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Highlights of Sri Lanka

12 days Guided Tours
  • Habarana
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Minneriya
  • Polonnaruwa
  • Dambulla Caves
  • Kandy
  • Nuwara Eliya
  • Yala National Park
  • Galle
  • Colombo

Virgin Holidays' view

From the spectacular views at Sigiriya and impressive sculptures at Polonnaruwa to the beautiful tea plantations around Nuwara Eliya and the famous Yala National Park, you really will feel like you’ve touched every corner of this exciting destination on this guided tour.

Itinerary

Day 1: UK — Colombo

Depart from the UK to Sri Lanka.

Day 2: Colombo

Arrive in Colombo this morning, where you will be transferred to Negombo (approx 20 minutes) for the first night of your tour. In Negombo you will be staying at Jetwing Beach. Rest of the day is at leisure before taking dinner at the hotel. (D)

Day 3: Habarana

This morning, you will be met by your driver/guide for the transfer to Habarana (approx 4 hours) at the heart of the cultural triangle. A comfort stop will be made on the way to your destination. In Habarana you will stay 3 nights at the Chaaya Village Habarana arriving in the afternoon with the rest of the day at leisure. Dinner will be at the hotel. (B,D)

Day 4: Sigiriya Rock and Minneriya National Park

An early start today as we visit the magnificent site of Sigiriya Rock. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Sri Lanka's major attractions. Highlights include the water gardens, the mirror wall with ancient graffiti, the lion platform and the summit of 1.6 hectares, which was completely covered by buildings during the period of Sigiriya's glory. This afternoon there is the option (additional cost, payable locally) to enjoy a safari in Minneriya National Park. You will set out on a 4x4 jeep safari to Minneriya National Park to see herds of wild elephants and lots of other wildlife in their natural habitat (Kaudulla or Eco Park may be used depending on the migration of Elephant herds). (B,D)

Day 5: Polonnaruwa

After breakfast, leave for Polonnaruwa to witness the ruins of this medieval and ancient capital of Ceylon. Highlights of today's sightseeing are the Royal Palace complex including the Kings Palace and Audience Hall, the Quadrangle with its concentration of ancient heritage. Also view the spectacular Gal Vihare complex of four massive images of the Buddha, cut from a single slab of granite, a magnificent example of ancient Sri Lankan rock carving. The afternoon is at leisure. (B,D)

Day 6: Kandy

This morning you have the option of a 2 hour 30-minute trek through a typical village. Experience a hive of early morning activity, wildlife and local villagers on your walk. Look out for forest birds and other wildlife including monkeys, python and even elephant if you are lucky. Later this morning travel from the Cultural Triangle to the hill country capital of Kandy, an important cultural and spiritual centre (approx 100km or 2 hours) with sightseeing on the way. Visit the Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temples, one of the largest and best preserved cave temple complexes in Sri Lanka. Located in the north central province, this UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to the 1st century BC, and is an amazing complex of five caves. These caves were first used as a refuge by an ancient king who on regaining his throne commissioned magnificent carved images within the living rock. Head towards the Matale Spice Gardens where you will take a tour and enjoy an explanation of the usage for the many spice plants and medicinal plants growing in the gardens. Enjoy a short cookery demonstration with the chef at the spice gardens. The chef will explain the intricacies of the unique Sri Lankan cuisine taking you step by step through cooking a signature Sri Lankan dish. Continue to Kandy for 2 nights at the Cinnamon Citadel Kandy. (B,D)

Day 7: Kandy

During your time in Kandy you'll visit the Dalada Maligawa, the famous Temple of the Tooth. This is a major shrine where pilgrims have revered Buddha's tooth since the 16th century — its gilded roof seems to act as a beacon to visitors throughout the day and into the evening. You'll also visit Peradeniya, home of Sri Lanka's premier Botanical Gardens. The gardens house a packed orchid house and some of the few specimens of the rare Coco de Mer coconut tree. There are approximately 10,000 other trees there as well! In the evening enjoy a traditional cultural dance performance. (B,D)

Day 8: Nuwara Eliya

Following breakfast you will leave for Nuwara Eliya (approx 2 hours 30 minutes). Sri Lanka's premier hill resort with a fine bracing mountain climate, Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of Sri Lanka's tea country, producing some of the world's best tea. The mountain slopes and valleys are a carpet of velvety green tea plantations, interspersed with gushing streams and tumbling waterfalls. Red or green roofed plantation bungalows, English country-style homes and hotels with lovely flower gardens also scatter the region. You will get the opportunity to visit a tea plantation and factory and test the local brew for yourself! Overnight at The Grand Hotel. (B,D)

Day 9: Yala National Park

Continue your journey to Yala National Park, the safari capital of Sri Lanka (approx 4 hours). A stop is made en-route to the Elephant Transit Home, an admirable initiative which is sponsored by the Born Free Trust. Baby elephants that are injured or orphaned in the wild are brought to the Transit Home where they are cared for and rehabilitated in a natural setting. Once the elephants are strong enough they are radio collared and released into the National Park in small groups. Continue on to Yala staying at the Jetwing Yala for 2 nights where the rest of the day is at leisure to relax at your hotel. (B,D)

Day 10: Yala National Park

Sri Lanka's most famous and second largest National Park is popular for elephant, leopard, bear, crocodile and wild boar. Its open undulating terrain make it ideal territory for elephants, but recently the park has also received much publicity by National Geographic and the Discovery TV channels, which focused on a leopard research, conservation and identification project. Claims have subsequently been made that Yala National Park has the world's highest concentration of leopard per square kilometre. Vegetation is primarily grassland and shrub jungle with patches of dense growth while several salt and fresh water lagoons are a haven for a large variety of resident and migrant birds. Areas popular with leopard are rock strewn hillocks with dense shrub in which the animals hide. Included today is a morning game drive of Yala. This afternoon enjoy the hotel facilities or take another game drive or a guided nature walk in the park — these are optional activities that can be booked and paid for locally. (B,D)

Day 11: Galle

This morning takes you further along Sri Lanka's southern coast to the country's oldest city, Galle (approx 180km or 4 hours). A wonderfully eclectic mix of colonial and Sinhalese influences, dominated by the imposing grandeur of the ramparts of its Dutch Fort. You will spend time exploring the back streets and alleys of Old Galle which have retained a captivating charm that is filled with reminders of its historical heritage. After lunch continue on to Colombo (approx 2 hours 30 min) for an overnight stay at Mount Lavinia Hotel. (B,D)

Day 12: Depart

Depart Sri Lanka for your flight to the UK. Alternatively extend your stay on the beaches of Sri Lanka or stopover in Dubai or the Maldives. (B)

Dates & prices

The table below shows our escorted tour departure dates.

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Prices are described as Guide prices on this website and may be higher or lower due to availability, flights (if included) and date of departure.

Prices are for departure dates listed, ex-UK and are per adult based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room and with return economy flights where stated, not tour only. Single room and flight upgrade prices are available at a supplement.

Please note some tours are subject to minimum numbers, please call our travel experts or visit your local retail store for full details as well as our latest prices.

Tour information

Please click here to download a pdf of the itinerary and additional tour notes

Pre/Post Tour Options

The first day of the tour is at leisure so allows you enough time to arrive and relax. We recommend extending your stay on the beaches of Sri Lanka or in the Maldives.

Time difference

GMT +5 hours 30 minutes (summer) +6 hours 30 minutes (winter)

Tour inclusions

  • International flights in economy class, including all UK and overseas airport taxes and applicable fuel surcharges
  • Private air-conditioned transport throughout
  • Sightseeing as detailed, including entrance fees and still camera fees
  • The services of an experienced local guide in each destination
  • Road taxes, parking fees, fuel surcharges, interstate taxes and porterage at airports.

Tour exclusions

  • Flight upgrades and airport transfers in the UK
  • Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, tips & gratuities, video camera fees at monuments
  • Anything not detailed on the itinerary.

Dining inclusions

10 breakfasts and 10 dinners.

Included activities

Tours listed in the itinerary.

Optional activities (not included and booked locally)

  • Minneriya National Park Safari
  • Trek through a typical village
  • Additional game drive in Yala National Park or guided nature walk

Accommodation

Occasionally we may need to substitute one or more of the hotels with that of a similar standard.

Journey times

Sri Lanka is a large country and journey times between destinations can sometimes be long, those listed in the itinerary are approximate.

Group size

There is a maximum of 25 people per group.

Visa requirements

Holders of UK Passports will require a visa to visit Sri Lanka. This must be obtained in advance for US$30.00 and can be completed at: http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa

Extensions

Beach Extension

The beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka await you. We recommend adding a stay at one of the Spice Island’s stunning beach resorts, just a short road transfer away from Colombo, where your tour ends. Chill out with a book by the pool, savour views of the Indian Ocean, discover exquisite dining or perhaps choose a hotel with a spa for the ultimate in post-tour relaxation.