Trip Types
  • Travel Style
  • Interests and Activities
  • Tour Ideas by Month
  • Continents and Regions

Nuwara Eliya

Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Practical information on Nuwara Eliya

  • Encounters with locals
  • Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
  • Viewpoint
  • Park and garden
  • Mountain
  • River
  • Lake
  • Culture (paddy field, coffee, tea ...)
  • Handicraft
3 / 5 - 3 reviews
How to get there
Three hours from Ella by train
When to go
From January to September
Minimum stay
2 to 3 days

Reviews of Nuwara Eliya

Romain Beuvart Seasoned Traveller
89 written opinions

Nuwara Eliya is an excellent village high in the mountains (1889m), well-known for their tea plantations.

My suggestion:
With the altitude it can get quite cold in the evening, so don't forget to take a light jacket with you.
My review

Under British rule, Nuwara Eliya became a mountain resort to escape the heat of Sri Lanka. I visited Nuwara Eliya mainly for the tea plantations, where the Tamils are the symbol. It's also the departure point if you want to go to Adam's Peak. In my case, I was content to wander the calm streets of the small town: there is a charming public garden, houses in the colonial style and a mountain air that really does you good.

I visited the plantations at the beginning of the afternoon, on a small local bus as it is much cheaper than a tuk-tuk. After visiting a tea-making factory, where they explained the different stages of the process from the harvesting to the drying, I went walking on the slopes of a neighbouring hill to see the village from there.

If you like meeting people on your travels, you will enjoy it here as the people are very welcoming, happy and curious, as at the end of the day not many people come to these villages - the majority of them usually content themselves with the factories and guided visits of the plantations. If you want to rub shoulders with the tea harvesters, you must get up very early: I found a guide in the village to take me to the plantations, by which time the harvester had already finished their day.

Anne Vergnaud Seasoned Traveller
36 written opinions

Nuwara Eliya: a little piece of England in Sri Lanka.

My suggestion:
Make sure you take warm clothing with you: it can get very cold.
My review

A genuine change of scene when touring Sri Lanka. English colonials used to visit Nuwara Eliya, which lies at an altitude of 1,882 m, to enjoy the benefits of its cool, refreshing atmosphere. It has to be said that with the green mountains, the lake and the mist, you could easily think you're in Northern England here.

It amused me to see tuk-tuks and red telephone boxes together in the same place. The local market simply overflows with vegetables, with European cabbages sitting side by side with various Sri Lankan varieties, all perfectly acclimatised to this region.

What really surprised me was that the climate was cold and humid in August, and the wind was glacial. In fact it was so cold that the guesthouse lent me two hot water bottles for the night (even though I had my downy jacket), which I gratefully accepted!

Paul Engel Seasoned Traveller
36 written opinions

A very highly regarded mountain resort in the 1920s, Nuwara Eliya today serves as a popular place for tourists to stop and see on their way to Sri Lanka's mountainous region. Having said that, however …

My suggestion:
you really must take the train through the mountains to get to Nuwara Eliya. The panoramic views it offers over the region are incredible.
My review

Nuwara Eliya was one of the places I included on the itinerary for my trip to Sri Lanka. When I arrived, however, I didn't find the atmosphere to be at all like the tour operators described it. I also spent a good amount of time searching for that little touch of Britishness that makes the town such a charming place, but I have to admit I didn't find that either.

The large colonial residences, the golf course and Victoria Park do of course lend the town a particular quality. But I wasn't really all that impressed. Though I'd planned to spend a few days here, I actually ended up cutting my visit short. Nuwara Eliya today gives the impression of city fallen into obsolescence. 

You will perhaps be able to get some bargains in the many textile shops. But do beware, however, as most of them sell counterfeit goods. If, like me, you find you aren't really taken with this city, stop at one of the many cake shops on the main high street and stock up on sweet treats to enjoy back in your hotel room.

It is possible to go hiking in the area around Nuwara Eliya, including to Pidurutulagal, Sri Lanka's highest mountain; or alternatively there's the Pedro Tea Estate to visit, which is one of the country's most famous.

Tours and travel ideas Nuwara Eliya