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The East Coast of Sri Lanka

The East Coast of Sri Lanka is a hidden gem less frequented by travellers, with its quieter pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and rich cultural heritage it is worth exploring. This itinerary will include the eastern coast highlights of Trincomalee, Arugam Bay & Kumana National Park into your itinerary for Sri Lanka

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 1: Airport / Negombo

Airport – Negombo approximate travel distance and time | 10km, 30min drive`

Negombo is a vibrant coastal city located on the western coast of Sri Lanka, not far from the Airport. Known for its beautiful sandy beaches and a network of picturesque lagoons. The city has a rich history, with Portuguese and Dutch colonial influences evident in its architecture and culture.


Things to Do:

  • Relax on Negombo Beach and enjoy the sunset

  • Visit the Dutch Fort in Negombo for a glimpse into its colonial past

  • Discover the Negombo Fish Market for a bustling atmosphere and fresh seafood

  • Explore the Muthurajawela Marsh for bird watching and wildlife spotting

Overnight:

Negombo

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 2 & 3: Habarana (Cultural Triangle)

Negombo - Yapahuwa approximate travel distance and time | 115km, 2 hours 30min drive
Yapahuwa – Habarana approximate travel distance and time | 88km, 2 hours drive

Travel to the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka the place to discover the magnificence of the ancient kingdoms of Sri Lanka including several UNESCO world heritage sites such as the 11th-century city of Polonnaruwa which served as the capital of Sri Lanka for 150 years, the fortress monolith of Sigiriya 'Lion Rock' and the magnificent art & sculpture of 1st century Dambulla cave temple complex.


Things to Do:

  • Yapahuwa. A lesser-known gem. The magnificent ruins of a13th-century fortress

  • Polonnaruwa (UNESCO world heritage). The well-preserved 11th-century capital of Sri Lanka

  • Dambulla (UNESCO world heritage). The 1st-century cave temple complex

  • Sigiriya (UNESCO world heritage). A 5th-century fortress known as Lion Rock

  • Minneriya National Park - home to the largest herds of elephants on the island.

Overnight:

Harbarana

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 4, 5 & 6 : Trincomalee

Harbarana - Anuradhapura - Trincomalee approximate travel distance and time | 211km, 4 hour drive

Nestled along the azure shores of the Eastern coast, Trincomalee unfolds as a radiant gem, offering a tapestry of cultural richness, natural beauty, and maritime charm. This coastal city, with its deep historical roots and pristine landscapes, invites to immerse themselves in an enchanting blend of serenity and vibrancy.


Things to Do:

  • Koneswaram Temple believed to be over 2000 years old commands panoramic views of the Indian Ocean.

  • Fort Frederick. Historic fort built by the Portugese in 1624 and still in operation today. 

  • Marble Beach.   Known for its white sands and crystal clear waters

Overnight:

Kandy

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 7 & 8: Gal Oya

Trincomalee – Gal Oya approximate travel distance and time | 206km, 4 hours 30min drive

Gal Oya, located in the Eastern Province is a pristine wilderness area renowned for its untamed beauty and diverse ecosystems. Established in 1954, it stands as the country's oldest wildlife sanctuary, encompassing a vast expanse of lush landscapes, dense forests, and the expansive Senanayake Samudraya reservoir witness the spectacle of wild elephants swimming between islands in the reservoir. This unique behaviour sets Gal Oya apart.


Things to Do:

  • Boat safari on the Senanayake Samudraya

  • Hike up Monkey Mountain

  • Visit the local villages

Overnight:

Gal Oya

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 9 & 10: Arugam Bay

Gal Oya – Arugam Bay approximate travel distance and time | 79km, 1-hours 30min drive

Nestled along the eastern shores of Sri Lanka, Arugam Bay emerges as a coastal haven where the rhythm of the waves and the laid-back charm converge to create an idyllic escape. Renowned as a surfer's paradise, this picturesque bay unfolds as a canvas of natural beauty and chilled out beach town.

Things to Do:

  • Visit the isolated Kumana national Park a wetland paradise.

  • Learn to surf in one of Sri Lanka best surf beaches

  • Enjoy the many relaxed bars and restaurants in Arugam Bay

Overnight:

Ella

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 11: Yala

Arugam Bay - Yala approximate travel distance and time | 196 km, 5-hours’ drive

Yala, situated on the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, is primarily known for its renowned Yala National Park. One of the country's most iconic wildlife reserves, celebrated for its diverse ecosystems, including dense jungles, grasslands, and pristine coastlines. Yala is renowned for the high density of its Leopard population making it one of the best places in the world to see this magnificent cat.


Things to Do:

  • Buduruwagala. 10th century colossal rock carving

  • Yala. Safari in Yala National Park

Overnight:

Yala

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 12: Galle & the South Coast

Yala - Galle approximate travel distance and time | 190km, 4 hours’ drive

Galle, the coastal city on the southwestern tip of Sri Lanka, is a captivating blend of history, culture, and scenic beauty. Steeped in colonial charm and surrounded by the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, Galle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that invites visitors to explore its living 17th-century Dutch fort with vibrant streets, cafes & restaurants.  Along with the beautiful beaches of the southern coastline, this is one of the highlights of Sri Lanka.


Things to Do:

  • Galle Fort.  The enigmatic 17th century fort with it vibrant streets, shopping and food scene

  • Mirissa. The best place in the world to see the Blue Whale

  • South Coast Beaches. Some of the most beautful in Sri Lanka

Overnight:

Galle

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 13 & 14: Colombo

Galle - Colombo approximate travel distance and time | 152km, 3-hour drive

Colombo, the vibrant capital of Sri Lanka, is a bustling metropolis that seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. This coastal city on the Indian Ocean offers a kaleidoscope of experiences, from the historic charm of colonial architecture to indulging in shopping at bustling markets and modern malls, with a vibrant food and nightlife scene there is a lot to do in this modern Asian city.

Things to Do:

  • Do a walking tour of the city with local guide

  • Shopping in the cities many malls

  • Enjoy the many restaurants & bars the city (perhaps join the Dodgy Bars tour of Colombo)

Overnight:

Colombo

Sunset at Nilaveli Beach, Sri Lanka
Day 15 - Airport Transfer

Colombo – Airport approximate travel distance and time | 38km, 1-hours drive

Airport Transfer

Overnight:

None

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