Cycle Sri Lanka

Ride through tea plantations, quaint fishing villages, and swathes of lush green jungle on this cycling adventure from Negombo to Colombo. Sri Lanka is gaining traction as one of Asia’s most exciting new destinations and it’s not hard to see why. With pristine coastline, ancient ruins, rugged peaks and wildlife-filled national parks, it’s a dream for travellers who like to get active. In between two-wheeled treks, laze on the beach, ride the rails (a must in Sri Lanka), explore the country’s premier Hindu and Buddhist sites, and taste the flavours of the tantalising night markets.

Calender 14 days

Difficulty: Moderate

From £1720.00 P/P

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Itinerary

  • Cycling allows you to get closer to the real Sri Lanka, with a leopard-spotting safari and scenic train trip taking the sightseeing to the next level. 
  • From the sensational seafood of Negombo to the pulsing night markets of Colombo, Sri Lanka a feast for the senses. Optional ‘food-crawls’ in most locations connect you with the best local street food. 
  • Step back in time as you explore Sri Lanka’s most important religious and heritage sites, including the Temple of Tooth Relic and Kataragama. 
  • Forget the coffee stops, this is Le Tour with a twist. Visit a tea factory in Giragama for a guided tour and taste of Sri Lanka’s most beloved beverage. 
  • Relax and unwind along the famous sandy beaches and azure waters of Sri Lanka’s southern coast.
  • Experience a fascinating slice of traditional culture with a Kandyan dance performance in Kandy.
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, World Bicycle Relief. Donations provide school kids, health workers, and farmers in far-out areas with bicycles that provide access to education, healthcare, and income.

Ayu-bowan! Welcome to Sri Lanka. Your adventure begins in the town of Negombo which is located close to the international airport. You can arrive at any time today as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 5:30 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the meeting will take place. Those arriving early can get into the spirit of seaside Sri Lanka by observing the local fishing craft and perhaps feasting on fresh seafood. The beautiful surrounding countryside is best explored on a bicycle, which you can rent with help from the hotel reception.

Notes: If you can’t arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you’re able to attend. We’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We’ll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Rise early and enjoy some breakfast at the hotel. Start off with a test-ride through the city streets, from the hotel to the fish market. This gives you a nice insight into the daily working of the market and the dry fish industry. You will then cycle from Negombo to Chilaw (approximately 40 km). Along the way, you’ll encounter quaint fishing villages, the scenic Dutch canal, coconut plantations and various tile factories. Sit down to a picnic lunch on arrival in Chilaw. Afterwards, hop aboard a coach and travel to Anuradhapura (approximately 90 km). Here you can settle into your hotel, relax and perhaps take a swim in the pool. You have the option of joining a ‘food crawl’ through the streets and markets of Anuradhapura – a great chance to sample some tasty local cuisine.

After breakfast, cycle to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Anuradhapura (approximately 20 km each way). Enjoy a guided bicycle tour of the ancient city. Among the ruins you’ll see the sacred old Bo Tree – a spiritual reminder of the beginnings of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and the inspiration for Anuradhapura’s great buildings. The ruins themselves are spread over quite a large area, with some in woodland settings and others appearing more cultivated with columns and ponds dotted about. While you’re here you will visit the impressive  Isurumuniya Temple. Pay a visit to the Anuradhapura museum, then enjoy a local lunch. Return to the hotel and enjoy free time for the rest of the afternoon.

Cycle from Anuradhapura to Ritigala, passing paddies, man-made water tanks and jungle patches (approximately 70 km). Sit down to some lunch along the way at a countryside kiosk. Make a visit to the beautiful Ritigala monastery, which dates back nearly 2000 years and is named after the mountain on which it sits. After exploring the site and learning a thing or two about its local mythology, board a coach and travel to Polonnaruwa (approximately 60 km). Relax and unwind on arrival. 

Saddle up for a morning ride to Polonnaruwa. Arrive at the ancient site of Polonnaruwa, the second oldest of Sri Lanka’s kingdoms, and do some exploring. Visit the likes of Vihara temple, Parakrama statue and Siva temple while you are here. Then cycle to Diyabeduma (approximately 45 km). Marvel at the scenery along the way – sanctuaries, man made channels and farm lands – before sitting down to a picnic lunch. Next, travel from Diyabeduma to Dambulla by coach (approximately 40 km). Enjoy some free time on arrival. In the evening you’ll visit the Dambulla wholesale vegetable market, where there’s an option to join in on a food crawl.

This morning you will cycle approximately 15km from your hotel in Dambulla to Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress perched among lush greenery that strikes an awesome pose against the skyline. Hike to the top and enjoy some well-earned breakfast, taking in the lovely views.

Afterwards, jump back on your bike and pedal your way through the pleasant countryside (approximately 35kms) and reward yourself with lunch at a spice garden near Matale. Enjoy a rest in the support vehicle as we drive the final kilometres to Kandy. In the evening you will sit down to a traditional Kandyan dance performance – a riveting insight into an age-old culture.

After breakfast at the hotel you have the option to either head out for some extra cycling in the Hanthana Mountain Range (weather/time permitting) or stay in Kandy and explore. Later in the morning the group will head to Giragama (approximately 15 km) for a guided tour of a tea factory. This is a great chance to learn about how Sri Lanka’s best-known beverage is made. You will also sample some of the delicious varieties on offer. Today’s lunch is something really special – pay a visit to the Hela Bojun Restaurant, a social enterprise founded by the agriculture ministry of the Sri Lankan government to provide employment to women from local communities while training and empowering them. Try some delicious Sri Lankan dishes prepared by the women while learning a little more about the restaurant and their important mission. The rest of the afternoon is free to relax. In the evening you will visit the Temple of Tooth Relic, the most important Buddhist site in the country. Explore the complex that surrounds it, then return to town for an included food crawl.

Transfer to Kandy railway station after breakfast. From the station you will embark on a scenic train trip from Kandy to Hatton, then cycle from Hatton station to Maskeliya (approximately 40 km) through leafy tea plantations. For lunch, enjoy an authentic Tamil meal from a local kiosk. Check into your guesthouse, then relax. In the evening, there’s an optional climb of Adam’s Peak, a beautiful, conical, snow-capped mountain (2,243 m). The best time for this activity is from mid December to early May.

Enjoy a hearty breakfast before cycling down from Bogawanthalawa to Balangoda (approximately 55 km). This is one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Sri Lanka – it follows a path along the tea plantations and passes lush pine forests. Have lunch at Balangoda on arrival, then transfer from Balangoda to Tissamaharama (approximately 100 km). Wind down and share stories over an included dinner.

Cycle from Tissamaharama to Kataragama after breakfast (approximately 20 km each way). The holy city of Kataragama is a colourful and vibrant religious centre that rivals Adam’s Peak in terms of national importance. This is where the two-week Kataragama Festival attracts thousands, mostly Hindus, each year in July/August. Afterwards, take a jeep ride through the beautiful Yala National Park, home to elephants, crocodiles, and gorgeous waterbirds such as the great thick-knee. Yala also lays claim to one of the world’s highest concentration of leopards. Return to Tissamaharama for the evening and enjoy an included dinner.

After breakfast, cycle from Tissamaharama to Hambantota via the pretty Bundala National Park. After lunch at Hambantota, continue to Mirissa. Enjoy an afternoon of beach splendour in Mirissa. The beach itself is a long curve of sand with lovely clear waters for swimming – a great spot to watch the sunset. Consider cycling to nearby Weligama, where colourful fishing boats bring fresh fish to sell along the shore. The local cottage industry of lace products is also well worth a look.

Enjoy a free morning to relax, or you might like to go whale-watching, which is more successful from November through to April. Later drive to Galle (approximately 50 km each way). Along the way to drop into a centuries-old Buddhist temple and meet our local artisan friend Mr Sunil. A traditional woodcarving expert, he will take you through a practical demonstration of the craft and encourage you to give it a go yourself. Afterwards, continue to nearby Galle, home to an impressive World Heritage-listed Dutch fort with extensive walls and many interesting old buildings. Spend the evening exploring, enjoying a stroll around the historic fort and watching the sunset from the ramparts before driving back to Mirissa.

Depart Mirissa after breakfast with a transfer to Colombo (approximately 3 hours). On arrival, check into your hotel and then take a city walk past the bustling Petta Bazaar, Independence Square, Parliament, and the National Museum. Your walk finishes with a shopping opportunity at the Barefoot fairtrade store. Here you can find a collection of handicrafts from around the country and support small cottage industries. Tonight there’s an optional final group dinner to celebrate your journey. This comes in the form of a food crawl along the city’s tantalising market stalls. 

Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast and the hotel’s check-out time is 11am. For those who are staying on and want to explore Colombo further, check out our Urban Adventure day trips.

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Route overview

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.

While the cycling distances on this trip are relatively short, the terrain of Sri Lanka is naturally hilly, so you’ll need to be reasonably fit, especially given the warm climate. This applies to the included activities which can add to the potential fatigue. The support vehicle will always be there if you need to take a break for an hour, or a day.

As the riding is mostly on sealed roads, with the occasional gravel path, there are no technical cycling skills required. But some downhill practice is a great idea before your trip.

There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way – perhaps a puncture here and there – but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure.

The weather in this region varies seasonally. Be prepared to get sweaty, and for the occasional rainstorm which may require a change of plans.

Sri Lankan summers are very hot, with short, sharp monsoons in the south-west. Be sure to use adequate sun protection and drink plenty of water.

If you have issues with heights, you might like to opt out of climbing the Lion Rock at Sigiriya (Day 6). There are lots of rough, narrow steps and tight walkways to be overcome.

If you feel like doing all the riding but with less effort we have the option of hiring an electric bike (e-bike) on this trip.

What’s included

  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple
  • Anuradhapura - World Heritage Site of ancient kingdom ruins
  • Anuradhapura - Isurumuniya Temple
  • Ritigala Monastery Entrance
  • Polonnaruwa ancient ruins
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock Fortress Visit
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Kandy - Lunch at Hela Bojun
  • Giragama Tea Factory Tour
  • Scenic train ride from Kandy to Hatton
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
  • Buddhist Temple Visit
  • Galle - Traditional Sri Lankan Wood Carving - demonstration and participation
Whats included

Check Availability

We have put a calendar of events together that will provide you with some inspiration of what you can expect on your holiday, and when the best time to jet off is. Now’s your chance to travel further than you can by foot and be part of a memorable and exciting two-wheel journey with us.

02 Dec - 15 Dec

FROM £2020 P/P

23 Dec - 05 Jan

FROM £2095 P/P

13 Jan - 26 Jan

FROM £1935 P/P

27 Jan - 09 Feb

FROM £1880 P/P

17 Feb - 01 Mar

FROM £1810 P/P

02 Mar - 15 Mar

FROM £1825 P/P

16 Mar - 29 Mar

FROM £1720 P/P

30 Mar - 12 Apr

FROM £1810 P/P

13 Apr - 26 Apr

FROM £1875 P/P

27 Apr - 10 May

FROM £1740 P/P

29 Jun - 12 Jul

FROM £1740 P/P

13 Jul - 26 Jul

FROM £1740 P/P

03 Aug - 16 Aug

FROM £1740 P/P

24 Aug - 06 Sep

FROM £1740 P/P

21 Sep - 04 Oct

FROM £1810 P/P

09 Nov - 22 Nov

FROM £1810 P/P

23 Nov - 06 Dec

FROM £1880 P/P

21 Dec - 03 Jan

FROM £1880 P/P

28 Dec - 10 Jan

FROM £1880 P/P

GOT ANY QUEStions?

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We are excited to announce that we are offering a 20% discount on all European Cycling Tours!

GOT A SPECIFIC TRIP IN MIND ALREADY? LET US KNOW BY CLICKING HERE.

Terms and Conditions: The discount is valid for bookings made before July 31, 2023. The discount must be used for travel before November 30, 2023. The discount cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts.