Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka, is one of the most unique towns in the country.
With its obscure climate and seemingly out-of-place architecture, Nuwara Eliya leaves you feeling slightly confused: Sri Lanka or England?
Nuwara Eliya sits between Kandy and Ella in Hill Country, and I highly recommend you include it in your Sri Lanka itinerary.
Whilst many people give this quaint village a skip, I loved every minute of my visit.
Here’s my list of the 19 best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya, including things to do and a complete travel guide to exploring “Little England”.
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Where is Nuwara Eliya
Need to get your bearings right? If you’re taking the Kandy to Ella train, Nuwara Eliya is along the way.
Your first main stop from Kandy will be Hatton (which is the gateway to Adam’s Peak), then Nuwara Eliya, followed by Ella.
It’s a great destination to break the long train ride. And with all the beautiful places in Nuwara Eliya, you’ll have no regrets stopping here.
Nuwara Eliya Map
19 best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya
If you’re wondering what to do in Nuwara Eliya, you’re spoiled for choice!
1. Visit Ramboda Waterfall
Top of my list of places to visit in Nuwara Eliya is Ramboda Waterfall. It’s arguably one of the best waterfalls in Sri Lanka.
It sits 1 hour outside of Nuwara Eliya, with a trio of waterfalls in the Ramboda Falls Park.
This first waterfall is more tricky to reach as it’s a 20-minute hike along a jagged and uneven staircase. The second waterfall is accessed through the Ramboda Falls Hotel.
There is a 50 LKR ($0.2) fee to enter.
2. Explore the Tea plantations
Nuwara Eliya is surrounded by rolling hills covered with endless tea plantations.
You can’t visit the area without taking in all this beauty as they’re the main Nuwara Eliya attractions.
I visited Bluefield Tea Factory as it is en route to Ramboda Falls.
Upon your arrival, a guide will take you through the entire tea-making process.
It’s quite remarkable to see how much tea these factories produce and how they distribute their products to the overseas market.
Other popular tea plantations to visit in Nuwara Eliya include Pedro Tea Factory and Damro Labookellie Tea Centre.
Top tip: Visit Ramboda Waterfall first and then go to the tea plantations afterward, as the weather can be unpredictable.
3. Enjoy High Tea at The Grand Hotel
Chances are that at some point, the weather will be, well, gloomy!
So, if you’re looking for things to do in Nuwara Eliya on a cold, rainy day, head straight to The Grand Hotel for high tea.
This is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself and explore the old hotel, which was built in 1891.
High tea is served from 3 pm – 6 pm daily and costs 1 500 LKR ($8).
Better yet, if it’s in your budget, why not spend the night here?
The hotel is magnificent and centrally located near all the top tourist places in Nuwara Eliya.
You can check the prices here.
4. Visit tourist places in Nuwara Eliya town: the post office
There’s no need to get a taxi to explore Nuwara Eliya town itself.
Just take a slow stroll from one side to the next, and you’ll pass an interesting mix of Sri Lankan and British architecture.
Nuwara Eliya town is filled with food and clothing markets and street vendors, as well as a pristine golf course, and the iconic Nuwara Eliya Post office.
5. Get festive at the 19th Hole Pub, Nuwara Eliya
I arrived in Nuwara Eliya to a cold, wet welcome.
The 19th Hole is a cozy pub with a great atmosphere. And like most of Nuwara Eliya, it resembles that of a pub you’d find in England.
The prices here aren’t budget-friendly, and the food isn’t as great as other restaurants in town, but the warm fire and friendly staff make up for it.
They also have a “buy 1 get 1 free” special from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm daily.
6. Take the Kandy to Ella train
The Kandy to Ella train has been hailed as one of the most scenic train rides in the world, and I can’t argue with that.
There are many ways to get to Nuwara Eliya. But the best is to take the train from Kandy and get off at the Nanu Oya train station, which is a 15-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya.
7. Stay among the tea plantations
I was drawn to Nuwara Eliya thanks to its gorgeous landscapes and unique climate.
And what better way to take it all in than by booking a hotel that features unspoiled views of the tea plantations?
CheRiz Boutique Villa Hotel offers just that, and so much more!
8. Visit Bomburu Ella Waterfall
Bomburu Ella Waterfall is one of the lesser-known attractions in Nuwara Eliya.
It’s just a short 30-minute drive away from Nuwara Eliya and boasts a beautiful cascading waterfall at the end of a short, scenic hike.
9. Visit a Strawberry Farm in Nuwara Eliya
There are a few strawberry farms surrounding Nuwara Eliya.
Here, you can explore the farms, pick fresh strawberries, and enjoy a strawberry milkshake. All while enjoying the views.
Ramya and Jogro Simply Strawberries are two of the most famous strawberry farms. Both have a cafe serving a variety of strawberry drinks, from juices to milkshakes.
I preferred Jogro Simply Strawberries, but it can get crowded over weekends.
This is one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya with kids, especially during harvesting season (which begins in September).
10. Gregory Lake: Is this really one of the best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya?
Gregory Lake is a big lake with beautifully manicured lawns.
It lies in the heart of Nuwara Eliya, where you can enjoy an afternoon stroll along a boardwalk that runs alongside the lake.
If you have kids, they’ll enjoy the activities such as paddle boats, jet ski rides, and horse riding.
Lake Gregory comes up on all searches as one of the best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya.
But to be honest, I wasn’t impressed.
There’s a 200 LKR ($1) entrance to enter Lake Gregory.
11. Take a walk at Victoria Park
Victoria Park lies in the middle of Nuwara Eliya.
Similarly to Lake Gregory, Victoria Park has lawns that are grown to perfection, bright-colored flowers, and a playground for children.
It’s a great place for an afternoon walk, but I wouldn’t list this as one of the best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya, especially if you’re pressed for time.
The entrance fee is 300 LKR ($1.50).
12. Hike to World’s End in Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains National Park is a vast, open park situated 30 km outside of Nuwara Eliya.
It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Nuwara Eliya and is home to many wild animals and spectacular viewpoints from World’s End.
Whilst most hikes in Sri Lanka are free, Hortons Plain will burn a hole in your pocket. If you’re on a backpacker budget, you’ll want to give World’s End a skip too.
There is no public transport going to Horton Plains, so you need to take a Tuk Tuk or van to get there. This will cost 4,500 LKR ($25) for the 1.5-hour trip.
You then need to cover the entrance fee into Horton Plains National Park. This is quite complicated as you pay for your fee, your guides, the vehicle, and tax. This works out to more than 4 000 LKR ($23) per person.
Top tip: If you’re planning on spending a few days in hill country, skip Hortons Plains and go hiking to Ella Rock which is a free and easy trail to access in Ella.
13. Enjoy cheap drinks at The Pub, Nuwara Eliya
Some people love it, others not so much! But The Pub is one of the best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya.
The beers are cheap, 360 LKR ($2), and the food is absolutely delicious!
It’s a spot where all the locals go, so if you’re looking to escape the cold night and warm yourself up with some comfort food, head straight to The Pub in Nuwara Eliya.
14. Check out Seetha Amman Temple
This Hindu temple is situated just outside of Nuwara Eliya, close to Hakgala Botanical Gardens.
It’s absolutely stunning, with intricate carvings and bright colors.
15. Visit Lover’s Leap Waterfall
Lover’s Leap Waterfall is one of the most famous places to see in Nuwara Eliya.
The falls are accessed via a 500 m trail from Pedro Tea Estate.
White Lover’s Leap is not as impressive as the other waterfalls in Nuwara Eliya, it is a gorgeous trail through tea plantations and a worthy addition to your Nuwara Eliya itinerary if you have the time.
16. Enjoy the views from Moon Plains
Moon Plains offers one of the best Nuwara Eliya viewpoints for tourists.
What was once a dumpsite has since been transformed into a gorgeous attraction for sightseeing. Moon Plains boasts a climb to Mini World’s End which offers spectacular panoramic views.
You’ll need to book a jeep ride from the entrance to Moon Plains, and this can be done upon arrival.
17. Go birdwatching at Galways Land National Park
5 minutes from Nuwara Eliya lies a small national park with a unique ecosystem called Galways Land National Park.
It’s popular amongst birdwatchers, but other travelers may find this slightly underwhelming.
18. Hike Single Tree Hill
This is one of the most beautiful places in Nuwara Eliya, especially at sunrise.
The hike to the top of Single Tree Hill takes 90 minutes, and you’re rewarded with sprawling views of tea plantations and Nuwara Eliya town.
Find it here.
19. Visit Hakgala Botanic Gardens
These gardens are the second-largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka.
Hakgala showcases an impressive collection of exotic and indigenous plant species, including roses, orchids, ferns, and an enchanting avenue of towering conifers.
Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya
- Luxury: Oliphant Boutique Villa is luxury at its finest, with beautiful gardens and impeccable furnishings.
- Mid Range: The Ramp is centrally located and features comfortable rooms and a delicious breakfast.
- Budget: Pigeons Nest may not be in the center of town, but for this price, it’s a steal. Plus, it offers epic views from your private bedroom.
- Backpackers: Laughing Leopard Hostel is the most popular backpackers in Nuwara Eliya.
How to get to the best places in Nuwara Eliya
The best way to explore Nuwara Eliya is to get a Tuk Tuk and a driver for the day.
Tuk Tuks are easier to travel with because you’re able to stop as and when you please.
I paid 2 500 LKR ($15) for a 4-hour tour to the top attractions in Nuwara Eliya, including the waterfalls and tea plantations.
The best time to visit Nuwara Eliya
There is no best time to visit Nuwara Eliya. The weather is continuously cold and rainy, hence it’s such a great area for tea plantations.
The months of February and March are said to be the best times to visit Nuwara Eliya. April is the busiest time, and so you should avoid traveling to hill country during this time if you want to avoid the crowds
Top tip: When packing for Sri Lanka, remember to include warm clothes as Nuwara Eliya gets pretty cold!
Nuwara Eliya weather in October
October to December are the rainiest months in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. But don’t let this deter you from visiting Nuwara Eliya offseason.
I was in Hill Country in October. And yes, the weather wasn’t great!
But I still had a lovely time, and Nuwara Eliya was one of the highlights of my backpacking trip through Sri Lanka.
Make sure you see all the outdoor attractions in the morning, when the weather is generally clearer, and leave your afternoons open to enjoy indoor activities such as the high tea, pubs crawling, or snuggling close to the fire.
How to get to Nuwara Eliya
You can either take the train or bus to Nuwara Eliya.
Train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
There is no train station in Nuwara Eliya town itself.
To get to Nuwara Eliya from Kandy, you need to get off at the Nanu Oya train station, which is a 15-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya.
This train ride takes 4 hours from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya.
If you’re going in the opposite direction (from Ella to Nuwara Eliya), the train ride will take 2.5 hours, and you’ll also get off at Nanu Oya train station.
Bus from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya
If you’re coming from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya, the easiest way is via public buses. But this isn’t the preferred option as you’ll miss the scenic train ride.
How many days do you need in Nuwara Eliya
Depending on your arrival time, I’d recommend you spend 2 days in Nuwara Eliya. This will give you enough time to see the best places without being too rushed.
Is Nuwara Eliya worth visiting
Yes, it is! The landscapes are gorgeous, and it’s not as busy as the rest of Sri Lanka.
About Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya sits at 1 889 m and is nestled high away in the mountains of hill country.
Its cooler temperatures provide optimal conditions for tea plantations, leaving the countryside covered with lush green fields that run as far as the eyes can see.
There are lots of places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. While the tea plantations are the highlight, don’t miss out on the other things to do in the area.
Nuwara Eliya is otherwise known as “Little England,” as there are colonial-styled buildings dotted all over the town.
This village was once a popular vacation destination for British settlers who would visit Nuwara Eliya and enjoy some downtime among the mountains.
Nuwara Eliya or Ella? Or both!
After your visit to Nuwara Eliya, your next destination will either be Ella (if you’re coming from Kandy) or Hatton (if you’re coming from the south).
If you’re torn between Nuwara Eliya or Ella, why not do both!
You don’t need more than 2 days in Ella and 2 days in Nuwara Eliya.
I’d advise that you visit Nuwara Eliya instead of Kandy (you can read my Kandy guide here).
And if you have an additional day or two, include a trip to Sigiriya to hike Pidurangala Rock before or after Nuwara Eliya.
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