Discover a world of spice and splendour on a two-wheeled trip across 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.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Finish
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Destination
Sri Lanka
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
HPXC
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 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.

Is this trip right for you?

  • 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, 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.

  • Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, and with it has come a huge increase in visitors to Yala National Park. Overtourism and lack of sustainable management practices have become a major concern for us in continuing to visit Yala. In order to reduce our impact on wildlife and the environment we are trialling visiting a less touristed section of Yala, known as Block 5. Should we determine that high tourist numbers at Block 5 also make it difficult to continue visiting responsibly we will change our itinerary to visit Udawalawe National Park, where wild elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards also reside, and the nearby Elephant Transit Home.

  • From September to mid-October when Yala National Park is closed annually for infrastructure development and rejuvenation we follow the alternate itinerary of Udawalawe NP and Elephant Transit Home.

  • 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
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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 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.

Riding distance: approx. 40kms/25 miles, mostly flat with approx. 170m/560ft of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple
  • Anuradhapura - Ancient site
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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. 

Riding distance: approx. 70km/44 miles, mostly flat with approx. 210m/690ft of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Polonnaruwa exploration
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Saddle up for a morning ride to 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.

Riding distance: approx. 45km/28 miles, mostly flat with approx. 160m/530ft of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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 spice plantations and 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.

Riding distance: approx. 50km/31 miles, mostly flat with approx. 150m/500ft of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Cultural performance
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
The visit to Lion Rock takes around  3.5 hrs. Start around 7am, reaching the lion paw around 8.30 am. On the way visit the water garden, boulder garden, Sigiriya Frescos and the mirror wall. After the Lion Paw its a steep climb with plenty of steps and walkways along the side of the rock. This part of the climb takes around 30 minutes.Those not wanting to go to the top can rest at the lion paw until the rest of the group return.
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)
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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.

Riding distance: approx. 38km/24 miles, light climb near the start then mostly downhill with approx. 380m/1250ft of elevation gain.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information
Train tickets from Kandy to Hatton are in very high demand. We always try our best to secure tickets for this journey. Though on the rare occasion that we cannot, you will be provided with a private bus to take you to Hatton.
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). Along the way, you'll stop to visit an elephant transit home which helps rehabilitate elephants for re-entry to the wild. The elephants are often released into the Uda Walawe National Park.

Riding distance: approx. 52km/32 miles, uphill at the start then mostly downhill with approx. 720m/2360ft of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Udewalawa - Elephant Transit Home
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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.

(Tourism in Sri Lanka is booming, and with it has come a huge increase in visitors to Yala National Park. Overtourism and lack of sustainable management practices have become a major concern for us in continuing to visit Yala. In order to reduce our impact on wildlife and the environment we visit a less touristed section of Yala, known as Block 5. Should we determine that high tourist numbers at Block 5 also make it difficult to continue visiting responsibly we will change our itinerary to visit Udawalawe National Park, where wild elephants, wild buffalo, sambar deer and leopards also reside, and the nearby Elephant Transit Home.

From September to mid-October when Yala National Park is closed annually for infrastructure development and rejuvenation we follow the alternate itinerary of Udawalawe NP and Elephant Transit Home.)

Riding distance: approx. 38km/24 miles, lightly undulating with approx. 170m/560ft of elevation gain.
Included Activities
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
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.

Riding distance: approx. 39km/24 miles, flat with approx. 60m/200ft of elevation gain.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy some time to relax with a free day that is yours to spend as you please. 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). Spend the evening exploring Galle, home to an impressive World Heritage-listed Dutch fort with extensive walls and many interesting old buildings. Enjoy a stroll around the historic fort and watch the sunset from the ramparts before driving back to Mirissa. 

While the famous stilt fishermen casting lines from their traditional poles are an iconic sight unfortunately this activity has become a real tourist trap, with tourists expected to pay for the opportunity of taking a photo. We advise our travellers to use their best judgement before paying for a photo.


Riding distance: none
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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. 

Riding distance: none
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast. The hotel's check-out time is 11 am.

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

Meals

12 breakfasts, 9 lunches

Transport

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

Accommodation

Hotels (12 nights), guesthouse (1 night)

Included activities

  • Anuradhapura - Bodhi Tree Temple
  • Anuradhapura - Ancient site
  • Polonnaruwa exploration
  • Kandy - Cultural performance
  • Sigiriya - Lion Rock
  • Kandy - Temple of the Tooth
  • Udewalawa - Elephant Transit Home
  • Yala/Udawalawe National Park - Wildlife safari

Dates & availability

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Important notes

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.
6. Train tickets from Kandy to Hatton (day 8) are in very high demand. We always try our best to secure tickets for this journey. Though on the rare occasion that we cannot, you will be provided with a private bus to take you to Hatton.

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.

Reviews

Our Cycle Sri Lanka trips score an average of 4.92 out of 5 based on 62 reviews in the last year.

Cycle Sri Lanka, July 2018

Robert Cook

Cycle Sri Lanka, July 2018

Malcolm Griffiths