Is a stop in Ella on your Sri Lanka bucket list? If not, it will be soon! Here’s a quick guide of the best things to do for a few days in Ella.
(It actually rained quite a lot during our trip so this blog post doesn’t have as many photos as I’d usually include. We travelled in the off season but I’ll be sure to post an update when we’re back next year with more photos!)
1. Visit the beautiful Nine Arch Bridge (and take the famous train ride)
The Nine Arch Bridge has to be one of the most famous bridges in the world and it’s not surprising why. The beautiful sweeping arches are surrounded by lush, green untouched jungle and tea plantations with mountains visible in the distance. You can also take the famous train ride from Ella to Kandy – a journey that is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in the world.
If you time it right, you can be at the bridge when a train drives across. I’ve included a photo of the train timetable (correct in October 2019) below although the trains often don’t actually cross the bridge when they’re scheduled to because of delays.
2. Go hiking!
There are two pretty famous hikes within easy access from Ella. Little Adam’s Peak is a fairly easy hike with clear paths all the way up. The walk will take you a couple of hours to get to the top and back down, including stopping for photos and it’s a great place to go for sunset. Climbing Ella Rock takes longer, around 4 hours for the round trip, including stops at the peak and for photos. It’s best to start early (we like to be awake around sunrise time) as the hike can be incredibly hot if you do it in the middle of the day and the mist often rolls in during the afternoon.
If you want to venture out from Ella a little further, you can also visit Lipton’s Seat – one of Sri Lanka’s best viewpoints which, on a clear day, offers views over vast distances. You’ll need to arrive at the top by 8am as the mist rolls in at around 9am and the views won’t be as good. It’s possible to hike this trail or you can take a tuktuk if you don’t fancy the walk.
3. Eat a traditional rice and curry
If you haven’t ever tried a traditional Sri Lankan rice and curry then you are missing out big time. You can usually choose between chicken, vegetable or fish and you’re given an array of small and diverse dishes (my favourite dish is the dhal) along with a dish of your curry of choice and some rice. In Ella, a vegetable rice and curry costs around 400-500 Rupees (£1.73-£2.16)! Sri Lankan food is AMAZING with most of the curries being coconut rather than oil based. If you also get a chance to try a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast; milk rice, dhal curry and string hoppers is my favourite!
4. Take a cookery class and learn how to make rice and curry!
There are plenty of places in Ella to take a Sri Lankan cookery class and you’ll find signs posted all over the main town. Once you’ve tried the local rice and curry you’ll definitely want to take the recipe home with you.
5. Visit the nearby waterfalls
Ella is close to both Ravana Falls and the amazing Diyaluma Falls. Both of these waterfalls have multiple tiers of magical falls and beautiful pools that you can swim in, with views that you’ll have to pinch yourself to be sure you’re not dreaming.
Please take care if you do decide to head to the top of either of these waterfalls and always remain a safe distance away from the edge!
Transport around Ella
We got around Ella and the surrounding areas in our own tuktuk that we rented from TukTukRental.com. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and so I would highly recommend it for anyone travelling to Sri Lanka. If you do decide to rent your own tuktuk, you can use code MILLY for a discount and book here at TukTukRental.com. To read my full blog post about our TukTukRental.com road trip, click here.
It is also possible to take a tuktuk to many of these locations, rent a scooter yourselves or take a guided tour bus.
We stayed at V@Ella Guesthouse during our time in Ella. This was not a sponsored stay but I wanted to give them a mention as the rooms were extremely well priced, spacious and clean with a hot shower. The owners were lovely and great to chat to and provided a fantastic breakfast of fruit, local food, smoothies, tea, coffee and toast on each room’s private terrace overlooking Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock. You can click here to find them on booking.com.