Nuwara Eliya is a village like no other in Sri Lanka. This small town in the heart of the highlands is known as Little England of Sri Lanka, as this is the place where the British colonizers built their holiday houses. The location at 1900 meters above sea level makes the environment unique, with lush tea plantations and cooler temperatures. Exploring tea plantations is not the only thing to do in Nuwara Eliya. I recommend spending 2 days in the Nuwara Eliya district, as a part of your Sri Lanka itinerary. Here’s my selection of the best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya, plus a guide to the town on where to stay, eat, and how to get there.
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Nuwara Eliya is surrounded by beautiful tea fields.
Things to do in Nuwara Eliya
1. Visit one of the many tea plantations and factories
Nuwara Eliya is famous for its many tea plantations and factories, and visiting one can be very interesting. I recommend going to Damro Labookellie Tea Centre, a tea factory located about 30 minutes from Nuwara Eliya city center. At Damro’s you can take a walk through the tea plantations, go for a guided tour (5000 LKR/25 EUR) or try out their tea assortment in the shop.
Going to Damro Labookellie Tea Centre is easy. Either take a tuk-tuk or choose the budget version like me and take the bus. Look for one of the busses to Kandy, or ask one of the locals at the Nuwara Eliya main bus station. Make sure to tell the driver where you want to get off. The bus ride will cost you 100 LRK (50 cents). The bus ride takes you through a magnificent landscape, passing countless tea plantations.
Tips! Buying tea at Damro Labookellie Tea Centre is probably twice as expensive as in Nuwara Eliya town, so I would recommend you wait until you’re back.
Horton Plains National Park offer spectacular views of nearby mountain peaks.
2. Walk to the World’s End at Horton Plains National Park
Horton Plains is a national park located around 1 hour from Nuwara Eliya. Its high altitude (2100–2300 meters) makes nature unique, with montane grassland and cloud forest. Get up really early in the morning (leave Nuwara Eliya no later than 5.30 am) and get ready for a 4 km walk to the World’s End – the place where the mountain plateau comes to a sudden end with a stunning escarpment that plunges 880 m. The walk is 9,5 km in total and takes around 3 hours to complete. Besides the World’s End, you will also pass the stunning waterfall Baker’s Falls.
Ask your accommodation if they know a driver that can take you to Horton Plains. We paid 4000 LKR for both ways. Remember that there is an entrance fee to the national park. We paid 8000 LKR to get two adults, a guide, and a car past the entrance.
Tips! During mid-day, the view from World’s End is often obscured by mist. Go there early in the morning and be prepared for weather changes. If you are there on a clear morning, it will be really cold when you start walking and probably very warm at the end.
The impressive Lover’s Leap Waterfall in Nuwara Eliya.
3. Visit the impressive Lover’s Leap Waterfall
Lover’s Leap Waterfall is an impressive waterfall located 4 km from Nuwara Eliya city center. The path leading up to the waterfall is quite steep and bumpy. The easiest way to get there is to ask a tuk tuk driver to drive you to the starting point. It should cost you around 400 LKR from Nuwara Eliya center. From the starting point, you only have a couple of minutes walk to the waterfall.
Tips! Lover’s Leap Waterfall is the main water resource for Nuwara Eliya. Don’t take a swim or cool your feet in the water.
4. Take a walk in Victoria Park
Victoria Park is located at the center of Nuwara Eliya. This little green oasis is perfect for an afternoon stroll and getting a break from the noisy traffic. I was truly amazed by the giant trees inside this park. Bring a book and have a calm afternoon. The entrance fee is 300 LKR per person.
The post office in the center of Nuwara Eliya is the oldest building in the city.
5. Visit the old post office
The architecture in Nuwara Eliya is different from many other villages in Sri Lanka. Due to colonial conquests, Nuwara Eliya looks more European than Sri Lankan. The post office in the city center is one of the oldest buildings in the city and is worth a stopover.
Tips! You can make your own stamps here. A fun and unique way to decorate your postcards!
6. Chill around Lake Gregory
Lake Gregory is a big lake in southern Nuwara Eliya. Spend an afternoon strolling along the lake, relaxing and watching the boats.
Best restaurants in Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya doesn’t really offer a rich culinary culture. But if you are looking for good and cheap local food, then you should go to Remarko’s – located near the main bus station in Nuwara Eliya.
Want an even extremer budget option? There is usually a food market going on between Victoria Park and the bus station (see the approximate location on Google maps here!) where locals are gathered eating really cheap Sri Lankan food.
Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya
Booking.com offers plenty of accommodation options in Nuwara Eliya. I can highly recommend the homestay we stayed in – Nuwara Eliya Mountain View Home Stay. The family is some of the nicest people I have met, and the food is the best I have ever tried in Sri Lanka. If you ask them, you can help out with the cooking and learn how to make real Sri Lankan food. The homestay is located a 10–15-minute walk from the city center. The cost is 2500 LKR per night.
Best time to visit Nuwara Eliya
The summer (June–August) is the monsoon season in Nuwara Eliya. Otherwise, it should be fine to go. Keep in mind that Nuwara Eliya is located at a high altitude and is known to be the coldest area in Sri Lanka. When we were in Nuwara Eliya in January we had 5 degrees Celcius at night time. During the daytime, when the sun is up, it is still around 25 degrees.
How to get to Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is located in between Kandy and Ella and is the perfect stop while taking the world-famous Sri Lanka’s most beautiful train ride. This train ride is a must on your Sri Lanka trip! The ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya takes 4 hours and will cost you around 400 LKR. Keep in mind that the train ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is not as beautiful as the part from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. If you only want to take the train one way – save it for Nuwara Eliya–Ella. The train station near Nuwara Eliya is called Nanuoya.
Note: This train ride is very popular. Book your train ticket in advance.
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