Nuwara Eliya Backpacking Travel Guide

Information on hostels, transportation, cheap food and drinks, sights to see, activities and more.

About


Nuwara Eliya is a city in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka. It is at an altitude of 1,868 m  and is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka. The altitude and temperate climate gives the city a very different feel from other parts of the country and, along with the colonial architecture, has earned it the name ‘Little England’. Visitors to Nuwara Eliya usual come to see the Horton Plains National Park.

Hostels


Blue Wing Hostel

Blue Wing offers good wi-fi, a barbecue and an onsite restaurant. They also have a shared kitchen and the ability to rent a car through the hostel. Highlights include hot showers and a really tasty breakfast. The best option in Nuwara Eliya.

Nuwara Eliya Hostel by Backpack Lanka

Run by Backpack Lanka, the same group that run the highly rated hostel by the same name in Kandy. They offer dorms as well as private rooms at very good prices. If you are a travelling as a group than it may actually be cheaper to stay in a double or triple room rather than a dorm. Breakfast is included.

Sights and Highlights


Horton Plains and World’s End

Horton Plains and World’s End is a national park in the central highlands and is covered by montane grassland and cloud forest. There is a fantastic hike available in this temperate mountain environment, with an 800 m vertical drop to be found at World’s End. The entrance to Horton Plains is 27 km (1 hour) from Nuwara Eliya. You can get tuk-tuk tot the entrance, but a better option is to find some other travellers to form a group and hire a van and a tour guide. Van and guide costs starts at about 3500 LKR but goes up depending on the size of your group. All things considered, the final cost of your trip will be close to 4000 LKR. A good breakdown of the costs associated with visiting Worlds End can be found at MissTourist.com/see-worlds-end.

Once inside, there is a 9.5km walking trail that takes in Worlds End, Baker Falls and then loops back to the entrance. My advice is to follow the path in a counter-clockwise direction to avoid some of the crowding on the hike. The view from Worlds End is better early in the mornings so wake up early and arrive at the ticketing booth as it opens to be one of the first inside the park.

For Food


For general information on popular Sri Lanka dishes, check out my article Sr Lankan Food on a Budget.

Remarko Restaurant

Really good food at a really good price. Lots of tasty curries and soups are available here. A great spot for budget travellers.

De Silva Food Center

A broad range of food is available here. Lots of tasty typical Sri Lankan dishes including rice and curries. During the day they have some great roti and samosas for a take away snack or lunch while walking through the Horton Plains national park.

To Drink


Nuwara Eliya is not known for its night life. However, there are still two bars to be found in Nuwara Eliya, where you can relax after hiking to World’s End during the day. You can visit Lion Pub for some cool beer for local price rates. Or visit The Grand Hotel, a charming place with a nice atmosphere.

Transportation


Local

Tuk-tuks are the best way to get around Nuwara Eliya. Speak to the staff at your accommodation to arrange one of the hostel’s tuk-tuks.

Getting In and Out

Colombo

Bus route no. 18 travels the Colombo – Nuwara Eliya route. This bus also passes through Hatton on its way to Nuwara Eliya. Take this bus if you want to head to or are coming from Colombo.

Kandy, Hatton and Ella

Head to the Nanu Oya train station to catch the train to Kandy, Hatton or Ella. This train journey is often mentioned as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. Information on this train journey including timetables can be found on Seat61.com.

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