Ella is one of my favorite places in Sri Lanka, trekking through the lush vegetation, the scenery is spectacular and the views are breathtaking. It’s the best place in Sri Lanka to rest for a couple of days, enjoy the fresh air and stroll along the tea plantations visiting temples and waterfalls on the way. Read on to discover all the best places to visit in Ella.
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Places to visit in Ella and things to do:
Nine Arch Bridge
This is probably the most famous attraction in Ella, and probably the most iconic bridge in the country. Built by the British in the 20th century, rumor has it that locals had to finish building the bridge when the steel imparted to the construction was relocated to support the war starting in Europe, putting the project in a standstill. This would explain why the bridge is only made of stone bricks and cement.
The bridge is about 25 meters (100 feet) high and is the biggest in Sri Lanka. You can reach it by tuk-tuk or you can also walk to it, it’s not really far from the town center.
Just follow the railway going towards Demodara. Don’t worry about trains, there are not that many passing by, and they go so slow you’ll have time enough to get out of the way.
Little Adam’s Peak
This climb is pretty easy and reachable from the center. It’s better to go around 3-4 pm, so you can watch the sunset. The view is amazing, you’ll start trekking through the tea plantations, be careful of the women picking tea leaves, they will ask you for money if you take their pictures. Then, when you get to the top there’s like a chain of summits and you can walk to each of them. Now you just have to sit and enjoy the view.
On your way up or back you can stop at one of the batik shops, they will show you the weaving process using only traditional machines, working manually without using electricity. Handmade batik can take up to a year to make depending on the pattern, hence the expensive prices.
To reach Ella Rock, you’ll have to follow the railway for about half an hour, then you’ll see a sign on the left, follow the path, once you have crossed the small bridge, turn left. The path on the left is direct to the top, if you take the one on the right there’s a lot of different ways and you might get lost. Be also careful of locals who want to help you and show you the way and after ask you for money. That’s what happened to me, and when I refused to pay, the guy started being aggressive. I was glad there were other people around.
It takes about 4 hours both ways, at the top, there are people selling tea and the view is just amazing. Try to come to Ella during the dry season because it often gets cloudy and foggy so you won’t be able to see much.
Rawana Ella Caves and Waterfalls
The Rawana waterfall is a nice spot to just relax for a couple of hours. It is possible to swim there and the fall is easily accessible from the main road. The fall is about 25 meters high and was named after a Sri Lankan King. Legend has it that King Ravana kidnapped princess Sita out of revenge against Rama, Sita’s husband, for having cut his sister’s nose. He hid her inside the caves behind the waterfall.
This 2000 years old cave temple, is famous for its 12 meters long unfinished Buddha statue, carved out of the rock. The temple is located 7 kilometers away from Ella, the only way is through the main road so it’s not worth trekking to it, you can just take a tuk-tuk.
Inside the shrine, the paintings, in Kandyan style, depict Jathaka stories, telling about the different births of Buddha and how he appeased conflicts. Animals are also predominant in the paintings, which are incredibly well conserved.
Dhowa village is also worth a stroll.
The Spice Garden
At this small spice garden, you’ll learn about the different spices growing in Sri Lanka and their use in Ayurveda medicine. If you have been to Kandy or planning on going there, you can skip this one. The spice gardens near Kandy are bigger and offer more to see.
Where to stay in Ella:
There’s a lot of nice guesthouses along the hills, you can also stay in the center but it’s more expensive and not as nice. Ella is what I called a “tourists town”, it has been developed thinking of tourism. The town is mostly hotels and restaurants serving overpriced local food and classics western food.
If you want to treat yourself there’s a super fancy nice hotel, 98 Acres Resort and Spa, in the middle of the tea plantations, with private cottages, a pool and a spa. You can also find a lot of Ayurveda centers where you can get a massage and/or a specific treatment.
You should take the train here, the line from Kandy to Ella is just spectacular. It’s one of the best train rides in the world. Book your ticket in advance, the line is often fully booked.
There are a lot of places to visit in Ella, you could stay for one week and still do something new every day.
Check out some of the tours you can go on in Ella:
Related articles to help you plan your trip to Sri Lanka:
- Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka’s Little England
- Kandy – Sri Lanka’s spiritual capital
- Best beaches in Sri Lanka
- Travel safety – Why you should use a VPN
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