Welcome to Ella!
Ella is a small hill station surrounded by tea plantations and mountains. Actually seems that this is one of the most touristy places in Sri Lanka! But no wonder. When we came to Ella we knew right away that with three days it’s definitely not enough. This is just a perfect place for nature lovers, hikers, discoverers and all those who like good live music and beer. There are countless places to visit around in the region, but here are the ones you shouldn’t skip! Check out our TOP 10 Must-See Places in Ella!
1. Little Adam’s Peak
If you have tried to hike up the Adam’s Peak, do not worry – this will be a pleasant walk! Little Adam’s Peak is located very close to the Ella town, hike up will take you less than one hour. Enjoy the views over the valley and tea plantations. On the very top of the mountain you will find two Buddha statues, dogs and many tourists. If you wish to have some time alone with nature, keep on hiking! There is another peak next to the Little Adam’s Peak. The path down that side of Adam’s Peak and the way up the other mountain is a bit challenging. We wouldn’t recommend to try this if it has been raining. But if you are there, you will see couple more of the peaks, so it’s possible to spend all day in this place climbing one mountain after another.
2. The Nine Arch Bridge
Nine arches of the Nine Arch Bridge or “Bridge in the Sky” make it a great place to visit – beauty hidden in a lush green jungle! This is one of the best examples of colonial-era railway construction. In some information resources it is written that during the construction of the bridge, a war began between the empires of Europe, so the steel meant for the bridge was reallocated to war related projects, and locals built this bridge without using the steel, just with the stone bricks and cement. The path down to the bridge starts around 30 minutes walk from the centre of Ella. Take a bus or just hike there. You will see signs on the left side of the main road that will lead you to the Nine Arch Bridge. Tuk-tuk drivers will try to convince you to take a ride with them saying the path is long, but they cannot actually bring you any far. At first the path is wider, but soon there will be small, rocky path down the hill. Times to times the train is passing by on the Nine Arch Bridge so those are the views you shouldn’t miss. If you wish to experience the ride in the train above the arch for yourself, take the train from Ella to Demodara or other way around. The Nine Arch Bridge is reachable also by walking on the railway track, so you can choose this way to get back to the town. Easy and beautiful.
3. Ravana Rock Temple and Cave
A bit outside Ella town, reachable by foot or by bus, there is a path that brings up to the mountain till Ravana Rock Temple and Ravana Cave. Take the left turn when the path separates, hike through tea plantations and palm trees full of monkeys, and you will reach stairs that lead up to the cave. This path is 1.2 km away from the main road. The ancient Ravana Ella Cave temple is believed to be constructed during the King Walagamba`s rule. The ancient canopy paintings can be seen here. It is also believed that after kidnapping Lord`s Rama`s wife Sita, Sri Lankan King Rawana was hiding her at this cave on top of the mountain. Ancient legends reveal that this cave has actually been a secret hiding place as there are tunnels connecting this cave to other temples all around the area. The stairs to the cave are actually located behind blue metal door which will be opened after you pay 150 LKR entrance fee. After you will be encouraged to climb up 500 metres to the cave. It may seem even more. The stairs at the end are steep, but the cave is huge and interesting to visit. On the way back rest in a local hut, where a local lady is boiling water on the open fire to make you a tea or coffee.
After follow the road again and soon you will reach the Ravana temple with Buddha statues and sacred tree. There actually is another path inside the temple that leads to the cave itself! All the country is like a web with tunnels, connecting every place and temple! In the Rock Temple most likely you will meet some local kids that will be telling ancient legends in barely understandable English after asking for money. But the temple itself is for free.
4. Ella Rock
Ella Rock is one of the pillarstones in the little town of Ella. Actually, it is not reachable from the town by road, so it’s better to take the railway. Yes, in Sri Lanka walking on the railway tracks is quite a common thing. Walk two kilometres on the railway track towards Bandarawela and as you pass the black bridge, turn left and cross the river with the little bridge. Then turn right and proceed ahead through the tea plantation up to Ella Rock and forest. On the way to the Ella Rock you will find a nice waterfall. Tough hike up the Ella Rock won’t be that easy. It takes 2 hours to hike from the bottom to the top. And no road signs are provided so you will need to rely on the help of locals. Just remember that there are also those who like to trick people and they intentionally will show you the wrong direction. After several circles you would have been made and returned, the same guy will offer to “help” you to find the right way for some money.
5. Ravana Waterfall
Located 6 km from Ella, this waterfall is still easily reachable by public bus. Pay 30 LKR and in a short ride you are there. Waterfall is accessible from the road. It is totally for free, though be careful with climbing the rocks – many signs around are already counting the deaths occurred because of the slipping. Waterfall is amazing! Even if the place is crowded, you can still find some points where not every tourist will be fine to go.
6. Demodara Railway Station
Why the train station? It’s not as usual as the others here. The station can be called an interesting place to visit because of its spiral rail line known as the Demodara Loop. The rail line passes under itself, after making the loop and emerging from a tunnel, which runs directly beneath the Demodara railway station. It is considered to be the only loop in the world with a railway station located exactly over a tunnel at spiral loop. It is located around 8 km from the Ella town. Take a bus to Demodara junction and then take a right turn to the railway station. It’s not a long walk, around 1 km and you are there. The best is to make it to the moment when the train is there.
7. Dowa Rock Temple
Dowa Rock Temple is a protected heritage site, located on Badulla – Bandarawela road towards Bandarawela, 6 km from Ella town. This temple is famous for its large Buddha image, carved into the rock. And not only – it is known also to be one of the best places the King Walagamba was hiding while he was preparing for fights against enemies. Dowa Rock temple dates back over 2000 years! And here you might even start a conversation with monks and hear many more interesting stories!
8. Kandaviharaya Rock Temple
First you should reach Hunuketiya village then follow the sign boards up to the temple which is around 4 more km from the village, 14 km away from Ella town. Calm and nice place to explore.
9. The Lipton’s Seat
The tea baron Sir Thomas Lipton himself was overlooking his empire from here as the view spans from tea plantations and hills far away till the horizon. As it is not that close to Ella, you should plan all day for the Lipton`s Seat. Take a train to Haputale. And then you can take the tuk-tuk that can take you up to the top where the Lipton himself planted the first seeds of Lipton Tea. Another way is to take the bus from Haputale station to Dambatenna village and then hike up through the tea plantations. This will be a bit longer way, but the views are worth the effort!
10. Diyaluma Falls
Diyaluma Falls are the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, located around 40 km from Ella town, so this is another place that will take you the whole day. The foot of the Diyaluma Falls is located an hour ride away from Ella. Take a bus and you will reach it. But if you wish to see the waterfall from the top, it will take almost three hours to hike up the falls.
Ella is a wonderful town, surrounded by natural wonders that will take your breath away and wouldn`t allow you to leave. In our experience, Ella is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka, so be sure – do not skip it!