Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka is famous for its impressive mountainsides, delicious tea, and impressive waterfalls. During our month stay in Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya became one of our favorite places! When we were doing research on things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka we found very little information online. Because of this, we almost skipped it! I am SO glad we didn’t! But that’s when I knew I had to bring you the 10 best things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka!
Where is Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka?
Nuwara Eliya is a small mountain town located in the middle of Sri Lanka, between Kandy and Ella. This town is located 5,604 feet (1,868 meters) above sea level and is the coldest region in the country! In the wintertime, Nuwara Eliya stays a brisk 40-65 degrees F (7-18 degrees Celsius) and in the summertime comes up to about 70 degrees (21 Celsius). Because of the temperate climate, Nuwara Eliya is beautiful to visit all year round!
How to Get to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
The most popular way to get to Nuwara Eliya is to take the train from Kandy. This is a common stop for travelers looking to do the train journey from Kandy to Ella. A train ride that has a reputation for being the most beautiful in the world! For those of you wondering whether it is worth stopping in Nuwara Eliya, the answer is absolute yes! But I only recommend it if you have the ability to leave the center of the city and explore some of the waterfalls on the outskirts of town. There are tons of amazing things to do in Nuwara Eliya, and I actually preferred it to Ella!
Another way to get to Nuwara Eliya is by motorbiking or renting a Tuk Tuk from Kandy or Ella.
Now, I will warn you…
We took a motorbike and used it to go around the country, but had way too much luggage to make it a comfortable trip. If you have tons of belongings I would recommend you take a tuk-tuk instead of a motorbike. But if you’re the adventurous type, and you like to be on two wheels, my husband and I enjoyed the wind going through our hair on the bike! It also gave us the unique opportunity to stop at the pretty spots along the way.
Lastly, if you’re not into taking trains, you can take a bus from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. The cost will run you a bit more than the train, but you will have a more comfortable seating arrangement!
If you’re Short on Time…
You can see everything in Nuwara Eliya in just a day. So if you’re very short on time, it might be best for you to take a day trip from Kandy. This one shows you all of Nuwara Eliya’s highlights while taking care of transportation, entrance fees, and food!
Where to Stay in Nuwara Eliya, Lanka
Luxurious Option: The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
The Grand Hotel is hands-down the BEST hotel in Nuwara Eliya! Beyond having an amazing location in the English Quarter, the rooms inside look and feel like English royalty. The moment you want into their grand lobby and experience their regal style, you’ll understand why this is the most popular hotel in the area. The location of this hotel is perfect, being just a 5-minute walk from Victoria Park, the English Quarter, and the Grand Indian restaurant! If you want to stay at the most luxurious property in Nuwara Eliya (that is still under $200 a night) this is the hotel for you.
Mid Level Option: Galway Heights Hotel in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
The Galway Heights hotel is another amazing hotel in Nuwara Eliya that caters to families. The inside design is much more modern than the Grand Hotel but still boasts luxurious amenities at a budget-friendly price. The hotel is perfectly situated on the banks of Lake Gregory where you can hope on a swan boat or jet ski and have fun in the water! This hotel is a great option for those of you who want affordable luxury in an amazing location!
Budget Option: Siril Guest House
Staying at Siril Guesthouse was an amazing experience. As digital nomads, there were a few things that were important to us:
- Access to wifi
- Good food nearby
- Proximity to the town center
- Comfy rooms
Related: Sri Lanka for Digital Nomads 2020
Siril guest house blew us away in each respect. Internet is very hard to come by in Sri Lanka, but Siril guest house was able to get us 5MBPS most of our visit there. The private room we stayed in had a nice bathroom with a HOT shower, which is surprisingly hard to come by in Sri Lanka. We went in January when the weather up in Nuwara Eliya was in the mid-40s (Fahrenheit), so having a thick comforter made our stay extra comfortable. We loved that the owner’s mom was the resident cook. Her rice and curry is still one of the best I had my entire time in Sri Lanka.
10 Amazing Things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Go to the Damro Tea Plantation
As you’re approaching Nuwara Eliya whether, by vehicle, Tuk Tuk, or train, you will see Nuwara Eliya’s famous rolling tea hills. The Damro tea factory is the largest tea plantation in Sri Lanka covering more than 12,300 acres and is the most well known! Every day, from 8:30 AM- 6 PM the Damro tea factory runs a free tour of its facilities. Here you can see the entire tea making process!
As you walk in, you’ll see people picking the tea from the bushes. Afterward, you will see where and how the tea is dried! Lastly, you’ll watch the fermentation, separating, and packaging process! At the end of the tour, which takes about 15 minutes, you’ll be able to enjoy a free fresh cup of tea. Don’t forget to order a piece of cake, made in house, and stroll through the gift shop so you can bring some fresh tea back home with you. The Damro Tea plantation is definitely an amazing thing to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
Visit Ramboda Waterfall
Ramboda waterfall is just outside of Nuwara Eliya and is a sight to see! If you’re on the way from Kandy, you’ll pass this waterfall and the dozens of tourists visiting it! The waterfall is actually 321 ft (109 meters) tall and is the 11th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. It’s completely free to visit and accessible by motorbike, tuk-tuk, or car. You will find many people bathing in the falls small pools, and posing for beautiful pictures! Ramboda Waterfall is definitely one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
I do have a warning for my adventurous folks out there. If you look up Ramboda waterfall on Google Maps, it will take you up a mountain, or a very dilapidated road for a long time. When you make it to the top, you’re supposed to have an incredible view of the waterfall, however, we almost broke our motorbike in the process because the road was so bad. If you’re going to go, either rent a dirt bike or hire a tuk-tuk to take you to the top.
Eat at Thuruliya Restaurant
Thuruliya hotel and restaurant is in between Ramboda waterfall and the Damro Tea Plantation. This beautiful restaurant is located on a viewpoint of the moon hills of Nuwara Eliya. If you order a coffee for just 100 LKR ( 0.80 USD), you can sit and bask in the amazing views of the river, Puna Ella Waterfall, and the top of Ramboda Waterfall. Beyond the amazing views, the food at Thuruliya is delicious! Order the Vegetarian rice and curry and your taste buds will be delighted! We easily spent an additional hour at this restaurant listening to the running waterfalls and taking in the scenery.
You also have the option to stay here if you wanted to explore this area more thoroughly, but I do remember it being quite a bit more expensive than staying in Nuwara Eliya town center.
Find Puna Ella Waterfall
Puna Ella Waterfall is visible from Thuruliya restaurant but is also accessible by hiking. For the most part, you’ll need a local guide to take you here because the path is hard to find, and is quite steep. But there is nothing like standing at the bottom of a rushing, powerful waterfall to show you the power of nature! The waterfall is also known as Lover’s Leap waterfall because a couple allegedly ended their lives while holding hands from the top. Puna Ella waterfall is one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya because its beauty can be seen from the road, and experienced up close and in person. You won’t want to miss this!
Drive Through Nuwara Eliya’s Tea Country
One of our favorite things to do in Nuwara Eliya was simply driving around the mountainsides. As you drive, you can see small villages and tea plantations along the way! There were so many times we would stop on the side of the road because the view would take our breath away, or there was a waterfall! I recommend you pack a small bag with goodies and have a picnic at any one of the viewpoints! These views are a reason to come to Nuwara Eliya alone!
Visit Victoria Park
Victoria Park is located right in the heart of Nuwara Eliya town! This gorgeous park was made in memory of Queen Victoria and feels like you’re in England and not in Sri Lanka! Walking through the park you’ll see tons of beautiful trees, gardens, and fountains. With vast landscapes of grass, you’re able to sit under a tree and have a picnic or read a book. We saw tons of people enjoying the park’s nature, and others trying to take as many Instagram shots as they could! As you’re walking through, you’ll be amazed by how many languages you’ll hear around you. Nuwara Eliya had tourists from all around the world, and they seemed to all be concentrated at Victoria Park! You could tell immediately that this is one of the most popular things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
Walk Through Nuwara Eliya’s English Quarter
Sri Lanka, previously called Ceylon, used to be a British Colony. Though it’s been 50 years since the end of British rule, that history is still prevalent today. The area around Victoria Park and The Grand Hotel feels like you’re walking through a small town in England. The area boasts a British pub, traditional colonial architecture, and even a colonial grocery store! Decorated side streets, clean sidewalks, and well-maintained shrubbery make this one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
Take a Swan Boat Through Lake Gregory
Just a five-minute drive from the Nuwara Eliya town center, you will find the enormous Lake Gregory. In this lake, we saw locals and tourists alike engaging in watersports like Jet Skiing, swam boats, and even kayaking. Being surrounded by mountains while floating around in a gorgeous lake, is definitely a great way to spend the afternoon. Don’t want to get in the water? Pack a picnic and sit on the banks of the lake to enjoy one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
Climb Adam’s Peak
If you are into hiking or trekking, you cannot leave Sri Lanka without watching the sunrise from Adam’s Peak. Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain boasts incredible views of Nuwara Eliya’s tea country, as well as some gorgeous waterfalls along the way. There are several ways to get to the top of Adam’s peak. One trail has a flight of stairs that, although quite steep and crowded, is the easiest way up. The other most popular trail is more steep and rocky, but also more rewarding. On the way up, you’ll get to enjoy incredible waterfalls, quiet viewpoints, and be fully immersed in nature without all of the crowds. If you’re not a big hiker, but want to do this trek, going with a guide will make it easy! This guided trek takes you up the mountain, showing you secret viewpoints, and includes meals!
Eat at The Grand Indian
My goodness. If you have been traveling through Sri Lanka for a couple of weeks and can’t stand the thought of having another rice and curry, you HAVE to try this Indian restaurant. Located in the English Quarter right across from the Grand Hotel, you’ll find the Grand Indian. Priced moderately, you’ll be stuffed with absolutely incredible Indian food that rivals the real deal. We had a vegetarian Thali that was absolutely mind-blowing and about 800 LKR ($4 USD). If you’re looking to treat yo’ self, make sure you have their garlic naan. It is to die for!
How to Get Around Nuwara Eliya
Though most attractions in Nuwara Eliya are walkable, the best way to see the neighboring attractions is on wheels! Daniel and I thankfully had our own motorbike to take us around, but another amazing way to see all of the sights if with a local guide. This tour takes you to all of the places I mention on this list for less than $40 and even includes drinks and snacks!
Best Things to do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka Takeaways
Nuwara Eliya is easily the most beautiful mountain town we visited in Sri Lanka. With plenty of food options and fun activities nearby, it’s the perfect place in Sri Lanka to escape the coast. You can easily spend 3 days in Nuwara Eliya without getting bored, but if you’re on a time crunch you can see everything in Nuwara Eliya in two days. The activities we discussed in the post are great for backpackers, holiday-makers, and families alike, so no matter what you’re into, Nuwara Eliya has something for you!
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