The train trip from Ella to Kandy in Sri Lanka, or the other way around, is considered to be one of the most beautiful train trips in the world. This train ride is seven hours long and takes you through stunning landscapes of green and lush tea plantations and mountain views. The train trip between Kandy and Ella is one of the highlights of Sri Lanka in our opinion and we love it! ♥

The train trip Ella – Kandy, and Kandy – Ella is very popular, both among tourists and the locals, so I highly recommend that you buy tickets as soon as you enter Sri Lanka. You can buy tickets at any train station in Sri Lanka for the date you want.

The Beautiful Train Trip From Ella To Kandy

Taking the train is the most comfortable way to travel in my opinion. You can walk around whenever you want, go to the toilet, have some food, meet other travelers and locals, read, listen to music, relax and watch the landscape go by peacefully outside.

Train travel in Sri Lanka is both a beautiful and affordable way to see the country, and no trip is more scenic than the train from Ella to Kandy or the reverse train from Kandy to Ella!

The scenery is amazing as you see beautiful green hills covered of tea plantations, steep mountains, old lovely bridges, waterfalls, small villages, and you are greeted by lots of local kids running along the train tracks.

Train trip Ella to Kandy

The 7-hour train trip Ella to Kandy takes you through green and lush tea plantation


The small and charming Ella Train Station

Taking the train to or from Ella is the most famous stretch of train travel in Sri Lanka, and is nearly a tourist attraction in itself.


Lots of people waiting for the train at Ella train station

At each train station on the way, the train cabins get filled with sellers hustling treats like freshly cut pineapple and mango with cinnamon, corn with salty butter, freshly made rice and curry, chili fritters, and crispy papadums. Yummy!! 🙂 So no need to bring much food.

Train trip from Kandy to Ella

Locals walking along the train tracks

The Sri Lankan Railway System

The Railway system in Sri Lanka was initially built by the British in 1864. The main reason was to transport tea and coffee from the Hill Country to Colombo for shipping internationally.

Today there are train tracks between some of the biggest cities in Sri Lanka.

Train schedules/ timetable, and ticket prices when buying tickets at the train station can be found on the Sri Lanka Government Railway Information official web site.

Most trains have different government-run classes/ carriages that you can choose from:

  • 1st class observation car is available on certain daytime trains, mostly on the Main Line like the trains between Kandy and Ella, and is very popular among tourists. The observation car provides a wide view of the scenery and is usually at the rear of the train but occasionally behind the locomotive.
  • 1st class air-conditioned seats are available on occasional inter-city express trains.
  • 1st class sleeper carries sleeping-berths and is available on a few overnight trains.
  • 2nd class seats are provided on all inter-city trains and are available as either unreserved seats or reserved seats. 2nd class has fans and you can open the windows.
  • 3rd class seats are available on most trains. This class can get very crowded and carries only basic facilities.

You can, however, not open the windows at 1st class since it is air-conditioned. So if you want to take those famous and spectacular (and a bit dangerous….) photos out of the windows, you should buy 2nd class tickets.

On our trip from Polonnaruwa to Colombo, we traveled 2nd class in a government-run train car, and that was also perfectly fine, and incredibly cheap. There was no food or water included.

How To Buy Train Tickets In Sri Lanka

At least on this popular stretch, Ella – Kandy, Kandy – Ella, and Kandy – Nanuoya (Nuwara Eliya), I recommend that you buy tickets in advance as the trains usually get fully booked especially on weekends. So try to avoid the weekends if possible.

The Sri Lanka Railways don’t, unfortunately, have any online booking yet. So these are the different options for booking train tickets in Sri Lanka:

1. Buy online tickets for all trains in Sri Lanka at 12Go. You can also book a taxi and buy bus tickets here.

There are two ticket types at 12Go: Flexible and Not Flexible. You should choose the option Flexible, which will significantly increase the chances of getting a ticket. If you choose 1st Class Flexible tickets, and if 1st Class is fully booked, they will buy 2nd Class instead and refund the price difference for you. If the 2nd class is also full, they will buy the next available departure on the same day and refund the difference if any. In case all classes on all trains on the same day are fully booked, they will refund to your booking immediately.

During peak season (around Christmas and New Year), however, it can be difficult to find available tickets at 12Go Asia. 12Go Asia has pre-booked a whole wagon Viceroy II for the route Colombo – Peradeniya (Kandy) – Nanu Oya – Ella – Badulla, attached to train 1007/1008. The train leaves every Monday and Wednesday. Instant ticket confirmation and PDF-ticket is available. Here is the schedule for the Viceroy II in December 2018/ January 2019 (every Monday and Wednesday):

  • December: 24th / 25th, 26th / 27th
  • January: 2nd / 3rd, 7th / 8th, 9th / 10th, 14th / 15th, 16th / 17th, 21st / 22nd, 23rd / 24th, 28th / 29th, 30th / 31st.
2. Buy train tickets as soon as possible when arriving in Sri Lanka. You can buy train tickets at any train station in Sri Lanka. So if you plan on visiting Colombo first, you can buy train tickets at Colombo Fort Train Station.

The officer is checking our train tickets when entering Ella Train Station

Sri Lanka Train From Ella To Kandy

There are two express trains a day from Ella to Kandy:

  • Departure from Ella: 06:40 – Arrives in Kandy: 12:38 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class)
  • Departure from Ella: 09:24 – Arrives in Kandy: 15:51 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class)

Check availability and book train tickets from Ella to Kandy here

Ella to Kandy train

Me waiting for the train from Ella to Kandy

Sri Lanka Train From Kandy To Ella

There are two express trains a day from Kandy to Ella:

  • Departure from Kandy: 08:47 – Arrives in Ella: 15:14 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class)
  • Departure from Kandy: 11:10 – Arrives in Ella: 17:16 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class)

Check availability and book train tickets from Kandy to Ella here


The beautiful Ella train station

Next to Ella Train Station is a cricket court! Great entertainment while waiting!


Cricket game outside of Ella train station

Sri Lanka Train From Ella to Nuwara Eliya

If you, however, find seven hours on a bumpy train to be a bit too much, you can always opt for the half-way train ride from Ella to Nuwara Eliya, or from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya or the other way around of course.

The train station in Nuwara Eliya is called Nanu Oya (or Nanuoya), and it’s located only a 10-min taxi or tuk-tuk drive from downtown Nuwara Eliya city.

The train trip from Ella to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya Train Station), or the other way around, takes about 2,5 hours.

There is one express train from Ella to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya Train Station) each day:

  • Departure from Ella: 09:24 – Arrive at Nanu Oya Train Station: 12:02 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class)

Check availability and book train tickets from Ella to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya train station) here

Sri Lanka Train From Kandy To Nuwara Eliya

The train trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya Train Station), or the other way around, takes about 4 hours.

There are two express trains each day from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya Train Station):

  • Departure from Kandy: 08:47, Arrives at Nanu Oya Train Station: 12:40 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class)
  • Departure from Kandy: 11:10, Arrives at Nanu Oya Train Station: 14:45 (1st, 2nd, and 3rd class)

Check availability and book train tickets from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya train station) here

The scenery from the train is breathtaking! Like a green carpet of tea bushes rolling by, with colorful sari-dressed tea pickers popping out of the sea of green.


A Hindu tea picker in a colorful sari


Tea pickers in the hill-side


The hill country of Sri Lanka is incredibly green and lush


They also grow vegetables and rice in the hill country, additional to tea


The train runs through huge areas of tea plantations

The train trip from Ella to Kandy is spectacular! I would say it is among the world`s most beautiful train trips. The journey is a bit long though, 7 hours, but as long as you have a good book and some music downloaded to your phone to listen to, you can survive a sore bum :).

Make sure to buy train tickets as soon as possible when you get to Sri Lanka as the trains, especially between Kandy and Ella, often get fully booked.

⇒ Check out our recommended list of things to do in Kandy

⇒ Check out what not to be missed in Ella

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 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 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 childrens play area with toys.
Click here to check the latest prices


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 Ella gap. The service can rival any five-star hotel and the excellent breakfast is served on your balcony. There 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 a delicious rice & curry dinner. Location is a 15 minute walk away from the city center.
Click here to check the latest prices

Where To Stay In Kandy

Kandy offers a wide selection of accommodation for all budgets, and here you will have plenty of choices when it comes to finding the right place to stay. Kandy is a big city and the competition seems to be tough so you can find some excellent deals here.

Below are some of the best accommodation options in Kandy, including the address and price.

We stayed at Sharon Inn
Sharon Inn is located up on the hillside above the Kandy Lake. The road up to the hotel is a bit steep but we walked to Kandy Lake several times. Owned and run by a family where the wife is German. It is a decent hotel, and we were happy with the accommodation and the service, although it is a bit run down. It is recommended in the Lonely Planet.

Our favorite part of our stay here was the dinner buffet in the garden. Each evening they serve traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry with lots of different dishes, for only 7 us$. A very good value. The food was excellent, among the best we had in Sri Lanka.

We had one of the top floor rooms and had spectacular views from our balcony. The rooms are however quite basic, albeit with private bathrooms. It is a bit over-priced for this kind of room standard, but the location is great.
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Viyana Boutique Hotel
This new boutique hotel is located within easy walking distance to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. The rooms are large and modern with comfortable beds and free WiFi. The staff is enthusiastic and helpful. Some of the rooms have views overlooking the lake.
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Staying Outside the City Center

Kandy can be a busy and noisy city so it is worth considering staying a little outside the city center. Especially with transportation being so cheap and readily available.

Elephant Stables
Elephant Stables is a beautiful little hotel in a colonial style bungalow about 10 minutes drive away from Kandy center. There is a lovely pool and a nice view overlooking the green valley. It's a small intimate hotel where every guest is taken care of and made to feel exceptionally welcome. It is somewhat expensive but if it's within your budget then this comes highly recommended.
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Elegant Hotel
If you want to get away from busy downtown Kandy then this small hotel is a great option! Located about 20 minutes drive from Kandy center it overlooks the valley and offers spectacular views of the area. It has a huge swimming pool and the friendly staff makes you feel right at home. If we ever visit Kandy again, we will for sure have a look at this! 🙂
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Sky Pavilion
Wow, what a lovely hotel with spectacular views! Would definitely not mind staying here!
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Kandyan Crown Hotel
This budget hotel offers good value for money and is beautifully located up on the hillside outside of Kandy!
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Travel Guides

We used the Lonely Planet`s Sri Lanka travel guide on our trip, which we love. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below:

Sri Lanka Lonely Planet      Sri Lanka Rough Guide

Hover over the picture below, and press the red “Save” button that pops up:

ella to kandy train trip  The World`s Most Beautiful Train Trip - Ella to Kandy, Sri Lanka
What do you think of long train trips? How do you get the time to fly aboard trains? We’d love to hear your train experiences in the comment area below! If you liked this blog post or found it useful, please share and like on social media! Thank you! 🙂 

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