting around Colombo traffic, and they beat the heat too.


It is the capital of the hill country and the home of the most sacred Temple of the Tooth. The temple’s rituals and Kandy Perahara are highlights not to miss. Kandyan dance performances are an iconic form of art. Its rich cultural, historical, and religious significance has earned it a UNESCO Heritage Site status. Kandy to Ella train ride will have you mesmerized.

Cultural Triangle

Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle is where the island’s most important heritage sites are – Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Kandy. These are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are 6 UNESCO Heritage Sites in the Cultural Triangle. Sigiriya, complete with its water gardens, is perhaps the most iconic heritage site, attracting thousands of visitors to its flat summit, where King Kashyapa’s palace once stood. White and grey stupas of Anuradhapura’s sacred city mark the landscape, remnants of an impressive monastic city of the ancient world.

Hill Country

Nuwara Eliya is the coldest part of Sri Lanka, situated at an elevation of 6,128ft. The average temperature is 16 °C. It is the most important location for tea production on the island. Train journeys offer you the most scenic route. You can travel from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya or start the rail journey from Colombo on the Ella Odessey. Horton Plains National Park is a key attraction not to miss in Nuwara Eliya. Adam’s Peak, a major watershed and sacred mountain in Sri Lanka is also located in the central hills.

National Parks

Yala National Park is the country’s most popular game reserve, but there are many more to discover. Both Yala and Wilpattu national parks are famous for leopard sightings. Yala has the most number of leopards. The Sri Lankan Elephant is a common sight in most national parks, but the Udawalawe National Park and Wasgamuwa National Park have a dense elephant population. Kumana and Kaudulla national parks are best for spotting birds. The Sri Lankan sloth bear, sambar deer, spotted deer, purple-faced langur, toque macaque, and water buffalo are other species frequenting nature reserves. Sri Lanka is also a habitat for numerous aquatic bird species, especially Wilpattu. Guided jeep safaris are the safest way to spot wildlife in these national parks. The parks carry entrance fees.

Coastal areas

The south, southwest, northwest, east, and north coasts offer varied beaches and watersports. The lagoons, mangroves, and isles, too, add to the coastal experience. Surfing in Arugam Bay, scuba diving in Trincomalee, whale spotting in Mirissa, kite surfing in Kalpitiya, snorkeling in Hikkaduwa, and wreck diving in Colombo are just a few activities to name. The maritime city of Galle is a UNESCO attraction, and you might need to spend a whole day exploring its Fort and the surrounding colonial legacy.

The palm-fringed beaches are also a haven for lazing in the sun. The southwest coast is action-packed from December to April, while the east coast comes alive from May to September in conjunction with the monsoon seasons.



Spend a little more time for the gamut of adventures, sightseeing, and activities that define Sri Lanka’s specialties. Whether it is a family holidaysolo travel, or honeymoon, you never need to look elsewhere when a tropical getaway is on the cards. Visit Sri Lanka with Blue Lanka Tours for the best of Sri Lanka you will never forget. Our carefully curated itineraries and tailor-made holidays offer unique experiences. Rediscover Sri Lanka in a meaningful, intimate, and insightful way. Where is your favorite spot on the island?