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Top things to do in and around Ella

The truth is there are so many things to do and places to see during your time in Ella. Our guide will help you see the top things to do in and around Ella! We stayed 3 nights and feel like we only scratched the surface. We recommend staying 5 nights in order to have a balance of action packed activities and relaxation. 

Here are our recommended top things to do in Ella:

Nine Arch Bridge, Demodora

The Nine Arch Bridge is also known as the ‘Bridge in the Sky’. It was constructed to connect two neighbouring mountains for the Colombo – Badulla train line and was completed in 1921. It is one of the best examples of colonial-era railway constructions in the country.

When to visit?

Trains are supposed to pass over the bridge at 06:30am, 09:20am, 11:30am, 3:30pm, 4:30pm and 5:30pm. Whether they pass on time is anyones guess. It’s classic South East Asia transport! This is when you will get the chance to photograph that famous train crossing.
We visited at 06:00am to attempt some sunrise shots to no avail. There was no sunrise for us and we were engulfed by fog just as the train crossed…

Absolutely devastated with a drone in the sky and nothing to show for it we decided to go back for the 09:20am crossing. It was like a completely different day! 

Although this was our experience we recommend going for the earliest train to avoid the large crowds of people for the rest of the day.

Ella to Kandy train ride

Talking of trains, this train journey was the most beautiful we have ever taken. Considering it cost 820LKR for 2 x people with reserved seats in 3rd class (approximately €3.58EUR/£3.04GBP) for a 6 hour journey is unbelievable. The most scenic part of the journey is between Nuwara Eliya and Hatton, it is simply beautiful! If you are planning on heading to Kandy then travelling by train is a must!

Top Tip

You can board the train at Demodora which is before Ella and experience riding over the Nine Arch Bridge and through the mountains (Demodora Loop) for basically no additional cost. 

Flying Ravana Adventures with the Mega Zipline

If you’re an adventure thrill seeker or just enjoy amazing views then you have to visit this attraction. The main attraction is the Flying Ravana Zipline.
Zipline – Sri Lanka’s first ever zip line at 550m in length, reaching a max speed of 80kmph and 82m high. With views over the luscious green tea estates of Ella it is a brilliant stepping stone into thrill seeking. A perfect activity to do with the family or as a couple! We descended down at the same time recording on our Go Pro and it was fantastic. At $18USD per person (10% off if you book online) it’s not that expensive compared to prices you’d pay back home. We say it’s worth it!

Other activities include Archery, ATV (Quad Bike), Mountain Biking, Abseiling, Archery and Air Rifling. Check out their website here if you need any more convincing!

Little Adam’s Peak

So, ironically we weren’t going to scale Little Adam’s peak as we had conquered its bigger brother Adam’s Peak 4 days prior and had a packed itinerary in Ella. It was only after completing the zipline we realised that Little Adam’s peak was a 10 minute climb from the activity centre. Let us tell you it was so worth it! Although our legs were still wobbling, the views of the valley and surrounding mountains were beautiful.

Ella Rock

After all of our hiking excursions we couldn’t physically face the sunrise trek on our last morning in Ella. This is the one thing in retrospect we’re sad we missed! Although, after seeing back to back mind blowing views you become a little numb to the beauty and don’t feel like chasing it as much.

Ravana Falls and Cave

We passed these falls on our way out of Ella and they were nice. Nice is such a strange adjective, it’s hard to tell if someone is sarcastic when they say ‘they were nice’. Honestly we weren’t blown away by this waterfall and didn’t get a chance to see the cave behind. If you’re passing them we advise you stop and admire it for 5 minutes but we wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit them, especially if you have limited time.

Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory

Known as the largest tea factory and plantation in Uva Province, it’s no wonder this is the most popular tea factory tour in Ella. Uva Halpewatte Tea Factory offers English speaking tour guides and tea tasting experience for $3USD. You will get the chance to visit many tea factories throughout Sri Lanka’s central region but from experience research prior so you know which one to go for!

Eat and drink at Chill, UFO, 360 Degree and other Cafes

If you’re travelling through Sri Lanka you’re going to experience some tasty cuisine, not to mention the amount of curries you’re going to try. Ella offers tasty cuisine, refreshing drinks and live music most evenings. A brilliant way to unwind after a busy day!

Cooking Class

There are a variety of cooking classes based throughout Sri Lanka, especially in Ella and Kandy. We chose to do ours in Ella through our accommodation “Ella Eco Lodge” and it’s owner Sampath (which we highly recommend if you’re looking for naturalistic accommodation). You can check out the prices and views through this link! We visited a local families house and cooked on a traditional wood fire stove using all the tools a family would use for their cooking. It was fantastic! We even took a jackfruit from Sampaths tree to cook with and made jackfruit curry. 

Venturing Outside Ella

Pepper and Cinnamon Plantation

This was something that was again organised and tailor made to us through our accommodation “Ella Eco Lodge” and our amazing host Sampath. We eat black pepper every day and had absolutely no idea what the plant looked like! It was a completely personal experience walking around a smaller plantation with just us, the tour guide and Sampath. We are plant nerds, and love growing our own fruit and vegetables. To witness how pepper and cinnamon is grown was a special experience for us. We also got the chance to buy some of the freshest peppercorns we would ever buy!

Diyaluma Falls

Diyaluma Falls records an impressive 220m height and is the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. You can swim at the top and at the bottom in selected rock pools. This waterfall is approximately 40km from Ella and with it’s windy roads you’re probably looking at a 1 hour 30 drive. 

Buduruvagala Temple

Buduruvagala is an archaeological site hosting seven statues that have been carved into the rock face behind, dating back to the 10th Century. Budurvagala in essence means “the rock of Buddhist sculptures”. The complex belongs to the Mahayana school of thought. This temple is around 40km from Ella again, but close to Diyaluma Falls if you fancied tying them in together.

Rambutan Plantation

We also visited a very special/local plantation which dominantly grew rambutans to sell out of season to countries all over the world, with the majority being sold to the Middle East. What was so special about this particular local plantation was that they were cross breeding different types of plants and fruits. The owners were also breeding fruits and plants that were believed to be on the edge of extinction. For us, this experience was fascinating.

All of the places outside of Ella we visited in one day with our host Sampath and it was well worth it. You could speak to drivers or your hotel to help organise such a personalised trip.

If you’re an adventure seeker and haven’t yet scaled Adam’s Peak, you absolutely have to! Especially at sunrise! Read here everything you need to know about summiting this mountain!

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