So, you’re after the perfect Sri Lanka honeymoon itinerary? Look no further. We’ve put together a whole week of loved-up, sigh-inducing activities for you and your newlywed half in this stunning isle of South Asia. It includes oodles of relaxation by the beach, a few cracking hotels, and a touch of adventure for good measure. It’s the perfect way to kick-start a marriage for globetrotting couples who’ve not yet explored the fabled Teardrop of India.
Yep, from the mist-haloed hills of the Central Highlands to the golden beaches of the south-west coast, this plan of action runs through some of the very best spots on the isle of Sri Lanka. We’ll offer some tips on what to do and what to see in various places, but you can tweak that to fit your speed of travel. (There should always be plenty of time to laze by the poolside or the waves, too, right?)
Of course, a seven-day Sri Lanka honeymoon itinerary is never going to be enough to check off all the UNESCO sites, stunning beaches, and wild backcountry that this island has up its sleeve. In fact, we largely focus on the southern and western parts of the country here, where you’ll get some of the best resorts and hotels. You can add to that if you have more time, to throw in trips to the lesser-trodden east coast or the leopard-stalked mango forests in the north.
Day 1 – Bandaranaike International Airport to Kandy (direct transfer)
Virtually all flights to Sri Lanka will touch down at the Bandaranaike International Airport. It’s the largest international airport on the island, located just to the north of the bustling capital of Colombo. We’ll be dodging that big city, though – this is a Sri Lanka honeymoon itinerary, remember? Colombo’s worth exploring, but we’re on the hunt for things more relaxing and romantic…
Organize a direct pickup at the airport using the Sri Lanka Taxi Share group on Facebook. We used it for the exact same transfer from Bandaranaike to Colombo and the trip went smoother than a Sri Lankan lentil dal. You’ll have a car and a driver waiting for you just outside the arrival hall. From there, the trip takes you due east. Watch as the land gets lusher, more jungled, and as the mountains gradually appear on the horizon.
After about 3-4 hours (depending on traffic), you should arrive at the wonderful city of Kandy, said to be the spiritual epicenter of Sri Lanka. Anchored on a mirror-like lake, it drapes over a series of green hillsides in the midst of the Central Highlands. Scale to the Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue if you’ve got the energy (jet lag permitting, of course). Up there, you’ll be able to survey the whole town and its wealth of Buddhist pagodas.
Stay at: Theva Residency – The perfect hotel for the first night of our Sri Lanka honeymoon itinerary. Boasts stunning views over the ancient city of Kandy and its own infinity pool.
Eat at: Nagalingam’s Bhavan – This pure vegetarian restaurant might not look like much, but it’s the perfect introduction to Jain cuisine and the casual eating style of Sri Lanka. Sit, watch the rickshaws whizzing past, revel in the energy, and enjoy a traditional island thali.
Day 2 – Kandy to Ella (the famous train)
There’s no time to hang around on Day 2. The odyssey eastwards into the rugged heart of the island continues. Only, it continues in real style! Yep, you’re headed for the Kandy-Ella train. It was built way back in 1864 to link with the tea plantations in the mountains. Now, it’s one of Sri Lanka’s most bucket-list attractions. Book ahead and secure a window seat on the left-hand side – that’s essential for making the most of the view!
The connection takes seven hours in total. It starts in the charming Kandy train station, before wiggling through a few valley bottoms filled with banana trees and rustic villages. Eventually, the railway starts creeping upwards and things get really dramatic. The best part of the ride is between the colonial hill station of Nuwara Eliya and your destination, Ella. That’s where you’ll witness the undulating seas of tea plantations rolling to the horizon, and the outline of gnarled and twisted summits scoring the clouds.
The train journey typically takes all day, but there’s usually still time to walk the middle of bustling Ella when you arrive. Now a trekking hub, the town was once a tea-growing center lost in the hills. It’s got one central drag that fizzes with life. If you’ve got the energy, hit the bars and meet some other travelers before retiring for the night.
Stay at: EKHO Ella – Oh, yes! EKHO Ella occupies one of the best perches on the mountainside, overlooking Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak. You might not want to ever leave, because there are hot tubs in the tropical gardens and sweeping views all the way down to the coast.
Eat at: Jade Green – A relaxed, family restaurant that’s a breath of fresh air among the raucous backpacker bars of central Ella. We ate here three times in a week. The garlic curry and brinjal is fantastic!
Day 3 – Ella Rock (or Adam’s Peak and Nine Arches Bridge)
No lie-ins today. Sorry. You’re hitting the mountains. This is the adventurous part of our Sri Lanka honeymoon itinerary and you need to earn those lazy days under the coconut palms later on! Mainly, though, it’s a 7am start because you have to beat the afternoon rains that roll up into the Ella valley like clockwork around 2pm every day.
We think there are two stand-out hiking options open to honeymooners. One’s better if you like a challenge and have some experience as trekkers – that’s the harder route to Ella Rock. The second should be the pick if you’re looking to take it easy and see some nice architecture.
The hike to Ella Rock will start alongside the railway lines, running past some roaring waterfalls, before zigzagging upwards on the mountains to the west of Ella Town. It’s about two hours up and two hours down, but it’s proper hiking in bamboo and sandalwood forests to a high lookout where the views will take the breath away.
The easier hike means passing through the town and up the smaller summit of Little Adam’s Peak. There are lovely vistas across the main Ella valley from there, along with a few café-bars where you can watch daring backpackers whizzing along the ziplines. There should be time left to head north to see the famous Nine Arch Bridge (an Instagram must!) – the best view is from little Nisee Juice Bar on the hillside above.
Stay at: EKHO Ella – You won’t want to be checking out of this luxury hotel in Ella, especially not after a long hike!
Eat at: Cafe One Love – Not so much for dinner as for your pre-dinner drink, this hippy bar is chill central. It’s got endless Bob Marley, cool mojitos, and the vibe of something out of Northern Thailand.
Day 4 – Ella to Yala National Park
Organize another direct taxi transfer from Ella to the Yala National Park using the Sri Lanka Taxi Share group on Facebook. Aim for the exceptional Wild Coast Tented Lodge by Relais & Chateaux. We’d put it up there with the best hotels on the whole island. The best news? You’ve got the WHOLE day to kick it and relax in the resort. You’ll thank us for that…
Seriously, it’s an incredible hotel, wedged into the woodlands on the edge of Sri Lanka’s most famous safari park by the sloshing waves of the Indian Ocean. The rooms are called “Cocoon Suites” for their unique architecture. They meet at a large, free-from, non-chemical pool, which connects with a sumptuous bar with views over the sand dunes. There’s also an on-site spa facility for those couples’ pampering sessions and Ayurvedic massage treatments.
Stay at: Wild Coast Tented Lodge by Relais & Chateaux –This is both your hotel AND your activity for the day. Trust us, you won’t regret it!
Day 5 – Safari to Yala National Park and travel to Hiriketiya Beach
There are daily game drives on offer out of the Wild Coast Tented Lodge. Take one and take it early (like 4.30am early!) to make the most of the Yala National Park – Sri Lanka’s most iconic reserve. There’s way more animal activity in the hours prior to and just after sunrise, so quick risers will be rewarded. Drives take place on the network of dusty backroads that run through the national park, and are led by qualified tour leaders who know where to look for the most likely sightings.
Talking of sightings…there are two creatures that should be top of your list in the Yala. The first is the uber-cute Sri Lankan elephant. A pygmy elephant, it’s smaller than it’s compadres in Africa and Thailand, but just as iconic. They roam the waterways and gallery woods of Yala in great numbers, so an encounter is usually a sure thing. Less likely is a meeting with Sri Lanka’s elusive leopard. Although the park is said to have the highest leopard concentration of any park in the world, these guys will still be a trick to find!
After your morning game drive, it’s time to move on. Hiriketiya Beach is a-calling. It’s a couple of hours in a taxi to the west along the Indian Ocean, but it’s your first chance to kick it on the island’s fabled tropical shore!
Stay at: Mana –A boutique hotel that’s high on the headland above Hiriketiya Bay between the coconut palms. Stylish and peaceful, but still within walking distance of the sands.
Eat at: Garlic Café – The folk here cook up an amazing veggie buffet every night. You get the choice of six curries, unlimited rotis and rice, and an all-round lovely setting in a candlelit garden.
Day 6 – Hiriketiya Beach
Hiriketiya Beach is one of the southernmost beaches in Sri Lanka. It’s tucked into a horseshoe bay just 10 minute’s tuk-tuk outside of the transport town of Dickwella. However, it can feel a whole world away from civilization. The streets are still wobbly mud tracks. The cafés are still built with bamboo fences and ramshackle kitchens. There are easy-going reggae bars on the sands.
The beach itself is a stunner. It arcs for a couple of hundred meters below forested headlands dashed in coconut woods. The water is a pearly greenish blue and we’ve met sea turtles there on our morning swim in the past.
Lots of people will come for the surfing on Hiriketiya Beach. It’s good for both beginners and intermediates because there are two waves in the bay. You can hire boards for a couple of dollars an hour from the beachfront stand. Alternatively, check out Left For Days surf shop down the main street.
Stay at: Mana –Get yourself two nights in Mana because you won’t want to be moving hotels in chilled Hiri!
Eat at: Dot’s – Dot’s is one of the original hotels in Hiriketiya and now hosts some of the liveliest shindigs on the weekend.
Day 7 – Mirissa
More chilling on the beach awaits in the buzzy town of Mirissa. First though, you’ll need to hop in a taxi or a tuk-tuk to get there. We recommend the latter, as the views of the south coast are lovely to watch as you rumble over the uneven roads in a rickshaw – it’s an endless stream of empty coves, beach hotels, and palm-threaded shoreline on the Indian Ocean.
Once you arrive in Mirissa, you can choose what to do. Whale watching is very popular here, and it’s certainly another bucket-list experience to add to that Sri Lanka honeymoon itinerary. The best time to see the big beasts in the water is between November and April – the high season. Alternatively, you could hit Mirissa beach and chill out. It’s a long, powdery run of sand with clear blue water and loads of pumping beach bars to its back.
There’s also Secret Beach. You’ll have to hike about 20 minutes to get there, but the reward is a hidden cove where big granite boulders are sloshed by the see-through waves. Talk about romantic…
Stay at: FireMoonGarden by Peacock Villa – Hidden up above the beach of Mirissa amid the forests, this boutique hotel has a whiff of the colonial era and a seriously awesome pool.
Eat at: Salt Mirissa – A beachfront eatery with stunning sunset views and an enticing menu of cocktail, Sri Lankan curries, and European dishes alike.
Is Sri Lanka good for a honeymoon?
Sri Lanka has to be one of the most enticing honeymoon destinations in South Asia! It’s packed with shimmering beaches and has bath-warm sea waters, backed up by a range of pretty fantastic honeymoon hotels. However, there’s more to it than that, because you can also throw in bucket-list experiences to share with your other half, in the form of wild hikes, Buddhist temples, and safaris.
Where should I stay in Sri Lanka for my honeymoon?
Sri Lanka now has oodles of pretty spectacular resort hotels by the beach. They’re a great place to look if you want to be pampered. Towns like Mirissa and Galle and Hikkaduwa are perfect for them. There are also some stunning boutique stays in the safari destinations and up in the highlands. Basically, you’ll be spoiled for choice on the hotel front!
So, that’s the end of our Sri Lanka honeymoon itinerary and we hope that you’ve fallen in love with Sri Lanka as much as us!