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An in depth Travel Guide for Nuwara Eliya

Endless tea plantations, stunning waterfalls, botanical gardens and the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, you can find it all in Nuwara Eliya. It’s name translates into ‘city on the plain’ and lies 1,868 meters high in central Sri Lanka.

Best things to do?

Nuwara Eliya is booming with things to see and do. At first it can seem slightly overwhelming but don’t panic we’re going to tell you honestly what’s worth seeing and what you can skip. We are also working on a 5 day itinerary to see everything in and around Nuwara Eliya for your reading pleasure. Coming soon!

This may sound controversial but our experience in Nuwara Eliya was the least enjoyable out of anywhere in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we would advise seeing these main sights and travelling onwards. You will also notice the weather change from other parts of Sri Lanka. We were permanently in a mist after 10:00am every day for our 6 days spent here. And so were the tea plantation workers!

Inside Nuwara Eliya

Lover’s Leap Waterfall

The waterfall got its name from an old tale of a young Prince who fell in love with a beautiful local woman who was not accepted by the Princes subjects. The two couldn’t live with the thought of separation and immortalised their love by leaping off the waterfall to their deaths. If it is misty or raining we would advise rearranging as you won’t see anything.

Nuwara Eliya waterfall

Tea Factory

There are lots of tea factories in Nuwara Eliya. Pedro Tea Estate is one of the most famous tea factories in the District. It produces a light tea and therefore most of the production takes place at night. We visited the Pedro Tea Factory for a tour and found it very interesting to see the machines and hear about the process. No photography was allowed and in bigger factories this will be the case throughout.

Nuwara Eliya Tea Plantation

We visited a smaller tea factory in Kandy and preferred that. It was a far more personal experience and we got to try 8 different teas which was fantastic. If you’re looking to buy some tea as a gift in Sri Lanka we recommend going to the Pilimathalawa Tea Factory in Kandy or buy some at a local market. This is where we got our favourite Vanilla Ceylon Tea!!

Nuwara Eliya Tea plantation Keep on reading to find out where you can find the largest tea shop in the world!

The Grand Hotel

If you fancy a bit of luxury and have a larger budget you must stay in The Grand Hotel. We visited for a cup of tea in their beautiful Tea Room and shared a high tea and pizza. What a combination! Costing 2000LKR per person (+/- €8.80/ £7.50) you can enjoy High Tea with a Sri Lankan Twist. Flavoured tea, coffee or hot chocolate plus 4 sandwiches, 4 pastries and 4 sweet treats per person. Delicious and definitely worth it! The photo does not do it justice.

On a separate note, if you’re travelling around Christmas time and are lovers of Christmas decor like us, then you must visit the Grand Hotel. It oozes Christmas. 

Post Office

This is an easy quick stop visit. The Nuwara Eliya Post Office is one of the oldest in Sri Lanka. The Tudor-style two-storey red-brick building was constructed in 1894 by the British. It stands as one of the more timeless places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. A nice place to take a photograph and move on.

Victoria Park

We love a stroll in a park. The sound of the birds, the flora. That sounds so cheesy reading back. But yeah, if you’re like us then you’ll probably want to head to Victoria Park. Honestly, we were a little disappointed. Due to the impact of Coronavirus worldwide it is easy to link the park’s lack of maintenance with the pandemic. Still, that doesn’t deter from our feelings of disappointment. We really do hope it returns to its former glory as most people say it’s beautiful. 

The entrance fee is 300LKR per person (+/- €1.30/ £1.10). Even though it is very cheap, it does strike us as a little odd that only foreigners have to pay to walk in a park. This is a recurring theme throughout Nuwara Eliya.

Gregory Lake

You can also take a stroll alongside Gregory Lake. Named after the British governor Sir William Gregory, this reservoir is now used for water sports and recreation. Rent a swan to cruise over the lake or rent a jet ski for a more thrilling ride. If you want to see Nuwara Eliya from above it is also popular to hop onboard a sea plane or onboard a helicopter!

You might be lucky and catch a sunset over the lake, unlike us, trapped in clouds and mist our entire visit. Entrance to the Lake area will cost 200LKR per person.

Outside Nuwara Eliya

Horton Plains National Park

Greater World’s End Viewpoint, Mini World’s End Viewpoint & Baker Falls – This was one of the places we planned our trip around when booking certain locations back in the UK. Home to the last montane forest in the country. Situated at 7,000 feet above sea level, the walk to ‘World’s End’ and “Little World’s End” within the park offers one of the finest views in Sri Lanka. On a clear day you can actually see the sea!

World's End Nuwara Eliya

Baker Falls is also a beautiful place to cool down with the mist of the falls after all the hiking you’ve done so far. The loop is approximately 10km and is a very enjoyable hike with some sections more tricky than others.

The park’s unique ecosystem and abundance of flora and fauna have been described as a ‘biodiversity hotspot’. The park is home to five endemic bird species that are found at this altitude including the Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Dull-Blue flycatcher, Yellow-eared Bulbul, the elusive Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush and the Sri Lanka Woodpigeon. Mammals include plenty of Sambar, the Slender Loris, Bear Monkey and an occasional Leopard. Horton Plain’s National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Instead of looking for these beautiful animals one of us decided to spend some time filming a caterpillar…

Nuwara Eliya caterpillar

Time to be honest:

8670LKR (£32.08/€38.54/$42.89) to enter for 2 x people with a driver is pretty damn expensive. Especially when you consider it costs a local 60LKR to enter… Again, we don’t understand why the foreigners price per person is 50 times the price of a local. That’s just the individual, then you add the vehicle, group charge and 15% VAT. On top of that we booked a driver to take us there and back. The cost of the day in our brutal opinion was not worth it. In total the day cost us around $74 and you can get the amazing views that World’s end offers from Adam’s Peak, Little Adam’s Peak, Ella Rock or Pidurangala Rock for free or extremely cheap in comparison.

St Clair Falls, Devon Falls & Tea Castle St Clair

These three places to visit are around 30km outside of Nuwara Eliya. Their proximity to one another means you can easily visit them at the same time. Enjoy two waterfalls and a castle boasting the biggest tea shop in the world! You can enjoy a 360 view of the surrounding area from the top of the Castle. It also offers a lovely restaurant which you can enjoy after hiking to viewpoints for the surrounding falls. Unfortunately for us, when we passed these spots it was absolutely hammering it down with rain! Even poking the camera lens out of the tuk tuk covered it in rain and mist as you can see by this terrible photo.

We will dive into all the things to do and see in and around Nuwara Eliya in a five day itinerary being created and COMING SOON!

Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya?

During our time we stayed in three different accommodations. We chose these three to experience Nuwara Eliya from different locations.

Hilldale Retreat: This accommodation was our luxury treat to ourselves after completing Adam’s Peak. It had a lovely pool table (where we spent most of our time), infinity pool and even a sauna! The bed was about the size of 3 x doubles and we had a balcony overlooking the mountains. They had great Western food available and after rice and curry every day that was a well appreciated change. The breakfast was great with a fruit platter, waffles, buns, cakes, eggs of your choice and toast plus coffee or tea and a smoothie. It was one of the more expensive accommodations during our trip at around 21.000LKR/ €92,- / £78,- per night, but we thoroughly enjoyed! You can check this hotel out HERE!

Nuwara Eliya accommodation

The Bungalow: We chose to stay in The Bungalow because of the central location and the stunning views over Gregory Lake, Lover’s Leap and Pidurutalagala (the highest mountain in Sri Lanka). The balcony view was simply stunning. Highly recommend! You can check out more views of the hotel HERE!

Nuwara Eliya LakeThe Grand Hotel: As we mentioned earlier, if you have a higher budget then this is the place to stay, at the heart of Nuwara Eliya. You won’t regret it.

The Forest and Lake By Schofieldshire: Honestly don’t stay here! Overpriced and extremely disappointing. We stayed here for its proximity to Horton Plains National Park. If this is your thought too, don’t worry you can get a tuk tuk around 30 minutes earlier from Nuwara Eliya City itself.

How long to stay In Nuwara Eliya?

This is a hard question to answer as there are so many places to visit. We stayed 6 nights, 2 nights in different locations, and it was too much. 4 x nights is plenty in our opinion to see everything you want.

Nuwara Eliya fun at World's End

Where next?

It depends where you’ve come from. There are four obvious next destinations:
Adam’s Peak, Haputale, Kandy or Ella. We went on to Ella and if you fancy reading on to see the Top things to do in Ella click here!

Travelling Translated

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