We’re back to share another exciting adventure we had nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country, Ella, Sri Lanka. A captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural richness.
With its epic Ravana Falls, Nine Arch Bridge, and beautiful tea plantations, it’s a destination that has left many a traveller spellbound. A visit to Ella is an immersion into a world where time seems to slow down, letting you savour each moment with picturesque landscapes and amazing views stretching out as far as the eye can see.
Before arriving in Ella, we had embarked on a thrilling jeep safari at Udawalawe National Park, a 2-and-a-half-hour drive away from Ella town.
Table of contents
- Things to do in Ella
- Food in Ella
- Where to stay in Ella
- Best time to visit Ella
- Where to visit after Ella, Sri Lanka
Things to do in Ella
Here in Sri Lanka, Ella you can witness the region’s tea factories hum with activity as they transform freshly plucked leaves from the nearby tea plantation visited by countless tourists yearly. We visited Ella Sri Lanka at the start of the wet season (September 2023), which lends an extra charm to the landscapes, shrouding them in an ethereal mist that makes the experience even more magical.
The adventurous ones among you will enjoy scaling Little Adams Peak. This gentle hike rewards you with panoramic views of Sri Lanka Ella at its finest. And no journey here would be complete without embarking on the iconic train ride. A winding journey through tunnels and over bridges, offering alternating scenes of forests and terraced fields.
Foodies won’t be left behind either; Ella is a haven for those seeking authentic Sri Lankan food and Western Food too. The local cuisine weaves together rich flavours with traditional cooking techniques, ensuring every meal is a culinary delight.
Whether sipping on some fine Ceylon tea overlooking tea plantations or visiting waterfalls, Ella Sri Lanka promises experiences that linger long after your journey ends.
We were fortunate to have Christo as our dedicated driver during our unforgettable adventures in Sri Lanka with Apple Vacations. He expertly guided us through the local community with amazing service and a chilled out vibe, ensuring an incredible experience throughout. He arranged for our tuk-tuk drivers to get around some narrower parts off the main street too.
Ella is a charming town in Sri Lanka known for its breathtaking views, lush tea plantations, and adventurous hiking trails. Here are some day trip ideas in Ella for you.
Nine Arch Bridge
For a truly Instagram-worthy moment, we visited the iconic Nine Arch Bridge (Also known as the Sri Lankan ‘Bridge in the Sky’). This architectural stone bridge marvel is surrounded by lush greenery and offers a stunning backdrop for capturing memories that will last a lifetime.
But the real thrill comes when you see a train meandering over the arches. Yes, you read that right! If you time your visit well, you can see a train passing over the famous bridge, a truly picture-perfect moment. Ask your hotel for the current train times as they do change.
We had the incredible opportunity to ride the train from Ella to Nanu Oya (read more about that below).
Now, a word of caution for those planning a visit. Keep an eye out for bees, as hives are under the bridge. As seen in the picture below.
While they generally don’t pose a threat unless disturbed, it’s advisable to maintain a safe distance and avoid any sudden movements that might agitate them.
Along the tuk-tuk journey to the Nine Arch Bridge in Ella, Sri Lanka, you will go through a tea plantation. They are nothing short of a picturesque adventure. We couldn’t resist capturing a picture of us standing inside the tea bushes, holding tea leaves. Thanks to our tuk-tuk driver for taking the picture!
However, be wary of leeches lurking in the foliage after rain – as Luke found out the hard way! Luckily, it hadn’t latched on, so we just flicked it off his foot!
We delved deeper into the heart of the tea country at a plantation village in Dambetenna, Sri Lanka, Ella. Here, we witnessed the labour-intensive process that goes into your morning cuppa.
The women meticulously handpick the leaves while the men chop down old tea plants. The hardworking women then gather the wood, which serves as the village’s firewood.
Their dedication was evident in the weathered hands of an older lady who had spent years in this laborious task.
The children, too, showed remarkable resilience, travelling miles across steep hills to reach their school. One teenager shared his English workbook with us, reflecting the community’s aspirations for a brighter future.
Despite their modest means, the villagers welcomed us with open hearts, offering a glimpse into their lives.
We brought gifts of biscuits and stationery for the children, whose gratitude was genuinely heartening. The local temple, adorned with captivating statues, was a testament to the village’s rich cultural believes.
You can visit the Dambetenna tea factory to learn more. But we visited a different tea factory and plantation in Kandy instead.
We embarked on a tuk-tuk ride to visit Lipton Seat from Dambetenna, braving the wet weather for what promised to be a breathtaking view. At an altitude of 1,970 metres, this lookout point offers a panoramic view of the sprawling Dambetanne Tea Plantation Estate.
Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on our side, and we missed the gorgeous views over the tea fields usually visible from here. We did drink tea from inside the clouds at the top to warm up a little. Being so high up and wet made it a bit chilly!
Lipton’s Seat, named after Sir Thomas Lipton, is one of Sri Lanka’s most impressive viewpoints. From here, Lipton would survey his flourishing tea empire.
On clear days, you can see across emerald hills and tea estates to no fewer than seven different provinces. The Handapanagala Lake, Chandrika Lake, Udawalwe Lake, Wedihiti Kanda mountains, and even the southern Hambanthota Harbor can be seen from this vantage point.
During our short time in Ella, we didn’t have the chance to visit Buduruwagala, an ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. Witness the magnificence of one of Sri Lanka’s largest Buddha statues, meticulously carved into the colossal rock wall, spanning a staggering height of 51 feet.
However, we did explore other fascinating ancient Buddhist temples such as the Dambulla Cave Temple, Pidurangala Cave Temple, Mihintale Temple in Anuradhapura, and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. These temples allowed us to immerse ourselves in Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage, with their intricate carvings and serene atmosphere leaving us in awe.
You should not miss the spellbinding cascade of Ravana Waterfall and the invigorating natural pool bath at Diyaluma Waterfall, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s wilderness.
We couldn’t resist the allure of Ravana Waterfall, a magnificent waterfall cascading down from a height of 82 feet. It is in fact Sri Lanka’s tallest waterfall. Standing at its base, we felt nature’s sheer power and beauty.
It’s merely a short 10-minute journey from the small town of Ella, easily visible from the roadside. We noticed people bathing in the rock pools as we were there, which you can just about spot in this picture! It shows how large the Ravana Falls is!
The playful monkeys are fun to watch. But beware, they are known to be over-friendly and will snatch food off you!
Diyaluma Waterfall, Sri Lanka’s second-highest waterfall, offers a breathtaking spectacle of nature’s majesty and an invigorating natural pool bath experience nestled amidst lush tropical foliage.
Little Adam’s Peak
During our stay at 98 acres, we took a morning hike to Little Adam’s Peak. The peak was visible from the balcony of our room (you can find more about our stay in our review of 98 acres hotel here). You can see our room behind us in the picture below. We were the second block in from the right!
After a brisk thirty-minute hike from the Ella 98 Acre Hotel, which was not too challenging.
We were rewarded with breathtaking views of the rolling hills and valleys below.
I would say Little Adam’s peak hike takes about 20 minutes from the bottom to get to the top. At the base, there are several exciting adventures that you can indulge in.
Ella Rock is a challenging, beautiful hike for all you nature lovers out there! It’s one of those captivating trails in Sri Lanka that’s tougher than Little Adam’s Peak. Plan a round trip of around 3 hours. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to find time to do the Ella Rock hike during our stay in Sri Lanka’s hill country.
Located close to Ella town, the hike takes you through tea plantations, dense forests and misty cloud cover that adds an element of mystery to the journey. At the top of Ella Rock, you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic views, making the challenging climb worth every drop of sweat.
Our experience on the Ravana Zipline was exhilarating. We were harnessed, launched off a platform, and soared above Ella’s stunning landscape.
The views were breathtaking and unlike anything we’d seen before. We opted for a video and photography package, with a GoPro to hold and photos taken by a photographer from various angles.
Unfortunately, our photos didn’t arrive via email as promised (I should have contacted them about it). Despite this hiccup, the zipline adventure was a highlight of our trip, and we highly recommend it for the thrill and unique perspective of Ella.
Ravana Climbing Wall
Although we didn’t personally try this one, the Ravana Climbing Wall looked like a fantastic challenge. Suitable for beginners, intermediate climbers, and advanced climbers, all the necessary equipment is provided.
With safety protocols in place, you can focus on the fun and challenge without worry. The multi-coloured grips cater to different skill levels, making everyone feel accomplished, whether they’re climbing for fun or training for their next rock face ascent. It is located at the base of little Adam’s peak hike trial.
Ravana Pool Club
Our visit to the Ravana Pool Club was brief but memorable. We enjoyed a drink and snapped some photos during our early morning visit but didn’t have enough time to relax and soak in the surroundings fully. Next time, we plan to spend a whole day at this up-and-coming hotspot.
Ravana Pool Club is Sri Lanka’s first international pool club, offering a retreat of a lifetime. Overlooking popular mountains like Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock, this scenic haven by 98 Acres Resort & Spa is a perfect blend of fun and serenity.
The interiors are inspired by Balinese architecture, and the poolside offers stunning views of the evergreen mountains.
With heated jacuzzis, infinity pools, relaxing day beds, bars, and dining options, it’s a place where you can unwind in style. They offer all-day packages, sunset pool parties, and VIP areas, ensuring a luxurious experience for every guest.
We didn’t get a chance to experience the Ravana Swing, but it’s worth mentioning for those looking for a unique thrill. This is the largest swing in Sri Lanka, with a scenic view of Ella Gap. You can swing solo or as a couple and even add a dress and floral headband for an Instagram-worthy photo!
It is located beside the famous Ravana Pool Club in Ella, close to the Little Adam’s Peak entrance. Open from 9.30 a.m. till 5.00 p.m., the swing offers spectacular views of Ella, making it a memorable experience.
Cooking in Ella
During our visit to Ella, we decided to dive into the local culture by taking a Sri Lankan cooking class.
Grand 39 Cooking Class – Cook with Iran
We were thrilled to learn from Iran at Grand 39, a fantastic cook and our charming guide for the day. We were taught how to create various Sri Lankan dishes, including egg hoppers, roti, brinjal moju, deviled chicken, potato curry, bean curry, dhal, and coconut sambal.
Each dish was a flavourful journey into the rich culinary traditions of Sri Lanka. While preparing our feast, we shared stories, laughed, and gained insights into their customs and traditions.
It was a heartwarming and enriching experience that added depth to our trip. It finished off with some delicious buffalo curd and honey.
Ella Spice Garden
Ella Spice Garden, nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country, has become another must-visit spot for those eager to delve into culinary exploration and deepen their understanding of spices. Offering tourists the opportunity to learn how to cook traditional dishes and learn about the many spices used in Sri Lankan cuisine.
We enjoyed the cooking classes so much that we’ll share some of the recipes and techniques we picked up on our recipe blog curry recipes at flawlessfood.co.uk. So, watch for some exciting Sri Lankan cuisine coming your way!
Visit a Jaggery Factory
We had the unique opportunity to visit a local jaggery factory. Greeted by the inviting aroma of boiling crushed sugarcane juice, marking the beginning of the jaggery-making process.
The sugarcane extract was then poured into moulds to cool and solidify into blocks of golden-brown jaggery. The tasting session revealed a rich, caramel-like sweetness that was distinctively different from any sugar we’d tasted before. Enthralled by its unique flavour, we brought some back home for our Sri Lankan cooking adventures.
Ella Train Ride
The Ella to Kandy or Kandy to Ella train ride offers picturesque views of the Sri Lankan countryside. Our reserved seats provided panoramic views from the back of the train, but we were more drawn to the space between carriages for unobstructed views. Read more on our blog post dedicated to the Sri Lanka Train Ride from Ella to Nana Oya.
Hanging out of the open doors while the train gently rocked was exhilarating, but watch out for the tunnels! Our September ride was comfortable and not too busy. It can be busier in peak seasons.
The journey is popular for travellers on a very tight budget. We only took a small journey on the train tracks from Ella train station to Nanu Oya to experience the thrill. Our driver picked us up to take us on our next adventure exploring Nuwara Eliya.
Stay tuned for a dedicated blog post about this unforgettable train journey!
Food in Ella
While we were in Ella, we couldn’t resist trying out the mouthwatering street food that perfectly showcased the area’s greatness.
We enjoyed a variety of lunchtime dishes, from roadside curries to buffalo curd desserts, sampled the local tea with jaggery and refreshing King Coconuts.
There is plenty of fruit available from roadside shacks and restaurants.
We also enjoyed our hotel’s (98 Acre Resort and Spa) delicious food with its fantastic evening menu and buffet breakfast.
Stay tuned for a separate blog post where I’ll delve deeper into the tantalizing Sri Lankan foods you should try while travelling there.
Where to stay in Ella
We were fortunate enough to call the beautiful 98 Acres Resort our home during our stay in Ella. This was a bit more luxurious than some places we stayed as it was our honeymoon! Read more about our stay at 98 Acres Resort and Spa.
Surrounded by tea plantations and boasting breathtaking views, this resort provided the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You can search for other places to stay in Ella.
Best time to visit Ella
When visiting Ella, Sri Lanka, the best time to go is January and February. These months offer the most favourable weather conditions, with relatively dry and pleasant temperatures.
Due to the climate and other factors, June to August is also a popular time to visit. However, Ella is a destination that can be enjoyed throughout the year. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before planning your trip to ensure you make the most of your visit.
We visited Sri Lanka in September 2023 and although it is the start of the wet season it meant we got to enjoy many of the main attractions without the crowd of tourists, and not as hot as peak season! So I would recommend going at this time, if you don’t mind a little bit of rain!
Where to visit after Ella, Sri Lanka
From Ella, we went on to Nuwara Eliya, a 2-hour journey. We will post more about things to do in Nuwara Eliya soon.
You could visit one of the many national parks from Ella. We visited Udawalawe National Park, Willpatu National Park and Yala National Park, but never made it to the Horton Plains National Park.
If you’re interested in our detailed itinerary, including the places we visited, where we stayed, and what we did, we will update our blog posts weekly with more.
Ella truly captured our hearts with its natural wonders and warm hospitality. It’s a destination that should be on every traveller’s bucket list. Stay tuned for more travel tales as we explore Sri Lanka, a magical country!
Have you seen our travel guide to The Pearl in Doha, another fantastic location we have visited.