What to Do in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka? 8 Tips!

Nuwara Eliya is a unique place in Sri Lanka because the atmosphere is completely different from the rest of the country. It resembles a British village with its colonial buildings and neatly maintained English gardens. These are remnants of the British colonial period in the 19th century. Hence, Nuwara Eliya is also known as ‘Little England.’ The city is located in the highlands, where it is often much cooler than the rest of Sri Lanka. This region has the perfect climate for growing tea, and you’ll find endless rolling hills with green tea plantations in the vicinity. The area is not just about tea plantations because from Nuwara Eliya, you can also visit some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sri Lanka. Read below for all the tips for visiting Nuwara Eliya!

What to do in Nuwara Eliya?

Nuwara Eliya is mainly known for its beautiful nature with impressive green tea plantations, whose names shine in large Hollywood letters on the hills. Rent a tuk-tuk with a driver or hop on a scooter yourself and explore all the beautiful spots around Nuwara Eliya. The following attractions are a must-see in our opinion.

Visit a tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya

Did you know that green and black tea are made from exactly the same type of leaves from the same plant, but a different process makes them taste so different? You’ll learn this and more when you visit a tea plantation and take a tour of the tea factory. I visited Damro Labookellie Tea Plantation. This is the largest and oldest tea plantation in Sri Lanka, with one of the largest factories in the country. You can take a free 20-minute tour of the factory here, where they explain the whole process step by step. Afterward, you can hang out in the café to taste a delicious cup of Ceylon tea for free, directly from the source.

If you want to see more of the plantation, get in touch with the tea pickers, and even pick tea yourself with a basket on your back, you can also book a tea safari through the tea fields on the spot. You will then go on a jeep safari through the plantation to see this process up close.

Did you know: Ceylon is the former name of Sri Lanka during its time as a British colony. Since 1972, the country has been called ‘Sri Lanka,’ but the name Ceylon is still used for tea. So, Ceylon tea means tea from Sri Lanka. We know the tea as black tea with a hint of lemon.

Walk from Nuwara Eliya to Lover’s Leap Waterfall

About a half-hour walk from the center of Nuwara Eliya, you’ll find Lover’s Leap Waterfall. According to folklore, the name comes from a tragic love story about a prince and his beloved who, due to their forbidden love, jumped to their end together from this waterfall. Despite this sad but romantic story, it is definitely a beautiful waterfall to visit. This walking route to the waterfall is well marked on maps.me. If you don’t feel like walking, you can also get there by tuk-tuk or scooter. Park at this location, and from there, it’s a short 10-minute walk to Lover’s Leap Waterfall.

Note: Our tuk-tuk driver said you can also climb to the top of the waterfall. We tried this, but the path was in such poor condition that we couldn’t continue at some point. So, we turned back halfway.

Hike through Horton Plains National Park to World’s End

Horton Plains is a beautiful nature reserve consisting of undulating plains with wild grasses, interspersed with patches of dense forest, rock formations, waterfalls, and lakes. The landscape suddenly comes to an end at World’s End. This is a breathtaking viewpoint over a steep cliff with an impressive height of 880 meters (2,887 feet).

It’s best to start the hike around 6:00 am. So, you’ll have to get up early because it’s about an hour’s drive from Nuwara Eliya to the starting point of the hike. Early in the morning, the hiking trails are not as crowded, but more importantly, you have the best chance of good weather at World’s End. Usually, clouds start rolling over the mountains around 10:00 am, and then you’ll see very little of the view. It’s a shame, especially considering that the entrance fee for this park for foreigners is quite high at $35.

From the entrance, it’s about a 4 km walk to World’s End. If you walk back via the other side past Baker’s Falls, the total loop is about 9.5 km. You can follow the easy route via maps.me, and it takes about 4 hours. This may take longer if you take your time and enjoy the beautiful views a bit longer.

Note: You are not allowed to bring plastic or aluminum foil into the park. This is strictly enforced at the entrance. Anything in plastic or aluminum packaging will be put in paper bags. Even cookie packets are opened or you have to leave them behind to take back when you leave. Bottled water is allowed, but without the plastic label.

Enjoy a High Tea at the Grand Hotel

Tea is the main theme at this destination, so a high tea is a must on a list of fun things to do in Nuwara Eliya. Although a high tea isn’t necessarily a very authentic experience, it’s still fun to do, for example, after your hike through Horton Plains National Park.

Climb Ramboda Falls

Ramboda Falls is a whopping 109 meters high (358 feet) and is about an hour’s drive from Nuwara Eliya. From the road, you can already see the waterfall partially flowing, but to see it really well, you have to walk up the stairs. This takes about 20 to 30 minutes, and there’s a good chance you’ll encounter monkeys along the way. Ramboda Falls has different levels where you can take a refreshing dip. Once at the top, at the viewpoint, it’s a beautiful sight to see the water flowing down.

Tip: Also, visit this viewpoint for a spectacular view of Ramboda Falls.

Experience the Local Atmosphere at Gregory Park

In the heart of Nuwara Eliya lies Gregory Lake, adjacent to Gregory Park. The park is a cozy place where locals like to gather in the late afternoon for some entertainment. They go boating or jet skiing on the water, make music, or have a snack.

You can walk around most of Gregory Lake, but if you want to enter Gregory Park, you have to pay a small entrance fee. Here, you can go horseback riding or take a boat ride, but I found both the horses and the jetties and boats in such poor condition that I wouldn’t want to take a ride for pleasure. However, the locals have a great time here. You visit Gregory Park more to experience the local atmosphere than for the activities.

Walk the Pekoe Trail

Are you a fan of hiking? Then there’s another cool hiking trail in Nuwara Eliya. The Pekoe Trail goes through beautiful green tea plantations and local villages. This trail is part of a long hiking route of a total of 300 kilometers (186 miles) through the highlands of Sri Lanka. This long hiking route runs from Kandy, via Ella to Nuwara Eliya in 22 stages, and in Nuwara Eliya, you can walk the last stage. In half a day, you walk through winding paths through the Pedro tea plantation and cross remote villages where children wave enthusiastically at you. The route cannot be found on Google Maps or Maps.me; you really need to download a hiking app for it. The app Alltrails shows the route well. This app can be used for free for the first week; after that, you have to pay for it.

Tips for Good Restaurants in Nuwara Eliya

Themparadu – This cozy restaurant exudes a nice atmosphere, plays good music, and serves burgers, fried rice, kottu, and of course drinks all day long. Sometimes there’s live music too.
Cafe Noshers – Not in the mood for Sri Lankan cuisine? The trendy Cafe Noshers offers delicious dishes like smoothie bowls, sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. It’s also the right spot for good coffee!
Grand Hotel – As mentioned earlier in this article, you can indulge in a delightful high tea at the Grand Hotel.
Ambaal’s Pure Vegetarian Hotel & Restaurant – This restaurant is extremely popular among locals, serving delectable Indian cuisine! Everything is vegetarian, and each dish bursts with flavor.
Dushan’s Home Kitchen – At this small restaurant, you can savor the local cuisine. Everything is freshly prepared, meaning you might have to wait a bit longer for your food. But the wait is absolutely worth it!

Our Favorite Spots in Nuwara Eliya

There are several great accommodations to stay at in Nuwara Eliya. Let’s start with Pigeons Nest. From this guesthouse, you’ll have a stunning view over the mountains of Nuwara Eliya. The view, along with the lovely staff, makes it a wonderful place to stay. You’ll always be greeted with a wide smile here. And for the colder evenings, they light up the fireplace. Pure bliss! Also, Serendipity Lake Artistic Bungalow is a charming spot to stay. This artistic accommodation is beautifully situated by Gregory Lake, so you can imagine the view is stunning. The interior is far from boring as well. Each room features beautiful murals, and there’s a garden full of flowers and plants. Even if you’re staying at the unique hotel The Ramp, you can expect a comfortable stay. The rooms come with nice extras like a mini-fridge, a rain shower, and a luxurious bed. In the morning, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast to start your day off right.