The beautiful island country that is every traveler’s dream in Sri Lanka. Located away from the coast of South India, Sri Lanka is home to rich flora and fauna. Not to mention the people of Sri Lanka! They are super- friendly and guide you through everything in their country. Either a beach lover or a mountain lover, Sri Lanka welcomes and treats you with both. There are so many places that will stay in your heart forever. Buses, tuk-tuks and train journey in Sri Lanka help you roam within the country and are extremely fast and affordable. If you are looking for places to visit in Sri Lanka, here is our Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks that can assist you to do it with ease. We will cover the worthy beaches to see, day trips to temples( Both Hindu and Buddhist), tea estates, hills, forests and the most spectacular places in Sri Lanka.
Table of Contents
Day 1, 2- Negombo – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
If you land in Colombo, Negombo is a beach town that is a few kilometers away from the airport. Your 3 weeks in Sri Lanka is about to be fun and adventurous so let’s take the first two days easy. Choose the right hotel or beach resort to stay in. Make the first two days simple and sink in the feeling of being in Sri Lanka. You will find the never- sleeping fishing community in Negombo. You can visit the Dutch Canal or Hamilton Canal in this place. This was the old colonial spice route that the Dutch East India Company used before independence. Reach the Negombo Lagoon from here by walking or by boat. The whole view of Colonial Sri Lanka is a treat to your eyes.
Day 3,4,5- Sigiriya, Kandy – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa
The Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka is a place in the Central Highlands. Drive down from Negombo or take a train to reach the Cultural Triangle. You can visit Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa when you are here. This place has a huge white stupa and a very sacred Bodhi tree that is worshipped by the locals. Pilgrims from all over the world come here during the Poya full moon days. During this time, the place gets its festive look and is ready for celebrations.
After the pilgrimage experience, travel to the famous Sigiriya or Pidurangala. Sigiriya It is called The Lion Rock. Experience the old remains of a fort as you climb up. If you’re looking to save some money you can also climb up Pidurangula Rock for an incredible view( seen below) These are sure to take your breath away.
Spend the next day (Day 5) exploring. This is the second-largest city in Sri Lanka. So there are tons of things to do in Kandy. You can go to the famous Temple of the Tooth. It is said that the Tooth present here is Lord Buddha’s. You have an amazing cafe here called the Empire Cafe. You can have your meal there and step out to explore the Udawattakele forest. It is also called the Commonwealth Cemetery. If you are planning to go there in the evening, then carry a jacket or sweater as it is a bit cold.
** Make sure if you have some extra time to check out the Kandy to Ella train its a really beautiful ride**
Day 6,7,8 – Nuwara Eliya, Kalutara – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
Reach Nanu Oya from Kandy by train. It is better to start early in the morning. You are supposed to book one or two days prior to travel if you are looking for a first-class ticket. The second and third-class tickets are available most of the time without advance booking also.
A short ride from the Nanu Oya Station is Nuwara Eliya. This place is famous for its tea plantations. If you are interested, you can go and learn about the different tea leaves that are produced in Sri Lanka. You must have heard of the famous Silver tips. That is available in Nuwara Eliya. Take a tour around the tea factory to see how it is being processed and more.
Nuwara Eliya remains pleasant and cool during the early mornings and nights. Carry warm clothes accordingly if you going to this place. Sip a cup of hot tea and gaze at the splendid mountains of Nuwara Eliya or even visit some of the waterfalls in Sri Lanka.
If you have an extra day make sure to take the train to Ella. This is one of the most beautiful train rides we have ever been on. Its only 60 KM away but it takes around 3 hours by train. Due to the amazing mountain ranges. While you are in Ella don’t miss sunrise at Mini Adams Peak. It’s really a beautiful sight and it’s completely free.
Is the beach lover inside you craving to visit the epic beaches of Srilanka? Then carry yourself to Kalutara beach on Day 6. Spend the next two days relaxing by the long stretch of Kalutara beach.
Have you heard of Mangosteen fruit? It is popularly available in some parts of Asia. Kalutara is a place where you will find Mangosteen in abundance. These juicy and uniquely tasting fruits will blow your mind and have you asking for more. Munch some when you are in Kalutara. You can stay at a beach resort to gaze at the beach all day long.
Where to stay in Sri Lanka
If you want to go visit something in Kalutara, then it is the Gangatilake Stupa. This is in the center of the town and so you can also go shopping for some local snacks and fruits. Another suggestion when you are in Kalutara is to visit Richmond Castle. This age-old castle has its charm kept intact even after years of being constructed. Richmond Castle is known as the hidden gem of SriLanka. Get lost to ancient times when you are in Richmond Castle.
Day 9,10,11- Bentota Beach – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
Bentota water sports
The next three days are going to be the best three days for the water sports lover within you! Yes, head towards Bentota beach. Surfing and windsurfing are famous in Bentota Beach. Gaze at the views of the beach for however long you want! You can be assured not to get bored.
Brief garden Bentota
Take a taxi to Brief Gardens in just 10 minutes. As you step down your taxi, you will encounter green paddy fields and coconut trees in the most blissful view. It is said that Brief Gardens belonged to Bevis Bawa. He is the brother of Geoffrey Bawa, the famous architect. There is a residential place surrounded by beautiful gardens that are open to the public.
Return to the beachside and indulge in some yummy Srilankan food. The best of it is the local prawn curry. Sip some of the local cocktails of Srilanka as you watch the sunset. Relax as you end a day in Bentota Beach.
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
One day you can set out to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve. It is a rich rainforest in the southernmost reserve of Sri Lanka. Don’t be surprised if you see the most exotic birds in the world that you have never seen. You can either prefer to return back to your beach resort or stay at the resorts near Sinharaja Forest Reserve for thrilling night experience.
Day 12,13 – Galle – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
A trip to Galle Fort takes you through a small town that looks cute though! Witness the Dutch ramparts in this town. Sip some tea, enjoy local delicacies and also have the famous Italian ice cream that you get at this place. Walk down the ancient roads to get the feeling of the past in the place.
You can easily spend days shopping till you drop in all the amazing little craft stores and clothing shops. If you aren’t interested in shopping we really enjoyed the old Dutch market. Trying all the exotic fruits of the island.
If you are a history lover we really suggest the National Maritime Museum of Sri Lanka. It’s a small museum that holds tons of history. Unfortunately, it was really damaged in the 2004 tsunami but well worth a visit.
Before you leave the little town of Galle to make sure you stop by and see the UNESCO world heritage site and the main attraction, The Galle Light House. The original lighthouse was destroyed by a fire in 1934 but was rebuilt in a new location only 100 meters away. This is the little town’s icon and one of the main reasons people visit Galle.
Day 14, 15 – Mirissa – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
This beautiful beach is a must not miss while you are here and is the main reason many people visit. The beach is full of amazing restaurants and bars so make sure you stroll down the beach for lunch and enjoy the crystal blue water in Mirissa. The food and drinks are pretty cheap here, especially during happy hour. 5 – 10 pm happy hour means 2-for-1 cocktails. I know that sounds good! Before you enjoy your happy hour make sure you check out Secret Beach Mirissa. It’s just right of Mirissa beach and the sunsets here are unforgettable.
This place became so famous due to Instagram. Its growing popularity makes it a hot spot for photographers and travelers on their Sri Lanka trip. It’s a beautiful hill that sticks out from the coast just left of Mirissa Beach and Turtle Bay. The hill is full of beautiful Palm trees and gives you a great view of the entire coast of Mirissa.
There are really only two main places we have found that were good for snorkeling near Mirissa. One being Turtle Bay and the other Secret Beach Mirissa.
Secret Beach Mirissa: With there not being many coral reefs in Mirissa, Secret beach was our second favorite spot for snorkeling. Once you get out past the coral shelf it really opens up and has tons of beautiful colored fish.
Turtle Bay: Located right next to Mirissa beach is Turtle Bay. It sits directly in between coconut hill and Mirissa beach. This little cove is home to tons of seagrass. Where there is seagrass there are normally sea turtles. From what we hear there used to be tons of them but now there is only a handful. The turtles tend to come early in the morning to feed and stay very near to the beach and the pier. If you don’t have a snorkel you can rent one from turtle Turtle Bay Restaurant for 500 SLR ( 3 USD ) per hour.
**Bonus** If you have extra time don’t miss Whale watching in Mirissa or seeing Dickwella Beach. Dickwella Beach is a really beautiful place and only an hour away by scooter.
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The earth is really a stunning place. Especially when there is Palm trees🌴, sunsets🌅 and crashing waves🌊. Tag someone who you want to travel with! — — After spending two weeks in the south of #srilanka I have to say it’s about time to head to the mountains. BUT before we go there is one last place on out list! Can you guys guess where we will be headed? #traveltagged #divertliving
Day 16, 17, 18- Hikkaduwa – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
Places to visit in Hikkaduwa
Diving at Hikkaduwa
Hikkaduwa is yet another Srilankan beach that is a favorite of Divers. If you aren’t an expert in diving or haven’t tried it at all, then do not worry. Hikkaduwa is the perfect place you can start off with it. Surfers and stilt fishermen love Hikkaduwa the most. If you go early in the morning, you will find a lot of surfers and fishermen, all excited for the day! Though one of the busiest places of Srilanka, you must not return without visiting this place.
Hikkaduwa coral reef
If you are not a diver and would like to stay closer to the surface we really suggest snorkeling in Hikkaduwa. We found this to be the best free location to snorkel on our Sri Lanka trip. It is right off the beach at Hikka Tranz. Wait until around 4 PM when high tide comes in and the real magic will happen. This is when the massive turtles come in for food. You can grab a snorkel from any of the local shops on the side of the road and snorkel with the turtles till sunset. It’s really so much fun and they have an amazing coral shelf that you can swim around.
WARNING The coral is not what it used to be years ago. Due to people walking on it and the boat’s fuel in the water the coral has died. That doesn’t mean it is not still fun to swim around but it’s not as colorful as it is when you take a diving trip.
Hikkaduwa beach party:
During the night, explore the party side of Hikkaduwa. There are plenty of party places on the beachside and hang on in one for that night. Hikka Tranz is a famous party place where you can opt to go.
Day 19, 20, 21- Colombo – Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks
Colombo is a city that is charm filled with not only places to visit and eat but also with warm, welcoming people. They are too friendly and help you out in anything you need. After your 3 weeks in Sri Lanka, you want your last few days to be relaxing and close to the airport. The estimated population of Colombo as 5 million people, this city has become cosmopolitan. There are 13 districts and it has a mix of people following Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity. This is because of the Arab, Dutch, British and Indian influence in this place. You will find huge skyscrapers, star hotels, and malls in the city. A strong colonial influence is seen in this city. The fusion of ancient times, as well as modern culture, is what Colombo is about.
Here are the best places to visit in Colombo.
Spend the last two days of your Sri Lanka itinerary in Colombo. There are so many things to do in Colombo. Take a day to visit the National Museum that was built in 1876. This is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. Know the stories of ancient Sri Lanka through the statues and articles in the museum. Items like the Golden Throne and crown of the royal family of Sri Lanka is kept in this National museum.
Take some time to visit the colonial buildings that date back to the British and Dutch Era. The fort area of Colombo is the house for great architectural masterpieces. Visit the Old Dutch hospital to know why we call it a masterpiece. You will also see the President’s House and other Government buildings here.
Gangaramaya temple is a famous Buddist temple of Vihara. You will find some strange sculptures that will leave you awe- inspired! There is a library, museum and a range of gifts given by devotees in this temple. The relics of Buddha’s hair is present in this temple. Buddhas in stone, white and Gold are present here.
Independence Memorial Hall:
On February 4th, 1948, Sri Lanka got its independence from the British. This memorial is a building made of stone. A statue of Sri Lanka’s first president is present here. Don Stephen Senenayake, known as the Father of the Nation has his statue here. Pay respect to those who sacrificed their lives for Sri Lankan Independence at this memorial hall.
The famous Kailasanathan Temple is also called the Captain’s Garden Temple. This is the oldest Hindu Temple. A great essence of South- Indian architecture has its influence in this temple. You will find brilliantly painted walls, statues, and ceilings in this temple. This is a must- visit when you are in Colombo.
Apart from the above, there are other places like Galle Face Green, Beira Lake and the streets of Pettah. Shop for artifacts, clothes and other Sri Lankan goodies on the last day of your Srilankan trip. Take a tuk-tuk ride, gaze at the city side and the tourists from various parts of the world in Colombo.
If you still have some time don’t worry there are tons of things to do in Colombo!
This Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks covers some of the what to see in Sri Lanka. However, there are so many things to do in Sri Lanka. We have showcased the most flexible Sri Lanka itinerary here so that you can customize it according to your preferences. If you are looking for a perfect tropical getaway, then Sri Lanka is for you! Your dream of a beach vacay, hill vacay, and rainforest vacay – all of that is satisfied in Sri Lanka. This island country is perfect for any occasion, be it a honeymoon, family tour, group travel or an adventure getaway! So, the next time you plan for a vacation, then think of Sri Lanka, the green country that gives so much!
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Are you planning to visit Sri Lanka really soon? Then, we are sure this itinerary helps you out. We have videoed our experiences in Srilanka that will help you plan your dream Sri Lankan trip. Read on our blogs on Sri Lanka to update yourself before you go there. You can also get an idea of our other South- East Asian traveling. This can help you plan about going to a nearby destination when you are in Sri Lanka.
Is there something we have missed out in the Sri Lanka itinerary 3 weeks? Do let us know your experiences in the comments below. This will excite us more than you imagine!