• Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

Classic Ceylon Tour

Classic Ceylon is a popular tour of Sri Lanka's heart, taking in rich history, fascinating culture and beautiful scenery whilst staying in a range of superior hotels. 

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

Your journey doesn't have to end there, as you can extend your tour with a two night Yala National Park extension. For any wildlife lover, Yala is the perfect place to see leopards and elephants in their natural habitat on a game drive. Or maybe extend with a beach stay, choosing from one of Sri Lanka's beautiful beaches, or further afield in the Indian Ocean.

8 days

Guide Price

 £1,299  pp
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Beach, Chena Huts

Trip highlights

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress
  • Dambulla rock temple
  • Polonnaruwa medieval capital
  • Peradeniya's Botanical Gardens
  • Nuwara Eliya tea plantations
  • Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy

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

Suggested Accommodation

  • Ramada Colombo Hotel or similar

Transfer from Colombo to Dambulla.

Visit a World Heritage Site Dambulla rock temple, built by King Walagambahu in the 1st century B.C. 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 a colossal figure of the Buddha carved out of rock and spanning 14 metres.

Transfer from Dambulla to Sigiriya.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sigiriya or similar

Breakfast at the hotel.

Transfer from Sigiriya to Polonnaruwa.

Visit Polonnaruwa, a World Heritage Site, which was the 2nd capital city of Sri Lanka built in the 11th and 12th centuries A.D. Here you can see the ruins of the Royal Palace, and the Gal Viharaya with its four splendid statues of the Buddha in 'Upright', 'Sedentary' and 'Recumbent' postures carved out of rock. Also see 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.

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 its 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.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sigiriya or similar

Breakfast at the hotel.

Climb the 5th century Sigiriya rock fortress, a World Heritage Site, built by King Kashyapa (477-495 A.D). 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.

Return back to hotel in Sigiriya. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hotel Sigiriya or similar

After breakfast you will head from Sigiriya to the cultural city of Kandy.

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 them are grown and processed. You will also get to witness a cookery demonstration.

The name "Kandy" conjures visions of splendour and magnificence. Many of the legends, traditions and folklore are still lovingly kept alive. Drive around Kandy Lake, built by the last Sinhala King, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1798. Visit the bustling town and bazaars, the arts and crafts centre, a gem museum and a lapidary. Also visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. In the evening witness a cultural show.

Transfer to your hotel in Kandy. 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Earl's Regent or similar

Transfer from Kandy to Peradeniya.

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.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Earl's Regent or similar

Transfer from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. En route visit a tea plantation and a tea factory, where some of the world's best tea is produced. Here you could observe all about the process of manufacturing tea and 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 is the home of one of the finest 18-hole golf courses in south Asia.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Galway Heights 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 will be at leisure or head back to the airport for your onward journey.

Please note if you are travelling onto Yala National Park for our Yala Extension tour, you will take a different route and will not pass Kitulgala Road so will not get to witness the Bridge on the River Kwai film location.


  • Selection of superior hotels (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
  • 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