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About your trip
Unlock the many hidden charms of this majestic South Asian island across 10 days with Culture Trip. You’ll go from the street food delights and secret spots of the capital, Colombo, to the ancient ruins and natural bounties of the Cultural Triangle. You’ll visit archeological wonders and a spectacular rock fortress, as well as mastering the art of Sri Lankan cooking, before hopping on the train journey of a lifetime through central Sri Lanka’s luscious tea plantations. Spot elephants and crocodiles on a safari in Udawalawe National Park and explore the stunning architecture of Galle, where we’ll catch a gorgeous coastal train all the way back to where we started.
- Devour local delicacies on a guided street food experience in Colombo
- Explore the ancient ruins of Polonnaruwa by bike
- Ascend to the top of the otherworldly Sigiriya rock fortress
- Whip up a feast at a Sri Lankan cooking class in a family home
- Take one of the world’s prettiest train journeys from Kandy to Ella
- Spot elephants in the wild on a national park jeep safari
- Discover the remarkable coastal fort city of Galle
- Wind along the west coast from Galle to Colombo on a scenic train ride
We’ll pick you up from Colombo International Airport (CMB) and take you straight to the hotel. Check-in, freshen up and meet the group early this evening to embark on a guided street food experience with our Local Insider – expect plenty of egg hoppers, kottu roti and sweet pancakes.
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll start the day with a relaxed walking tour of old Colombo. This coastal capital is very easy on the eye, with modern skyscrapers blending seamlessly with urban greenery and scenic seaside backdrops. Having gotten to know the city with our Local Insider, we’ll hop onboard our first train of the trip, to Habarana. This small city is right in the heart of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, so our hotel places us perfectly for the next two days of exploration. This evening is free, so you can explore the area as you wish.
Today is all about the extraordinary ancient city of Polonnaruwa. This Unesco World Heritage site dates back around a thousand years, having been Sri Lanka’s second capital, following the destruction of Anuradhapura. Surrounded by luscious greenery, the ruins are a remarkable insight into ancient history, with plenty of temples, shrines and palaces to explore. Keep an eye out for the huge Buddha statue, as well as intricate sculptures of lions, elephants and crocodiles, as you explore the area by bike. The rest of your afternoon and evening is free, so you can refresh with a dip in our resort’s gorgeous outdoor pool, or even pamper yourself with a visit to the Ayurvedic Spa.
Another day, another Unesco World Heritage Site. That’s why they call this region of Sri Lanka the Cultural Triangle! Today we turn our focus to Sigiriya rock fortress, one of the most uniquely striking works of architecture on the planet. Set atop a towering granite column, around 180 m (590 ft) above the surrounding forests, this fifth-century complex is unlike anything else you’ve ever seen, from the palace ruins and ancient gardens, to the giant lion-statue gate halfway up the rock. After exploring the ruins and basking in glorious views of the country, we’ll head towards Kandy, stopping off en route at the sacred Dambulla cave temple. After arrival in Kandy we’ll head to the Temple of the Tooth, an important Buddhist site which houses a relic of the tooth of the Buddha.
After a relaxing morning we’ll head to a local family home, the perfect place to unlock the secrets of Sri Lankan cuisine. You’ll receive a warm welcome and a culinary masterclass, before gorging on our creations for lunch. In the afternoon we’ll visit a brass cutting factory to witness the intricate artistry of local craftspeople, who are renowned for making beautiful ornamental pieces. Later in the afternoon you can also join an optional visit either to Kandy Botanical Gardens or Udawatte Kelle Sanctuary, a verdant hill-forest reserve within the city.
In Sri Lanka getting from A to B can be a fun activity in itself. That’s certainly the case when heading from Kandy to Ella, which is famous for being one of the most picturesque train routes on the planet. Prepare to have your breath taken as we gently undulate through the countryside of central Sri Lanka, passing through tea, plantations, mountains and jungle. You’ll spot waterfalls in the distance and cross epic valley viaducts, wave to smiling children running along the tracks and feel the breeze flowing through your hair as you pop your head out of the open doors and windows. It’s a truly unique travel experience that will leave you energised and overawed by this landscape’s natural beauty, and totally enamoured with the joys of train travel. Upon arrival in Ella we’ll take it easy, so you can stretch your legs, explore the town or simply chill at our spectacular hilltop hotel.
Ella is your oyster this morning, so you can choose what you wish to do. We’ll be putting on optional activities like ATV bike riding and a visit to Flying Ravana Adventure Park, home to an amazing treetop zipline. Alternatively you could take it easy and explore the small cafes and shops of Ella, go for a dip in Diyaluma or Ravana falls, and go for a stroll across the astoundingly beautiful Nine Arches Bridge. Late in the afternoon we’ll reconvene for a walk to the summit of Little Adam’s Peak, which offers incredible views over this beautiful region.
We’ll head south after breakfast to Udawalawe National Park, a luscious nature reserve that homes leopards, water buffalo, deer and crocodiles. This place is most famous, however, for being the best place to see Sri Lankan Elephants. There are around 600 of these majestic beasts roaming around in herds of up to 30, and we’ll go in search of them on a memory-making jeep safari. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also visit the Elephant Transit Home, a sanctuary that rehabilitates and releases orphaned or isolated baby elephants back into the wild. Our journey south continues all the way to the city of Galle on the south coast, where we’ll actually stay in the heart of another Unesco World Heritage Site – Galle Fort, an impressive peninsula complex built in the 16th century.
Our final full day is free for you to tackle at your own pace. Tired after all our exploration? Settle in for a relaxed day in our gorgeous hotel, or pack your swimming gear and head down to one of the stunning beaches surrounding the city. Alternatively, if there’s still some steps left in those wary legs, you could explore Galle Fort’s many wonders, from the lighthouse and clock tower to the old fort walls, which you can walk along. It’s also a lovely city to potter around, with lots of cute cafes and amazing handicraft shops – perfect for souvenir shopping. We’ll regroup in the evening for a final group dinner to toast an unforgettable shared experience in Sri Lanka.
After one last breakfast at the hotel, it’s almost time to say goodbye. There’s one amazing experience left to be had, though, since we need to get back to Colombo. We’ll do so in style by taking our third and final train journey, all the way up the west coast of Sri Lanka until we reach the capital. The journey will last around two and a half hours, with around two thirds of it spent staring at the Indian Ocean. While not as famous as the Kandy-Ella route, you will be blown away by the beauty of this island’s coastal countryside. Upon arrival at Colombo we’ll hop off the train and part ways, armed with a suitcase full of amazing travel memories.
- 9 nights accommodation
- Train tickets (Colombo-Habarana, Kandy-Ella, Galle-Colombo)
- 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
- Transfer from Colombo International Airport (CMB) to Day 1 hotel
- Local Insider
- Welcome meeting
- Street food experience
- Walking tour of Colombo
- Cycle around Polonnaruwa
- Sigirya rock fortress visit
- Dambulla cave temple visit
- Temple of the Tooth visit
- Culinary experience in a family home
- Brass cutting factory visit
- Walk up Little Adam’s Peak
- Jeep safari in Udawalawe National Park
- Elephant Transit Home visit
- Galle Fort visit
What's Not Included
- Travel insurance
- Hotel transfers (unless otherwise stated in the Included Activities section above)
This stylish, eco-friendly boutique hotel and spa is a tranquil little oasis amid the hustle and bustle of Colombo. Chill out in the terrace gardens and go for a dip in the gorgeous outdoor pool. Indulge yourself at Amber Spa and take advantage of the cosy cafe, lounge bar, wine bar and poolside restaurant.
Wake up to breathtaking views of Sigiriya – with the epic rock fortress in the distance – at this relaxing countryside retreat. Go for a morning dip at the huge outdoor pool, and book yourself a treatment at the Ayurvedic Spa. Come evening sip cocktails at the bar and watch the sun go down over dinner. Don’t forget to peruse the amazing Moonstone Shop, selling a range of handmade stone jewellery.
Melheim Kandy Villas
Old world cultural aesthetics meet modern luxuries at this rural retreat in the luscious hills of Kandy. Rooms are crisp, spacious and relaxing, but you’ll want to spend most of your time enjoying the great outdoors, either by dining al fresco or swimming in the pool, surrounded by incredible mountain vistas.
This mountain retreat has managed to find the best location in all of Ella. From the comfort of your hotel you can look right and see Ella Rock, look left to see Little Adam’s Peak and spot Ravana falls in the distance. The hotel itself looks right down the gullet of the stunning Ella Gap valley, which is best enjoyed from the cooling waters of the dreamy infinity pool.
Yara Galle Fort
This ultra sleek boutique hotel is situated right in the heart of the Unesco World Heritage site, Galle Fort. You’ll be perfectly placed to explore the city’s many hidden gems, but Yara is also a soothing spot to wind down. Simple white-washed walls combine beautifully with wooden furnishing to create a light, airy ambience that perfectly captures the city’s coastal spirit.
Your safety and wellbeing are our top priority, so we’ve put the following measures in place on all our TRIPS:
- Please check the entry requirements for the destination you are travelling to. Our travel experts can assist you in finding this information.
- We recommend you confirm all guidance on official government sites and check that you are able to travel with your travel insurance issuer. Your travel insurance may be invalidated if you travel against government advice. Our travel experts can assist you in finding this information.
- You must be aged 25 years or over to join this trip.
- Please be sure to check whether or not you need a visa to enter the country you're travelling to. Please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions for further information.
- If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or accessibility requirements, please notify our Customer Support team as soon as possible.
- We won't charge you extra if you travel alone – you'll be allocated a twin room with another traveller of the same gender.
- To upgrade to a private room, share a room with a friend, or book pre- and post-trip accommodation and/or airport transfers, please contact our Customer Support team.
- Please be aware that travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers.
- Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. While unlikely, these changes can happen due to circumstances beyond our control. We will always do our best to ensure minimal impact on your experience.
- Please be aware images on this page are for illustrative purposes and may not reflect your itinerary exactly.
If you cancel 56 days or more before your scheduled departure date, you will receive a 100% refund. Otherwise, the total cost of your trip is: 100% payable if you cancel 29 days or less before your departure date. 50% payable if you cancel between 30 - 55 days before your departure date. Please note you can only book this trip in advance up to 14 days before the departure date. After this time the trip may be booked on request.
Terms & Conditions
Please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions.