Sri Lanka Road Trips

The Best Road Trips in Sri Lanka

Missing having road trips

Just the two heads sitting in a car

Driving anywhere everywhere nowhere

Talking nonsense that makes sense

Shoving the right songs to our ears

Singing beautiful lyrics

Trying to stop time from leaving

If you’ve done a road trip before, you would know what we’re talking about and if you’ve not done one before then you’ll just have to believe us when we say – Road trips are always a great idea!

We bring you 5 ultimate road trip options to enjoy the best of Sri Lanka and make your very own road trip tale.

One of the many islands in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is known for its beautiful beaches and cultural diversity. A perfect getaway from the hustle of city life, Sri Lanka is home to many stunning locations making it a great road trip option for all the road runners.

1) Sri Lanka’s Hill Country Route

Sri Lanka's Hill Country Road-trip

Route: Colombo - Nuwara Eliya - Horton Plains - Ella - Kandy
Total Distance: 550 Kms

This version of a road trip involves beautiful mountains and adventure treks for adrenaline junkies. You start your trip at Colombo and drive to Nuwara Eliya which is a 4-5 hour drive from the city. Picturesque landscape, tea plantations and amazing weather rejuvenates your soul. You can visit a tea plantation or schedule a trip to Tea Factory with Trodly and enjoy the production of the famous Ceylon tea from scratch. Spend the night enjoying the lush green countryside of Nuwara with a warm cup of fresh tea or head straight to Horton Plains, 30 minutes drive from Nuwara Eliya.

A famous spot for nature lovers, Horton Plains National Park is situated at an altitude of 7000 ft. Cloud forest and grassland covers the area. Temperature is pleasant and multiple trek options are available. We recommend trekking to World’s end and Baker’s fall for breath-taking views of the park.

After exploring Horton Plains, you can head to Ella or enjoy a stop over Ohiya. It’s a small rural village close to the park and preferred option for a night stay. 1-2 hours drive from Horton National Park leads to Ella. A small town with rich bio-diversity and numerous tourist spots. You can stay here for 2-3 days to soak in all the wonderful vibes this town offers. Don’t forget to visit Little Adam’s peak, a relative of the famous Adam’s peak and Diyaluma Falls. Plan your day with us, visit Ella Tour.

When you’ve relished the town, head straight to Kandy. This is the most delightful and beautiful drive of the trip. Stay here for a couple of days and visit all the architectural and cultural hotspots in the city. Kandy Lake, Temple of the Sacred Tooth and Royal Botanical Gardens top our list of must-visit Kandy attractions. After enjoying your stay in Kandy you can take a train back to Colombo or continue your road trip to the capital while enjoying mountain views.

2) The Cultural Triangle

Sri Lanka Cultural Triangle Road-Trip

Route: Colombo - Kandy - Anuradhapura - Polonnaruwa - Sigiriya - Kandy
Total Distance: 650 Kms

Our next road route features architectural remains of ancient Kingdoms and stunning ancient temples. You can start at Colombo and drive to Kandy, a World Heritage Site. Visit the famous Temple of the Sacred Tooth and Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue. From here you can head straight to the ruins of Anuradhapura. It takes about 4-5 hours from kandy. Once you’ve reached Anhuradapura, you’re in for a cultural extravaganza. Ruins of the ancient Sri Lankan civilizations and its historical importance is well-preserved in this city. Make sure you visit the Bodhi Tree Temple, Kuttam Pokuna and Ruwanwelisaya. Explore the museums and monasteries before you head to Polannaruwa.

100 km from Anhuradapura lies the ancient city of Polannaruwa. Another World Heritage Site on the list, it flourishes with ruins of the Kingdom, temples, stupas and statues. Visit the Sacred Quadrangle, Archaeological Museum, Rankot Vihara and Gal Vihara. Next on road is the Lion Rock of Sigiriya. Situated about 50 km from Polannaruwa, the bold and brilliant rock fortress of ancient Sri Lankan Kingdom is situated at the flat top of the rock. You climb your way through stairs passing between Lion’s Paws and enjoy the landscape from ruins of the Kingdom. The stunning Frescoes, mirror wall and ancient citadel are worth the visit. From here you can head back to Kandy or Colombo ending your cultural excavation.

Also Read: Top 12 things to do in Colombo

3) Coast to Coast of Sri Lanka

Sri-Lanka Coastal Beach Road-Trip

Route: Colombo - Kalutara - Hikkaduwa - Galle - Weligama - Matara - Yala - Arugam Bay
Total Distance: 900 Kms

Exploring the southern coastline of Emerald Island is the most exciting road trip. Sri Lanka is famous for its stock of stunning beaches and scuba diving.

You kick-off your beach parade from Mount Lavinia beach in Colombo. A famous spot with delicious seafood and swaying palm tress. From here you head to Kalutara, situated 40 km from Colombo. Visit the Calido beach in the area, a small strip of land running parallel to the ocean and finally infusing into it. Next coast on our hit-list is the vacation town of Hikkaduwa, situated around 70 km from kalutara. You can go surfing, snorkelling or rent a boat and enjoy the Indian ocean up close. Hikkaduwa Coral Sanctuary is about 2 minutes offshore and is worth the visit.

From Hikkaduwa head to Galle city, which is approximately 30 minutes drive. This charming city is packed with colonial buildings from Dutch, Portuguese and British rule. Bentota and Unawatuna beach are the proud possessions of Galle city. You can scuba dive to explore the coral reefs or visit the turtle hatcheries and release a baby turtle into the Ocean. 35 km south of Galle is Weligama, home of the golden Weligama beach. Stilt fisherman are native to Weligama and quite popular among tourists. Be prepared to tip them if you want to include them in your Instagram pictures. From here we head to Matara, 19 km from Weligama.

This commercial town is booming with activities and ancient architecture. Apart from the Polhena beach, make sure you visit Parey Dewa. A Buddhist temple on an offshore island. From Matara head towards Yala National Park , which is approximately 120 km drive. Explore the park or head straight to Kirinda. A small town famous for white sandy beach and exotic resorts. Enjoy your layover in one of the beach side resorts or head to the last beach on our south coast hunt. Arugam Bay is loacted 165 km from Kirinda. Bay runs parallel to the coast and is home to the best surf spot in the country. Oceanside restaurants, sunbathing tourists and boundless waves of water marks the perfect end to a perfect road trip.

Also Read: Top 10 things to do in Galle

4) Wildlife Exploration

Sri-Lanka Wildlife Road-Trip

Route: Colombo - Sinharaja Forest - Udawalawe National Park - Horton Plains - Gal Oya - Colombo
Total Distance: 900 Kms

National Parks in Sri Lanka are raging hits among locals and tourists. Well-preserved forests, diverse wildlife and stunning views are common to almost all the parks in Sri Lanka. We explore the southern line of National Parks in Sri Lanka starting from Colombo.

Head straight to Sinharaja Forest Reserve, 170 km from Colombo. It is a biosphere reserve and World Heritage site by UNESCO, covered by virgin rainforest. Enjoy the endemic species of native birds, amphibians, mammals and tress. Once you’ve curbed your desire for nature, head upwards to Horton Plains National Park .

Located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, it touches an altitude of 7000 ft. Trek towards World’s end and Baker’s fall for panoramic views and rejoice in the unaltered world of nature. You can take a detour to Nuwara Eliya for tea plantations or continue uphill towards Gal Oya National Park. The elephant herd of Sri Lanka is predominant in this reserve. Forests and grassland cover the area and add the lush green effect to your pictures. Stroll along the banks of Senanayake Samudraya lake and savour the peaceful moments of nature.

5) Northern Stairway

Colombo Mannar Jaffna Road-Trip

Route: Colombo - Anuradhapura - Wilpattu - Mannar - Jaffna - Colombo
Total Distance: 850 Kms

This is the longest, most varied road trip loaded with cultural, historical and architectural beauty of Sri Lanka. Start your first leg of the journey in Colombo and explore the commercial hub studded with ancient temples, colonial architecture and war memorial. You can stay the night and enjoy the nightlife in a Casino or drive to Negombo. Famous for its beach and Dutch water canals, you can rent a boat and explore the lagoon or scuba dive and swim alongside turtles and starfish. Spend the night on a beach-side resort and drive to the city of ruins, Anuradhapura next morning.

200 km from Colombo is the city known for well-preserved ruins of ancient Sri Lankan kingdom. Visit the Bodhi Tree Temple, ancient monasteries and giant Dagobas before heading northwest to Wilpattu. 50 minutes drive from the ruins of Anhuradapura takes you to Wilpattu National Park. Natural lakes, trails passing through the forest, wildlife safaris and rich biodiversity makes it the largest and one of the oldest parks in Sri Lanka. If you’re lucky, you can spot the famous native leopard. Spend your night camping in the park or head to the closest city in the area, Mannar.

City of Mannar is 50 km from Wilpattu. Colonial period runs deep into the architectural roots of this city. It is still recovering from the aftermath of civil war. The ruins from colonial and civil wars remind you of its struggle and fight for peace. Don’t forget to visit Ketheeswaram Temple and city fort built by the Portuguese. Spend some time at the beach and head upwards to Jaffna. Another war affected the city, situated on the northern tip of the island. From Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialists to civil wars, its historical landmarks have come a long way. Visit the prestigious Hindu temple of Nallur Kandaswamy, Jaffna fort, public library and Jaffna Palace ruins.

After the historical trip back to the colonial period, head south to Colombo and reminisce about the explorations on your way home.

Read Top 10 things to do in Sri Lanka and share your favorite site with us.

Last Updated on November 28, 2018 by Vikas Johiya

By Mitisha Sharma

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