Skip to content

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s geographical location and deep natural harbours have made it a focal point for the trade of goods and ideas between the East and West for centuries and the island has a strong Dutch and British colonial heritage. The sacred city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kandy, founded in the 14th century, was the last capital of Sri Lanka’s native kings and contains Sri Dalada Maligawa, a magnificent temple housing a tooth of Buddha. The island also has an impressive array of wildlife which passengers will be able to encounter on an unforgettable visit to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

Kandy & Temple of the Tooth

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Full day Lunch IncludedRespectful DressLong DriveRemoval of Shoes
Journey to the sacred city of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of unusual beauty and the location of the temple containing a tooth of Buddha. The scenic three-hour drive takes us out of Colombo, through small towns growing all kinds of exotic fruit, past pineapple plantations and paddy fields and up into Sri Lanka’s stunning hill country.

Journey to the sacred city of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of unusual beauty and the location of the temple containing a tooth of Buddha. The scenic three-hour drive takes us out of Colombo, through small towns growing all kinds of exotic fruit, past pineapple plantations and paddy fields and up into Sri Lanka’s stunning hill country. One of the day’s highlights is a stop at Peradeniya to walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens. A visit to the Orchid House should not be missed!

Kandy was founded in the 14th century and as the last capital of Sri Lanka’s kings is the key focus of this optional tour. Lunch will be served in a colonial hotel overlooking the Kandy Lake. On the opposite side of the picturesque valley, you will then enjoy a guided tour of the monumental Temple of the Tooth, where the sacred relic is enshrined.

During the return drive from this ancient kingdom, a stop will be made at a Spice Garden to learn more about Sri Lanka’s ayurvedic tradition. Please note that this excursion is very long, with an approximate 3 - 3.5 hour drive each way.

Please note: this excursion involves a visit to a temple and you will be asked to remove your shoes. Please dress appropriately for visiting religious sites, with shoulders and knees covered as a general rule. A video fee applies for the temple.

This optional excursion can be booked using the signup sheet and paid for on-board the ship (all prices for purchases on-board Aegean Odyssey are listed in US dollars).

*Includes subsidy for unused included excursion.

Read more
Optional $ 65*
Choice of Tours
Cultural Activity
Cruises with this tour

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Full day Lunch Included
A two and a half hour drive through the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside brings us to Pinnawala and this famous site, established by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to protect unweaned baby elephants found wandering in the forests. From a nucleus of five baby elephants in 1975, the sanctuary is now home to the world’s largest herd of captive elephants, many of which have been bred here and will stay for life.

A two and a half hour drive through the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside brings us to Pinnawala and this famous site, established by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to protect unweaned baby elephants found wandering in the forests. From a nucleus of five baby elephants in 1975, the sanctuary is now home to the world’s largest herd of captive elephants, many of which have been bred here and will stay for life. Your first stop will be at the Oya River to watch the elephants bathing and socializing, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the beauty and the antics of these majestic animals. Enjoy a buffet lunch at the Pinnalanda Restaurant in a picturesque location overlooking the river, then in the afternoon see the elephants from closer-up and maybe watch some of the older or smaller elephants being fed, for some memories which – like an elephant – you will never forget.

Please note that the terrain is uneven and dusty and the feeding of the young and sick elephants can get very busy.

Despite some negative press concerning the orphanage in recent years, VTA’s local ground partners are happy with the latest inspections of the organisation and their treatment of the animals. A detailed presentation will be given on board to provide more details on what to expect and the reasons behind the work being carried out in the orphanage.

Read more
Included
Choice of Tours
Cultural Activity
Cruises with this tour

Morning Colombo City Tour

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Half day
Experience the astonishing blend of modern and exotic in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, a city quite unlike any other, as you travel to the Kelaniya (Kalyana) Temple, built on the banks of the Kelani River. Kelaniya is mentioned in the Buddhist chronicle, the Mahawamsa, which states that the Gautama Buddha visited the place, after which the dagoba of the temple was built.

Experience the astonishing blend of modern and exotic in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, a city quite unlike any other, as you travel to the Kelaniya (Kalyana) Temple, built on the banks of the Kelani River. Kelaniya is mentioned in the Buddhist chronicle, the Mahawamsa, which states that the Gautama Buddha visited the place, after which the dagoba of the temple was built.

Sri Lankan Buddhists believe that the Buddha visited Kelaniya in order to quell a quarrel between two warring Nāga leaders: Chulodara (literally meaning ‘the small-bellied one’) and Mahodara (‘the big-bellied one’).

From here you will then be taken to the Colombo National Museum, which is housed in a grand colonial building and is the custodian of Sri Lanka's cultural heritage. Among its exhibits are a vast collection of books, more than 4,000 archaic palm leaf manuscripts, rock sculptures from the ancient cities, royal weapons of Sri Lankan kings and an excellent collection of antique demon masks. The most interesting among the exhibits are the regalia of the Kandian Kings dating back to the 17th century.

A visit will then be made to Independence Square, where this former British colony of Ceylon was given self-rule in 1948. Winding past the cricket stadium, through affluent neighbourhoods like Horton Place and Kotte, the legislative capital, en-route to the pier, you will see the Nelum Pokuna Performing Art Centre, the Town Hall, President House and the Pettah Bazar.

This excursion involves a visit to a temple and you will be asked to remove your shoes. Please dress appropriately for visiting religious sites, with shoulders and knees covered as a general rule. A camera fee applies for the museum.

This excursion involves a visit to a temple and you will be asked to remove your shoes. Please dress appropriately for visiting religious sites, with shoulders and knees covered as a general rule. A camera fee applies for the museum.

 

Read more
Included
Choice of Tours
Cultural Activity
Cruises with this tour

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Kandy, Sri Lanka
Full day Lunch Included
A two and a half hour drive through the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside brings us to Pinnawala and this famous site, established by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to protect unweaned baby elephants found wandering in the forests. From a nucleus of five baby elephants in 1975, the sanctuary is now home to the world’s largest herd of captive elephants, many of which have been bred here and will stay for life.

A two and a half hour drive through the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside brings us to Pinnawala and this famous site, established by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to protect unweaned baby elephants found wandering in the forests. From a nucleus of five baby elephants in 1975, the sanctuary is now home to the world’s largest herd of captive elephants, many of which have been bred here and will stay for life. Your first stop will be at the Oya River to watch the elephants bathing and socializing, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the beauty and the antics of these majestic animals. Enjoy a buffet lunch at the Pinnalanda Restaurant in a picturesque location overlooking the river, then in the afternoon see the elephants from closer-up and maybe watch some of the older or smaller elephants being fed, for some memories which – like an elephant – you will never forget.

Please note that the terrain is uneven and dusty and the feeding of the young and sick elephants can get very busy.

Despite some negative press concerning the orphanage in recent years, VTA’s local ground partners are happy with the latest inspections of the organisation and their treatment of the animals. A detailed presentation will be given on board to provide more details on what to expect and the reasons behind the work being carried out in the orphanage.

Read more
Included
Cruises with this tour

Royal Botanical Gardens & Negombo

Negombo, Sri Lanka
Half Day Respectful DressLong DriveRemoval of Shoes
Begin with a leisurely drive past Lake Kandy to a bazaar that offers an array of locally made handicrafts. Your journey then continues to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya, which date back to 1371 and are renowned for exquisite orchids, the avenue of royal palms and the gigantic Javan fig tree.

Begin with a leisurely drive past Lake Kandy to a bazaar that offers an array of locally made handicrafts. Your journey then continues to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya, which date back to 1371 and are renowned for exquisite orchids, the avenue of royal palms and the gigantic Javan fig tree. A stop will be made at the Ambepussa Rest House for lunch, en route to the tropical beach resort of Negombo where dinner will be served at your second hotel, the Jetwing Sea, which is situated right on the waterfront.

Read more
Included
Cruises with this tour

Colombo City Tour

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Half Day PM Respectful DressRemoval of Shoes
Experience the astonishing blend of modern and exotic in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, a city quite unlike any other, as you travel to the Kelaniya (Kalyana) Temple, built on the banks of the Kelani River. Kelaniya is mentioned in the Buddhist chronicle, the Mahawamsa, which states that the Gautama Buddha visited the place, after which the dagoba of the temple was built.

Experience the astonishing blend of modern and exotic in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital, a city quite unlike any other, as you travel to the Kelaniya (Kalyana) Temple, built on the banks of the Kelani River. Kelaniya is mentioned in the Buddhist chronicle, the Mahawamsa, which states that the Gautama Buddha visited the place, after which the dagoba of the temple was built.

Sri Lankan Buddhists believe that the Buddha visited Kelaniya in order to quell a quarrel between two warring Nāga leaders: Chulodara (literally meaning ‘the small-bellied one’) and Mahodara (‘the big-bellied one’).

From here you will then be taken to the Colombo National Museum, which is housed in a grand colonial building and is the custodian of Sri Lanka's cultural heritage. Among its exhibits are a vast collection of books, more than 4,000 archaic palm leaf manuscripts, rock sculptures from the ancient cities, royal weapons of Sri Lankan kings and an excellent collection of antique demon masks. The most interesting among the exhibits are the regalia of the Kandian Kings dating back to the 17th century.

A visit will then be made to Independence Square, where this former British colony of Ceylon was given self-rule in 1948. Winding past the cricket stadium, through affluent neighbourhoods like Horton Place and Kotte, the legislative capital, en-route to the pier, you will see the Nelum Pokuna Performing Art Centre, the Town Hall, President House and the Pettah Bazar.

Note: this excursion involves a visit to a temple and you will be asked to remove your shoes. Please dress appropriately for visiting religious sites, with shoulders and knees covered as a general rule. A camera fee applies for the museum.

This excursion will operate in the afternoon as a relaxed option for those guests arriving late on the 11th February.

Read more
Included
Cruises with this tour
UNESCO World Heritage Site

UNESCO Polonnaruwa

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Full day Archaeological Site
The magnificent World Heritage Site of Royal Polonnaruwa is the centrepiece of this full-day tour, which begins with a scenic drive across Sri Lanka to one of the best preserved archaeological cities on the island. During the 11th and 12th centuries Polonnaruwa was the capital of Sri Lanka’s second most ancient kingdom and became the seat of both Vijayabahu I, who founded the city, and Parakramabahu the Great, whose reign is considered the Golden Age of Polonnaruwa.

The magnificent World Heritage Site of Royal Polonnaruwa is the centrepiece of this full-day tour, which begins with a scenic drive across Sri Lanka to one of the best preserved archaeological cities on the island. During the 11th and 12th centuries Polonnaruwa was the capital of Sri Lanka’s second most ancient kingdom and became the seat of both Vijayabahu I, who founded the city, and Parakramabahu the Great, whose reign is considered the Golden Age of Polonnaruwa.

Among the site’s many impressive structures is the Polonnaruwa Vatadage, a circular stone shrine built to a design that is wholly unique to Sri Lanka. This reliquary is believed to have been commissioned to hold either the Relic of the Tooth or the alms bowl used by the Buddha. Only ten such structures remain in existence, but the virtually intact Vatadage of Polonnaruwa is widely considered the finest.

Also on display are the Royal Palace and Audience Hall, statues of Parakramabahu the Great, the Lotus Bath and the Gal-potha stone book, which recounts the achievements of King Nissanka Malla. Monuments of worship include the Shiva Temple, the Lankathilake, the Kiri Vehera stupa and the Gal Viharaya, where four enormous reliefs of the Buddha, consisting of an ‘Upright’, ‘Sedentary’ and two ‘Recumbent’ poses, have been carved into a single huge rock.

The Parakrama Samudraya reservoir, also known as The Sea of Parakrama, also offers a place for some peaceful reflection, before departing for a buffet lunch at the exclusive Cinnamon Lodge in Habarana, on your way back to Aegean Odyssey in Trincomalee.

Read more
Included
Choice of Tours
Cultural Activity
Cruises with this tour

City Tour of Trincomalee

Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Half day
The natural deep-water harbour of Trincomalee has attracted many sea farers throughout the ages, from Marco Polo and Ptolemy to the traders of ancient China and East Asia; its strategic importance has always been immense.

The natural deep-water harbour of Trincomalee has attracted many sea farers throughout the ages, from Marco Polo and Ptolemy to the traders of ancient China and East Asia; its strategic importance has always been immense.

Your tour here begins with a visit to the remains of what was once the largest European fort in Sri Lanka, Fort Fredrick. Built by the Portuguese in 1623 the fortress was originally named Fort Triquillimale, until it was captured by the Dutch in 1639 and went through a phase of dismantling and reconstruction.

Inside the grounds, the classical-medieval Hindu Koneswaram temple can be reached by passing directly through the still intact fort entrance. The Thirukoneswaram Kovil temple, as it is also known, is the oldest Hindu temple in Sri Lanka, although the original shrine was demolished in 1622 by the Portuguese, who called it the Temple of a Thousand Columns.

Much of the art from the demolished temple was taken to the Lisbon Museum, including a stone inscription by the Chola King, Kulakottan, but the remaining building materials were subsequently used to enlarge the fort’s ramparts.

There will also be a chance to visit the Trincomalee War Cemetery, commemorating soldiers of the British Empire who lost their lives during World War II, followed by the tranquil remains of the Velgam Vihara temple, an historic place of worship for both Sinhala and Tamil Buddhists that is today one of Sri Lanka’s most important Archaeologically Protected Monuments.

Read more
Included
Choice of Tours
Cultural Activity
Cruises with this tour
UNESCO World Heritage Site

A Trip to Galle

Colombo, Sri Lanka
Full Day Lunch Included
Galle is a colourful town that is shrouded in the scent of spices, littered with Dutch-colonial buildings and is a bustling hub for local trade and art.

Galle is a colourful town that is shrouded in the scent of spices and littered with decaying Dutch-colonial buildings. But most of all Galle is a city of trade and art. These two preoccupations meet at the Fort, which is crammed full of little boutique shops, cafes and hotels owned by local and foreign artists.

You will depart from the port to visit this famous Fort that was built by the Portuguese in 1588 and later modified by the Dutch during the 17th century. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and Southeast Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.

The fort was one of the few structures that survived the infamous Boxing Day Tsunami that devastated Galle in December 2004. Today, after 400 years, the Fort still looks amazing thanks to reconstruction work done by the Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. Entering through the old gates, you will drive around the Fort and visit the rampart, which offers up spectacular views of Galle.

After lunch at a local resort, you will then be driven to the delightful coastal town of Koggala for a chance to view local fishermen who stand on uncomfortable stilts planted in the coral reef for hours at time, in a tradition that has been passed down from father to son for generations.

A final visit is included to the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum, which currently holds over a thousand artefacts of Sri Lankan rural life, providing a vast and unique storehouse of knowledge and items relating to local folk culture, religion and technology going back several centuries, including Buddhism the evolution of the Sinhala alphabet.

Note: this excursion is for guests visiting Colombo again on 10th – 12th February

Read more
Included
Cruises with this tour
Cruises with this tour

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Spice Garden & Temple of the Tooth

Kandy, Sri Lanka
Full Day Lunch IncludedRespectful DressLong Drive
Watch Asian Elephants as they bathe and play in the river, then journey to the sacred city of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of unusual beauty and the location of the temple containing a tooth of Buddha.

Watch Asian Elephants as they bathe and play in the river, then journey to the sacred city of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of unusual beauty and the location of the temple containing a tooth of Buddha.

A two and a half hour drive through the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside brings us to Pinnawala and this famous site, established by the Department of Wildlife Conservation to protect unweaned baby elephants found wandering in the forests. From a nucleus of five baby elephants in 1975, the sanctuary is now home to the world’s largest herd of captive elephants, many of which have been bred here and will stay for life. Your first stop will be at the Oya River to watch the elephants bathing and socializing, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the beauty and the antics of these majestic animals.

After a stop at a Spice Garden to learn about Sri Lanka’s ayurvedic tradition, continue on to Kandy, founded in the 14th century and the last capital of Sri Lanka’s kings. Lunch will be served in a colonial hotel overlooking the Kandy Lake. On the opposite side of the picturesque valley, take a guided tour of the monumental Temple of the Tooth where the sacred relic is enshrined.

This excursion involves a visit to a temple and you will be asked to remove your shoes. Please dress appropriately for visiting religious sites, with shoulders and knees covered as a general rule. A video fee applies for the temple.

Note: despite some negative press concerning the orphanage in recent years, VTA’s local ground partners are happy with the latest inspections of the organisation and their treatment of the animals. A detailed presentation will be given on board to provide more details on what to expect and the reasons behind the work being carried out in the orphanage.

Read more
Included
Cruises with this tour
Cruises with this tour