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TOP-5 Things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka

Discover the top 5 must-do experiences in Ella, Sri Lanka, from the iconic Nine Arches Bridge to the breathtaking Little Adam's Peak and scenic train ride. From this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about the best things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka in 2024.

Sri Lanka Nine Arch Bridge

Ella is a tourism hot spot in the center part of Sri Lanka's highlands and no trip to the tear shaped island would be complete without visiting Ella.



How to get to Ella

Ella is linked to other big cities in Sri Lanka by train, which is surely the cheapest way to travel in the country and often offers stunning views, to the extent that the journey to Ella itself is considered one of the top experiences in Sri Lanka. Previously based in Weligama on the southern coast, the most convenient way for us to get to Ella was by hiring a private driver. It took us about 3.5 hours and cost 15,000 rupees.



What to do in Ella, Sri Lanka

Ella is Sri Lanka's tourism hub. Almost all the visitors who come to Sri Lanka at some point reach Ella. Ella as being a small town, has lots of restaurants and cafes and also all kind of options for accommodation. Ella is a perfect base for hiking as located in a mountainous region os centre Sri Lanka, offers lots of interesting options for hiking. Ella is the most famous for being a station of the often called - the most beautiful train road in the world - between Kandy and Ella, which leads between the mountains through endless tea plantations and it's very scenic.



Where to stay in Ella

Ella offers a wide range of accommodations, ranging from basic ones to luxurious hotels. As travellers who prioritise experiences over spending time in the hotel, we typically opt for mid-range options with private bathrooms. We prefer small family hotels or home stays because they also provide easy access to local transportation and activities. During our last visit to Ella, we booked all our trips through our accommodation, Ceylon House By Sunrise.



How many days to stay in Ella

Ella is a cozy town with plenty of delightful cafes and restaurants where you can spend your leisure time. If you're eager to explore all the top attractions Ella has to offer, 2-3 full days will be enough for it, and this also includes the famous train ride!


TOP-5 Things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka

From awe-inspiring natural wonders to cultural delights, Ella offers a dozens of different activities to captivate any traveler's heart. Let's unveil the top five must-do experiences in Ella, ensuring your visit to this charming town is nothing short of unforgettable.


Sri Lanka Nine Arch Bridge
Sri Lanka Nine Arch Bridge

The Nine Arch Bridge

The Nine Arches Bridge is the top attraction of Ella. It's located just a few minutes away from the center of the town, which makes it very convenient for a quick visit. You can observe the bridge from viewpoints on either side, take a steep walk down under it, or even walk on it when the train drives through. The Nine Arches Bridge is one of the most recognisable locations in Sri Lanka and attracts lots of visitors every day, so the best time to visit would be during the early morning hours.


Lipton's Seat and Dambatenne Tea Plantation in Sri Lanka
Lipton's Seat and Dambatenne Tea Plantation in Sri Lanka

Take a tour around a local tea plantation and visit the tea factory

The region between Ella and Nuwara Eliya is best known for the production of Ceylon tea. There are a few tea plantations near Ella, with the Halpewatte Tea Factory being the closest. However, we opted to visit the more distant one, Dambatenne, established by Thomas Lipton - yes, the same man after whom Lipton tea is named. The tea plantations around Ella are equally beautiful and offer walking trails where you can enjoy incredible views of the highlands and meet friendly locals. Therefore, it doesn't really matter which one you choose to visit. We decided on Dambatenne Tea Plantation because of its renowned viewpoint - the Lipton Seat, where Thomas Lipton used to admire the views over his lands and host tea tastings for friends.



Lipton's Seat and Dambatenne Tea Plantation in Sri Lanka
Lipton's Seat and Dambatenne Tea Plantation in Sri Lanka

Short Hike to Little Adam's Peak

If you're searching for the best place to watch the sunset in Ella, there isn't a better spot than Little Adam's Peak. Little Adam's Peak is a small mountain overlooking a distant valley. The trailhead is just a short 15-minute walk from the town center, so you can either walk there or catch a tuktuk taxi. The first half of the trail is quite flat and wide. It leads to Flying Ravana Adventure Park, which offers various activities like zip-lining and sport climbing. There, you'll also find the biggest restaurant in town with an outdoor pool, which is very popular among tourists. After passing Flying Ravana, you'll begin the climb up the stairs. The trail is a regular dirt path but is well maintained. We managed to reach the top in about 20 minutes, but climbing the stairs might be quite an exhausting workout.



Ella - Kandy train Ride

Take a train to Kandy

It's quite ironic that one of the best things to do in Ella is to leave it, but in this case, it's truly one of the coolest activities around. Sri Lanka's blue train has been attracting attention for a long time, and it's not without reason. The train ride between Ella and Kandy takes you through Sri Lanka's central highlands, filled with tea plantations and offering truly remarkable views. What adds to the experience is that the iconic blue train has open doors from which you can enjoy the ride, sitting on the stairs or even leaning out. Taking this train was something I wouldn't want to miss during my visit to Sri Lanka. You don't actually have to go all the way to Kandy (which takes about 7 hours, by the way); you can take the scenic train ride, which is shorter and more frequent. You can buy tickets for it at Ella's train station.


Ravana Falls, Sri Lanka
Ravana Falls, Sri Lanka

Ravana Falls and Other Waterfalls around Ella

Situated in the highlands, the area around Ella is full of exceptional natural wonders, such as waterfalls. The closest impressive waterfall to the town is Ravana Falls, located right along the road towards the south of Sri Lanka. So, if you're planning to visit later Yala National Park or Mirissa and Weligama, you will pass Ravana Falls on your way there. Aside from its towering height of 25 meters, Ravana Falls is also known as the widest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Besides Ravana Falls, another notable waterfall is the Bambarakanda Falls. There are also plenty of other smaller waterfalls that you can see while hiking around Ella.


See our other articles about Sri Lanka

In April 2024, we spent a full month exploring all the natural and cultural sights of Sri Lanka. Staying for such a long time enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of local life and discover many popular as well as overlooked places that Sri Lanka has to offer. Check out our other articles about Sri Lanka and plan your own trip using all the tips and recommendations we've gathered on our blog.




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