Guide to All the Things You Must Do in Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is often given the nickname of “Sri Lanka’s Little England”. The town was established by the British in the 19th century and its houses architecture resemble some English cottages. Thanks to its location in a valley just below Mount Pedro, which is the highest peak of Sri Lanka at 2524m, the climate is cooler and perfect for tea production. Nuwara Eliya brings the much needed relief from the hot and humid lowlands. It allows the visitors to wander through countless tea plantations and admire some astonishing views. Discover is this guide all the best things you should do when you visit Nuwara Eliya.
- Hike in the Tea Plantations
- Horton Plains & World’s End
- Hike Adam’s Peak
- Getting to Nuwara Eliya
- Where to Eat
- Where to Stay
Hike in the Tea Plantations
Sri Lanka is the 2nd biggest tea exporter in the world and we can bet that at least once in your life you drank a tea that was produced right here. Wandering through the lush green tea plantations is one of the most interesting things to do. Pay attention on how each leaf is carefully plugged all day by incredible women with baskets attached to their heads.
The most popular hike (2km) leads southwest to Single Tree Hill and offers panoramic views of Nuwara Eliya. If 2km is too short for you, walk further past the Single Tree Hill through the tea plantations all the way to the Sri Lanka’s highest located village of Shantipura. Later on continue past the village to the famous view point at Uda Radella facing Adam’s Peak.
You can do both of this hikes alone. But make sure to ask your hotel for directions, otherwise hire a guide in Nuwara Eliya.
↬ TIP : An alternative to hiking is asking your hotel to arrange a tuk-tuk for a full day trip around tea plantations. It would usually include a trip to a tea factory, where you can see the process of tea making as well as taste different kinds of teas.
Wander around the Town
At the end of the day go for a drink at the Hill Club or Grand Hotel. Those elegant, colonial-era hotels have colourful flower gardens and great views.
Day Trip to Horton Plains National Park & Hike to the World’s End.
Next on this guide is a really cool day trip to do from Nuwara Eliya you shouldn’t miss. Wake up early and drive to Farr Inn (Horton Plains Information Centre and Park Office).
It’s best to arrive at Hortons Plains by 7 AM to have plenty of time to reach the World’s End by 10AM.
You don’t need a guide to do this cool hike, but make sure to stay on the marked trails. To not come back the same way follow the Loop Trail. Here’s the google itinerary:
The full Loop Trail is a 9 km hike and depending on how fast you walk, it can be completed in around 4 hours. There are multiple stops on the way you shouldn’t miss (we’ve marked them on the map above):
- Mini World’s End, a big drop of 300m offers excellent views
- The Great World’s End, stunning drop of more than 880 m. On a clear day you can see as far as the south coast from here.
- Baker’s Falls, a 20 m high beautiful falls that can be seen from a viewing platform
- Chimney Pool, a man-made dam.
Getting to Horton Plains
There is no public transportation to Horton Plains. Ask your hotel to arrange a car with a driver. The driver will wait for you and take you back to Nuwara Eliya. The cost of hiring a car is around 4000 LRK – 20 EUR. Alternatively take a tuk-tuk for around 3000 LRK – 15 EUR. The drive from Nuwara Eliya takes a bit more than an hour.
The Entrance Ticket
The entrance ticket to Horton Plains is rather expensive as there is also extra service charge and tax. You must also pay for your driver and the vehicle to wait in the parking lot.
The entrance fee adds up to around 3100 LRK (15,5 EUR) per person (not counting the driver and vehicle that would cost around 185 LRK extra (1 EUR).
Overall its not a cheap adventure to do for those who travel on a budget.
It is not advised to do this hike with bad weather conditions. Parts of the hike can flood making it dangerous. Make sure to check the weather in advance and go only if its dry and sunny.
What to Bring
- Hiking boots are advised but on a sunny day you should be fine wearing sneakers. Take a warm jacket as the mornings are very chilly (8 degrees). Bring also sunscreen and a hat as the sun gets strong later in the day.
- Bring plenty of water. We highly advise anyone to purchase The Grayl Bottle, as it’s extremely useful during the hikes (and not only). You can pack some fruits and sandwiches and have a picnic-style breakfast at the edge of the Worlds End, mid-way through the hike.
Hike Adam’s Peak for Sunrise
Finally in our Nuwara Eliya guide: Adam’s Peak.
If you love hiking and are up for bigger adventure, extend your stay in this area by traveling to Dalhousie and hike Adam’s Peak. (Not to confound with Little Adam’s Peak in Ella)
This 2243m mountain is known as Sacred Footprint, because of the rock formations. Buddhist believe it is an imprint of Buddha’s foot, Hindus associate it with Shiva, Muslims with Adam and Christians with St Thomas.
Arrive in Dalhousie the day before as you want to start the hike at 2 AM to reach the peak for sunrise. The trek is a combination of hiking and stone steps (around 5500 steps). It takes around 3 hours to reach the top and 2 hours to walk down. As its a sacred site, if you arrive between December and May (the pilgrimage season) you will probably be hiking with many other pilgrims. During that time you don’t need a guide, as the path up is illuminated. Outside of this period, it’s better to hire one as the way up in complete darkness can be dangerous and scary. ?
On the top of the summit, the Sacred Footprint lies under a shelter. Most likely you’ll see people praying around it. The sunrise views from the top are breathtaking and absolutely worth the climb.
↬ TIP : You should be in good condition to do this hike, especially because of the many steps which makes it hard on the legs and knees.
How to get there
The closest train station to Dalhousie is Hatton. You can arrive here from Nanu Oya (Nuwara Eliya), there are 5 trains daily and it takes about 1h- 1.30h train ride. You can check the time table here.
From Hatton the cheapest way to Dalhousie is by bus, otherwise you can get a tuk-tuk. It’s another hour ride.
After the hike, breakfast & back at your hotel, hop on the 11AM bus to Hatton and continue your Sri Lanka travel route.
What to Bring
Wear comfortable shoes, like trainers or sneakers and make sure to take a warmer jacket as night will be very cold. Pack a rain coat just in case. Take a sunscreen and a hat as the sun gets strong very early in the day. Bring plenty of water and some energy snacks. You should be back in the town for breakfast so you don’t need to pack more food.
Getting to Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is located between Kandy and Ella, half way of the Word’s Most Beautiful Train Ride. Therefor, the easiest way to get to there is to arrive by train. There are multiple trains departing daily from either Kandy or Ella. The ride takes 3-4h and ticket costs less than 1 EUR.
Getting around Nuwara Eliya
The town itself is very small so you can walk around most of the sites. You can visit the tea plantations on foot as well.
Otherwise, the best way is to hire a tuk-tuk to drive around.
Where to eat
Restaurant GURU is a beautiful restaurant serving authentic Sri Lankan and Western cuisine. Perfect for a romantic night out.
Themparadu is a centrally located restaurant serving great traditional Sri Lankan dishes. Try the kottu.
Tea Lounge is a lovely lounge located in The Grand Hotel. It’s a nice place to have an afternoon tea.
Salmiya Italian Restaurant the best Italian food in town.
Where to stay
There are many choices of beautiful hotels on booking.com for Nuwara Eliya.