A city of contrasts, Nuwara Eliya is a place where old colonial buildings intersect with local shacks, golf course smoothly blend into tea plantations and children play in puddles near red telephone boxes.
NUWARA ELIYA STYLE
Nuwara Eliya is located in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka almost in the middle of the tear-shaped island. Its temperate climate has contributed to a keen interest of Englishmen and domestic travellers wishing to escape from the tropical heat and resulted in a rather developed tourist facilities.
The “City of Light” was a favourite escape for the English workers and their families, and it still preserves some reminders of days bygone. Thus, while wandering the street of Nuwara Eliya, you will spot numerous English pubs and elegant restaurants, pretty shops and tidy rose gardens.
Travellers usually stay a day or two in the city on their way to more energetic destinations as there is not much to do in the city. Though, Nuwara Eliya boasts magnificent scenery of tea plantations, botanical gardens and endless treks to walking in nature. Also, it houses a spectacular golf course and hundreds of bars with table games and billiard, so if you decided to stay a little bit longer in this extraordinary city, you could be sure you won’t get bored.
WHAT WE LOVE
Magnificent natural scenery
Well-tended colonial buildings
Numerous English pubs
Spectacular golf course
Pleasant cool temperature
NUWARA ELIYA LOCATION
Situated towards the east of Colombo International Airport (a.k.a Bandaranaike International Airport) in the centre of Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya is an ideal base to take in all sights of the Sri Lankan Hill Country and its central part.
Although it is possible to get to Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka over land or water, the best way is to fly:
It can take anywhere between 4,5 hours to 5,5 hours to reach Nuwara Eliya from Colombo International Airport depending on traffic. Ministry of Villas can arrange a chauffeur to greet you upon arrival and escort you to your villa.
Alternatively, there is a taxi desk at the arrival level which arranges one-way fares at a fixed-price. It is recommended to negotiate about the price before getting into the car, as metered taxis do not travel long distances from Colombo.
If you are travelling in a larger group, hired minivan is the best option to reach Nuwara Eliya. The service is available through the travel agencies in the Colombo airport at the arrival level.
The train journey to Nuwara Eliya from either Colombo or Kandy to the nearby Nanu Oya is breathtaking. The train passes through the lush valleys, tea plantations and offers some of the most spectacular views one can imagine. The easiest way to reach the city is by Badulla Train that departs from Colombo station.
The public bus is a slow and uncomfortable, yet, affordable way to get to reach Nuwara Eliya. Bus services are available from both Colombo and Kandy. Despite the fact that only 180 km separate Colombo from Nuwara Eliya, the road transport is very slow due to the very congested traffic.
There are plenty of options, so we’ve ranked them according to our recommendations for first-time travellers:
Ministry of Villas can arrange a private car and chauffeur for you. Depending on which villa you are staying in, the cost for the private car and chauffeur can vary, so it’s recommended to contact our Ministry of Villas team to get the complete information about the private transfers.
Walking around the city is the best way to explore Nuwara Eliya as it features with a quite small size. However, if you decided to travel further afield, you might need another mean of transportation depending on your preference.
Tuk-tuk is one of the most affordable and easy transport options available in the town. Simply flag one down the street and negotiate about the price before getting into tuk-tuk cabin. However, take into account, that the traffic in the city is very congested, and no matter of the transport mode you won’t be able to exceed 20 km per hour.
NUWARA ELIYA VILLAS
There are no Ministry Approved villas in Nuwara Eliya, although the town is lavishly dotted with colonial hotels, guest houses and basic accommodations, so if you decided to spend a couple of days in the city, you wouldn’t have a shortage of the accommodation options.
NUWARA ELIYA DINING
There are a couple of restaurants in Nuwara Eliya that serve decent buffets, which are conceptualised as a fusion of oriental and international tastes. You can sample various dishes at one visit, so these buffet-style venues are well worth a visit.
English pedantry and Lankan hospitality have brought into the world another unique establishment – The Hill Club. Sophisticated, genuine and a little bit snob this restaurant offers some extraordinary dining experience as it will take you back a century.
The Hill Club restaurant is definitely a place to dress up, otherwise, you can be refused to enter the venue. Or you can borrow a jacket and a tie from the Hill Club restaurant collection. The food served by waiters wearing national dress and white gloves is scrumptious and rich in taste.
NUWARA ELIYA NIGHTLIFE
There isn’t much of nightlife in Nuwara Eliya except a couple of pubs and bars spread around the city centre. Authentic and atmospheric, these establishments offer relaxed ambience and classic cocktails to savour. A couple of hotel bars provide a more trendy setting and serve a wider range of exotic drinks.
While walking the streets of this misty city, you can pass through tiny, unremarkable venues, with billiard tables tucked away in the corner. The latter were favourite establishments among Englishmen, and they still preserve the spirit of times bygone.
NUWARA ELIYA SHOPPING
Nuwara Eliya is the best place to shop the authentic handmade Lankan products as most of the items sold in the city are made by locals.
If you are a resident of some cold country with harsh winters, Nuwara Eliya Bale Bazaar (also known as Winter Market among Lankan expats) is a great place to buy bargain-priced winter gear. As there is no real winter in Sri Lanka, most of the visitors are foreigners who especially arrived in the city to hunt out some affordable and quality winter-wear.
Besides the winter clothes and handmade items there is not much shopping in Nuwara Eliya, so if you want to bring back home some amazing quality silk scarfs, jewellery or cosmetics head to Kandy or Colombo which are the trade centres of the island.
NUWARA ELIYA RELAXATION
Nuwara Eliya boasts magnificent natural sights and fantastic outdoor activities to indulge while staying in this charming city. You can take a golf course, watch horse races, drive a sports car or simply wander the streets of the town.
For a more authentic experience, opt a fascinating tour around the tea plantation which is tucked away amidst lush hills. Take a stroll along the paths through the neat rows of the best tea and watch the process of tea harvesting and processing.
The central part of Sri Lanka boasts with magnificent waterfalls bearing fanciful names such as ‘The Lovers Leap’ and the ‘Bridal Falls’. These beautiful natural sights can be easily reached within a short day trip from Nuwara Eliya. Impressive and powerful Lankan waterfalls is an unforgettable sightseeing, and a must-visit attraction, especially if you are a nature lover.