We made a map with three possible routes you can take when you travel Sri Lanka. We listed the towns and cities we believe is worth visiting. Also we listed a short impression of the activities to inspire you to plan your travels. We would like to suggest 3 routes you can take based on 3 different time frames; <2 weeks, 3-4 weeks, 4+ weeks.

People often ask us about our time in SriLanka. What is the best travel shedule, Where would you advice to go to, and where not? To start answering this question, it al depends on your own preferences. I would directly answer this question to rent your own tuktuk (see blog..), but this would be not suitable for everyone. If you decide to go surfing for a while in one of the great surf towns (highly recommended) it means that you have less time to actually see the country. The route also highly depends on the season, especially for surfing. Read about the season and the weather and then make your travel plan.

We would like to suggest the following three routes; 

Start Negombo - kick off! Negombo is a town close to the international airport. It offers a lot of really nice resorts and the beaches are a good place to relax. There are some really good restaurants in the street parallel to the beach and a nice market to buy your daily fresh fruit supplies. We believe it is the most ideal place to kick-off and end your Sri Lanka trip, because it is compared to Colombo, more authentic and peacefull.

After we got a quick lesson in how to drive a tuktuk in Sri Lanka we were ready to hit the roads up north. Let the adventure begin (see blog ...)!

Recommended time; 1/2 days

Annuratapura (Ancient town, temples, culture) After a full day of driving with some stops in between and 2 police officers that stopped us we arrived in Annuratapurna. It seems that the police men likes it to make a chat with white people driving a tuktuk. Also they are supplied with the famous speed control laser-guns, so we had to watch out. The first day of driving was lots of fun, and we were getting used how to handle our new tuktuk. We stopped in Annuratapura for like 3 nights.

In this town you will find a lot of history and you will be at the right place to explore the ancient part of Sri Lanka. There are some cool temples  we found worth visiting; Jetavanaramaya, Thuparama pagoda, Temple of Sri Maha Bodhi (oldest Bodhi tree in the world) and Mihintale (on the way to Trincomalee). Of course, there are a lot more temples, but we found it more important to spend some time at one temple so chose the most special ones.

After having some cultural days in Annuratapurna we started driving to Trincomalee. On the way we stopped at Mihintale which is famous because they believe that the Buddhism religion was founded. This place is worth visiting, you will see a lot of locals doing their prays and from the famous rock you will have a great view over the area. The way to Trincomalee was special, because there was a chance to spot wildlife like elephants on the way. Unfortunately we haven't seen them on this way, but the feeling that they were there was quite special.

Recommended time; 2/3 days

Trincomalee (Beach, surfing, Dutch fort) This small town at the beach had a really toff period during the war, as well during the Tsunami in 2009. We saw a lot of abandoned houses changed in ruins on the coast side, this looked quite sad to us. The town itself is not very special, but the beach is fenomenom. There are a lot of really nice hostels and hotels along the beach and some good cafes and restaurants as well, we loved the vibe. In Trincomalee you have the possibility do to whale watching and you can go to Pigeon island what supposed to be good. Trincomalee is famous of good surfs if you go in the right season, besides that you can go for day to the Dutch fort and temple and you can visit "the most beautiful beach" of Sri Lanka (we preferred the beach near Unawatuna more though) at Nilaveli Beach.

Activities; whale watching

Recommended time; depends on your surf & relax mode

Pollonaruwa (temples, close to Minneriya National park) After some beachy days we drove more inland to Pollonaruwa. Again we were driving through some national parks and finally we saw our first wild elephant! Image us driving with our own tuktuk over a small road were suddenly a elephant is chilling next to the street eating his lunch for the day. We believe that this was so unique and probably only possible in Sri Lanka. We stayed in Pollonaruwa for a couple of nights, but would recommend only visiting this place when you are planning to visit Minneriya national park or some temples. This national park is famous, because it has the largest elephant population of Sri Lanka. We saved our national park experience for Yala national park during the fact that there is a possibility to spot Leopards at this park as well. For the best local food experience in Sri Lanka you should visit 'Jaga Food' in Pollonaruwa and you will experience eating the most delicious food between the rice fields next to a water pool with wild iguana's.

Activities; Visit the national park Minneriya, visit temples in the area.

Recommended time; 1 day

Sigiriya (historical Sigiriya Lion Rock) On our way to Kandy we stopped in Sigiriya to visit the famous rock. The cost for entering this rock are high and it's super crowded as well, this is why we would like to recommend Pidurangala rock. Climbing this rock is like 1/10 of the price to climb Sigiraya and much more fun. You actually have to climb rocks in the last part and the view over the Sigiriya Rock is phenomenal and much better than from the Sigiriya Rock itself.

Activities; Sigiriya Rock or Pidurangala rock

Recommended time; 1 day

Kandy (Temples, authentic town, start train ride) We found Kandy a very peaceful authentic town with a perfect climate. It's worth visiting botanic gardens, the Bahiravokanda Vihara Boeddha (largest Boeddha of Sri Lanka and a great view over the city), the temple of Tand (Monnik doing rituals) and the Gadaladeniya temple (peaceful and quit). Besides temples you can do a walk around the lake where you probably see school kids in the typical uniforms, a lot of tuktuks and the typical red busses. If you want to do some good shopping you can go to the 'tourism' market. For some good food go to 'license to grill' for burgers or the White House restaurant for local food. Another great day trip from Kandy is visiting the Pinnawala Elephant orphanage center. Also, one of the worlds most beautiful train rides start from Kandy and goes to Ella or Nuwara Eliya.

Activities Kandy;  Botanic gardens; Bahiravokanda Vihara Boeddha; Temple of Tand;  Gadaladeniya temple; Walk around the lake;  Shopping at the tourism market;

Recommended time; 1-2 days

Dalhousie, Adams peak (Pilgrimage walk) After a long day of driving on a quite crowded road and through the highlands of Sri Lanka we finally reached Adam's peak. For Sri Lankans, Sri Pada is an important pilgrimage site. The religious significance differs per religion. Buddhist claim the footprint mark is the left foot of Buddha, Hindus consider the footprint to belong to none other than Lord Shiva and Muslims & Christians believe it's Adams first step after being exiled from the garden of Eden. So there is no doubt of the religious importance of this peak. We found the climb one of our best experiences in Sri Lanka. There are a lot of really nice hostels, hotels and even luxury resort in the town near Adams peak. Also the town is quite easily reachable by public transport. Here there are 7 important tips;

1. Reach the peak for sunrise. We started our trek between 1-2 am so we had time from some short breaks to ensure we were at the top in time.

2. Bring layers. In the early morning and on the top it will be quite cold.

3. Avoid the crowds. So do not visit during Sri Lankan New year, any full moon, and if possible even the weekend.

4. Prepare yourself with food and water. The higher you go, the more expensive it will be. Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated.

5. Wear comfy shoes and go at your own phase. It will be a hard day, since you have to walk more than 5000 steps for 7 kilometers.

6. Make sure you are on the top before sunrise and take a look at the ceremony & enjoy this amazing experience!

7. Give yourself some rest afterwards. Not everyone is reaching the top, so it's not for everyone. You don't have to be well-trained, but do not underestimate the climb!

Recommended time; 1 day (one night essential)

Ella (Hikes, Tea Plantages, waterfalls, Nine arch bridge, train ride) This little pitoresk town in the middle of the highlands of Sri Lanka gave us a very relaxed feeling. The Main Street full of really nice restaurants surrounded by mountains felt like being on a ski holiday in the alps. Ella is full of really nice hotels and perfect start point to do hikes to 'little Adams peak' and to do some waterfall chasing. We also found it worth visiting the '9 arch bridge' were the famous blue train will pass through every day. Furthermore there is a tea fabric you can visit, to learn about the the cylon tea. If you came from Kandy by train you already know how this fabulous train ride was. We decided to do a day trip with the train from Ella towards a town like 30 minutes from Ella to have the train experience. So it is good to know that you don't actually have to travel by train, but it is very easy to do a day trip from Ella. And really, you can't miss the most beautiful train ride in the world!

Recommended time; 2-3 days

Arugambay (surfing, good vibe & beach) This place supposed to be the best surf spot of Sri Lanka, with beach breaks and both left and right point breaks. When we were there it was not the right season, so no one was there. It looked very nice with all the beach and tree houses and restaurants, but they are only open in the high season. We only stopped here for one night and continued our road trip.

Recommended time; depends on your surf

Yala national park (wildlife safari) For doing a wildlife safari to spot Elephants and leopards Yala national park is the place to go to. There are a lot of companies offering safaris, make sure you read the reviews before going on a trip. We had a really nice day and were the lucky ones to actually see like three leopards. Don't spend to much time in Yala city, because there is not a lot to do besides the national park. We chose this safari above the safari in Minneriya park to also have a chance to spot leopards. The disadvantage of Yala national park is that it is the most touristy one.

Recommended; 1 day, 2 nights

Mirissa (Surfing, nice beaches & plenty of restaurants and bars) After our safari we drove towards SK-town what is perfect for surfing. This fairly remote beach offers you a great place to escape the crowds of Mirissa and Weligama. Mirissa is a beach town with luxury resorts, hotels, restaurants and pubs. This might be the best town for you if you like drinking cocktails on the beach. Besides that you can enjoy a good surf for beginner/intermediate and go on a whale watching tour. Mirissa is quite touristy but charming in a way. 

Activities; whale watching

Recommended time; 2 days 

Weligama (surfing, good vibe & nice beaches) Most people are really enthusiast about the waves in Weligama. This town is the perfect spot to stay for a while and learn how to surf. Even intermediate and more advanced people will have lots of fun. However, in peak season this place is overcrowded, so beware of that. We found Weligama ideal to hang out for a while, however we expected there to be more bars and restaurants. What we highly recommend is to walk down the beach to the local daily fresh fish shops, where you can enjoy fresh baked coral fish. For the more advanced surf, drive up the coast and you will find a lot of remote point and reef brakes. Also on the way to Galle there is a beach Unuwatuna and just before this point there is an unnamed beach with a swing hanging in a palm tree above the water. In the afternoon the big sea turtles come to the surface for air, you should go here to enjoy the magical sunset at one of the restaurants nearby.

Recommended time; depends on your surf

Galle (Dutch fort, shopping, good restaurants) The perfect town to explore for a day trip from Weligama or Hikkaduwa. Galle is an old Dutch fort with small and pitoresk art shops and modern/vintage restaurants. It seems to be a little bit high class compared to other places along the southcoast. We really liked it to just walk around and explore the narrow streets with all the art and souvenir shops. The perfect way to spent a day.

Recommended time; 1 day

Hikkaduwa (Surfing, big sea turtles, good vibe & beach) Our last real stop before we were heading to Negombo. Hikkaduwa supposed to be a good surfspot, but because of the coral beach brake it was not our favorite. There is one good point break but overcrowded. The atmosphere is however very relaxed in Hikkaduwa. There are a lot of good hotels and restaurants on the beach side which made it one of our favorite places to hangout. We would highly recommend visiting the big sea turtles at the far end point of the beach, they are there every day because they are highly territorial. You can feed them with sea grass and even swim with them, but beware that these animals are not toys and it's our duty to protect them/don't disrupt them of their normal patterns. Between Galle en Hikkaduwa there are some sea turtle orphanages we also would recommend going to. You will even get the change to release baby turtles in the right seasons, if you are lucky! For us this was a really great experience!

Recommended time; depends on your surf

This were the places we visited, but of course there are also towns we missed; Dambulla (caves), Jaffrna (up north, still very authentic), Kitugula (white water rafting), Nuwara Eliya (town high in the mountains full of tea plantations). And World's end (great viewpoint in the middle of a national park). We would recommend going to the north if you have like one month or more to spend to experience the even more authentic Sri Lanka. Hopefully this blog is useful to shedule your time in Sri Lanka. One thing we are sure about; you will have the time of your life!