It isn’t hard to find beautiful places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. Also known as ‘little England’, Nuwara Eliya oozes charm and character, and is a must visit on any trip to Sri Lanka. It’s not just the cool, temperate weather that makes this place a little different to the rest of Sri Lanka.
The History Of Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya was a hill country retreat for British civil servants and tea planters, and they bought with them many English past times such as fox and deer hunting, polo, golf and cricket. Even the houses reflect it’s history of British colonialists, making the town feel as though it has been taken right out of an English countryside village!
As well as it’s interesting architecture, Nuwara Eliya has a whole host of interesting and fun things to do, as well as being a firm favourite for those who want to relax. We have listed them for you below, so that you can get the most from your visit.
1. Relax In Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya
If you’re anything like us, you’ll arrive in Nuwara Eliya a little hot and sweaty after a day of travel. The perfect remedy to relieve the stresses of the day is to take a visit to Victoria Park. Right in the middle of Nuwara Eliya, it’s surprising how quiet and tranquil this park is. And how big! We grabbed a little picnic and spent the afternoon wondering the extensive grounds and lounging around on the perfectly manicured grounds.
There is a small museum here too with old photos of Nuwara Eliya. It shows what life was like when it was under British influence
Entrance fee: 300 Rupees
Location: PBC Hwy, Nuwara Eliya 22200, Sri Lanka
2. Drink Tea At Pedro Tea Estate
Nuwara Eliya is known to be the most important area for tea production in the whole of Sri Lanka. It’s temperate weather makes it perfect for growing light, delicate tea and the area has many different tea plantations. Pedro Tea Estate is a fascinating place for a visit, and the bonus cup of locally grown tea at the end of the tour makes it all the more special. Find out all about what to expect from a visit here, how to get here and opening times and prices in this in depth post.
Entry Fees: 200(Rs)
Location: About 3.5km east of Nuwara Eliya, on the way to Kandapola
3. Ride A Swan Boat At Nuwara Eliya’s Gregory Lake
Gregory Lake was created by Governor William Gregory between 1872 and 1877. It was used for watersports during the British colonial period and is still going strong today. It is the perfect place to take a picnic and relax with the locals. It would also be a great place to take kids, as it is perfectly set up for families with boats for hire (including swan boats and jet skis!) and horse riding available (you may want to check the conditions the horses are kept in, it seemed to us they are free to roam in a field opposite the lake but you could double check with the staff before paying for a ride).
There is a small snack shop next to the lake, but it would be best to bring your own drinks and snacks from a supermarket in town. If you are here later in the evening, there is a pizza takeaway shop just opposite the lake that serves delicious pizzas! You won’t regret ruining that diet-trust us!
Entry Fees: Free (differing charges for boat hire)
Location: A short walk from the main centre of Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
4. Drink Afternoon Tea At The Luxurious Grand Hotel
Built in 1891 for the governor of Sri Lanka, Sir Edward Barnes, The Grand Hotel is the perfect place to indulge and is a must on your list of places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. Set in magnificent grounds, you can dine like royalty on the garden terrace or sip cocktails in the piano lounge. The interior of the hotel could easily be taken straight from a high end London hotel. You can even stay the night here if you fancy something a little special!
We treated ourselves to a cocktail here in the afternoon. We drank on the garden terrace overlooking the beautifully manicured lawns and felt like we were in a film. Then the rains started and we ran for cover inside the lounge area, where we were treated to a performance from a very talented pianist. A trip here really is a must have, and it isn’t all that expensive either!
Location: No. 05 Grand Hotel Road Nuwara Eliya, Nuwaraeliya 22200, Sri Lanka
5. Take In The Views At Lovers Leap Waterfall
Just opposite Pedro Tea Estate is the start of a walk to Lovers Leap Waterfall. It’s a relaxing stroll through tea plantations and a small village, and the waterfall itself is extremely pretty. You can walk (scramble) to the top of the waterfall to experience the incredible views over Nuwara Eliya and beyond.
This waterfall comes with a romantic and tragic tale. Read all about it, and a more in depth guide about how to get there and what to expect when you do, in this ultimate guide to Lovers Leap Waterfall.
Entry fees: None
Location: Sandasewana’,holbrook, Agrapatana 22200, Sri Lanka
6. Pay A visit To Nuwara Eliya’s Post Office
Nuwara Eliya Post Office is housed in an antique Tudor Manor house built in 1894. It’s one of the oldest post offices in the country, and one of the most ‘English’ buildings in Sri Lanka! It was even featured on a stamp in 1990. It’s situated in the centre of town, so is definitely worth a little walk past. Or you could even hire a bicycle and include a visit here in a cycle tour of the town (see below!)
Location: Queen Elizabeth Dr, Nuwara Eliya 22200, Sri Lanka
7. Rent A Bicycle For The Day
One of our favourite things to do when visiting somewhere new, hire a bike and explore. Nuwara Eliya is the perfect place to do this in, with so many lovely views and such a peaceful feel out in the countryside. You could easily pack a picnic and spend the day pottering around, exploring the quaint English style houses and the lovely tea plantation countryside. You will find bike rental shops in town or some hostels offer them also.
If you do end up hiring a bike then try and take a little time to explore the surrounding countryside as well as the town itself. The tea fields are just beautiful here, and the cooler climates makes cycling a really enjoyable activity.
8. Eat Strawberries At Adma Agro Farm
Visit the Adma Agro Farm and stuff yourself with yummy strawberries. Strawberries love colder weather and Nuwara Eliya is perfect for them. Eat them straight off the plants or in the cafe with cream, condensed milk or drink in a juice!
Entry Fees: Free (strawberries are extra!)
Location: Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi Hwy, Nuwara Eliya 22200, Sri Lanka
9. Play A Round Of Golf In Nuwara Eliya
The Nuwara Eliya Golf Club is situated right in the heart of Nuwara Eliya. If you enjoy golf then you can play and rent out everything you need for around 8400 rupees in total. That even includes a caddy to go around with you. If you’ve never played before then this may be the perfect place to give it a go, as the course dates all the way back to 1889 and is one of the oldest golf courses anywhere in Asia.
Entry Fees: 8400(Rs) for a round of golf
Location: Nuwara Eliya 22200, Sri Lanka
10. Take A Walk Through Moon Plains
The Moon Plains attract thousands of visitors every year, and they would all be astonished to know that this area was once the site of a vast garbage heap. Waste from Nuwara Eliya was deposited here for years, before being finally cleared in 2010. You would never guess now though, and it shows how quickly nature can recover when given the chance. Make sure this is on your list of places to visit in Nuwara Eliya!
You can hike, cycle or drive through the park. Make sure you climb Mini World’s End where you will be greeted by panoramic views of the area, as long as it’s not a foggy day! You also have the chance to spot a wild array of wildlife. The area is home to everything through from wild elk to leopards (although sightings of these are extremely rare!)
Entry Fees: Free
Location: Ranhawadigama Rd, Nuwara Eliya 22200, Sri Lanka
11. Places to visit in Nuwara Eliya: St. Clair’s Falls
Another of Nuwara Eliya’s stunning waterfalls. St Clair’s Fall is known as the Niagara of Sri Lanka, and is one of the widest waterfalls found in the country. You can find it a short tuk tuk ride away in the town of Talawakele, at an altitude if 1198m.
We recommend enjoying St Clair’s Falls from The Waterfall Villas. This hotel has an excellent restaurant situated in the perfect spot, with huge glass windows that allow you to enjoy lunch with a view. While you’re in this area, check out Devon Falls too (below).
Entry Fees: Free
Location: a7 Tawalantenne – Talawakele Rd, Talawakelle, Sri Lanka
12. Admire The Stunning Devon Falls
There are numerous spots where it’s nice to stop and see Devon Falls, you’re driver will be able to advise you. One quite cool option is to visit the Mlesna Tea Castle. It’s a tea room, in the shape of a castle! You won’t find that again easily!
You can sit upstairs on the balcony and gaze out over the farm whilst enjoying a nice warming cup of tea. And while you’re there it would be rude not to try the cake!
Entry Fees: Free
Location: Nawalapitiya – Dimbula Road, Dimbula, Sri Lanka
13. Seetha Amman Kovil
Seetha Amman Kovil is a Temple near the Hakgala Botanical Garden is one of the top things to do in Nuwara Eliya. It is a pretty sacred spot, as it’s the only Sita temple in Sri Lanka. It is believed that after Ravana captured Sita, she used to come here to pray to Rama. Rama was her husband, and was also believed to be one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. If you’re interested in discovering more about the history of the area in which the temple is built, check out this article here.
Entry Fees: Free
Location: Seetha Eliya, Sri Lanka
14. Hakgala Botanical Gardens: One of the most popular places to visit in Nuwara Eliya
Just 1km away from the Seetha Amman temple, you will find the Hakgala Botanical Gardens. The Hakgala Botanical Gardens are believed to be the highest altitude botanical gardens in the world, and they are the second largest botanical gardens in Sri Lanka. Because of the low annual temperatures in Nuwara Eliya (compared with the rest of Sri Lanka), you will find some incredibly rare species of plants here that you will struggle to find elsewhere in the country.
In 28 acres of land there are over 10,000 species of flora and fauna, of all different shades and sizes. The Hakgala Botanical gardens are one of the top places to visit in Nuwara Eliya, drawing up to 100,000 guests per year!
Entry Fees: 2000(Rs)
Opening Hours: 7.30 AM – 5.00 PM. Open 365 days a year
Location: Peradeniya-Badulla-Chenkaladi Hwy, Hakgala, Sri Lanka
Getting To Nuwara Eliya
Getting to Nuwara Eliya is quite easy as it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sri Lanka. You have a number of different options.
Travelling by train in Sri Lanka is an adventure in itself. Some of the best scenery we saw in the country was on the train journeys aroujd Nuwara Eliya, so you really can’t go wrong! Coming from Kandy or Ella is very straightforward, check out our comprehensive guide on train travel in Sri Lanka here to find out how to book seats and information about times and routes. Once you arrive in Nuwara Eliya station it is a short tuk tuk ride to the centre of town.
The buses in Sri Lanka weren’t the most reliable when we were there, but they were certainly among the cheapest way to travel. Expect journeys to take a long time, as there are often disruptions on the roads due to bad weather. You can find out information about the buses here. They leave from most major towns.
The tuk tuks in Sri Lanka are used to travelling long distances, you’ll just have to be prepared for a bit of a bumpy ride! We travelled several 3-5 hour journeys by tuk tuk and enjoyed every minute of it. It’s cheaper than a taxi, and you get a nice breeze and great views as you go. Opt for a taxi if you’re happy to spend the money for a bit more luxury!
Take a tour
If you’re short on time then it may be worth taking a tour to Nuwara Eliya. There are all sorts for you to choose from, we’ve listed some ideas for you below.
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya by train, including a private tour of a tea plantation and a visit to Ramboda Falls.
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, including a visit to Hakgala Botanical Gardens and Ramboda falls and a trip to a village viewpoint for sunset.
Two day tour of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya from Columbo, taking in many of the major sights.
Getting Around Nuwara Eliya
If you’re staying in the centre of Nuwara Eliya then there are lots of things within walking distance. For some of the things to do in Nuwara Eliya you will need to hire some form of transport, but it’s usually pretty cheap and easy to find.
- Hire a tuk tuk – They are everywhere, and very reasnobly priced. The tuk tuk drivers are also used to tourists in Nuwara Eliya, and will be able to help you out when it comes to finding good photography spots or hidden entrances. Just take what they say with a pinch of salt when it comes to visiting places-our tuk tuk driver told us Lover’s Leap waterfall would be dry because he wanted to take us further and get more for his trip. In fact, when we got there, there was more than enough water to make an impressive waterfall!
- Rent a moped – If you are confident on two wheels then mopeds may be a good idea. Make sure you have a good helmet though, and be careful when the roads are wet!
- Get yourself a driver for the day – Hire a taxi for the day and visit where ever you want outside of town. Between a group of people this may turn out to be your cheapest option!
- Use a bicycle – This is one of the most fun options, if you like a little exercise and fresh air! Cycling up and down the mountains might be a little exhausting! However, you can definitely use a bike to get to all of the things closest to the centre of town.
Where To Stay In Nuwara Eliya
There are hundreds of different options for accommodation in this colonial town, ranging from cheap as chips to pure luxury. We have listed some possible options below.
A stay at The Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya is something you won’t forget in a hurry. Prepare for real old fashioned luxury at this incredible colonial hotel. The afternoon tea is to die for!
Cheap as chips!
For around £6 a night, this hostel is a steal. The rooms are said to be clean and comfortable, but you will be a little out of Nuwara Eliya.
Stay in this little cottage style house with a friendly family and a load of character!
Where To Next
There are several places you could head to after you’ve seen the most beautiful places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. Kandy and Ella are both an easy train ride away, and are both full of things to do.
Slightly off the beaten track, but a definite must do is the stunning Horton Plains where you can do the famous ‘Worlds End’ trek, and take in some completely different scenery. Nuwara Eliya is the perfect jumping off point for this trek, but you will need to hire a taxi to get you there for sunrise. You could do it as a day trip, or head on to your next destination from there.
If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka then make sure you check out these travel guides to get the most from your holiday.
2 week Sri Lanka itinerary-the ultimate guide
5 days in Sri Lanka-don’t miss out on a short trip to Sri Lanka
Getting around Sri Lanka:
Head up North to Sri Lanka’s iconic Sigiriya Rock
Trek through some of Sri Lanka’s most beautiful tea plantations at Lipton’s Seat
Head to the coast and do a spot of whale watching
Go trekking in the stunning Knuckles Range Mountains
If you’ve been to Nuwara Eliya and think we’ve missed something off this list then let us know in the comments below! We would love to hear from you!