Nuwara Eliya was our mouthful of fresh air in Sri Lanka, literally speaking. It’s the highest and coldest town on the island. Furthermore, it’s even called “Little England” because of the weather.
We didn’t know much about this place when we arrived at the train station in Kandy and decided to buy a ticket there, instead of going straight to Ella. The only thing we knew was that it was in the middle of nature, surrounded by tea plantations and with a really nice temperature. It sounded like the place to be after we’ve been boiling for 1 month and a half on the west coast.
How to get to Nuwara Eliya
Train: If you’re planning to go there by train, which in my opinion is the easiest way to do it, you should check the official railway website from your point of departure to know the exact schedules. One thing to mention, the train station is not in Nuwara Eliya, but in Nanu Oya, a small village 10 minutes away. From there, you can either get a tuk-tuk or the public bus.
*Funny story: When we got the bus from Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya, we sat in the back, right next to the open door. The road had a lot of curves, and by the time we knew it, our BOTH (!) backpacks were out through the door, on the edge of the mountain. Luckily, we’ve spot then in a second and yelled at the driver to stop the bus.Let’s just say that’s one of the reasons why our backpacks have some patches on.
Bus: A bus is always an option in Sri Lanka because the bus transportation network covers a wide range of the country. Although, it’s not comfortable at all, especially for long rides, it’s still an option if you have no other choice.
You can check here my guide on How To Use Public Transportation In Sri Lanka.
Private driver: There’s always the option of hiring a private driver in case you want to be completely hassle-free, or you’re simply constrained by time. and don’t mind spending some money on that (around 40€/day).
Things to do in Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya is basically a big tea plantation with a small town in the middle. Most of the factories also offer guided tours to show how tea is made from scratch.
We did a tour of Pedro Tea Factory, a nineteenth-century factory. They showed us around, even though the actual tea production is happening during the night, so the machines were not actually working.
Price: 200LKR (1€)
Hike to the Lover’s Leap Waterfall
Lover’s Leap is located 2km away from the town and it’s very nice to walk there as you have to pass some small villages on your way.
How to spend less money in Nuwara Eliya
- Negotiate for accommodation. Nuwara Eliya is a very friendly place for backpackers and budget travelers. You can find decent accommodation for a few euros only. However, when we wanted to book something for the same day, it was around 15€/night on Booking.com.This was double than the regular price we were used to finding in the area. Therefore, we decided to walk around and find a cheaper place to stay. It turned out to be a good move, as a young man approached us. He said he had a room in his house, but we were skeptical about it. We decided to follow him and we arrived in this nice house with a beautiful view over the town and tea plantations. They only had 1 room to rent, but it was perfect. It was completely new and had a private bathroom. We’ve spent there 2 lovely and cozy nights with him and his family who was always making tea for use.
- Eat where locals eat. You will certainly find plenty of good local restaurants to eat without paying a tourist price. Don’t forget to check the Complete Guide for Food in Sri Lanka to know exactly what to order.
- Walk or use the bus. Don’t forget that a bus ticket is only a few cents to almost anywhere on the island, so if you’re planning to save some money, tuk-tuk is really no deal.
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