Things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka
Ella is full of amazing things to do, from hiking the green mountain peaks to jumping in refreshing waterfalls. The town itself has a bustling atmosphere, with plenty of great cafes and restaurants to enjoy after a day in nature. Here are the top things to do while you’re in Ella, Sri Lanka.
1. Climb up Little Adam’s Peak
Little Adam’s Peak may be smaller than its bigger sibling Adam’s Peak, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less impressive. The stunning ridge is made up of three green peaks that tower above the valley below. Hike through incredible nature, passing through local villages, tea plantations, and long grass fields. Reaching the top is a feeling like no other; it’s a chance to take in the sensational panoramic views and feel as if you’re on top of the world!
From Ella Town to the foot of the mountain, it is around a 45-minute walk. From the base to the top, it takes approximately 15 minutes (or 30 minutes to reach the furthest of the 3 peaks).
After your beautiful hike, look out for 98 Acres Resort on your return journey. This is a lovely spot to enjoy a coffee or a locally made tea with a view.
2. Walk Along the Rails of Nine Arch Bridge, Ella
Nine Arch Bridge is iconic in Ella and famous worldwide for its beauty. The impressive bridge is 25 meters high and a mammoth 91 meters long! Located just outside Ella Town and on the same route as Little Adam’s Peak, you’ll find it hidden up in the dense green hills among low-lying clouds.
Walk through the beautiful bamboo forest before reaching the postcard-worthy setting, spending time admiring the stone arches and waving at the people passing by on the historic blue train. This is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka!
Tip: You can also get a drink in one of the hilltop cafes and wait here for the train to pass.
3. Endless Tea Field Views at Lipton’s Seat
Lipton’s Seat in Haputale is the perfect morning or afternoon trip from Ella. Jump on the train to Haputale and take a tuk-tuk to the stunning viewpoint above Lipton tea plantation. This is where Thomas Lipton (a famous tea producer) would sit and admire his beautiful tea fields. It’s also the site where he planted the first seeds of Sri Lanka‘s biggest export. It’s easy to see why he chose this spot when you look down on the endless green fields of tea, with neat rows of bushes and smiling, hard-working locals picking leaves.
Afterward, arrange to take a tour around the local tea factories nearby. Here, you can learn more about the history and production of tea and try it, of course!
4. Diyaluma Falls, 2nd Highest Waterfall in Sri Lanka
At the foot, enjoy the roaring power of the water falling onto the rocks. At the top, you’ll feel on top of the world as you explore the three natural infinity pools stretched out onto the cliff edge. Swimming in these pools and gazing down the 220 meters below is an experience like no other.
Diyaluma is just one hour drive out of Ella. Once you’ve reached the base, you can drive 30 minutes to the top and hike 45 minutes along the trail to reach the pools. Without a tuk-tuk, the entire hike from bottom to top is around 2 hours.
5. Join a Cooking Class at Ella Spice Garden
Sri Lankan cuisine is up there with some of the best in the world (an explosion of flavor!). The food is so good; you’ll want to take away the recipes with you and learn how to cook these dishes at home. Learn about the local ingredients by joining a cooking class at Ella Spice Garden. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn from a local and meet some new people taking part in the course. If that’s not available book this popular class in Ella easily online.
Tip: Make sure to book in advance because the Ella Spice Garden books up quickly!
6. Take a Refreshing Natural Shower at Ravana Falls
Ravana Falls may be smaller than Diyaluma, but it’s still jaw-droppingly beautiful. The falls are made up of three tiers, with water cascading between several rock pools, creating the perfect place to swim. Cooling off from the tropical afternoon heat is pure bliss!
It’s not recommended to climb any further than the first tier (signs warn you of the dangers), and there are only small muddy trails leading further up the hillside. Additionally, make sure to bring suitable footwear so that you can jump in and out of the pools with ease.
7. Flying Ravana Zip Line
The Flying Ravana zip line is one of the top things to do in Ella for adrenaline seekers and adventurers! The extraordinary zip line runs for over half a kilometer, sits 82 meters high, and boasts speeds of up to 80km! Zipping high over the treetops and looking down on the valley below is the closest you’ll get to flying. Best of all, it’s only a 10-minute drive out of Ella town, so it’s the perfect activity for an afternoon in Ella.
8. Hike to the top of Ella Rock
Wherever you are in Ella, you’ll always feel the magnificent presence of the towering Ella Rock. The beautiful green mountain is one of the most popular hikes and one of the best things to do in Ella. What’s unique about this hike is that the trail is incredibly natural and overgrown, giving you a real adventurous feeling.
The hike takes around 2 hours from Ella town to the summit, passing along train tracks through long grass fields and dense forest. Reaching the top is an incredible feeling, dangling your legs off the rock and looking down at the valley below. It’s a good idea to start the hike as early as possible in the morning so that you can avoid the hot sun. Make sure also to pack layers as it will be cold in the early hours and much hotter as you descend.
Tip: The adventurous nature of this hike means that it can be easy to get lost. Make sure to get directions from your guesthouse manager or other travelers before you go. Don’t forget to pack lots of snacks and water for the journey!
9. Explore Ella Town
The town of Ella has to be one of the most picturesque settings in Sri Lanka. Aside from the incredible nature that draws travelers from all over the world, the town has an entertaining atmosphere with great cafes and restaurants. If you’re also looking for lively nightlife, head for one of the bars on the main street. For example, Cafe Chill serves tasty cocktails, smoothies, and a variety of cuisines and plays music into the early hours.
If you happen to be in Ella on a Wednesday, the town puts on a small market in the mornings. Passara Road (Ella Super) becomes lined with small stalls selling clothing, fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits.
10. Take the Train from Kandy to Ella
It’s not often that the journey itself is one of the top things to do – but Ella is the exception! Enjoy the iconic journey from Kandy to Ella on the old-fashioned colorful train, with the doors open and the wind through your hair. Pass through the jungle, rolling tea hills, and over breathtaking viaducts before reaching beautiful Ella.
Tip: At each station, local vendors will climb on board to sell a variety of delicious Sri Lankan snacks. This can be anything from spicy Rotis to sambal wrapped in banana leaves or newspaper. The snacks are cheap, tasty (and very spicy), and a great way to support the local economy.
How to Visit Ella, Sri Lanka
To get to Ella in Sri Lanka, take the breathtaking train from Kandy. (Get your tickets here) You can also take the train directly from Colombo to Ella, which is a beautiful journey through the highlands. (Get your tickets here)
If you’re looking for a Sri Lankan driver: contact our friend Indi on Whatsapp (+94777644144). He will get you a good price when you mention this website.
Getting around in Ella
Once you’re in Ella, everywhere can be walked to on foot. Alternatively, you can get reasonably priced tuk-tuks from the town out to the must-see sights.
Where to Stay in Ella
Ella is full of fantastic accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to luxury resorts with swimming pools and beautiful views. It can be fun to stay in the hillside guesthouses outside of town, where you’ll have great views and easy access to hiking trails.
Tuk-tuks are everywhere, and your guesthouse can arrange for one to take you to town if you want to eat out in the evenings.
Best Time to Visit Ella
With its warm days and cool nights, the weather in Ella, Sri Lanka, is always perfect. However, the green lusciousness of the area does mean there’s plenty of rain too, although it never lasts for long!
The wet season is from September to December, so we recommend visiting in the drier months of January to May. During this time, it is busier in Ella, and the waterfalls have less water. However, it’s excellent for hiking!
Best Cafes & Restaurants in Ella
Ella is a top-rated destination for travelers and, because of this, has a variety of restaurants selling different cuisines. Some of our top recommendations are:
- Cafe Chill
- Jade Green Tea Center & Restaurant
- Matey Hut
- AK Ristoro
- Rose Cabin Mexican Restaurant
- Adam’s Breeze
If you want to try some beautiful local delicacies, Ella has got lovely locally run cafes. However, if you’ve been on the backpacking trail for a while, you can also find your Western favorites.