Sri Lanka Itinerary Planning Essentials

Sri Lanka Itinerary Planning Essentials

VISA | Apply for a tourist visa online, which allows a 30-day stay. Submit your application at least a week before departure to secure your Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) confirmation promptly.

TRAVEL INSURANCE | Safeguard your backpacking journey through Sri Lanka with comprehensive coverage from Heymondo for trustworthy travel insurance. (Get 5% OFF through our link)

STAY CONNECTED | Get a local SIM card from SLT Mobitel upon arrival at the airport or opt for an E-sim in advance through Airalo

CURRENCY | The local currency in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan rupee (LKR), and the exchange rate is around 1 USD = 325 LKR. Check XE Currency Converter for updated exchange rates. 

DAILY BUDGET | Traveling to Sri Lanka is pretty affordable, we suggest a daily budget of around $25-40 per person which includes accommodation, food, transport, and minor activities. Note that visits to national parks and historical sites may increase your budget.

HOW TO GET THERE | Explore the best flight deals to Colombo, Sri Lanka, using Skyscanner

GET AROUND | For the ultimate convenience and hassle-free travel in cities, we highly recommend the PickMe App

ACCOMMODATION | Discover budget-friendly hostels and hotels through

TOURS & ATTRACTIONS | For the best and most cost-effective tours and day trip excursions, check out GetYourGuide or Viator.

TRANSFERS | Ready to travel to your next destination in Sri Lanka? Book your onward bus or train tickets via

WHEN TO GO | Plan your visit between December and April to experience the country’s highlights while avoiding the main monsoon season.

DRINKING WATER | It is recommended to drink bottled water or use filtered water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Consider bringing a GRAYL water purifier bottle for safe drinking water.

3-week Sri Lanka Itinerary Overview with all the highlights and the perfect mix of culture, nature and beach time
Sunset views from Unawatuna viewpoint, one of the best things to do on your 3-week Sri Lanka Itinerary
When is the best time to visit Sri Lanka for a backpacking adventure, all you need to know for the perfect itinerary
Best way to get around Sri Lanka on your 3-week travel itinerary
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Negombo the most convenient and strategic location to start your 3-week travel itinerary in Sri Lanka

HIGH-END | Belmont Boutique Hotel

Belmont Boutique Hotel is just a 10-minute stroll from the beach. This boutique hotel offers an outdoor pool, lush garden, and shared lounge. Enjoy a restaurant, free shuttle service, and bike rentals. Rooms feature essential amenities, some with a patio and sea views.

MID-RANGE | Villa Dominikku

Experience Sri Lankan hospitality at Villa Dominikku, a charming B&B with a lovely garden. Comfortable, clean rooms boast en-suite bathrooms. Delight in authentic Sri Lankan breakfasts featuring hoppers and wood apple juice.

BUDGET | Funwhales Rest House

Choose Funwhales Rest House for a budget-friendly, family-run guesthouse. Enjoy a shared lounge, terrace, and private rooms with bathrooms. Start your day with a hearty breakfast, and savor seafood at the on-site restaurant. Conveniently located 15 minutes walk from the beach, bike rentals are available.

Palmtrees and coconuts at Hiriketiya Beach Sri Lanka, the perfect 3-week backpacking itinerary for first timers

For the most budget-friendly option to reach Wilpattu National Park from Negombo, hop on either the train or bus headed to Puttalam. The journey takes about 3 hours, with Puttalam being the closest city south of the National Park. Upon reaching Puttalam, you’ll still need to catch a tuk-tuk for the final leg to the Safari Camp, which takes approximately an hour. If time is of the essence and you have some flexibility in your budget, consider a private car arranged through the PickMe app or your accommodation. This alternative takes around 3 hours in total and will cost you approximately 10,000 LKR (around $30-$40).

Safari Camp Wilpattu National Park Sri Lanka Itinerary
Must visit on your 3-week Sri Lanka Itinerary Safari trip to Wilpattu national park

Spending the night at Wilpattu Safari Camp

Ruvanvelisaya Dagoba giant white stupa in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Itinerary Day 3 & 4 – Anuradhapura

Best things to do in Anuradhapura

Meditation rock and white dagoba with palmtrees at sunset, The must-see Buddhist temple of Mihintale Sri Lanka
Gray Langurs hanging around temples in Anuradhapura Sri Lanka

GUESTHOUSE | Water Front Home Stay

Our pick, Water Front Home Stay, was the epitome of a heartwarming homestay. Wasantha, the owner, was the friendliest host we could’ve asked for in Sri Lanka. The room was spotless, and quiet, and had all the essentials like air conditioning, a fan, great WiFi, and a spacious, clean bathroom. Not only the breakfast was amazing, but we also took the opportunity to have dinner at the homestay, which turned out to be one of our best dinners of the trip!

BUDGET | Heaven Upon Rice Fields

Tucked among rice fields, Heaven Upon Rice Fields is a delightful guesthouse with roomy, clean spaces and glowing reviews. It’s a tad north, a bit away from the bustling center and its restaurants, but the unique location offers fantastic views of the surroundings.

MID-RANGE | Aryana Boutique Hotel

Right in the heart of Anuradhapura, Aryana Boutique Hotel stands out with an outdoor pool, a garden, and a shared lounge. The rooms, some with terraces, feature private bathrooms with showers. The hotel’s restaurant serves up Chinese, French, and Indian cuisine. Plus, they’re bike-friendly, offering rentals for guests keen on exploring the ancient city on two wheels.

Sunset view of the White dagobas at Mihintale Birthplace of Buddhism in Sri Lanka
Mihintale Buddhist Temple in Sri Lanka, a big white Buddha statue on the hill and a white dagoba in the center
Take the time to enjoy the sunset views and take pictures of Sigiriya's Lion Rock fortress
Dagoba surrounded by eleven seated Buddhas inside the Cave of the Great Kings at Dambulla Sri Lanka
Complete guide to climbing the famous Sigiriya Lion Rock in Sri Lanka
Reached the first viewing platform after the Pidurangala Rock climb enjoying the views on Sigiriya Lion Rock
Rankoth Vehera stupa, the largest dagoba in Polonnaruwa Sri Lanka 
Best time to climb Sigiriya Lion Rock fortress in Sri Lanka Practical tips

BUDGET | Sigiri Rock Side Home stay

Ideal for budget-conscious travelers, this charming guesthouse stay is nestled in the lush green surroundings of Sigiriya, near Lion Rock. The picturesque porch provides a perfect retreat to unwind after a day of adventure.

MID-RANGE | The Cattleya Guest House

Experience comfort in this beautiful guesthouse, which offers modern, spacious, and clean rooms. Family rooms feature private terraces for a relaxing retreat. With a cozy patio and garden, you can enjoy views of Lion Rock. Conveniently located near restaurants, but you also have the option to savor a traditional Sri Lankan meal right at the guesthouse.

LUXURY | Water Garden Sigiriya

Indulge in luxury at this stunning hotel with an unbeatable location. Relax by the pool, which boasts a direct view of Lion Rock. Picture yourself surrounded by rice fields, occasionally spotting an elephant in the distance. Renowned for top-quality service, this resort offers everything from a spa and pool to a bar and restaurant at your disposal.

Entering Dambulla Cave Temple the best-preserved and largest cave temple complex in Sri Lanka

Where to eat in Sigiriya

Kandy, city with rich history and cultural heritage in the heart of sri lanka, the ultimate 3-week itinerary

Sri Lanka Itinerary Day 8 & 9 – Kandy

Temple of the tooth relic in Kandy, 3-week Sri lanka itinerary

LUXURY | Villa Rosa

Perched on the hillside with a mesmerizing view of the river, Villa Rosa offers its guests an infinity pool and a garden, creating a serene ambiance. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, some even offering captivating mountain views. The staff is exceptionally friendly and helpful, ensuring a delightful stay. With a lounge area, television, library, and home comforts, Villa Rosa provides a touch of luxury away from the bustling center of Kandy.

MID RANGE | E-Stay Hanthana

At E-Stay Hanthana, indulge in a generously sized and comfortable room featuring a private balcony. What makes this place truly special is the hospitality of the local owners. To top it off, you’ll be treated to a delicious breakfast, adding to the overall delightful experience.

BUDGET | Kandy City Village

With an extremely friendly owner ready to accommodate any guest requests, Kandy City Village offers comfortable rooms, a hearty breakfast, and a central location with a short walk up into the hills. It’s fantastic value for money, ensuring a pleasant stay without breaking the bank.

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The famous scenic train ride from Kandy To Ella along the tea plantations is a must on your 3-week Sri Lanka Itinerary
Ramboda Falls in Nuwara Eliya, 3-week Sri Lanka Itinerary
Tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya, ultimate 3-week Sri Lanka Itinerary

LUXURY | Langdale Boutique Hotel by Amaya

Perched in the picturesque Hills, this luxury hotel offers opulent rooms with breathtaking hillside views. Guests can unwind in the outdoor pool or indulge in the sauna, steam room, and Ayurvedic Spa for a rejuvenating experience. The rooms feature dark wooden flooring and timeless furniture. In the intimate dining room, the hotel’s restaurant serves a range of international cuisine. The bar, nestled beneath the trees, offers cocktails and other refreshing beverages.

MID-RANGE | Cottage San Francisco

Discover the beauty of Nuwara Eliya while staying in the cozy wooden rooms of Cottage San Francisco. Perfectly situated within the mountains, the rooms provide impressive views of tea plantations. The included breakfast is a delightful addition, making it an ideal base for exploration.


Nestled in the hills of Nuwara Eliya, Zion offers a delightful homestay experience. The spacious and comfortable rooms provide a perfect retreat, and the optional breakfast and dinner, at an extra cost, are truly amazing. The accommodating family ensures a helpful stay and provides blankets for the chilly nights in Nuwara Eliya.

Small mountain town of Nuwara Eliya known for its tea plantations in Sri Lanka
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The iconic Nine Arch Bridge in Ella is a must-do on your 3-week Sri Lanka Itinerary
Little Adams Peak in Ella, the ultimate Sri Lanka Itinerary


At Chill Ville, View Point Hotel, guests can’t stop raving about the charming staff, delightful breakfast, and cozy bungalow rooms. Dive into the inviting outdoor pool or soak up the sun on the terrace. The restaurant and bar offer tasty meals and drinks, and some rooms come with a relaxing seating area. Sip tea while enjoying stunning mountain or garden views—it’s a picturesque location!

MID-RANGE | Shining Green View

For a sustainable and comfortable stay, check out Shining Green View. This guest house in Ella boasts a beautiful garden, sun terrace, and shared lounge. Mountain views, cozy seating areas, and private bathrooms come with every unit. Take in the scenery from your balcony, and enjoy meals at the family-friendly restaurant serving dinner, lunch, and brunch. Bike rental and car rental services make exploring the area a breeze.

BUDGET | Blue Ribbon Homestay

Experience budget-friendly comfort at Blue Ribbon Homestay, perched on a hill with views of Ella Rock and Little Adams Peak. Surrounded by lush jungle, enjoy a tasty Sri Lankan breakfast on the balcony with playful monkeys in the distance. The spacious, clean rooms make for the perfect home base for all your Ella adventures.

Hiriketiya Surfer's paradise in the south of Sri Lanka, our favorite beach destination on our 3-week Itinerary

LUXURY | Haven Beach Hiriketiya

Indulge in a peaceful retreat with captivating beach views right from your balcony. Nestled in Dickwella, a stone’s throw away from Hiriketiya Beach, Haven Beach promises a romantic escape amidst lush gardens—a perfect haven to unwind.

MID-RANGE | House on the Bend

Discover the charm of House on the Bend, a delightful retreat just a five-minute walk from the beach. Tucked away in a peaceful locale, yet close to cozy restaurants, this hotel presents spacious, clean rooms equipped with all the essentials. With a friendly and attentive staff and a delectable breakfast, they ensure your stay is nothing short of perfect.

BUDGET | Wilson’s Place

Experience spacious, clean, and newly furnished rooms at Wilson’s Place, just a 5-minute stroll from the beach. The helpful staff provides services like motorbike rentals and local points of interest. Overall, it’s excellent value for money, ensuring a comfortable stay without breaking the bank.

Sunset and cocktails at Hiriketiya Beach Sri Lanka, the perfect 3-week backpacking itinerary for first timers

How to get to Mirissa from Hiriketiya 

The Famous coconut tree hill in Mirissa, a popular stop on Sri Lanka Itinerary
Picture by Dinuka Lankaloka via Unsplash
Traditional Stilt Fishing in Sri Lanka near Mirissa
Picture by Daniel Klein via Unsplash

LUXURY | Kiss Blossom

Kiss Blossom offers a serene retreat, perfect for honeymooners. This tranquil property features spacious rooms, a lovely pool, and attentive staff, providing great value despite its quieter location away from Mirissa’s bustling area.

MID-RANGE | Casa Mira Boutique Villa

Casa Mira Boutique Villa ensures a laid-back stay with an outdoor pool, garden, and cozy lounge spaces. The clean and comfortable rooms, with pool views and a patio, are hosted by exceptionally kind hosts. An on-site coffee shop adds to the convenience. Nestled in a quiet area surrounded by locals, it’s a safe haven away from the bustling center.

BUDGET | Dilara Resort Mirissa

Dilara Resort Mirissa is a budget-friendly gem just minutes from the beach and main road. With friendly owners, clean rooms, and a pleasant balcony, it’s an excellent choice for those seeking affordability without compromising comfort.

Coconut tree hill and beaches of Mirissa in the south of Sri Lanka
Picture by Oliver Frsh via Unsplash
Unawatuna Coastal Beach town in Sri Lanka, popular beach destination on backpacking itinerary
Day trip to Galle for its historic fort and charming streets is a must on any Sri Lanka Itinerary

LUXURY | Sergeant House Boutique Villa

Experience colonial charm at Sergeant House Boutique Villa, a historical gem with ponds and lush greenery. Just a three-minute walk from Unawatuna Beach, it offers spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a restaurant serving diverse cuisines. Enjoy a serene retreat with polite and accommodating staff.

MID-RANGE | Green Escape Unawatuna 

Discover the perfect blend of comfort and nature at Green Escape Unawatuna, a stylish jungle retreat. With stunning views, comfortable rooms, and an outdoor pool, this hotel provides a welcoming escape. The ponds, garden, and shared spaces create a serene atmosphere, allowing guests to truly connect with nature.

BUDGET | The Dream House

Enjoy a budget-friendly stay at The Dream House, offering comfortable rooms, a pleasant terrace, and garden views. The on-site bar adds convenience, and the family-run establishment ensures a peaceful retreat. Conveniently located near the town center and beach, it provides a quiet haven with a sweet and welcoming atmosphere.

Enjoy fruit shakes near Frog Rock while watching turtles in Unawatuna, the ultimate 3-week Sri Lanka itinerary

Unawatuna boasts an array of charming restaurants and cozy bars along its main street. Consider making reservations a day in advance during peak seasons to secure your spot.

Wasantha’s Sri Lanka Cuisine – Indulge in delightful and fresh Sri Lankan cuisine at this family-run gem slightly off the main strip. Though not conspicuous while strolling Unawatuna’s streets, it’s a must-visit. The warm hospitality and made-to-order, from-scratch dishes, like rice and flavorful curries, make the wait worthwhile. If time permits, join one of their engaging cooking classes.

Sea Waves Restaurant & Cooking Classes – Just across you can find another cooking school, this is the cooking class we mentioned above. The place has an open atmosphere surrounded by trees, offering a warm family vibe. The restaurant serves delectable dishes like devilled chicken and rice with four curries. The inviting ambiance and delicious Mango Lassi contribute to a memorable experience.

Steam Yard Unawatuna – Step into this charming café for a delightful array of fresh, vegan-friendly options, including smoothie bowls, chia pudding, and peanut butter and banana toast. The friendly staff and cozy atmosphere make your visit even more memorable.

Mahesh Roti Shop – Situated on the main strip, Mahesh Roti Shop is a must-visit for roti enthusiasts. Watch the skilled chefs prepare roti at the front of the restaurant, perfect for a late-night craving!

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Enjoy sunrise views on the beach of Unawatuna in Sri Lanka on your Backpacking adventures

With 10 days you have enough time to explore the country’s main attractions. For a well-rounded experience, we recommend including visits to Sigiriya, Kandy, Ella, and a preferred beach destination in the southern region, allocating 1-3 days for each location. To optimize time, consider hiring a driver or opting for swift modes of transport, such as tuk-tuks, if your budget allows it. While Sri Lanka’s distances aren’t huge, buses and trains tend to be slower means of transportation.

10 days Sri Lanka Itinerary, full travel guide and tips for planning the perfect backpacking trip
2-week Sri Lanka Itinerary, full travel guide and tips for planning the perfect backpacking trip

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