Ella is a gorgeous little town located in the misty mountains of Sri Lanka. It’s a favorite among tourists for a reason: it’s surrounded by many tea plantations, cloud forests and waterfalls. If you’re interested in hiking, Ella in Sri Lanka is your place to be.
Ella is situated in the Badulla District, around 200 kms away from Colombo and is elevated 1041 meters above sea level. Due to its elevation, it tends to be a bit cooler in Ella than in other parts of Sri Lanka.
This is what makes it an even better place to visit. Read on to find out everything you need to know about Ella in Sri Lanka.
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How to get to Ella in Sri Lanka?
There are several ways to reach this gorgeous mountain town:
You can take the famous train ride from Kandy to Ella. This will take approximately 7 hours. You can also make a stopover in Haputale or Nuwara Eliya on the way. You can buy a reserved ticket (1st, 2nd or 3rd class) or you can buy a ticket without a reserved seat (2nd or 3rd class coupe).
The train tickets are insanely cheap (for example: a 2nd class ticket costs 600 Rupees). Buying a third class ticket is your cheapest option and makes it possible to hang out of the doorways. Not just tourists ride this train, a lot of locals do too.
Another way to reach Ella is by car. You can drive to Ella or take a private taxi. We actually opted for a private taxi, as we wanted to save time and because we prefer the flexibility of being able to stop whenever we want to. We took the taxi from Kandy to Ella, which cost us around 12000 Sri Lankan Rupees.
During the journey we made a stop en route to enjoy the gorgeous Ramboda Falls. I can highly recommend doing this, as they’re very easy to visit.
After walking down hill for a couple of hundred meters, you will arrive at a restaurant/hotel where you can get access to the falls for 100 Sri Lankan Rupees per person.
Eventually the journey from Kandy to Ella, including a stop at the Ramboda Falls, took us around 5 hours in total.
Is Ella in Sri Lanka worth visiting?
Ella in Sri Lanka is definitely worth visiting. Even though the main street of Ella might be a bit touristic, the surroundings of Ella are too beautiful to be missed!
There are so many magnificent waterfalls to explore. The mountain area is very lush and green and you will see monkeys swinging by in the trees.
How many days in Ella in Sri Lanka?
Spend at least 3 days in Ella, Sri Lanka. There are enough things to do here to keep you occupied. If you absolutely love nature, waterfalls and lush greenery, perhaps spend a little longer in Ella (around 3 to 5 days).
Where to stay in Ella in Sri Lanka?
There are a lot of hotels and guesthouses in Ella. There are so many that it might feel a little overwhelming to eventually choose where to stay. I know that I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw the amount of places to stay at.
That’s why I highly recommend staying at one of the following places in Ella, Sri Lanka:
Arawe Retreat: for a unique nature experience
A place I really recommend staying at is Arawe Retreat. This retreat brings you back with nature. It’s located 400 meters away from the centre of Ella.
Besides, it only takes twenty minutes from here to walk to the Nine-Arch Bridge. For more information about this authentic stay and its latest prices click here.
Misty Peak View: great value for money
This accommodation has incredible views, kind hosts and delicious breakfast is included in their price. Overall, staying at Misty Peak View is a great value for money. Click here if you’re interested in their latest prices.
Aloft View: for gorgeous views
I cannot recommend this place enough. The hosts are some of the kindest people we have met while traveling in Sri Lanka. You can literally watch the sunrise from your bed which is indescribable.
It’s a little bit further from the main street of Ella, which makes it an even better option as you’re more in tune with nature here. The view from the balcony is absolutely amazing.
Besides, breakfast is included. For more information and the latest prices, click here.
What to do in Ella in Sri Lanka?
There are many great things to do during your stay in Ella. A few of them I highly recommend doing are:
Visit Ravana Falls
The Ravana Falls are worth visiting and luckily they are very easy to visit. A tuktuk from Aloft view in Ella only cost us 1000 Sri Lankan Rupees (around 2.5 Euros). It took us around 10 to 15 minutes to get to the falls from our accommodation.
The falls are located next to the road, so you won’t have to hike or climb in order to reach the waterfall. There are many cheeky monkeys in the trees and on the road near the waterfall. I would refrain from interacting with them, as they can steal your belongings.
Climb to Ella Rock
The climb to Ella Rock is ideal for people who love hiking. It takes around 4 to 5 hours in total to climb Ella Rock and back. The hike is around a 10km round trip. If you prefer a shorter hike, opt for Little Adam’s Peak instead. Don’t forget to bring enough water on your hike.
Go to Nine Arch Bridge
Also known as the Bridge in the Sky, the Nine Arch Bridge is a must visit when in Ella. It’s a prime example of colonial-era railway construction in Sri Lanka.
The Nine Arch Bride is a popular attraction in Ella and it’s not difficult to see why. The bridge is majestic and set in a wonderful scenery surrounded by lush greenery.
There are still trains that run across this bridge. Ask a local for the exact time the train will pass on the day you’re there. You can get to the Nine Arch Bridge by hiring a tuktuk or by walking for around forty minutes from Ella town.
Hike Little Adam’s Peak for sunset
This is one of the easiest hikes to do in Sri Lanka. It only takes around half an hour to hike up to Little Adam’s Peak. Despite the short hike, the views of the valleys are breathtaking.
The best time to start hiking to Little Adam’s Peak is early in the morning or early in the evening.
Visit Lipton’s Seat
Lipton’s Seat indeed refers to Lipton Tea! Lipton’s Seat is a view point overlooking a historic tea estate. The Scottish tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton used to sit here to overlook his tea plantations.
It would be best to visit Lipton’s Seat for sunrise. After the morning, you might encounter misty clouds like we did.
The entrance fee for foreigners is 1000 Sri Lankan Rupees per person and 100 Sri Lankan Rupees per vehicle. You can either walk to Liptons Seat or you can hire a car, tuktuk or scooter.
The drive from Haputale is a bit rusty and it takes around one hour to reach the top. We took a tuktuk from Ella to visit Liptons Seat and the Diyaluma Falls and back and this cost us 12000 Sri Lankan Rupees in total.
Swim in the Diyaluma Falls
Diyaluma Falls is one of the most captivating waterfalls in Sri Lanka. It’s actually the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka (and number 619 in the world). It’s situated approximately 30 kms south of Ella.
You can hire a guide for 2000-3000 Sri Lankan Rupees to bring you to the different layers of the falls. He will first take a short cut through the jungle to get to the upper part of the falls. This took us 30 minutes. We hired a guide just in case and we’re glad we did, as it was a tad difficult to find the beginning of the track.
You can jump off the upper layer of the waterfall if you want. The 220-meter high waterfall is really beautiful and i highly recommend a visit. Especially the second layer of the Diyaluma Falls is incredible.
Swimming here felt like being in heaven on earth. Visiting Diyaluma Falls definitely was one of the most memorable things we did in Sri Lanka.
Where to eat and drink in Ella in Sri Lanka?
There are many cafes and restaurants in Ella. Something you would not immediately expect of such a small mountain village. Here are some of my top recommendations on where to eat and drink in Ella, Sri Lanka:
Rainbow Cafe for smoothie bowls
Rainbow Cafe is a popular and trendy cafe in Ella to visit. It’s the ideal place to pop in to have a smoothie bowl as lunch or breakfast.
Bees Honey Cookery for lunch with amazing scenery
This place is one of the places that was a bit more difficult to find. Even for the tuktuk driver it was a mysterious place to visit. I can reassure you though, Bees Honey Cookery is a real hidden gem. It was one of my favorite places in Ella in Sri Lanka.
The restaurant is owned by two sisters, who are really kind and even give cooking lessons. The husband of one of the sisters actually works in one of the fields (when you see the view you will understand) and delivers fresh ingredients to the restaurant.
White Rabbit for delicious dinner
The White Rabbit is an excellent place to have dinner at while you’re in Ella. Try the delicious eggplant curry or the hibiscus-lime iced tea.
The restaurant is located just past the tunnel at the end of the main street in Ella. It feels a bit more sophisticated than other places in the area. Therefore, I highly recommend eating at the wonderful White Rabbit at least once during your stay here.
Chill Cafe for great food and cocktails
At first I was a bit hesitant about going to Chill Cafe, as I saw many tourists sitting there. After traveling in Kandy and only seeing 4 tourists in total, I wasn’t used to seeing so many tourists.
Eventually we decided to give it a go after all, which resulted in us going there every single day for the rest of our stay.
Especially the upstairs area with the open bar is a really nice place to spend your evenings. They have delicious high-quality food and they serve great cocktails as well. Besides, the staff is very kind and attentive!
I highly recommend spending at least one evening upstairs at Chill Cafe during your time in Ella, Sri Lanka.
Ella is a heavenly mountain town located in the middle of Sri Lanka. Take the scenic train here from Kandy or simply take a private taxi and make a stop at Ramboda Falls on your way here. Spend at least 3 days here to enjoy all that Ella has to offer.
Swim in waterfalls, climb mountains, observe the monkeys from a far, take in the lush views and relax at the many cafes. Make sure to visit Ella during your travels in Sri Lanka.
Have you ever been to Ella in Sri Lanka? Or are you thinking of going there any time soon? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Away with Danae
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