7-Day Sri Lanka Itinerary on a Budget (Updated 2024)

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If you’re looking for a budget-friendly travel destination that offers a blend of culture, adventure, and natural beauty, then Sri Lanka might just be the perfect choice for you. This small island nation in South Asia boasts picturesque beaches, ancient temples, wildlife reserves, and scenic tea plantations. In this blog post, I’ll give you a 7-day Sri Lanka itinerary on a budget that will help you explore the best of this country without breaking the bank.

Now that Sri Lanka is offering free visa to Indian passport holders, this makes it an even more lucrative country to travel to! I mean no hassle of paperwork or pre-planning – say yes to a 7-day trip to Sri Lanka!

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7-Day Sri Lanka itinerary on a budget

Day 1: Colombo

First things first, start your day with a visit to the Gangaramaya Temple, a beautiful Buddhist temple. This one is considered one of the most important in Sri Lanka. You’ll be able to see a variety of statues, carvings, and art pieces that showcase the history and culture of Buddhism in the country. Don’t miss the Seema Malaka, an adjacent floating temple that offers breathtaking views of Beira Lake.

After the temple, head to the bustling streets of Pettah, Colombo’s vibrant bazaar district. Here, you’ll find everything from spices and textiles to jewellery and electronics. Take a stroll through the narrow alleys and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of the market. Don’t forget to haggle for a good bargain! Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stop at one of the street vendors and try some local delicacies like kottu roti or hoppers. Trust me, they’re delicious!

As the day winds down, head to Galle Face Green, a picturesque oceanfront promenade that is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Here, you can enjoy the sea breeze, watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean, and sample some of the local street food from the many vendors that line the boardwalk. Be sure to try some isso wade, a popular Sri Lankan snack made from deep-fried lentil cakes and topped with spicy shrimp.

Finally, end your day with a visit to the National Museum of Colombo. Located in a stunning colonial-era building, the museum houses a fascinating collection of Sri Lankan artefacts and artwork, including ancient swords, pottery, and royal regalia. Take a guided tour to learn more about the country’s rich history and culture.

Day 2: Kandy

Take a train to Kandy. Start your first day in Kandy by visiting the Temple of the Tooth, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka. The temple houses a tooth relic of the Buddha and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be sure to dress appropriately and remove your shoes before entering the temple complex.

After the temple, take a stroll through the colourful Kandy market, where you can find everything from fresh produce to handicrafts. Then, head to the Royal Botanic Gardens, a sprawling park that showcases a variety of tropical flora and fauna. You can even hire a guide to learn more about the plants and animals in the park.

In the evening, catch a traditional Kandyan dance performance, which features acrobatic movements and elaborate costumes. You can also try some local cuisine at one of the many restaurants in the city.

Day 3: Sigiriya and Dambulla

To reach Dambulla from Kandy, you can take a bus or hire a private car. The journey takes around two hours, and the route is scenic, passing through rolling hills and rural villages. Once you arrive in Dambulla, you can use it as a base to explore the nearby attractions of Sigiriya, Dambulla, and Polonnaruwa.

Start your first day by visiting Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress that is one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic landmarks. The fortress was built in the 5th century AD and features stunning frescoes, gardens, and water features. The climb to the top of the fortress is challenging but well worth it for the breathtaking views.

After Sigiriya, head to the nearby Dambulla Cave Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to over 150 Buddha statues and murals. The temple is located in a series of caves and is a fascinating example of Sri Lankan Buddhist art.

In the evening, you can explore the local markets and sample some of the delicious Sri Lankan cuisine, which features a variety of spices and flavours.

Day 4: Sigiriya and Dambulla

On your second day, head to Polonnaruwa, an ancient city that was the capital of Sri Lanka from the 11th to the 13th centuries. The city features well-preserved ruins and temples, including the Gal Vihara, a group of four Buddha statues carved out of a single piece of granite. This one is often overlooked by travellers who are on a tight timeline. But I truly urge you to add it to your 7-day Sri Lanka itinerary.

After Polonnaruwa, you can visit the Minneriya National Park, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including elephants, leopards, and deer. You can take a jeep safari through the park to get a closer look at the animals. In the evening, head back to Dambulla and relax at your hotel, or explore the nearby towns and villages to get a taste of local life.

Read the in-depth blog on travelling through the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.

Cultural triangle sri lanka

Day 5: Mirissa

​​To reach Mirissa from Kandy, the easiest way is to take a private car or taxi, which will take approximately 4-5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a train from Kandy to Colombo, and then a bus or taxi from Colombo to Mirissa. It’s a long journey, but the train ride from Kandy to Colombo is a beautiful one, passing through tea plantations and rolling hills.

Once you arrive in Mirissa, you’ll find yourself in one of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful beach towns. Spend your first day soaking up the sun on the beach, trying out some of the local seafood, and enjoying the laid-back vibe of the town.

Day 6: Mirissa

On your second day, take a day trip to Galle, a historic coastal town that is famous for its Dutch colonial architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can take a tuk-tuk or hire a private car to get there and spend the day exploring the town’s narrow streets, ancient fortifications, and charming cafes and shops.

In the evening, head back to Mirissa and enjoy a sunset boat ride to see the dolphins and whales that are often seen in the waters off the coast. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at surfing, which is popular in Mirissa due to its consistent waves.

Sri Lanka

Day 7: Colombo

Head to Colombo via the scenic coastal route. Take this day to unwind. Go shopping and eat some Sri Lankan delicacies before you head back home.

With this one-week Sri Lanka itinerary, you can explore the best of Sri Lanka on a budget! By using local transportation and staying in budget accommodations, you can make your Sri Lankan adventure an affordable one. So, pack your bags, book your tickets, and get ready for an unforgettable journey to the land of tea and temples.

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Cost of Internal Transport in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a well-connected network of public transport options that are budget-friendly. The cost of transportation in Sri Lanka can vary depending on the mode of transport you choose.

  • Bus: Buses are the most affordable mode of transportation in Sri Lanka, with prices ranging from LKR 20 to LKR 200 ($0.10 to $1) depending on the distance travelled.
  • Train: Train travel in Sri Lanka is scenic and affordable, with prices ranging from LKR 60 to LKR 500 ($0.30 to $2.50) depending on the class of travel and distance.
  • Tuk-tuk: Tuk-tuks are a popular mode of transportation in Sri Lanka, especially for short distances. The cost of a tuk-tuk ride varies depending on the distance and negotiation skills, but it’s typically between LKR 50 and LKR 500 ($0.25 to $2.50) per ride.

Cost of Food & Drinks in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s diverse cuisine includes rice, curry, seafood, and tropical fruits. The cost of food and drinks in Sri Lanka can vary depending on where you eat and what you order.

  • Street food: Street food in Sri Lanka is affordable, with prices ranging from LKR 50 to LKR 300 ($0.25 to $1.50) per item.
  • Local restaurants: Local restaurants offer budget-friendly options, with prices ranging from LKR 300 to LKR 700 ($1.50 to $3.50) per meal.
  • Western restaurants: Western restaurants tend to be more expensive, with prices ranging from LKR 700 to LKR 2000 ($3.50 to $10) per meal.
  • Drinks: A bottle of water costs around LKR 50 ($0.25), while a can of soda costs around LKR 100 ($0.50). A beer costs around LKR 300 to LKR 500 ($1.50 to $2.50).

Cost of Budget Accommodation in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a range of budget-friendly accommodations, including guesthouses, hostels, and homestays. The cost of budget accommodation in Sri Lanka can vary depending on the location and facilities.

  • Guesthouses: Guesthouses are the most popular budget accommodation option in Sri Lanka, with prices ranging from LKR 1000 to LKR 3000 ($5 to $15) per night.
  • Hostels: Hostels offer dormitory-style accommodation, ranging from LKR 1000 to LKR 2000 ($5 to $10) per night.
  • Homestays: Homestays offer a more authentic experience, with prices ranging from LKR 1500 to LKR 3000 ($7.50 to $15) per night.

Cost of Activities in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a range of activities and attractions that cater to all budgets. Here are some of the most popular activities and their approximate costs:

  • Sigiriya Rock Fortress: LKR 5500 ($27.50) per person
  • Temple of the Tooth Relic: LKR 1500 ($7.50) per person
  • Dambulla Cave Temple: LKR 1500 ($7.50) per person
  • Whale watching tour: LKR 6000 to LKR 8000 ($30 to $40) per person
  • Tea factory tour: LKR 500 to LKR 1000 ($ $5) per person
  • Safari at Yala National Park: LKR 5500 to LKR 6600 ($27.50 to $33) per person
  • Beach activities: Prices vary depending on the activity, but expect to pay between LKR 500 to LKR 3000 ($2.50 to $15) per person.

Here’s an estimated breakdown of the total cost for a 7-day Sri Lanka Itinerary

  • Accommodation: LKR 15,000 to LKR 30,000 ($75 to $150)
  • Food and drinks: LKR 10,000 to LKR 20,000 ($50 to $100)
  • Internal transport: LKR 5,000 to LKR 10,000 ($25 to $50)
  • Other activities: LKR 15,000 to LKR 30,000 ($75 to $150)

This brings the total cost of a 7-day trip to Sri Lanka on a budget to approximately LKR 45,000 to LKR 90,000 ($225 to $450) per person. However, keep in mind that these are just estimates and costs can vary depending on your travel style, preferences, and negotiation skills.

Sri Lanka is a budget-friendly destination that offers a diverse range of experiences and attractions. By sticking to a budget and choosing affordable accommodation, food, and transport options, you can enjoy a memorable trip without breaking the bank.

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