Last Updated on October 26, 2022 by Natalia
South Sri Lanka is home to some truly incredible places, so it’s easy to fill a two week itinerary covering just this area of the country. The south of the Sri Lanka is home to some of its most popular destinations, including the beachside town of Mirissa, Yala National Park and the scenic town of Ella, situated high in the stunning hill country perfect for a 2 week itinerary. This area of the country is particularly interesting for wildlife and nature lovers, offering the chance to see blue whales, leopards and more in the wild, as well as being home to some truly breathtaking scenery. We personally loved this area of the country so much that we’ve spent over 6 weeks exploring it over two different trips. We’ve used our first hand experience to come up with an action-packed 2 week south Sri Lanka itinerary, covering some of the best the country has to offer in just 14 days for every budget!
South Sri Lanka 2 Week Itinerary
Mirissa (Days 1 to 6)
Your 2 week itinerary kicks off on the south coast of Sri Lanka in the small town of Mirissa. Famous for being one of the best places in the world to see blue whales in the wild, it’s the perfect place to start your trip!
Wherever you’re travelling from your first step will be to fly into Colombo International Airport.
As it’s likely to have been a long flight we recommend booking a taxi in advance to take you directly from the airport to Mirissa. A taxi from Colombo airport to Mirissa should cost around 12,000-13,000 rupees one-way.
The journey from the airport to Mirissa takes around 3 hours by taxi, but can take up to double this if you use public transport.
If you’re travelling Sri Lanka on a budget then you can get from the airport to Mirissa by bus or train. There are plenty of tuk-tuks and taxis at the airport that will take you to the relevant station if you want to use public transport.
Public transport is extremely cheap in Sri Lanka, but if you’re travelling with big bags it can cause a bit of an issue. The buses normally only have a small luggage compartment so there may not be space for your bags, and the trains are often quite busy, which can make travelling with bags a bit of a squeeze.
For more information, make sure to check out our guide to public transport in Sri Lanka!
If you plan to travel by train then the best way to book is using the 12goAsia website. It’s generally quite hard to book tickets in advance as a tourist, but thankfully 12goAsia is a useful way to get around this!
Once you arrive spend the rest of the day relaxing after a long journey. There are plenty of restaurants along the town’s beachfront so head to one of these for dinner and drinks before calling it a night.
Be sure to read our travel guide to Mirissa for more information about this lovely town.
Kick off day 2 of your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary by heading to one of the most popular spots in Mirissa – Secret Beach. It’s not as secret as the name suggests, but it’s still a lovely spot to visit irrespective of that.
Due to its popularity its no longer much of a hidden gem, but it’s still a great alternative to Mirissa Beach and for this reason we recommend heading there in the morning as it’s the quietest time of day to visit. The beach is more sheltered, which means it’s less wavy and better for swimming.
It’s a pebbly beach in a more secluded area of Mirissa, around a half hour walk from the town’s main street. We recommend using an offline map like maps.me for directions.
We’d recommend just spending the morning at the beach before heading back into town to have lunch at Dewmini Roti Shop – one of the best value restaurants in Mirissa. Not just that but one of our favourite spots to eat in this 2 week South Sri Lanka itinerary. They serve delicious local food including both sweet and savoury Roti, Kottu and more!
From Dewmini Roti Shop use a map on your phone to find your way towards the nearby river to discover the Mirissa Wildlife Walk. We accidentally stumbled upon this walking trail during our trail and have never heard it mentioned anywhere else.
If you follow the path alongside the Mirissa river you’ll have the chance to see some lovely wildlife and nature. It’s only a short walk of around 30-60 minutes, but you can see playful monkeys, huge water monitor lizards, birds and more!
Seeing the monkeys is a real highlight as they swing between trees and fling themselves into the river below.
We loved stumbling across this and had to include it in our 14 day South Sri Lanka itinerary!
Mirissa is generally considered an essential stop on any South Sri Lanka itinerary, as the town is one of the best places in the world to see blue whales in the wild. We recommend doing your whale watching trip on day 3, as that way if you have bad luck and don’t see any whales you have time to take another trip before leaving Mirissa!
There is an abundance of incredible marine life in the area, so it’s possible to see blue whales, Bryde’s whales, sperm whales, bottlenose dolphins, orcas (killer whales), turtles and more! Tours normally take around 3-5 hours, but can last 6-8 hours if it’s hard to find any whales!
The peak whale watching season in Mirissa runs from November until April/May. During this time there is around a 90-95% chance of seeing blue whales on a whale watching tour.
Having taken 2 whale watching tours in Mirissa, in our experience if you have one sighting then you’ll have many! On our first trip in 2017 we had around 10 blue whale sightings and during our second trip in 2020 we had around 20 sightings – so prepare for an amazing day!
Although there are plenty of operators offering whale watching tours, it’s important to be careful when choosing who to go with. A number of the operators run unethical tours that do not follow the correct safety precautions and overcrowd the whales.
Before booking a tour we recommend reading our guide to ethical whale watching in Mirissa.
Prices vary between operators, but as a rough idea tours with Mirissa Whale Watching Club cost in 2022 around $50 USD including government fees.
Although it’s generally an amazing experience from start to finish, it’s worth taking some sea sickness medication like dramamine as a precaution. If you don’t do this you may end up regretting it as the sea can get pretty choppy – and you don’t want to miss out on seeing whales because you’re being sick!
It was by far one of our favourite experiences in our 2 week south Sri Lanka itinerary and a real must do!
One of the top spots to visit in Mirissa is Coconut Tree Hill, which is a beautiful spot to visit at sunset. Also known as palm tree grove, it’s a beautifully picturesque spot thanks to the towering coconut palm trees covering the hill.
It’s probably the best place to watch sunset in Mirissa, so it’s well worth visiting at least once during your stay.
Although it only takes 15-20 minutes to walk there from the centre of town, you can always opt for a tuk-tuk if you’d prefer.
Day 4 of your 2 week Southern Sri Lanka itinerary will be spent relaxing on the beach, snorkelling with turtles and visiting the southernmost point in the country.
The first stop is the beautiful Polhena Beach – a lovely sandy beach located around 10 kilometres away from Mirissa.
As well as being one of the best beaches in South Sri Lanka, Polhena Beach is one of the best places in the country to go snorkelling with turtles. Sea turtles can be found just a short distance from the shore, giving you an amazing opportunity to swim with these beautiful animals.
We recommend getting your own snorkel and mask before your trip, but if you’d prefer you can rent them for around 400 rupees at the beach.
It’s important to remember that you need to stay a respectful distance from the turtles as they are wild animals and you don’t want to scare them. You also shouldn’t feed the turtles, which some locals and tourists unfortunately do.
You can easily spend the whole morning enjoying the lovely sandy beach and snorkelling with turtles. For more information, including more information on how to get there, check out our guide to snorkelling with turtles at Polhena Beach!
After you’ve finished up at the beach we recommend heading to Bob SL Restaurant for lunch. They serve delicious food with huge portions at reasonable prices!
Once you’ve had lunch it’s time to head to Dondra Head – the southernmost point in Sri Lanka and in your 2 week South Sri Lanka itinerary.
Dondra Head Lighthouse is in a beautifully picturesque location, towering above the surrounding palm trees along the coastline of the Indian Ocean. There isn’t too much to do other than enjoy the lovely scenery, as unfortunately you can’t go inside the lighthouse itself.
It’s up to you how you spend your final day in the area. There are plenty of great day trips from Mirissa to choose from but if you’d prefer a more relaxing day then just lounge by the pool or head to the beach!
If you had bad luck and didn’t see any blue whales on your whale watching tour then we’d definitely recommend giving it another go. Some operators even offer a discounted tour if you don’t see any on your trip – so if you don’t see any make sure to ask if there are any discounts available!
If you aren’t going to go whale watching then the best day trip options are Udawalawe National Park or Galle. Part of the reason we feel like the South of Sri Lanka deserves 2 weeks is because of the amazing opportunities to see animals in the wild.
Our personal recommendation would be to visit Udawalawe National Park as it’s possible to see elephants in huge herds of up to 100 at a time. If you have the time you can add Udawalawe to your Sri Lanka itinerary, but if not we just recommend visiting on a day trip from Mirissa.
Find out more about the national park with our comparison between Udawalawe and Yala National Parks!
We personally weren’t overly impressed with Galle when we visited, so we’d recommend prioritising other day trips as part of your 2 week itinerary in south Sri Lanka.
Where to stay in Mirissa
Beach Mirissa – Located on the beachfront, the property has its own private beach and pool. Prices start from 24,400 rupees per night.
Randiya Sea View Hotel – Centrally located and with a pool, rates start from as little as 7,500 rupees per night.
Tissamaharama (Days 6 to 9)
The next stop on your south Sri Lanka itinerary is the town of Tissamaharama. Often referred to as simply Tissa, the town is perfectly located for visiting the famous Yala National Park.
Yala National Park is well-known as one of the best places in the world to see leopards. If you love wildlife and want the chance to see these amazing animals in the wild then a visit to Yala is a must during your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary!
The easiest way to get from Mirissa to Tissa is to take a taxi, which takes around 2 hours and should cost around 7,000 rupees.
It’s best to take it easy once you arrive in Tissa as you have an early start the following day. Spend the rest of your day relaxing and/or going for a walk around the town.
If you want to go for a walk then the best spot to visit is Tissa Lake. It’s possible to see some wonderful birdlife around the lake, including kingfishers, white-bellied sea eagles and more!
Locals will offer boat trips on the lake for the small cost of around 1,500-2,000 rupees. If you fancy giving your legs a rest it’s a good way to see more without having to do too much walking!
If you have time it’s also worth visiting the Tissamaharama Raja Maha Vihara temple. This impressive Buddhist temple is said to date back as far as the 3rd Century BC.
A safari in Yala National Park is destined to be one of the highlights of your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary. It’s an incredible experience, giving you the chance to see leopards, sloth bears, elephants, monkeys and more in the wild!
There are several options when it comes to booking your safari, but the best way is to arrange it in advance through one of the specialist operators in the area.
We had a bit of luck and managed to see a leopard, a sloth bear, crocodiles, elephants and much more! Having an experienced and dedicated guide can really make a difference on safari, so it’s worth paying a bit more to go with an operator with good reviews!
Our full day safari with Yala Kings cost around 57,200 rupees for 5 people, starting at 4.30am and ending at around 6pm, with lunch included in the price. If you want a reliable and good quality operator for your trip to Yala then we recommend visiting the Yala Kings website to arrange a safari!
Most hotels will prepare a breakfast box for you to take on safari so that you have something to keep you going until lunchtime – so make sure to check with them if they can do this the night before!
Although half day safaris are available, we personally recommend opting for a full day. This gives you the best chance of seeing some of the harder-to-spot wildlife like leopards and sloth bears.
It’s hard to find the words to do justice to how amazing a safari in Yala National Park is.
Around 25 minutes away from Tissamaharama is the lesser-known Bundala National Park – a birdwatcher’s paradise! Although the amazing birdlife is the main attraction in Bundala, there’s plenty of other brilliant wildlife to see too!
Bundala is much quieter than Yala and you’ll likely only see a few other jeeps, if any, during your safari.
Many of the Yala safari operators are able to arrange safaris in Bundala National Park, but we decided to try going with someone else for our visit. After doing some research we decided to visit Bundala with Srimal Safari.
Srimal is an excellent guide with a vast knowledge of the park’s birdlife. His family home is located just outside the national park, and so he is extremely familiar with the area – which gives him an advantage when it comes to bird-spotting!
Bundala National Park is home to nearly 200 different bird species, including storks, hornbills, spoonbills, kingfishers and several eagles – notably the white-bellied sea eagle and crested serpent-eagle.
Several migratory birds make Bundala their temporary home, with around 50 migrant species visiting the park each year. Thousands of greater flamingoes used to flock to Bundala, but in recent years this number has dropped dramatically.
Bundala National Park is also home to elephants, monkeys, jackals, crocodiles, snakes, fishing cats and more. The elephant population in the park is relatively small, so if seeing elephants is a priority it’s worth trying to visit Udawalawe National Park during your trip to Sri Lanka.
We recommend taking a morning safari in Bundala as this is the best time to see the park’s birdlife. If you want to you can make a full day of it, which gives you a better chance of seeing elephants as they tend to be more active in the afternoon!
Our morning safari in Bundala cost 27,000 rupees for 5 people, which included pick up and drop off in Tissa. It’s another early start though, so you’ll need to be ready to leave at around 5.30am!
Find out more by checking out our Bundala National Park Safari Travel Guide!
If you didn’t see a leopard in Yala the day before you can always opt for another safari there instead, or alternatively do a half-day in Bundala and a half day in Yala.
Where to stay in Tissa
Koragaha Lodge – Located on the outskirts of Yala National Park, Koragaha Lodge is a brilliant accommodation option. Rooms at the lodge are comfortable and air-conditioned.
Ella (Days 9 to 13)
The small town of Ella is the last major stop of your two week south Sri Lanka itinerary. Situated in one of the most beautiful areas of Sri Lanka, known as the hill country, it’s home to stunning scenery in the form of rolling hills, tea plantations and lush greenery.
Although buses do run from Tissa to Ella, we recommend taking a taxi so that you can stop at the beautiful Ravana Falls on the way. Standing around 25 metres tall, Ravana Falls is a lovely roadside waterfall around 5 kilometres outside of Ella.
The price for a taxi from Tissa to Ella with a stop at the falls should be around 7,000 rupees. Make sure to mention to your driver that you’d like to stop there when booking.
After a short stop at the falls continue on towards Ella and make your way to your accommodation.
Spend the rest of the day taking it easy after some early starts and long days on safari! When you’re ready head to Cafe Chill, which is a great spot for some drinks and/or dinner!
Spend day 10 of your 2 week Sri Lanka itinerary visiting two of the most popular spots in Ella – Little Adam’s Peak and Nine Arch Bridge. You can easily visit both spots within the space of a few hours, so there’s no need for an early start unless you’d rather avoid the midday heat.
Before heading out for the day it’s best to check the train times to see when a train will be passing over the Nine Arch Bridge. Although you can visit at any time of day, it’s worth timing your visit to see the bridge in use if you can.
Ideally you’ll have time to climb Little Adam’s Peak before you head to the bridge. It’s a relatively short climb that only takes around 30 minutes, but if you’re starting from the centre of Ella then it will probably take closer to an hour.
The majority of the path is quite steady, but towards the end there is a tough stretch of stairs that will get your legs working!
Once you reach the top you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the lush, green Sri Lankan countryside. You could easily spend an hour or two here enjoying the views of the rolling hills and the towering Ella Rock – a spot you’ll be visiting the following day!
Nine Arch Bridge is conveniently located within walking distance of Little Adam’s Peak, meaning it’s easy to visit before or after your climb. We recommend using an offline map like maps.me to find your way there, but if you’d prefer you can take a tuk-tuk there for a few hundred rupees.
Dating back to 1921, the Nine Arch Bridge is a beautiful piece of architecture. The bridge is found amongst lush countryside, surrounded by tea plantations and forest, making it an extremely picturesque spot.
Although it’s still a beautiful spot to admire without seeing a train cross it, it’s worth timing your visit if you can. Just remember to keep in mind you might have to wait a bit longer than you expect before the train actually arrives though!
Thankfully there are a few cafe’s in the area, so we recommend arriving early, getting a seat with a view and grabbing a refreshing drink while you wait.
Hopefully you won’t be waiting too long for a train, at which point you can stay as long as you like before either heading to Little Adam’s Peak if you haven’t been yet, or making your way back to the centre of Ella for the evening.
Sri Lanka is one of the largest producers and exporters of tea in the world, famous for producing Ceylon Tea. As a result, Sri Lanka’s hill country is home to an abundance of tea plantations, many stretching as far as the eye can see and is a must visit as part of any 2 week South Sri Lanka itinerary!
On the outskirts of Ella lies the Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory – the largest tea producer in the country’s Uva region, producing 150,000 kilograms of tea a month! The factory is situated atop a hill, 1,230 metres above sea level, and has some incredible views of the lush green tea fields and plantations surrounding it.
Located around 6 kilometres outside of Ella, the factory is around 15-20 minutes away by tuk-tuk. It’s well worth visiting to enjoy the stunning views, as well as to take a tour of the factory to learn about the tea-making process.
Tours last around an hour and are relatively inexpensive, costing just around 500 rupees per person. Tours include a guide to the tea manufacturing process, a tour of the factory itself and tea tasting.
Tours run every half an hour between 8am and 5.30pm, and can be booked on the Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory website. Alternatively, you can just turn up and you should hopefully be able to join a tour, but it’s best to book in advance if you can!
If you want to see the tea-making process in action then take an early morning tour and avoid Sundays, as the majority of work is done in the mornings from Monday to Saturday.
The remainder of the day will be spent climbing Ella Rock – a longer and more challenging hike when compared to Little Adam’s Peak the day before. If you’d prefer you can always leave it until the following day so that you can get an early start to avoid some of the midday heat!
Starting from Ella Railway Station, the hike to Ella Rock takes around 3-4 hours round trip. Once you reach the top you’re rewarded with amazing views of Sri Lanka’s hill country, with greenery and rolling hills as far as the eye can see.
There isn’t always a clear path to follow, so we recommend following this guide to the Ella Rock hike by Atlas and Boots. Combine these instructions with an offline map like maps.me and the route is easy enough to follow.
When you finally make it to the top of Ella Rock you can take a rest and enjoy the wonderful views. There is a 2nd viewpoint around 500 metres to the right of Ella Rock with a similarly spectacular view, but with the advantage that it’s less crowded!
It’s worth spending at least half an hour at the top just taking in the views before starting the long hike back to Ella itself. Once you get back to Ella take it easy for the rest of the day and treat yourself to a nice dinner and some drinks.
It’s up to you how you choose to spend your final day in Ella. The majority of this 2 week south Sri Lanka itinerary is spent on-the-go, so by now you might want to spend a day just relaxing and not doing anything in particular.
If that’s the case then just take it easy all day, and if you want any other suggestions of what to do then check out our Ella guide.
Alternatively, if you’re ok with another early start you can make the trip from Ella to Horton Plains. People generally choose to visit Horton Plains from Nuwara Eliya, but the trip is also possible from Ella.
Horton Plains National Park is well-known for the World’s End Viewpoint – one of the most stunning viewpoints in Sri Lanka. It’s important to visit early in the day as by about 9am clouds start to roll in and obscure the view.
To make sure you arrive to the viewpoint in time you need to arrange a taxi to pick you up at around 5am. A taxi from Ella to Horton Plains should cost 9,000 rupees round-trip.
You should arrive to the car park at around 6.45am, and from there you need to walk for around an hour before you reach World’s End. Once you get there the early start will be completely worth it as you take in the beautiful view.
Although World’s End is the highlight, there’s more to see in Horton Plains National Park. If you carry on following the path you will eventually reach the turning to Baker’s Falls – a lovely 2-tier waterfall.
Depending on how long you spend enjoying the scenery and how quickly you walk then your hike through Horton Plains will take around 4 to 5 hours. If you’re lucky then you may even spot a rhino-horned lizard – a unicorn-like lizard species only found in Sri Lanka.
After you’ve finished up at Horton Plains you should arrive back to Ella in the early afternoon. That means you should still have plenty of time to relax or do anything else that you’re interested in for the rest of the day.
Where to stay in Ella
The One Ella – Perfectly located near the start of the Little Adam’s peak hike. With fantastic views overlooking the surrounding hill country and Ella Rock.
The Secret Ella Bungalow – If you’re looking to treat yourself to a secluded getaway, this really is the place for you!
Colombo (Days 13 and 14)
Sri Lanka is famously home to one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world and is included in most peoples 2 week Sri Lanka itineraries especially those visiting the south. The train ride between Ella and Kandy is well-known for providing scenic views of the hill country’s lush greenery over the course of several hours.
Although the famous train ride is between Ella and Kandy, you’ll actually want to stay on the train all the way to Colombo.
In total it should take around 9 and a half hours to get from Ella to Colombo, unless there are any delays. It’s important to book your tickets in advance or else you may end up without a seat, which means either sitting on the floor or standing for the whole journey.
Train tickets in Sri Lanka go on sale 30 days in advance, so you need to plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss out. For reserved seating you’ll need to book tickets in either first or second class.
As a tourist the easiest way to buy tickets is to use 12goAsia. They allow you to order tickets over 30 days in advance, but your tickets will only be confirmed 30 days before your travel date as they cannot actually buy the tickets for you until then.
Travelling in second class means you can spend some of the journey sitting in the doorway to have some brilliant unobstructed views, safe in the knowledge that you have a reserved seat to go back to whenever you want.
There are a few trains each day, but it’s best to book the one that departs from Ella in the morning so that it’s light outside for the whole scenic section of the journey.
It’s a good idea to plan ahead for your meals and pack what you can for the journey. Some restaurants in Ella will happily prepare some takeaway meals for you as long as you request it the day before, so just see what takes your fancy and ask around.
Once you’re on the train just sit back and relax as you’re treated to one of the most scenic train journeys in the world!
Depending on the time of your flight you probably won’t have too long in Colombo before it’s time to head to the airport.
If you have an afternoon or evening flight you may have a little bit of time, but in our experience there are no specific must see sights in the city.
It takes around 35-40 minutes to drive from the Colombo Fort area of the city to the international airport. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi, which you can either arrange through your hotel or using Uber/another similar app.
This 2 week south Sri Lanka itinerary can be adjusted to 7 days, 10 days or 21 days by selecting which places interest you most! We personally recommend at least two weeks to explore the south of Sri Lanka with this itinerary to make the most of this beautiful area.
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