Self-guided bike tour through Sri Lanka's highlands
Take a ride through the tea country of Sri Lanka. Cycling the stunning mountain landscapes surrounding Kandy. Pedal our way past multiple national parks and wildlife reserves on the way to the coastline, finishing your 8 day bike tour in the coastal fort of Galle.
This self-guided bike tour runs from Kandy to Galle.
Interested in how Grasshopper Self-guided bike tours work? See our introduction video below.
Discover the bold flavours of this full-bodied, little island. The taste of a rich history and a deep, cultural aroma with a hint of its colonial past.
Fiery, delicious cuisine, the warmth of welcoming people and the glow of the tropical sun brings the heat.
While the luscious, green landscape and bright, exciting wildlife, refreshes your palate and makes you thirsty for more.
This incredible self-guided cycle tour runs from Kandy to Galle.
Once known as Serendib, then Ceylon, and now Sri Lanka, this amazingly diverse country is ideal for cycling with a beautiful coastline and spectacular highland scenery. It welcomes you with great food, excellent accommodation and very friendly, engaging people.
A small island with a big heart, Sri Lanka is known for its tea plantations and it is these very plantations you'll be riding through on your adventure, also taking in the cloud city of Kandy with its sacred Buddha tooth relic and pleasant climate. You ride by Horton Plains Reserve up in the high plateau and cycle through the stunning Udawalawe & Sinharaja National Parks, where spotting wildlife is almost guaranteed. Finishing your tour on the southern coast with its crashing surf, relaxed vibe and fascinating fort.
Like the itinerary but short on time? Contact our Travel Experience team directly for a bespoke itinerary that fits your needs.
8 days duration
435 km distance
Solo rider option: $1350
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
What makes Grasshopper so special?
Find out how your next cycle tour goes the extra mile.
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Grasshopper Self-guided tours are run with our reliable fleet of all-purpose hybrids and mountain bikes, but depending on availability, and for additional fee, our Premium Self-guided offering in Sri Lanka includes TREK Conduit + e-bike.
TREK e-bike can give you the extra juice with three levels of pedal assist if you want to approach your tour a little more leisurely. All our e-bikes are of the highest quality, fitted with dependable all-weather hydraulic disc brakes and are as lovingly maintained as our regular bike fleet. Read more about our e-bikes.
Upgrade availability is limited, after making your online booking our support team will follow-up requesting your bicycle preference (TREK e-bike or regular).
We choose hotels not just based on star ratings, but for their character, comfort, charm and their ability to work with us to make your journey as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Self Guided gives us booking flexibility that we don’t usually have with large group tours, so this offer is expanded with some really unique venues. In prominent locations or cities, we generally use hotels in the 3-4 star range. In the minor towns we use the best available accommodation. At the bare minimum you can expect air conditioning, a private bathroom and a comfortable bed.
Exclusively to self-guided tours our bikes come fitted with top of the range GPS navigation units. These biking computers have remarkable customisation capabilities and can easily be ported with all major biking software, such as Strava, RidewithGPS or Kamoot, for all fans of cycling data. Never fear if you are not technically minded, as we've made them accessible to all riders. The device will be customised for you and we will upload the most accurate maps and routes. Furthermore, you will be well briefed on putting it to good use. You can download a free companion app and play around with its setup, download results of a day’s ride, or set yourself daily workout goals.
Our dedicated Grasshopper Self-guided Adventures app combines navigating technology with visual and audio descriptions of points of interest along your routes, and can be hosted on all Android and iOS devices. The app contains your detailed tour route, podcasts with background information on the regions you will pass through, plus an audio commentary describing points of interest along the way. It also provides dining suggestions along your routes as well in destination locations, with translated menu recommendations. Furthermore, it will provide a and voiced glossaries of common phrases and words, which you can use to find rapport with locals.
On request we can provide iPads if you don’t wish to use your own mobile device.
Before you ride out on your Self-guided adventure, you will be given a set of essential tools to handle all of possible minor repairs, or you can turn to local mechanics for help. However, in an unlikely event of a breakdown you just need to reach out to our representative who will either talk you through basic repairs or organize support in your location, or will help you handle transfer to your destination.
On request, and for additional fee, we provide a premium transfer service, to pick you up anywhere on the road, if you feel you can’t make it to your ride’s destination.
We provide the technology, travel planning and attention to detail so that you can just focus on enjoying the ride. You'll have your pick of great places to eat plus endless opportunities for local interaction as you cycle through regional communities. This is true independent touring without the hassle. It will take you to places you'd never reach any other way and allow you to explore new locations at your own pace.
We provide secure luggage transfers between each of your hotels. This way you can enjoy the ride knowing that when you arrive, your bags will already be waiting in your room. We will also call ahead to ensure that everything is ready for your arrival.
for A Sip of Ceylon self-guided cycle tour
Kandy - Arrival & Explore
Today you will meet our representative in Kandy, who will fit your bike and brief you on the adventure ahead. You have a day to enjoy this charming city. The Temple of the Tooth is a special experience and the holiest site in Sri Lanka. If you fancy a warm up ride, the hills surrounding Kandy offer some lovely views and there are also a number of activities in which to partake.
Nuwara Eliya - Train Ride to Little England
Today you begin by taking to the back roads where the gradient will gradually begin climbing soon after leaving Kandy. As you cycle, the population thins out and the tea creeps in. You do enjoy some descending today and a wide variety of road surfaces, but always with minimal traffic. The ride finishes down at the Gampola railway station where you board the train to higher elevations. The train ride really is stunning and the carriage is quite comfortable. Alighting at Nan Oya you then have a short cycle on a gradual gradient to cover the transition from the station to your hotel door in Nuwara Eliya. You will need your warm clothes up here as the temperatures drop at night, but the hotel does have an open fireplace and a great meal for dinner.
Nuwara Eliya - High Country Exploration
You have a lazy morning in Nuwara Eliya this morning. It is a much cooler climate up here and you can expect some mist and frost in the morning. A game of golf may tempt some, but others are likely to be content just exploring the quaint town with its abundance of British colonial-era buildings.
After lunch, you set off on the ride which will take you first around the lake and then down a fast, well-made road before making a turn to get into what is now the familiar pattern of winding roads on a comfortable gradient. Once meeting the railway line, you'll follow that, passing through high country train stations that are mere whistle stop locations but are very important to those who live up here. Dairy cows can be seen grazing as you glide through Ambewella and then turn around and come back to Nuwara Eliya on a different route, stopping at a fully operational tea factory on the way. That same open fire and hot soup await in the charming, colonial-era hotel.
Belihuloya - All the Way Downhill
Today is a long day on the bike as you cycle south, making your way out of the high tea country and into primary forest. Fortunately, the majority of the day’s riding is trending downhill on smooth roads, so you will cover distance quickly.
Udawalawe - Wetlands
Today’s ride begins by gently undulating for the first 25km, before you enjoy a great 10km descent, which eventually flattens out for the remainder of the ride as you cycle deeper into Udawalawe National Park.
Flat roads are then the theme for today, with only a few short hills. The roads are still quiet, the villages are a little sleepier and the route will spend some time riding along shaded canals as well as more open stretches. If you didn’t have time for a Jeep ride in the park the night before you might like to do that this morning before you head off. Alternatively or additionally you might like to do the same in Udawalawe, a park known for its large Elephant population.
Sinharaja - Rainforest
An early start is essential as you are back on the flat lands where the day heats up quickly. You'll ride on a wide, paved, yet almost disused road that leads past the recently finished and also disused airport. The flat, wide open spaces are quite different to what we have experienced. After morning tea, you'll be on rougher dirt roads for a little while and then onto some pleasant, paved roads along canals and through villages.
Board the van after lunch for a 2-hour transfer up to the Sinharaja Rainforest where you are in a charming lodge for the evening. One last hilly ride before the tour concludes. You are back into tea country today on great, deserted winding roads up through the estates and through friendly communities. The vegetation here is quite different to that which you experienced near Nuwara Eliya and in the drier areas. The southwest is a much more moist climate in general, hence the existence of Sinharaja Rainforest. Even with the 13km climb to reach the resort, you should have plenty of time to take a walk in the forest with a guide to see some of the birdlife and the lovely greenery. The resort itself is an interesting place, constructed from shipping containers.
Galle Fort - Cycle to the Sea
The final ride is one to remember as you pedal all the way from your rainforest lodge to the coast and the old port city of Galle, where the fort sits staunchly defending a city mostly composed of nicely restored houses and quaint cafes now.
15km of descending starts you off and then as things flatten out a bit you meet one of the best made roads of the tour. From that point on, you still have some elevation to lose, but you lose it over an extended distance, so it feels like you are flying on the bike. Rolling into the lovely Galle Fort in the late afternoon, enjoying a cool drink as you sit in a 300-year-old fort and look out over the ocean, your riding is now completed. Explore the fort in the evening, before enjoying one last dinner from the many options available.
Galle - Departure Day
This morning you will be met again by our representative to collect your bikes and equipment before you check out of the hotel. We can assist you in arranging onward travel, whether it be staying a few more nights soaking up the atmosphere in the fort or soaking up the sun at a nearby location along the coast, a further adventure to the cultural north or just getting back to the airport.
What's the Riding Like?
6 days riding
The terrain is a mix of sealed and unsealed roads on secondary roads and quiet country lanes. There are a few sustained climbs (although not too steep) at times and some thrilling descents.
Sri Lanka is a year-round destination, with generally good weather. Two monsoons affect different parts of the country, so one region can be dry while another is experiencing tropical rain showers. The hill country is noticeably cooler than the northern plains and coast and can be downright chilly at night! March to mid-April is the driest time nationwide, with the first annual monsoon bringing rain to the southwest lowlands and central hills from late May to September, and a weaker second monsoon affecting the northeast of the island from November to February.
Solo Rider & Single Room Options...
When do these apply?
Solo rider? Self-guided bike tours cater perfectly to the solo cyclist who wants to explore at their own pace. If you wish to tour like this please include the Solo Rider Option when completing your booking.
Like a little privacy? If you like the privacy of your own room or are traveling as a group with an odd number of adults (prices are based on twin share rooms) please select the the Single Room Option for each private room required.
Single room charges do not apply to those selecting the Solo Rider option.
Why the extra cost? Our carefully calculated pricing is based on twin share rooms and a minimum of two people. Fixed operating costs and hotel pricing require these surcharges.
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Exploring Sri Lanka by Bike
Learn a little more about this amazing little island. Recently, Grasshopper Adventures hosted a "webinar" sharing some of our knowledge about Sri Lanka.