Set amongst scenic mountains and lofty hills in the central highlands with a climate being chilly and misty, Nuwara Eliya will surely take your breath away.
It is located 167.5 km away from the busy city of Colombo; it may seem far but is a 4 hour drive that takes you on a journey through rolling green hills and cascading waterfalls.
It is one of the oldest established districts in the country to this day, founded by Sir Samuel Baker in 1846, and his legacy is still very much appreciated in the 21st century. He initiated the farming industry by introducing English vegetables which are still popular. The British then developed it as a hill station.
With English colonial buildings dotted all over town, the locals have adapted the name ‘Little England’, especially with the weather being very crisp and cool most of the time. Therefore it reminds tourists of England which is well known for the similar weather and temperature giving the English a taste of home.
Renowned for luscious tea plantations that attract locals and foreigners to an atmosphere of serenity surrounded by carpeted hills, with crisp fresh clean air – Nuwara Eliya is a drastic difference from the heavily polluted cities. It is a welcome change and distraction away from reality. There are several tea estates along with factories that produce enormous amounts of tea for distribution to the entire island as well as exporting around the world.
Aside from the breathtaking mountains and hills in the area, there are several breathtaking waterfalls that are absolutely majestic and stunning. From Baker’s falls which is named after Sir Samuel Baker as a tribute to him; Lover’s Leap that which was named after a legendry tale of an affair between a prince that fell in love with a damsel, therefore they bound their love forever by leaping to their death from the top of the fall.
Since Nuwara Eliya is one of the oldest cities in the country, it bears a rich background and history that has made it the place is has become now. It was originally discovered by John Davy in 1819. Over the last couple of centuries it has gradually evolved into one of the main hubs in the hill country, and a major tourist destination. The British Empire was the main reason behind the early development of Nuwara Eliya, with its colonial architecture and features which are still intact today, and the golf courses they established are still in popular use.
Sir Samuel Baker, a British explorer stumbled upon Nuwara Eliya and immediately fell in love with it, and despite him being a spirited wanderer, he ended up settling there for 8 years which he never expected to happen. He even went to the extent of cultivating a farm and growing various English vegetables and fruits, as well. He then proceeded to write a book about his adventures nature titled ‘Eight years wanderings in Ceylon’, which was originally published in 1855.
British planters made their way to Sri Lanka following the introduction of tea in 1867. Hence the tea industry flourished, being the main focus of every British planter. Railway Lines were extended into the highlands of Bandarawella, which served as a famous retreat for railway and planter employees.
How to Get There
From Airport to Nuwara Eliya
By Car – Travelling to Nuwara Eliya to from the Airport in Katunayake will take around 6 hours in total.
By Train – It will take approximately 8 hours, 18 minutes to reach Nuwara Eliya.
By Bus – Travelling by bus to Nuwara Eliya will take 8 hours, 14 minutes to get there.
From Colombo to Nuwera Eliya
By Car – The easiest way to travel to Nuwara Eliya would be by driving, which will take approximately 2 and half hours to get there.
By Bus – Travelling by bus will be extremely long and tiring as it will take around 7 hours, considering the traffic, too.
By Train – when it comes to travelling by train, it will take 6 hours and 16 minutes to reach.
From Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
By Car – Since Kandy is not that far from Nuwara Eliya, it takes only an hour and 18 minutes to reach.
From Yala to Nuwara Eliya
By Car – Driving to Nuwara Eliya from Yala will take approximately 4 and half hours to get there.
By Bus – Travelling by bus will be very exhausting because it will take 7 hours, 43 minutes to arrive there.
Since Nuwara Eliya is based in the hill country, it can be very cold and breezy. It has a subtropical highland climate, with no dry season and a monsoon like cloudy season. Temperatures can go down to 16°C. It can be very sunny during the day because of the high sun angle and chilly during the night.
Food and Drink
In Nuwara Eliya, there are plenty of cheap places to try out if on a budget, or lavish restaurants as well. Traditional rice and curry is available too, to get the real taste and experience of the Sri Lankan staple food.
For exquisite Indian food, the Grand Indian at the Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya is the place to go – with a huge spread of North Indian dishes including Tandoori roti to Naan of different types; it is an explosion of flavors that go together in perfect harmony. Everything is priced reasonably and the staff is always happy to help.
When it comes to authentic Thai food, the Grand Thai at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya is the most sought out restaurant. They provide you with a memorable dining experience you will not forget – with a vast amount of dishes ranging from sweet, salty and spicy. They feature the world famous dishes Tom Yum Soup and Pad Thai and plenty of other curries.
Nuwara Eliya Highlights
Lake Gregory – Lake Gregory was created in the heart of the town by British governor Sir William Gregory in 1873 making it one of the many historical locations in Nuwara Eliya.
Victoria Park – The Victoria Park is a public park and prominent tourist area. It was named after Queen Victoria to commemorate her 60th Jubilee Coronation in 1897. It is a great place to exhilarate in the stunning views of the surrounding hills.
Hakgala Botanical Gardens – The Hakgala Botanical Gardens is the second largest in Sri Lanka. It was firstly an experimental tea cultivation area and then was transformed into a garden which eventually became known for its orchid species and roses.
Pidurutalagala Mountain – The Pidurutalagala Mountain or Mount Pedro in English is the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka and is the only prominent peak in the whole island.
The Grand Hotel – Nuwara Eliya’s most renowned landmark hotel, built in 1891 with colonial architecture, which continues to retain the legacy of the 18th century today. It is bordered by beautiful perfectly manicured lawns and sensational gardens which takes your breath away.
Blue Field Tea Plantations and Factories – Walk among tea plantations and interact with tea pickers, learning the process of picking buds or leaves from the tea bushes that go into making the renowned Ceylon Tea.
Ambewella Farm – this dairy farm gives an experience of a difference in seeing cows roaming around in the fields and learning the process of milk production of many flavoured milks and cheese.
Adma Agro Strawberry Farm – A reputed strawberry farm that gives an insight into the cultivation of strawberries and products that would tantalize every taste bud.
Nuwara Eliya Horse Racing Course – The oldest and only horse racing course still in use in the country and is popular for hosting horse racing events in the seasonal month of April.
Nuwara Eliya Golf Club – The Nuwara Eliya Golf club was founded in 1889, and is one of the oldest golf clubs in Asia. It still retains the old colonial charm and has a 18 hole golf course. A popular and iconic place to visit in Nuwara Eliya.
The Holy Trinity Church – It is one of the oldest Anglican Churches in Nuwara Eliya which was visited by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Horton Plains National Park – Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Horton Plains National Park which is rich in biodiversity with endless species of flora and fauna and also a popular site for hiking in Sri Lanka.
Worlds End – A fundamental attraction at Horton Plains since it is a steep drop of 4000 feet which gives stunning views of the surrounding area.
Sri Baktha Hanuman Temple – This Hindu temple is devoted to the legend of Lord Hanuman during the Ramayana period, where there is a 40 foot large granite statue of him. It is believed that King Ravana hid Sitadevi in this place away from Lord Hanuman.
Seetha Amman Temple in Nuwara Eliya – This Hindu temple is dedicated to Sita which is wrapped in history for it was where Sita spent her days imprisoned by King Ravana and has foot imprints of Lord Hanuman.
St. Clair’s Falls Popularly known as the “Little Niagara of Sri Lanka”, the twin waterfalls of St. Clair’s are among the widest in Sri Lanka and the 20th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. It comprises two waterfalls; The Greater Fall (“Maha Ella”) and The Lesser Fall (“Kuda Ella”).
Devon Falls – This tiered 97 metre waterfall contains three drops. Ranked the 19th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, it is a glorious spectacle to behold.
Ramboda Falls – Ramboda falls is a stunning waterfall of 109 metres and is the 11th highest waterfall in the country. The drive around this falls is spectacular.
Baker’s Falls – Baker’s Falls is a distinguished waterfall in Nuwara Eliya for it was named after the British explorer, Samuel Baker in the 18th century. It is 20 metres tall which is not very high but indeed very beautiful with different views at different angles.
Mohini Falls – Mohini falls 30 metres in height and is said to resemble the flowing locks of a woman with a scenic view of beauty around.
Lover’s Leap Falls – This magnificent waterfall is popular for it is tied to a legendary tale of two lovers who had leapt to their death for love. It stands 30 metres tall and the access to this spot cuts across a tea estate which is a beautiful excursion.
Dunsinane Falls – A waterfall with an impressive height of 100 metres that lies between two tea plantations, the Dunsinane estate and the sheen estate.
Kolapathana Ella Waterfall – It’s located in the small village of Mandaramnuwara, and is one of the largest waterfalls in that area.
Bomburuella Waterfall – The widest waterfall in Sri Lanka since it comprises little waterfalls together.
Laxapana Falls – The Laxapana falls is the 8th highest waterfall in the country with a height of 126 metres.
Bambarakanda Ella Falls – The Highest waterfall in Sri Lanka cascading from a lush cliff falling 240 metres from Horton Plains into the Valawe River.
St. Benedicts Monastery – A colonial bungalow converted into a monastery with beautiful gardens retaining the old world charm.