12 Days in Sri Lanka – Essential Itinerary
Sri Lanka the land with a bit of everything in a reachable distance and with great places to discover. These 12 days in Sri Lanka Itinerary will give history, culture, nature, beach, great adventures and memories that will last a lifetime. In the end, you will fall in love with the people and the country. Sri Lanka has to be discovered because of its richness and diversity.
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Despite the long civil war and the tsunami in 2004, people are happy and friendly they are optimistic about the future. It´s finally peace. Now the people are looking into the future with hopes and smiles. It’s time for Sri Lanka to grow and show its beauty to the world. It has so much to give if you just want to receive it.
My one month visit in Sri Lanka is why I created 12 days in Sri Lanka Itinerary. You can see a considerable amount of Sri Lanka in just 12 days or even in 10 days.
Day 1 – Galle Fort
When entering the Airport, find a driver that will transport you to Galle Fort. Walk Around Galle Fort that is a colonial-era fort. Have an easy day and adjust to this new culture of everything.
Finish the day on the roof Café – Mama´s Galle Fort, that has delicious and mouthwatering Curry. In mouthwatering I mean hot! The curry was supposed to be a mild curry for tourists. There was a burning need for the local beer Lion.
Fun things to do in Galle Fort is to visit the post office and buy stamps for your postcard. It is fun to see how the Mail industry operates different in the world and at the end of they, all of them do deliver the post to your mailbox.
Galle is the best example of a fortified city built by the Portuguese in South and Southeast Asia, showing the interaction between Portuguese architectural styles and native traditions. The city was extensively fortified by the Dutch during the 17th century from 1649 onwards. The Galle fort is a world heritage site and is the largest remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers.
Day 2 – Carefree Mirissa Beach
Next day, it´s time to explore the tuk-tuk experience. Take it over to Carefree Mirissa beach that will be 1 hour more or less driving. Then enter paradise & drink a coconut and keep the doctor away.
Mirissa beach, the place to be and do nothing, only drink coconuts and pineapple juice. The ocean is divine; the vibe is relaxed. If you are into surfing it´s an option. Or maybe a Yoga class that will make you in total peace. Or maybe just read a book? When the dinner comes, eat seafood and local curry. Enjoy falling asleep to the sound of the ocean.
Day 3 – Whale and Dolphin Watching in Mirissa
When having 12 days in Sri Lanka, you need to go Whale Watching. It is one of the most reliable places in the world to spot a Blue Whale – the largest animal that ever been on the planet. If not lucky to see a leopard in Yala National Park, there is a high rate of success when it comes to seeing Whale and Dolphins in Mirissa.
Day 4 – Mirissa Beach
With 12 days in Sri Lanka, there is time for vacation mood. Why not just stay another day and relax. Of course, short on time, skip this day and travel further one and make it a ten days itinerary.
Leave Mirissa by evening/midday for entering the Guest house for Yala National Park. Around 3 hours drive. Remember to tell your new home that you want dinner – Curry. They start preparing dinner the early hours in the morning and cook it all day to make it outstanding. Remember to tell that you are coming and are hungry for dinner.
Day 5 – Yala – Bundala National Park
The Wildlife of Sri Lanka has to be on the itinerary. Watching wild elephants in their natural habit is a beautiful situation, and a must do. Yala has the highest leopard concentration in the world. If you are lucky, you are lucky!
Our tour guide was showing a high standard of respect for the animals and nature, which is highly appreciated for the animals and the future of the National Park.
Tourism generates noise and air pollution in the park, but also generates money and therefore helps to justify the National Park.
The safari starts 4 AM in the morning. After having lunch and a small break, it is time to hit the car and prepare for a long trip to Ella. An amazing landscape makes the next six hours in the car pass by quickly. There is time for a nap! Entering Ella right before the dark and looking out the window watching the car climb the hill of Ella.
Day 6 – Ella the Hill Country
The best thing about being in Sri Lanka is the diversity. When having 12 days in Sri Lanka, there should be room for Ella. The Hill Country of Sri Lanka is where the air is clean, the stars are bright, and everything is green. The streets dog of Little Adams peak will all become your friend by the end of the night.
Out of many Highlights in Ella, my personal favorite was Little Adam’s peak and the Sri Lankan massage. It should be done the first day staying in Ella.
Day 7 – Ella & Tea Plantation
When being in Ella, visit the tea plantation and see the beginning of where all the tasty tea is born.
Great experience to see all the steps in making tea and learn more about the industry that employs over 1 million people in the country. Do this in the early morning. Then afterward go exploring Dova Temple.
Day 8 – Adam’s Peak Climb with 5 381 steps
In the midday hit the road to Adams Peak either by private car or bus/train to Hatton. Then bus or tuk-tuk to Dalhouise
We were crazy and had a tuk-tuk from Ella to Dalhouise it was around 6 hours traveling. I would not do that again, even do it was an adventure but very uncomfortable.
Go to bed early and prepare for the night walk to Adams Peak, start walking around 02.00 AM and enter top by 05.00 AM. Watch the sunset at around 06.00 AM. Be back down at 08.00 AM.
Adam’s Peak is a unique travel moment and beautiful experience with the prayers of the Sri Lankan people praying for the sun and new day.
Day 9 – Kandy and Temple of the Sacred Tooth
Leaving Adams Peak at midday and entering Kandy in time for the Temple of Tooth evening ritual at 08:30 PM. To be honest this part of the trip I got food posing and was pretty sure I was going to die. I never had the chance to enter the temple of the Sacred Tooth.
Day 10 – Kandy – Amazing Train Ride – Colombo
Take the train from Kandy to Colombo and enjoy and outstanding scenery with the mountains and the green landscape. Enter your hotel a bit and discover some culinary food in the heart of Colombo, check out the Dutch Hospital for some divine dining but on the higher end of pricing. Maybe send your close for laundry and don´t do any laundry when arriving back home.
Day 11 – Colombo by Day & Night
Make sure to do some serious shopping before leaving if the budget is still good. Do shopping at local creative stores such as Odel and Barefoot. Our personal favorite was indeed Barefoot the products are outstanding and the back yard perfect for a lunch break.
You should go and do your hair & nails at Crown Hair and Beauty; the treatments are excellent! Maybe one of the best experience I had at hairdresser overseas. They also have all the best hair products.
Day 12 – Colombo & Leaving Back Home
Do the thing that we all don´t like packing and prepare to hit the airport.
12 Days in Sri Lanka Itinerary
When having 12 days in Sri Lanka, you will have the possibility to see a great part of the country, by this you should choose your favorites at the same time give the opportunity for unexpected adventures. It all depends on your mood on how much you want to do and in what time. You can do Sri Lanka in 10 Days or even 6 Days itinerary as well, but personally for me that will be pushing it. When I was traveling there in 2014 with my best friend, we had a month of exploring, which was a great destination for our Backpacking adventure.
Have you been or going to Sri Lanka this year?
Other Blogs About Sri Lanka
Mapping Megan:5 Reasons You Should Travel to Sri Lanka
Adventurous Kate: Sri Lanka, What Took Me So long?