Planning to explore Sri Lanka with kids? Here’s our 8 days Sri Lanka itinerary with kids.
Sri Lanka is a perfect place to travel with kids. There’s so much to see and do for kids that one needs at least a month to enjoy it. With 8 days in hand, we marked the places on the map of Sri Lanka that can be visited with a kid in tow and off we went.
OUR 8 DAYS SRI LANKA ITINERARY WITH KIDS
Colombo – Kandy/Sigiriya/Dambulla – Nuwara Eliya/Horton Plains/Udawalawe National Park – Galle (en route Mirissa) – Negombo (en route Bentota)
Day 1: Delhi to Colombo (Sri Lankan Airlines) / Colombo to Kandy (Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage en route) / Explore Kandy / Overnight at Kandy
We decided to skip Colombo and head straight to the Sacred city of Kandy. Squeezing in Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage on our way to Kandy served as a much-needed break from the journey. Mini-me couldn’t hold her excitement. It’s cute how kids don’t get bored doing or seeing the same thing again and again rather they enjoy it analogously every time. Enjoying the predictability is unique to children I guess 🙂 Having seen elephants in the untamed and wild in National Parks in India, I and hubby were not really interested in Pinnawala. However, we were definitely interested in cherishing the happiness and excitement of our daughter while feeding a baby elephant. Pinnawala is a lovely nature preserve where kids can have fun while spending time with one of the most giant and intelligent yet humble creatures.
Kandy looked beautiful and serene, drenched in rain. Our driver stopped the car for us to admire the bird’s eye view of Kandy from Arthur’s seat (Kandy viewpoint) before dropping us at the hotel. We spent some wonderful time breathing in the mesmerizing views from our room balcony while sipping tea (One of my favorite part of travel) while mini-me clicked hundreds of pictures airily (One of her favorite part of travel.)
Our evening was adorned with a stupendous performance at Kandy Sri Lankan Cultural Show. It’s full of life and color extravaganza. Performers with their energetic performances, vivid apparels, compelling folklore tales, perpetual twirling, whirling, and open-air grand finale act make you skip a blink. The kids and adults equally enjoy this graceful spectacle.
We ended our day with a visit to the Tooth Relic Temple. Evening ceremony at the temple is truly worth witnessing. Though we couldn’t see the Buddha’s sacred tooth relic as it’s housed in a decorative gold structure but the all-embracing experience was beautiful. Walking on the streets of Kandy was the highlight of our first day in Sri Lanka. Despite all the hustle and bustle, Kandy caught my attention because of its tasteful classical Kandyan and colonial style buildings. Busy and vivid markets are worth a stroll. Mini-me was in love with tuk-tuks that it became our preferred mode of transportation in Sri Lanka. Tuk-tuks are sure to intrigue the little ones while you discover Sri Lanka with kids.
Day 2: Kandy to Sigiriya/Dambulla / Overnight at Kandy
If you want to do Dambulla and Sigiriya in a day, you got to wake up pretty early. We started for Dambulla at 5 in the morning. But you wouldn’t regret getting up crazy early once you have visited Dambulla cave temple and Sigiriya Lion Rock. The hike isn’t as difficult as we thought it would be. A visual treat awaits as one reaches the summit. Eyes get confused whether to admire the ruins or to take pleasure in the stunning surrounding views.
Day 3: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya / Overnight at Nuwara Eliya
Enough has been written about the scenic train journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and I’d love to travel by train but somehow I prefer road trips because they give a freedom to pause wherever and whenever you want to; touch and relish the amazing vistas; click pictures as and when you wish and give a chance to connect and know the local side. It’s just a matter of preferences.
The road journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya turned out to be one of the most dramatic road trips I’ve ever experienced. With every turn, magic unfolds. I inhaled the fresh air and savored the bewitching vistas of the magical hill country winding alongside rolling hills blanketed by vividly colored flowers mocking the assorted color pallet and lush tea plantations, numerous waterfalls, and streams. Drinking in the pretty countryside makes you thirsty, craving for more.
We had lunch at a restaurant in Ramboda Falls Hotel. It was truly a lunch with a view. Eating authentic Sri Lankan cuisine while chugging in the beautiful views of Ramboda falls that have shadowy mountains in the background enveloped by luxurious tea gardens. Isn’t it inviting? Absolute soulful and tummyful experience 🙂
There are many tea factories on the way to Nuwara Eliya and in Nuwara Eliya. You can visit any one of them to see the entire tea production process from plucking to withering to drying. The tour of the tea factory lead by a graceful girl staff is a learning experience for kids. Mini-me was surprised to know that six to seven types of tea like green tea, black tea, white tea and many more can be obtained from the same tea plant just by changing the combination of different leaves of the same plant. At the end of the tour, they make you taste all the varieties of tea so you can buy the one you liked the most. My experience says that the price of tea at the factory is relatively higher than it’s at outside shops. So, just experience the tea making process and buy it from outside.
It was amazing to take an evening stroll on the streets of Nuwara Eliya. Meandering through Victoria Park, Golf club and walk away surrounding Gregory lake; it was time for dinner. Araliya Green City food court was a perfect choice to dine while listening to the live band.
Day 4: Nuwara Eliya to Horton Plains / Overnight at Nuwara Eliya
Exactly at 5 a.m., we started 1-hour journey to Horton Plains. It’s better to reach before 6 in the morning and start the hike as soon as it opens because it gets pretty crowded especially on weekends and also gets misty and hazy mostly after 10. It takes around 3-4 hours to World’s End and back and is quite an easy hike. We stood on the cliff staring down the valley in sheer amazement upon reaching the World’s End. Deep ravine showcases little villages with beautiful tea plantation gardens and they say you can see the south coast on a clear day. That’s rare, though. It was an awesome experience. If time permits, you can enjoy the longer hikes to Mt Kirigalpoththa and Mt Thotupola.
On our way back to Nuwara Eliya, our driver suggested visiting Moon Plains which is few km from Nuwara Eliya because we still had a half day to go. Though apprehensive, we asked him to take us to the Moon Plains. As soon as we reached Potato seed farm which is the start of the Moon Plains, our apprehensions melted away in the mist. The ride along the bending and turning paths became enchanting as the breathtaking terrains unfolded before us. View from the Second World’s End was seductive. Yes! Mountains fading into the distance, forests covered in the dancing mist, absolute quietness vanquished by the sound of birds every now and then, and the views that give new definition to the beauty sum up Moon Plains. One can see the colossal mountains of Sri Lanka viz. Pidurutalaga (tallest), Single Tree Mountain, Kikiliyamana Mountain, Great Western Mountain, Konical Hill Mountain, Kirigalpoththa Mountain, Thotupola Mountain, Hakgala Mountain and Namunukula Mountain from the Bomuruella Plains. One word. Spellbinding.
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya to Udawalawe National Park / Overnight at Udawalwe Resort
We prefer getting up as early as possible when we travel. It’s always easy and hassle-free to reach and get entry at major attractions which are otherwise crowded at peak hours. As always, following our strategy, we started for Udawalwe National Park at 4 in the morning and reached there at 8 a.m. The best time to visit Udawalwe for safari is at dawn (gate opens at 6 a.m.) when you can witness the mesmerizing sunrise too. We missed that, however, the park was relatively less crowded and mini-me reveled in the 4-hour safari with an experienced guide arranged by our resort at Udawalwe. We saw a herd of elephants with a cute few months old baby elephant, crocodiles, water buffalos, monitor lizards, spotted deer, monkeys, and different species of birds. Spotting the beautiful vibrant toucan was the highlight of safari. We ended our day with a beautiful sunset at Udawalwe which washed away my regret of missing the sunrise.
Day 6: Udawalawe to Galle (en route Mirrisa) / Overnight at Galle
Finally, it was beach time, the main reason people visit Sri Lanka with kids for 🙂 We were off to Galle with a much-recommended halt at the beach town, Mirissa. It took us a little more than 3 hours to reach Mirissa. Mirissa beach lived up to our expectations. A pretty and quiet beach with laid-back aura. My little girl was a bit disappointed as we couldn’t’ do whale watching tour because of the bad weather. I was sad too because she was utterly excited just thinking about getting a glimpse of friendly dolphins in the ocean and I guess it’s the best thing to experience when you visit Sri Lanka with kids. We promised to bring her back to Sri Lanka during whale watching season.
Day 7: Explore Galle / Overnight at Galle
Galle is a dreamy little Dutch colonial town. The dazzling mix of colors and architecture bedazzled us. We explored the beautiful town on foot but our eyes and feet never felt tired. The lovely white lighthouse, lively streets with vivid shades of flowers, bizarre shapes of windows and doors and old Dutch Galle Fort which is the major attraction in Galle make it a perfect place to be. I’d recommend keeping Galle as a base for the most part of Sri Lanka trip. We spent our evening at Unawatuna beach watching the sunset in the ocean leaving behind the perfect shades to color our moments at Galle.
Day 8: Galle to Bandaranaike Airport (en route Bentota/ Negambo) / Midnight flight to Delhi
It was our last day and we wanted to make the most of it. Our flight was at midnight, so we had enough time in hand. The sole reason to indulge in the Madu Ganga River Safari in Balapitiya was to see the point where the river meets the ocean but the cruise came as a surprise with its multitude experiences. Stopping by at the old Kothduwa temple inside the river, making way through amazing Mangroves, tasting the authentic cinnamon tea at Cinnamon Island, enjoying fish therapy and witnessing the river ending into the ocean; Madu River has a lot to offer.
We visited Turtle Hatchery with sheer excitement but left early dejected. I had imagined turtles toddling off down the seashore and It seemed like a real visual treat to witness these cute creatures in their natural habitat. But as we walked into the hatchery, I sensed that it’s not what we imagined. It was shuddering and dreadful to see dozens of turtles of different sizes and ages squashed into the little ponds with dirty smelly water. “When would you release these turtles into the ocean?” I asked. ” Some after few days and some after few months, it depends.” guide answered. Mini-me denied holding the baby turtle in her hands. Harassing them just for the sake of a picture isn’t a right thing to do, a girl of her age could also understand. What’s wrong with us then? The whole thing seemed like a money-making project rather than the conservation project. They literally torture tiny animals for their own interest. I would never ever recommend anyone to visit Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka. Animals are better off in the wild like we are always happy in our homes. Let them be. Please.
We stopped by at different beaches (Hikkaduwa, Bentota, Mount Lavinia, and Negombo) during our journey from Galle to Bandaranaike International airport. There’s nothing like too much of beach right! 🙂 Negombo is a beautifully perfect place while you wait for your flight back home because of its proximity to the international airport (20 mins journey.)
GETTING TO SRI LANKA
Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake next to Negombo, 30 km north of Colombo, is Sri Lanka’s primary international airport. With growing tourism, Sri Lanka receives tourists from all around the world.
Sri Lankan Airlines is the major air carrier which has a sizeable network to Asia and the Middle East. Sri Lanka is well served by other major carriers like Air India, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines including budget air carriers like Air Asia and Indigo.
Sri Lankan Airlines and Air India have direct flights from New Delhi. It takes around 4 hours and the prices are competitive too.
Looking for awesome deals on flights? Fly for Less with Skyscanner.
GETTING AROUND SRI LANKA
Getting around Sri Lanka can be tiring because of narrow and crowded roads, and unmanaged traffic. Tuk-tuks run extensively and stop anywhere without paying any heed to road safety rules. Though one must at least once experience tuk-tuk travel when in Sri Lanka. There are few small group tuk-tuk tours available where a local guide makes you travel like a local in a tuk-tuk.
You can book the tuk-tuk tour of Colombo with a passionate local here.
Buses and trains make up the public transportation system in Sri Lanka. Traveling by bus or train is cheap but frustrating because of the chaotic crowds. Private Buses are a better option than the Central Transport Board buses.
One can hire a bicycle to explore Sri Lanka. There are a few bike tours available too.
Hiring a car with a driver is the best option to discover Sri Lanka. I’d not recommend self-drive car hire because driving is a pain in the island country. Also, the prices are more or less same whether you rent a car or hire a car with a driver. We hired a car with a driver which gave us a chance to sit comfortably at the backseat and experience the outdoors at leisure while the driver handled the unruly roads.
The rates are calculated per km with the additional fuel charges. Expect to pay 50 to 60 USD a day on an average. You don’t need to offer lunch or dinner to the driver though can offer tea once in a while. Drivers openly ask for a tip in Sri Lanka. Be aware, they tend to deter from visiting the places in your list and take you to the places where they earn a commission. This happened with us. It’s better to tell the driver upfront to drive to places only in your itinerary.
Make sure to hire a car with a driver from a reputed company.
WHERE TO STAY IN SRI LANKA
As family travelers, we always look out for the resorts or hotels that are ready to go that extra mile to serve families traveling with young kids. We stayed at some amazing family-friendly properties in Sri Lanka which we can recommend to families without even thinking twice.
The name says everything. Taj overlooks the Samudra (Indian Ocean), offers comfortable and classy rooms plus the hospitality is matchless. The hotel is located in Kollupitiya, one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Sri Lanka that proffers some authentic Sri Lankan experience for kids. Taj Samudra is hands down one of the best hotels in Sri Lanka to stay with kids.
Check the availability and prices here.
Perfect Location. Perfect Rooms. Perfect Hospitality. Perfect for Families. The Heritage Galle Fort is everything you could ask for and more. This has to be our top pick in Galle. Book and know it for yourself!
Check the availability and rates here.
ESSENTIAL TIPS WHILE PLANNING A TRIP TO SRI LANKA WITH KIDS
Sri Lanka is a relaxed and fun place to travel with kids. However, the right preparation while you plan to travel to Sri Lanka with kids can help you take the bumps along the way breezily.
- It’s crucial to pack mosquito repellant, insect bite cream (especially if you plan to hike with kids), kids’ sunscreen lotion, swimwear, sunglasses, hat, rain gear, medical kit with basic medical supplies, hand sanitizer and long sleeve tops for the evenings.
- Sri Lanka is hot normally, however, hill country region can be chilly. Carry a light jacket and full lowers.
- Bring along the books, coloring books, colors, travel games like UNO and beach playset to keep the kids busy while traveling from one city to another in Sri Lanka and of course they’ll need these while relaxing on a beach.
- Access to clean water is definitely a concern and it’s advisable to consume bottled water.
- Plan your trip during the whale and dolphin watching season (December and January being the peak months) because missing this activity on your trip to Sri Lanka with kids is a crime. We are the culprits, you know!
Before you leave, don’t forget to indulge yourself in shopping pleasure because Sri Lanka has a lot to offer in terms of local and traditional handicrafts. I too brought back a piece of Sri Lanka in form of amazing keepsakes.
Sri Lanka, we’ll be back soon to enjoy the places we missed!
Sri Lanka has all the elements that make it an A-okay destination for kids. Hope our 8 days itinerary helps you enjoy and explore Sri Lanka with kids in a better way.
Are you tempted enough to add Sri Lanka to your bucket list? What would you change in our itinerary if you’ve already been to Sri Lanka?
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