The rugged landscape of Nuwara Eliya makes it a place filled with many natural wonders, and it is undoubtedly every nature lover’s dream come true.
Nuwara Eliya is famous for luring visitors with its laid-back setting and cooler weather, which makes it one of the top tourist places in Sri Lanka. It is famed as ‘Little England’ for its colonial ambience as it was where British rulers’ holiday mansions were built.
The best way to get here is by the scenic train from Ella, and I know that you will fall in love with the ride.
Nuwara Eliya is a region blessed with many magnificent waterfalls, and Devon Waterfall is one of them. It is located closer to Thalawakele town, and you can get here by taxi or tuk tuk.
Although you can get a clear view of Devon Falls from Hatton - Nuwara Eliya's main road - you also have the option to walk about 1 km through the woods to get a closer look. The falls reach a height of 97 meters and are part of the Kotmale River.
Swimming or bathing here is not advisable because it is hazardous. However, you can treat yourself to a cup of tea at the Mlesna Tea Centre after enjoying the waterfall.
Located close to Devon Falls in Thalawakele is a three-tiered cascade waterfall with extensive tea plantations on either side of it.
St. Clair’s is one of the widest waterfalls in the country, and is popularly known as the ‘Little Niagara of Sri Lanka.’ It is a combination of two waterfalls, namely ‘Maha Ella’ and ‘Kuda Ella,’ meaning big fall and small fall respectively.
It used to be a much prettier sight before the Upper Kotmale Hydro Project came into place, which reduced its water level by a great extent. You can see the falls from either the main road or take one of the small paths in the tea plantations that leads to the waterfall.
Galway’s Land was declared a wildlife sanctuary and national park in 2006 in an attempt to conserve the mountain ecosystems in the region.
It is one of the smallest national parks in Sri Lanka but has become one of the prominent attractions in Nuwara Eliya as it features attractive migrant and native bird species on the island.
Galway’s Land National Park is located in Hawaeliya, 3 km from the main town.
The high altitude of Nuwara Eliya makes it ideal for tea plantations, and some of the best varieties of the world-famous Ceylon Tea are made here!
The Pedro Tea Factory does not only give you a chance to look at how tea leaves are processed and packaged, but they also give you a mini-tour around their tea plantation. You will also get the opportunity to pluck tea leaves and chat with the local women who work here.
Afterwards, enjoy a fine cup of tea of your choosing in their café outside overlooking the beautiful surroundings. There are many other tea estates in the area offering similar tours too, so ask your travel guide or locals if you want more options.
Lake Gregory is an ideal spot to go for a walk in the evening to enjoy Nuwara Eliya’s cooler weather. The scenery at the lake is simply breathtaking, although it can get pretty crowded during April. There are plenty of opportunities to have fun here, and it is an excellent place to relax idly.
You can go on cycling and pony rides here along the walking paths that are surrounded by pretty flowers. The most popular activity at Lake Gregory is boat rides as they allow you to take in the scenic views better.
You have the option of hiring a speed boat or a swan boat if you want to go by yourself. You need to purchase a ticket to enter the lake premises and pay more to partake in activities separately.
Visting a strawberry farm is one of the most popular things to do in Nuwara Eliya. It’s really interesting to observe how strawberries are grown and harvested in open fields as well as in polytunnels.
Jagro is one of the leading suppliers of strawberries throughout the country. You can even purchase freshly-picked strawberries at a reasonable price from the outlets on the farm.
There is a café where you can enjoy a variety of food items prepared using strawberries. From jam and fresh juices to cheesecakes and sizzling hot strawberry pancakes and waffles to treat your taste buds in the cold weather - there is quite an assortment of food available here!
But, it’s important to know that strawberry fields are best enjoyed during the harvesting season, which begins in September.
If you want to explore rare plant and flower varieties, Hakgala Botanic Gardens is the place to go. There’s quite a lot to see here, so allocate a few hours to enjoy the site fully.
Hakgala Botanic Gardens was established in 1861. It was initially a place of cultivation to experiment with crops like tea.
The Gardens are famous for their eye-catchy collections of orchids and roses that are best enjoyed during the spring season (March - April) in Nuwara Eliya.
Some other noteworthy places here are the Rock Garden, the Upper Flower Garden, the Arboretum, and the Bulb Garden. If you don’t feel like walking, but still want to enjoy every special place in the garden, you can hire a golf cart service to take you around at an added cost.
Victoria Park is located next to the Nuwara Eliya Post Office. You can relax under the shade of giant trees, take a walk in the park admiring its beauty, or have a picnic with your loved ones here.
There is a small museum with lots of pictures that show how old Nuwara Eliya town eventually transformed into what it is today.
The park is beautiful between March-May and August-September when the flowers are in full bloom. It’s also an excellent place to observe some rare species of birds. The entrance fee costs in between 300-400 LKR for tourists.
If you're looking for a place surrounded by lush greenery to spend a day at, and a fantastic waterfall to keep your ears entertained, then head to Aberdeen Falls in Ginigathhena. It's not ideal for swimming, and I would say, don't take the risk unless you are very experienced.
Aberdeen Falls has a 98-meter high drop that eventually forms into a natural pool at the bottom. The scenery at the falls is simply breathtaking. It's perfect for taking beautiful photographs, and you won't find a better escape to relax and unwind in than this.
If you're looking for challenging nature-bound places to see in Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains National Park is for you.
This is the only national park where you have the opportunity to discover diverse flora and fauna by foot as opposed to hiring a jeep. Sambar Deer, leopards, Spotted Chevrotain, and Red Slender Loris are some of the animal species that you can find here. The vast area of mountain grassland is also an excellent site for pictures.
You can also hike to the World's End - a 1200 meter cliff drop - to get jaw-dropping views of the surrounding lush greenery. It's best to come here as early as possible in the morning. Just beware that the weather conditions can change drastically within a short period, and sometimes the walking path can be obscured by mist.
The Bale Bazaar in Nuwara Eliya town is a market that sells all kinds of winter clothes throughout the year. If you aren’t geared up adequately for your stay in Nuwara Eliya, then head here to purchase what you need at very reasonable prices.
Sometimes, you will even be able to get your hands on some branded clothing. In addition to winter wear, some vendors also sell a limited range of accessories and jewellery items.
Seetha Amman Temple is one of the popular points of interest in Nuwara Eliya that you shouldn't miss.
Situated at the top of a hill, 1 km away from Hakgala Gardens, is a temple dedicated to Lord Rama's's wife, Sita. Hindu devotees believe this is the place where Sita was held captive by King Ravana.
The sacred temple is beautifully decorated with intricate carvings and painted in bright colours. The Nuwara Eliya River flows by the temple, and you will notice some distinct footprints that are believed to be Hanuman's - the rescuer of Sita.
The construction of this Anglican church is believed to have begun in 1845, and it took seven years to be completed. It was then further enlarged in 1889 with more public support.
When here, you can take a walk in the churchyard and observe tombstones of noteworthy figures of the time. It is located on Church Road - 10 minutes from the main town.
If you have more time to spare, you can expand your city tour by adding more beautiful places to visit in Nuwara Eliya to your list, like the Bluefield Tea Factory and Ramboda Falls.
When visiting places in Nuwara Eliya, you also have the option of strolling on less taken roads and exploring different areas and sites in the city and beyond. Maybe on your way back, you can stop at the Moon Plains or The Grand Hotel for High Tea.
This article was edited by Loredana Elena and was first published on Mar 8, 2020 11:12 UTC.
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