Ella is a must-visit during your trip through Sri Lanka. Not only because this is the starting or ending point of the world-famous train journey but also because the scenery is breathtaking. From viewpoint hikes, jungle, giant waterfalls to scooter rides through the tea plantations. It’s all possible here.
The town is also known for its fine climate and numerous hip hotspots. Fancy a poké bowl or a trendy oat Latté. Fat chance you can score it here. Unlike the crowded and chaotic cities like Kandy, Negombo and Colombo, Ella has a relaxed atmosphere. This is where you come to unwind and take in nature.
In this article
- To do
- Travel time
- Practical information
- The nicest accommodations
- How do I get there?
- Our opinion
What to do in Ella
Set aside a few days for Ella because you won’t get bored here easily. It is one of our favorite destinations during our trip. In fact, this area is greener than green! It is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you do so by train, scooter or on foot. These are our favorite to do’s in Ella.
#1 The hike to Little Adam’s Peak
Besides the hefty hike Adam’s Peak, you also have its little brother in Ella Little Adams Peak. From Ella, you hike to the base of the mountain in about half an hour. From here, it is about another half-hour hike to the summit. The hike is super easy, but certainly no less spectacular. The view at the top is an absolute gem. Little Adams Peak consists of a beautiful ridge with three bright green peaks. Here you have a panoramic view of Ella and its beautiful surroundings.
You can do the hike any time of the day and it costs absolutely nothing else. However, during sunrise and sunset, the view is even more beautiful. So should you have the chance, we recommend that you take in this moment anyway.
#2 The famous Nine Arch Bridge
Chances are pretty good that during your search for tips for Sri Lanka, you saw a picture of the Nine Arch Bridge pass by. Not surprisingly, because this bridge is truly a picture too. Also called the bridge in the sky, the railroad bridge is famous for its beautiful location in the middle of the jungle and giant arches.
Because it is one of Sri Lanka’s most famous sights, unfortunately you are not alone. The bridge is always well occupied, or you have to be there very early. Despite the crowds, don’t miss this place.
If you want a nice photo of the train, you should check the departure and arrival times in advance.
#3 Rent a scooter and ride between tea fields
Breathtaking green tea fields abound in Ella. Therefore, it is definitely recommended to rent a scooter for a day and explore the area. If you find a scooter just a little too exciting, you can of course book a day trip with a tuktuk driver. Also make a stop at the famous Lipton’s Seat for spectacular views. This is where Thomas Lipton used to sit to admire his tea fields.
#4 Train journey from Ella to Kandy
The iconic journey from Kandy to Ella (or vice versa) should definitely not be missed during your trip. This 8-hour drive takes you right through the jungle and past the most magnificent tea fields. It’s complete chaos and you sometimes don’t know what you’re seeing. But that is precisely what makes this train trip so special and unique!
Tip! Book a ticket a few days in advance so you can be sure of a seat.
#4 Cooking course
Sri Lankan Cuisine is amazing. Do you want to be able to make such delicious curries at home? Then book a cooking class.
- Visit Ravana waterfall
- Visit Diyaluma waterfall
- Flying Ravana zip line for daredevils
- Climb Ella Rock
Hotspots & food in Ella
- Cafe Chill
- Jade Green Tea Center & Restaurant
- Matey Hut
- AK Ristoro
- Rose Cabin Mexican Restaurant
- Adam’s Breeze
Best time to travel to Ella
The best travel time to visit Ella in Sri Lanka is from January to March and possibly in December. During this period there is less chance of precipitation and the average around 28°C – 30°C degrees.
Transportation in Ella
Many sights can be visited on foot or easily by tuktuk. If you want to see more of the area, we definitely recommend renting a scooter to spend a day cruising around.
Which budget do i need in Ella?
Ella is a very nice budget destination. On a small budget, you can get by just fine here. In total we made €159.13 in 3.5 days, which is a daily budget of about €25 p.p. With this we left little and ate a lot at some more expensive restaurants. So it can be even cheaper indeed.
Almost all sightseeing is free in Ella. This makes a huge difference in the budget.
|Exchange rate: 224.88
|Euro (Feb. 2022 price)
|Euro (price Oct. 2022)
Practical information about Ella
- While visiting waterfalls and viewpoints, bring some change. That way you can score a fresh coconut or some other goodies along the way.
- Fine walking shoes or sneakers are a must though
- A poncho or water-repellent jacket is not a luxury in Ella
- A cardigan or sweater can also be nice in the evening, as it can cool down considerably
- Train tickets and bus tickets can be arranged on site. This does not necessarily have to be done in advance and certainly not online. If you go by bus, you don’t pay until you get on.
- Negotiating the price is very common in Sri Lanka. So do this too!
- For a Tuktuk ride, you pay about 100 – 300 rupees (about 1.50 max). This is for a ride of about 5 – 15 minutes.
- They drive LEFT in Sri Lanka. Don’t forget lol.
- At most restaurants, you pay an additional 10% service charge. It is then still customary to tip 5 – 10% (depending on the food and services). Sounds maybe a lot but on average a dinner with drinks costs less than 10 euros incl. service charges. So that one euro you can well spare ;p
- Want to visit a temple? Then keep your clothes in mind. VOor both men and women, legs and shoulders covered. Buy a nice sarong somewhere and make sure you always have it with you.
What are nice places to stay in Ella?
From hip hostel, luxury villas to charming homestays. In Ella, you have it all. We booked all our accommodations on the day and that went fine. However, if you have your eye on a popular accommodation, we still recommend you book the accommodation in advance. Although the options in Ella and Sri Lanka are endless, many popular accommodations were quickly booked up.
By the way, you don’t have to worry if your accommodation is a bit further from the town. There are tuktuks everywhere and even a handy sort of uber app for tuktuks. This way you will always have found a ride to Ella quickly and spotlessly cheap.
- € = under 20 euros per night
- €€ = 20 – 30 euros per night
- €€€ = 30 – 50 euros per night
- €€€€ = 50 euros and more per night
How to get to Ella?
From Kandy or Nuwara Eliya, Ella is easily reached by train. The trip is fantastic and definitely not to be missed. The trip takes about 8 hours provided you book an overnight stay in Nuwara Eliya. From here it is about 3 – 4 hours to Ella.
We did the route just the other way around and came from The Kingdom Ecolodge, near Yala National Park. This section is also easily accessible by public transportation. You catch the bus first to Wellawaya and then transfer once to Ella. In total, it took us about 2 hours.
Prices for the bus and train are about 1 – 2 euros.
Prefer not to take public transportation? Then you can always arrange a cab or tuktuk. Still, we found public transportation in Sri Lanka to be top notch! It is well organized and spot on. Besides, it is also experience to travel like this and you don’t want to miss it anyway.