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 504 reviews

(5.00/5)

  • The speed of response, efficiency of the booking process, flexibility/concern and information provided were all excellent. The meet and assist at the airport, punctuality, safety, general knowledge, liaison with customer and the vehicle used was excellent and the knowledge of routes and property locations was very good. Our guide was excellent with interesting knowledge and very good English, we could not have expected any more.

    Jetwing Beach - The room was poor and the food Satisfactory. In general the accommodation was good, the service and location were very good and accuracy of profile excellent.
    We needed to change rooms due to cockroaches in the bathroom. The staff and management were very helpful but the second room offered also had cockroaches!

    Kandy House - The room, food and location were good. In general the accommodation was very good, the service and accuracy of profile was excellent.

    Camilla Hills - The room was poor, the food was good. In general the accommodation was excellent with excellent service, location and accuracy of profile.
    We were allocated the worst room and had no view. It was very disappointing and ruined our stay. The management we excellent but could not move us to a room with a view.

    Cinnamon Wild - The food and service was good. In general the accommodation was very good with very good room and excellent location and accuracy of profile.
    The Safari Drives were excellent.

    Fort Bazaar - In general the accommodation was very good with very good food and excellent room, service, location and accuracy of profile.
    Due to the lack of alcohol served meant we needed to eat outside of the hotel. The lack of a pool needs addressing, otherwise a lovely atmosphere and service.

    Interesting and informative visit to Milennium Elephant Foundation.
    Visit to Royal Botanical Gardens was a highlight of the tour with an excellent guide.
    We were lucky to watch the service at the Temple of the Tooth and advise others to make sure they can do the the same 09:15 or 17:15.
    Train journey - we were on the wrong side of the train so the view was limited. Fun journey though. Best part of scenery is after Hatton Station.
    Drives on safari were excellent and well organised.
    We did not have the tour of the fort as the guide could not accommodate our required timing.
    Visit to the Tea Plantations was fascinating but brief.

    MissingSamantha S reviewing Cultural Sri Lanka for Families on 25 April 2019

  • Really brilliant being met in the airport off the plane. It got the holiday off to the right start and driver really chatty and knowledgeable. Great transfers to and from the camps with drivers that were like guides - pointing out animals and full of interesting facts. All really friendly.

    4 Rosmead in Cape Town; We loved it here. Just the right side of plush and a lovely warm, friendly welcome. Breakfast were delicious. It was a real haven to come back to and even though it was small it didn’t feel intrusive. They were also really helpful with great places to eat.

    Tours in Cape Town; Our guide, Bevan, gave us an incredible insight into the history of South Africa whilst also being really knowledgeable on wild life and nature. No question was too hard and his answers honest. He had an intern with him from a township and this allowed us a different perspective. Bevan was brilliant with my daughter. The Cape Point trip was a full on day with lots packed in. Our highlight was the penguins but we also really enjoyed seeing Cape Point and getting our first taste of the wild life to come! Our stand out experience in Cape Town had to be the tour of Masiphumelele. We’re so pleased that we did this as it gave us an insight of the lives of so many people in SA. The visibility of such poverty was tough going at times and we learned much about the harsh realities of living in a township such as how dwellings regularly burn down, TB & HIV incidence but equally we saw the resilience, warmth and resourcefulness of the residents. We loved being shown around the nursery and the library and the chance to have a very different experience. Being in someone’s home for lunch was a real privilege. We got such a lovely welcome there and the food was really delicious. The tribal dance routine felt a little forced and I wasn’t convinced there was much pride in the display. I think being shown a little more of the craft workshop or the older people’s group might have worked better. Although I can see how this allowed us have a purpose to go into the unofficial part of the township. All in all a moving experience that will stay with us both for years to come.

    Getting around Cape Town; We quickly learnt from local people it’s not actually that safe walking around Cape Town except for in the Waterfront. Uber is the best way to travel - much safer and cheaper than the local cabs. The fares are ridiculously cheap.

    Food/Going Out; There are so many great places to eat in Cape Town. The indoor food market at the Waterfront is an absolute must. A huge variety of food that is great quality. Also a great place to hang out for a while as there is always bands playing. The Waterfront overall was a pleasant way to do a bit of shopping. We got some great township art there. We ate at the Cod Father in Camp Bay. It was night so we couldn’t benefit from the incredible views. The food was incredible and really fresh. Really warm service too. The Nelson Eye? was also gorgeous for meat eaters. A slightly retro steak house but with the best meat (nor for vegetarians!). We had great steak, ribs and a divine mint crisp local dessert. We also found a lovely place on Kloof Street called the Dark Horse (its sister restaurant the Black Sheep was closed). Really excellent small plates and great selection of wines.

    Moswari Game Reserve; This part of the holiday blew us away. The safari was spectacular. From our first game drive we saw and learnt so much about the incredible bush. We saw the Big Five within 24 hours (although we appreciate that must be unusual) but it wasn’t just that we saw them we saw them in amazingly dynamic situations - lion cubs suckling the lioness, rhino doing a strange greeting, a herd of 40 elephants at almost touching distance, a leopard eating its kill in a bush and then majestically descending. I could just go on. It wasn’t just these but also the wonderful giraffe sightings, all types of buck and antelope, a rainbow of different coloured birds. This was an unforgettable experience.

    Our guide and tracker, Weinond and Bricks, were perfect. Weinond was a lovely gentle and sensitive man with an encyclopaedic knowledge for wildlife and nature. Bricks was a skilled tracker and I am certain that without him we would not have seen half of what we did. You could feel their passion for the animals and they seemed to take as much joy from a spot as we did. Whilst driving Weinond filled us with information about life in the bush. This meant we learnt so much about the habits and habitats of the magnificent animals and birds we were seeing.

    The camp and rooms were top class. It was a small intimate camp with nicely spaced lodges for privacy. The view from our lodge was stunning. The room was large, beautifully furnished and with the best bathroom ever. If there was one thing that could be added it would be would be access to drinks in your room. Sometimes you want a beer or a nightcap without having to go all the way to the main camp.

    The food was luscious. There was something for everyone and it was all of a really high standard and cooked to perfection. It was definitely restaurant standard. My only complaint is how much weight I’ve put in because I couldn’t resist!

    The service throughout was warm, friendly and appropriate. Very professional.

    We stayed for a night in the Giraffes Nest. This was a special, magical experience. The setting was fabulous and ‘nest’ itself beautifully decorated. It was winter so it was a cold night but they gave you lots of blankets and a cosy robe to help with that. Once in the best you we’re in your own but with radio connection back to the camp. Whilst we only spotted 2 animals during the night it was a special experience sleeping under a blanket of stars. It was a bit overpriced I think for what it is and I think in the winter it should be possible might to stay a bit longer in the morning ( we were collected 6 am to join our drive group) as this might mean you would see animals in the light.

    Finally, I cannot recommend this camp enough to people. A truly spectacular holiday that we will never forget. I’ve definitely been bitten by the Africa bug!

    MissingDara d reviewing Cape Town & Kruger Safari on 02 July 2019

  • We had a wonderful time! Our transfers (besides a bit of a wait when we arrived) were smooth. The gentleman that drove us to and from the airport also drove us to our hike and he was very nice and helpful, clean car and very accommodating.
    Our tour guide on the first day, Mandy, was charming and insightful. It was a slow day in the markets but we appreciated the space and gave us a chance to hear all about the Souks. The gentlemen who was with her was a wealth of knowledge and both did a very nice job!
    Our hike was awesome and our guide was great- he even took us to a cool waterfall and took great care of us; lunch in the mountains was delicious!
    The hotel was so lovely and the staff was very accommodating and helpful. The food was great and the rooms very comfortable!
    I did a good amount of damage in the market (often accused of being Berber;) and truly hope to be back next Spring... maybe a girls trip or perhaps I’ll bring my kiddos!
    Thank you for organizing such a nice getaway for my husband and I; we will confidently recommend Tourdust to our friends!!

    MissingJennifer H reviewing Boutique Marrakech & Atlas Mountains on 12 June 2019

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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 $6,735 pp plus flights

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

Flights are typically an additional $1,004 per person economy class from London

Families from $6,024 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 $1,004 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 $2,814 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 $1,004 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 $3,732 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 $1,505 per person economy class from London

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