Discover a world of spice and splendour on a cycling trip across Sri Lanka.

Avoid Sri Lanka's south west monsoon rains and ride north to beautiful beaches, past quaint fishing villages, and swathes of lush green jungle on this cycling adventure from Negombo to Colombo. Sri Lanka is 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 parks, it’s a dream for travellers who like to get active. In between the amazing cycling, laze on the beach, explore the country’s premier Hindu and Buddhist sites, and taste the flavours of the tantalising night markets.


Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination
Sri Lanka
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
HPXN
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Cycling allows you to get closer to the real Sri Lanka, with a visit to the temple complex of Anuradhapura and a 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 Anuradhapura. 

  • Relax and unwind along the undiscovered sandy beaches and azure waters of Sri Lanka’s northern coast.

  • Experience a fascinating slice of traditional culture with a Kandyan dance performance in Kandy.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This itinerary is only available from May to June, when the south west monsoon makes cycling our regular route too challenging. See 'Cycle Sri Lanka' for the regular itinerary running July-April.

  • 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. 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. 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.

Itinerary

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.

Riding distance: none
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise early and enjoy some breakfast at the hotel. Start off with a test-ride through the city streets then cycle from Negombo to Mahawewa (approx. 35km) with the Laccadive Sea your constant companion. 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 Mahawewa. Afterwards, hop aboard the support vehicle and travel to Anuradhapura (approximately 140km/3hrs). Here you can settle into your hotel, relax or grab a well earned beer (or tea). 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.

Riding distance: approx. 35kms/22 miles, mostly flat with approx. 170m/560ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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. 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.

Riding distance: approx. 37kms/23 miles, mostly flat with approx. 130m/430ft of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Anuradhapura - Ancient site
  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Take the train (approx. 4hrs) to the very north of Sri Lanka and the delightful city of Jaffna. This city was only recently reopened to tourism after the Sri Lankan Civil War and has a strong southern Indian influence which you can see on the streets and in their food. Despite it's more recent trouble this colonial port town has a rich 2000 year history and boasts a vibrant Tamil culture, Dutch and Portuguese influenced architecture, buzzing markets, beautiful nearby beaches and golden-hued temples.

Enjoy an evening ride around the city to get a better feel for a city that very few travellers get to experience.

Riding distance: approx. 40kms/25 miles, mostly flat with approx. 140m/470ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is an early start as we start cycling (approx. 35kms) early from the city to the Kurikadduwan Jetty, the jump off point to the nearby islands. Take a boat to Delft Island, named during Dutch colonial times and enjoy a ride around this fascinating isalnd. The colonial legacy remains with the limestone and coral Portuguese/Dutch fort and the free roaming wild horses, as well as ruins of 3 ancient stupas dating back to the 14th century.

Kick back and relax for a while on one of the white sand beaches then take the boat to the island of Nainativu and walk to the nearby Nagadeepa Buddhist Temple, considered one of the 16 holiest Buddhist Sites in Sri Lanka. From here we transport by vehicle back to Jaffna.

Riding distance: approx. 45kms/28 miles, mostly flat with approx. 130m/420ft of elevation gain.
Optional Activities
  • Jaffna - Cooking class & family visit - LKR1400
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Leave Jaffna and cycle (approx. 40kms) the flat coastal roads and causeways south to your first real 'climb' on the trip, the Sangupiddi Bridge that separates Palk Bay from the Indian Ocean. Continue on to the small town of Pooneryn then take the support vehicle for the long drive (approx. 3-4hrs) to the east coast and the charming coastal town of Trincomalee.

Surrounded by wildlife, hilltops and rock formations laid back Trincomalee offers beautiful white sand and nearby Nilaveli is one of the best beaches in Sri Lanka. From March to August it is also famous for whale watching, or for more dramatic views check out Koneswaram Temple, built on the very edge of an ocean cliff.

Riding distance: approx. 40kms/25 miles, mostly flat with approx. 100m/320ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Today is chance to rest those cycling legs and enjoy a free day to sit back and enjoy the laid back atmosphere or get active by exploring the town and surrounds. For a close up ocean view why not take a snorkeling trip out to the clear waters surrounding Pigeon Island, one of only two marine National Parks in Sri Lanka, with some of the best remaining coral reefs in the country.
Optional Activities
  • Trincomalee - Kanniya Hot Springs - Free
  • Snorkelling at Pigeon Island - USD40
  • Mangrove Birdwatching - USD30
  • Dolphin watching - USD75
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a leisurely cycle (approx. 35kms) to the oddly named Naval Headworks Sanctuary, a forty-thousand acres reserve rich in dense forest and biodiversity.

From here drive inland to Habarana (approx. 1.5 hrs) a popular destination for safari lovers in the nearby Habarana jungle and Minneriya sanctuary, which is heavily populated by elephants, then continue to Dambulla where you spend the evening.

Riding distance: approx. 35kms/22 miles
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
This morning you will cycle (approx. 17km) 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 rest, taking in the lovely views over the surrounding countryside.

Afterwards, jump back on your bike and pedal your way through the pleasant countryside (approx. 23km) to Dambulla and 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.

Riding distance: approx. 40km/25 miles
Included Activities
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Cycle back into Dambulla and visit the famous Buddhist rock cave temple before riding on to the small town of Nalanda on the shores of the Bowatenna Reservoir, home of the ancient Nalanda Gedige stone temple and once considered 'the centre of Sri Lanka'.

Riding distance: approx. 35km/22 miles
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Cycle approximately 40kms through the heart of Sri Lanka along quiet palm tree-flanked roads, passing through small villages and on to the town of Rattota. Climb back into the support vehicle and avoid the increasing traffic as you drive on (approx. 1hr) to the ancient 'royal' city of Kandy. Surrounded by towering hills and centred on the serene Kandy Lake it is also home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic, one of the most revered places of worship in the Buddhist world.

Riding distance: approx. 40km/25 miles
Optional Activities
  • Kandy - Cooking Class in a Sinhalese Home - LKR1400
  • Kandy - Botanical Gardens - LKR1200
  • Kandy - Cultural performance - LKR1000
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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. Enjoy an afternoon of free time 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 (optional) food crawl.

Riding distance: none (optional cycling available)
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart Kandy after breakfast with a transfer to Colombo (approx. 3 hrs). 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.

Riding distance: none
Optional Activities
  • Colombo - Eat, Eat, Repeat Urban Adventure - USD55
  • Colombo - Colombo by Tuk Tuk Urban Adventure - USD55
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end today. Why not spend an extra day or two exploring this fascinating city - speak to your booking agent about arranging extra night's accommodation.

Riding distance: none
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

12 breakfasts, 8 lunches

Transport

Bicycle (e-bike option), Support vehicle, Train, Boat

Accommodation

Hotels (12 nights), guesthouse (1 night)

Included activities

  • Anuradhapura - Ancient site
  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth

Dates & availability

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Important notes

This itinerary is only available from May to June, when the south west monsoon makes cycling our regular route too challenging. See 'Cycle Sri Lanka' for the regular itinerary running July-April.

1. A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
2. Bicycle hire is included in your trip price. Please advise your height at time of booking so as we can organise a suitable sized bike.
3. This trip has an option of an electric-motor assisted bicycle (e-bike) at an additional cost. Please enquire at time of booking.
4. Bike helmets are compulsory on this trip. We are unable to hire bike helmets locally so please ensure you bring your own bike helmet from home.
5. Due to Intrepid's stance on elephant cruelty we do not visit the Perahera Festival and cannot purchase tickets on your behalf.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.