Two weeks suffices to see Sri Lanka's headline attractions, while an extra week would allow you to add on the places listed in the itineraries below.
Start in Kandy, cultural capital of Sri Lanka and a marvellous showcase of Sinhalese religious art, architecture and dance.
Drive north to the cave temples at Dambulla, crammed with Buddhist statues and decorated with Sri Lanka's finest murals.
The nearby rock citadel at Sigiriya is perhaps Sri Lanka's single most dramatic attraction: the remains of a fifth-century palace perched on the summit of the vertiginous Lion Rock.
Another short drive leads to the marvellous ruined city of Polonnaruwa, home to some of medieval Sri Lanka's finest art and architecture, including the giant Buddha statues of the Gal Vihara.
5 Horton Plains National Park
Return to Kandy and then continue to Nuwara Eliya for a trip to Horton Plains National Park, a marvellously rugged stretch of unspoilt hill country culminating in the spectacular view at World's End.
Continue to lively little Ella village, set in a dramatic location amid tea plantations on the edge of the hill country.
7 Yala National Park
Drive south to Yala National Park, home to one of the world's densest populations of leopards, and much more besides.
Spend some time on the beach and go on a whale-watching trip at the village of Mirissa.
Continue around the coast to the city of Galle and its time-warped old Dutch Fort – colonial Sri Lanka at its most perfectly preserved.
Finish with a day or two in the nation's energetic capital.