Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

8 day escorted tour itinerary

Classic Ceylon

Temples to Tea Plantations

Classic Ceylon is a popular comprehensive tour, taking in Sri Lanka's rich history, fascinating culture and beautiful scenery.

From seeing the rolling tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya to the history ruins of Polonnoruwa and the cultural capital on Kandy, on the Classic Ceylon tour you will see Sri Lanka at it's finest.

Your journey doesn't have to end there, as you can add to your seven night tour with a two night Yala National Park extension. For any wildlife lover, Yala is the perfect way to see leopards and elephants in their natural habitat up close from your game drive vehicle. Or maybe extend with a beach stay, either on Sri Lanka's east coast or further afield in the Indian Ocean.

Our Experts Recommend:
  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Dambulla cave temple
  • Polonnaruwa medieval capital
  • Peradeniya's botanical gardens
  • Nuwara Eliya tea plantations
  • Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy

Sample Itinerary Summary

We can tailor any part of this itinerary or create a new one just for you.

Duration
8 days
Guide Price
£1,599 per person
Price based on
Based on 04 April 19 departure from London Heathrow flying with Sri Lankan Airlines, meal basis as per itinerary (2 adults sharing) including transfers.
Our guide price gives you an idea of pricing which will vary depending on exchange rates, accommodation, duration, dates, airline and cabin class.
Destination Breakdown
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Included
  • Accommodation as detailed in twin or double bed with private facilities (alternative but similar hotels may be used at certain times of year)
  • Meals included as stated
  • Air conditioned transport
  • Services of a qualified English-speaking local guide
  • All site entrance fees while touring as appropriate
  • Drop off on day 8 at airport, Negombo, Wadduwa or Kalutara
Not included
  • Visa fees
  • Airport departure taxes
  • Beverages during meals
  • Tips for the driver/guide
  • Optional excursions
  • Video camera permits at elephant sanctuary, video and still camera permits at Temple of the Tooth Relic
  • Transfers on day 8 to alternative beach resorts (small fee)

Itinerary Breakdown

Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. 

Points of Interest

Overnight Accommodation

  • Ramada Colombo Hotel or similar

Transfer from Colombo to Dambulla (approx. 4 hours)

Visit Dambulla rock temple which was built by King Walagambahu in the 1st century B.C. and it is a World Heritage Site. It is the most impressive of Sri Lanka's cave temples. The complex of five caves with over 2000 square metres of painted walls and ceilings, is the largest area of paintings found in the world. It contains over 150 images of the Buddha of which the largest is the colossal figure of the Buddha carved out of rock and spanning 14 metres.

Transfer from Dambulla to Sigiriya. (approx. 30 minutes)

Points of Interest

Overnight Accommodation

  • Hotel Sigiriya or similar

Breakfast at the hotel.

Transfer from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa. (approx. 45 minutes)

Visit Polonnaruwa, which was the 2nd capital city of Sri Lanka built in the 11th and 12th centuries AD, and which is a world heritage site. Here you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, the Gal Viharaya where four splendid statues of the Buddha in 'Upright', 'Sedentary' and 'Recumbent' postures carved out of rock could be seen, the Audience Hall, the Lotus Bath, the statue of king Parakramabahu, and the Parakrama Samudraya - a lake built by King Parakramabahu the great. There are also monuments of famous places of worship such as the Shiva Temple, the Lankathilake, the Watadage, the Galpotha, the Kiri Vehera and the remains of a former Temple of the Tooth Relic. 

Leave Polonnaruwa and drive to Minneriya. (approx. 30 minutes)

If you're up for a serious rumble in the jungle, then Minneriya is your Colosseum. Spreading over 8800 hectares, this is a sanctuary for elephants. Minneriya is home to herds of deer and ample bird life, but it's spotlight remains between swaying trunks & flapping ears. Park your jeep on the bank of the reservoir and switch off the engine. Watch carefully as herds of elephants - one by one - roll on to the grass-covered banks, to feed on tender shoots. In fact, this is the largest elephant gathering in the world - over 300 at a time - which has garnished the park to become a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts across the globe.

Return to Sigiriya.

Points of Interest

Overnight Accommodation

  • Hotel Sigiriya or similar

Breakfast at the hotel.

Climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress which is a world heritage site, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 AD). The 'Lion Rock' is a citadel of unusual beauty rising 200 metres from the scrub jungle. The rock was the innermost stronghold of the 70 hectare fortified town. A moat, rampart, and extensive gardens including the renowned water gardens ring the base of the rock. Visit the world-renowned frescoes of the 'Heavenly Maidens' of Sigiriya, which are in a sheltered pocket of the rock approached by a spiral stairway. These frescoes are painted in earth pigments on plaster.

Evening – Do a village tour in Habarana. (Transfer time from Sigiriya to Habarana - approx. 45 minutes)

Return back to hotel in Sigiriya. 

Overnight Accommodation

  • Hotel Sigiriya or similar

Breakfast at the hotel.

Transfer from Sigiriya to Kandy (approx. 2 ½ hours) via Matale.

En route visit a spice garden in Matale to see different spices for which Sri Lanka is famous for. Here, you can see different spices and how some of these spices are grown and processed. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Site. The name "Kandy" conjures visions of splendour and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around the Kandy lake built by the last Sinhala King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the Kandy town and bazaar, the arts and crafts centre, a gem museum and a lapidary. Also visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. Thereafter witness a cultural show.

Transfer to hotel in Kandy. 

Points of Interest

Overnight Accommodation

  • Earl's Regent or similar

Transfer from Kandy to Peradeniya (approx. 20 mintutes)

Peradeniya botanical garden was first built as a pleasure garden by a Sinhala King and was expanded by the British. It is 147 acres in extent and provides an amazing variety of trees, plants and flowers.

Transfer back to hotel in Kandy to spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Points of Interest

Overnight Accommodation

  • Earl's Regent or similar

Transfer from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, (approx. 2 ½ hours), En-route visit a tea plantation and a tea factory, where some of the best tea in the world is produced. Here you could observe all about the process of manufacturing tea. You can also see how tea is graded. Taste a cup of pure Ceylon tea in the factory.

Nuwara Eliya, because of its invigorating mountain climate and scenery, is Sri Lanka's most popular hill resort. Nuwara Eliya is also the heart of Sri Lanka's tea country producing a significant share of the world s best tea. Sri Lanka's highest mountain Pidurutalagala (8282 feet) is located here. Nuwara Eliya also has one of the finest 18 hole golf courses in south Asia.

Overnight Accommodation

  • Jetwing St Andrew's Hotel or similar

Transfer from Nuwara Eliya to respective beach resorts via Kitulgala passing St. Claire`s, Devon and Aberdeen waterfalls. The Kelani River (the broadest river in Sri Lanka) flowing through Kitulgala was the main location where the Oscar winning movie Bridge on the River Kwai was filmed. On the hill above this town, a prehistoric cave was recently discovered containing large middens of shells from some unknown civilisation.

Rest of the day at leisure.

  • Colombo

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Visit one of the shopping malls for some great gifts
    • Spend an evening over the city at one of the many rooftop bars
  • Kandy

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Visit the sacred Temple of the Tooth
    • Stroll through the beautiful Botanical Gardens
    • Visit the local market for some hand crafted souvenirs
  • Nuwara Eliya

    Itinerary Highlights

    • Pick you own tea at a working tea plantation
    • Make the itinerary extra special and travel by train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (supplements apply)