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Cycle Sri Lanka: North

Sri Lanka

Cycle Sri Lanka: North

Start: Negombo
End: Colombo

Avoid Sri Lanka's south west monsoon rains and ride north to beautiful beaches

LocationSri Lanka
Duration14 days
Start / EndNegombo / Colombo
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel

Sri Lanka

Cycle Sri Lanka: North

14 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Negombo
End: Colombo


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 lik...

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Day 1Negombo
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
Day 2Anuradhapura
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.
Day 3Anuradhapura
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.
Day 4Jaffna
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.
Day 5Jaffna
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.
Day 6Trincomalee
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.
Day 7Trincomalee
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.
Day 8Dambulla
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
Day 9Dambulla & Sigiriya Rock
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
Day 10Nalanda Gedige
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
Day 11Kandy
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
Day 12Kandy
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)
Day 13Colombo
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
Day 14Colombo
Your trip comes to an end today. For those who are staying on and want to explore Colombo further, speak to your booking agent about arranging extra accommodation and check out our Urban Adventure day trips. Riding distance: none

More info

Trip title

Cycle Sri Lanka: North

Trip code



Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019


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 t... Read more




Active Adventures,Cycling


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

Physical Rating


Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do fo... Read more

Joining point

Rani Beach Resort

Joining point description

The Rani Beach Resort has 34 rooms each with air-conditioning, TV, Wi-Fi, 24 hour room service and tea/coffee facilities. There is a fully licensed bar and restaurant.

Joining point instructions

Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. Bandaranaike International Airport is located in Negombo, approx. 35km north of Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capitol. If you have pre-booked an arrival transfer please head towards exit number 1 where you will see your dri... Read more

Finish point

Fairway Colombo

Finish point description

The Fairway Colombo is a sophisticated, 'smart luxury hotel' situated in the heart of Colombo. All rooms come equipped with a TV (with local and international channels), safety box, mini fridge, hot beverage facility, writing desks, air-conditioning and hi-speed Wi-Fi internet connections. The hotel boasts a rooftop bar and restaurant, gym and 24 hour coffee shop. The hotel is located within walki... Read more

Finish point instructions

We are happy to arrange a departure transfer for you at an additional charge. Please ask your booking agent if you would like to add this service and provide your flight details. If you have booked a departure transfer please ask your tour leader to confirm your pick up time. Colombo's airport is located to the north of the city, 34 kms from the hotel. Depending on the time of day and traffic the... Read more

Important information

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... Read more

Group leader

All Intrepid cycling group trips are accompanied by one of our cycling leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other g... Read more


We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you w... Read more


Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with ... Read more

Why we love it

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. 

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 ... Read more


All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/o... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price.... Read more

Money matters

The official currency of Sri Lanka is the Rupee (LKR).There are many ATMs throughout Sri Lanka, which accept both Visa and MasterCard. Although this is a safe and convenient way to access money during your trip we do recommend that you carry some money in cash for when ATMs can not be accessed. Some money should be taken as US dollars cash in case of emergencies. Major credit cards are accepted in... Read more

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to pur... Read more

Climate and seasonal

SRI LANKA WEATHER: Weather in Sri Lanka can vary depending on the time of year and part of Sri Lanka you are travelling to. The monsoon season is December to March in the northeast and May to October in the southwest. Flooding and landslides can occur during this time, so be ready for some delays in land travel or some reroutes to avoid affected areas.

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more


After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Emergency contact

For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist. For further contact details please use the following page: For general contact details please use the following page: While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit ... Read more

Responsible travel

As part of our commitment to responsible travel a portion of your trip cost will be donated to Bicycles for Humanity – a not-for-profit, volunteer run, grass roots charity organisation focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bicycle. In the developing world a bicycle is life changing, allowing access to health care, education, economic opportunity an... Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multisha... Read more

Transport notes

While there are occasions we use local public transport such as trains, buses or taxis to cover long distances or attend non-cycling activities we predominantly use the bicycle as our main form of transport. On most of our trips we also have a support vehicle as secondary transport for travelling longer distances, avoiding hazardous areas to cycle, as a backup should we have any incidents and of c... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more


Hotels (12 nights),guesthouse (1 night)
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