This post was last updated on April 8th, 2020 at 10:53 am
Nuwara Eliya is an old colonial British hill station. As one of the few hill stations in Asia, Nuwara Eliya has retained its authentic atmosphere. The old center is a gathering place of beautiful rose gardens, hedges, and typical British bungalows. In Galle, you will feel like you’re in the Netherlands and in Nuwara Eliya, you will be in England for a moment, only the weather is much better!
Nuwara Eliya is The City of Lights
The name Nuwara Eliya means the City of Lights. The town has many rural houses with beautiful gardens. Yet for many travelers, the town is not the reason to come here. In addition to the old British houses, the beautiful nature is one of the reasons to visit this area.
The agricultural area is home to one of the best known and most beautiful tea plantations in the country.
The area surrounding Nuwara Eliya is suitable for beautiful walks and bike rides.
The landscape around Nuwara Eliya is of fairytale beauty. The surrounding winding roads remind you of Sapa in Vietnam. Along the way, you will see green mountains, beautiful valleys, and small rivers, rice fields, and tea plantations.
Sri Lankan women work in traditional clothing on the tea plantations. The area you drive through is also called Little England.
Best Things to Do in Nuwara Eliya
Although the city and the surrounding region have more than enough to offer, there are still a number of things in the area that you can visit. Nature is the biggest highlight here and in particular the tea plantations. Below are some highlights that are definitely worth a visit.
Nearby you’ll find the Heritance Tea Factory, one of the oldest (but most beautiful) hotels in Sri Lanka. You do have to pay well to stay here; around $175 a night.
1. Relaxing in Victoria Park
Victoria Park is located in the center of the city. It is known as one of the most beautiful city parks in South Asia. The best time to visit the park is from March to May and August and September.
TIP – The flowers are in bloom during this period. You do have to pay to enter the park but the 300 Rs (US$1.70) per person is definitely worth it.
2. Visit the Pedro Tea Estate
To see where your tea comes from, it’s best to go to the Pedro Tea Estate, about 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) outside the city (the road to Kandapola). You can also follow a tour in this tea factory which takes around half an hour.
The factory was built in 1885 and has a special architecture. Due to the nature of the tea here (a very light tea), the processing takes place at night, when it is colder. You will probably not see a lot of ‘tea production’.
TIP – It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs 200 Rs (US$1.15).
3. Hike to Lovers Leap
From the Pedro Tea Estate, you can take the beautiful 5 kilometers (3.1 miles, round trip) long walk to the Lovers Leap. This is an impressive waterfall. From the tea factory, you cross the main road and follow the signs to the manager’s bungalow on the dirt road.
At the first intersection, you turn left and at the next intersection, you follow the road straight ahead. After approximately 15 minutes you will arrive at an unpaved parking place. You follow a road next to many tea gardens in the direction of the forest. Follow the road and just outside the small Shiva shrine you can see the beautiful waterfalls.
4. Go to the End of the World… Figuratively Speaking
In the Horton Plains National Park, you can make the climb to World’s End, one of the most famous places in Sri Lanka. You have a beautiful view of the surroundings here. If you walk to the top you will come to the World’s End viewing point (870 m.) and Little World’s End (270 m.).
The hike is approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) and the entire trip takes around 3 to 4 hours. The entrance to the park is 3,000 Rs, about $17, but definitely worth the effort.
TIP – Check our separate Horton Plains page for more info!
5. Try Fun Activities
In the Nuwara Eliya area, there are more than enough things to do. For example, you can practice your swing at the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club (5,000 to 7,000 Rs, US$28 to $40). You don’t have to have the skills to try golfing here, anyone can go!
You can also cycle well in the area. You can rent bicycles for around 1200 Rs (US$6.80). Ask at your accommodation which nice routes you can follow.
You can also take beautiful walks in the area of the highest mountain in Sri Lanka; the Pidurutalagala.
Spending some time near Lake Gregory is a great way to enjoy the day!
Nuwara Eliya is located 1,868 meters high at the foot of the highest mountain in Sri Lanka, the Pidurutalagala. The rice fields increasingly make way for tea plantations because of the cool climate here. The view is really spectacular with Pidurutalagala in the background and the green tea plantations within reach.
Come to Nuwara by train, a great ride!
Given the cool climate, it makes sense that the British of Nuwara Eliya made this their hill station. In the evening it can cool down and sleeping under a thick blanket is nothing strange then, especially in January and February. At that time, Nuwara Eliya even looks a bit English with foggy and cold weather.
How to Get to Nuwara Eliya
This region is fairly easy to reach, just like almost all the other highlights of Sri Lanka. The easiest way to get there is by bus. However, the train travels the nicest route. Below you can find more details.
To Nuwara Eliya By Bus
All buses arrive and depart from the roundabout in the city center. Destinations, where you can go, are Colombo (240 Rs, 6 hours), Ella (15 Rs, 3 hours), Kandy (120/240 Rs, 4 hours) and Haputale (110 Rs, 3 hours).
To Nuwara Eliya By Train
Train rides in Sri Lanka are highly regarded. The same applies to and from Nuwara. Trains run to the Nanu Oya train station, 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from Nuwara Eliya. Your accommodation often picks you up for free when you make a reservation.
If not, a taxi costs around 1,500 to 2,000 Rs (US$8.50 to $11.35). Train tickets vary in price between 60 and 450 Rs (US$0.35 to $2.55), depending on the class and where you get on/off.
Best Time to Visit Nuwara Eliya
The best time to visit Nuwara Eliya is from February to April. The busiest period is in April, around the Sri Lankan New Year. Keep in mind that accommodations are very expensive if you can find them in the first place.
These months have the best climate. For the rest of the year the temperature is also good, but you have a lot more rain. If you don’t mind a little bit of rain (which is also good for nature) you can also visit this region from May to August.
The winter months are from November to January. It is then rather cold at night, it can even freeze.