A small town set in the mountains, beautiful Ella is surrounded by natural landscapes rich in flora and fauna. Home to tea plantations and several picturesque hiking trails, the town is a highlight not to be missed during your stay in Sri Lanka. Starting with its famous train ride, Ella is all about exploration and green oases.

Landscape in Ella

From Kandy to Ella Train Ride

Blue train ride in Sri Lanka

The start of your journey to Ella would not be complete without a hop on the famous blue train. It’s a must and the most scenic ride I’ve had so far. I’m pretty sure the freedom I felt and the joy I had are visible in the photo above.

Unique panoramas, tea plantations as far as the eye can see, picturesque little villages…, a few words aren’t nearly enough to describe the emotions and this great adventure.

An experience I highly recommend to travelers of all ages. And if you’d like to know more about the ride itself, I invite you to read my other post on the subject > link here.

Nine Arch Bridge

Nine Arch Bridge in Ella

Famous among locals and travelers alike, it wasn’t easy to get there. Following the path that was supposed to lead us to the entrance, my friend and I ended up getting lost. No matter how many times we turned around to take another route, we still couldn’t find the real entrance.

After several attempts and an ounce of discouragement, we finally met some lovely locals who tried to put us on the right track. After several minutes of trying to understand each other, we finally arrived at our destination.

Here’s the itinerary:

  • If, like us, you want to go on foot, the journey takes between 45mn and 1h depending on your starting point. Follow the Ella-Passara road and turn left at the Sri Kanaser temple. You’ll then see many signs after the guesthouses until you reach the bridge. Don’t forget to bring water!
  • Another option is to take a tuk-tuk, which will cost you around LKR 200 (less than a dollar) and take you there in 15 minutes.

Explore the Nine Arch Bridge and its verdant surroundings. Stop for a moment and admire the view as you swing your feet over the bridge. Walk along the tracks and enter the dark tunnel, but watch out for the train whistle. If you hear it, run, you lunatic!

I felt like I was traveling back to the colonial era when the bridge was built. And I understand why a simple bridge to some, but an architectural feat to others, is so popular. It’s simply an incredible place nestled in the green hills and perfect landscape between Ella and Demodara stations.

> Best view of the bridge

For the best view of the Nine Arch Bridge, head for the Asanka Cafe at the north end of the bridge.
You can also walk up to the viewpoint, where you can take great photos of the curve of the railroad tracks below.

The Town

While you’re in Ella, you should definitely try the food. Whether it’s the market stalls selling delicious fresh fruit or the restaurants and cafés lining the main street, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

While many travelers visit Ella for its nature and hiking trails, this small town actually boasts an excellent dining scene and lively nightlife.

Food

Since I said Ella was more than worthy of your taste buds, I’ll introduce you to two of my favorite places:

  • Cafe Chill
    Warm atmosphere, excellent service and food, all in a beautiful cabin-like setting. Cuisine based on fresh local and international ingredients. If your mouth isn’t watering yet, I guarantee it will when you try their various dishes. Local or Western cuisine, the choice is yours!
  • 360 Ella
    Authentic Sri Lankan dishes in a relaxed atmosphere, I say yes. Located just a few minutes from Cafe Chill and all the other cafes/restaurants, 360 Ella is also known for its live music on weekends. Take a seat, order a dish and enjoy the atmosphere!

Little Adam’s Peak

Little Adam's Peak in Ella

My all-time favorite in Ella, Little Adam’s Peak is a trail not to be missed. Surrounded by tea plantations most of the way and after getting lost once again…, we finally reached the summit after many steps.

Stunning scenery where Ella Rock beckons (tomorrow’s goal), my friend and I stay a while to enjoy the tranquility of the place in the shade of a big rock like lizards.

Little Adam's Peak scenery in Ella
Another view in Litlle Adam's Peak in Ella

An ice cream later, a well-deserved treat in this heat, all that’s left to do is rest up before tackling another hike the next morning!

Ella Rock

It’s a cloudy day for my solo hike up Ella Rock. Hoping that the weather would improve along the way, I excitedly set off along the rails. Yes, this trail is quite special, since you have to start after the Ella train station and simply follow the tracks for a while (more than 30 minutes, I’d say).

Tracks in Ella
Green tracks in Ella

It’s a real experience, with fewer travelers than I’d originally expected, but one that made me feel like an explorer venturing into uncharted territory. Continue to the Kithalella station, then walk for about 10 minutes before stepping off the tracks and turning left. You should see a rock marked “Ella Rock” in blue, followed by an arrow. You shouldn’t go past the 166 ¼ marker; if you do, you’ve gone too far. The starting point of the hike is between beacons 166 ½ and 166 ¼.

You’ll then cross a footbridge and encounter a fork in the road. Take the path on the left, not the one on the right, even though there are signs pointing in that direction. You’ll find yourself in the middle of a tea plantation followed by tall grass. You’re on the right track, so keep going straight ahead.

After crossing the tall grass, you finally reach the last and most difficult part of the hike. Surrounded by trees and rocks, take any steep path that climbs before you reach the top of Ella Rock. Congratulations, you’ve made it, now all you have to do is relax and enjoy the view!

Final thoughts

Ella is, and always will be, a tourist spot where you can get away from the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded small town and its tuk tuk and get closer to nature. It’s here that you’ll truly appreciate the beauty and tranquillity of Ella. So far, this mountain resort in the heart of the tea plantations remains one of the most picturesque places I’ve seen in Sri Lanka.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow. Your photos of Sri Lanka are amazing . I’ve always wanted to go but haven’t gotten over to that part of Asia yet. I am going to pin this for when I start planning. Thanks for sharing!

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