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The Lovely Mountain Town Ella

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After spending weeks along the coast of Sri Lanka, enjoying some of the best beaches the country has to offer, we decided to escape the heat and head inland up to the mountains of Sri Lanka, to the Hill Country. We chose to go to Ella, a lovely sleepy hill town!

Ella is a peaceful small village in the middle of a beautiful green countryside, with spectacular views!  On a clear day, you can even see the glow from the lighthouses along the southern coast.

Ella is nestled in a valley at about 1000m elevation, surrounded by even higher mountains.

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Stunning views from Ella Town.

The hills surrounding Ella are all covered with farmland growing vegetables, tea plantations, and rice fields, all making the landscape very lush and green.

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Rice fields in Ella.
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Man selling vegetables at the road in Ella.

The sleepy town itself is not that spectacular, with not much to see or do and only a handful of small shops and some cafes.

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Having a watermelon smoothie and a banana roti at a cafe in Ella Town.

What people come to Ella for is the hiking. Ella is a spectacular place for hiking! We did three hikes; Little Adam`s Peak which is an easy hike very close to Ella town that still provides breathtaking views, and then two days walking high up in the mountains surrounding Ella with a guide.

You can also hike to Ella rock which is about a 4 hour fairly challenging round trip hike from Ella town depending on where you start and how fast you walk. It can be done with a guide or on your own but make sure to get detailed directions from someone you trust before setting out. The views from the top on a clear day are spectacular.

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Entering a big stone cave, after climbing a lot of steps!

Everywhere we walked, there were tea plantations with smiling men and women picking tea leaves. The tea leaf plants give the entire countryside a unique look. The patterns formed by the thousands of planted bushes stretching into the distance is a very special sight.

See our blog post about Sri Lankan tea for more about Sri Lankan tea production.

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Tea pickers in the hillside of Ella

Close to Ella is the beautiful Rawana waterfall.

Waterfall Ella Sri Lanka
Rawana Waterfall

We stayed at a really nice hotel in Ella, Ravana Heights Hotel, with breathtaking views over the Hill Country!

Ravana Heights has a great chef, and we had the best meals of our entire Sri Lanka trip (maybe in the whole of Asia…) here! The dinners consisted of about 8 dishes, each an explosion of flavors!

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Nice hotel room at Ravana Heights Hotel.
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Maria relaxing on the terrace of Ravana Heights Hotel.
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Enjoying the view from the beautiful garden at Ravana Heights Hotel.

We even got monkeys visiting us at the hotel!

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Breathtaking views from our room balcony!

We had a great time in Ella, and simply loved the place! The stunning surroundings and the lovely walks are so worth the trip to Ella in Sri Lanka!

We went on three walks while staying at Ravana Heights Hotel; Two with a guide and one without a guide to Little Adam`s Peak. They were spectacular!

From Ella, we did a fantastic train trip to Kandy.


Where To Stay In Ella

Ella has mostly small family-run guesthouses but also a few higher-end boutique hotels. The recent popularity surge means that there is no shortage of accommodation options for any budget. Below are some of the best accommodation options in Ella, including their address and price, starting with the place we called home for 7 nights.

We stayed at Ravana Heights
Accommodation in Ella, Sri LankaBy chance, we ended up at Ravana Heights and while we had originally intended to stay two nights we ended up staying for a full week. We especially enjoyed the new big and comfortable superior rooms with stunning views from the balcony. The location is excellent, you're just a short walk away from the main street of Ella with shops and restaurants.

The food at this hotel is fantastic! The breakfast is served on the terrace, with spectacular views over the Ella valley, mountains, and tea plantations. You are served pancakes, eggs, bread, jams, tea/coffee, juice, fruits, basically everything a good breakfast should have.

And the dinner, oh the dinner is delicious! The best food we have had in Sri Lanka, maybe the whole of Asia! It cost $15 and consists of several different tasty dishes including dessert. The dinner varies from day to day and is a fusion of Thai and Sri Lankan.

The owner Senadhi speaks perfect English (he studied at the London School of Economics). He is a great character and really makes you feel at home at Ravana Heights. He can also organize walks for you, with or without a guide, and will draw maps of hiking routes for you. We did two walks with a guide, and one without a guide. The other staff are also very sweet and couldn't do enough for us.
Click here to check the latest prices

Boutique hotels

Planters Bungalow Ella
An old converted tea planters bungalow located in a very peaceful and relaxing setting away from town. It's also one of the very few places around Ella that have a swimming pool to enjoy after a day of hiking. They have rooms set in the newly refurbished colonial bungalow as well as apartment-style rooms in a new building. Rooms are very comfortable and no two are alike. The staff is super friendly and the Sri Lankan style breakfast is very tasty. There is a $15 set dinner menu that changes every evening. It’s a great choice if you like a place to relax and enjoy the scenery and don’t mind being 20 minutes' drive away from the touristy and busy Ella town.
Click here to check the latest prices

Zion View Ella
The rooms here have floor to ceiling windows that truly let you admire the awe-inspiring view in all its's majesty. The rooms are cozy, well maintained and clean, with comfortable beds and hot water showers. Every room has a balcony with chairs for relaxing as well as a hammock. Wi-Fi is free and surprisingly fast. Despite being just a six-minute walk from Ella center, it's a quiet and relaxing place. Breakfast is plentiful and very tasty. It's a popular choice with families and there is a children's play area with toys.
Click here to check the latest prices

Guesthouses

La Montagna Resort
This is a new small hotel located a ten-minute tuk-tuk ride away from the city center. It has 3 large and spotlessly clean rooms with hot water showers and spectacular views overlooking the Ella gap. The service can rival any five-star hotel and the excellent breakfast is served on your balcony. It is free in-room Wi-Fi.
Click here to check the latest prices

Ella Guest Inn
If you want a place centrally located and close to the train station then this is an excellent alternative. It’s just a five-minute walk away from the station and two minutes from Ella center with its shops and restaurants. Standard rooms are in the old section and are a little small and worn down but the newly built rooms (2017) are very nice and spacious so it is definitely worth upgrading to a new superior room. It’s family-run and the owners are very friendly and helpful.
Click here to check the latest prices

Leisure Dream Inn
This family-run place is very popular so reserve your room early! The view is spectacular and the rooms are well furnished, clean and comfortable with hot water showers, fridge, cable TV and free Wi-Fi. The three brothers that run it are super friendly, and the mother cooks a delicious breakfast served on the terrace. It’s located on a quiet hill about 10 minutes walk from Ella Town. All in all, its fantastic value for money!
Click here to check the latest prices

Chamodya Home Stay
Basic but large and clean rooms with amazing views make this a popular budget homestay option. Breakfast is good and they serve delicious rice & curry dinner. Location is a 15-minute walk away from the city center.
Click here to check the latest prices


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Written by Maria Wulff Hauglann

Maria is a Norwegian travel nerd who has explored more than thirty countries on four continents. She holds a master's degree in Computer Science, as well as an MBA. In 2014 while on a year-long trip across South East- Asia, Maria co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads to help others get out and explore the world. In 2018 she left her day job permanently for a life of full-time travel. See our about page for more about Maria.

46 Comments

    • Awww, luck you that are going to Sri Lanka in February! Really love that country, and can`t wait to go back.

      Have an awesome trip to Sri Lanka! I`m sure you will love it too.

      Reply
    • Hi ms tan,

      Prices for hiring a van with guide depend more on quality than size of transport – a posh air-conditioned car will cost more than a non-air-conditioned minivan. Rates start from around $30 per day for the smallest cars, plus drivers’ fees and living costs if you want the guide to drive you around the island over several days.

      You can also just hire a car with driver/guide by the day as you go round the island, as we did. Then you don`t have to pay for accommodations and food for your driver. We do not have any contact information for a guide with a van, sorry. But it is very easy to find a driver, all hotels in Sri Lanka can arrange a van with guide.

      We stayed at Ravana Heights Hotel while we were in Ella. It is a really nice hotel with a great owner and manager called Senadhi. The guide we went hiking with used to be Senadhi`s private driver before he retired, and he now takes guided hiking trips now and then together with his son (who is a tuk-tuk driver).

      The guide don`t have e-mail or mobile phone, so I think it is best you contact Senadhi and mention that you read about the hike on our blog and that you want to book a hiking trip with the same guide if possible. Here is the contact information for Senadhi:
      E-mail: senadhi@slt.lk
      Telephone: +94(0)572228888 or +94(0)777309542
      Ravana Heights Hotel webpage: http://www.ravanaheights.com

      We really recommend staying at Ravana Heights Hotel if you plan to stay in Ella. It is great, with delicious food!! The best food we had during our entire four week trip in Sri Lanka!

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka!!

      Cheers,
      Maria

      Reply
  1. Hello again 🙂 Did you take the train to Ella from the southcoast? Is it a nice trainride? We are wondering about doing a trip up into the moutains, but since we have limited time in Sri Lanka we are wondering what to put first on the priority list 🙂 14 days is waaaay to short for my taste. Beaches and Galle are a must. And I hope there are som elephants near the southcoast as well 🙂
    Do you think kids could do the hikes in Ella? (they are almost 4, 7 and 8 when we are there)

    Reply
    • Hi Andrea,

      We did not take the train to Ella from the south coast. We rented a car with a driver from Tangalle to Ella, the drive took about 3 hours. We loved Tangalle, the beach is awesome, you can see and read about it here: https://nerdnomads.com/the-perfect-beach-tangalla-sri-lanka

      Since you only have 14 days, I suggest that you skip Colombo city, and head directly down to Galle, maybe stay in Unawatuna and do a day trip to Galle. One day in Galle is enough. Unawatuna is, however, crowded and touristy. The beach and atmosphere is much nicer in Mirissa and Tangalle. From Mirissa and Tangalle you can do a day-trip to Yala National Park and see some wild elephants: https://nerdnomads.com/safari-in-yala-national-park. The kids will love it!

      It is also possible to head directly to Ella from Yala National Park, especially if you do Yala in the morning (you can choose morning or afternoon when it comes to guided car trips into the park). It takes about 2,5 hours from Yala to Ella by car.

      The most scenic train trip in Sri Lanka is the one from Ella towards Kandy, through the mountains and tea plantations: https://nerdnomads.com/sri-lanka-train-travel-ella-kandy. This train trip takes 7 hours. You can however get off before Kandy, and still enjoy a beautiful train trip.

      The trains in Sri Lanka are very slow, so I don`t think you have time to travel by train through Sri Lanka, a private car with a driver is much easier and less time-consuming. We mostly hired a car with a driver. It is very easy to find a driver, they are everywhere. All hotels can hook you up with a driver. We usually asked at the hotels we stayed at to help us with transportation, and that was no problem or hassle at all. We always got a big and new car.

      The kids will have no problem doing the hike to Little Adam`s Peak in Ella: https://nerdnomads.com/little-adams-peak. We met several kids and families on our hike there. We spent about two hours on this hike. The view from the top is breathtaking, and the kids will love it! There is a very posh hotel at the foot of Little Adam`s Peak, 68 Acres Resort, where you start the hike from. They have a cosy restaurant, perfect for lunch, cold drinks and ice creams when you come down from the peak. They also have a very nice swimming pool which I`m sure the kids will love, maybe you can pay to use it even though you are not staying there?

      I think the other hikes we did in Ella are too long and challenging for the kids, especially in the heat and sun, unless they are really fit and used to hiking. We did two long hikes in the area around Ella, but they took many hours each, more like a full day of hiking each: https://nerdnomads.com/hiking-in-ella-sri-lanka.

      If you spend two night in Ella, I think it will be enough for hiking Little Adam`s Peak and have a look at Ella town (it is really small). The next day you can consider taking the train to for instance Kandy, or stop at a closer town.

      In Kandy you can visit the Elephant Orphanage: https://nerdnomads.com/elephant-orphanage-in-sri-lanka. Very popular among kids and families.

      Kandy is, however, not our favourite city in Sri Lanka, you can read what to do in Kandy here: https://nerdnomads.com/what-to-see-in-kandy-sri-lanka. Two nights here is plenty enough.

      An itinerary for you could be:

      – Unawatuna/ Galle area – 2 nights
      – Mirissa – 2-3 nights
      – Tangalle – 2-3 nights
      – Day-trip to Yala National Park, drive to Ella in the afternoon
      – Ella – 2 nights
      – Train trip Ella – Kandy
      – Kandy – 2 nights
      – Last couple of nights close to the airport (like for instance Negombo https://nerdnomads.com/negombo-beach-sri-lanka)

      Or you can do it the other way around, start inland (Kandy and Ella), and end up with beaches and the coast.

      Hope some of these tips will help when planning your Sri Lankan adventure. Have a great trip to Sri Lanka!!! I am sure you and the kids will love it!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  2. hi after reading your review im reallu tempted to go to ella. However, it will be me , my wife and my 3 year old. you feel ella would be feasible with a kid of this age?

    Reply
    • Hi Sajid,

      I think it would feasible with a 3-year-old kid. A 3-year-old will however not be able to do the longer hikes in the mountains surrounding Ella. But maybe Little Adam`s Peak will be doable: https://nerdnomads.com/little-adams-peak. It is a couple of hours walk on a sandy pathway with amazing view along the way and at the top.

      You can also take a tuk-tuk-ride in the area surrounding Ella, and visit and go for a stroll in one of the many tea plantations close to Ella: https://nerdnomads.com/would-you-like-sri-lankan-tea. These are very easy walks.

      Best regards,
      Maria

      Reply
  3. We are planning a trip to Sri Lanka July . Ella, Weligama, Yala, NE Coast (parrot island) snorkel. Considering big festival in Kandy

    Any advise?

    Reply
    • Hi Woody,

      Lucky you who are going to Sri Lanka in July, you will love it! Ella, Yala National Park, and Weligama are some great choices! We have unfortunately not been to the NE Coast and parrot island yet.

      Our favourite places and things to do in Sri Lanka are listed in our Sri Lanka Travel Guide: https://nerdnomads.com/guide-to-sri-lanka

      You should consider stopping in Sigiriya on your way between Ella and Yala. We really enjoyed climbing that rock: https://nerdnomads.com/journey-lion-rock-sigiriya

      The small old Portuguese city Galle is beautiful, and a must-visit-place (when you are in Weligama): https://nerdnomads.com/galle

      We did not like Kandy that much, but it might be a fun place if there is a festival going on at the time you visit. Here are our tips on what to see and do in Kandy: https://nerdnomads.com/what-to-see-in-kandy-sri-lanka

      Have an awesome trip to Sri Lanka!

      Best regards,
      Maria

      Reply
        • Hi Claus,

          In July you should probably head to the east coast of Sri Lanka, as that side has the best weather.

          I would say that if you are on to the east coast, and your itinerary is flexible, then you could check the weather forecast while you are there and go for a couple of days to Ella (about 3 hours drive). But I would hesitate to pre-book several days hiking in Ella in July as it could be very wet and the tracks slippery and muddy. Also, the visibility can be low due to fog and rain.

          But if the weather forecast is decent it is absolutely worth it to go to Ella for a couple of days. It will be very green and lush that time of year.

          Have a great trip to Sri Lanka!

          -Maria-

          Reply
  4. Hi there,
    The picture captioned “Entering a big stone cave, after climbing a lot of steps”, where exactly is that? It looks stunning!

    Reply
  5. I’ve found your posts on Sri Lanka very informative and helpful. The hotel you stayed in Ella looks stunning. Thanks for sharing the details.
    My partner and I are visiting next August and planning to stay in Ella. How long would you recommend to stay for and any idea what the weather’s like in August? I’ve read it is the rainy season in that part of the country.
    Also, any idea if it’s worth staying in Ella over Nuwara-Eliya?

    Reply
    • Hi Tasha,

      Ravana Heights, the hotel that we stayed at in Ella, was lovely and the food was awesome!

      I would recommend that you stay at least two or three nights in Ella, especially if you want to do any hikes in the area. The walk to Little Adam`s Peak is a must, an easy walk with amazing view from the top: https://nerdnomads.com/little-adams-peak

      You can also do longer beautiful hikes in Ella: https://nerdnomads.com/hiking-in-ella-sri-lanka

      August is known as “inter-monsoon” season, meaning that there might be a little rain but, in general, the weather is great at this time of year especially along the coast. Ella will probably get a little more rain than the coast. Temperatures remain high across the country at around 29°C average and the beaches are hot and dry whilst up in the hills of Ella it might get chilly especially at night.

      All in all, August is a great period to travel to Sri Lanka.

      We did not go to Nuwara-Eliya as we liked Ella so much that we ended up staying there longer and skipped Nuwara-Eliya.

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka next August! You will love it!

      Cheers,
      Maria

      Reply
  6. Hi Maria,Your lovely comments about my country are much appreciated. Yes its a beautiful country for visitors who love the sea, the wild animals, bio diversity,ancient history specially for the English, & Dutch,as we were colonised by them and they have left their mark in the country.

    Reply
    • Hi Preethi,

      Thank you so much! We are actually back in Sri Lanka now, enjoying the bautiful beaches in Tangalla at the moment. Great to be back in your wonderful country!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  7. Hi Maria,

    I have found your information really helpful – thank you. We are going to Sri Lanka next December and having had 6 days down at the south coast and then at Uda Walawe National Park for 3 days we were thinking of heading up to Nuwara Eliya. Having read your blog on Ella I tempted to go there too. Is Nuwara Eliya worth a visit? It sounds like there is lots to do from there. We are keen to hike, cycle, visit a tea plantation and some temples too. We have 14 days in all. Would love advise please?

    Reply
    • Hi Carey,

      Lucky you who are going to Sri Lanka in December! We are actually back in Sri Lanka right now, and this time we visited Nuwara Eliya and Uda Walawe National Park for the first time. I will write posts on both of them, so stay tuned and read all about Nuwara Eliya and Uda Walawe.

      I still like Ella better than Nuwara Eliya, the hiking and scenery are nicer in Ella and there are also fewer tourists. But Nuwara Eliya is also nice and worth a visit.

      -Maria-

      Reply
  8. I am going to Sri Lanka for my honeymoon on Christmas day for 3 weeks!

    do you have any idea of what we should do and where we should go 🙂

    Just started my investigating

    Reply
    • Hi Liz!

      Conrats on your wedding, and so cool that you have chosen Sri Lanka for your honeymoon! You won`t regret it, it is an amazing country and I`m sure you will love it.

      You can find our recommended itinerary here with all the highlights of Sri Lanka: https://nerdnomads.com/sri-lanka-itinerary

      We have just been to Sri Lanka again for three weeks, and this time we visited some more places, so we will add some more articles about places to visit in Sri Lanka in the following weeks.

      Let me know if you have any questions, I´d be happy to help you plan your honeymoon!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  9. Great post Maria…! really amazing…photos look so realistic…i have never been to Ella before, but this post really urges me to go there.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Rachitha!! Ella is great for hiking and walking around the tea plantations. So green and lush.

      Happy travels! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply
  10. Hi Maria,

    First of all, amazing blog.. I’m planning a trip to Sri Lanka for my mother in law and her friends and now I also want to join them.. This place is so beautiful! Just confused about how to form the itinerary.. They want to make a 10 day plan (excluding the flight days) and they’ll be flying in and out of Colombo. I want to make sure they are not travelling every 1-2 days to different cities but I also want them to feel they have seen the best of SL in their 10 days. Need to make sure they do visit Ella and also their last few days are at some beach where they can enjoy 31st eve for NYE as well. They will be flying out on 1st evening so it should be near Colombo too. So far I have planned the following:
    Colombo (2 days)
    Train or Car to Kandy
    Kandy (2 days)
    Train to Ella (Have heard this is a must)
    Ella (3 days)
    Taxi to Galle
    Galle (3 days – including some nice beach destination for NYE and also close to Colombo Intl. Airport for their flight on 1st evening)

    Can you help??

    Reply
    • Hi Shveta,

      Thank you so much! So cool that your mother in law and her friends are visiting Sri Lanka around New Years Eve!

      The itinerary you have planned looks great! The train trip from Kandy to Ella is a highlight and definitely something they should do, but also the train trip from Colombo to Kandy is beautiful. Galle is also a real must.

      We have written a 14 days itinerary of the places we recommend.

      For beach destination to spend the New Years Eve, they can consider Bentota or Negombo (Negombo is very close to the airport, only a 10-15 min drive).

      I`m sure they will have a great time in Sri Lanka! Wish them all the best!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  11. Hi,

    I am going to Sri Lanka end of April for 18 days with my boyfriend. We are into busy action packed holidays but do you think this is too much?

    1 night – Hikkaduwa
    2 nights – Unawatuna
    2 nights – Mirissa
    Head to Udawalele National Park and then to Ella for 2 nights
    Ella to Kandy -(stay in Kandy for 1 night)
    Go to Elephant Orphanage and then stay 1 night in Dambulla
    Climb Sigiriya Rock then head to Trincomolae for 3 nights.
    Spend the rest of the time kitesurfing in Kalpitiya.

    Do you think it is too much? Have we missed anything out?

    Is the weather a worry on the South Coast end of April?

    Many thanks in advance

    Lucie

    Reply
    • Hi Lucie,

      Your itinerary looks great! It is active, but not too crazy busy. You should consider stopping at Polonnaruwa and see the ancient city since it`s fairly close to the road from Dambulla to Trincomale.

      As for kitesurfing in Kalpitiya, we really recommend Johanna and Mondy at the Rascals: https://rascalskiteresort.com/. They are great kitesurfing instructors and have a beautiful boutique hotel with swimming pool! We stayed there for a week in 2014 and did some kitesurfing. Love the place! We are planning on heading back there next spring too. April is however not the best month for kitesurfing in Kalpitiya as there may not be much wind, but that varies of course. The main kite season in Kalpitiya is from October to May with a less stable wind season from December to March. So April is in the middle of these two seasons.

      As for the weather in Sri Lanka, April and September are shoulder seasons and is the best time for nice weather throughout the whole island of Sri Lanka, though it might rain a little bit but not as much as in May – August (Yala Monsoon Season). Accommodation prices also tend to be lower in April and there are not that many tourists. But since the Sri Lankan people celebrate New Year in the mid-April, transportation (buses and trains) will be pretty packed and there will be lots of traffic.

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka in April! I`m sure you will love this beautiful country! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply
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    Reply
  13. Hi Maria,
    Loving your blog. I am taking my father to Sri Lanka and was considering taking the train from Ella to Kandy however I have been on long train journeys in India and concerned that my father may find it hard work. Do you remember what the toilet conditions were like and was it a bumpy ride? Do they have different class tickets?
    Jade

    Reply
    • Hi Jade,

      Thanks a million! So cool that you are taking your dad on a trip to Sri Lanka! We took my parents (70 and 75 years old) on a three week holiday to Sri Lanka in February this year. It was their first time visiting this beautiful country and they loved it! I’m sure your father will too.

      Just like you, I was really concerned that my parents would hate Sri Lankan trains, but they actually liked it. We did the trip Colombo to Kandy, which takes half as long as the one from Ella to Kandy which takes about 8 hours. Me and Espen have taken the Ella – Kandy train trip earlier, your can read about it here: . The toilet conditions are not the best, but it is not a bumpy ride.

      Yes, there are different class tickets on the Sri Lankan trains, 1st class, 2nd and 3rd. The train tickets are very cheap so even 1st class is cheap compared to Europe. We had 2nd class tickets with my parents, and they were fine with it, the standard is ok. There is, however, no air condition in 2nd class but everyone open the windows so there is a nice breeze through the train.

      The 1st class observation deck is very popular on the Ella – Kandy trip, so you should book ahead if you want these tickets. The observation deck provides a wide view of the scenery (a lot of windows) and is usually at the rear of the train but occasionally behind the locomotive.

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka with your father! I’m sure you will have an awesome time!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  14. Hi Maria,

    Your blog is really informative and has me really excited about visiting Sri Lanka. We are a family of three with a 7 year old.
    We are thinking of spending 2 weeks to see Sri Lanka in August/September this year and would like to visit:
    Sigiriya (or maybe Pidurangala) and possibly Polonnaruwa
    a hill country town to learn about tea, hike to World’s End and swim in a waterfall
    Elephant orphanage
    Sinharaja forest (stay in tree house accommodation)
    A beach location (Mirissa or can you recommend another?)
    Galle

    Do we need to pass through Kandy to get to the hill country from Sigiriya? I’d like to do the famous train journey through the hill country but have heard Kandy is not that special and I think our son will be templed out after Sigiriya.

    What beach location would you recommend?

    How many days should we spend in each location given that we only have 14-17 days? What order should we take for the journey? We’ll like to end with some beach time

    Finally and most importantly, where should we stay? We aren’t really into hotels, more mid range bed and breakfasts and guest houses. I am worried about our son not being able to eat any food as it sounds as though it is spicy. Would guest houses be able to cater to his tastes and prepare food that is not spicy or are we kidding ourselves? What can kids eat besides curry?

    Thanks so much for your suggestions, advice and help.

    Kind regards,
    Daniela

    Reply
    • Hi Daniela,

      Thank you so much! Glad to hear that our Sri Lanka articles are a help for you when planning your Sri Lankan trip!

      Wow, that`s a lot of questions, hehe 🙂 . I will try to answer them the best I can.

      No, you do not have to drive through Kandy to get from Sigiriya to the Hill Country (for instance Nuwara Eliya), but it will be a bit longer drive. Also, the Elephant Orphanage is just outside of Kandy so it is most convenient to stay in Kandy if you want to visit the Elephant Orphanage.

      Based on what you mention that you would like to see and do, here is a suggested itinerary for you guys:

      Day 1. Drive from the airport to Kandy. Stay 2 nights in Kandy.
      Day 2. Kandy – visit the Elephant Orphanage, see a traditional dance show in Kandy in the afternoon and the Tooth Temple
      Day 3. Drive to Sigiriya (walk up the Lion Rock), drive to Polonnaruwa in the afternoon/evening. 3 nights in Polonnaruwa.
      Day 4. Polonnaruwa – see the ancient temples and ruins
      Day 5. A day trip to Minneriya National Park for a safari trip (the best place to see wild elephants in Sri Lanka), back to Polonnaruwa for the night
      Day 6. Drive south to Nuwara Eliya, 3 nights here.
      Day 7. Walk around Nuwara Eliya town
      Day 8. Take a car/taxi to Horton Plain National park and hike to World`s End, a 9,5 km hike back and forth (are you sure your 7-year-old is up for a long hike like this??).
      Day 9. Take the train from Nuwara Eliya (train station is called Nanuoya) to Ella, a 2,5 hour train trip with great views of the hill country. 2 nights in Ella.
      Day 10. Ella, hike to Little Adam`s Peak
      Day 11. Drive to Mirissa.
      Day 12. Do a day-trip to Galle
      Day 13-14/17. Beach time in Mirissa, Bentota and/or Negombo

      We loved Bentota Beach (further north than Mirissa, closer to the airport). Weligama is also a nice beach. If you want to stay close to the airport on your last night, Negombo Beach is a good choice as it is only a 15-minute drive from the airport.

      You should not worry about finding food for your kid. You can easily find western food at restaurants at all these places as there are lots of tourists visiting these places. I`m sure the guesthouses can make non-spicy children-friendly food for you.

      Booking.com has lots of mid-range bed and breakfast and guesthouses for all of Sri Lanka. We found all our accommodations at this site.

      Hope this helped a little. Have a great trip to Sri Lanka!!

      -Maria-

      Reply
      • Hi Maria,

        Tha ks so much for your thoughtful reply.

        I love Your itinerary. I think we would give World’d End and Nuwara Eliya a miss. I didn’t realise the hike was so long. Woyld it then make more sense to do Sigiriya. Drive to Kandy and do elephant orphanage tuen drove to Nuwaraya Elyia and jump straight kn the train to Ella? That wpuld give us a few mpre days to spare. Have you visited the Sinharaja rainforest reserve? It looks lovely but I’m not sure when we wpuld factor that into our holiday and whoch other towns it is closest to.should we do it after Mirissa/Bentota or before? The rest sounds perfect.

        Thanks so much for your insights and suggestions.

        Dani

        Reply
        • Hi Daniela,

          Yeah, I think it`s a good idea to skip the hike to World`s End since your son is so young. If you don`t want to see Nuwara Eliya at all, you can take the train directly from Kandy to Ella (7-8 hours) like we did.

          No, we have not been to the Sinharaja Rainforest yet, but I agree, it looks beautiful. But if you do a safari trip in any of the other national parks in Sri Lanka (like Minneriya National Park, Uda Walawe NP or Yala NP), it is a bit similar experience like Sinharaja Rainforest. You can do Sinharaja rainforest between Ella and Mirissa (looks like it is on the way, a 4-hour drive for Ella). Or you can do a day-trip from Mirissa or Bentota, but looks like the rainforest is closest to Mirissa (a 3-hour drive).

          Have a lovely time in Sri Lanka!

          -Maria-

          Reply
  15. Hi Maria, thanks so much for all your updates! Just a quick check while still planning my itinerary, for 2 nights stay coming from Kandy by train, should We stay in Nurwara Elisa or Ella.? Not interested in hiking and I have an 80 year old with me. Thanks dear

    Reply
    • Hi Jas,

      If you are not interested in hiking, and since you have an 80-year old with you, you should stay in Nuwara Eliya and not Ella. Nuwara Eliya is a nice town to walk around in, see the old colonial buildings and you should definiently have high tea at the Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya. It is every day at 15:30 – 18:00 and only cost 800 Sri Lankan Rupees = 5 USD (and you can drink as must tea as you can manage!).

      If you want you can go for a short walk in the tea plantations surrounding Nuwara Eliya (a very easy walk). I took my parents (70 and 75 years old) on a short walk in the tea plantations and to a tea factory in Nuwara Eliya. They also loved the Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya, and of course the high tea at Grand Hotel. 🙂

      But bring warm clothes as the temperatures are much lower here than in the rest of Sri Lanka and actually get below zero in the night. My mom caught a cold in Nuwara Eliya due to the low temperatures, which sadly ruined the rest of her holiday in Sri Lanka.

      You can read our recommendations on what to see and do in Nuwara Eliya HERE.

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka and enjoy Nuwara Eliya and the train trip from Kandy!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  16. Great blog, what if we were tight on time and only had eight days? We want to hike, see animals, waterfalls and beaches. We are going in September.

    Reply
    • Hi Anne,

      Thank you so much! Hmm, with only eight days I would recommend that you book a car/driver to take you around the country as traveling by buses and trains will take up a lot of your time. We went around Sri Lanka with a driver called Sadun for two weeks together with my parents, and he was great! He has his own tour company that you can find here: http://www.naturetrailsknucklestours.com

      September is still rainy season on the west and south coast, as well as part of the highland of Sri Lanka. So to be guaranteed sun you will have to head to the north or east coast, which is a bit longer drive from the airport. One itinerary for you could be:

      – Day 1: Airport – Kandy
      – Day 2: Kandy (or a day-trip to climb Sigiriya Rock if the weather is ok)
      – Day 3: Kandy – Nuwara Eliya or Ella
      – Day 4: Hiking in Nuwara Eliya or Ella
      – Day 5: Head to the east coast (for instance Arugam Bay)
      – Day 6: Beach time on the east coast
      – Day 7: Safari in Yala National Park
      – Day 8: Head to the airport area (you can, for instance, spend your last night in Negombo which is only a 15-min drive from the airport and has a lovely beach)

      Have a great trip to Sri Lanka in September!

      -Maria-

      Reply
      • Thanks Maria I will take a look. Thank you for the car/ driver recommendation too….I’ve already contacted them. We thought Ayala was closed in September so we’re thinking off staying in Sigriyia and Ella so we can see Minieriya national park, hike Sigriyia and the one opposite it ( I forget it’s name), cling little Adams peak, check out Ella waterfall and Rawana. Check out Negombo too, potentially Bentota, but now you’ve worried me about the weather on the west and south I’m not sure.

        Reply
  17. Hi, if I had only one night in Ella, what would you recommend doing? I’ll be traveling from kandy to Ella. I should reach Ella in the afternoon. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Ash,

      With only one night in Ella, I recommend that you walk up to Little Adam´s Peak and that you visit Nine Arch Bridge (take a tuk-tuk or taxi to the bridge).

      Have a great time in Ella! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply

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