Get acquainted with the remnants of a historically rich period of the country with its array of monuments and temples.
Get to see the very best of Sri Lanka – sandy beaches, meandering irrigation canals, the lush green tea clad hills and thick wilderness of national parks
Local food is an integral part of this trip and you will get plenty of this
A land that is bound to mesmerize you, Sri Lanka offers the most vivid and diverse experiences for travellers within the confines of its relatively small size. Packed with jungle safaris, beaches, tea plantations, and exotic countryside. We traverse through the entire stretch of Sri Lanka, starting in the central northern province of Sigiriya, going southwards till we hit the southern edge, Galle.
While ancient temples, monasteries, and verdant surroundings provide the perfect setting for a wholesome holiday, it’s the luxurious boutique hotels that really complement the trip. We have chosen some of the best properties to balance the rigor of cycling, so you can pamper your senses in soothing spas, serene swimming pools, and excellent hospitality.
We suggest that you arrive in Sri Lanka at least one day in advance and settle in at your hotel in Negombo near the Bandaranaike International Airport to recover from your flight journey.
Our guide meets you at your hotel at 17:00hrs. We do bike fit and convene over dinner tonight.
Day 2: Sigiriya
Today morning, meet your tour leader at the hotel in Negombo. After a long transfer, we get ready for the day’s cycling. An easy-paced ride will take us through the rural hamlets of Sri Lanka and we finally arrive in Sigiriya,
Sigiriya is a small town named after the large Lion Rock. It was here that King Kasyapa decided to forge his roots, build a palace on a high rock and embellish its sides with frescos. The rock converted into a Buddhist monastery after the King’s death, right until the 14th century.
Settle in at the Water Garden Sigiriya Hotel. The hotel is ensconced between paddy fields, with earthy brown walls and cottages.
Have an early morning breakfast and get ready to take a classic loop around Sigiriya visiting Dambulla cave along the way. We start the exploration in the backdrop of the large Lion Rock after which the town was named. We ride along gravel roads following an old irrigation canal to Dambulla, the 2nd century BC Buddhist cave temple. One has to walk up some distance to see the five caves, which still house many ancient Buddha statues.
Post-lunch, head to the 5th-century rock fortress of Sigiriya. The last part of the climb, starting from the ‘lion paw’ is quite steep. The ruins of the palace on the summit are surpassed only by the magnificent aerial view of the surrounding jungle.
History awaits to be explored today, as we ride to Polonnaruwa, an ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka, which came into existence during the 12th century. The initial stretch is through a forest, with lots of greenery. The ride is mostly flat with few rolling patches in between. Post-lunch, we explore the remains of this architectural wonder and later return to the hotel to relax rest of the evening.
Wake up to the rhythm of nature and to the music of birds. Back on the saddle, we ride through a forest, with lots of greenery. For some time, we ride along with a large water tank in Minneriya. The ride is truly extraordinary.
Our next base to explore Sri Lanka’s cultural capital, Kandy. Perched amongst the tea-clad hills of the Kandy Plateau, this is home to one of the most significant sites for Buddhists: the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic. Before we visit this, we arrive at a luxurious boutique hotel, Kings Pavilion through country roads. An erstwhile abode to Kandyan noblemen, the hotel has enough cozy spaces to settle in with a book, or go for a spa treatment, or just indulge in the great food. For all the cycling that is planned for you, there is enough time to enjoy Sri Lankan hospitality.
Since this a well-paced cycling trip, today we take a short easy ride along the countryside of the picturesque Kandy. Kandy is known as the hilly respite from the plains of Colombo, so expect clean crisp cool air to refresh you completely.
Later in the day, we make our way to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. A temple held in great Buddhist veneration, this is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy and houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Of the rituals performed in this temple, the one held on Wednesday is of great importance. The tooth is washed with a herbal concoction, which is said to have healing powers; the water is distributed amongst devotees. After spending considerable time here, we return to Kandy House for the night.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Distance cycled: ~ 20km / 15mi*
Day 7: Nuwara Eliya
Today we take a spectacular train journey past tea plantations to Sri Lanka’s old British tea valley, Nuwara Eliya. With gradual climbs and few steep hills to conquer, it is a beautiful journey that takes us to the hill country of Sri Lanka with a climb of about 1,400m. Second class tickets on a train can be booked in advance, however, 1st class tickets are only available closer to departure and the availability depends on that day. Though usually available, there may be chances that we have to take a journey in a shuttle instead or by bike if you prefer.
We arrive at Nuwara Eliya and check-in at the Heritance Tea Factory Hotel, remodeled from an old tea factory that used to be present in the days of the Raj. The place still retains its old-world charm with wooden lofts, old brass fans, and even an original engine that was the main source of power in those days. Perfect ambiance coupled with exquisite comforts to transport you back to the colonial times of Sri Lanka.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: Nuwara Eliya
It’s a classic loop today around Nuwara past tea plantations and waterfalls. Clumpy green hills covered in a moss-like carpet of bright tea shrubs, keep us company through the ride. Nuwara is known as the hilly respite from the plains of Colombo, so expect clean crisp cool air to refresh you completely.
On our ride, we encounter tea pickers, undulating hills, small villages, and small shops on the corners of the roads. Feel free to strike up a conversation. You will be delighted at the eagerness and warmth of Sri Lankans, to make guests feel at home.
Today we explore Horton Plains. After an early breakfast, we transfer to Horton plains for a walk till Worlds end.
Horton Plains is one of Sri Lanka’s better-known National Parks – a vast stretch of grasslands and thick forests known for its avian life and thickly green vegetation. This is the only national park in the country that you can explore on foot, although on designated trails. It’s here that the country’s three major rivers initiate, making it one of the most fertile lands on this soil. World’s End is a dramatic scenic viewing point in the park, which can be reached by a 4km-walking trail.
We have lunch and a further ride towards our destination, Ella. Riding from Nuwara, we pass through grasslands, forests, dairy farms, windmills to reach Ella. Standing at an elevation of 1,041m, Ella is a little off-beat town when compared to Nuwara Eliya with views of green mountains around.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Distance cycled: ~ 55km / 33mi
Day 10: Udawalawe National Park
Ella is an excellent place for a walk and a short hike. We recommend taking an early morning hike to nearby areas such as Little Adam’s Peak or Rawana Falls.
Have a late morning start and ride to Udawalawe National Park along gravel roads, through forests with grasslands, shrubs, and teak plantations of Sri Lanka. Be careful while riding through an initial descend as we drop from about 900m to 80m within a short distance. After a long patch of flat terrain, finally enter the Udawalawe National Park, home to hundreds of Sri Lankan Elephants and other wild animals.
A true jungle experience with well-planned safaris and knowledgeable staff, the national park helps you assimilate the wildlife at close quarters.
Go on an early morning safari in Udawalawe in search of Elephant herds. And, then off to Tangalle, following one of the irrigation canals flowing towards the south. Time for an infusion of something different in the topography – bananas! The crisp air of the countryside and the rural setting is perfect to understand and enjoy the interiors of the country. As we close into Tangalle, that’s when the warm clammy seaside air hits you, sometimes heavy with the weight of the smell of fish. If we stick to timing, there will be no better way to spend the evening than to see the sun descending into the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Sri Lanka.
Ride to Galle through coastal and interior trails. Post-lunch, explore Galle Fort on foot. Erstwhile Gimhathiththa, the town is rife with Dutch and Portuguese architectural remnants, museums, cathedrals, and a beautiful coastline to enjoy the sunny beaches.
Extend at Galle/Tangalle and spend the days at leisure or transport to the Colombo International Airport for your onward journey.
by Sherry Romello on Classic Sri Lanka Premiere Bike Tour
Classic Sri Lanka
This was our second cycling vacation with the Art of Bicycling Trips. Our first was exploring India and this trip was exploring Sri Lanka. We covered over 350 miles during our 11 day trip and it was spectacular!!! Dibin did a great job putting together the routes, the guide, the hotels and the additional tours. I would highly recommend upgrading the hotel stays to the premium category. Each night we stayed in fantastic accommodations — great accommodations, great locations, excellent food. Contrasting to India where we stayed mostly in Homestays and a few hotels, Sri Lanka was SO much better. While India and Sri Lanka are geographically close, they are World’s apart in experience. I don’t think I ever need to go back to India, but I could easily return to Sri Lanka. There is no video or photo that captures the chaos of riding a bike through the towns with horns honking, til-Turks and motor bikes zipping past, busses and big trucks alongside people walking and dogs lazily laying by the road. At first appearance, it would seem impossible to bike, but in actuality, you learn to love the horns—it’s their way of communicating—and yummy also learned to always be predictable in your actions. These drivers are so accustomed to all things moving at all times and it is quite a talent to watch. Thank you Dibin! Also, if you find yourself in Sri Lanka looking for a great tour guide—find Dan. We were lucky enough to get him for our bike tour, but he has been a sightseeing tour guide (not bikes) for 16 years and he is fantastic. He found amazing restaurants and really knows the best times to tour the highlights. Thank you! Thank you!