Nuwara Eliya is a city in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka. Its temperate climate gives the city a very different feel from other parts of the country and, along with the colonial architecture, has earned it the name 'Little England'.
There is very little, if any, publicly available WiFi in the main town (as of June 2017). Make sure to plan your stay and download maps before you arrive in Nuwara Eliya.
By train - the train journey from Colombo or Kandy to nearby Nanu Oya is spectacular. Easiest way to catch Colombo - Badulla train, Train Name is 'Udarata Menike'. Local buses (715) run frequently from Nanu Oya to the centre of Nuwara Eliya. The fare is only Rs 20-25/ per person. Three wheelers/tuk tuks are also present at the station and the driver charges Rs 400-500.
By bus - buses can be taken from Colombo or Kandy (3hrs, 135LKR).
Be aware - road transport between Colombo and Nuwara Eliya is very slow. The journey will typically take five to six hours to cover the 180km. Traffic, poor weather or failing light can extend the time needed. Rail transport is about the same due to the old and meandering track.
The town centre is small enough to walk around. To visit sites further afield, take a bus or hire a three-wheeler.
The same caveat applies to touring around the area as for getting there. Assume that you'll not exceed 20 kilometres per hour no matter what the mode of (ground) transport. So plan any excursions carefully, and don't assume that you can cover more than about 100km in a day, including stops.
- Hakgala Botanical Gardens are very impressive and a short bus ride away. Busses leave from the central bus station and cost about 35 LKR one-way. The entrance fee is 2000 LKR for foreign adults and 1200 for students.
- Pedro Tea Factory offers fascinating tours. In the hills nearby there are paths through the tea plantations to wander along.
- Hortons Plains National Park and World's End Offer fascinating walks though this temperate mountain environment, with an 800m vertical drop to be found at World's End.
Within the town itself there are a number of interesting sights. The Post Office is a very unusual building - a remnant of the colonial era. Victoria Park nearby is a pleasant place to spend an hour or so, with an astonishing variety of plants, ranging from tropical rain forest to English country garden.
The mountains in the central province of Sri Lanka and near to Nuwara Eliya are adorned with many picturesque waterfalls including Dunhinda Falls, Diyaluma Falls, Baker's Falls, St. Claire's Falls, Ravana Ella, Bambarakanda Ella, Aberdeen Falls, Laxapana Falls, The Lovers Leap, and Bridal Falls.
- Seetha Ella Temple. Hindu temple near Haggala botanical gardens. Important place to Hindu religion. Also known for a large group of monkeys inhabiting the grounds. edit
Take a walk up through the tea plantations south-west of the town to the top of Single Tree Mountain for a splendid view over Nuwara Eliya. From the hill top you can walk north for a couple of kilometres along the ridgetop to a nearby village and get a tuc-tuc/three-wheeler or walk back to town from there.
For more sightseeing you can visit Victoria Park and Hakgala Gardens. Lake Gregory lies less than a mile from the centre of town and offers a splendid and peaceful environment for sightseeing and boating. Boats can be hired from the area.
You can also explore the tea plantations and factories and stay at one of the colonial bungalows near the plantations for easy access and special tours.
Playing golf is also an option, along with heading to the racecourses (the only proper ones you'll find in Sri Lanka). These are both traditions left over from the colonial era.
Take a train trip from Nanu Oya towards Kandy. For the colonial experience book a 1st class ticket in the observation car. For an authentic local experience book a 3rd class ticket and hang out of the door of the carriage.
- St Andrews Hotel does a good buffet, described as a "fusion" of eastern and western tastes.
- Edinburgh Tea Train is a new tea center opened in 2017. Great food and scenery. The tea center serves authentic breakfast, tea, and snacks. They also sell tea products (much cheaper than others but the quality is really good). They offer special tea field tours and speciality tea of the month. Ask the employee for details. The tea center is located 2minutes ride North (Nuwara Eliya-bound) from Nanu Oya railway station, so Tea Train is a must go before or after train ride.
- The Hill Club is a special experience which will take you back almost 100 years. But you must dress for dinner. If you don't have a jacket and tie you can borrow from their collection! Food is excellent and served by waiters in national dress with white serving gloves.
- Nuwara Eliya Golf Club is another place where you can get the 'colonial' experience. You can take a temporary membership for the club, costing 500 LKR (Feb 2017) per person, or pay for a round of golf. Hors d'oeuvres and desserts are surprisingly inexpensive. Full meals cost between LKR 3000 and 4000 for 2 (Feb 2017) , including service charges and taxes.
- Indian Cafe at the Grand Hotel is a little disappointing. Un-enthusiastic staff, and a plastic appearance do little to enhance unexciting food. May be worth trying the hotel itself.
There are a number of accommodations in Nuwara Eliya, which makes exploring the city's wildlife and architecture more convenient. Skip the touts, they earn 30% for showing you hotels.
- Hotel Sun Inn, Kuda Oya Lambukaleya,Nuwara Eliya, 22200 Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka, ☎ +94 71 554 4011, . Located in Nuwara Eliya in the region of Nuwara Eliya District, 0.6 miles from Gregory Lake, Hotel Sun Inn features a barbecue and views of the garden. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Free WiFi is available and free private parking is available on site. edit
- Craig Bank, No: 48, Water Field Drive, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka, ☎ +94 77 7005500, . Situated just above Nuwara Eliya town, Craigbank is a villa set within magnificent gardens that overlook the golf course and rolling hills. Ideal for groups of families and friends who will love its privacy and secluded yet central location, Craigbank offers its visitors both convenience and calm. Designed by a Frenchman, the villa's European styling blends perfectly with the property's colonial atmosphere which harks back to a former era. ″. edit
- Galway Heights Hotel, Upper Lake Road, Havelock Drive, Nuwara Eliya, ☎ +94 52 2234 622 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Has 52 deluxe rooms in various color themes, with dining and recreational facilities. Walks in Galway National park are at the doorstep. Starting from USD 186. edit
- The Tea Factory Hotel, , The Tea Factory Kandapola, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka., Tel. No.:+94 052 2229600. Email: [email protected] Fax : +94 052 2229606. Colonial style rooms with views of the surrounding tea plantations; it is a converted factory about 45 minutes away. All the rooms come with rain showers and bathtubs with hot water. Nextdoor is a working demonstration tea factory, guests staying two nights or longer can pick and take their own private batch of tea.
- Jetwing St Andrews hotel, ☎ 052 2223031, . Also mentioned under 'Eat'. One of the Grand Old Ladies of the town, housed in a converted large planters estate home with perfectly manicured garden. Jetwing quality standard. edit
- Hill Club, ☎ 052 2222653, . Probably the most eccentric and well-preserved memory of colonial times. Still keeps its separate entrances for men and ladies to the in-house bar. At dinner jacket and tie obligatory for men (on loan from hotel is possible), and gowns for ladies. Stay here to experience how life was here 200 years back, with of course the rooms now having all modern comforts. edit
- The Grand Hotel, ☎ 52 2222881-7, . The third of the Grand Old Ladies of town, staying true to its name. The class and grandeur of Galle Face and Mount Lavinia hotels in Colombo, but renovated to modern standard. Including a heated indoor pool and spa. edit
- Windsor hotel, Opposite the bus stand and shopping centre, ☎ 52-2222554, . One of the oldest places in town, and popular with locals and (group) tourists alike. More on the budget side of the market. edit
- New Tour Inn, Just behind the bus station, turn right walk 500m. No. 22, Park road, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. +94 052 22 34 897. Nice place. Single 1500 rupees per night, Double is 2500. wifi. TV. Takes credit cards. Hot water. Friendly staff. Great location. Spa on-site. email reservations to [email protected]
- King Fern Cottage, 203/1A St Andrew's Drive, Nuwara Eliya, ☎ 077 358 6284. Very welcoming budget guesthouse with a friendly owner, large sized rooms with comfortable beds and en-suite bathrooms with hot water. edit
- Spring Acre, 495 (Situated just 5 minutes drive from Golf Course), ☎ +94 725 94 66 13, . This tastefully furnished luxury holiday bungalow can accommodate up to 10 persons and has a breathtaking view of a tea estate and the Pidurutalagala mountain range. edit
- Langdale by Amaya, Radalla, Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya, ☎ +94 052 4924959, . 13 Luxury Boutique Hotel, Escape to the cool mornings and crisp air of Randalla, a quaint hill station tucked in the mountain ranges of Sri Lanka’s central highlands. An exclusive, luxury boutique resort, Langdale by Amaya is embraced by winding brooks and 200-year-old tea gardens all ripe with the grace of pastoral charm. It was the first hotel in the island with a heated (outdoor) pool. edit
- Araliya Green Hills, ☎ 05 22224150 - 59, . Built in colonial style but from the current century. Aims to have 4-5 star level, with e.g. the second heated outdoor pool in the island. edit
- Blackpool hotel, ☎ 052 7634634 - 8, . In the Blackpool suburb halfway Nuwara Eliya and Nanu Oya. Impressive contemporary building with nice views over the valleys. Heated outdoor pool. edit
- Travelers Rest, 13/B, Buwanekaba Road, Singhapitiya, Gampola (1 hour drive to Nuwara-Eliya), ☎ 0094 777-953307, . Enjoy the privilege of relaxing in a Beautiful rest-house on your trip to the Beautiful city of Nuwara-eliya, "The Little England" of Sri Lanka. The Rest-House is Nestled in a Safe, Secure, Calm and Quite environment right beneath Ambuluwawa Peak. 4 Bed rooms,3 Bath rooms with Hot water, Wi-fi, Modern pantry with all amenities, Dining area, Spacious Lounge and a TV room . Balcony with a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains. Our Rest-house is also used as a base by many in order to travel to other parts as its centrally located when it comes to Attractions and Activities such as Tea Plantation Workers Museum and Archive ,Ambuluwawa peak,Historical Buwanekaba Pirivena,Royal Palace of Kandy,National Museum Kandy,Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa),Lankatilaka Temple,Embekke dewalaya,Royal Botanical Garden,Mackwoods Tea Factory,Tea plantations,Temple of Gadaladeniya,Brassware village of Gadaladeniya,Peradeniya Botanical Gardens,Kandy Lake,Commonwealth War Cemetery,Kothmale Dam,Kothmale Mahaweli Maha Seya,Kothmale View Point,Horton Plains National Park,Ramboda falls,St.clair's waterfall,Adam's Peak ( Sri Pada). Pinnawela Elephant orphanage - safari,Kithulgala Whitewater rafting, Golf at Victoriya Golf Park, Digana Kandy. 4,500 per day. edit
- Villa Inn, Lake drive,Nuwara-Eliya (Call From Nanu-Oya), ☎ 0094714757779. checkin: 01.00am; checkout: 11.00am. Transport Facilities more info: [email protected] $ 25. edit
- Scottish Planter Glendevon Bungalow, Kandapola Road, Ragala, ☎ +94 052 2265050 ([email protected]), . The Bungalow situated among Greenery and mountains in Nuwara Eliya is built based on Scottish architecture. The Bungalow consists of 1 Family Suites and 2 Deluxe rooms edit
- Stafford Bungalow, The Stafford Tea Company Pvt Ltd, Ragala, Halgranoya, Nuwara Eliya, ☎ +94 52 226 5287 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. Carved out for a perfect holiday, Stafford Bungalow is a 130-year-old refurbished planter’s bungalow located amidst a working tea estate in the village of Ragala in the Sri Lankan hill country. Starting from USD 200. edit
- Heritance Tea Factory, Kandapola, Nuwara Eliya, ☎ +94 525 555 000 ([email protected], fax: +94 525 555 000), . checkin: 2pm; checkout: 12pm. A 5 star hotel located in Nuwara Eliya Sri Lanka consisting of 50 rooms and suites. It offers 2 bars and restaurants Starting from USD 160. (6.991349,80.834082) edit
- MANUDI Glenfallsedge Rest, 60/22 Glenfall Road Nuwara Eliya (500 meters away from the city centre), ☎ +94 72 6385606, . checkin: 2.00 pm; checkout: 12.00. different categories of room, double room, triple room, family room, duplex studio, duplex suite, situated by the side of glen fall which is a seasonal waterfall only active in rainy seasons can experience the beautiful sun rise behind the Piguruthalagala mountain range from your room from USD 50. edit