The ideal destination for family tourism in Sri Lanka. Kids have so much to see and do that it takes at least a month to fully appreciate it. We marked the locations on the map of Sri Lanka that could be visited with a child alone, and we set out with 8 days to spare.
Here’s our ultimate 8 Days best of Sri Lanka itinerary for you!
Colombo – Kandy/Sigiriya/Dambulla – Nuwara Eliya/Horton Plains/Udawalawe National Park – Galle (en route Mirissa) – Negombo (en route Bentota)
Day 1: Delhi to Colombo (Sri Lankan Airlines) / Colombo to Kandy (Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage en route) / Explore Kandy / Overnight at Kandy
We made the decision to bypass Colombo and proceed directly to the holy city of Kandy. As a much-needed respite from the journey, we managed to fit in a visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on the route to Kandy. Mini-me was unable to contain her joy. It’s adorable how children love the same activity or movie repeatedly rather than getting tired of it. Children seem to be the only ones who enjoy predictability, I suppose. I and my husband were not very interested in Pinnawala because we had already seen elephants in the wild and untamed Indian National Parks. However, we were undoubtedly interested in savoring our daughter’s joy and excitement about getting to feed a baby elephant. Children can have fun in Pinnawala, a wonderful wildlife reserve while getting to know one of the biggest, smartest, and most modest animals.
Inundated by rain, Kandy appeared lovely and peaceful. Before dropping us off at the hotel, our driver pulled over so we could see the aerial view of Kandy from Arthur’s Seat (also known as the Kandy viewpoint). We had a fantastic time taking in the breathtaking views from the balcony of our hotel room while sipping tea (one of my favorite travel activities), and mini-me airily snapped hundreds of shots (One of her favorite parts of travel.)
A magnificent performance at the Kandy Sri Lankan Cultural Show enlivened our evening. It is a vibrant fiesta of life. Performers make you blink twice with their animated performances, colorful costumes, captivating folklore tales, constant spinning, and open-air grand finale show. This elegant performance is enjoyed by both children and adults.
We visited the Temple of the Tooth Relic to cap off our day. The temple’s evening ceremony is definitely worth attending. Even though the Buddha’s sacred tooth relic was hidden inside an ornamental gold construction, the experience nonetheless was breathtaking. Our first day in Sri Lanka was made memorable by a stroll through Kandy. Despite all the commotion, Kandy’s elegant colonial and traditional Kandyan architecture drew my eye. Markets that are active and colorful are worth a stroll. Tuk-tuks were so beloved by Mini-me that they quickly replaced our other modes of transportation in Sri Lanka.
Day 2: Kandy to Sigiriya/Dambulla / Overnight at Kandy
You must get up very early if you want to visit both Dambulla and Sigiriya in a single day. The journey to Dambulla began around five in the morning. However, after visiting Sigiriya Lion Rock and the Dambulla cave shrine, you won’t regret getting up so early. The hike isn’t as challenging as we anticipated. As one approaches the summit, a visual treat is in store. It’s difficult to decide whether to gaze upon the ruins or the breathtaking surroundings.
Day 3: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya / Overnight at Nuwara Eliya
There has been enough written about the beautiful train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, and although I would love to take the train, I find that I prefer road trips because they allow you to stop whenever and wherever you please, touch and enjoy the breathtaking views, take pictures whenever you like, and give you a chance to connect with and learn about the local culture. Simply said, everything comes down to preferences.
One of the most dramatic road drives I’ve ever taken occurred on the way from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. Every turn reveals more magic. I breathed in the clean air and took in the mesmerizing views of the enchanted hill region snaking beside undulating hills covered in brightly colored flowers that mocked the varied color palette, luscious tea plantations, various waterfalls, and streams. The picturesque scenery gets you thirsty and wants more after a drink.
At a restaurant inside the Ramboda Falls Hotel, we had lunch. Really, it was lunch with a view. Eating traditional Sri Lankan food while savoring the breathtaking views of Ramboda Falls, which are framed by opulent tea gardens and shadowed by mountains. Is it not appealing? A truly heartfelt and satiating experience.
Both in Nuwara Eliya and along the route there are a lot of tea factories. To observe the full tea production process, from picking to withering to drying, you can go to any one of them. Children benefit from the educational experience of the factory tour, which is led by a lovely girl employee. Mini-me was shocked to learn that the same tea plant can produce six to seven different types of tea, including green tea, black tea, white tea, and many more, simply by combining various leaves from the same plant. They force you to sample every type of tea at the conclusion of the tour so you can buy the one you liked most. According to my observations, tea is more expensive at the manufacturer than it is at nearby stores. Simply observe the tea-making process and purchase it elsewhere.
A stroll through Nuwara Eliya’s streets in the twilight was breathtaking. It was time for dinner as we strolled around Gregory Lake, the Golf Club, and Victoria Park. The food court in Araliya Green City was the ideal place to eat while enjoying the live music.
Day 4: Nuwara Eliya to Horton Plains / Overnight at Nuwara Eliya
We left at exactly five in the morning for the hour-long trip to Horton Plains. It’s best to arrive before 6 a.m. and begin the trek as soon as it opens because it can get quite crowded, especially on the weekends, and it also tends to become foggy and cloudy after 10 a.m. The trip to World’s End and back takes around 3 to 4 hours and is rather simple.
We arrived at the World’s End and stood on the ledge, gazing down the valley in utter awe. Deep ravine features small towns with lovely tea plantation gardens, and on a clear day, it is rumored that you can see the south coast. That is unusual, though. What a fantastic experience. You can enjoy the longer hikes to Mt. Kirigalpoththa and Mt. Thotupola if you have the time.
We still had a full day to go, so our driver suggested we stop at Moon Plains, which is a few kilometers from Nuwara Eliya, on the way back. We asked him to take us to the Moon Plains despite our reservations. Our concerns vanished in the mist as soon as we arrived at Potato Seed Farm, the beginning of the Moon Plains. As the gorgeous landscapes opened up in front of us, the trip down the winding and twisting trails became enthralling. The Second World’s End had an enticing view. Yes! Moon Plains is made up of mountains that disappear into the horizon, forests that are shrouded in dancing mist, complete silence that is occasionally broken by the sound of birds, and views that redefine beauty. The tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, Pidurutalaga, may be seen from the Bomuruella Plains, along with Single Tree Mountain, Kikiliyamana Mountain, Great Western Mountain, Konical Hill Mountain, Kirigalpoththa Mountain, Thotupola Mountain, Hakgala Mountain, and Namunukula Mountain. one-word Spellbinding.
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya to Udawalawe National Park / Overnight at Udawalwe Resort
When we travel, we prefer to rise as early as feasible. Major sites, which are typically busy during peak hours, are always simple to find and quick to enter. We left for Udawalwe National Park at 4 in the morning as usual, sticking to our plan, and arrived there at 8 in the morning. The gate opens at 6 a.m., making daybreak the ideal time to visit Udawalwe for a safari. At this time, you may also see the spectacular sunrise. We didn’t see that, but the park was comparatively less crowded, and mini-me loved the 4-hour safari with a knowledgeable guide that our resort at Udawalwe organized. We witnessed a group of elephants, including an adorable young elephant that was only a few months old, as well as crocodiles, water buffalo, monitor lizards, spotted deer, monkeys, and many bird species. The highlight of the trip was seeing a magnificent, colorful toucan. We finished the day with a stunning sunset at Udawalwe, which took the sting out of missing the sunrise.
Day 6: Udawalawe to Galle (en route Mirrisa) / Overnight at Galle
It was finally beach time, which is the main reason tourists travel to Sri Lanka. With a highly suggested stop in the coastal village of Mirissa, we were on our way to Galle. We arrived in Mirissa in a little more than 3 hours. The beach at Mirissa met our expectations. a calm, lovely beach with a relaxed atmosphere. Because of the severe weather, we were unable to go on a whale-watching excursion, which left my young daughter a little unhappy. She was ecstatic at the thought of seeing friendly dolphins in the ocean, and I suppose that’s the ideal activity for kids in Sri Lanka, so I was also sad. When whale watching season rolls along, we’ll bring her back to Sri Lanka.
Day 7: Explore Galle / Overnight at Galle
A charming tiny Dutch colonial village called Galle. We were stunned by the vibrant combination of colors and architecture. Walking through the lovely town, we never felt our eyes or feet grow fatigued. The old Dutch Galle Fort, which is the main attraction in Galle, the gorgeous white lighthouse, the bustling streets with vibrant colors of flowers, the strange shapes of the windows and doors, and the location are all ideal. I’d advise using Galle as your base for the majority of your time in Sri Lanka. We spent the evening at Unawatuna Beach admiring the ocean’s sunset, which left behind the ideal hues to enhance our time in Galle.
Day 8: Galle to Bandaranaike Airport (en route Bentota/ Negambo) / Midnight flight to Delhi
We wanted to enjoy our final day to the fullest. Since our flight was at midnight, we had plenty of time. The Madu Ganga River Safari in Balapitiya was taken just for the purpose of viewing the spot where the river meets the ocean, but the cruise’s variety of experiences caught everyone off guard. The Madu River has a lot to offer, including stopping by the ancient Kothduwa temple inside the river, traveling through breathtaking mangroves, savoring real cinnamon tea on Cinnamon Island, taking advantage of fish therapy, and seeing the river flow into the ocean.
We went to the Turtle Hatchery with great anticipation but departed early disappointed. I had pictured turtles strolling along the beach, so seeing these adorable animals in their natural setting seemed like a tremendous pleasure. But as we entered the hatchery, I had the impression that it wasn’t what we had in mind. The sight of several turtles of various sizes and ages crammed into tiny ponds with foul-smelling water made me cringe. I inquired about the timing of the turtles’ ocean discharge. The guide responded, “It depends. Some after a few days, some after a few months.” Mini-me denied having the turtle’s hatchling in her possession. A girl her age would also be able to comprehend that harassing them solely for the purpose of a photo isn’t the appropriate thing to do. Then what is wrong with us? Instead of being a conservation effort, the whole thing appeared to be a money-making venture. For their own gain, they actually abuse little animals. Never in a million years would I advise someone to go to a turtle hatchery in Sri Lanka. Animals are better off in the wild like we are always happy in our houses. Let them be. Please.
While traveling from Galle to the Bandaranayake International Airport, we made stops at several beaches, including Hikkaduwa, Bentota, Mount Lavinia, and Negombo. Nothing is as bad as too much beach time, right? Because of its proximity to the international airport, Negombo is a stunningly ideal location to wait for your trip back home (20 mins journey)
Don’t forget to treat yourself to some retail therapy before you depart because Sri Lanka offers a wide variety of regional and traditional handicrafts to offer. I also brought some truly wonderful souvenirs home from Sri Lanka.
We’ll return to Sri Lanka shortly to visit the areas we missed.
Sri Lanka possesses all the necessary components to qualify as a kid-friendly vacation spot. I hope that our 8-day schedule will make it easier for you to enjoy and experience Sri Lanka with kids.
Are you persuaded enough to put Sri Lanka on your travel wish list? If you’ve been to Sri Lanka before, what would you change about our itinerary?
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