Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids.

We absolutely loved our time in Sri Lanka and it was easily one of our best family trips to date. You can read here why we think Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids. So we thought we’d share with you our Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids. Feel free to copy it exactly for your own travels, tweak it to fit your own time or interests, or just simply use it for inspiration.

TraveLynn Family in Sri Lanka

We focused on a Southern loop to take in pristine beaches, colonial architecture, a safari to meet elephants and some time in the Hill Country. It was only about 2 to 4 hours generally between destinations which is very doable with young kids. Our preferred mode of transport was train, but if the tracks didn’t go to where we wanted we would opt for a tuk-tuk and time the drive with our 12pm nap/downtime. A car would have been faster, we just prefer to travel in tuk-tuks as they’re open and offer that sense of freedom as you watch the world breeze by. We did miss out some classic tourist spots such as Sigiriya and Dumbulla, but the former particularly requires a lot of climbing for little legs (our boys are aged 2 and 3) and we figured we’d leave that for another trip.

So here is our day by day Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids.

Day 1-2 Colombo

Arrive in Colombo. Head to the train station first thing to book your train tickets (if you haven’t already done this online). Wander around the historic Fort area and old town quarter of Slave Island, visit Gangaramara Temple, let the kids enjoy all that Viharamahadevi Park has to offer – a playground, water fountains to run in, a small train, horse-riding, an aquarium – and head to to Galle Face Green around sunset for dinner from a street vendor and watch the kites and snake charmers. Getting around Colombo is very easy as all tuk-tuks use the meter. Just ensure you have Google Maps downloaded offline to direct them, if necessary. You can read more about Colombo with kids here.

We stayed at: Anugaa in the City

Sri Lanka with kids Colombo

Day 3 Galle

Catch the train to Galle, just a 2.5 hour journey along the coast. Take a walk along the fort walls and explore the Dutch Colonial buildings. Try to time this later in the day to escape the heat and package tourist day-trippers. The full circuit along the top of the wall can be done in under 2 hours. However, for little explorers that like to climb the walls, look for dragons and generally walk a little slower, we suggest splitting the walk in two and saving a section for an early morning stroll on Day 4. Read more about Galle here.

We stayed at Fort de 19 villa

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Galle

Day 4-5 Mirissa

After your early morning stroll exploring more of Galle Fort, take a tuk-tuk to Mirissa (LKR1800, 1 hour), via a turtle hatchery, to enjoy some beach time. The main beach at Mirissa offers a long shady stretch of sandy beach, perfect for building sandcastles. The waves and current are strong, so join the kids in jumping over the waves. You can also visit Secret Beach and walk back to the main beach through the jungle. Ensure you receive clear directions. We got very lost. The walk should take around 40 mins with little legs.

If your visiting between September and April, you may like to go on a whale watching cruise in Mirissa (tours are also running in July and August, but the water may be a bit choppy for little ones). It’s one of the best places in the world to see the blur whale!

We stayed at Lashan Guest House. It’s tucked away in a quiet area 400m from the beach, but the owners will happily drop you at the main beach in their tuk-tuk. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Mirissa

Day 6-7 Udawalawe National Park

It’s time to meet some elephants! Take a tuk-tuk to Udawalawe (3hrs, LKR5000, would be 2hrs in a car). We stayed in glamping tents at Kottawatta Village just outside the National Park. Book your 3 hour safari with the resort for 5:30am. Kids under 5 are free and so the total price for entrance fee, jeep hire and safari guide was LKR7500 for our family of 4. The resort provides snacks for the safari and breakfast on your return. You are pretty much guaranteed to see elephants! When not on safari, enjoy your time at the resort. It has an onsite restaurant, swimming pool with kids’ area, hammocks for napping and you’ll meet monkeys on your veranda. You can read our full post on Udawalawe National Park here.

We stayed at: Kottawatta Village

Day 8-10 Arugam Bay

Another tuk-tuk ride (4.5hrs, LRK7500, 3hrs by car) brings you to Arugam Bay, the surf mecca of Sri Lanka. But there’s more to this surfer town than barrels and boards (that’s as far as my surfing lingo goes!). Wonderful family friendly accommodation awaits at Elephant Road Resort, set back from the main party strip. Air conditioned rooms with two double beds and a comfortable outdoor space (with hammock and hanging bed) overlook a sandy courtyard where your kids can run free. The super-chilled Israeli owner (Miki) has created a community vibe, very welcoming of children. Miki also knows THE BEST spots around Arugam Bay. Our favourites were Elephant Rock Beach, Peanut Farm Beach and watching the sun set from Crocodile Rock. You can read our full post on Arugam Bay with kids here.

We stayed at: Elephant Road Resort

Day 11-12 Ella

It’s time to say farewell to the beaches and head inland to explore the tea plantations and jungle-clad hills of the Central Hill Country. A tuk-tuk will take 4 hours to get to Ella (LRK2000). Again, you can do the journey quicker by car (3hrs), but be weary that there are many hairpin bends as you approach Ella and the open sides of a tuk-tuk may help with kids who are prone to travel sickness. Whilst in Ella, visit a tea plantation (the kids will love seeing all the big machinery in operation), visit the Nine Arches Bridge and climb Little Adam’s Peak (ask a tuk-tuk to take you as far as possible to save those little legs for the steep stairs they need to navigate at the top).

We stayed at Ella Ridge View, a lovely family homestay with lots of toys and other children to play with.

Arthur_summit

Day 12-14 Living Heritage Koslanda
After all that travelling, it’s time to treat yourselves indulge and in some luxury. Take the 1hr train from to Haputale; this stretch of track is perhaps the most stunning in all of Sri Lanka. A tuk-tuk will then drive you down into the valley to the tranquility of Living Heritage Koslanda. The smiling Mr Carrim awaits to escort you to your stylish villa with plunge pool and outdoor shower. Enjoy the incredible infinity pool, take a hike to the private waterfall, or just enjoy the space, freedom and peace that the 80 acres of pristine land offers. You can read our full review here. We only stayed 2 nights, but we seriously wished we’d stayed 3.

We stayed at Living Heritage Koslanda

Day 15 Kandy

Today is your longest travel day. 5.5 hours on a train to Kandy. We found the bustle of Kandy to be quite a shock to the system after the serenity of Living Heritage Koslanda. However, there is a good playground, which the boys certainly appreciated, and a visit to the Temple of the Tooth is a must.

We stayed at River Side Homestay Appartment. This is a lovely family homestay about 5 minutes drive out of Kandy. Tuk-tuk drivers from Kandy will not know the way. Ensure you have the property marked on Google Maps on your phone and take the phone number of the owner with you. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with kids - Kandy

Day 16 Back to Colombo

A 2 hour fast train completes the loop and returns you to Colombo. We spent our last day catching up with old friends who live in Colombo, enjoying a swim in their pool and eating pizza.

 

I hope this helps you work out your own Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids. Although feel free to copy ours exactly! If your kids are older, check out this great list of 12 Best Things To Do In Sri Lanka.

Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family was kindly hosted by some accommodations mentioned above.  However the opinions and words are all our own, based on our own experiences. This post also contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link to purchase, it is at no extra cost to you, but I get a small commission that goes towards the running of this blog. 

Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids

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Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

You may also wish to read:
Why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids
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59 Comments

  1. pigeonpairandme

    Guaranteed elephant-sighting. That’s good news! Sounds as though this is a good itinerary to follow. #FarawayFiles

  2. Clare Thomson

    What a great sounding itinerary and your tips on travelling with kids are spot on. Love the sound of your hotels too – especially the one with the outdoor shower and infinity pool. I might have been tempted to take it really slow and spend a week there! Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  3. Wow what a trip! You certainly packed a lot in. Thanks for the tip re: secret beach.

    My three would LOVE to take a ride in a tuk-tuk. Meeting the elephants would be an incredible experience.

    • Thank for reading Sam! It’s amazing how much we could fit in – so much variety crammed into a relatively small area. The beaches, elephants and Hill Country are only a few hours apart from each other. And yes – tuk-tuks are always a huge hit with the boys. Living in Bangalore, we use them every day and the they still haven’t tired of them!

  4. Mummy Cat

    Sri Lanka has such an amazing history! Id love to visit one day! #ExplorerKids

  5. Oh how fantastic. I love the whole colourful vibe there. It really looks amazing. Sarah #ExplorerKids

  6. Oh wow it looks like the most incredible trip, I have loved following your pictures on Insta and just know our kids would love this some of those views are breathtaking and oh the people watching x

  7. enquiriesethannevelyncom

    Oh my goodness that photo with the rainbow is so beautiful! I love how you got to go do the Elephants, how amazing.

    Thank you for taking part in #explorerkids linky

  8. I love Sri Lanka! This post has made me want to go back. Great to get your itinerary. We went the other way round, starting in Kandy. I’m impressed at how long you managed to travel in Tuk tuks!! #mondayescapes

  9. Some great tips, pinning it for later! Thanks for sharing! #ExplorerKids

  10. Catherine Tulley

    HI…. This is so apt as we have just booked a month in sri lanka in January/ february …. is there anything you would not recommend or places not to bother with… our boys are similar age or will be.. nearly 4 and nearly 2 by the time we get there,….

    Thank you

    Catherine x

    • Hi Catherine! Thank you so much for reading. I’m so excited for your visit!! We absolutely LOVED our time in Sri Lanka. The only place we didn’t quite vibe with was Kandy. That may have been because it was the end of the trip, or just too busy… not sure. But an absolute must for your kids is Udawalawe National Park. Here’s the link to our post on it: travelynnfamily.com/udawalawe-with-kids/

  11. Wow Wow Wow!! Dream trip right here! I wish I was braver and could do trips like this. I’m building up to it x #wanderlustkids

  12. This is a really useful itinerary, thanks. I’ve been looking at planning a trip there myself with my toddler! #wanderlustkids

  13. Nat

    I’d love to go to Sri Lanka. It’s great to see that it’s doable with kids! Thanks for the tips! #wanderlustkids

  14. This looks absolutely amazing!!! Would you recommend booking it all separately? Our youngest will be 18 Months so I love reading about your trip with your little ones. It’s made me want to visit even more !

  15. Wow, what an incredible trip. If we didn’t have Lapland in the agenda for next December I’d be seriously looking into this for early 2019. Can I ask what time of year you went? Our son will be 4 in January and I’d love to visit Sri Lanka with him. Thanks for linking up your travel itinerary! #wanderlustkids

  16. Angela

    Looks amazing. Did you have any concerns about Dengue Fever? Thanks. We are traveling in Jan. with kids.

    • We live in Bangalore where we have to take precautions against Dengue here too, so it’s an everyday thing for us. But just your usual precautions need to be adhered too – lather with good mossie repellant, cover up with long sleeves and trousers at dusk, buy mossie coils etc.

      Sri Lanka is still our fave family trip to date, so I know you’ll have an incredible time 🙂

      • LeighMccumber

        Thanks so much for this helpful blog! We are traveling with our two year old in January and this is very helpful. The Dengue Fever did worry us a bit too, but I’m glad to hear taking the normal mosquito precautions worked. Did you use bug nets over the beds for the kids? Was wondering if we need to buy one.

      • I’m so excited for your trip!! We found that everywhere we stayed supplied them, so no need to take. Happy travels!

  17. Jen

    We are thinking of going to Sri Lanka in August which is I think when you have been. How hot and humid does it get? We are going with a nearly 2 year old and a 4 year old and have been to Thailand before at the same time of year and it was much too hot in the middle of day to be outside with young kids (unless swimming and sitting in the shade). Is that the case in Sri Lanka? We’re looking at doing a similar itinerary to you. Thanks in advance. Love your blog by the way.

    • TraveLynn Family

      Hello! Thank you so much for your kind words. August was actually quite pleasant. Much more pleasant temps to Thailand that time of year. I remember Galle being very hot in the day, but elsewhere it was quite pleasant – particularly on the coast and in the Central Highlands. I’m sure you’ll have the more wonderful time!

      • Jen

        Thanks for the speedy reply. We can’t wait! Your blog has so helped us work a plan x

  18. Jay

    Hi there,

    I’m Jen’s husband (above comment), very inspired by your blog to do a similar journey over 3 weeks. Just curious as to how light you travelled, No pushchair I’m guessing? Just a couple of rucksacks? any info would be fantastic. Cheers Jay

    • TraveLynn Family

      I got a bit confused here as I’m Jen and my husband is Jay. I thought he was commenting! Ha!

      No pushchair. A couple of big rucksacks and a smaller one for day stuff (nappies, water, important docs). You really don’t need much as the weather is warm, so packing light is very doable.

  19. Lisa Slater

    Hello. I just wanted to say I came across your post on Sri Lanka by googling travelling with young children there. A huge thankyou as your info was invaluable and we had an absolute ball. We tweaked things along the way (not too hot on the ol’ pre-planning…) but our trip resembled your itinerary. What an amazing place eh :))

    • TraveLynn Family

      Hello! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment – has made my day and so pleased to hear our itinerary was so useful. Yup – it’s a pretty amazing place! What were your highlights?

      • Lisa Slater

        Our highlight was definitely the Udawalawe Safari trip. Was just magical. We went on a late afternoon safari which was really relaxing as it was quiet and as the sun was coming down the animals were slowly heading to the waterside to drink so we saw loads. And also loved Ella. Such a great country, so much variation and like you said, brilliant for traveling with children.

      • TraveLynn Family

        So great to hear that you had a wonderful time too! Yup – Udawalawe is a definite highlight!

  20. Suzanne Roycroft

    Thank you so much for your comprehensive guide. I’m a single mum and will be travelling with my two year old daughter to Sri Lanka in June/July and I have used all of your recommendations for accommodation, we are taking a different route to you but your guide has been invaluable in offering guidance. My daughter and I have done 3 trips already together but in Europe, this will be our biggest adventure yet and I’m so excited albeit a little nervous! I have a couple of specific questions if you wouldn’t mind me PM you?

  21. Sofia Ferreira

    Hello! Where can you catch the train to Haputale? I’m using your itinerary as serious inspiration to our vacations with 2 kids 🙂 Thanks

    • TraveLynn Family

      Hi Sofia. We caught the train from Ella. We bought our tickets in advance in Colombo. Let me know how you go in Sri Lanka – it’s an incredible destination for young families 🙂

  22. Tania

    I visited Sri Lanka a few years ago with a group of friends but would love to take my partner and our 4 kids. How hard is it to find budget, family accommodation?

  23. Cherie

    Jenny this sounds like a great trip. We are considering going to Sri Lanka next July. I have two questions for you. Is July a terrible time to go weather wise? My husband and I will be traveling with our 10 and 7 year old who I know would love it but we’ll also have our new baby who will be 6 months in July. Are we crazy to consider doing this trip with a 6 month old?

    • TraveLynn Family

      Hello! Not crazy at all. The 6month old will probably be easier than the 7yo ? Babies are so adaptable. Just ensure you have a good comfortable sling. We visited August last year and the rather was absolutely fine. The monsoon season is less predictable of late due to global warming.

  24. hilltribetravels

    Hi Jenny, I’m looking at train times from Colombo down to Galle. The link you have above only shows one train at 6.55am. Is this the train you took or are there others throughout the day? What class did you book? I have also read that we should start the journey just before Colombo Fort at Maradana Station in order to get a seat….what are your thoughts? Many thanks, Amber 🙂

    • TraveLynn Family

      Hi Amber! I remember our train was quite early in the morning, although don’t remember if there were other trains that day. We booked ours at the train station. We went first class as that’s the only seats we could get, but would happily have gone in one of the lower classes.

  25. Anna

    Hi! Love your post! I am going to visit Sri Lanka with my two kids (both under 3years) and would love to hear your advice – in which area should we stay if we want to visit all these atractions but want to stay in one place for 2 weeks? Ideally it would be near the beach with no more than 2 hours of traveling to all (or most of) these places. Thanks for your suggestions!

    • TraveLynn Family

      Anywhere on the South West coast would work well for you. Have the best time!!! And do let me know how you go 🙂

  26. saeed

    We have two kids in similar age to your and are going to be heading out to Sri Lanka in January. What type of sleeping arrangements did you end up using in hotels? Did you get two rooms? seems like most rooms come with 1 big bed or 2 small beds, not really big enough for a family of four.

    • TraveLynn Family

      We all slept in the same bed if there weren’t any family rooms 🙂

  27. Hi Jenny This sounds like a great trip. Can you tell me anything about the mosquito situation in July / August?
    Kind regards
    Claudia

    • TraveLynn Family

      That’s the same time of year we visited and although the mossies were out, we just used the usual precautions of repellent and covering up with long sleeves and trousers at dusk – didn’t cause too much of a problem. The sandflies at dusk on the beach at Arugam Bay were more of a nuisance.

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