Ella is a small village in the Badulla district in Sri Lanka and is situated at 1041 meters above sea level. The town is surrounded by lush green mountains and tea plantations. The nature, which is very suitable for making beautiful hikes, is the main reason to visit Ella. Another reason is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world: the train journey from Ella to Kandy. Because Ella is located high in the mountains, it means it’s a lot cooler compared to the rest of Sri Lanka.
We stayed two nights in Ella in Sunray Homestay, a nice homestay with a friendly owner.
Below you will find information about the things to do and see in Ella.
Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock
If you want to enjoy a beautiful view over Ella and don’t want or can’t walk too long, then the hike to Little Adam’s Peak is perfect for you! We decided to do this hike and skip Ella Rock, because we didn’t have that much time.
The view from the top was awesome! Even though it was very foggy, it was still enjoyable. Best is to take a tuktuk to the foot of the mountain and then walk up. The hike takes about an hour and is easy to do. The beginning part of the hike goes up gradually, but at a certain point it gets a little steeper. You climb up a flight of stairs for the last bit.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very good when we climbed Little Adam’s Peak. Are you lucky with the weather? Then take the hike before sunrise or at the end of the afternoon. Temperatures are milder and you can enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset as well.
Nine Arch Bridge
One of Ella’s most famous landmarks is the Nine Arch Bridge. This bridge, as the name suggests, is made up of nine large arches and is 24 meters high. The Nine Arch Bridge reminded me very much of the bridge in Harry Potter part II, where they fly over by car. It’s pretty similar! The bridge is surrounded by green bushes and trees, which makes for a very pretty picture.
How to get to the Nine Arch Bridge?
The nice thing about this bridge is that you can walk over it. The quickest way to reach the Nine Arch Bridge is to follow the track from Ella station. This walk on the track takes about twenty minutes. If you see a tunnel, you’re almost there! Walk underneath it and you’re standing on top of the bridge. A perfect place to take some nice pictures! If you’re lucky, a train will pass by as soon as you get there. You can check at the station when the trains are passing by. We weren’t that lucky! Due to the bad weather all train rides were cancelled.
If you want to photograph the bridge from above, you can also walk from Little Adam’s Peak to the Nine Arch Bridge. We did the same. After we climbed the mountain, we followed the signs to the bridge. One point provides you with an excellent view over the bridge. A disadvantage of this route is that you can’t walk down easily. The way down is very steep, and the path is surrounded by large bushes.
Note: When we visited the Nine Arch Bridge it was raining. The road down was very slippery, and the bushes were full of leeches. Are you afraid of leeches? Make sure to get properly dressed then ;-)!
Would you like to go back to the center of Ella and don’t feel like walking anymore? On the side of the tunnel, there are some tuk-tuks ready to take you back to Ella.
Taking a picture of the Nine Arch Bridge
Would you like to take an awesome image without all the people in it (it can be very busy)? Then make sure to visit the bridge early in the morning! It also allows you to take the picture from a good angle, by descending a bit between the bushes on the other side (not the side of the tunnel). As you take the picture from below, you won’t see all the people walking on top of the bridge!
Approximately 7 kilometers from the center of Ella you will find the Ravana Falls, one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka. Although the waterfall is not in the center, it’s still a popular tourist attraction. We visited the waterfalls with a tuktuk and this was about 500 rupees for a one-way trip from Ella.
Many people visit the waterfall to cool down and take a dive. When we visited the waterfall, it was quite chilly, so we were happy to skip it! It had rained a lot, which meant that the waterfall was very big.
You’ll find several stalls around the waterfall where you can buy souvenirs. Obviously, I couldn’t resist buying some bracelets myself!
Visit a tea factory
We didn’t have time to visit a tea factory, but we heard a lot of good stories about it. There are several tea plantations near Ella, one of which is the Halpewatte Tea Factory. A few bucks will get you a guided tour and explanation on how tea is made!
Ella’s center is quite small and strolling for half an hour will show you everything. Yet the atmosphere there is super neat! When we first arrived, I got the feeling as if we were walking around somewhere in a ski village, with all those wooden houses. You will find a lot of restaurants, both with international food and typical Sri Lankan dishes. You can sit down in the evening and have a drink. It goes without saying that our favorite place to sit down was Restaurant Chill. We had lunch, dinner and drinks here and it excellent all the times!
Train journey from Ella to Kandy
The train ride from Ella to Kandy (or vice versa) is known as one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. The ride takes about 7 hours, but you won’t get bored at all, since the views are magnificent! You drive along countless tea plantations and rice fields.
If you are traveling from Ella to Kandy, like us, it is best to sit on the right side of the train, and on the left side from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy.
What’s so special about the ride is that you can hang out of the train, allowing you to shoot a special picture! Hanging out of the train is only possible if you are in second or third class. As first class has air conditioning, the doors and windows stay closed.
Tip: Buy your tickets at least one day in advance and choose the Third Class Reserved (TCR) compartment. This ensures you are seated in a compartment where the doors can be opened and you are assured of a seat. You can buy your tickets online, but also at the train station. If the reserved seats are sold out, you can always buy tickets on the day of your departure. Make sure you get to the station on time, as it can be very busy. An alternative is to get to the train station earlier. Choose Peradeniya station from Kandy to Ella. The train ride from Kandy to Ella is generally busier than the ride from Ella to Kandy and it’s annoying if you can’t sit at all.