Travelling by train
Half of the adventure lies in the journey itself. The scenic and most opted for method of transport is by train – and not to mention incredibly affordable compared to other options of renting a car or flying via seaplane. If you’re travelling from Colombo Fort station, which is the main hub in the city to reach any part of the island, get to the station early to reserve your tickets.
Train tickets for 1st and 2nd class can also be reserved online or at the ticket counter in advance. However, if you’re somewhat of a late bloomer, get to the station at least one hour before your train’s departure in order to secure a 2nd class seat or 3rd class seat. Most trains are named, here’s the departure and arrival schedule of trains to Nuwara Eliya. It’s important to note that there’s no station named ‘Nuwara Eliya’, and the closest you’ll get to the town is the ‘Nanu Oya’ station, roughly 20 minutes away from the town centre.
Note that these times are subject to change. It’s always best to enquire at the train station for the latest times.
1. Podi Menike Express Train
- Departs Colombo – 05:55
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 12:40
2. Udarata Menika Express Train
- Departs Colombo – 08:30
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 14:45
3. Express Train
- Departs Colombo – 09:45
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 15:50
4. Night Mail Train
- Departs Colombo – 20:00
- Arrives at Nanu Oya – 03:00
The Podi Menike is the best train to get on, as you’ll reach the town just in time to check-in to your hotel. If you’ve got a couple of days to spend in Nuwara Eliya, and prefer a late night train where you can sleep, take the Night mail train. Don’t expect any views though – you’ll be climbing up mountains, and there’s barely any light up there!
Once you reach Nanu Oya, you can opt to ride share with other tourists, who are usually quite vocal about looking for other ride sharers, or hop in a tuk by yourself. Tuks can fit up to 3 people. If the driver doesn’t know where your hotel is, get your Google Maps working – and direct him to your hotel. Most drivers know the way to popular old hotel such as Jetwing St. Andrews, as they have been around for years – but let Google guide you just in case, or simply call your hotel and ask for directions!
Locally called Sandathenna, Moon Plains is a flat, central plain located in Nuwara Eliya. Moon Plains offers you sweeping, panoramic and simply breath taking views of the forest reserve, sprawling gardens, tea plantations, vegetable lands and the rugged mountains. You’ll also be able to see cute little cottages and bungalows from the vantage point. It’s the ideal place to hike to, or if you’d rather, cycle your way here. You’ll so also be able to see some native wildlife such as elk, buffaloes, deer and a colourful spectrum of birds; both endemic and migratory. Head over to Mini World’s End to watch a glowing sunrise that’ll just warm you right up.
Nuwara Eliya is cold enough for strawberries to grow – and for those of you who didn’t know, yes, strawberries need cold, wet weather to flourish and grow! There are quite a few strawberry farms that you can visit and buy a bunch of juicy red berries from. Ask your hotel for the closest one and take a tuk there. The main strawberry planting season begins in September, but you’re sure to find berries at any other time of the year as well. Our top three strawberry farms are Ramya Horticulture, Jagro Strawberry and Adma Agro.
Built over 100 years ago by the British, the Nuwara Eliya Post Office is the hallmark of Little England and has stood the test of time. This red-bricked building, Victorian style building is known to be one of the oldest post offices in Sri Lanka. Located smack in the heart of the town, it’s quite hard to miss. The post office is a great photo opportunity for those who love vintage architecture. The post office, unfortunately, has recently faced closure – however, it’s not set in stone yet. Help to keep it open, by sending a post card or letter to your family back home. You can buy post cards from the post office for less than Rs.100.
Tea in the Garden
Enjoying a nice, warm cup of Ceylon tea is an experience you can’t leave Nuwara Eliya, without having. Most hotels, bungalows or cottages have a well-manicured garden. Order your favourite cup of tea, and if you don’t know what that is yet, ask the hotel staff to assist. Have your tea in the garden while enjoying the beautiful views around you.
This cascading beauty of icy cold water has a rather tragic story behind its name. Towering to a height of 30 metres, Lovers Leap is the closest waterfall to Nuwara Eliya town, approximately 1.5 kms away. Legend has it that a prince fell in love with a maiden from the nearby village, however, the king prohibited the prince from continuing the affair. Heartbroken and determined to spend the rest of their lives; even if it was in the after-life, the couple leapt off the waterfall, hoping to immortalise their undying love for each other.