Nuwara Eliya Day trip Tip – Everything you need to know to plan your awesome Nuwara Eliya day trip!
Nuwara Eliya. What a wonderful, magical place. A green land of endless tea fields, fresh vegetable farms, lush jungle and waterfalls. Caught in an eternal winter with endless clouds. On an altitude close to 1900 meter. Where people wear thick, warm sweaters and jackets, sometimes combined with a simple sarong. Where frequent showers, stormy weather and the mesmerizing silhouettes of treetops in white, foggy clouds unfold in front of your eyes and leave an impression that will long last.
Nuwara Eliya. This dreamy destination, with it’s cool, wet climate, located high in the central mountains is one of my favorite places to visit in Sri Lanka. And makes for an excellent stop on the mesmerizing train journey from Kandy to Ella. Unfortunately I didn’t have much time to spend in this misty, fairy-tale like destination. But even in a day, you can see, learn and experience a lot! Use this article with Nuwara Eliya day trip tips to make the most out of your day in this enchanting place on earth.
Start the day with a delicious breakfast
Located a bit out of the city center is ‘Little heaven’ the small home stay and restaurant run by Malika. A lovely lady who prepares some of the most delicious meals for her guests. Start your day with some delicious coconut-milk pancakes with a fresh coconut and honey sambol. Or go for the super tasty banana pancakes, a perfectly poached egg with toast as well as fresh fruits and an authentic pot of Nuwara Eliya harvested tea. Served in her colorful home, Malika does not only prepare delicious Sri Lankan dishes, but also welcomes you as guest in her home and shares stories about living in the cool mountains of Sri Lanka. Treated to authentic tastes and fresh food it’s the perfect place to start the day.
Rent a scooter or tuk tuk for the day
Now that the bellies are satisfied it’s time to start exploring! Either rent a scooter for the day and explore the area by yourself. Or negotiate a price with one of the tuk tuk drivers in town. Due to the mountainous landscape the tariff for scooter rent is a bit higher compared to coastal cities, but with 2000-2500 Sri Lankan rupees for the day it still won’t break the bank. We found scooters for rent at the Chez Allen guesthouse, but eventually couldn’t get them cause we didn’t have an international drivers’ license. That’s definitely something to think of in Nuwara Eliya! In the end we went sightseeing with Namal, a kind and flexible tuk tuk driver. And considering the wet, winding roads in the area that turned out to be just the right choice for us!
Visit Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya
The first stop for sightseeing is located right in the heart of Nuwara Eliya; the scenic Lake Gregory. Constructed in 1873 the lake has become a characteristic landmark in Nuwara Eliya. Pay the small entrance fee and stroll down the lake while enjoying pristine views of the blue water body and green nature. Take some stunning pictures or go for more active activities such as boating in swan-shaped paddle boats, horse-riding, cycling or even jet-skiing. Just don’t let the lake distract you too much as there’s much more to see.
Dip your feet in the majestic Ramboda waterfalls
Continue your way to the majestic Ramboda waterfalls. Located around 24 kilometers from Nuwara Eliya. Follow the winding road along green tea fields and observe ladies picking tea by hand. See the silhouettes of treetops covered in white, foggy clouds unfolding their-selves in front of your eyes. And pass market stalls with exquisite, freshly harvested vegetables that are rich in colors, before you finally reach the waterfalls on your right side.
Recognized as the eleventh highest waterfall in the country, it’s well worth to climb the steep stone stairs up from the middle to the higher falls. The plateau at the top offers stunning views on both the waterfall and the surrounding mountains. While a small trail on your way down leads to one of the pools. Climb on one of the rocks, feel the splashing water and dip your feet in the cool water of the falls. Together with the meditative sound of the fall and the views on the jungle, a visit to the Ramboda waterfalls is truly a mesmerizing experience.
Learn about tea in the Blue Field Tea Factory
Because a visit to Nuwara Eliya cannot be complete without learning about the process of tea making, a visit to the Blue Field Tea Factory is next on the itinerary. Operating since 1921, the factory has a long history in tea production. Welcomed by experienced and knowledgeable workers, the factory offers free educational tours. Not only will you learn about the tea plant in general, but also about the tea history in Sri Lanka as well as the tea-making process. I really enjoyed being guided by Mr. Razak, who passionately explained everything about the tea making process and then treated us to a complementary cup of tea when the tour ended.
Stroll down Nuwara Eliya
Finish the day with a stroll down Nuwara Eliya’s city center. Observe the old English style buildings together with the cool climate and understand why the city is nicknamed as ‘Little England’ To me it’s not hard to imagine that former British colonies felt at home in Nuwara Eliya’s cool, humid climate. In contrast to the hot, tropical climate elsewhere in Sri Lanka.
Roaming around in the city center, be sure to check out the Bale Bazaar. Also known as the Winter Market you’ll find all the warm clothes you need to make your stay in Nuwara Eliya comfortable. The famous Old Post Office is just opposite the bazaar. And is a good place to send an authentic postcard to your loved ones.
Best time to visit Nuwara Eliya:
Nuwara Eliya can be visited year round, but do expect periods of rain from June till the end of August. As well as freezing cold nights from November till early March. Even when I visited halfway august the temperatures were shockingly cold, especially compared to the hot weather in the north of the county. Visiting in the rainy season was a rather wet experience, but the views on foggy forests totally make that up! In regards of the weather; it’s always a good idea to bring something warm or to get some warm clothes at the winter market.
How to get to Nuwara Eliya
The lovely city of Nuwara Eliya is an excellent stop on the mesmerizing train journey from Kandy to Ella. However, city itself doesn’t have a train station. To reach Nuwara Eliya from Kandy or Ella you should get off at the Nanu-Oya train station. From there you can easily reach Nuwara Eliya in about 20-30 minutes by bus, or in about 15-20 minutes by tuk tuk or taxi. Busses generally run day long and depart every 20 minutes from the bus station.
Another way to reach Nuwara Eliya is by bus or private vehicle from Ella or Kandy. While private transportation from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya takes about three hours, the ride from Ella to Nuwara Eliya can be done in about two hours.
Sleep in Nuwara Eliya
Arriving in Nuwara Eliya at night without any booked accommodation we accepted the offer of a friendly man, to stay in his home stay next to Little Heaven. Although the place looked good at first sight and had a fire pit to heath the room at night, it turned out that the running water didn’t work most of the time. As flushing the toilet became an incredible difficult task we changed accommodation the next day.
Generally there are lots of popper options in walking distance from each other. We eventually ended up at nearby place at St. Andrew’s road which offered simple, decent rooms with running hot water against a low price. Actually it’s not hard at all to find good accommodation around St. Andrew street. A quick stroll will be sufficient to find something good and affordable. For those who don’t like to roam around in search for a room the mid-range ‘Villa Tea Fields’ and ‘ Villa Mount Royal’ hotels have good reviews.
Eat in Nuwara Eliya
I cannot stress it enough; Mrs. Malika from the ‘Little Heaven’ restaurant and home stay prepares delicious Sri Lankan food for reasonable prices. From tasty breakfast to lunch and dinner, she prepares the freshest meals with authentic Sri Lankan taste. Although it’s okay to drop by her restaurant she does appreciate it if you call ahead if you plan to come in the evening. Reach her on phone number 077 3435605.
Other restaurants that serve tasty food are;
- Themparadu; although the place looks a bit wary they serve delicious local meals in this restaurant. Located inside the Victoria Park they serve great food for a small price.
- Salmiya; for tasty, but a bit pricey pizza’s in Nuwara Eliya. Given that the ingredients are fresh, the crusts thin and the taste delicious, Salmiya is a good option for those who like to break away from curries and rice for a day.
- The Grand Indian; for a variety of Indian and Sri Lankan meals such as Chicken Biryani, Crab curry, mixed Kebab and tandoori chicken. Again a bit on the expensive side, but a treat for the taste buds!
That’s it! A sense-tingling day trip into the misty tea mountains of Nuwara Eliya. Did you visit this mesmerizing city? If so, do you agree it should be added to everybody’s Sri Lanka itinerary?
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