Sri Lanka is such an awe-inspiring place to visit you need much more than a couple of days to take in its many natural and cultural wonders. That said, if you are planning a weekend getaway to this enchanting island, you can still look forward to some amazing experiences. Depending on your preferences, you could be touring a cosmopolitan city, lazing on sun-kissed beaches, journeying to misty mountains or exploring ancient kingdoms!
Base Yourself at Colombo
The commercial capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is within easy reach of the Bandaranaike International Airport and is an ideal place to be based at. Since you are pressed for time, consider joining one of the city excursions offered by local tour operators which will take you to the best spots.
You can visit colonial buildings, sacred sites, the Pettah Floating Market, scenic Galle Face Green, the Colombo Lighthouse, the National Museum and more. The type of tours can vary as well and may include rides on a double-decker bus, a tuk-tuk safari or even a night cycling tour!
Visit the West Coast
Because of its proximity to Colombo, Negombo along the west coast is an ideal destination to visit. It offers a lovely stretch of golden sand and azure waters, while there’s much to see as well; these include the Neoclassical St. Mary’s Church, Dutch Canal, main fish market and Muthurajawela Marsh.
Alternatively, you can head further up the west coast to Kalpitiya which also happens to be one of the premier spots for kitesurfing in Sri Lanka. Those visiting from October to the end of March can enjoy dolphin watching excursions, while during this time you may get to spot whales as well.
Consider the South Coast
Instead of heading west, you could plan a weekend at the famed south coast beaches, also within easy reach of Colombo. Beachside hotspots to visit include Bentota which offers an abundance of water sports and Hikkaduwa an ideal spot for snorkelling, diving, surfing and nightlife.
As part of your weekend itinerary totour Sri Lanka, consider a stop at the city of Galle; the Old Town and its Dutch Fort have been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are well worth exploring. On the other hand, wildlife enthusiasts could skip the beaches and embark on a safari at the Yala National Park where they have a chance to spot leopards.
Head to the Hill Country
The hill country of Sri Lanka is set amidst stunning mountain ranges and travel specialists the likes of Walkers Tours offer guided excursions to its key destinations. Those who prefer a weekend trip here can visit Kandy home to the revered Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the idyllic Royal Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya.
Alternatively, you could head to the city of Nuwara Eliya where you can enjoy the English countryside like setting and visit tea plantations to learn the secrets of Ceylon Tea. Ella is another popular hill country town where you can look forward to trekking at Ella Rock and visiting the Ravana Waterfalls.
Explore the Cultural Triangle
History buffs or those looking for an Indiana Jones-like adventure can enjoy Cultural Triangle tours to some of the key UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. You could make the ascent to the summit of the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress, explore the archaeological treasures at Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa or be awed at the ancient cave temple complex in Dambulla.
For something different, you can embark on a wildlife safari at the Minneriya National Park; those heading here between August and October have the chance to witness “The Gathering” where hundreds of elephants can be seen in and around the park’s reservoir.