Essential Sri Lanka

Tour route

  • Mount Lavinia: 1 night
  • Sigiriya: 2 nights
  • Kandy: 2 nights
  • Negombo: 1 night

Prices from £1,763pp

Overview –

Ideal for those new to Sri Lanka, this leisurely-paced tour takes you from the coast to the heart of the cultural triangle and south into central Sri Lanka. There’s plenty of time free to explore independently or join one of the hand-picked optional excursions, perfect for those looking for a busier itinerary.


This is a great-value tour that includes visits to the Cultural Triangle and the Hill Country. There’s plenty of time to explore at your own pace but we have also provided a selection of typical Sri Lankan experiences such as a visit to the ancient Dambulla Rock Cave, Kandy’s Royal Botanical Gardens, a tea factory and a spice garden. At just seven nights in duration, the tour is easily combinable with a Sri Lanka beach stay or a beach break in the Maldives

Stay longer

Sri Lanka east coast beach 4 nights
Sri Lanka west coast beach 3 nights 

Relax after your tour with a short beach stay on one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful golden beaches.

Maldives 3 nights 

Relax in paradise on your chosen Maldivian Island. Snorkel, dive or just dig your toes into the powder soft sand.

Yala National Park Extension 2 nights
Travel from Colombo to Yala National Park (approx. 5½ hours) for a 2 night stay at Cinnamon Wild Yala. Jeep safaris will be included during your stay giving you the chance to spot leopards and other wildlife species (not available in September-mid-October due to seasonal park closure).

Tour dates
Jan 13, 27; Feb 03, 17, 24; Mar 10, 24 ; Apr 07; May 05, 19; Jun 09, 23; Jul 21; Aug 11, 25; Sep 08, 22; Oct 06, 20; Nov 10, 24; Dec 15

Included in price

  • Quality accommodation
  • Insightful local tour leaders
  • Hand-picked itineraries
  • Flexible arrival times
  • Small groups and a relaxed approach
  • Porterage and guide tips
  • Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), or the freedom to explore local restaurants independently
  • All specified flights.

Upgrade your tour

Private tour Upgrade to a private tour with a local tour leader on the same itinerary, departing on the date of your choice from £317 per person


Day 5: Minneriya National Park from £77 per person

Day 6: Sigiriya Rock from £86 per person.


Good to know

  • All departures are guaranteed
  • For guests over 16 (unless travelling on a private journey)
  • Average group size of 7 guests
  • A maximum of 14 guests.

What to expect

  • The Sigiriya optional experience is for physically fit and energetic guests. We recommend taking plenty of water, a hat and sun cream if you opt to join this excursion.

Accommodation on Tour

We’ve hand picked largely centrally-located hotels so you can use your free time to easily explore at your own pace. In Sigiriya, you’ll stay at the Amaara Forest which is within easy driving distance of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the city of Dambulla, site of the famous cave temple. The hotel in Kandy has a tranquil setting in the hills above the city, away from the hustle and bustle yet just a 10 minute drive from the city centre.

Prices from £1,763 per person for 7 nights including flights and transfers.

Single Travellers

Single room supplement from £330

Tour itineraries may be subject to change.

Contact us about this tour

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Contact Number

Number of Adults (required)

Number of Children

Tour Name (optional)

Preferred Tour Date

Other Information


Day 1: UK to Colombo

Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Sri Lanka.

Day 2: Colombo

On arrival in Colombo, transfer to your hotel, the iconic Mount Lavinia hotel where you will have free time to relax by the pool or in your room. One of our closest hotels to Colombo, this property is famed for its colonial charm and amazing location. Once the home of British Governors, it overlooks a stretch of private beach and oozes old world-style elegance with a high level of service as well as excellent food. This evening, there will be a welcome dinner at the hotel’s main restaurant. Approx. journey time: 1¼ hours, 32 miles. Stay: Mount Lavinia (or similar). Dinner.

Day 3: Colombo to Kandy

Your day starts with a drive inland towards Kandy. On arrival there will be time for you to find somewhere for lunch (payable locally) before a tour of the city and a visit to a local market. This evening, visit the most famous of Kandy’s attractions, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is said to house an ancient relic of Lord Buddha. Approx. journey time: 3¼ hours, 85 miles. Stay: Golden Crown Hotel (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 4: Kandy

Today begins at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya. These beautiful gardens are home to a vast selection of Sri Lanka’s native flora as well as many exotic species and a renowned orchid collection. Enjoy lunch at the Kandyan Arts Residency before visiting the Giragama Tea Plantation. This region of Sri Lanka is the heart of Sri Lanka’s renowned and historic tea producing industry and during your trip you’ll learn about the process the leaves go through between the plant and your cup. Stay: Golden Crown Hotel (or similar). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Day 5: Kandy to Sigiriya

Your day begins with a drive north towards Sigiriya, stopping en route at the Dambulla Cave Temple. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most incredible sights on the island with over 150 statues of Buddha and intricately-painted murals that cover the cave’s walls and roof in five of the rock’s 80 or so caves. Sri Lanka is famed for its spice gardens, where many quality spices have been grown for centuries and exported far and wide throughout the world. Today, there’ll be the opportunity to visit one of these gardens and discover a little more about the varieties grown and the importance of the spice trade to the economy and culture of the island.

Later this afternoon you can join an optional excursion that takes you on a game drive into Minneriya National Park, one of the best places in Sri Lanka to see wild elephants. And if you happen to be travelling between the months of July and September, you’ll be able to witness one of the region’s most incredible wildlife experiences – ‘The Gathering’. During the dry season and periods of drought, the water dries up elsewhere leading elephants to migrate in vast numbers to the edge of the Minneriya reservoir where they can drink, feed, bathe and mate. Approx. journey time: 2½ hours, 60 miles. Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar). Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

Day 6: Sigiriya

Following an early breakfast, head out to a local village and gain an insight into rural life on a nature ‘trek’ in the village of Hiriwadunna. You will be transported via a paddy farmer’s tractor and trailer through a shaded forest to the edge of a man-made reservoir that is covered with pretty lily pads. Cross the water on a traditional boat before continuing your village exploration on foot and discovering the everyday lives of Sri Lanka’s rural population.

Your afternoon is free to relax by the pool of your hotel. Alternatively, you can visit Sigiriya Rock, one of the island’s most iconic sites, on an optional excursion. In AD477 King Kashyapa built his palace and fortress upon the top of the 200-metre high rock and moved the capital of Sri Lanka here after deposing his father as King of Sri Lanka. He was later defeated by his brother and now all that remains are the ruins of his palace and city. One of the most popular experiences in Sri Lanka is climbing to the top of the rock. We strongly recommend that you only embark on the ascent if you are fit, healthy and do not mind heights as there are approximately 1200 steps of varying steepness and difficulty levels. This is undoubtedly a tough physical challenge, however, you will realise it is well worth the effort once you are admiring the views over the jungle and ruins of the ancient city below. As you make your way up the side of the rock, you’ll pass the famed Mirror Wall. Made of porcelain, it was said that it was polished to create a shine so the King could see his reflection in it. You’ll also come across countless frescoes before passing through the Lion Gate, so called because it’s flanked by two gigantic lion paws. From here it’s a short but steep climb to the top where you can see the remains of the palace and fortress. Back down at the base of the rock there are a collection of gardens, known as the water, boulder and terrace gardens. Stay: Amaara Forest (or similar). Breakfast, Dinner.

Day 7: Sigiriya to Negombo

Travel west to the coastal town of Negombo where you will stay one night at the beachside resort, Jetwing Sea, stopping at a local restaurant for lunch on the way. If you choose to extend your holiday with a stay on the south west, south or east coasts, you will transfer to your chosen hotel today. Approx. journey time: 3¼ hours, 85 miles. Stay: Jetwing Sea (or similar). Breakfast, Lunch.

Day 8: Negombo to UK

Transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK.

Is this for you?

We recommend this tour to those who wish to take in the most popular regions of Sri Lanka at a very relaxed pace before perhaps spending some time on the beach