Trip Types
  • Travel Style
  • Interests and Activities
  • Tour Ideas by Month
  • Continents and Regions

Sri Lanka Summer Beaches and Northern Wildlife

  • Off the beaten track
Travel to the Northern parts of Sri Lanka, where caramel-sanded beaches are ideal in the summer months and wildlife is vibrantly abundant with dolphins in Kalpitiya, elephants in Minneriya and leopards in Wilpattu. Begin your journey with a visit to Kandy and witness an annual Buddhist festival of Esala Perahera, where elephants wear bright-colored cloaks and dancers perform spectacular acrobatics...

Travel to the Northern parts of Sri Lanka, where caramel-sanded beaches are ideal in the summer months and wildlife is vibrantly abundant with dolphins in Kalpitiya, elephants in Minneriya and leopards in Wilpattu. Begin your journey with a visit to Kandy and witness an annual Buddhist festival of Esala Perahera, where elephants wear bright-colored cloaks and dancers perform spectacular acrobatics. A perfect mix of culture, nature and wildlife, this tour will take you on an unforgettable discovery of the island’s multicultural diversity, a thousand-year history of multiple ancient kingdoms and a visit to the largely unexplored Northern peninsula with stunning lagoons and active Buddhist and Hindu temples existing since the dawn of times. You will be enthralled by the idyllic magic of this tropical paradise.

See more

Customizable tour itinerary

This tour idea is fully customizable

This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.

Day 1: The Bustling Capital of Colombo City

Your driver meets you upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport. You are greeted by the tropical air of this magical island, and for your first destination Sri Lanka’s main metropolis bustling with lots of activity. Depending on the time of your flight, you can go for a city tour. As a suggestion, you can visit the Dutch fort and museum, discover the busy Pettah neighborhood, its markets and the mosque, as well as City Hall’s colonial-era architecture. Enjoy some last-minute shopping in charming boutiques and even stop by to meet your local travel agent! Also take a walk on Galle face green during the sunset hours, a true meeting point of families and lovers.

Visited:
Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo
Accommodation
Night at Sayura House (Colombo)

Day 2: Kandy Temples and Seasonal Esala Perahera

Drive to Kandy and discover Sri Lanka’s landscapes, passing along paddy fields, palm trees and sometimes hills. On the way, make a stop at a working tea plantation. You will learn about the process of picking the tea and weathering the leaf to achieve that aromatic Ceylon infusion. Go on a three temple hop in Kandy’s neighboring towns. Depending on your dates, you may be lucky to witness the annual Esala Perahera, a colorful Buddhist festival taking place at Kandy’s main Sri Dalada Maligawa. This eight-day celebration is a procession of traditional Kandyan dancers, fire-eaters and beautifully decorated elephants, one of them carrying the relic of what is believed to be Buddha’s tooth.

Visited:
ColomboKandy
Accommodation
Night im Thotupola Residence (Kandy)

Day 3: Dambulla Cave Monastery

Go for a city tour of Kandy, Sri Lanka’s last royal capital placed in the majestic hill country, including Upper Lake Drive, Market Square and a Gem Museum. Afterwards, visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic, housing the royal palace complex and the Relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an essential role in the country’s politics owing to the fact that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Road to the cultural triangle. On the way, you can visit Dambulla Cave Rock Temple. The Buddhist temple is a UNESCO world heritage site, located on top of a rock and consists of five caves. All are filled with Buddha statues and have beautiful wall paintings. The view over the surrounding environment is breathtaking! 

Accommodation
Night im Jay's Holiday Resort (Habarana)

Day 4: Cultural Triangle and Elephants in Minneriya

Early in the morning, to avoid the long lines, explore the legendary Sigiriya rock fortress, an ancient royal abode built into solid rock. Sigiriya is the most visited site in Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy the magnificent frescoes, gardens with natural caves and ruins of the royal palace on top of the rock. Otherwise, go for a hike in the beautiful Pidurangala valley, still unknown to mass tourism and holding great archeological significance. From the top of the hill, you will see a beautiful vista with a view of an ancient monastery, the “Lion’s Rock”, the national park of Minneriya, some caves and Buddha statues. Continue to Minneriya National Park and go for an exciting jeep safari. The park is known for its large elephant population, counting approximately 400 pachyderms. You can also see other wild animals: crocodiles, buffalos, deer, pelicans and a multitude of birds. The park is equally interesting for its landscapes, spanning wetlands, lakes and mountains rising in the background.

Visited:
SigiriyaPidurangala, MinneriyaHabarana
Accommodation
Night im Jay's Holiday Resort (Habarana)

Day 5: Bullock Cart Ride and Polonnaruwa's Ancient Kingdom

For a fun morning spent among the locals, ride a bullock cart through the village of Hiriwaduna. You can partake in a cooking class of some local specialties and then enjoy a typical village lunch made of delicious curries. You can also take a boat on the nearby lake and admire the beautiful scenery of Sri Lanka’s countryside. In the afternoon, you can visit Polonnaruwa, which was the island’s capital during 11th and 12th centuries. The main attraction, Gal Vihara, is a group of 4 Buddhas carved in granite stone. The archeological museum is very interesting. This visit can be done on a bicycle (rental on site). Drive to Trincomalee, a well-known beach destination on the East coast.

Accommodation
Night at Nilaveli Beach Hotel (Trincomalee)

Day 6: Whales, Turtles and Snorkeling

Sunny day on the beautiful beaches of Trincomalee. Take a boat ride to Pigeon Island and enjoy a fun day of snorkeling. You will see many colorful tropical fishes that are easy to spot due to their curious patterns. For more, take a sea boat excursion to see the dolphins or the whales deep in the sea. Or simply take a swim with the turtles in the beautiful turquoise waters of this eastern seaside. You can also just relax on the beach and enjoy the sun.

Visited:
Trincomalee
Accommodation
Night at Nilaveli Beach Hotel (Trincomalee)

Day 7: Hindu Temples and The Island's Tamil Culture

You can start the day exploring the town of Trincomalee and the famous temple of Koneswaram Kovil. This temple is the center of gravitation for the Tamil culture in Sri Lanka, primarily concentrated in the Northern part of the country. You can also make a stop at the hot water springs in the town’s vicinity. Then continue to Jaffna and visit the Kovil of Nallur Kundaswamy, a principle pilgrimage site for the Hindus. This part of the country is still developing after years of ethnic conflict and civil war, but it is facing rapid economic growth and the atmosphere is saturated with excitement for its potential. Strike a casual conversation with a local salesman or shopkeeper and you will quickly find out that this part of the country hides rare gems of cultural riches.

Visited:
TrincomaleeJaffna
Accommodation
Night at PJ Hotels (Jaffna)

Day 8: Island Hopping in Jaffna

When in Jaffna, go for a fun island hopping adventure. This is a unique experience with some of the islands joined by suspended bridges and others reachable via a short boat ride. The islands closest to Jaffna are Karaitivu and Velanai. Here you will find popular beaches, with Casuna beach being the most visited by the locals. From Velanai, you can go on an unforgettable boat ride to the island of Nainativu, where you can visit the Buddhist temple of Nagadipa, as well as the Hindu temple of Naga Pooshani. Hire a tuk-tuk and take a coastline ride around the island. Finally, hop over to Delft Island for its picturesque wilderness, the ancient ruins and the ponies galloping freely in the beautiful landscapes. Once done with the islands, you can still enjoy the animated night markets of Jaffna.

Visited:
Jaffna
Accommodation
Night at PJ Hotels (Jaffna)

Day 9: Northern Peninsula and Point Pedro

Early in the morning, drive to the peninsula to the water sources of Keerimalai, situated 15km from Jaffna. Then, visit the ruins at Kantarodai, the twenty mysterious Dagobas discovered in 1916. You then proceed to Point Pedro, the most extreme northern cape of the island, where you can meet plenty of fishermen. Discover sublime beaches totally abandoned to the wild and meander around the most remote coastline in the country. 

Visited:
Jaffna, Anuradhapura
Accommodation
Night at Palm Garden Village (Anuradhapura)

Day 10: Buddhist Beginnings in Anuradhapura and Leopards in Wilpattu

Head off to Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s first ancient capital. Many of the Buddhist temples are still active here so you can have a lively insight into the philosophy. The site comprises a rich collection of architectural and archaeological wonders: enormous Dagobas, sky-high brick towers, ancient pools and crumbling temples. Nearby, visit the site of the sacred tree Sri Maha Bodhi and walk around the grand Dagoba to witness the locals practicing their faith. Next, visit Mihintale, the place where Buddhism originated in 257 BC. The pilgrimage site inherits several religious monuments and abandoned structures and is located 300m on top of a rock, offering a scenic outlook.

​In the afternoon, transfer for a jeep safari in the Wilpattu National Park. You can see a large variety of wild animals: leopards, crocodiles, buffalos, deer and an abundance of water birds. The spots where animals can be seen most easily are near to the water bodies, where they come do drink.

Visited:
AnuradhapuraWilpattu, Kalpitiya
Accommodation
Night in Funky Far Nest (Kalpitiya)

Day 11: Dolphins and Kite Surfing in Kalpitiya

Day at leisure on the north-western coast in Kalpitiya, still undiscovered by mass tourism and known for its beautiful wild beaches. The waters near Kalpitiya are densely populated by hundreds of dolphins, but also are significant for their coral reefs and precious ecosystems. The location is known for snorkeling and being the prime spot for Kite Surfing in the windy seasons of the year. Enjoy a relaxing stay in a cabana on the beach.

Visited:
Kalpitiya
Accommodation
Night in Funky Far Nest (Kalpitiya)

Day 12: Local Markets and Churches of Negombo

Road for your departure. On the way, make a stop in Negombo and visit the biggest fish markets. Explore this beach-front town nicknamed “Little Rome” with its rich colonial history and magnificent churches. If you have time, you can take a boat ride along the “Dutch canal”, famously used in the not-so-long-gone past for transporting cinnamon bark. Transfer to the airport depending on your flight schedule.

Visited:
Kalpitiya, NegomboColombo

Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo Kandy Dambulla Habarana Sigiriya Pidurangala Minneriya Trincomalee Jaffna Anuradhapura Wilpattu Kalpitiya Negombo

Price details

This tour idea is fully customizable

The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.

Approx. $1,220 / 12 days
Excluding international flights
2 People4 People6 People                    
Price per Person in a Double Room$1,580$1,330$1,230
Price per Person in a Triple Room$1,210$1,110
Single Supplement$580$580$580

Included in price:

  • Private transport and transfers with AC vehicle (by car or minivan), English speaking chauffeur-guide
  • Itinerary including mileage, accommodations and meals for the chauffeur-guide
  • Overnight hotel in double, triple or single rooms (subject to availability)
  • Breakfast-only or half-board depending on the hotels (subject to availability)
  • 3 temple trek around Kandy with an English-speaking trekking guide
  • Half-day in a jeep safari in Minneriya National Park
  • Half-day in a jeep safari in Wilpattu National Park
  • Visit and lunch in the Hiriwaduna village
  • Government taxes
  • Colombo office assistance 24/7

Not included in price:

  • International Air tickets
  • Visa fees (check online http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/)
  • Lunch and dinner, unless otherwise specified
  • All beverages during meals
  • Visits and activities not mentioned in the “inclusive” section
  • Photo and video camera permits
  • All expenses of personal nature
  • Tips

Itinerary not quite right for you?

Create your custom-made trip Browse all tour ideas in Sri Lanka (18)

Other tour ideas

Tour ideas by activity, interest, or seasonality