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'.
By train - the train journey from Colombo or Kandy to nearby Nanu Oya is spectacular. Local buses run frequently from Nanu Oya to the centre of Nuwara Eliya. Three wheelers/tuk tuks are also present at the station.
By bus - buses can be taken from Colombo or Kandy.
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.
- Haggala Botanical Gardens are very impressive and a short bus ride away.
- Pedro Tea Factory offers fascinating tours. In the hills nearby there are paths through the tea plantations to wander along.
- Hortons Plains 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. ″.
- Galway Forest Lodge, , No. 89, Upper Lake Road, Havelock Drive, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka, Tel. No.:+94 (0)52 2223739. Has 52 deluxe rooms in various color themes, with dining and recreational facilities, and tour arrangements.
- 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. All the rooms come with rain showers and bathtubs with hot water.
- 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 incredibly comfortable beds and en-suite bathrooms with hot water.
- 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.
- Brockenhurst, 98 Waterfield Drive Nuwara Eliya, ☎ 094777371171, . checkin: 12.00pm; checkout: 10.30am. This beautiful, upmarket, well maintained colonial bungalow is centrally located in Nuwara Eliya town in an exclusive and a private area. It is few minutes away from Town centre, Nuwaraeliya Golf Course and Victoria Park. The bungalow is set amidst one acre of garden with an extensive two tiered front lawn edged with beautiful flower beds and large pine trees.The bungalow takes in only one booking at a time ensuring total privacy for the guests. Facilities include 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms with hot water, living room with fire place, cable TV, DVD, microvawe oven, fridge, toaster, BBQ facilities and ample parking space. Cook, care taker and helper available. Accomodation up to 12 persons.
- Brockenhurst, 98 Water Field Drive Nuwara Eliya, ☎ 094777371171, . checkin: 12.00pm; checkout: 10.30am. This beautiful, upmarket, well maintained colonial bungalow is centrally located in Nuwara Eliya town in an exclusive and a private area. It is few minutes away from Town centre, Nuwaraeliya Golf Course and Victoria Park. The bungalow is set amidst one acre of garden with an extensive two tiered front lawn edged with beautiful flower beds and large pine trees.The bungalow takes in only one booking at a time ensuring total privacy for the guests. Facilities include 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms with hot water, living room with fire place, cable TV, DVD, microvawe oven, fridge, toaster, BBQ facilities and ample parking space. Cook, care taker and helper available. Accomodation up to 12 persons.