21 Incredible Places to Visit in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
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Nuwara Eliya is Sri Lanka’s highest city sitting at nearly 2,000m above sea level. This city offers amazing views and to be honest, you’ll be impressed just by the drive to get to Nuwara Eliya alone.
But besides beautiful views, there is a HUGE list of things to do in Nuwara Eliya and awesome places to visit!
We almost skipped Nuwara Eliya completely. Some other travelers we met said they didn’t really like the city and therefore we nearly didn’t go.
On some strange stroke of luck, we changed our minds last minute and decided to check it out. What we found was a gorgeous lake, rolling hills and large mountains, and a beautiful colonial-style city with a ton of amazing places to see and things to do!
In fact, there are so many things to do in Nuwara Eliya that it might be hard to choose where to spend your time. On the list below, I’ve also included a rating system based on my opinion of the attraction to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
So here you have it, 21 places to visit in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka including the absolute best things to do!
1. Lake Gregory
|Location:||Nuwara Eliya city (you can’t miss it!)|
|Cost:|| 200 LKR entrance fee, 2000 LKR for a swan, |
4000 LKR for a speed boat, 2000 LKR for a horse ride
|Rating:||4/5 – A beautiful lake definitely worth exploring |
while in Nuwara Eliya!
Lake Gregory is the large lake in the center of Nuwara Eliya. It is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and mountains – simply picture perfect!
There are a few different ways you can explore Lake Gregory:
1) On Foot. There are some beautiful walking trails next to the lake. Going for a walk here is a peaceful way to spend an hour or so.
2) Hire a speed boat. There are dozens of different boats for hire along the lake’s edge. They range in price but average about 4,000 LKR for an entire boat for 30 minutes.
3) Swan Paddle-boat. You can rent a paddle-boat shaped like a swan for 2,000 LKR per 30 minutes.
4) Go horseback riding. You can ride a horse along the lake (guided by a person of course) for 2,000 LKR.
There is a 200 LKR entrance fee for foreigners to explore the main park of Lake Gregory. When you pay this fee they will give you a ticket. This ticket is valid for the entire day so hold onto it in case you want to return later on.
There are food stalls at Lake Gregory Park offering everything from traditional Sri Lankan curries and roti to hamburgers and ice cream! It is all very cheap and makes for a good place to come and eat. Keep in mind that most of the stalls start to close around 6:30-7 pm so get there early!
A great sightseeing tour around Nuwara Eliya…
This tour takes you to Lake Gregory as well as many of the other most beautiful places around Nuwara Eliya for only $95! It includes a guide as well as lunch. Book online in advance to avoid missing out!
2. Strawberry farms
|Location:||20-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya|
|Cost:|| 100 LKR per person entrance fee for the farm visit, |
300 for a strawberry milkshake and 400+ for a dessert
|Rating:|| 3/5 – I’ve been to strawberry farms, |
hence the lower rating. If you haven’t
been before then this is something you
really should do!
On the outskirts of Nuwara Eliya, there are many strawberry farms! At these farms, you can pick fresh strawberries, explore the farms, or even have a strawberry milkshake or dessert.
There are two main farms for visitors. Ramya or Jagro Simply Strawberries. I went to both. Ramya offers a farm visit (you just get to walk into the strawberry greenhouse) for 100 LKR per person. Jagro didn’t offer a farm tour when we visited but they told us they would start one soon.
Both places had a café and offered a variety of drinks including strawberry juices and milkshakes. Jagro had a full dessert menu though and the brownie with ice cream and strawberries was to die for!
These farms are located about a 20-minute drive from town on the way to Horton Plains National Park. You can drive there yourself (rent a scooter or tuk-tuk), hire a driver, or go on an organized tour! Otherwise, there are a couple of strawberry shops in town that will make you drinks or desserts with fresh strawberries.
3. Hakgala Botanical Gardens
|Location:||10-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya|
|Cost:|| 1,500 per person entrance fee, 500 LKR |
|Rating:||3/5 – Nice gardens but not really worth |
the entrance fee if you ask me
As the second-largest of only 5 botanic gardens in Sri Lanka, Hakgala Botanical Gardens are a very popular place to visit in Nuwara Eliya. The gardens feature over 10,000 different species of flora all displayed in a variety of manicured gardens and forest to walk through.
The downside of visiting the Hakgala Botanical Gardens is the price. Foreigners must pay the hefty price of 1,500 LKR just to enter (a bit steep for a garden don’t you think?) That being said, if you are visiting in the spring and you want some pretty flower pictures then this could very well be worth it!
This particular tour of Nuwara Eliya includes a stop at the Hakgala Botanical Gardens are well as many other points of interest! The best part though? It is a private tour and INCLUDES your entrance fee to the gardens and other attractions!
4. Sankhagiri Maha Viharaya Golden Hindu Temple
|Location:|| 10 minutes from Nuwara Eliya (very close to |
the Botanic Gardens)
|Rating:||4/5 – Beautiful and unique temple but just a quick |
stop. Worth it if you passing by for sure!
If you are going to the botanical gardens make sure to stop at this gorgeous Hindu temple. I particularly liked this temple simply because it was different than any other Hindu temple I’ve seen before. It was peach and gold in color and set against the mountains as its backdrop. It is just a quick roadside stop worthy of a photo or two.
Also, there were a ton of monkeys hanging around the temple when we were there. I just love monkeys so I enjoyed watching them for a little bit too.
5. Victoria Park
|Location:|| Right in the heart of Nuwara Eliya and |
walking distance from many hotels.
|Cost:||300 LKR per person (foreigner)|
|Rating:||5/5 – A well-kept park with gorgeous gardens |
for a fraction of the price of the botanical
gardens. Convenient to get to and beautiful!
Victoria Park is a park in the middle of Nuwara Eliya and reminded me of a miniature botanical garden. The entire area is fenced off so you must enter at one of the entrance gates and pay the 300 LKR entrance fee.
The park isn’t huge and can be explored in about 30-minutes. There are some really pretty gardens including a ton of sunflowers.
Keep in mind that the park closes at 6 pm so it is a daytime-only activity.
The Hill Cottage is a gorgeous family-owned hotel located right next to Victoria Park. If you are looking for a comfortable and affordable stay in central Nuwara Eliya consider booking this hotel! Otherwise, check out all of the other hotels in Nuwara Eliya and their ratings/reviews on Booking.com!
6. Lover’s Leap waterfall
|Location:|| Up the hill from Nuwara Eliya. Can be reached |
by tuk-tuk (15-minute drive) or walking about
|Rating:||3/5 – An average (at best) waterfall but the views |
of town were very nice from up there.
Lover’s Leap Waterfall is a very famous waterfall in Nuwara Eliya and to be honest, I’m not so sure why. Well actually, I think it is the love story behind the waterfall that makes it famous (something about a king and his lover who jumped off the waterfall together) rather than the waterfall’s actual beauty.
The truth is that I enjoyed the views of the town and surrounding mountains more from Lover’s Leap Waterfall than I did the actual waterfall. There are definitely better waterfalls in Sri Lanka but if you have some spare time on your hands, check it out anyways.
7. Galway’s Land National Park
|Location:|| Within Nuwara Eliya city limits (a 5-minute |
drive from the center)
|Cost:||$10 USD per person|
|Rating:||3/5 – Great for bird or nature lovers, could be |
a miss for anyone else.
Galway’s Land National Park is a small national park within Nuwara Eliya city limits that was created to preserve the unique ecosystem here. It is a popular place for bird watchers to go as there are more than 20 rare bird species said to be found in the park.
The only way to explore Galway’s is on foot. Get a ride to the front entrance and then spend a couple of hours walking the trails. If you are really keen, hire a guide to help you spot some of the wildlife.
The park is open daily from 6 am to 5 pm.
Keep in mind, those who are not huge bird fans (and those without binoculars) might find this park a bit underwhelming.
8. Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya (for the afternoon High Tea!)
|Location:||In the heart of Nuwara Eliya|
|Price:|| 1500 LKR per person for the High Tea (three |
teas and a selection of snacks and cakes)
|Rating:||5/5 – I had the best time here. I would recommend |
it 100% and go back again if I had the chance!
This is easily one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya in my opinion. Every day from 3:30-6pm the Grand Hotel does a “high tea” or afternoon tea.
For 1500 LKR per person you get to sit in their gorgeous restaurant or outdoor patio, try three different kinds of teas (the selection is HUGE), and have some delicious snacks.
For me, it wasn’t just about the tasty tea and food but rather about the entire experience. The wait staff are incredible and the setting is 5-star. Wandering around the gardens afterward is also spectacular.
If you plan on going I advise to arrive right at 3:30 to grab one of the tables with a view, or even better, reserve a table in advance.
The High Tea at the Grand Hotel is truly a unique experience in Nuwara Eliya.
But you don’t just need to go to the Grand Hotel for the High Tea, you can actually stay overnight there (rooms are very reasonably priced considering how elegant and upper-class the hotel is) or just visit. They have gorgeous gardens open for the public to explore and a restaurant you can book in for dinner.
You can book your transfer from the internatinal airport in Colombo directly to the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya online in advance to for a stree-free journey!
9. Moon Plains
|Location:||A 25-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya|
|Cost:|| 400 LKR entrance fee per person and |
2000 LKR for a jeep
|Rating:||4/5 – A really unique experience. Cheaper |
than the Horton Plains and only takes up
a short time of your day with amazing views
(on a clear day.)
The Moon Plains is one of the more popular places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. Here, you jump in a jeep and get driven around a beautiful area. The top viewpoint is said to resemble that of the World’s End hike and is the perfect option for those that don’t have time to visit the Horton Plain National Park.
The downside to the Moon Plains is that you MUST visit in a jeep. The entrance fee is only 400 LKR but expect to pay around 2000 LKR for a jeep. The price isn’t too bad if you are in a larger group (the jeeps hold up to 8 people) but is a bit expensive for a solo traveler considering the ride only lasts about half an hour.
The best time to visit the Moon Plains is first thing in the morning. As the day goes on it generally gets very cloudy and you won’t get much of a view.
The Moonplains Hemaya Bungalow is a cute little hotel located close to both the Moon Plains and Nuwara Eliya. For only $70 you get a Deluxe Double Room with breakfast included and mountain views!
10. Adam’s Peak
|Location:||A 3-hour drive from Nuwara Eliya|
|Cost:||Free to hike, but you must find/pay for |
transport or a tour
|Rating:||5/5 – In all honesty, I didn’t hike Adam’s Peak |
as the long drive and bad weather conditions
turned me off. But, from what I hear it is really
special and one of the best things to do in Sri Lanka!
Many people do not realize that Adam’s Peak can actually be hiked from Nuwara Eliya. It is a bit of a drive (3 hours), but on a comfy bus, you can just sleep the entire way.
The best tours depart around midnight in order to get you there for sunrise. Hiking early in the morning is crucial in order to guarantee the best views. Expect to pay between 2,000-7,000 LKR for transport to Adam’s Peak and back to Nuwara Eliya depending on how many people you can get to go together. Also, keep in mind that Adam’s Peak has an entrance fee of $35 USD per person.
One word of advice, Adam’s Peak is not only a popular place for tourists but also locals. So, if you want to avoid very hectic crowds I recommend visiting during the week only and not on the weekends or holidays.
There is one really cool tour that actually involves hiking through the Peak Wildnerness sanctuary at night to get to the start of Adam’s Peak! This allows you to get get up to the top first thing in the morning and enjoy views many other people don’t see! The tour departs not far from Nuwara Eliya and could be a good option if Adam’s Peak is on your to-do list! Book it in advance online!
11. Single Tree Hill
|Location:||Right in Nuwara Eliya center|
|Rating:|| 4/5 – Beautiful hike and easily accessible. A great |
option for those who aren’t keen enough for Adam’s
Peak or the World’s End hike.
Single Tree Hill is a short hike to a lookout right in Nuwara Eliya. The hike takes around 90 minutes to get to the top where you are rewarded with views of the town, lake, mountains, and surrounding tea fields.
Once again, this activity is best done in the morning in order to ensure you actually get the views. The mist starts to set in around 10 am and can really prevent you from seeing anything!
This day tour around Nuwara Eliya includes a stop at a Single Tree viewoint as well as many other places on this list! Check it out and book online in advance for less than $20!
If you want to actually hike Single Tree Hill with a guide, this morning tour takes you up thh hill and back down before enjoying an included picnic lunch at the lake!
|Location:||A 2-hour drive or train ride from Nuwara Eliya|
|Rating:||5/5 – Ella is a place you must visit while in |
Sri Lanka, and going on a day trip from
Nuwara Eliya is a great way to go!
Many people choose to stay in Ella for a couple of days, but if that isn’t part of your itinerary or you’re just short on time then no need to worry – just visit on a day trip!
From Nuwara Eliya you can join a tour that will directly transfer you to Ella and show you some of the best places. The drive to Ella is gorgeous in itself, and then you’ll be able to check out Ella Rock, the Nine Arches Bridge, Little Adam’s Peak, the cute town, waterfalls, and more!
You can book this particular tour in advance online. It is a full-day experience and includes a buffet lunch, a guide, and transport for just $95!
13. Tea Factory and Tea Field
|Location:|| Pedro Tea Plantation is about a 20-minute |
drive from Nuwara Eliya
|Cost:|| 250 LKR for just the factory tour, $25 USD for |
a half-day private tour including transport
|Rating:||5/5 – Visiting the tea plantations and factories |
in Sri Lanka is simply a must-do in my opinion!
Visiting a tea factory is a must in the area! If you haven’t already visited a tea factory in Ella or Haputale (as they are all pretty much the same) then you should do so in Nuwara Eliya!
The main tea factory in Nuwara Eliya is called Pedro Tea Plantation. Here you can pay 250 LKR and go on a tour of the factory and learn all about how tea is made. To be honest, I found it very interesting.
For a more in-depth experience jump on a private tour of the factory as well as tea plucking. These tours will set you back about $25 USD but they include transport as well as the entrance fee to the factory. This tour takes a half-day.
14. Pidurutalagala (Sri Lanka’s highest peak!)
|Location:|| A 40-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya city |
center to the top viewpoint
|Cost:||200 LKR per vehicle|
|Rating:||4/5 – A really nice view (if you get a clear view) |
and a great alternative to hiking the many other
viewpoints in the area.
From Nuwara Eliya, it is possible to go up to Sri Lanka’s tallest peak! Sitting at 2,524 m (8,281 ft) above sea level, this viewpoint (Pidurutalagala) offers panoramic views of the island! And the best part? You can drive all the way to the top!
The entrance gates are about a 10-minute drive from town with the highest viewpoint another 30-minute drive. It costs 200 LKR per vehicle and foreigners need to present their passports.
This is another one of those activities that is best done in clear weather.
15. A guesthouse with a view
|Location:||A 10-minute walk from the Lake|
|Cost:|| Guesthouses go for $7-$50 USD per night for |
a double room
|Rating:||4/5 – You must enjoy the view while you’re |
staying in Nuwara Eliya
Around Lake Gregory in Nuwara Eliya, there are many great guesthouses located up on the hills. These guesthouses are very cheap and offer incredible views!
We stayed at one called Serenus Boutique Villa and it was very nice and had the best view. We had breakfast each morning overlooking the lake – a peaceful and memorable way to start each day.
Check out these awesome guesthouses with amazing views:
Gregory Lake Holiday Home
This budget-friendly guesthouse offers double rooms for only $18 a night! It is located only 600m from Lake Gregory and the family who owns the place is super friendly!
Large, modern rooms offering lake and mountain views – amazing! Rooms cost about $30 and have a balcony, TV, kettle, and ensuite!
This small guesthouse doesn’t compromise comfort. It is modern, large, and offers floor to ceiling windows with lake views! It is only 300m from the lake and for $65 you can have a queen room complete with everything you could possibly need (including breakfast!)
16. The fruit market or central market
|Location:||Next to Victoria Park in Nuwara Eliya|
|Cost:|| FREE to visit (pay for the fruit you want to |
|Rating:||5/5 – A quick thing to do but really enjoyable. |
It is also a great way to support these small
local fruit stands with business!
I know what you’re thinking, going to the fruit market doesn’t sound that great. Well, I’m here to tell you that it really is! The fruit market in Nuwara Eliya is the perfect place to try a ton of local fruit for next to nothing.
We wandered to the fruit market thinking we would just a buy some bananas but when we got there we saw a selection of fruit that we had never seen before! We started asking the men at the stalls what each fruit was, they would tell us and then we’d buy one and try it! The workers were super friendly and helpful and they seemed to enjoy showing us all of this new fruit.
Expect to pay between 25-50 LKR per piece of fruit.
17. Themparadu restaurant
|Location:||Right next to Victoria Park.|
|Cost:||600 LKR for a milkshake|
|Rating:||4/5 – They have the BEST milkshakes – who |
doesn’t love a milkshake?!
Right on the edge of Victoria Park is a restaurant called Themparadu. We visited because it was rated #1 on TripAdvisor for “Cheap Eats” in Nuwara Eliya at the time. The food was really tasty, but what was special to me about this place was their milkshakes!
For only about 600 LKR you can get a huge milkshake topped with scoops of ice cream and chocolate. They resemble those really fancy milkshakes you get in western countries and would expect to pay $10 or more for.
The setting of this restaurant is lovely too as they have a patio that looks out onto Victoria Park. This is the perfect place to come before or after exploring the park.
18. World’s End Hike
|Location:|| Horton Plains National Park (about 1.5 hours |
from Nuwara Eliya by car)
|Cost:|| 4,000 LKR approximate entrance fee (fees fluctuate |
based on the strength of currency against the USD and
the number of people in your vehicle, the more people
the cheaper the overall “car fee” and “service fee” is
split between everybody.
|Rating:||4/5 – An awesome hike, the only downside is the price!|
The World’s End hike is one of the most famous in Sri Lanka. This 9km long hike is a loop in Horton Plains National Park which offers an incredible view about halfway through. The steep cliff at the viewpoint is where this infamous hike gets its name.
Due to the weather in Nuwara Eliya, it is important to get up early and head to the hike. On a clear day, it is possible to see all the way to the ocean, but on a foggy or cloudy day, you might not be able to see a thing! This is why most people depart Nuwara Eliya around 5 am.
Leaving at 5 am gives you enough time to drive to the entrance gates (about an hour), then drive to the beginning of the hike (another 30 minutes or so), and then hike to the viewpoint before the daily cloud sets in.
The downside to the World’s End hike is the price. Expect to pay about 2,500 LKR for shared transport (at a minimum) and about 4,000 LKR entrance fee. To me, this is a hefty price for a short couple-hour long hike. That being said, you also pass a beautiful waterfall along the way called Baker’s Falls and could opt to do another hike in the area too while you’re there.
I suggest organzing your transport/tour to and from the hike in advance. This tour is only $25 and includes pick-up and drop off at your hotel as well as a guide! It leaves at 4:30am so you’re sure to be the first group at the start of the trail!
If you aren’t a big hiker but still want to experience Horton Plains National Park, then this tour is a great sightseeing tour including some great viewpoints and the option to stop at a cheese and ice cream factory!
19. Ambewela Farm or New Zealand Farm
|Location:|| A 30-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya on the way to |
Horton Plains National Park
|Cost:|| 100 LKR for a farm tour, free to visit the shops and |
|Rating:||3/5 – Great way to spend an hour, but nothing to rave |
about. If you have never been to a dairy farm before
then you might rate it higher!
There are two very popular farms near Nuwara Eliya, Ambewela Farm and New Zealand Farm. Both farms are actually working dairy farms and both invite tourists to come and have a look around.
A visit to the farm will have you trying fresh milk or yogurt, checking out the cows, and just relaxing n a beautiful environment. New Zealand farm actually offers a guided “farm tour” (which is more of just a guided walk around to see some cows) but it only costs 100 LKR per person so it is worth doing if you’re there.
I highly recommend trying Ambewela’s drinking yogurt – it is sooooo good!
20. Kandella Lake
|Location:|| A 10-minute drive from Nuwara Eliya on the |
way to Horton Plains National Park or
Ambewela/New Zealand farms.
|Rating:||2/5 – I wouldn’t go out of your way to visit but |
if you’re driving by you might as well stop and
have a little look around.
Just on the outskirts of Nuwara Eliya is Kandella Lake. This is a man-made freshwater reservoir. Here you can just sit by the lake, enjoy the views, or go for a short walk.
To be completely honest, I didn’t rate it as that amazing. It is pretty but there isn’t much to do or see here. It could be a great spot for lunch though if you packed a picnic.
You can jump on a tour that stops at Kandella Lake, Horton Plains National Park, as well as a strawberry farm and ice cream factory! It is a great day-tour from Nuwara Eliya hitting lots of the best things to do! For details and availability, click here!
21. Salmiya (an amazing pizza restaurant!)
|Location:|| Nuwara Eliya town center, just behind |
Hotel Vindiv on Kalukelle Road
|Cost:||700-1500 LKR per pizza|
|Rating:||5/5 – you won’t be disappointed!|
Good western food in Sri Lanka can be hard to come by, and when you do find it, the price is usually very high. Not at Salmiya though. This small locally owned (one-woman operation) makes some of the best pizza I’ve ever had! The handmade dough makes a thin and crispy crust and she has more than 50 different pizzas to choose from.
The price is also very good ranging from 700 LKR to 1500 for one pizza. The pizzas are decently big and could feed two people (although I recommend getting one all for yourself as they are THAT good!)
If you are craving pizza then you need to visit Salmiya.
Getting Around Nuwara Eliya
So, I know what you’re thinking – all of these places are great…but how do I get to all of them without my own transport?! We rented our own tuk-tuk while in Sri Lanka so we didn’t have this problem, but if you do then there is a couple of options:
There are lots of nice bike path around Nuwara Eliya. You can either rent a bicycle and explore on your own, or you can sign up for a guided city bicycle tour!
Take a guided city tour
If you want to see all of the highlights in Nuwara Eliya in just one day, go on a guided city tour! No research needed, all you have to do is book and then be ready at your hotel for pick-up!
This particular tour is only $23 and shows you all around the city and outskirts in a tuk-tuk!
Rent a scooter/motorbike
If an organized day trip around Nuwara Eliya doesn’t sound like your thing, then maybe get a little adventurous and rent a scooter or motorbike for a day or two instead! Just be sure to rent from a reputable company to avoid any hazard or problems.
Hire your own taxi driver for the day
If you want to go to many places in one then consider hiring a taxi driver for an entire day! Negotiate a base price and then he will be your own private transport all-day. This will be cheaper than hiring a taxi for each individual trip as you need it!
Best Activities and Tours in Nuwara Eliya
There are some great tours and things to do in Nuwara Eliya that you check out and book in advance…
Browse a ton of different tours and things to do in Nuwara Eliya on Viator here (a trusted website for booking that we personally love!)
I hope you enjoy exploring Nuwara Eliya as much as I did. Let me know what you thought of the city in the comments below – I’d love to know if we were the only ones who really loved this city!
November 14, 2019