If you haven’t already, I really recommend you add Ella to your travel plans when visiting Sri Lanka. It is a charming mountain village located south of Kandy and one of my favorite places in Sri Lanka! If you love trekking and nature walks, you definitely need to include Ella in your Sri Lanka itinerary. 🙂
It is a little over 1000 meters above sea level by the way, so if like me, you’re traveling to Ella from Tangalle for example, or from somewhere south of the country, bring a small jacket or something to keep you warm because the nights and mornings are a little cooler in Ella, compared to the south.
Let’s jump right into this with a few transportation and accommodation tips.
How To Get To Ella
How to get to Ella from Kandy
If you’re leaving Kandy and heading to Ella, I recommend you take the legendary train line that connects the two cities. You can enjoy the beautiful tea plantations on the way, especially as you get closer to Nuwara Eliya. Two trains are scheduled every day from Kandy, one at 8:47 AM and another one at 11:10 AM. A third train is available only on weekends and departs at 7:45 AM from Kandy.
The trip costs between 125 and 230 rupees (around a dollar) depending on the car class and lasts about 6 hours. Make sure to check out this website for train schedules before and during your trip to Sri Lanka. When researching trains in Ella, type in “elle” instead.
How to get to Ella from Tangalle
I rode a motorbike from Tangalle up to Ella. The 150-kilometer ride took 4 hours. The road was pretty straight most of the time but as you get closer to Ella, you’ll be driving along a winding road for several kilometers. Ella is a mountain village so you’re going to need to do some climbing at some point.
If you’re not planning to use a motorbike or some sort of vehicle, you can take the local bus from Tangalle that will get you to your destination in about 4 hours. The ticket costs around 200 rupees (about a dollar), depending on the type of bus you’re taking.
Where to stay in Ella
Ella has become a fairly popular town in Sri Lanka, so the best hotels and hostels there sell out pretty quickly. Make sure to book early to not miss out on any great deals.
If you’re rather looking for a hostel in Ella, I highly recommend Hangover Hostels Ella. It is conveniently located a few minutes away from the train station. Its dorms are comfortable and you can meet lots of nice people there!
If you can afford better accommodation, you can dive into the beautiful natural setting of The Chillout Ella. This hotel is a little bit more remote location-wise but still not too far from the city center. The good news is that it is located in the mountains around the city and therefore offers great views of the whole area.
The hotel’s rooms are rather spacious and have everything you can possibly need. The price per night is not so expensive considering the comfort you’ll be offered!
The Best Restaurants And Bars In Ella
There are two restaurants I absolutely loved in Ella. The first is the Tunnel Café which does local cuisine for cheap prices. Their chicken and cheese kottu is to die for! If you try it, let me know! 🙂 There is also the Gem & Berries which is nice, especially in the evening. I loved their curries, pancakes, and coffees. 🙂 They also have good Wi-Fi; I often went there to get some work done. By the way, if you’re interested in local cuisine, you can take Sri Lankan cooking classes in Ella.
Last but not least, if you just want to have a drink, the One Love is a pretty popular bar in Ella and a nice place to check out!
The 6 Best Things To Do In Ella
You’re all set to visit Ella! Let’s find out my favorite places there. I recommend you spend about 3 days there to make the most of these different spots:
- The Nine Arch Bridge
- Little Adam’s Peak
- Ella Rock
- The Ravana Waterfalls
- The Diyaluma Waterfalls
- Lipton’s Seat
1. The Nine-Arch Bridge
Let’s start this tour of Ella with one of the most famous and most photographed places in Sri Lanka: the Nine-Arch Bridge. Besides being aesthetically pleasing, this structure also has an interesting history. The British colonial forces were strongly involved in its construction in the early 20th century. Before that, World War I had broken out and all the steel that was planned for the construction of the bridge ended up being used during the war.
It did not discourage the Sri Lankans who, after interrupting the construction work temporarily, built the bridge without steel, using only bricks and cement. A true architectural achievement! 🙂
Feeling a bit skeptical about this? You can be sure that the bridge is rock solid and trains have been passing over it several times a day for decades!
To go to the bridge, here is the path I followed:
If you follow this route, you will see the train rails at some point.
As you can see, the setting is really beautiful so don’t rush to the bridge and enjoy the beautiful view of the entire region.
Take a left following the rails and you will get there. This is a pretty popular place, so it’s best to visit it early in the morning to avoid tourist crowds.
Trains pass over the bridge about 10 times a day in both directions. You can find the schedule below but they’re often late, so it’s not really accurate. I was lucky enough to see the 5:27 PM train pass by but I had to wait until 6:20 PM for it to come. 😀
- 6:05 AM
- 6:39 AM
- 9:23 AM
- 10:56 AM
- 12:04 PM
- 01:24 PM
- 03:14 PM
- 05:27 PM
- 06:22 PM
- 06:58 PM
Once there, you will notice that there are many vantage points so be curious and explore the surroundings to take the best picture. 😉
2. Little Adam’s Peak
Ella is the ideal city for hiking lovers. There are many great trails you can during your stay, namely the Little Adam’s Peak trail. The mountain’s name is in reference to Adam’s Peak, which is in Ella and can also be climbed.
Read More: Best Minimalist Hiking Shoes
Adam’s Peak is a 3-hour drive from Ella so I decided I’d go for the Little One. 🙂 It takes between 30 minutes and an hour to get to the top of the mountain. It’s an overall easy and very enjoyable hike.
Once at the top, you can enjoy a great view of the mountainous area. Take a deep breath and enjoy the scenery! 😉
For the record, a dog that followed me everywhere at Little Adam’s Peak. I don’t know why but he followed me all the way to the top and just lay down to rest. How cute is that?
3. Ella Rock
Ella Rock is actually the big mountain you can see from Little Adam’s Peak. Going there was for sure the most beautiful hike I went on in Ella. To get there, first go to the Kithal Ella train station (exact location).
Once at the station, follow the train tracks to the right. You’ll have to walk a few hundred meters to finally turn left here.
You will pass by really beautiful country landscapes. You will probably cross farm fields on the way so try not to disturb anyone or damage any crops. The farmers are actually very welcoming and cheerful people. 🙂
To find your way to the top, there are several signs that should show you the right direction. I managed to get lost anyway and this charming old man ended up accompanying me to the foot of the mountain. If it happens to you too, leave a tip, it’s always appreciated.
I must say that the end of the hike was quite difficult. I’m not sure if I got tired after climbing Little Adam’s Peak, but I was definitely out of breath after this. It’s also a bit slippery so be sure to wear the right shoes. Your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking views!
Once at the top, freshen up with some water or fruit juice. Take your time to walk in the surrounding forests, they are beautiful!
The whole trip took about 3 and a half hours, 2 hours to climb up the mountain and an hour and a half to go back down. So plan ahead and devote half a day for this trek.
By the way, feel free to download these hiking apps to help you during your trip.
4. The Ravana Waterfalls
Approximately 7 kilometers south of Ella’s city center, the beautiful waterfalls of Ravana are waiting for you to visit them. The falls are about 25 meters high and the water flows along small waterfalls as you can see in the picture above. These waterfalls bear the name of a former king who allegedly punished his daughter by hiding her in a cellar near the falls.
5. The Diyaluma Waterfalls
Traveling further away from the city of Ella, let’s visit the beautiful waterfalls of Diyaluma. They are about 40 kilometers away from Ella’s city center. Half of the road leading to the waterfalls is in good shape, but the last kilometers are a bit of a mess and have lots of bumps. It’s worth it though because the waterfalls are really impressive!
They are 220 meters high, which makes them the second highest waterfalls of Sri Lanka! 10 times higher than the waterfalls of Ravana, actually. Standing at the foot of the waterfall will make you feel really small and the sound of the water is guaranteed to give you chills.
It is a true natural wonder that I really recommend you visit.
6. Lipton’s Seat
Last but not least is one of my favorite attractions in Sri Lanka. Lipton’s Seat (I’ll tell you why it’s called this way) is a beautiful mountainous area south of Ella, covered entirely with tea plantations. As you may know, Sri Lanka picked up tea culture following the British colonization and since then, the country has produced one of the best tea in the world, Ceylon tea.
To get to Lipton’s Seat, you will have to go to Haputale first. You will then take a narrow path that will take you to the top of the mountain where Lipton’s Seat is located. On your way there you can enjoy truly wonderful and breathtaking landscapes. A truly unique sensation! 🙂
At some point, you’ll come across a factory that turns tea leaves into the finished product. Make sure to stop by, you can take part in a tour of the factory for 250 rupees (~ $1.5).
Still wondering why this place is called Lipton’s Seat? It is simply because Sir Thomas Lipton (the Lipton tea brand!) used to sit around in this area to admire the tea plantations that belonged to him. There is also a statue of a seated Sir Lipton. And here is Lipton’s Seat, literally:
I think nothing can wrap up the visit to this beautiful region better than a cup of tea! You can order one as well as other local snacks at the restaurant next to Lipton’s Seat.
Did you like this visit to Ella? Do you plan to go there during your stay in Sri Lanka? Let me know in the comments!
As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the regions I liked most in Sri Lanka and I cannot wait to go back there to enjoy the great atmosphere and beautiful mountainous landscape.
Farewell fellow travelers, and see you around for new adventures in Asia. 😉