Large pollonurawa monk

Cultural Sri Lanka for Families

Two week family holiday in Sri Lanka focusing on the cultural side of this beautiful country and bypassing the wildlife highlights of Yalle to save on driving time and cost. Climb the stunning Sigiriya Rock Fortressa and experience the historic highlights of the Cultural Triangle. Visit Kandy and the tea country and finish off with four relaxing days in stunning Galle. This itinerary features some superb small character guesthouses and hotels.

Tailor-made Classic 13 days

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Itinerary

Overview

This itinerary is designed with a strong cultural focus, bypassing the wildlife highlights of Yalle to save on driving time and cost.


  • 13 Day tailor-made Sri Lanka holiday designed for families

  • Private car and driver allows you maximum flexibility to explore at your own pace

  • Climb the incredible rock fortress of Sigiriya

  • Ride historic scenic trains and visit tea factories and plantations in the beautiful tea country

  • Explore the beaches and historic fort of Galle

  • Superb character small guesthouses and hotels

Day-by-day

DAY 1: ARRIVAL AND RELAXING OVERNIGHT IN KOTUGODA (30MINS DRIVE)
On arrival at the airport you will be met by a chauffeur and make the brief 20-30 minute transfer to your hotel in Kotugoda. Spend a night in the luxurious family suite at the Wallawwa hotel, a delightful property with well-manicured gardens and a lovely pool to keep the family entertained.
Accommodation: Wallawwa Hotel

DAY 2: CULTURAL TRIANGLE (4HRS DRIVE) - SIGIRIYA
Enjoy the scenic 4 ½ hour transfer through meandering roads and villages to the Cultural Triangle. Steeped in ancient history, this area is home to the remnants of powerful ancient cities established thousands of years ago by Sri Lanka’s many kings, with plenty of temples and holy sites to observe en route. In the cool of the evening, enjoy an informative, privately-guided excursion to the impressive Sigiriya. Note that it’s a steep 1 ½ – 2 ½ hour climb to the top (depending on walking speed), but there are plenty of gardens for children to explore at the base. Light clothing, sun cream, and a hat are recommended.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Lodge

DAY 3: CULTURAL TRIANGLE - POLONNARUWA & ELEPHANTS
Spend the morning enjoying a privately-guided tour around Polonnaruwa. This once thriving religious and commercial centre boasts ruins, statues and stupas rising majestically out of the dense jungle, and houses an informative archaeological museum. Explore the site by vehicle or on foot, and do come prepared for the heat. While young children might not follow the guide’s commentary, there is plenty of space for them to run around in. Enjoy lunch at the historical Lake House on the shores of Pakarama Reservoir, followed by a 1 ½ to 2 hour game drive through either Minneriya, Eco, or Kaudulla National Park, depending on the season of your visit. If you are lucky there is a chance to see the massive gathering of elephants in Minneriya.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Lodge

DAY 4: CULTURAL TRIANGLE - OPTIONAL VILLAGE VISIT OR RELAXING DAY BY POOL
We often find slowing down the pace and interspering a day or two by the pool between cultural sights works brilliantly for kids and parents. If you prefer to be more active we would recommend a cultural morning in Hiriwadunna, a traditional village framed by a stunning mountainous setting. Here you can enjoy a trek or scenic tractor ride through paddy fields and fruit plantations, followed by an authentic Sri Lankan village lunch.
Accommodation: Cinnamon Lodge

DAY 5: KANDY (3HRS DRIVE)
After breakfast transfer from Habarana to Kandy. Afternoon at leisure
Accommodation: Elephant Stables

DAY 6: KANDY - BOTANICAL GARDENS & TEMPLE
This morning, enjoy a private, leisurely 1 ½ hour guided walk around the Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, accompanied by a botanist. Sri Lanka’s largest botanical gardens have acres of open spaces for children to explore. Do remember to bring a hat and sun cream, as well as a camera! Lunch is at the Empire Café, followed by a 1 hour walking tour of the bustling markets and streets of vibrant Kandy town, a UNESCO world heritage site and gateway to the ‘Tea Country’. Afterwards, enjoy a refreshing cup of tea at the historic Queens Hotel. Before dinner, visit the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth, renowned for housing the relic of the tooth of Buddha, and as such a sacred destination for pilgrims for thousands of years.
Accommodation: Elephant Stables

DAY 7: SCENIC TRAIN TO TEA COUNTRY
After breakfast, depart from Kandy and embark on a scenic 3 hour train ride into Sri Lanka’s ‘Tea Country’. Climbing to 2,000 metres above sea level, this atmospheric journey reveals majestic mountain peaks and cascading waterfalls, lush, emerald tea plantations, and aromatic cyprus and eucalyptus woodlands. The climate here is cooler and more temperate, so dress accordingly, and bring a camera and money for a drink or snack as the train does not have a restaurant carriage. Arrive for a two night stay in nearby Dickoya, in a spacious suite at Mandira Dickoya Bungalow, a colonial guesthouse set on a tea plantation, with superb mountain views. After a welcome lunch, spend the afternoon at leisure getting to know the surrounding area. Explore the numerous hiking trails around the property, and perhaps take an excursion to the nearby Hindu temple at Kovil or to the beautiful old church at Warleigh. Enjoy a rest and dinner back at the guesthouse.
Accommodation: Mandira Dickoya

DAY 8: TEA ESTATE & FACTORY
After a tranquil, alfresco breakfast, head for a private excursion to the Norwood Tea Estate and Factory, which has been growing and manufacturing tea for over a century. Guided by a tea planter, witness tea plucking first hand, and learn about the production methods that go into our daily 'cuppa'. Children will love seeing the original machines in action, many of which are still going strong after a hundred years. Finally, enjoy the experience of a traditional tea tasting session, where use of the time honoured spittoon is optional! Lunch will be served back at the guesthouse, after which you are free to spend the afternoon at leisure exploring the local surroundings and wonderful scenery.
Accommodation: Mandira Dickoya

DAY 9: GALLE (5HRS DRIVE)
Sri Lanka’s oldest city, Galle has played host to Chinese, Arab, Persian, and Indian traders over the centuries, along with Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonialists. Today it is a thriving hub of European and Arabic culture, boasting art galleries, literary events and a host of shops and restaurants within its atmospheric, cobblestoned alleyways. Beyond Galle – largely south of the town where Galle's influence is at its strongest – is a glorious collection of beaches.
Accommodation: Why House

DAY 10: GALLE - FREE DAY
For this itinerary we have suggested a relaxing rural base set within 3 acres of beautiful gardens. You could happily enjoy a day by the pool here. A short walk away is the spectacular Dalawella Beach, a beautiful lagoon created by a protective reef means safe swimming throughout the year. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Galle Fort is 15 minutes drive away and we storngly recommend a short guided walking tour to learn about its fascinating history.
Accommodation: Why House

DAY 11: GALLE - BOATS & BIKES
Galle’s inner landscape is covered in patches of jungle, rice paddies, cinnamon plantations, lowland tea fields and quaint mud roads joining small villages, and is home to beautiful tropical plants and lots of Sri Lanka’s wildlife. Begin your journey with a peaceful boat ride down the Kapu Ela (river), accompanied by a light-hearted, entertaining local naturalist who is very knowledgeable about the area’s bird and reptile life. Float slowly along canals, passing local village hamlets, rubber and cinnamon plantations and tea fields, and watch as grey fish eagles soar through the air and water monitor lizards haul themselves out of the river and cling to the low branches along the bank. Disembark from the boat and mount your bikes for a 9km cycle along the narrow mud lanes between the villages, passing picturesque paddy fields and small villages with markets selling vibrant local fruits and vegetables. Stop along the way in a wattle-and-daub hut for a cup of herbal tea and traditional hoppers cooked over a fire, before getting back on your bike and cycling to the pick-up point. If you are tired, you can be driven from here.
Accommodation: Why House

DAY 12: GALLE - FREE DAY
Enjoy a final day to relax or explore before heading home. There are a host of fantastic guided experiences available in the Galle area, from rainforest treks in Kanneliya to mask making workshops and cinnamon plantations. Please let us know if you would like us to include these.
Accommodation: Why House

DAY 13: DEPART (2-3HRS DRIVE)
It is a two to three hour journey back to Colombo for your flight home

Accommodation


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

The Wallawwa

Colombo & Around

Our rating

9/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Characterful, historic manor house
- Day trips to Colombo
- Close to Negombo beach
- Elephant sanctuary visits

Cinnamon Lodge

Cultural Triangle

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Peaceful, high-end resort
- Close to Minneriya National Park
- Superb elephant encounters
- Tennis courts, large pool and spa

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Historic property with colonial feel
- Temple visits in nearby Kandy
- Picturesque train journeys
- Lovely infinity pool

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 3

- Historic, colonial bungalows
- White water rafting, nearby golf club
- Scenic train rides with waterfall views
- Visit Ella and climb Adam's Peak

Our rating

8/10

Price guide

Price rating 4

- Select, intimate boutique hotel
- Pool, spa, yoga pavilion, volley ball, cricket
- Expansive tropical gardens
- Super location for Galle and beaches

Details

Getting there

From the UK
Flights from the UK to Sri Lanka tend to be overnight on the way out to Sri Lanka and day time on the way back. Only Sri Lankan Airlines currently offers direct flights between the UK and Sri Lanka with a 10-11hr flight time. Indirect lights with one stop and an approximate 13-14hr overall flight time are available with Emirates, Qatar and Oman Air. Flights typically cost between £500 and £1000 per person depending on seasonality and demand. Please get in touch for a detailed quote including International Flights from the UK.

From the US
There are no direct flights from the US to Sri Lanka and the best options tend to have one stop in the Middle East with Qatar, Kuwait or Emirates with prices between $1,000 - $1,500 per person and an overall flight time of around 18-22 hours. From the West Coast there is also the option of flying via Singapore with Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines again with prices between $1,000 - $1,500 per person and an overall flight time of around 21-22 hours. Please get in touch for a detailed quote including International Flights from the US.

Price includes

The quoted price includes a private driver and vehicle in Sri Lanka along with all accommodation (varying board basis) and guided tours mentioned in the itinerary.

Flight prices vary significantly and guidance is given separately on their costs. Please get in touch for an accurate quote.

When is best?

JANUARY - APRIL
Hot and Dry Peak Season
January to April is peak season with hot, sunny and dry weather throughout. It is a perfect time of year for the Coast, and the higher altitudes of the hill country offer a cool respite from the heat. April in particular can be very hot.

MAY - JUNE
SW Monsoon
Monsoon Season in Galle & SW Sri Lanka. During May and June, the South West ofo Sri Lanka (e.g. Colombo, Galle, Tangalle) are affected by monsoon rains during this period. Not as severe as the name suggests, rainfall tends to be short and heavy and passes through quickly.

JULY - AUGUST
Hot and Mostly Dry High Season
Falling between the two monsoon seasons, July and August tend to be hot and dry with the odd shower and after January - April, the next most popular time of year to visit Sri Lanka. West and South Coast beaches tend in the main to be too rough for swimming at this time of year.

OCTOBER, NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
NE Monsoon
The monsoon from the North East affects the whole of Sri Lanka with often heavy rain, albeit rather unpredictable in timing and intensity. The least popular time for visiting Sri Lanka. The monsoons have usually receded come December and it can be a pleasant time of year to visit with sparkling green scenery.

See our guide to the weather on Sri Lanka's Coast for detailed information on the climate and sea state on different areas of the Sri Lankan Coastline during the different seasons.

Is it for me?

Sri Lanka is a surprisingly big country and when planning an itinerary here we are always mindful of driving times. There is always the temptation to try and see everything, but when travelling as family it is worth a degree of compromise. This itinerary has a focus on the cultural highlights of Sri Lanka and skips the wildlife of Yala National Park. As such, this itinerary makes sense for a family who has done plenty of safari before in Africa (which offers a superior safari experience) and also for a family keen on cultural and historic sights.
The itinerary proposed and priced here includes accommodation of a very good standard. If your budget is tight, let us know and we will be able to suggest some mode modest places to stay.

Safety

For the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office check www.gov.uk/travelaware

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 496 reviews

(4.96/5)

  • Everything was fab, I especially loved Tuningi such a special place and my son got to see his favourite animal the cheetah (after a bit of time hunting about on foot!). Mauritius is lovely we saw quite a bit of the island in the end.

    MissingLaura L reviewing South Africa Safari and Mauritius on 12 December 2018

  • We had a wonderful trip to Morocco. What a fascinating country. Thank you so much for all of your help making things smooth and less stressful!

    Here are a few things we wanted to pass on:

    Dar Housnia was absolutely delightful. It was like an entire wing of a house to ourselves with perfect Moroccan decor. The private area where we ate was so cute, the riad staff so accommodating. I loved waking in the cozy space with our family and hearing both call to prayer as well as roosters. Just perfect.

    I was a little unclear how to ask what time we were being picked up etc, but your office promptly replied to my emails - even on weekends- when we had these questions about transport times. Once, we met our guide in Imlil these details we not problematic as our guide “Abraham” totally took care of us. Abraham was awesome. You should definitely request him again in the future. He was young (29)and energetic. He had a ton of hiking experience in Imlil as he was from there. He also seemed to know everything else about morocco, the desert, the culture, etc, etc. He was approachable, kind, patient, great with our kids and answered SO MANY of our questions.

    The hike was lovely - after rain the day prior in Marrakech - there was snow in the mountains. It was gorgeous. We may have been up for a longer hike up Mt Taboukel if I had known this was a realistic option for families ( I thought from reading that it was too technical for us). Yet not sure we had enough days for all these things always since getting in the desert was a priority.

    The mountain house, Dar adar, was just as described… very basic. The wifi was broken (which was a nice break when you have pre-teens addicted to phones, plus my husband called no wifi an amenity to not be available by email for his work!)). There was no heat and the fireplace helped a tad - but was so very cold in the rooms. My husband loved the rustic space, I may have gone up one step in niceness of mountain accommodation if I had to do it over again. Yet, meeting the other families in this Dar Adar (including another Tourdust family from England) made this house very memorable.

    We were then joined by our driver for the next several days, Jamal. What a fun guy and a perfect driver. He could joke with my kids, he had a fun smile, and he had worked with Abraham before so they were a great team. The drive to desert was long as I knew it would be. It was nice to have the stop on way there near Ait Ben Haddu. The drive back from desert was long. It was more near 10 hours of driving (plus 1 hour at lunch = 11 hours) but I wouldn’t have made any different choices.

    The luxury desert camp was far and away the highlight of our trip. The tents were adorable, I was sufficiently warm even at night inside the tent. We loved the camel riding, the ATV vehicles at a nearby camp, sunsets on the dunes, music around the camp fire, meals with others at the camp and more.

    The last night was at Riad Jona. This was so very very lovely. The food was amazing - such a good idea to eat here after our long drive back to Marrakech. They had a small dining pool plus a hot tub which was delightful. It was almost more of a boutique hotel as it had several rooms.

    MissingGwyneth R reviewing Luxury Family Desert Holiday on 11 December 2018

  • The trip was amazing everything was better than we could have imagined.
    There was a moment climbing the mount Kenya where my wife accused me of tricking her into doing this (half kidding) as some of the nights got pretty cold, but we were dressed well and the sunrise at the peak was astonishing.
    Safari was spectacular, Ben who was our main guide and driver was awesome! We saw everything excepts rhinos which were more of a hope than a reality. We also were able to watch a rock python eat a Thompson gazel live. It was one of the most interesting and unsettling things I have ever seen.
    Just overall, so many moments that make you think wow or I can't believe I am here. Thank you for your help in getting everything set up. I don't believe I could have booked the trip without your help and guidance. It was an amazing way to start our marriage and truly the trip of a lifetime!

    MissingWilliam Kearns reviewing 11 Day Mount Kenya Trek and Masai Mara Safari Combined on 29 October 2018

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Alternative Itineraries

Our itineraries are carefully designed by our experienced travel designers based on years of experience and customer feedback. For a custom itinerary tailored to you, please enquire giving as much detail as possible on your brief.

Luxurious 15 day guided family trip exploring Sri Lanka’s treasures, including the ‘Cultural Triangle’, ‘Tea Country’, glorious beaches and ri Lanka's finest lodges.

Tailor-made Luxury 15 days

Adults from $6,603 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average per person price for ground arrangements for two people sharing.

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Families from $5,906 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Perfectly balanced relaxing and indulgent 2 week holiday in Sri Lanka with a focus on the wildlife, Tea County and the Coast and plenty of time for fun and relaxation by the pool and beach.

Tailor-made Classic 13 days

Families from $2,759 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,022 per person economy class from London

Combine the best of both worlds with a week exploring adventurous Sri Lanka and a week relaxing in a family friendly resort in the Maldives.

Tailor-made Classic 15 days

Families from $3,660 pp plus flights

'From Price' is the average price per person for ground arrangements for a family of four (two adults + two children under 12).

Flights are typically an additional $1,532 per person economy class from London

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