If you’re a fan of beaches and mountains and are looking for a glimpse of that in Sri Lanka, then I have the perfect Sri Lanka 6 day itinerary for you! This little itinerary will take you down the coast from Hikkaduwa all the way to the highlands in Nuwara Eliya. I first visited Sri Lanka in 2013, and I’m just fresh from a visit now – there’s quite a difference in terms of infrastructure, which makes it more accessible to the rest of the world and you lose less travel time. After visiting Thailand which was full of new things for me, I wasn’t really too interested in going back to Sri Lanka. However, my cousin decided to host her bachelorette there since it was most favourable in terms of weather than Bali.

This Sri Lanka 6 day itinerary also includes details on how to get a good driver as well as accommodation. It’s ideal for a group of people to travel together, but I’m sure you’ll have some good insights on things to check out as a solo or couple traveller as well. I’ve also added some recommendations for you to do if you’d like to extend your trip.

Sri Lanka 6 day itinerary

Day 1 – Hikkaduwa for some surf, sand, parties and turtles!

Where to stay

Located just 2 hours away from Colombo airport, I highly recommend you head on to Hikkaduwa, a charming pristine beach area popular for surfing and really fun parties. We stayed over at Azzura Hikkaduwa, a small resort located within a short distance of the beach. Since there were 9 of us, we were lucky to have the entire resort to ourselves!

Sri Lanka 6 day itinerary, Day 1 accommodation: Azzura Hikkaduwa
Our beautiful villa at Azzura Hikkaduwa

Things to do

Hit the beach

The only shortcoming I saw was that there was no breakfast available. However, walk onto the main road and you’ll be spoilt for choice at the beachfront shacks. Walk along the beach to spot some snorkelling spots. We travelled at the end of August, so the water was not clear due to the monsoons. It was still pleasant enough to sunbathe.

The sea in Hikkaduwa is gorgeous!
The sea in Hikkaduwa is gorgeous!

Party till sunrise

Top Secret
Top Secret

To find out where the night parties are happening, ask the villa host. While we were there, there were really awesome beachfront parties happening at Top Secret and Vibrations. We headed to Top Secret, which had a really funky vibe and good music. They also had shisha available.

Go surfing/island hopping

Gliding through the backwaters
Gliding through the backwaters

You can also find plenty of surf spots here. I recommend going with the schools so you can find an instructor that speaks English well. If that isn’t your jam, here’s what you need to add to your Sri Lanka 6 day itinerary – island hopping. While I must say it isn’t a must-do, I’m sure some will enjoy the varied animals and the beautiful backwaters. It was the first time any of us have ever held a river jellyfish in one hand!

We held a river jellyfish!
We held a river jellyfish!

Visit a turtle hatchery

Ignore my silly expressions..I was sooo in awe of it!
Ignore my silly expressions..I was sooo in awe of it!

Turtles are the most fascinating creatures. I love watching them whenever I go on a snorkel trip and I’m always in awe of this interesting animal. Unfortunately, they’re hunted these days both for exotic meat as well as their shells. There are several hatcheries that make sure these don’t go extinct and carefully nurture them. For this, I support them.

Day 2 & 3 – Galle

Things to do

Visit the old town

Gorgeous Galle Fort
Gorgeous Galle Fort

Pronounced as ‘Gall’, this seaside town has a charm of its own. A former Dutch colony, it does have plenty of lovely nooks, crannies and cafes! Head on to Le Cafe Francais for the most divine croissants! The Galle old fort is charming and has some lovely views too. I would recommend just walking around the area, it’s nothing short of stunning.

Drinks at the Dutch Hospital

Tequila Mockingbird does some amazing cocktails!
Tequila Mockingbird does some amazing cocktails!

This old Dutch Hospital area has been converted into various restaurants and bars overlooking the sea. I loved going to both Tequila Mockingbird and A Minute By Tuk Tuk. While Tequila Mockingbird does mean cocktails, A Minute by Tuk Tuk has some really luscious, lip-smacking food. Design by Tuk Tuk also has better views of the sea. This hospital also has a lovely spa where you can get a 20-minute foot massage for just US$10!

Rent a private villa

Look at our lovely villa!
Look at our lovely villa!

About 7km away from the old Dutch city, we reached a private villa. The host there is super charming and she’ll prepare a complimentary delicious omelette breakfast for you and your friends. It comes with a kitchen to cook your own meals, or you can choose to have a simple Sri Lankan feast prepared by her for as low as SLR 500 (US$3 approx) per person. Totally worth the stay here, especially as it’s such a vintage, local bungalow. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but the pool was a big plus for us!

Go whale watching in Mirissa

Picture courtesy: Raja and the whales| Whale tail
Picture courtesy: Raja and the whales

This was a truly amazing experience. Whale watching season doesn’t happen in August due to the rains, but we ended up lucky thanks to Raja and the whales. I recommend them because they’re exceedingly great by spotting whales and use ethical practices while spotting them. They don’t by any means force feed them, they just use their sights – usually by looking for when the whales blow out water. Prepare for a pretty tumultuous boat ride though. People were so squeamish and they were throwing up all over the place. Not a pretty sight, but that gets over quickly when you see these majestic creatures. It’s a magical experience that you must indulge in while in Sri Lanka. Don’t miss it for the world. Due to untimely weather, we could only see blue whales, but go between December and March, and you’ll spot killer whales, dolphins and more.

Day 4: River rafting in Kithulgala

Gorgeous and quaint Rafter's Retreat
Gorgeous and quaint Rafter’s Retreat

Quite simply, here there’s nothing else to do except go river rafting. We stayed over at Rafter’s Retreat, which is a charming backpacker’s location owned by a third generation Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean lookalike. They arrange river rafting rides right from the venue, and the food is absolutely delicious. You will fall asleep listening to the soothing river Kelani. There’s a point which was featured in the old movie, Bridge on the River Kwai that you will see while travelling down the river; your guide will point it out to you. The rapids are relatively tame and one round will put you in front of seven rapids. There’s a point where you can jump off your raft and float along the river too. Grab your GoPro for this one and indulge in this fun experience. I must note the food at Rafter’s was exceedingly good, costing as low as US$6 per meal. If you take their lunch and rafting package, it costs US$ 30.

Day 5: Nuwara Eliya

Things to do

Learn the art of tea making

Just look at that view!
Just look at that view of the tea estates!

On your way to Nuwara Eliya (an area famous for growing tea), go visit a tea factory where they will demonstrate how various types of teas are made. Sri Lankan tea is much lighter than your Darjeeling tea from India. If you’d like to pick up a type, go for their broken orange pekoe (BOP) tea. It’s the most famous and turns a lovely amber colour on steeping.

Visit the Sita Temple

Sita Temple in Nuwara Eliya
Sita Temple in Nuwara Eliya

For those familiar with the Ramayana, you know that Sita was kidnapped by Lankan King Ravana and taken to this very spot in Nuwara Eliya. Hanuman, the monkey god took a token of Lord Rama’s love (his ring) and handed it over to Sita at this very spot. As Hanuman is a demi-god, he could change his size and therefore, you will see a massive print of his at this temple. How true is this story? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. Still a good tourist trap and worth the fascinating story.

Stay at an English cottage

Look how lovely Sherwood cottage is!
Look how lovely!

We stayed at the most charming little cottage called Sherwood cottage. Hotels in Nuwara Eliya are quite pricey, but usually located on higher grounds where you can have some stunning views of Gregory Lake and the valley. It can get quite chilly, even during summer so carry a warm jacket. Opt for the top floor room at Sherwood, so you can stay in the cute attic. One room can fit 4 people upstairs.

Day 6: Colombo

Things to do

City tour

The city tour of Colombo doesn’t last very long, maybe an hour at most. It’s interesting to know that there’s been a huge influx of Chinese and Indian investors, thereby changing its landscape altogether. Architecturally speaking, the parliament is quite stunning, as is the tallest tower, shaped like a tulip.

Visit Ministry of Crab

Ministry of Crab
Ministry of Crab

No.27 on Asia’s Best Restaurants list? You know I’m going! You might need to reserve up to a month in advance, but Ministry of Crab is worth every morsel you mop up. Try their clay pot prawn curry, pepper crab and curry crab with several pieces of their signature kade bread. A meal here is not cheap for Sri Lankan standards, it could cost you up to US$60 per head. The blinking lights in the restaurant indicate what catch is available; I recommend you do an early lunch for this as the crabs do tend to run out over time. Take the bib home as a souvenir.

Additional trip ideas

  1. Trekking to Sigriya Rock – This trek is exhausting, but worth the history lesson and gorgeous views
  2. Visiting Dambulla Cave Temple – This world heritage site north of Kandy is worth a look at
  3. Spice Garden – Learn which various herbs are cultivated in Sri Lanka
  4. Ella Train ride – An extremely scenic
  5. Horton Plain’s National Park
  6. Yala National Park

Cost

Our entire trip, including airfare and all the activities, cost us just under US$1,000. We flew FlyDubai from Dubai to Colombo.

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