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Premium Sri Lanka

Encounter a country that radiates warmth – from its glorious sunshine to its spice-laden cuisine and incredibly kind people. This 9-day Premium adventure through Sri Lanka will introduce you to the country’s wealth of cultural riches. Explore the ancient ruins of past civilisations, spot rare and beautiful creatures in their natural habitats, relax among swathes of green tea fields at a hilltop retreat and receive a warm welcome from the locals. A shining gem in the Indian ocean, the teardrop isle will bring you nothing but smiles.

9 days, from


per person


12 people max


Trip code: HPPC
Style: Premium
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  Sri Lanka
Accommodation: Hotels (7 nights), Feature Stay (1 nights)
Transportation: Private vehicle , scenic train
Included Meals:

  • 8 breakfasts
  • 5 lunches
  • 2 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Learn about the country’s past during your Feature Stay at the gorgeous Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya – established in 1891, this colonial-era hotel has a modern outlook on sustainable practices.

  • Discover the beauty and mastery of Sri Lanka’s craft traditions and try them for yourself – from brass making and pottery to woodwork and ancient palm leaf writing.

  • Get an exclusive and immersive look at rural life in Ambagasthenna, where you’ll walk through tea plantations and paddy fields and learn about sustainable farming with a local guide.

  • Spot elephants, monkeys and tropical birds on a safari through the wild grasslands of Minneriya National Park.

  • Uncover ancient treasures in Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle as you explore the temples, ruins and stupas of Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Kandy with the expert guidance of your local leader.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Negombo

Welcome to Sri Lanka! Upon arrival at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, you will be met by an Intrepid representative and transferred to your hotel in nearby Negombo. Here you will meet your leader and fellow travellers at a 6 pm welcome meeting. If you arrive early, perhaps take some time to relax on the town’s golden-sand beach under a canopy of blue sky.

After your welcome meeting, you’ll get to know your group and leader a little better over a round of complementary cocktails and a welcome dinner of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine – prepare for rich scents, bold spicing and tongue-tingling flavours.

Day 2: Negombo to Kurunegala to Habarana

This morning travel inland, driving northeast towards Habarana. On the way, stop at the Ridi Vihara shrine, a Buddhist cave temple dating back to the second century BC. There are thought to have been almost 500 monks living in these hillside caves at its peak. Watch locals demonstrate ancient traditions and craft techniques, such as palm leaf writing and wood and stone carving, and explore the caves filled with Buddha statues and floral offerings.

Share lunch at a local restaurant before travelling to Habarana, your home for the next three nights. Once settled at your hotel, head out to visit the magnificent Sigiriya (Lion Rock). This dramatic rocky outcrop rising from the surrounding plains is topped by a ruined palace. Your leader will share stories of the ancient civilisation that once lived here as you climb; it's a steep hike but the far-reaching views from the top are worth it.

Day 3: Habarana

Set off at around 7.30 am in your private vehicle to reach the ruins of Ritigala Monastery in the foothills of Ritigala Mountain. Explore the shaded complex – which includes stone baths once filled with medicinal herbs and oils from the surrounding forest – before receiving a blessing from local Buddhist monks. Next, make your way to the village of Muriya Kadawala, where you’ll learn about traditional Sri Lankan pottery techniques and try your hand at the craft yourself. You’ll also sample a local herbal drink accompanied by a piece of halapa, a sweet treat wrapped in kenda leaves. Drive back to Habarana to debrief over a traditional lunch served on a rattan mat and eaten the local way – with your hands. You’re free to spend the rest of the day as you wish. If time permits, hire a hotel bicycle to explore the village, or visit Hurulu Eco Park.

Day 4: Habarana

After breakfast, make your way to Polonnaruwa to continue your explorations of the cultural triangle. Hop on a bicycle to discover well-preserved temples, tombs and stupas in Polonnaruwa’s ancient Quadrangle complex – it’s not hard to imagine what this place looked like in all its former glory. Visit the remains of a seven-story royal palace, the rock temple of Gal Vihara and the statue of 12th century king Parakrama I - at 100 metres tall this is a truly impressive sight.

For lunch you’ll visit a local grandmother’s house, who will show you how to make dhal curry and pol sambol from scratch – you'll even shred coconut yourself using a traditional scraper tool. This afternoon, head to Minneriya National Park to see Sri Lankan elephants in the wild. You're likely to spot plenty of these gentle giants around the watering hole, plus macaques, spot-billed pelicans and more.

Day 5: Kandy

Today you’ll travel to Kandy. Along the way, stop off in the city of Matale where you will visit a local spice garden and learn about the spices that have played such an important role in Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage. Upon arrival in Kandy, take a guided tour of the city, stopping to admire highlights such as the Hindu Pillaiyar Kovil temple and the Buddhist Sri Dalada Maligawa, otherwise known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (the important shrine houses a relic of Buddha’s tooth, taken from his funeral pyre). Despite being Sri Lanka’s second largest city, Kandy is remarkably laid back. Spend your free evening searching for a taste bud-tingling curry, wandering around the glittering lake or enjoying an optional cultural dance performance.

Day 6: Kandy

After an early breakfast, drive to the suburb of Pilimatalawa, known for its traditional brassware, and visit a local artisan to learn about the brass making process. Next head to Ambagasthenna village, where hotel and tea plantation owner Mr Thilina will guide you around his neighbourhood. You’ll visit the tea plantation, learn about the cultivation process, and try a cup or two served the Sri Lankan way. He’ll share inside knowledge about local crops, sustainable farming and ancient landscaping traditions. For lunch, feast on a delicious home-cooked meal made by Mr Thilina’s mother. Later, walk through paddy fields, swing by local temples and pause to rest at an ancient ambalama – a shelter and resting place for pilgrims and travellers. After such a culture-packed day, there’s only one way to end it: by cracking open a beer and watching the sunset from one of the best viewpoints in Sri Lanka.

Day 7: Nuwara Eliya

Depart Kandy and board a morning train bound for Nuwara Eliya. Nestled deep in tea plantation country, Nuwara Eliya sits at an elevation of 1800 metres, giving it some of the coolest temperatures in Sri Lanka. Remnants of the region’s colonial past can be seen in the sculpted gardens and manor homes dotting the landscape today. Check in to the Grand Hotel, a gorgeous National Heritage Property and your Feature Stay for the nights. Rooms feature classic décor and modern amenities, but the hotel’s real charm is its sustainable approach – the owners have eliminated single-use plastic and are striving for a zero-waste future. Later, you’ll take an orientation walk of Nuwara Eliya, wandering the peaceful shores of Gregory Lake and touring Pedro Tea Estate before returning to the hotel for high tea featuring pots of Ceylon black, green or spiced tea, plus finger sandwiches and sweet treats.

Day 8: Colombo

Say goodbye to the green hills of Nuwara Eliya and make the journey by private vehicle to Sri Lanka’s coastal capital, Colombo. Stop in the outdoor adventure hub of Kithulgala and opt to eat lunch at a riverside rest house. Those who want to really blow away the cobwebs after a morning on the road can opt to go ziplining.

Continue to Colombo and take an orientation walk with your leader, who’ll show you Sri Lanka’s colonnaded old parliament building, the National Museum and the best spots for fairtrade souvenir shopping. Tonight, share a final farewell dinner with your group at Ceylon Curry Club, a modern restaurant focused on creating dishes that celebrate Sri Lankan spices, such as peanut-crusted tuna with gotu-kola (pennywort) sambol and fragrant vegetable curry.

Day 9: Colombo

Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you’d like to stay on in Colombo, let us know in advance and we can help to arrange additional accommodation (subject to availability). Why not soak up all that Colombo has to offer on an immersive one-day Urban Adventures tour? Visit www.urbanadventures.com for more details.