Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Sri Lanka is a very diverse country with lots of attractions in a small area for kids. Therefore, an itinerary can still be quite tough to put together.

You also don’t want to travel with kids at the pace how you used to visit a country as a backpacker, but of course you want to visit some highlights of the country with your kids. You will therefore have to make choices, as you will not be able to see everything in a few weeks.

World trip kids
Sightseeing Negombo with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

how much time do you need to visit the country

Most families will have between two and four weeks to visit the country. How many places you will visit will depend on the time and age of the kids. We ourselves had three weeks and chose to take it easy with our four-year-old daughter.

For us, our trip through Sri Lanka was also a part of a six-month world tour, and therefore it would also be unsustainable if you have a fast pace of travel in every country. So what is the ideal itinerary will depend on each family.

You can easily visit most of the places we stayed in a shorter time. In addition, if you want to add another week of beach to your tour, you can consider whether to do so in Sri Lanka or in the Maldives which is about an hour and a half flight from Colombo.

For the
Maldives
we have also written an extensive travelogue on how you as a family do not have to spend a lot of money to have a beach vacation in this paradise. We will describe below our three-week itinerary and also describe various options you can choose as a family. For each place we visited, there is an article with activities at the bottom of this travel blog.

itineraries sri lanka
itineraries sri lanka

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Transportation in Sri Lanka with kids

Since Sri Lanka is not very big (1.5 times the Netherlands) and there are different modes of transportation for each destination, the country is easy to travel. So you can travel by public transportation (bus and train) or by chauffeured car.

We always arranged a car with driver at our destination ourselves, and the various reasons we found this ideal have been described here. If you have less budget then the train and bus are definitely options, but keep in mind that the travel time is longer and some routes can be very crowded.

Locals themselves frequently use public transportation because of its low prices. For the bus and train, you do not in principle need to make reservations, but to be sure of a seat for your kids we would recommend it.

Certainly the train is quite an experience, so we definitely recommend taking advantage of it once, if only for an hour. For the shorter distances at the destination, the tuktuk is really the ideal means of transportation and these can really be found on every street corner.

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel itinerary Sri Lanka

Colombo Airport – Negombo

Negombo – Kandy

Kandy – Dambulla

Dambulla – Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya – Ella

Ella – Udawalawe

Udawalawe – Mirissa

Mirissa – Negombo

Sri Lanka travel itineraries with kids: Negombo

Most travelers arrive by plane at the Colombo airport and most travelers choose to travel straight to Negombo. Negombo is also closer to the airport, than the capital Colombo.

Negombo is more of a village, than the big city of Colombo and especially for families with kids an ideal place to take a break from the plane ride. In addition, it is also where you will end your trip, so count on spending a day or two or three here.

After you recover with your family in Negombo, arrange for a
rental car with driver
through your hotel and drive towards Kandy. After about two hours, you can make a nice stop at the Pinnawela Elephant Sanctuary, where your kids will be allowed to feed the elephants for a fee and they will be explained about the elephants being cared for here.

Next to the refuge is the Millenium Elephant foundation, where you can walk around with the elephants and wash them. Then you can continue the journey by car to arrive in Kandy after 1.5 hours. By taking this route with layovers, your kids won’t be in the car too long.

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids
Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids
Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Sri Lanka travel itineraries with kids: kandy

In
Kandy
you can soak up the first culture of your tour of Sri Lanka and, for some parents, this can also be the starting point for the train ride from Kandy to Ella. You can visit several temples in Kandy, and the Kandy Botanical Gardens are also a must to visit with kids. In addition, you can visit a cultural show in this city in the evening. Stay here between two and four days, depending on your own travel pace.

what to do in Kandy with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids: dambulla

Additional option to visit northern Sri Lanka

From Kandy, you would drive a car to Dambulla in just over two hours to explore northern Sri Lanka for more culture.

Dambulla is then a great place to visit the cities of Anuradhapura (ancient capital with many temples and stupas), Mihintale (beautiful views of the mountain), Polonnaruwa (similar to Anuradhapura), the wildlife parks of Minneriya and Kaudulla and Sigiriya (with Lion Rock and Pidurangala Rock) in several day trips.

The advantage of Dambulla is that you stay in one place for a longer period of time, so you don’t have to keep moving from hotel to hotel with your family. In addition, Dambulla itself has several magnificent rock temples.

We ourselves did not choose this option because we did not see the added value for our daughter of extra hours of travel time to see more temples, we were already going on safari in another place and found the rocks difficult to climb with a four-year-old, but if you have older kids this is definitely an option to consider. If we had traveled without our daughter, we definitely would have included these sights in our tour of Sri Lanka. There are even
day excursions
from the capital to these places.

what to do in nuwara eliya

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids: Nuwara Eliya

Two and a half hours away by car from Kandy lies the British-founded town of
Nuwara Eliya
. To break the two-and-a-half-hour journey, you can paddle at Ramboda Falls en route and visit the Bluefield factory and tea plantations. These sights of Nuwara Eliya are on the route from Kandy anyway, saving you this travel time. Depending on your travel pace, we recommend spending one to three days in this town.

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids
Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids: Ella

In just under two hours you drive from Nuwara Eliya to
Ella
by car. An option to do this trip by train is of course also highly recommended, as the train journey between Kandy and Ella (with stopover Nuwara Eliya) is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in the world.

Then again, keep in mind that the travel time is longer than traveling this route by car. By the way, you can also choose to travel only a small part of the route by train to Ella after you have already arrived in Ella. Ella is a wonderfully convenient backpacker village, where you can take fun trips around the area with your family. Visit a tea plantation, waterfalls and climb Little Adams Peak with your family for stunning views of the area.

Safari Sri Lanka with kids
Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids: udawalawe

Another two-hour drive from Ella is the town of Udawalawe, which is the base for a
safari in Sri Lanka
. The town itself doesn’t amount to much, but there are some top-notch accommodations with lovely pools including food, so you don’t need much either.

In Udawalawe National Park, you can book several safari trips lasting a few hours. This national park is cheaper than most other parks in Sri Lanka. We ourselves went on a four-hour safari tour, which was also long enough for our four-year-old daughter.

The area is beautiful and you’ll see plenty of wildlife. Since there are several national parks, you will also have to make choices here and you will have to look carefully at which parks are on the itinerary for your family. We have written an extensive article about the various national parks in Sri Lanka here.

In Udawalawe, you can basically travel on after a day of safari, but we had a lovely pool at the hotel including food for a price that wasn’t too high, so we stayed a little longer at this destination.

From Udawalawe to Negombo it is still about a four-hour drive and we stopped our car on the way in Ratnapura at the
Lake Serenity Resort and Spa
. We had asked in advance if we could swim here for a few hours and have lunch by the beautiful lake and that was no problem. Thus, our daughter did not have to sit in the car for four hours and we had a very pleasant break on the road.

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

conclusion journey on the beach

Especially with kids, it is understandable that you want to end your vacation with a few days at the beach. From Udawalawe, you can choose to drive back via the coast (this is barely longer in terms of travel time). Recommended places for a few days at the beach are Unawatuna and Mirissa.

Another option is to fly from Colombo to the
Maldives
. This is what we opted for and you can read here that this does not have to be as expensive as you might think.

Traveling with kid travel with kid
Maldives with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

Travel routes Sri Lanka with kids

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