Sri LankaExplore Hidden Gems By Train
Considered to be one of the finest islands in the world especially by train, Sri Lanka is a destination not to be missed. As you discover the beauty of the country through exquisite beaches, adventurous jungles, you will bear witness to the magical history of the country within its temples and its many hidden gems.
Explore this alluring country as you travel through plantations, past bustling rivers, and bountiful green landscapes. Have a look and find out more about this Sri Lanka itinerary.
Recommended Days: 3 Weeks
Riding Hours: Approx. 16 hr
Distance: 868 km
Transportation: Train, Taxi
Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Vibrant Capital
The vibrant capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is a bustling city that is full of rich culture and history. There won’t be a boring moment as you wander through the city that is filled with shops, churches, restaurants, museums. And why not take a tour of the city with one of the locals in a bouncing tuk-tuk.
Right next to Beira Lake is the glorious Buddhist temple, Gangaramaya Temple. It is one of the oldest temples in all of Colombo. It is home to an on-site museum that houses a collection of old artifacts, as well as being a learning center for many of the locals. You also won’t want to miss the huge Buddha that is housed within the temple. Then head over to see the world’s tiniest Buddha statue for a little comparison.
If you want to continue down the historical path, visit the gorgeous Red Mosque which is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo. You will find this piece of architecture mesmerizing and is well worth a visit. If you fancy a bit of souvenir shopping, the Pettah Market is a truly authentic experience. Located in the center of the Pettah district, you will find fresh produce and interesting local ingredients. Just opposite is the Pettah Floating Markets where you can peruse the colorful local wares.
Whilst in Colombo, it is well worth taking a little day trip to Negombo which is a little beach town perfect for some relaxation. In Negombo, you will find vast golden beaches and exciting nightlife. If you want to witness some breathtaking beauty, head to the Negombo lagoon which is a great playground for those who want to enjoy some watersports. When exploring this little coastal town, don’t forget to visit some of the beautiful churches and cathedrals that are dotted around. St Mary’s Church is considered a must-see due to its exquisite beauty.
Colombo Fort Station → Harabana Station | Duration: 1:11h | Transfers: 0
Habarana: Adventure Spot
A small city settled within the Anuradhapura District of Sri Lanka, Habarana is a popular spot for those wanting to head deep into the jungle for a safari adventure. You will also find the magnificent Habarana Lake where you can take a 90-minute walk around the perimeter.
Habarana is a great spot for those looking for a bit of adventure, so take a tour and climb up Sigiriya Rock. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the red ocher rock overlooks the jungle to give an incredible site. Start your tour within the Royal Gardens and as you start climbing you will wander past various pretty gardens and pools.
Take a trip to the Hurulu Ecopark to spend some time with the elephants. Here you will see elephants in absolute freedom, exploring their home and marvel at these beautiful creatures. For an adventure underground, visit the Dambulla Cave Temple which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a cave monastery that is home to five sanctuaries filled with beautiful Buddhist murals and statues.
Habarana → Kandy | Duration: 1:38 h | Transfers: 0 | Transport: Private Taxi
Kandy: Tea Plantations, Spice Gardens, Tropical Forests
Set within the heart of Sri Lanka is Kandy. It used to be the capital of the ancient kings and is now a center of culture and the religions of this wonderful island. Here you will find holy relics, tea plantations, spice gardens, tropical forests and more to be uncovered on your journey.
A must-visit on your trip has to be to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, also known as the Sri Dalada Maligawa that is situated alongside Adam’s Peak. Considered to be one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka, the golden-roofed temple is home to a tooth of the Buddha. The temple is within the royal palace complex, so once you have taken a look at the gold casket within the temple, you can head to one of the surrounding temples and museums.
You will not want to miss the beauty of the artificially constructed Kandy Lake where you can enjoy a relaxing stroll away from the sounds of the city. Sri Lanka is known for its big tea exportation, so why not take a tour of the Giragama Tea Plantation. You will be able to get up close to the tea-making process as you meander the grounds and take a trip into the factory.
Kandy Railway Station → Hatton Station | Duration: 2:16 h | Transfers: 0
Hatton: Tee, As Far As The Eye Can See
Hatton is famous for its magnificent tea plantations as well as being surrounded by lush mountains, a tranquil spot where you will be able to feel rejuvenated. Adam’s Peak is considered to be a famous pilgrimage with its 6000 stairs to climb atop the mountain and take a breath for jaw-dropping views. At the summit you will find sacred footprints that are believed to belong to Buddha.
As Hatton is one of the main tea plantation areas within all of Sri Lanka, there is plenty of choice as to which ones to explore. Take a trip to Mackwoods Labookellie Tea Factory which was founded by a British captain in 1841. At the tea center you will be given great detail about the various stages of tea manufacturing, technique developments and also learn a bit about the factory’s history within the tea museum.
If you want to witness some fantastic architecture, head over to the Warleigh Church which looks like it is straight off of a British countryside postcard. Here you will find old world interiors and as you look out from the church, sloping hills and rivers are its backdrop. You may also want to take a look at the original Bible that was a gift to the church.
Hatton Station → Ella | Duration: 3:46 h | Transfers: 0
Ella: Little Mountain Town
A vast change from that of some of the other stops on our Sri Lanka itinerary, Ella is a mountain town sitting at around 1000 meters above sea level. Although a small area to visit, there is plenty to keep you entertained, from hiking trails and waterfalls or head to one of the cafes and relax with incredible views.
Ella is well-known for its hiking trails, there are plenty to choose from but two that should be at the top of your list would be Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock. Head out on these treks in the early morning so as to avoid the common afternoon downpour. Once you reach the height of both of these hikes, you will be sure to have sprawling views over the island’s countryside. You may also want to take a hike to one of the 400 waterfalls that are on the island.
From Ella you will be able to visit Ravan Ella, Bambaragama and Diyaluma. A short walk from the town is the iconic Demodara Nine Arch Bridge that you can walk across, or sit nearby to wait for a train to pass. There is also the delectable Nine Arches Bridge Cafe and enjoy watching the people and the trains go by.
Ella → Kataragama | Duration: 1:23h | Transfers: 0 | Transport: Private Taxi
Kataragama: Holy City
Kataragama is a holy city of Sri Lanka and often sees visitors upon their religious pilgrimages. Once a small village, it has become a fast-paced urban area with hundreds of thousands of worshippers visiting, there is plenty to be seen and to do within this miraculous city. And don’t forget to take a trip to the nearby Yala National Park for an exhilarating safari.
As Kataragama is one of the holiest cities within Sri Lanka, you should not miss visiting one of the many beautiful shrines, such as the Maha Devale Shrine. It is considered to be one of the most important shrines in the city, it is most frequently visited by Hindus from South India. Here lies the deity of Skanda, also known as the 12-armed Hindu war god, Murugan. When visiting, don’t forget to watch the impressive ritual of pilgrims smashing burning coconuts into the two boulders outside.
If you plan your trip right, you may have the chance to participate in the Kataragama Festival during the months of July and August. It is a traditional festival that entails participants taking a long walk to Kataragama in order to re-impose their faith.
You should also enjoy one of the many safari tours that take you to the Yala National Park. Yala is one of the most popular national parks in all of Sri Lanka due to the great variety of animals that live within the park. Hop into a jeep with an experienced local guide who will be able to talk about all of the wildlife and fauna that inhabit the vast expanse. You will find around 215 species of birds and 44 mammals living within the vibrant ecosystem, as well as the park hosting the highest densities of leopards on the entire planet.
Kataragama → Tangalle | Duration: 1:20h | Transfers: 0 | Private Taxi
Tangalle: Relax At The Beach
After an exciting itinerary, your final stop is to the beautiful large town of Tangalle where you can relax on the bountiful beaches, explore the reefs and enjoy your last few days on Sri Lankan soil. Here you will find uncrowded beaches and why not take a trip out onto the ocean and enjoy some deep-sea fishing.
Tangalle Beach is quiet and relaxed with plenty of space for all to enjoy. Right by the beach, you will find a busy market, fishing harbor, and two upmarket villages of Goyambokka and Pallikaduwa. Enjoy the Kalametiya Bird Sanctuary nearby which is one of the oldest bird sanctuaries in Sri Lanka. You will also find the mangrove lagoon and brackish water lagoon, as well as over 150 species of birds, 20 mammals, and a variety of fish and reptiles.
Head out onto the water for some Rekawa Lagoon canoeing. Rekawa Lagoon is a stretch of inland water that is surrounded by plant life, animals, and more. As you kayak or canoe through these bright blue waters, you will have the chance to see some amazing sights from an interesting perspective. You may even have the chance to spot some incredible marine life, such as turtles within their natural habitat. You will see a variety of different breeds, from green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and leatherback to name a few.
Tangalle → Colombo Fort Station | Duration: 4:24 h | Transfers: 1