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Best Sri Lanka tours for 2019

Discover the beauty, diversity and culture of this island nation with an expert as your guide.

Sri Lanka is a hidden gem in the Indian Ocean just begging to be untapped. For the most seasoned travellers, it offers the chance to explore everything from lush rainforests to ancient Buddhist ruins, while for the more relaxed traveller, it offers the chance to while away your days on pristine beaches and brilliantly blue waters.

When it comes to making the most of your journey, a tour can help you get your bearings, provide ample knowledge on the history and culture of a country and give you those sneaky insider tips on where to go and what to eat and drink.

We think it’s safe to say that these tour companies know their stuff and we’re backing them as your go-to when visiting Sri Lanka.

Our favourite Sri Lanka tour companies

G Adventures

Experts in small group tours with a local and ecotourism focus, G Adventures provides you with local guides and insider access into the true nature of Sri Lankan life and culture.

  • Best for: Active travellers
  • Cost: Low to mid-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: The Sailing Sri Lanka North Coast tour lets you explore the nation's hidden gems by water, calling in at remote islands and their deserted beaches, traditional villages and inviting waters.

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Intrepid

From in-depth cultural experiences to adventurous and active tours, Intrepid is an expert in keeping costs low and experiences high.

  • Best for: Backpackers, budget savvy
  • Cost: Mid-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: Circle Sri Lanka is a 15 day taster of the country, ideal for first-timers seeking to see and do it all. It starts in Negombo and winds through Dambulla, Kandy, Mirissa and Galle before ending in Colombo.

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Wendy Wu

With over 23 years of touring under its belt, the terms Wendy Wu and luxury Asian travel are practically synonymous.

  • Best for: Luxury travellers, seniors
  • Cost: High-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: Pearl of the Indian Ocean delves into unique local experiences, from witnessing stilt fisherman catch their dinner to sipping on freshly plucked ceylon tea and saying hello to the rehabilitated elephants in Udawalawe National park, you'll discover the true heart of Sri Lanka and its people.

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BH Sri Lanka Tours

With professional tour guides, exceptional attention to personalisation and a wide range of tours throughout the nation, BH Sri Lanka Tours can provide you with that unique and memorable experience of Sri Lanka.

  • Best for: In-depth cultural experiences
  • Cost: Mid to high-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: The Unique Sri Lankan Splendour takes you through the nation's lush landscape of UNESCO World Heritage formations, tea plantations, gushing waterfalls and surf and sunbathing spots.

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Aitken Spence Travel

Adventure and cultural exploration is coupled with the perfect price point to bring you a well curated series of tours that won't break the budget.

  • Best for: Families
  • Cost: Low-range
  • Our favourite itinerary: For the time-poor, Aitken Spence Travel's Sri Lanka In a Nutshell tour whips you through the highlights of the capital, Colombo and the neighbouring city of Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, which is rife with beautiful beaches and temples.

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Best Sri Lanka tour company for:

Ecotourism and volunteerism

  • G Adventures: Advocate responsible tourism with a tour company that gives back by supporting local communities and businesses.
  • Bamba Experience: Heighten your experience and knowledge of Sri Lanka with volunteer programs and projects that nurture your soul.
  • Wendy Wu Tours: The luxury tour company calls into Udawalawe National Park and its elephant orphanage on various tours in support of the local wildlife and its rehabilitation work.

Budget

  • Aitken Spence Travel: Stay on budget with tours that can cost as little as $58 per day.
  • Geckos Adventures: Explore the best of Sri Lanka with a youthful tour company that is as cost and budget savvy as you. Tours start from $380 for a 5 day tour.
  • Gate 1 Travel: Combine your tour with flights for a budget-friendly holiday without any nasty out-of-pocket surprises. Land-based tours start from $999 while air and land packages start from $1,919 for 8 day tours.

Rail tours

  • J F Tours: With a train network that extends across the country, J F Tours features rail packages to suit all budgets and itineraries.
  • Intrepid Travel: Circle Sri Lanka by land, soaking up the sights with a mix of coach, train, biking and hiking options for the ultimate adventure.

Sailing tours

  • G Adventures: Sail the waters of the north, east and south coast and gain a different perspective of this captivating nation.
  • BH Sri Lanka Tours: Spend your days on the coast, soaking up the sun and indulging in the best marine experiences Sri Lanka has to offer.

Popular Sri Lanka tour routes

Sri Lanka Circle

Each corner of Sri Lanka has wonders to share, from the capital, Colombo in the south to the mountainous city of Kandy, right up to the beaches of the east and north. Mandatory stopping points for anyone seeking to "see it all" include Colombo, the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, the ruins of Polonnaruwa, the beaches of Mirissa and the tea pickers in the countryside.

Circle Sri Lanka

Circle Sri Lanka from TourRadar

  • Tour company: Intrepid
  • Best for: First timers
  • Length of tour: 15 days

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Sri Lanka and Maldives

With the Maldives a mere 1.5 hour flight from Sri Lanka, combining the two beach blessed outposts into one holiday is a match made in heaven. Soak up Sri Lanka and its mountain and temple speckled landscape then polish your trip off with a relaxing time in the Maldives.

Sri Lanka and Maldives Adventure

Sri Lanka and Maldives Adventure from G Adventures

  • Tour company: G Adventures
  • Best for: Beach breaks, couples
  • Length of tour: 14 days

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Sri Lanka and Kerala

For scenery unparalleled, blend the lush Indian state of Kerala with the blissful beaches of Sri Lanka. Tours can take you through the backwaters of Kerala for a sneak peek of life on the water.

Kerala Backwaters + Highlights of Sri Lanka

Kerala Backwaters + Highlights of Sri Lanka from TourRadar

  • Tour company: Explore!
  • Best for: Adventure and culture
  • Length of tour: 16 days

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How long do I need in Sri Lanka?

At over 65,000km² in size, Sri Lanka is no drop in the ocean, coming up just shy of the size of Tasmania. While it's physically possible to traverse the island within a few days, most in-depth tours run for at least 9 days to cover the most popular icons.

Longer trips of close to a fortnight are encouraged to incorporate experiences into the mix. This can include sailing, rail journeys, national parks and mountain hikes.

We've sussed out how long it'll take to cover certain cities below, using tours mentioned in this article, to give you a better idea of what you can cover over your trip length:

Number of days Colombo, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy Nuwara Eliya Minneriya Negombo, Polonnaruwa, Bandareawela, Diyaluma, Galle Diyaluma Udawalawa Haputale Anuradhapura
7 x x
10 x x x x x x
15 x x x x

Top 7-day trip

Blissful Sri Lanka

Blissful Sri Lanka from TourRadar

Tick off six must-see cities starting in Colombo and circle around the south-west of the island with this ultimate taster, guaranteed to have you dreaming to return to see more.

  • Tour company: Aitken Spence Travel
  • Best for: First timers, families
  • Places visited: Colombo, Dambulla, Sigiriya, Kandy and Nuwara Eliya

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Top 10-day trip

Family Adventure by Rail, Road and Raft

Family Adventure by Rail, Road and Raft from TourRadar

Elevate your trip to the next level and give the whole family a trip to remember with exciting activities such as rafting, food workshops, hikes, elephant encounters and rail journeys to colour your trip.

  • Tour company: Rove
  • Best for: Families
  • Places visited: Colombo, Negombo, Dambulla, Polonnaruwa, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Udawalawe National Park and Bentota.

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Top 13-day trip


Top Sri Lanka tour deals and discounts

Wendy Wu Tours Wendy Wu Tours

Up to $500 off Asia tours

Valid for travel from 8 July - 21 November 2019. Destinations include China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Japan and more. T&Cs apply.

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Nexus Holidays Nexus Holidays

Up to $600 off India and Sri Lanka tours

Valid for travel on select dates in 2019 - 2020. Destinations include Nepal, Colombo, Delhi and more. Includes daily meals, hotel accommodation, tour guides and more. T&Cs apply.

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Wendy Wu Tours Wendy Wu Tours

$100 off tours for senior card holders

Valid on 2018 dates depending on the destinations. Destinations include China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Japan and more. T&Cs apply.

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