Transport in Sri Lanka

Detailed information on transport in Sri Lanka. Find out how to get into the country and how to get around whether by land, sea or air.

Getting around

Train: Train travel can be an experience in itself in Sri Lanka and is our favourite form of transport in Sri Lanka. The observation class train in either direction from Ella may well be one of the best train journeys in the world (more information here). There are multiple train connections from Colombo to Kandy taking from 2.5 to 4 hours depending on the service, as well as further connections to Galle, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura and Jaffna in the north, Batticaloa in the east, as well as connections to other hill country towns such as Ella and Badulla. You can reach Ella by rail from Colombo and Kandy (note that ‘Ella’ is spelt ‘Elle’ in the website linked dropdown menu below).

Check all train stations, prices and timetables here.

Bus: There are also several bus services available from Colombo and other major destinations and it is by far the cheapest way to travel in Sri Lanka. However, we found bus travel to be quite stressful: buses are usually very busy, noisy, slow and hot. Additionally, they can be quite nausea-inducing around the Hill Country regions. We preferred the trains.

Driver hire/transfers: Many tourists opt to hire a driver for the entirety of their trip. This costs around $45 USD per day (including the days you don’t use the driver). Your hotel can arrange individual transfers instead, but it’s always worth negotiating a discount as these are usually inflated (e.g. if quoted 15,000 LKR, ask for 11,000). We used Ajaa (+94 777 284 178) on the south and west coasts and Sisi (+94 777 203 083) for stints between Kandy, Habarana (Sigiriya) and Anuradhapura for shorter transfers and found them both to be friendly and reliable.

Car rental: If you want to rent a car during your stay then we suggest Rentalcars to find local car rental companies.

Getting there

Most international flights land in Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). Book flights via skyscanner.net