When you think about visiting Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka you’re probably thinking about visiting the tea plantations. While that is an absolute must do, there are some other beautiful places to visit in Nuwara Eliya.
But first, lets talk about getting to Nuwara Eliya by train.
Travelling by train
Half of the adventure lies in the journey itself. The scenic and most opted for method of transport is by train – and not to mention incredibly affordable compared to other options of renting a car or flying via seaplane.
If you’re travelling from Colombo Fort station, which is the main hub in the city to reach any part of the island, get to the station early to reserve your tickets.
Train tickets for 1st and 2nd class can also be reserved online or at the ticket counter in advance. However, if you’re somewhat of a late bloomer, get to the station at least one hour before your train’s departure in order to secure a 2nd class seat or 3rd class seat.
Most trains are named, here’s the departure and arrival schedule of trains to Nuwara Eliya. It’s important to note that there’s no station named ‘Nuwara Eliya’, and the closest you’ll get to the town is the ‘Nanu Oya’ station, roughly 20 minutes away from the town centre.
This route is also part of the Ella to Kandy train trip.
Note that these times are subject to change. It’s always best to enquire at the train station for the latest times.
1. Podi Menike Express Train
- Departs Colombo – 05:55
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 12:40
2. Udarata Menika Express Train
- Departs Colombo – 08:30
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 14:45
3. Express Train
- Departs Colombo – 09:45
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 15:50
4. Night Mail Train
- Departs Colombo – 20:00
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 03:00
The Podi Menike is the best train to get on, as you’ll reach the town just in time to check-in to your hotel.
If you’ve got a couple of days to spend in Nuwara Eliya, and prefer a late night train where you can sleep, take the Night mail train. Don’t expect any views though – you’ll be climbing up mountains, and there’s barely any light up there!
Once you reach Nanu Oya, you can opt to ride share with other tourists, who are usually quite vocal about looking for other ride sharers, or hop in a tuk by yourself. Tuks can fit up to 3 people.
If the driver doesn’t know where your hotel is, get your Google Maps working – and direct him to your hotel. Most drivers know the way to popular old hotel such as Jetwing St. Andrews, as they have been around for years – but let Google guide you just in case, or simply call your hotel and ask for directions!
Places to visit in Nuwara Eliya
Locally called Sandathenna, Moon Plains is a flat, central plain located in Nuwara Eliya. It is centrally located, just 2.5 km from the entrance of Nuwara Eliya town. You should definitely visit it!
Moon Plains offers you sweeping, panoramic and simply breath taking views of the forest reserve, sprawling gardens, tea plantations, vegetable lands and the rugged mountains.
You’ll also be able to see cute little cottages and bungalows from the vantage point.
It’s the ideal place to hike to, or if you’d rather, cycle your way here. You’ll so also be able to see some native wildlife such as elk, buffaloes, deer and a colorful spectrum of birds; both endemic and migratory.
Head over to Mini World’s End to watch a glowing sunrise that’ll just warm you right up. Mini World’s End is an area at the top of a steep precipice that offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. The view at dawn is particularly fabulous, with the brilliant glow of the sun blending with the mist that shrouds the peaks and valleys that surround the region.
The Moon Plains used to be a huge pile of garbage. Unbelievable, isn’t it? But today it is a popular tourist attraction in Sri Lanka. In 2010, it was completely cleaned up and declared an agricultural and eco-tourism zone by the government.
One of the must do places to visit in Nuwara Eliya!
Nuwara Eliya is cold enough for strawberries to grow – and for those of you who didn’t know, yes, strawberries need cold, wet weather to flourish and grow!
There are quite a few strawberry farms that you can visit and buy a bunch of juicy red berries from. Ask your hotel for the closest one and take a Tuk Tuk there.
The main strawberry planting season begins in September, but you’re sure to find berries at any other time of the year as well. Our top three strawberry farms are Ramya Horticulture, Jagro Strawberry and Adma Agro.
In the heart of Nuwara Eliya lies the idyllic Gregory Lake.
Originally created as a reservoir, it now offers many opportunities for relaxation and activity. In an area of 225 hectares, you can experience great water activities and use the surrounding park for a cozy picnic.
Small ponies graze in the meadow and you can rent boats to enjoy the tranquility of the lake. Even jet skis and windsurfing equipment are available. You can also take a bike ride around the lake. The park that surrounds the lake has a super well-maintained walkway that invites you to take a stroll.
This place is perfect also for family outings. Here you can just relax or play with the kids.
If you need a break from the sun, you will find a place to relax in one of the cozy cabins. And if you get hungry, there are plenty of food stands around the park offering local delicacies and snacks.
If you want a relaxing trip, you might want to avoid the weekends. It can get pretty crowded. But don’t worry, there’s a better time to visit. Between April and May, the weather is simply gorgeous and perfect for a leisurely tour.
A perfect place to enjoy and linger!
Built over 100 years ago by the British, the Nuwara Eliya Post Office is the hallmark of Little England and has stood the test of time.
This red-bricked building, Victorian style building is known to be one of the oldest post offices in Sri Lanka. Located smack in the heart of the town, it’s quite hard to miss.
The post office is a great photo opportunity for those who love vintage architecture.
The post office, unfortunately, has recently faced closure – however, it’s not set in stone yet. Help to keep it open, by sending a post card or letter to your family back home. You can buy post cards from the post office for less than Rs.100.
Tea in the Garden
Enjoying a nice, warm cup of Ceylon tea is an experience you can’t leave Nuwara Eliya, without having.
Most hotels, bungalows or cottages have a well-manicured garden. Order your favorite cup of tea, and if you don’t know what that is yet, ask the hotel staff to assist.
Have your tea in the garden while enjoying the beautiful views around you.
This cascading beauty of icy cold water has a rather tragic story behind its name. Towering to a height of 30 meters, Lovers Leap is the closest waterfall to Nuwara Eliya town, approximately 1.5 kms away.
Legend has it that a prince fell in love with a maiden from the nearby village, however, the king prohibited the prince from continuing the affair. Heartbroken and determined to spend the rest of their lives; even if it was in the after-life, the couple leapt off the waterfall, hoping to immortalise their undying love for each other.
The best way to experience Lover’s Leap Waterfall is on foot. The trail takes you through an idyllic rural area that you can enjoy in all its beauty during a relaxing walk. The walk uphill is pleasant and takes about 40 minutes.
On the way, you will pass through a small village with only a few houses.
The walk is definitely worth it! The waterfall is just breathtaking.
Relax at the bottom of Lover’s Leap for an unforgettable experience. You can enjoy the cool spray of the bubbling water or even take a refreshing dip. Just be careful, the rocks can get quite slippery, so use caution when climbing.
Another option is to rent a bike in town. There are several rental stations. Then you could cycle to the waterfall. Part of the way is on a big road, and the gravel path to the destination can be challenging at times. But this is definitely the quicke option, cpmpared to walking.
Just let a cab or tuk-tuk drop you off in front of the entrance of Pedro Tea Estate and explore the area on your own! Just ask for the starting point of the hike to the waterfalls – you can recognize it by a small sign. There is only one way into the hills opposite the entrance of the Tea Estate.
Just watch out and do not listen to the tuk-tuk drivers, as they will try to convince you that the waterfall is dry for various reasons and then they will suggest to take you somewhere else.
Single Tree Hill
An unforgettable adventure awaits you in the highlands of Sri Lanka, taking you off the beaten track and showing you a different side of the country.
Here you can hike for hours in the pleasantly cool climate and be enchanted by the great viewpoints. One of the highlights is Single Tree Hill, which offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, Lake Gregory, the Hortain Plain and the surrounding hills.
The hike there is challenging but incredibly rewarding as it takes you through picturesque landscapes and the Pedro tea plantations. The walk takes about 2 hours in total, including a break at the top to enjoy the views and fresh mountain air.
If you are in Nuwara Eliya and want to hike, there are two options, either walk to the trailhead or take a taxi. The trailhead is south of town near the race track and can be seen from the highway. To get there, you’ll have to take a dirt road behind a residential area and a private house that leads to the Imaduwa shop.
The trail to the top is slightly uphill most of the way and has a total length of 2.7 km. Most of the trail is in very good condition, but there are some muddy spots after long periods of rain.
Wear good walking shoes and remember to bring plenty of water. Since it rains a lot in the hills, you should also bring a raincoat or umbrella. It can also get chilly in some places, so bring a light sweater just in case.
Halfway up the hill is the Sir Swarnagiri Vihara Buddhist temple, which is well worth a visit. This place is so peaceful that it will clear your mind for a while. Here you can rest and walk around.
When you have visited the temple, go back to the main path and continue walking. On the way you will see the peak with the radio tower almost all the way. When you reach the top, you will find a concrete path that leads to the towers and then turns left. The trail goes through a short, dense forest with trees that only grow in the mountains and are not found at lower elevations.
If you are a birdwatcher, it is highly recommended to spend the morning walking through this small patch of forest. Not only the endemic whistling thrush and the yellow-billed bulbul live here, but also many other interesting species. Even mammals like Sambur deer and barking deer can be seen here.
If you follow the winding path, it will lead you to a tree plantation, which you can cross to finally go down the hill. Here you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and the lake. And if you are feeling adventurous, you can descend even further to discover more wonders.
A hike up Single Tree Hill is definitely worth it, but if you’re going during the rainy season, check the weather forecast as visibility may be limited.
The best time to start your hike is between 5am and 7am when it’s still crisp and you can see the beautiful cloud formations over the landscape. The term “Single Tree” has been used since ancient times. From the top of this mountain you have a magnificent view of the sunrise.
In the heart of Nuwara Eliya lies the Queen Victoria Park, an absolute must for any visitor. Named in honor of Queen Victoria’s 60th coronation anniversary in 1897, the park was originally the research area of the Hakgala Botanical Garden.
Colorful flowers and idyllic places to relax and enjoy await you.
The playground for children and the train ride for adults provide additional entertainment. Victoria Park is famous for its bird watching and offers a great variety of plants and trees. Especially between March and May and August and September, the park is in full bloom.
Be amazed at the variety of birds! Here you can see the Indian Pitta, the endemic Yellow-billed Bulbul, the Sri Lankan White-eye, the Sabre-toothed Dwarf and Peregrine Thrush, the Wagtail, the Velvet Nuthatch, the Indian Bluebird, the Kashmir Flycatcher and many other species.
When planning your stay in Nuwara Eliya, be sure to include a visit to the Queen Victoria Park. Most people head there at around 1-2 pm. So it’s wise to go a bit later. This is the perfect place to end your day and relax before heading back to your accommodation.
Very close by is the Holy Trinity Church, which you could visit before or afterwards.
Ticket price: Rs.50 for Locals and Rs. 300 (~$1) for foreigners
Open Hours: 7.00 Am – 7.00 Pm
Address: Badulla Rd, Nuwara Eliya 22200
Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church is the oldest church in town – it was built in 1852!
In 1845 a group met to discuss building a church. An estimated £900 was to be spent on it. A man named Nelson was chosen as the architect and the work was done by men of the 15th Regiment under the direction of Major Brunker of Nuwara-Eliya.
If you like music, you must try the old piano in the church. And did you know that in the cemetery of the church there are graves from the White Age?
Old Nuwara Eliya Railway Station
If you like history, you could visit the old Nuwara Eliya railway station. Although it is now used as a bus depot, many of the old buildings are still standing. Even the old stage is still there and tells of times gone by.
Nowadays, the train routes to Kandy and Ella are extremely popular with visitors due to their picturesque beauty. But during the British occupation of Ceylon, the journey to Nuwara Eliya along the now disused Udapussallewa railroad line was the absolute favorite.
Nuwara Eliya was then known as the “Heart of the Sanatorium” due to its breathtaking scenery and soothing climate. The Nuwara Eliya railroad line, which ran from Nanuoya to Ragala, was built within three and a half years starting in November 1900 and was a full 19.17 miles long.
After World War II, the station was closed and now serves as a bus depot. All that remains of this former railroad network are a few buildings and the remains of the tracks, which can still be seen in some places.
Dinner at the Hill Club
In charming Nuwara Eliya, known as the “Little England of Sri Lanka,” you’ll find the unique Hotel Hill Club. Originally founded as a meeting place for wealthy coffee and tea planters from England and Scotland, the walls of the clubhouse now tell their fascinating story to foreign tourists who are welcomed as “club members”.
A special highlight is high tea or an exquisite dinner in the luxurious dining room – a culinary experience not to be missed. Despite the historic charm, there is a strict dress code.
But the prices are pleasantly “surprising for European” visitors.
Tea Plantation Tour
Though we focus with the travel tips here on other activities to do in Nuwara Eliya, still be sure to take a guided tour of a tea plantation.
The tea plantations are usually almost independent villages – with homes and schools for hundreds of pickers and their families.
In this vibrant center, you’ll see firsthand how tea leaves are transformed into a sensual beverage. You are guided step-by-step through the stages of withering, rolling, fermenting and drying, gaining valuable insights from experienced staff. The beguiling scent of freshly processed tea leaves will enchant your senses and intensify the experience.
Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of tea tasting and sample a variety of exquisite teas. From delicate white and green teas to powerful black teas, you will learn the art of distinguishing the nuances of flavor. As you talk with the experts, you’ll learn more about the intricacies of tea and gain valuable tips on how to make the perfect cup.
After gaining an in-depth understanding of the tea-making process, treat yourself to a delicious High Tea session. Enjoy the taste of freshly brewed Ceylon tea, accompanied by delicious pastries and sandwiches, in the tranquil atmosphere of the tea plantation. As you sip your tea, you can enjoy panoramic views of the rolling hills and misty valleys of the tea gardens – a picturesque setting that will take your breath away.
The tour includes
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off
- All transfers in private air conditioned vehicles (car/van/coach)
- English speaking chauffeur guide
- All entrance fees for all mentioned excursions
- Lunch and King Coconut
Duration: 1 day
Group size: Limited to 6 participants
You’ll visit a tea estate and tea factory and experience the fascinating world of tea production first hand.
Your tour begins with a scenic drive through the breathtaking countryside of Nuwara Eliya. The deeper you venture into the misty hills, the more vibrant green tea bushes you’ll see. At a renowned tea estate, you are greeted by knowledgeable guides who share the secrets of tea growing, plucking and processing.
Your first stop is in the tea fields, where you can watch skilled tea pickers at work. They pluck tea leaves with remarkable precision and you will learn more about the art of selecting the best tea leaves. You will also gain insight into the intricate process that determines the quality and taste of each cup of tea.
Before you leave this enchanting tea paradise, you will have the unique opportunity to sample an exquisite selection of premium teas in the estate’s boutique. Take home the finest Ceylon teas as a souvenir – an authentic symbol of Sri Lanka’s tea heritage.
Discover the fascinating world of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. Learn all about the art of tea production, explore breathtaking tea gardens and gather unforgettable impressions in the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country.