Ella, Sri Lanka offers the very image of a dreamy, green country landscape that will mesmerize you with the things that it has to offer.
A small town in the Badulla district, that is rich in both flora and fauna, this hill country has spectacular places that will catch your eye and be in your memory for a lifetime. This also means that there is no shortage of things to do in Ella during your visit
Not only will you find our personal recommendations here, but also a planning guide to help you make the most of your visit.
Things to Do in Ella, Sri Lanka
Little Adam’s peak
If I say, Ella, anyone who has visited before will yell, ‘Little Adam’s Peak’. Yes, such is the popularity and beauty of this peak in Ella. It is a 15 minutes trek to make it to Adam’s peak.
There is a ridge too to walk along and reach there. The views from the top are just breathtaking. Sit there, enjoy your view, relax, have some food if you’ve brought and taken some Instagram- worthy pictures that you can flaunt later.
Are you a Tea lover? Then, you should know about the Lipton Ice Tea or Lipton Green Tea. Yes, it all started here in Ella! Sir Thomas Lipton was the owner of so many acres of tea plantations in Sri Lanka.
Lipton’s Seat is basically where Sir Lipton sat regularly to inspect and admire his whole tea empire. Go there and get that nostalgic experience from where your favorite tea originated.
At just 15 minutes diver from Ella is this awesome waterfall called Ravana. If you are in Ella and want to have a lazy day without traveling much, then go to Ravana waterfalls. Enjoy raw nature here, soak yourself and just laze around.
Nine Arch Bridge
The Nine Arch Bridge is an Instagrammer’s favorite spot. It is located halfway between the Ella and Demodora Railway station in Demodora. It has a huge British influence tag attached to it.
Researchers say that this bridge became famous because of its construction with Steel. Later, in World War 2, the steel was all used up for the war. So, Nine Arch Bridge in Ella was reconstructed with cement and bricks.
You can take a tuk-tuk to visit this place or can also walk the stony and muddy trail for a unique experience. Climb up even more to get the whole view of the bridge among lush, green tea gardens. Sip your hot tea as you admire the bridge and think of its history.
Looking for the spot that offers the best hiking in Ella? Then, head towards the Ella rock. Enjoy the most beautiful views that are completely unique in the whole of Sri Lanka.
If you choose to go in the foggy season, then it might be a bit of trouble for you to see the view but the hiking trail is amazing. This is a two-hour hike and so go prepared with the right clothes and shoes.
You can either take a guide to explain to you about the place or simply go without one to explore everything by yourself.
One of the most visited and the second highest waterfalls in Sri Lanka is Diyaluma Falls. Drive for an hour from Ella to reach this spectacular waterfall. In an hour, you would reach the foot of the waterfalls.
If you choose to spend more time, drive up for 30 minutes to catch the view of the waterfalls from the top. You can hike for 45 minutes from there to reach another waterfall that offers so many mind-blowing natural pools at various levels.
It has its own specialty for its views. If you have less time, then stop over at the foot of the falls. A glance at the splendid Diyaluma falls from the side of the main road. There are cute cafes near the falls where you can choose to eat, drink and relax.
Ella Spice Garden
Take a spice garden tour. Learn about the different spices that are available in Sri Lanka. You will know about the flavor as well as the medicinal importance of each spice that is grown there.
There is one more exciting thing that happens here. Are you interested in cooking? Take a cooking class at Ella Spice Garden. Sri Lankan food is known for its strong flavors of mouth- melting dishes.
Book a class in advance to make your trip hassle-free as the crowd to learn cooking here is more every day. At lunchtime, you can also have the meal that you have prepared in this place. How memorable would that be?
Take a train ride
If this is your first Asian trip, then you must try the train ride. You can travel most of Sri Lanka by train and experience the beautiful sights for a fraction of the price. From Kandy to Ella or vise versa, the journey on the train is worth everything.
This is one of the must-try things in Sri Lanka. The train goes via lushly open tea plantations and local landscapes that are a treat to your eyes. Interact with the locals on the train to know some interesting stuff about the places that you cross.
It takes about 4 hours and is definitely something that will last forever in your mind.
Explore the town side
This is something you can do at night time. Jump into some comfortable clothes and hit the roads of the town. The town is not very touristy and gives you the tinge of locals.
There are food good restaurants and bars in the town. Drinks are cheap and if you are lucky you would get cocktail deals by the night. Sip every drink and enjoy the live music at a bar in Ella.
Visit the Tea Plantations
Well, you will come across tea plantations on the whole Ella trip. Perhaps, you should stop over at one and go explore inside. Fences may be present. But, do not worry about them as the area is open to anyone unless there is a trespasser board.
Jump inside and meet the local women picking tea. Ask them to explain the variety of tea they grow there and whatever you want to know about the place. They are super kind and explain in detail everything about tea plantations in Ella.
Plan Your Trip to Ella
Where is Ella?
Ella, Sri Lanka is this beautiful little mountain town located approximately 120 miles from Colombo. With it being 1000 meters above sea level its a great escape to the coastal heat and get unforgettable mountain views.
Best time to visit
With Ella being over 1000 meters above sea level you have some drastic changes in the temperature throughout the day. They can fluctuate from around 90 degrees Fahrenheit to around 65 at night.
With this being said, the best times to visit Ella are June, July, and August. This is when you will see the least amount of rain and the warmest days.
How to get to Ella
This beautiful little town is most popularly accessed by train from Kandy. It’s one of the most beautiful train rides we have ever been on and a must not miss while traveling here.
It is very common that this train is booked out months in advance so if you are having trouble getting tickets there are other options to getting there. When we went the tickets were sold out so the only option we had was to go by van.
Being in Hikkaduwa at the time we decided instead of going all the way north we would actually go south. This is a different route most don’t take but to be honest it was an amazing choice.
The van ride only cost us 8800 LKR or 50 USD to go from Hikkaduwa to Ella. There was a catch we were also going to stop at the Udawalawe National park on the way and see all the beautiful wildlife Sri Lanka has.
We actually found this route to be cheaper and faster. Don’t worry when you get to Ella heading back to Kandy is easy and you only have to book the day before. Weird right? It’s a little secret we never knew about until we were put in that situation.
Where to Stay
Most of the time when we travel we are generally looking for hotels, bungalows or Airbnb’s with AC. Well in Ella with the temperature dropping so much at night we knew we wouldn’t need air conditioning.
If you are going to be out exploring most of the day it’s really not necessary but if you plan to relax during the day when it is hot we suggest getting AC.
Hotel City Grand Ella: This hotel has amazing ratings on not only room and service but food as well. We stayed right next to here and the view is incredible. With this being only a fan room it really comes at an affordable price of only $18 a night.
Ella Master Point Luxury Cottage: It is a full suit style room with everything you need including an amazing view, great breakfast, and great design. It’s more than big enough for two people to stay comfortably for as long as you will need. This place has a nightly rate of $50 USD and is a great option if you don’t mind spending a little extra.
Where to Eat
Ella may be a small town but that doesn’t mean there are fewer places to eat. This little town is full of amazing places to eat and drink. Our three favorites were:
- Downtown Rotti Hut: They have an amazing selection of local dishes and Rotti’s. This is a smaller place that stays very busy.
- 360 Ella: They have a large variety of dishes including western food. This was our favorite place to go when we stayed in Ella. The service was fast, the food was delicious and the place has a very relaxed feeling. Not to mention they have an amazing happy hour special.
- In Reincarnation: This was another one of our favorites with amazing Mexican food.
Getting Around Ella
Getting around Ella is very easy with the town being so small you can walk just about anywhere. If you don’t feel like walking there are a couple of other options.
- Renting a scooter in Ella: You can rent a scooter per day in Ella for around 1000 LKR or $5.66 USD. In most cases, if you ask someone on the side of the road for a scooter they will try and charge you 1500 LKR or $8.49 USD. This is the starting price and can always be negotiated down.
- Tuk-Tuk: This is how most people get around Ella when they are there. It’s super convenient and worry-free. Although this is not the cheapest option this may be the best option for you if you don’t feel comfortable riding a scooter. Riding in a Tuk-Tuk can range in cost depending on day, time or even how good of a mood your driver is in. Always make sure you are bargaining with them and trying to get the fairest price for both of you.
When we spent time in Ella we made sure to rent a scooter. I truly believe this is not only the cheapest option but the best option. Renting a scooter gives you the freedom to go where you want when you want.
With Ella being a beautiful mountain town you can easily spend the day exploring the amazing tea country. I do warn you that google maps doesn’t work best in the tea country so it’s best to make sure you don’t go too far from the main road.
About the Author
Jimmy & Tah, American and Thai Millennials, left their careers in the military and finance to become full-time travelers. They met in August 2015 in South Korea and kicked off traveling in September 2017. With only $4000 in their savings account, they started publishing their journey on how they live the life they have always dreamt of, being able to travel and work from wherever they choose ( as long as there are Wi-Fi and coffee ☕️).
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