High up into the misty Sri Lankan hill country, nestled between gushing waterfalls and rolling green hills, lies Ella: known amongst travelers as being the best hill station on the island. Unlike the bustling streets of Colombo and Kandy, the small town of Ella Sri Lanka has a very chilled backpacker vibe, that is sure to make you feel relaxed from the moment you arrive.
Almost every guesthouse or hotel in Ella Sri Lanka comes with a breathtaking view. Which makes it the perfect place to unwind from the stresses of travel. Once you’ve recharged your batteries, Ella has more than enough on offer to keep you occupied for a few days. Many of which won’t cost you a rupee!
Little Adams Peak
If hiking isn’t really your thing but you still want to see some incredible scenery, Little Adams Peak is the trek for you (and me). With a gentle incline and only a couple of steeper sections, this short hike can easily be done in trainers or sturdy sandals. The path is well-trodden and signposted. There’s no need for a guide unlike some of the other treks in the area.
A round trip including time for lots of picture taking will only take around 2 hours. Get up early for the opportunity to chat with the local tea workers on their way to work and to beat the mist which descends over the hills in the afternoon.
If Little Adam was a breeze and you want to tackle something a little more challenging then Ella Rock, with its views over Ella, Little Adam’s Peak, and Ella Gap, is one vantage point you don’t want to miss out on. This famous cliff is around 8km from the centre of town and around a 4 hour round trip (including plenty of photo ops). Finding the correct path towards the summit of this trek can be tricky, so using a guide is recommended. If you would rather go it alone make sure you get detailed directions, a map and a local phone number (for in case you get lost) from your guesthouse.
Nine Arch Bridge
After visiting Little Adams Peak, turn right heading up the road following the signs for the Nine Arch Bridge. It’s not the easiest route to follow coming from direction due to the signs not being very clear. Sometimes done intentionally by the local touts trying to get you in their shop. If you use an offline map such as maps.me it will be fairly easy to locate. If you don’t want to walk, you can also catch a ride in a tuk-tuk from Ella town.
For that iconic Instagram shot of the train coming over the bridge, make sure to check the train timetable in advance. Don’t expect it to be on time, though it often runs late. The best photo opportunities are either from the tea plantation below (with permission) or from the cafe above. To get back into Ella, you can follow the tracks towards Ella Train Station. It is around 3.5km from the bridge.
Did you know that Sri Lankan tea is some of the World’s best? It is all due to the altitude at which it is grown. If you love tea, or even if you don’t, a visit to one of the areas many tea factories is a must. Seeing the production process first hand really makes you appreciate the hard work that goes into your morning brew.
Tea picking is usually done early in the morning and depending on the time of year, you may need to arrive early to see the machines in action. If you’re visiting during the prime tea season, the machines will be running most of the day. The Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory runs tours daily every 30 minutes between 8am and 4pm. You can learn about the production process and of course, drink lots of tea.
How to get to Ella
Every traveller will tell you they hate travel days, but if you’re heading to Ella from Kandy or Nuwara Eliya, taking the train will be a journey you’ll never forget.
This route between Nuwara Eliya and Ella is considered one of the best in the world, and for good reason! Not only is the 8-hour ride super cheap, the epic views as the train slowly creeps up the hills will blow your mind!
Don’t go for the obvious option of 1st class. Not only will your photos all have to be taken through glass, the food and chai wallahs also aren’t allowed into the 1st class carriages. You’ll also be missing out on all the tasty snacks they offer in the 2nd and 3rd class.
Tickets for 1st and 2nd class reserved sell out quick but, you can book 2nd and 3rd class unreserved. Don’t get hung up on not reserving a seat though, the space in the open doorway is by far the best seat in the house.
When to visit Ella Sri Lanka
With its warm days and cool nights, the weather in Ella, Sri Lanka is quite perfect. It’s worth remembering that it can’t be that green without rain and you’ll need a waterproof jacket. The best time to visit Ella is from January until May.
Where to sleep
Ella has guesthouses to suit every budget. The Raveena Guest House is a great budget option that’s comfortable and has amazing views. If you’re craving some luxury there’s no place better in the area than 98 Acres Resort.
Where to eat
Café Chill – a great place to meet fellow travelers, have a beer and get your Western food fix.
Down Town Roti Hut – the best roti in town, perfect when for a snack on the go!
Adam’s Breeze – a super tasty Sri Lankan restaurant. Stop here on your way back from the Nine Arch Bridge or Little Adam’s Peak.
What sounds exciting to do in Ella Sri Lanka? Let me know in the comments below! Check out our other travel pieces here. Did you know I’m a travel agent? I can help you book the Sri Lankan vacation of your dreams! Head over to my travel agent page for more information.
Written by Aysha Frost – https://www.facebook.com/PeakVirtualUK/