Sri Lanka, a captivating island, offers adventures at every turn. Bask in the sun as you feed turtles on Hikkaduwa beach, explore the lush Ceylon tea plantations, conquer the peaks of Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock, ride the waves at Mirissa’s surf spots, and relish the scenic train journeys that weave through this enchanting land.

Traversing Sri Lanka by train offers an incredibly convenient, affordable, and picturesque travel experience. With no traffic jams to contend with (which can be particularly terrible between Kandy and Colombo), the railway network connects you to nearly every city on the island. More importantly, the stunning views that unfold during the journey are simply breathtaking. As you gaze out of the open train window, you’ll be treated to a visual feast of the island’s lush landscapes, including rolling hills, dense forests, sprawling plantations, pristine beaches, and quaint villages where you can witness the daily lives of the locals.

Embark on a captivating 14-day train journey through Sri Lanka, as this article guides you in crafting the perfect itinerary to explore the country’s most stunning sights.

Train travel in Sri Lanka offers three classes of service, with the 2nd class being our top recommendation. This class features open windows, fans, and seating, providing a comfortable journey at ticket prices ranging from $1.5 to $8. While the 1st class offers soft seats and air conditioning, the sealed windows may prevent you from fully enjoying the picturesque views. As for the 3rd class, it’s best to avoid it, as you’ll likely find yourself standing throughout the trip and may even be at risk of theft. Experience the charm of Sri Lanka by train, and discover the beauty of this enchanting island nation.

Explore train schedules on Sri Lanka’s national carrier’s website to plan your enchanting journey.


As you touch down in Colombo, don’t linger too long in the bustling capital; it doesn’t quite capture the enchanting essence of the island. Instead, make a beeline for the train station and snag a ticket bound for Kandy. Prepare yourself for a captivating three-hour journey into the heart of charming Sri Lanka.

Nestled in the heart of the island, this enchanting city was once home to royalty and now serves as the cultural and spiritual epicenter of Sri Lanka. Journey with us as we explore its charm by train.

What to do

  • Discover the enchanting Temple of the Tooth of Buddha, a captivating complex featuring museums and sacred temples. The divine tooth, nestled in a gilded box, takes center stage. Consider planning your journey in August to experience Esala Perahera, the venerated Festival of St. Tooth. As music fills the air and people dance in celebration, marvel at the procession of ornately decorated elephants parading through the streets. Behold the revered tooth displayed for public veneration. The locals believe this ceremonious display brings prosperity and blessings to the nation.
  • Ascend the hill towards the towering Buddha Bahirawakanda Vihara statue and take in the breathtaking panoramic view of the city below.
  • Stroll along the shores of Lake Kandy, a picturesque artificial lake spanning about a kilometer, commissioned by the last King of Kandy, Sri Vikram Rajasinghe, in the early 19th century. Nestled on a quaint island at the heart of the lake, you’ll find remnants of the ruler’s harem, a monastery, and royal baths. As you amble around the serene waters, keep an eye out for the resident geese, pelicans, and herons that grace the area with their presence.
  • Embark on a journey through the enchanting Udawatkale Nature Reserve to discover the rich biodiversity of Sri Lanka. Stroll amongst ancient 300-year-old vines, marvel at delicate orchids and mini rattan palms, and encounter an array of wildlife including Ceylon macaques, porcupines, mongooses, emerald parrots, and pigeons. This captivating experience will leave you with a profound appreciation for the country’s unique flora and fauna.
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Embarking on a picturesque train journey from Colombo to Kandy, a second-class ticket will only set you back $2. To truly appreciate the city’s charm, we suggest an overnight stay, giving you ample time to explore its captivating sights.

Nuwara Elia

Embark on a charming journey by train from Kandy to Badulla, and then on to Nanu Oya, which takes approximately four hours. From Nanu Oya, hop on a bus to the enchanting Nuwara Eliya, often referred to as “Little England” nestled in the heart of the island. Marvel at the quaint Victorian houses amidst lush plantations and majestic mountain ranges that truly make this destination a gem worth exploring.

What to do

  • Embark on a boat ride across Lake Gregory. Originally designed by the British governor of Nuwara-Elia to supply electricity to the city, it quickly transformed into a tranquil retreat. Now, locals and tourists alike gather here for picnics, swan boat rides, kayaking, and leisurely strolls along the scenic pathways.
  • Capture stunning photographs near one of St. Clair Island’s tallest waterfalls, affectionately named “Little Niagara” due to its varying cascades.
  • Wander through Haqgala, the world’s highest botanical garden, and marvel at the diverse flora that calls it home.
  • Indulge in Sri Lanka’s renowned tea culture by visiting local plantations such as Pedro Estate. Here, you’ll discover the intricate process behind producing the world-famous brew.

A second-class train ticket from Kandy to Nanu Oya costs just $1.50. While it’s possible to catch an evening train after arriving in the morning, it’s worth spending a night in the charming town. This allows you to fully explore the picturesque gardens, lake, and waterfall in one day, and dedicate another day to visiting the stunning plantations.


Today, prepare to embark on a journey along one of the most breathtakingly beautiful routes you’ll ever experience. Board the train bound for Badulla, but make sure to alight at Ella. Though the ride lasts about three hours, the awe-inspiring views make every moment worth it. Feel the thrill of sitting with your legs dangling in the doorway as you take in the scenery. To maximize your comfort, it’s advisable to plan your trip on a weekday, as weekends tend to draw larger crowds of locals and tourists, making it difficult to secure a prime spot.

Nestled in the mountains, Ella is a quaint town bustling with life. During the day, visitors venture into the mountains to admire the breathtaking panoramas, while in the evening, they gather in cozy local cafes, eager to share their experiences and impressions.

What to do

  • Ella, a haven for hiking enthusiasts, offers various trails to explore. One of the most popular and shortest routes is the hike to Ravana’s Cave, famously mentioned in the ancient Indian epic, “Ramayana.” As legend has it, Ravana, the King of Sri Lanka, kidnapped Sita, the beautiful wife of the Indian King, and concealed her within this cave. The trek rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
  • There’s no need to hurry when embarking on the journey to Adam’s Little Peak. The ascent may take around 45 minutes, with an additional 15-20 minutes to reach the summit. As you make your way through charming Sri Lanka, take your time and savor the experience on this picturesque train ride.
  • If you find Little Adam’s Peak to be a mere child’s play and crave a more challenging hike, then Ella Rock is the colossal mountain you’re seeking. Not only does it offer a longer trek, but the trail is also more serene and unspoiled compared to the well-trodden path of Little Adam’s Peak. Be prepared to spend around four hours on the ascent and descent, and consider hiring a guide to make the most of your experience.
  • Embark on a journey to one of Sri Lanka’s main attractions, the Nine-Arched Bridge – the longest in the country. Remarkably, this 92-meter-high architectural marvel is constructed without the use of steel, relying solely on bricks, volcanic rocks, and cement. Nestled within a verdant forest, the bridge attracts hundreds of tourists daily, all eager to capture stunning photographs of this hidden gem.
  • Just a 10-minute drive from the city, Ravana Falls offers a refreshing oasis from the heat. This stunning natural wonder provides a perfect opportunity for visitors to cool off and rejuvenate during their journey through charming Sri Lanka.
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Embarking on a scenic train journey from Nanu Oya to Ella, a second-class ticket will only set you back $1.50. To truly experience the charm of this picturesque city, we recommend indulging in a two-night stay.


Following our visit to Ella, the journey to the coast presents a bit of a challenge. Regrettably, there isn’t a direct train from here, meaning a detour through Colombo – a serious time drain. Fear not, you can still embrace the local vibe by hopping on the city bus number 31 (Bandarawela-Matara) or simply calling an Uber.

What to do

  • Stroll along the enchanting Cape of Dondra, home to the temple of the god Vishnu. This captivating location serves as both a Hindu sanctuary and an active seaport, complete with a majestic white lighthouse.
  • Take a dip and swim over to Crow Island, where you can explore its untamed beauty on foot. If you’re traveling with your family, don’t miss out on the fun at Crow Island Beach Park.
  • Discover the hidden gem that is the Temple of Vecherachen. This underground temple was built by locals as a secret place of worship, safe from the prying eyes of colonizers. Today, a striking giant Buddha statue stands proudly outside the temple.
  • Escape the crowds and unwind at the serene Matara beach, a tranquil oasis unlike many other beaches on the island.

A bus ticket from Ella to Matara costs a mere $2, making it quite affordable for travelers. To make the most of your day, it’s best to embark on the five-hour journey early in the morning, ensuring your arrival in Matara by afternoon. Alternatively, an Uber ride for the same route would set you back about $90, but you can split the cost with fellow travelers to make it more budget-friendly. By arriving in Matara in the afternoon, you’ll have ample time to explore the city and still make it to Mirissa for a late-night adventure.


As you transition from “traveler mode” in this bustling city, prepare to embrace your inner “surfer-lighter.” To reach Mirissa from Matara, simply hop on a bus headed towards Colombo or Halle. Be sure to inform the driver of your desired stop in Mirissa, and get ready to experience the charm of Sri Lanka’s coastal paradise.

Sri Lanka, renowned for its flawless waves, is a surfer’s paradise. If you’ve ever dreamt of carving through the sea on your board, now is the time to make those dreams a reality. Embark on a journey by train to discover the charming beauty of this island nation and ride the perfect waves it has to offer.

As the sun sets, beachfront eateries showcase their fresh catch of the day on beds of ice. Patrons are simply tasked with deciding between an array of delectable options, including crabs, diverse fish, and other mouthwatering seafood.

Embarking on a journey to Mirissa by train can cost as little as $1, making it an affordable and charming destination in Sri Lanka. It’s worth spending a couple of days here to fully experience the beauty and culture this coastal town has to offer.

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Embark on a charming journey to Sri Lanka by hopping on a bus to Halle. Experience the beauty and culture of this enchanting destination as you travel in comfort and style. Don’t miss this unforgettable adventure!

Sri Lanka’s picturesque coast offers the ideal setting for sunbathing, sipping on refreshing royal coconut, and capturing envy-inducing beach photos. It’s also the perfect spot to sample delectable Lankan cuisine. For first-time surfers, fear not – the gentle waves make it an excellent place to dip your toes into the sport. And if that’s not enough, the crystal-clear waters beckon you to explore the underwater world through diving.

Embark on a charming journey through Sri Lanka by train, starting with an affordable bus ride to the city for just $0.5. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and history by staying for a couple of days, exploring the hidden gems that make this destination truly enchanting.


The enchanting fortress city of Halle, renowned for its majestic Dutch-built fort, proudly stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site. This remarkable destination beckons travelers to embark on a captivating journey by train through the heart of picturesque Sri Lanka.

What to do

  • Stroll along the mighty fortress walls, capturing the perfect shot of the iconic lighthouse and clock tower standing tall against the backdrop of the furious sea.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich history of Dutch architecture as you meander through the narrow streets within the fort, stopping to browse the charming souvenir shops that line your path.
  • Embark on a nautical adventure at the National Maritime Museum, delving into the country’s seafaring past.
  • Experience the unique blend of cultures as you visit The Church of All Saints, the Dutch Church, and the Meera Mosque, each offering a glimpse into the diverse fabric of this enchanting island nation.

For a mere $0.5, you can hop on a bus to Halle and explore the city in just one day. After immersing yourself in its charm, continue your adventure in the evening by venturing on to the next enchanting town.


If the idea of lying on a surfboard while waiting for the perfect wave doesn’t excite you, we highly recommend a visit to Hikkaduwa. This idyllic destination boasts pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and palm trees gracefully arching over the water’s edge. The only minor disturbance might be the occasional pareo or massage vendors, but don’t worry – for a truly relaxing experience, you can always head to a nearby spa for a professional massage. So, come and discover the enchanting charm of Hikkaduwa for yourself.

As you stroll along the beach, you’ll be delighted to spot giant turtles making their way to the shore for a meal. These clever creatures are well aware that eager tourists, armed with tasty treats and cameras, await their arrival. After your encounter with these gentle giants, why not indulge in a delicious dinner at a local restaurant? Don’t miss the opportunity to savor some of the freshest crab dishes on the island.

If time permits, we highly recommend exploring some of Sri Lanka’s hidden gems, such as the ancient city of Anuradhapura, the fascinating Sigiriya Museum Complex, and the captivating Yala National Park.

Embarking on a picturesque journey from Halle to Hikkaduwa, one can enjoy the comforts of second-class travel for a mere $0.5. The duration of your stay in this enchanting destination ultimately depends on your appetite for relaxation and the number of vacation days at your disposal.

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Janet Benoir is an esteemed travel journalist renowned for her vivid storytelling and deep cultural insights. With over 20 years of experience, her work has graced the pages of prestigious publications such as "Geography Insider Malaysia" and "Traveling + Exploring". Her passion for adventure and unique narratives has led her to over 80 countries, immersing herself in local cultures and traditions. Janet's eye-opening features, which artfully blend history, culture, and personal anecdotes, resonate with readers globally.