My Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary for Your Solo Trip to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is one of the countries on the bucket list of many solo travellers. And I have to tell you that it is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in a long time. There are refreshing tea plantations, stunning beaches, delicious local delicacies, fun adventure activities, and many hidden treasures. Where else do you find so many great things in one place?
Most people think that Sri Lanka is all about one city, and that is Colombo. Yes, Colombo is one of the country’s hotspots, but there is so much more to Sri Lanka! Most travellers waste a lot of time in Colombo and do not get enough time to explore the rest of the country. To be very honest, a week is not enough to explore a country, let alone a city.
I know it isn’t easy, and that is why I am writing this blog. This solo trip itinerary will help you plan your week in Sri Lanka and get the most out of it.
Day 1 – Reaching Sri Lanka and exploring Colombo
Once you reach the Colombo Airport, you wouldn’t want to waste any time. There is so much to explore in such little time. Nevertheless, you can take it a little easy on the first day as you would be tired and jet-lagged. So, check-in at your hotel, freshen up and get going!
9:00 am – Get a massage
Before anything else, make sure that you get a good massage! I know this wouldn’t come to your mind due to your tight budget. But trust me, your body will thank you for this! Visit Siddhalepa Ayurvedic Spa or White by Spa Ceylon for the best experience at affordable rates. You will feel refreshed and will be ready to explore the capital city.
10:00 am – Breakfast
After a great massage session, you can have your breakfast at Black Cat Café, one of the most popular and my favourite café in Colombo. If you want to check out other cafes, please read my blog for more options.
11:00 am to 3:30 pm – Mount Lavinia Beach
Once you refuel your body, head to Mount Lavinia Beach, which is one of the best in Colombo. While there aren’t many adventure sports to take part in, you can just chill and relax for some time. Once you are done, you can get your lunch at one of the many restaurants nearby. After a tummy-filling lunch, you can head back to your hotel for a short nap.
5:00 pm to 8:00 pm – Pettah Floating Market and dinner
Next, you should head to Pettah Floating Market. It is one of the major tourist attractions in Colombo and one that you cannot miss! And that’s not all. You can shop for some souvenirs, jewellery, bags, footwear, and whatever else you find here. After shopping to your heart’s content, you can have dinner at a restaurant nearby or even at your hotel, just as you like.
Day 2 – Leave Colombo and head to Kandy
On the second day of your solo trip, you should head to Kandy, one of the most happening places in Sri Lanka. Exploring Kandy in a day is tough! Because you have limited time, try to wake up early in the morning. Then, have your breakfast and head to Kandy. Upon reaching and checking into your hotel, relax for an hour or so and get ready for an exciting day.
11:00 am to 12:30 pm – Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
First off, you should visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, one of the country’s most famous Buddhist temples. It is said that a tooth of Buddha is preserved in a golden casket inside the temple. You can spend some time here and explore other parts of the temple too.
1:00 pm – Lunch
It is important not to skip meals when you’re on day tours. So give time for lunch. And don’t worry, there are a lot of options to choose from. My favourite restaurant in Kandy is Balaji Dosai. The restaurant primarily serves South Indian dishes and some local dishes too. The prices are very low, and the food tastes excellent. What else does one need? If you wish to eat something other than this, you can check out other restaurants or cafes nearby.
2:00 pm to 3:30 pm – Kandyan Dance
Kandyan Dance, as the name suggests, is a dance form native to Kandy. It is one of the many art forms that represent the rich Sri Lankan culture and history. When I first saw the dance, I was fascinated by the moves, costumes, and performance of these dancers. For as little as $5, this dance show would make anyone appreciate the country’s culture. Taking a pass on this will leave a hole in your Sri Lankan trip!
4:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Royal Botanic Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens is located on Peradeniya Road and is one of the largest botanical gardens in the country. There are thousands of plants here, and different kinds of birds visit the park quite often. I suggest that you spend at least an hour or even more here because this is one place that you cannot miss!
7:00 pm – Dinner
You would be pretty hungry by now, and it’s time for dinner too. Try out some fish ambul thiyal. It is a spicy local alternative of fish curry, sour in taste, and perfect for dinner. If you aren’t in the mood to have fish, try out some chicken and opt for the famous kukul mas curry, the Sri Lankan version of chicken curry. Instead of running around and finding a restaurant, you can check out my blog on the best restaurants in Sri Lanka.
Day 3 – Second day in Kandy and leaving for Nuwara Eliya
You can have a good night’s sleep and wake up slightly late since the previous day was a little tiring. Then, have your breakfast at your hotel or visit a café nearby, just as you like. And before you head to Nuwara Eliya, there is one place that you need to check out in Kandy.
9:00 am to 10:00 am – Kandy Lake
Before you leave for Nuwara Eliya, you should visit Kandy Lake to relax a little. No trip to Kandy is complete without a visit to the famous Kandy Lake. Even though it is a man-made lake surrounded by traffic and noisy roads, you can spend some time in peace and meet other tourists.
10:00 am to 1:00 pm – Reaching Nuwara Eliya
After spending some time near the lake, you should get back to your hotel and leave for Nuwara Eliya. The trip will take you around three hours if you travel by private taxi. However, if you take a bus or train, it can take much longer. Even though you would be excited to explore Nuwara Eliya, you should take a short nap as soon as you reach your hotel.
2:00 pm to 6:00 pm – St. Clair’s Falls
After a quick lunch, you can start your day to explore Nuwara Eliya. Your first destination has got to be St. Clair’s Falls. It is one of the biggest waterfalls in the country and is commonly known as “Little Niagara of Sri Lanka”. Before you leave, make sure that you click some “pretend candid” pictures for your Instagram story!
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm – Pedro Tea Estate (optional)
If you are a tea enthusiast, you should definitely check out the Pedro Tea Estate. Even though there are many tea estates that you can explore, I found this one to be the most tourist-friendly. A cup of tea is simple to make, but you will learn about the complexities of tea making here. It closes at five in the evening, so schedule your trip accordingly.
8:00 pm – Dinner
It’s time for dinner, so head to Themparadu for some delicious treat. They offer a wide variety of snacks and dishes at a reasonable rate, making it a must-visit! However, if you are in the mood for something other than snacks, Grand Thai is the place to be at. In my opinion, they provide the best experience ever! The vibe, service, taste, and the different kinds of food are top-notch!
Day 4 – Exploring Nuwara Eliya
9:00 am to 10:00 am – Gregory Lake
Gregory Lake is the next place on the list. You should visit the lake right after your morning routine. It is one of the most relaxing places in the city and is very scenic too. The best part is that you can do many activities here – fishing, rowing, boat riding, or simply sitting near the lake and enjoying the stunning views.
10:30 am to 4:30 pm – Aberdeen Falls
Any trip to Nuwara Eliya is incomplete without visiting Aberdeen Falls. Even though it takes a couple of hours to reach here, it is totally worth it! It is one of the highest waterfalls in the country, and the views are breathtaking! Clicking some pictures here is a must. Also, please make sure to follow the safety guidelines as it is quite dangerous here. Ensure that you have your lunch or some snacks on the way to the fall.
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm – Victoria Park
After a tiring day of moving around the country, it is time to take it easy. Victoria Park is one of the cleanest parks in South Asia and is home to many rare birds. The most scenic place in the park is near the Nanu Oya River, which runs through the park. It is surrounded by a lot of colourful flowers, and you can do a mini photoshoot here!
Your trip to Nuwara Eliya comes to an end here. Try to get back to your hotel by dusk and have your dinner there itself. And it’s better that you sleep early because the next day will include a lot of travelling and many thrilling adventures! If you wish to explore other parts of Nuwara Eliya, you can check out my blog on exploring Nuwara Eliya.
Day 5 – Indulge in some adventure activities
As I mentioned earlier, a week is not sufficient to explore Sri Lanka. Due to this, you have to make a choice here. Either go on a hike or explore wild animals in Yala National Park. No matter what you choose, you will have to wake up by four in the morning. And these are only two of the many adventure activities in Sri Lanka. Do note that hiring a private taxi can totally change your experience. You will not have to worry about transportation, and it can also help if you are exploring the country on a budget.
Option 1 – Sigiriya and Pidurangala
Sigiriya and Pidurangala are only two of the many great hiking trails in the country. These two are the best to explore when you have a shortage of time. I recommend that you climb Pidurangala first because it is the harder of the two. It will take two to four hours to climb to the top, depending on your speed. Also, you can take a few breaks and check out other attractions on the way. Some of them are the Cave Temple and the Reclining Buddha Statue. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy the marvellous views. You can also see Sigiriya from the top.
Depending on your energy levels after the Pidurangala hike, you can decide if you wish to climb Sigiriya or not. Note that it is one of the country’s most famous attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is nearly two hundred metres high and takes a couple of hours to climb to the top, thanks to the easy hiking trail. The history of Sigiriya is much more exciting, and words fall short to explain the views from the top! No matter which of these you decide to climb, do not forget your hiking essentials.
Option 2 – Yala National Park
If you aren’t a hiking girl but like animals and wildlife instead, Yala National Park is the place to be at. It is the second-largest and the most visited national park in Sri Lanka. It is located right on the edge of the country, bordering the Indian Ocean, and takes around five hours to reach by road. There are six national parks and three wildlife sanctuaries inside Yala. There are hundreds of species of animals here. Some of the most famous ones are Sri Lankan elephants and leopards. Notably, it also has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. So, make sure that you take a safari and look at these animals up close.
Day 6 – Checking out some beaches
If you think you have seen everything in Sri Lanka, wait until you check out some beaches. While there many stunning beaches in the country to choose from, I have shortlisted a few since you only have a day and a half to explore them.
This is one of the most famous beaches, and you can do a lot of stuff here, be it surfing, swimming, snorkelling, watching turtles lay eggs, or simply whale and dolphin watching. You can also simply relax here and watch others indulge in these sports.
When it comes to beautiful beaches, Weligama is right up at the top. While it is not the most popular amongst tourists, a lot of families visit here quite often. The highlight of the beach is stilt fishing, which is a traditional form of fishing where fishermen sit on sticks away from the seashore to catch fish. This scene is beautiful, and you should surely capture it. But beware of the ‘stilt fishermen’ scam.
f you are tired of exploring places and want to relax a little, you can head to Koggala beach. Of course, you can simply sit near the shore and enjoy watching the turtles and huge waves!
Talalla South Beach
I would say that this is an ideal beach for people who love to walk. It is shaped like an arc, and I would highly recommend that you walk around it. All those palm trees, golden sand, and light blue water of the sea make it a great place for your photos. You can also indulge in some of the many adventure sports here.
Feel free to check out the restaurants and cafes near these beaches whenever you feel hungry. As I said earlier, make sure that you hire a private taxi so you can travel around the country and visit these beaches without having to waste time finding other modes of transportation.
Day 7 – Time to say goodbye
This is going to be the last day of your solo trip to Sri Lanka. You might not be able to do a lot today, but make sure that you make the most of it. Before heading back to Colombo to catch your flight, there’s one beach that you simply cannot miss.
9:00 am to 12 noon – Kalpitiya Beach
Kalpitiya is a beach famous for dolphin spotting. Seeing a few dolphins here is pretty common. However, I would recommend that you take a dolphin tour and look at them up close. When I took the tour myself, I totally loved it. If you love animals, this will be one of the best things on your solo trip to Sri Lanka. So don’t skip it!
Once you are done watching these dolphins, it’s time to head back to Colombo.
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm – Shopping
Is your trip really complete without taking home a few souvenirs? Not at all. I always take back home a few souvenirs whenever I go on solo trips. But I know you don’t have a lot of time to shop for souvenirs now. So, instead of finding places where you can find something to take back, just head to Laksala and thank me later. If you don’t know what to buy, check out my blog. You can spend an hour or so here and also have some snacks at a café nearby.
A tough goodbye…
After all the exploring, it’s finally time to say goodbye to Sri Lanka. Even though this itinerary may seem quite hectic, it is never going to be exhausting. Do not forget to have fun, because that is the most important of all. Also, feel free to make alterations to this itinerary as per your needs. Happy journey!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.