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15 Best Things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka

Train from Ella to Kandy

Ella was at the top of our Sri Lanka bucket list and even with having such high expectations we sure weren’t disappointed!

During our short visit, we fell in love with the place, partly because of the huge variety of fun things to do in Ella.

From short hikes to lessons on Sri Lankan tradition, our time in Ella was one of our most memorable.

Here are the best things to do and places to visit in Ella – one of the most beautiful places in Sri Lanka.


1. Hike Little Adam’s Peak

Little Adams Peak Ella
Not a bad way to start the day!
Location:In Ella, you can start from town or get a tuk-tuk
to Ravana Zipline
Cost:Free
Rating:5/5 – Really beautiful short hike with amazing views

Just because its called Little Adam’s Peak doesn’t mean its any less amazing – it’s just easier to get to!

To reach the top from Ella it takes around an hour, however, if you want to shave some time off the hike then consider getting a tuk-tuk to the start of the trail at Ravana Zipline. From here its only 20 minutes to the top.

Once you’re at the top you can then walk the ridgeline and explore. There are actually three peaks on Little Adam’s Peak and it takes around 30 minutes to reach the furthest one.

Due to safety reasons, I wouldn’t recommend hiking to the last peak if you’re traveling with children. Here it gets very narrow and steep.

Little Adams Peak is the most accessible hike in Ella and well worth checking out for the amazing views!

Guided tours are a great way to take the stress out of your holiday. This tour to Little Admas Peak and Nine Arch Bridge is great value at $64 and the best part is they time the tour to see the train at the bridge! It includes a village lunch, snacks, admission fees, guide and water.


2. Flying Ravana Zipline

Ravana Zipline
Its a great zipline with amazing views!
Location:Right in Ella at the bottom of Adam’s Peak trail
Cost:$15/$20 USD, Child/Adult
Rating: 4/5 – Really fun if you haven’t done much ziplining
and also very unique

One of the newest attractions in Ella is the Flying Ravana Zipline. It’s over 500m long and travels at over 80km per hour. It’s one activity that’s sure to get your heart racing!

During the ride, you can take in the stunning views around you as you zoom past the viewing deck of spectators. As it’s a dual zip line which means you can race your friend to the bottom or just sit back and enjoy the ride together.

The Ravana Zipline costs $20 USD for an adult and $15 USD for a child. The Zipline is located at the bottom of Little Adam’s Peak and is a great activity to pair with the hike.


3. Nine Arch Bridge for Sunrise

Nine Arch Bridge Ella
Watching the morning train on the Nine Arch Bridge Ella
Location:5-minute tuk-tuk from Ella town center or a
30-minute walk
Cost:Free
Rating: 5/5 – A stunning place to see and a must-do on any visit!

I’m sure almost everyone visits the Nine Arch Bridge during their visit to Ella, however, very few go for sunrise.

To me, it’s such a shame because not only are there fewer people (sometimes none) but there are two trains in the morning – one at 6:15 am and then at 6:40 am.

Of course in the afternoon there are lots more trains, however none as close together as in the morning.

It doesn’t really matter which viewpoint you go to but I recommend either one at each end of the bridge. From both these viewpoints, you can easily cross the tracks to the other viewpoints. It literally takes a minute to walk across! The app Maps.Me has all of the different viewpoint marked on it.

Getting to the bridge is easy by walking and to the closest viewpoint its 1.8 km from the town center.

If you don’t want to walk, consider getting a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk from town should only cost 300 rupees to one of the walking tracks to the bridge. Then its a 5 to 10-minute walk to the train tracks below.

If you want to visit the bridge at sunrise then be sure to book your tuk-tuk the night before.


4. Join a Sri Lankan Cooking class

Cooking lesson in Sri Lanka
Sri Lankan Food is surprisingly easy to make!
Location:Guesthouses in Ella
Cost:1,500-2,000 rupees
Rating: 5/5 – Highly recommend in Ella or anywhere in Sri Lanka!

I did my first ever international cooking class in Ella and guess what? I absolutely loved it!

Despite traveling to over 40 countries I just never seemed to get round to doing it, but, I’m really glad I did in Sri Lanka.

We did our cooking class through our guest house and we learned how to cook four curries from scratch…and I mean scratch.

The class involved us making everything including our coconut cream – which until the tour it was a mystery to me how it was made!

Our class cost us 1000 rupees plus 400 rupees for the food each (1400 rupees each). The price varies depending on what meat, if any, you choose.

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We opted for vegetarian but chicken or fish was only 50 rupees more. After the class, we got to stuff our faces with all the food we cooked.

Overall I think this was my favorite thing I did in Ella and something I personally recommend. If you book a tour with one of the cooking schools they charge 2000 rupees and usually cook 5 curries with meat. One of the most popular is the Spice Garden you can see their reviews in the link below.


5. Visit Ravana Falls

Ravan Falls Ella, Sri Lanka
Location:A 10-minute drive from Ella
Cost:Free
Rating:3/5 – It’s a nice waterfall but you can’t swim here

The first waterfall on our things to do in Ella list is Ravana Falls. This huge waterfall is really quite impressive to see. Ravana Falls is also one of the closest waterfalls to Ella. This not only makes it very accessible but also cheap.

The waterfall located around a 10 minutes’ drive from town along the main highway. Every tuk-tuk driver or taxi will know where it is and if you’re heading out on your own then just look for it on google maps or maps.me.

Although you can’t really swim at Ravana Falls, it’s still a nice place to visit.

Around the falls you’ll always see lots of monkeys and there are some juice bars and small shops on the highway near the falls. A tuk-tuk to the falls and back should cost around 600 rupees.


6. Take the train to Haputale or Kandy

train from Kandy to Ella
The train ride between Kandy and Ella is said to be one of the top 10 most scenic in the world.
Location:The train station is walking distance from the main street
Cost:50 to 1,100 rupees depending on destination and class
Rating:5/5 – It’s a beautiful train ride and very cheap!

The train ride from Ella to Kandy is one of the most beautiful in the world. This famous route travels through the vast and somewhat never-ending tea plantations in Sri Lanka.

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The train to Kandy takes around 4 hours and there are three levels of classes available – from first to third. If you value comfort, be sure to go with first-class, but if you want a local experience go with third – it’ll be a train ride you won’t forget!

The train from Ella leaves for Kandy a few times a day. You can book tickets in advance two ways. One is on 12Go Asia and the other is on Viator. My choice would be Viator for the simple fact they are cheaper and well trusted however either is fine.

With that said, you don’t have to go all the way to Kandy…Instead, consider stopping in the small town of Haputale for a night or two. Haputale is actually closer to some amazing places to visit such as Lipton Seat and there are lots of things to do in Haputale.


7. Go on safari in Yala or Udawalawe NP

mother and bay elephant in Udawalawe National Park
We loved seeing the mothers and babies!
Location:Yala or Udawalawe National Park
Cost:$100 +
Rating:5/5 – Going on safari was the best thing I did in Sri Lanka

Ella is the perfect place to spend much of your time in Sri Lanka. However, in Ella, you can’t see elephants or leopards. So instead I highly recommend joining a safari for at least one day.

There are plenty of tours that leave from Ella and head off to either Udawalawe or Yala National Park. In all honesty, I preferred my Udawalawe safari however, in Yala you can see all the animals in Udawalwe plus leopards!

Regardless of where you go, you simply must join a safari in Sri Lanka during your visit!

Large male elephant in Udawalawe National Park

Safari to Udawalawe from Ella

You can pre-book a huge range of tours from Ella to Udawalawe here with trusted tour operators. Prices vary from $60 to $150 depending on inclusions.

elephants being followed in Udawalawe National park

Yala National Park safari from Ella

This tour to Yala National Park includes pickup from your hotel, transport in an air-conditioned vehicle, park fees, guide, safari tour and refreshments for only $120.


8. Day trip to Horton Plains National Park

View from Worlds End within the Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka.
View from Worlds End within the Horton Plains National Park in Sri Lanka. Photo Credit: “Oskanov”
Location:1.5-hour drive from Ella
Cost:National Park entrance fee is about 4,000 rupees
Rating:3.5/5 – Awesome NP with a stunning hike but is
far from Ella and expensive to visit.

Horton Plains National Park is one of Sri Lanka’s lesser-visited parks but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting.

In fact, Horton Plains is home to one of the best hikes in Sri Lanka… Worlds End.

The Worlds End trail is a 9.5 km circuit that offers breathtaking views along the way. It’s not just the nice views that make it so popular though, because along the trail you can also visit a few waterfalls and truly get lost in nature.

There are also other waterfalls you can visit in the park depending on time but the World’s End circuit is the main attraction.

Entrance to the national park isn’t cheap and costs around 4,000 rupees per person (this changes depending on group size and vehicle). You will need to allow a full day to visit the National Park and complete the hike.

In my opinion its a great alternative to the overcrowded Adam’s Peak. The national park is actually closer to Nuwara Eliya but its still common to visit from Ella.

Horton Plains is a long drive from Ella so I really recommend joining an organized tour for this one. They are fairly priced considering how far it is and how much the entrance fees cost.


9. Visit Lipton Seat

Lipton seat, Haputale
Taking in the views from Lipton Seat
Location:1-hour drive from Ella
Cost: 100 rupees entrance fee (per person) and around
2,000 for transport there and back
Rating:5/5 – Best thing I did in the tea region, absolutely
recommend

Lipton Seat is a stunning viewpoint named after the pioneer of tea Thomas Lipton.

Although Thomas has since passed his legacy of bringing tea to the working-class lives on, to this day you can visit his favorite viewpoint in Sri Lanka… Lipton Seat.

The viewpoint overlooks the vast tea fields he once owned and no trip to Sri Lanka would be complete without a visit to Lipton Seat.

Lipton Seat is located around an hour drive from Ella and is most commonly visited for sunrise. Once at Lipton Seat you can explore the many tea plantations or just enjoy a tea break at the Lipton Seat restaurant.

Once you’re done taking in the views you can visit the Dambatenne Tea Factory. The factory is located 7 km from Lipton Seat on your way back to Ella. You can either walk the 7 km through the tea fields or take the tuk-tuk you’ve hired.

From Ella, a tuk-tuk will cost around 2000 rupees for the return trip. If you want to make it up for sunrise be sure to leave at 5 am and book your tuk-tuk the day before.

Our tuk tuk at Lipton Seat Sri Lanka

Lipton Seat day tour from Ella

This is a great tour if you only want to visit Lipton Seat. It includes your transport by tuk-tuk, entrance tickets, refreshments, hotel pick up and guide for only $45.

Walking down the tea fields at Liptons Seat

Lipton Seat and Dambatenne Tea factory tour

This next tour also includes a visit to the Dambatenne Tea Factory and lunch as well as everything mentioned above for $70. A little more pricey but you really get the complete tour!


10. Visit a Tea Factory

The Dambatenne Tea Factory Haputale
You cant take photos inside the tea factory so this will have to do!
Location:Just outside Ella or at Lipton Seat
Cost:250 to 500 rupees
Rating: 3/5 – Our tour was rather rushed but it was still very
interesting

You simply can’t come to Sri Lanka without visiting a tea factory. I mean, it’s like going to Italy and not eating pizza!

There are a few tea factories in Ella but the most popular one to visit is the Halpewatte Tea Factory. This tea factory is actually the largest tea factory in Sri Lanka.

To get there you will need a taxi or your own transport as its located just over 6 km from the town. A tuk-tuk there and back will cost around 1500 rupees. A tour of the tea factory costs 525 rupees per person and runs for 40 minutes.

If you have decided to visit Lipton Seat then your best option is to visit the Dambatenne Tea Factory on your way down from the viewpoint. This tea factory is often visited with a Lipton Seat tour. The factory tour here costs 250 rupees but isn’t as in-depth as the one in Ella.

You can book a Lipton Seat tour with a visit to Dambatenne Tea Factory here!


11. Diyaluma Falls

Diyaluma Falls
Photo credit – Jade Morgan
Location:1 to 1.5 hours from Ella
Cost:Free
Rating:4/5 – On a nice day the views from the top are
amazing and it is a really good place to swim

If your going to visit one waterfall in Sri Lanka then Diyaluma Falls is a great choice. It’s Sri Lanka’s second-largest waterfall and an epic place to explore.

The falls are 220m tall and you can both swim at the bottom of the falls or the top – with the top being the better option.

The top part of the waterfall is made up of small pools you can swim in. Here you can enjoy the breathtaking views from 220m up. During the wet season, it becomes far too dangerous to swim in the pools closest to the edge due to the amount of water rushing down the falls.

From Ella, it’s over an hour drive to the falls by tuk-tuk and there are actually two different ways to go.

One takes you above the falls on Poonagala Road and you must walk down. The other takes you to the bottom of the falls at Koslanda village and you must walk up.

My recommendation?

Take the route to the top and walk down. Then get your tuk tuk to meet you at Koslanda village. This way, you never have to hike upwards!

A tuk-tuk to the falls and back costs around 2,000 rupees but you can also get the local bus for much cheaper and for this trip your gonna need to allow at least 4 hours.

If you want to take the stress out of planing in then check out this tour on Viator. The company lets you customize your trip and visit as many or as little attractions in Ella.


12. Hike Ella Rock

landscape with tea plantations and The Ella Rock
Landscape with tea plantations and Ella Rock. Photo Credit: “badahos”
Location:The start of trail is a 10-minutes walk from Ella
Cost:Free
Rating:4/5 – One of the most popular things to do in Ella and
great for those who love hiking

If you’re after a more challenging hike than Little Adam’s Peak then Ella Rock is perfect.

Although the trail has similar views to Little Adam’s Peak, it does take you much higher up for a more panoramic view.

The trail to the top and back takes around 4 hours from Ella and is 8km long. It’s not overly hard however you will need to walk up to the viewpoint.

It can be somewhat confusing to get to the top so be sure to read this guide before attempting it on your own.

If you would feel more comfortable with a local guide you can hire them in town or book this organized tour.


13. Ravana cave

Location:The start of the trail is a 15-minute walk from Ella
Cost:Free
Rating:2/5 – It’s interesting but not that amazing. If you
have time to kill then go for it.

The Ravana Cave is another interesting attraction in Ella. The caves are said to be the place King Ravana used to hide Princess Sita. The other interesting thing about the caves is that they were man-made and part of a tunnel network used by the king.

The tunnels served as a quick passage through the hills and are a testament to King Ravana’s architectural accomplishments.

Although the caves are not that amazing it’s certainly a unique attraction in Ella.

The caves are only 2km from Ella town center it is possible to walk the Ravana Caves. On Maps.Me you can clearly see the path that leads from the A23 highway.

If you need more directions then simply head to Adams Apple Homestay. The path starts from here and involves a 650 step climb over 1km.


14. Enjoy a Meal at Cafe Chill

Cafe Chill Ella Sri Lanka
Location:Ella’s main tourist street
Cost:Depends on the meal
Rating:4/5 – really nice place to enjoy a meal

Cafe Chill is one of the best places we ate during our time in Sri Lanka. The restaurant serves a range of local and western foods at a reasonable price for the quality of the meals.

The building itself is beautiful and a great place to relax both during the day and night. We spent many hours here just relaxing and watching the busy streets.

Personally, I loved the pizza, and after 2 months in Asia, I was missing it a lot! However, most meals looked delicious!


15. Have a few Lion Beers in town

Enjoying a beer in Ella
Ella is a very social town and the beers are cheap!
Location:Anywhere
Cost:300 to 500 rupees
Rating:3/5 – Great thing to do after a day of exploring

Ella is a vibrant city and one of the most popular places in Sri Lanka to visit. The streets are always busy and the bars and restaurants always have a very relaxed and fun vibe to them.

On the main strip, you can choose to sit at one of the nicer restaurants or enjoy a beer at a more local place where the food is dirt cheap and the beers are ice cold.

Lion beer is the official beer of Sri Lanka and if you haven’t already tried one then Ella is the perfect place to do it! Personally, I don’t rate Lion Beer as that amazing, but a lot of people love it!

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Where to Stay in Ella

We have searched all of the hotels in Ella to find the best rated and value for money. Below are our suggestions for where to stay in Ella.

Booking through the links below will give us a small percentage (around 3% to 5%) of your booking and won’t cost you a penny more!

Budget Hostels

Hangover Hostel – The hangover hostels are always a good choice and the one in Ella has really great reviews. They are known to be social and a little bit of a party so don’t stay here if you’re after a quiet homestay.

Nice View Homestay – This is where we stayed and we really loved this place. We did our cooking lesson here and the place is super friendly and includes a lovely breakfast. The only downside is that it’s a 5-minute tuk-tuk ride from town.

Rawana Den – This is where I would have stayed if it was available. Very close to town but still has great views and the breakfast is supposed to be amazing! It’s almost mid-range but their budget room is only $20.

Mid Range Hotels

City Life Homestay – This homestay is right on the main street in Ella so you couldn’t be closer to the restaurants and bars. It has a perfect review score and includes a great breakfast.

The Chilout Ella – Mountain views with even better reviews this hotel is great value for money considering how close you are to town and how amazing the views are. They have family rooms and double rooms that are very reasonably priced!

Luxury Hotels

New cabin Ella – One of the best-located hotels in Ella with views of Nine Arch Bridge. If you came because of the bridge then there’s no better place to stay!

98 Acres Resort and Spa – If I didn’t have a budget this is where I would stay. It’s not the most expensive, but wow, it’s so stunningly beautiful it would be a dream. If you’re on a honeymoon or just enjoy luxury then this is the place to stay. Expect to pay around $230 USD a night.

If none of our recommendations seem suitable, check out all of the accommodation available in Ella!

I hope this blog helps you stay busy while in Ella. If I missed anything, be sure to leave a comment below!

– Daniel

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