Tucked in the hill regions famous for tea is the small village of Ella in Sri Lanka, and a place you’ll fall in love with from the moment you arrive. Easily forgotten in place of a Sri Lankan itinerary full of touristy hot spots like Kandy; Ella is one of Sri Lanka’s best kept secrets.
If you’re a nature enthusiast Ella is the place for you. From the village centre there are plenty of day hikes and outdoor opportunities, not to mention bright pink sunrises and sunsets.
Ella village is essentially just one main street that doubles as a thoroughfare between Kandy and the coast. There are around 30 stores offering a variety of traditional Sri Lankan cuisine, guest houses or ayurveda clinics. This is where you will find a more authentic side of Sri Lanka and more traditional prices too. After a day of hiking nothing beats sitting on the verandah of a Sri Lankan rotti shop on the main street watching the Word go by, while sipping a Lion beer.
Travelling to Ella Sri Lanka
To reach Ella you’ll be taken inland along roads winding the edges of hills. It’s a welcome insight into small Sri Lankan villages and the lifestyle of tea plantation farmers. There is a train that reaches Ella town, from where it’s an easy walk to many accomodations. Alternatively, the best mode of transport in Sri Lanka is with a private driver.
Ella Sri Lanka Hotels
One of the great things about Ella is the accomodation. Avoid the main street where there are clear signs of ostentatious hotels coming to town (not in keeping wiht the Ella vibe) and choose one of the many affordable, comfortable guest houses. Our top picks for your Ella Sri Lanka hotel are:
Ella Country House
This is our top pick of hotel in Sri Lanka in general. An affordable price gives you total retreat in one of the best settings in the hill district of Sri Lanka. At Ella Country House you’ll get a lodge style room just a few minutes walk from the town centre with a private balcony that looks over Ella Gap and lush green trees. Your bed is set in front of floor to ceiling windows that are private enough to wake up with the curtains open, enjoying the pink sunrise over Ella Gap directly from your bed. The hospitality is family styled Sri Lankan hospitality.
Ella Country Homes
On the exact same property, designed the exact same way, but owner by a different family is Ella Country Homes. If Ella Country House is fully booked this is the best second option and only second due to being slightly less private.
Ella Eco Lodge
This Ella Sri Lanka hotel is slightly more pricy than the previous two but worth every penny. The rooms are private and have the appearance of a treehouse vibe; very well presented. Each room has a relaxing balcony that overlooks the bush land and the village is a few minutes walk from your door.
Ella Day Hikes
if you’re staying in Ella you certainly want to take advantage of Ella day hike opportunities. This is the best place to stay for enjoying the lush Sri Lanka nature; bright green bush, panoramic views over tea plantations and the region. The two best day hikes in Ella are Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Gap, both of which start directly from the village centre.
Little Adam’s Peak
Walking time: 45 minutes – 1 hour
The famous Adam’s Peak is hours away from Ella and not recommended as a day trip form here but Little Adams Peak is a different story. It is recommended to reach Little Adam’s Peak for sunrise and being central to the village centre, a short and relatively easy hike, this could be a Sri Lanka itinerary highlight.
To reach Little Adam’s Peak head down the main road running through the village (Ella-Passara Road) until you reach Ella Flower Garden Resort . Turn off the main road at this corner. From here, it is well signposted so just follow the markers along a relatively easy, windy, mostly paved or gravel road. The final 20 minutes walk are steep track that require some fitness but it isn’t far at this intensity.
You’ll walk through a local tea estate for part the way, offering nice views of the lush green tea plantations that Sri Lanka is famous for. At the top of Little Adam’s Peak your efforts are rewarded with panoramic views of the hill district, Ella Gap, villages, and the trademark pink sunrise that which is simply stunning.
If you are planning to hike Little Adam’s Peak for sunrise it’s recommended to take a torch, snack, and warm jacket. Once you reach the top you may want to enjoy the view for awhile and the wind can be cool at the peak.
Ella Gap/Ella Rock
Walking time: 3 – 4 hours
A true highlight for a trip to Ella if you’re a fan of hikes and nature. This day hike moves through the famous Sri Lanka train tracks, across farm land, past giant ant farms, through woodland, and finally spits out that a peak with 360 views of Sri Lanka. A reasonable level of fitness is required as the final 1km section is steep and the hike itself can feel longer than typical due to the heat of the Sri Lankan sun.
There are no markers fr this hike and touts try to generate income by deterring solo hikes, or offering wrong directions. You definitely don’t need a guide for this hike and its likely you’ll pass numerous other hikers who can give you the odd direction as you go, if needed.
The hike begins at the Ella train station so find your way there from Ella town centre just a few minutes walk. When you get to the station walk through the station as though you are going to wait on the train platform on the left hand side. Walk al the way to the end and carry on walking along the side of the rail tracks.
You’ll be walking along the tracks for around 40 minutes and there are some sections where the side of the track is narrow. This is a fully working train line so be super careful, aware of trains coming through, and move accordingly.