Sri Lanka 7 Day Itinerary (6 nights) – The Cultural Triangle
Sri Lanka is a diverse country with a rich cultural heritage. This 7-day itinerary focus on exploring the famous cultural triangle of Sri Lanka. And it covers the most important historical and cultural monuments. This includes sites in Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy. All of these places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
|Arrive at Colombo International Airport, Katunayake.|
|Drive from Katunayake to Negombo (13 Km, 30 min).|
|Visit Negombo Beach if time permits.|
|Stay in Negombo|
|Drive from Negombo to Anuradhapura (180km, 4h).|
|Visit Ancient City of Anuradhapura, a world heritage site.|
|Drive from Anuradhapura to Habarana (60km, 1h 30 min).|
|Stay in Habarana|
|Drive from Habarana to Sigiriya (17km, 30min).|
|Visit Sigiriya, the most popular world heritage site in Sri Lanka. Arguably the 8th wonder of the world.|
|Drive from Sigiriya to Habarana (17km, 30 min).|
|Elephant Safari in Habarana. (Evening safari could start from 3pm). Costs about LKR 5000 for a 3 hour safari. Stay in Habarana|
|Drive from Habarana to Dambulla (25km, 30 min).|
|Visit Dambulla Golden Temple, a world heritage site.|
|Drive from Dambulla to Polonnaruwa (70km, 1h 30 min).|
|Visit Polonnaruwa ancient city, a world heritage site, and Parakrama Samudra. Parakrama Samudra is one of the largest ancient reservoirs in Sri Lanka.Stay in Polonnaruwa|
|Drive from Polonnaruwa to Kandy (140km, 4h).|
|To enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery, drive to Mahiyanganaya and take the famous 18 bend road to Kandy. Stay in Kandy|
|Visit Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, a world heritage site.|
|Drive from Kandy to Peradeniya. (6km, 20m)|
|Visit Peradeniya Botanical Garden.|
|Drive from Peradeniya to Negombo (100km, 3h 30m). Enjoy the famous mountain scenery along Kadugannawa pass.Stay in Negombo|
|Leave for the next destination from Colombo International Airport, Katunayake.|
This itinerary helps you to get the maximum of a 7 day trip to Sri Lanka. But those who prefer a leisurely journey can add additional days to this itinerary. You can travel the same route using public transport also. If you plan to use public transport, add two or three more days in between to allow transit times.
Airport to Anuradhapura
Negombo is the closest major city to Katunayaka International Airport. There are hundreds of beach resorts scatters along the Negombo beach. But Colombo is about 40 km (1 hour) away. For those who like to visit Colombo can add an extra day here.
To avoid traffic leave from Negombo as early as possible. You can find good restaurants along the road to have breakfast. Spend the day among magnificent dagobas in Anuradhapura Ancient City. Those were among the highest structures in the ancient world.
Sigiriya is the absolute must visit in the itinerary. And the top is about 200m above sea level. So it will take about 1 hour to reach the top. The iron steps are steep in some places. But the magnificent scenery from the top is well worth the effort. Enjoy the famous Sigiriya frescos, Water Garden, Lion foot and the Mirror Wall among hundreds of other ancient ruins that date back to the 5th Century.
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage is popular among tourists. But to enjoy the real beauty of a magnificent elephant, you need to visit them in the wild. Habarana is a great place for an elephant safari. Hence an evening safari in Habarana allows you to enjoy gatherings of up to hundreds of elephants at a time. There are a lot of safari jeeps available for hire near the Habarana junction. A 3-hour safari will cost about LKR 5000. But please be aware that there is no standard rate. So most of the times it is up to the bargaining power of the customer. Safari will take you to either Hurulu Eco Park, Minneriya National Park or Kaudulla National Park, depending on where the herds are.
Dambulla and Polonnaruwa
The climb along stairs to the top of the Dambulla rock to visit the Cave Temple takes about 30 minutes. Parakrama Samudra is one of the largest ancient reservoirs in Sri Lanka. It was built by Parakramabahu the Great. He was also the builder of most of the buildings in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
On the way from Polonnaruwa, take the road via Mahiyanganaya. You can enjoy the mountain scenery and the famous 18 bend road. Even though this is not the shortest road it is well worth the time. There are not a lot of good places to have lunch along this road. So it is advisable to have lunch before leaving Polonnaruwa.
The Temple of Tooth can be very crowded on weekends and especially on Poya Days. A strict dress code is enforced when entering the temple. The road from Kandy to Peradeniya and Negombo is usually crowded. Expect to face long traffic delays.