Nestled within the sprawling tea plantations of Sri Lanka’s cultural center, Ella is a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic experience. As one of the most popular places to explore in Sri Lanka, Ella offers a diverse range of activities and attractions that are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Exploring Ella: 17 Unmissable Experiences
1. Trek to Little Adam’s Peak
Don’t be fooled by the name—Little Adam’s Peak is just as awe-inspiring as its larger counterpart. The hike to the top takes approximately an hour from Ella, but if you’re looking to save time, consider taking a tuk-tuk to the Ravana Zipline, where the trail begins. From there, it’s only a 20-minute walk to the summit. Explore the ridgeline and venture to the furthest peak for incredible panoramic views. Please note that the final peak may not be suitable for young children due to its narrow and steep terrain.
2. Witness the Splendor of the Nine Arch Bridge at Sunrise
The iconic Nine Arch Bridge in Ella is a sight to behold, surrounded by lush greenery and tea fields. While many visitors flock to the bridge during the day, few have the opportunity to witness its beauty at sunrise. With fewer people and two trains passing by in the morning, it’s a truly magical experience. Arrive at the bridge 10 to 20 minutes before the train’s scheduled arrival time to explore the area and find your ideal viewpoint. Remember to check with your hotel for the current train schedules, as they can change unexpectedly.
3. Adrenaline Rush at the Flying Ravana Zipline
For an exhilarating adventure, head to the Flying Ravana Zipline. Soar through the sky on this 500m-long zipline, reaching speeds of over 80km per hour. Take in the breathtaking views as you zoom past the onlookers on the viewing deck. The dual zipline allows for friendly competition with a friend or a relaxed ride side by side. At $20 USD for adults and $15 USD for children, the Flying Ravana Zipline offers an unforgettable experience at an affordable price.
4. Embark on a Scenic Train Ride to Haputale or Kandy
The train journey from Ella to Kandy is renowned as one of the most breathtaking in the world. As you traverse the vast tea plantations, soak in the awe-inspiring beauty of Sri Lanka’s countryside. The train ride to Kandy takes around 4 hours, offering three classes to suit your preferences. Opt for first class if you value comfort, or choose third class for a more local experience. Tickets range from 50 to 1,100 rupees, depending on the destination and class selected. Consider stopping in the charming town of Haputale, closer to attractions like Lipton Seat, for an extended stay and further exploration.
5. Immerse Yourself in Sri Lankan Cuisine with a Cooking Class
Discover the secrets of Sri Lankan cuisine by joining a cooking class. Learn to make four curries from scratch, including the elusive coconut cream, at one of the many cooking schools in Ella. Prices typically start at 1,000 rupees per person, with additional charges depending on your choice of meat. After the class, indulge in a satisfying feast, savoring the fruits of your labor. A popular option is the Spice Garden Cooking Class, where you can enjoy a family-like experience with your hosts.
6. Marvel at the Majestic Ravana Falls
Located just a short drive from Ella, Ravana Falls is a splendid waterfall worth a visit. Although swimming is not permitted, the falls offer a picturesque setting amidst lush surroundings. Observe playful monkeys, and enjoy refreshments from the juice bars and small shops nearby. During the dry season, trek to the top of Ravana Falls for breathtaking views. A tuk-tuk ride to the falls and back costs approximately 600 rupees, or you can opt to drive your own tuk-tuk for added convenience and flexibility.
7. Experience the Enchanting Lipton Seat
Named after the tea pioneer Thomas Lipton, Lipton Seat offers a mesmerizing viewpoint over the tea fields he once owned. Witness the legacy of tea cultivation while savoring the tranquility of the surroundings. A visit to Lipton Seat is best enjoyed at sunrise, allowing you ample time to explore the nearby tea plantations and indulge in a tea break at the Lipton Seat restaurant. Consider hiring a tuk-tuk from Ella to Lipton Seat for a hassle-free journey, or take the train to Haputale and make your way to Lipton Seat from there.
8. Delve into the World of Tea with a Factory Visit
No trip to Sri Lanka is complete without a visit to a tea factory. Immerse yourself in the rich history and production process at Halpewatte Tea Factory, the largest tea factory in the country. Located just over 6km from Ella, this factory offers insightful tours for 525 rupees per person. Alternatively, if you’re heading to Lipton Seat, visit the Dambatenne Tea Factory on your way back to Ella. The Dambatenne Tea Factory tour costs 250 rupees and provides a glimpse into the world of tea production.
9. Conquer Ella Rock for Breathtaking Views
For a more challenging hike, set your sights on Ella Rock. Although similar to Little Adam’s Peak, Ella Rock offers a higher vantage point and even more panoramic views. The trail to the top and back takes approximately 4 hours and spans 8km from Ella. While the hike is not overly difficult, some level of fitness is required, particularly for the ascent. Ensure you read a guide before embarking on this adventure, as the path can be confusing. If you prefer a local guide, they are readily available in town, or you can opt for an organized tour.
10. Discover the Magnificence of Diyaluma Falls
Diyaluma Falls, Sri Lanka’s second-largest waterfall, is a must-visit for nature lovers. It offers a stunning display of natural beauty and the opportunity to swim either at the bottom or the top of the falls. The top section of the waterfall features inviting pools where you can bask in the breathtaking views. During the wet season, exercise caution as some pools closer to the edge may be hazardous due to cascading water. To reach the falls from Ella, take a tuk-tuk on either the Poonagala Road or to the Koslanda village, depending on your desired starting point.
11. Uncover the Secrets of Ravana’s Cave
Ravana’s Cave adds an element of mystery to your adventure in Ella. Believed to have been the hiding place of Princess Sita, as well as part of King Ravana’s tunnel network, this unique attraction showcases the architectural accomplishments of ancient Sri Lanka. Located just 2km from Ella town center, you can easily walk to the Ravana Caves. Maps.Me provides a clear path from the A23 highway, and Adams Apple Homestay serves as a starting point for the 650-step climb over 1km. While the Ravana’s Cave may not match the grandeur of the Dambulla Cave Temples, it remains a fascinating and worthwhile stop.
12. Indulge in Delicious Delights at Cafe Chill
For an exceptional dining experience in Ella, head to Cafe Chill. This restaurant offers a delectable range of local and Western dishes at affordable prices. Nestled in a beautifully designed building, Cafe Chill provides a relaxing atmosphere that is perfect for unwinding during the day or enjoying the vibrant nightlife. Try their mouthwatering pizza or explore the extensive menu for a delightful culinary journey.
13. Relax and Savor Local Brews at Ella’s Bars
Ella’s vibrant streets come alive after dark, inviting you to enjoy the town’s social atmosphere. Choose from a wide array of bars and restaurants, ranging from upscale establishments to local gems. Treat yourself to a Lion beer, Sri Lanka’s official brew, and savor the moment in a relaxed environment. Whether you opt for a lively spot on the main street or a hidden gem, Ella’s bars offer an authentic experience, complete with ice-cold beers and friendly locals.
14. Marvel at the Tallest Waterfall in Sri Lanka: Bambarakanda Falls
Experience the grandeur of nature at Bambarakanda Falls, Sri Lanka’s tallest waterfall, towering at 263 meters. Situated in the lush forest near Haputale, the falls make for a remarkable day trip from Ella. While it’s a 2-hour drive from Ella, the journey is well worth it. If you’re driving your own tuk-tuk, you can easily find your way using Google Maps. Alternatively, you can join an organized hiking tuk-tuk tour for a hassle-free experience.
15. Embark on an Unforgettable Safari at Yala or Udawalawe National Park
To witness the marvels of Sri Lanka’s wildlife, venture beyond Ella on a safari. Yala and Udawalawe National Parks offer incredible opportunities to encounter elephants and leopards, providing an unforgettable wildlife experience. While Yala National Park boasts greater chances of spotting leopards, Udawalawe National Park is renowned for its elephant population. Join a safari tour departing from Ella to explore these remarkable parks and immerse yourself in the wonders of Sri Lanka’s rich biodiversity.
16. Embark on a Scenic Day Trip to Horton Plains National Park
Escape to the lesser-explored Horton Plains National Park for an exceptional hiking experience. The World’s End trail within the park offers breathtaking views along its 9.5km circuit. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the landscape, and take advantage of the opportunity to explore additional waterfalls and immerse yourself in nature. Although closer to Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains National Park is still a popular choice for those visiting Ella. Organized tours to the park are recommended due to the park’s distance from Ella.
17. Embark on an Epic Day Trip to Sigiriya
Make the most of your Sri Lanka adventure by embarking on a day trip to Sigiriya. Discover the awe-inspiring Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers incredible ruins and panoramic views. While many choose to visit Sigiriya from nearby cities like Kandy, it is also feasible to visit from Ella. Although the journey takes approximately 3-4 hours each way, the climb to the top of the rock, exploration of the museum, and a visit to Pidurangala Rock and Dambulla Rock Temple make this day trip worthwhile.
Where to Stay in Ella, Sri Lanka
To ensure a delightful stay in Ella, we have curated a selection of highly rated and value-for-money accommodations. Whether you’re on a budget, seeking mid-range comfort, or desiring a luxury experience, Ella has something to offer every traveler.
- Hangover Hostel: Known for its social atmosphere, this hostel is perfect for those seeking a lively environment.
- Nice View Homestay: Enjoy a pleasant stay with a lovely breakfast, just a short tuk-tuk ride from the town center.
- Rawana Den: With its great views and delicious breakfast, this hostel offers an excellent budget option close to town.
- City Life Homestay: You can’t get closer to the action than this homestay, conveniently located on the main street of Ella.
- The Chilout Ella: Indulge in mountain views and exceptional reviews at this highly recommended hotel close to town.
- New cabin Ella: With views of the Nine Arch Bridge, this hotel offers a prime location for bridge enthusiasts.
- 98 Acres Resort and Spa: For a luxurious experience and stunning natural beauty, this resort is the ultimate choice. Expect to pay approximately $230 USD per night for an unforgettable stay.
For more accommodation options in Ella, click here.
Getting Around Sri Lanka
To explore the best of Sri Lanka, you have several transportation options:
Rent a Tuk-Tuk
Renting a tuk-tuk allows you to fully immerse yourself in the local experience and enjoy the freedom to explore at your own pace. Tuktuk Rental, a reputable company, offers quality tuk-tuks and provides support to local families. Use the coupon code ‘DEST’ for a 5% discount. For more information, read our blog on Renting a Tuk-Tuk in Sri Lanka.
Hire a Driver
For a more relaxed experience, hire a private driver to transport you between destinations. This option is ideal if you plan on visiting only a few locations. Arrange for a driver to pick you up directly from the airport or book transfers to your desired destinations individually or as part of an organized tour.
Take Public Transport
If you’re on a tight budget and have plenty of time, public buses and trains offer a more affordable means of transportation. Sri Lanka’s extensive network of buses and trains can take you to various destinations; however, be prepared for possible hot and crowded conditions. Public transport is popular among budget backpackers and offers an authentic local experience.
Please note that transportation options may vary due to current circumstances. It is advisable to check with local authorities and transportation providers for the latest information.
We hope this guide to the best things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka, will help you make the most of your visit. Ella offers a myriad of experiences that cater to diverse interests, ensuring that every traveler finds something to enjoy. If you have any other recommendations or questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
Have a fantastic time exploring the wonders of Ella and creating lasting memories. Happy travels!
*Liked this article? Check out our other Sri Lanka blog articles for more travel inspiration!