There’s much more than tea brewing in the hills of Sri Lanka. In spite of its remote location in the southern Hill Country, Ella has plenty going on beneath its sea of canopies. Bridging the gap between isolation and civilisation are lounge-style bars serving espresso, and even a restaurant plating up fish and chips – no wonder the town is known locally as ‘Little England’.
But despite buzzing with backpackers, Ella still has reams of mountain range for you to lose yourself in. The rumbling Ravana Falls are sight worthy of any bucket list; named after a legendary Hindu King who kidnapped a princess and concealed her in a cave behind the gushing waters. You can also take a trip up to the peak of Ella’s Rock. This 1,300-metre-high cliff is reached via an adventurous two-hour walk along a railway track, which cuts through various tea plantations. Faint blue arrows drawn on rocks lead the way to the peak, where intrepid hikers will be rewarded with unimaginable views over Badulla’s emerald valleys and the plains below.
Head due east to reach the iconic Nine Arches Bridge, ideal for a bit of close-quartered trainspotting with picturesque views in every direction. If it really is tea you’re after, local rickshaw drivers offer cheap tours of plantations such as the Halpewatte factory.
When to go?
Thanks to Ella’s high elevation (1000 metres), the climate is much cooler than other parts of the island. The ideal time to go is outside of monsoon season, so between December and March. Sri Lanka’s main southwest monsoon brings rain to the Hill Country from late April to September.
Where to stay?
Serenite Ella – Ella, Sri Lanka
Enveloped by the surrounding foliage, Serenite Ella offers beautiful chalets with dramatic views of neighbouring mountains, waterfalls and Ella Rock. Private balconies allow you to appreciate the fresh, hilltop air from the comfort of your room. Booking.com travellers rate this property highly for its views and delicious breakfasts.
Leisure Dream Inn
Leisure Dream Inn – Ella, Sri Lanka
Leisure Dream Inn allows visitors to bask in glorious views of the tumbling waterfalls, Ella Rock and surrounding misty mountains. Booking.com guests also rave about the helpful staff and freshly prepared Sri Lankan breakfasts. Each comfortable room comes with free WiFi and a flat-screen TV, and the town centre is just a short walk away.
Laura – Ella, Sri Lanka
Nestled within the picturesque village of Kithal Ella, this Hill Country hideaway offers unbeatable views, allowing you to watch the sun rise behind the majestic mountains. Along with these hilly outlooks, rooms also come with a terrace and private bathrooms. Laura gives you a feeling of blissful isolation, despite being only a five-minute walk from Ella town centre.