How long to spend in Sri Lanka

How long to spend in Sri Lanka

It is true. You can easily spend an entire month discovering the beauty of Sri Lanka. However, not many people can afford to spend a whole month on a holiday. Also, it is not necessary to spend that many days in Sri Lanka to have a great trip.

As a travel agent specializing in Sri Lanka holidays, I work with lots of tourists who visit Sri Lanka for the first time. One of the questions that I am asked over and over again is “How long should I spend in Sri Lanka?”.

Generally, you need 10 to 16 days if you are visiting Sri Lanka from November to April, and 12 to 18 days if you are visiting Sri Lanka from May to October.

The exact length of your Sri Lanka holiday should be based on your interests, the month you are traveling, preferred pace, ages of the children (if any), and your tour budget.

 

Number of days
No of adults
Average cost of a Sri Lanka tour with 3 star hotels
5 days 2 $1,118
6 days 2 $1,318
7 days 2 $1,627
8 days 2 $1,822
9 days 2 $2,026
10 days 2 $2,223
11 days 2 $2,420
12 days 2 $2,612
13 days 2 $2,813
14 days 2 $3,122
15 days 2 $3,329
16 days 2 $3,643

 

I think most of the factors that I mentioned above need no explanation, but someone might wonder how the month that you visit Sri Lanka, and the ages of the children can play a role when deciding the length of your Sri Lanka holiday.

The tour month is important when deciding the duration of your Sri Lanka holiday, as you need to adjust your itinerary based on the weather patterns of the month that you visit Sri Lanka. Generally, the itineraries that are recommended for the period May to October require a longer duration compared to the itineraries that are recommended for the period November to April.

The ages of the children is an important factor when deciding the tour duration, as you will have to pace the tour appropriately for their ages. If you are travelling with young children, you might have to choose a slow-paced holiday to make it enjoyable for the kids. This means you need to either reduce the number of places that you are visiting or need to extend the tour duration.

Let’s quickly have a look at a few Sri Lanka tours of different lengths to determine the ideal number of days for your Sri Lanka holiday.

Is 5 days enough in Sri Lanka?

If you have the flexibility to spend a little longer in Sri Lanka, I highly encourage you to do so. 5 days are too few for a good Sri Lanka holiday.

The best way to spend 5 days in Sri Lanka is focusing your tour on the cultural triangle. Alternatively, you may choose a nice beach area in the southwest or south (Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Mirissa etc.) and spend your time leisurely. A suitable itinerary for a 5-day Sri Lanka holiday is as follows.

Airport – Kandy (1 night) – Dambulla (2 nights) – Negombo (1 night) – Airport

Please refer to my article on 5-day Sri Lanka itineraries for more in-depth information on this.

 

Is 7 days enough in Sri Lanka?

7 days is the shortest duration that I would recommend for a Sri Lanka holiday. It is not enough time to visit the east coast but can have a pleasant holiday discovering the cultural triangle, hill country, or the southern province.

Here are two itineraries that I recommend for a 7-day Sri Lanka trip. Please note these itineraries are recommended for tours during the period from mid-December to mid-April. You might experience some rain if you are taking these itineraries at a different time of the year.

 

Option 1

Airport – Negombo (1 night) – Dambulla (2 night) – Kandy (1 night) – Bentota (2 nights) – Airport

This itinerary is ideal if you would like to enjoy a jeep safari, visit a few historical sites, and a have peaceful beach stay during a 7-day holiday in Sri Lanka.

We are yet to publish a 7-day Sri Lanka itinerary that follows the above route on our website. However, you can have a good idea of this itinerary by referring to our itinerary, “Sri Lanka with toddlers”. It is basically the same itinerary with a few extra nights in each location.

 

Option 2

Airport – Unawatuna (2 nights) – Yala (2 nights) – Bentota (2 nights) – Airport

This 7-day Sri Lanka itinerary is ideal for someone looking for a slow holiday that includes beaches and wildlife. If you would like to see a detailed itinerary for this, please refer to our tour, “7-day Sri Lanka family holiday”.

Is 10 days enough in Sri Lanka?

Couple at 9 Arch bridge

You can have a very enjoyable holiday with 10 days in Sri Lanka, but it is still not enough to have a comprehensive tour. Here are two itineraries that you can use for a 10-day Sri Lanka trip.

 

Option 1

Airport – Negombo (1 night) – Sigiriya (2 nights) – Kandy (1 night) – Ella (2 nights) – Unawatuna (3 nights) – Airport

This 10-day Sri Lanka itinerary allows you to discover a bit of everything at a leisurely pace. It is ideal for the period from November to April, as the locations featured in this itinerary have the best weather conditions during that time period.

If you would like to see a detailed itinerary for this, you may refer to my article, “9-day Sri Lanka itinerary for a perfect holiday”. It is basically the same itinerary with a shorter beach stay.

 

Option 2

Airport – Negombo (1 night) – Dambulla (2 nights) – Nilaveli (3 nights) – Kandy (2 nights) – Colombo (1 night) – Airport

If your 10-day Sri Lanka tour is during the period from May to October, you should consider following an itinerary similar to the one above. It features the locations that have the best weather conditions during the period from May to October and allows you to enjoy some wildlife, nature, culture, and history at a leisurely pace.

For the time being we do not have a 10-day Sri Lanka itinerary that follows the above route on our website, but you will be able to learn more about this itinerary by referring to our 12-day Sri Lanka babymoon itinerary. It is the same itinerary with a longer beach stay.

Is 14 days enough in Sri Lanka?

Elephant in Udawalawe national park

For most people 14 days is the ideal duration for a Sri Lanka holiday. You can comfortably cover most of the must-sees of Sri Lanka with that time.

There are many ways to spend 14 days in Sri Lanka. For your reference here are two examples of itineraries recommended for the period between November and April.

 

Option 1

Airport – Negombo (2 night) – Hatton (2 nights) – Ella (2 night) – Yala (2 night) – Unawatuna (5 nights) – Airport

If you prefer a slow tour, you may follow an itinerary similar to the above for your 14-day Sri Lanka holiday. This itinerary features mostly nature related excursions and it is excellent for family holidays and honeymoon tours. If you would like to learn more about this itinerary, please refer to our Sri Lanka luxury honeymoon itinerary.

 

Option 2

Airport – Negombo (1 night) – Sigiriya (2 nights) – Kandy (1 night) – Nuwara Eliya (1 night) – Ella (2 night) – Udawalawe (1 night) – Bentota (5 nights) – Airport

This is a bit of an active itinerary that has a healthy mix of wildlife, nature, culture, history, and beaches. If you would like to see a detailed itinerary for this, please refer to our itinerary, Sri Lanka culture trip.

Is 16 days enough in Sri Lanka

Local market in Sri Lanka

As I mentioned earlier, most people will be perfectly happy with a 14-day Sri Lanka holiday. However, if you are travelling with young children, if you want a slower holiday (especially during the period from May to October), or if you want to add more excursions/beach time to your itinerary, you may choose to spend 16 days in Sri Lanka. Here are two 16-day Sri Lanka itineraries that you can use for your Sri Lanka holiday.

 

Option 1

Airport – Negombo (2 nights) – Sigiriya (3 nights) – Kandy (2 nights) – Ella (2 nights) – Yala (2 nights) – Unawatuna (4 nights) – Airport

If you are visiting Sri Lanka during the period from November to April with small ones, you may use an itinerary similar to the above for a slower paced holiday. We use the same route for our itinerary, Sri Lanka with a baby. Please have a look at it to get an idea how the excursions fit into this itinerary.

 

Option 2

Airport – Hikkaduwa (3 nights) – Yala (1 night) – Ella (2 nights) – Gal Oya (2 nights) – Pasikuda (4 nights) –Matale (1 night) – Negombo (2 nights) – Airport

This itinerary is great, if you want to discover the off the beaten path of Sri Lanka in a slow-paced holiday. The ideal time to take this itinerary would be from May to October. If you like the sound of this tour, please refer to our  Sri Lanka family adventure for more information.

 

Is three week too long in Sri Lanka?

Two weeks is sufficient to cover most of the must-sees in Sri Lanka. However, spending 3 weeks in Sri Lanka will allow you to discover it at a slower place. If you are planning to visit Jaffna, which is a Tamil city in Sri Lanka full of cultural experiences, 3 weeks is actually the right duration for your trip.

 

Summary

You will have a fabulous time in Sri Lanka regardless of your tour duration. However, you need to spend 2 to 3 weeks in Sri Lanka to enjoy it to the fullest. A shorter holiday would not be enough to fully appreciate its amazing wildlife, beautiful tea plantations, iconic ancient monuments, rich culture, and the pristine beaches.

I hope this article will help you start off your tour planning on the right foot. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. I am more than happy to answer them all.

Happy travels !

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