Nuwara Eliya is a small town located among the central hills of Sri Lanka, in the Central Province. It is around 160 kilometers away from the capital city of Colombo and things to do in Nuwara Eliya are unique and countless, given the unique climate, the atmosphere and the environment.
Having an eternal winter-like climate, Nuwara Eliya is also known as ‘The Little England’, due to the many British colonial bungalows found there. The foremost British tea planters have chosen the area to plant tea because of the climate and the soil conditions, making way for developments as a tourist destination with many things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
You can take a bus, catch the train or go in a private vehicle to reach Nuwara Eliya from Colombo. Make sure you are ready for the cold climate and the winds with lots of warm clothes and scarves. We have made a list of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya when you are there, and we hope that this list will make your trip to Nuwara Eliya a little easier and more comfortable.
1. Visit A Tea Plantation
If you are interested in finding out where the world-famous Ceylon tea hails from, Nuwara Eliya is your answer. With the entire area covered with neatly pruned tea plantations, Nuwara Eliya is home to many famous tea brands and estates.
There will be many opportunities where you will be able to find a small pathway used by tea pickers and wander into the endless green sea of tea leaves.
Visiting a tea plantation along with a tea factory are one of the most significant things to do in Nuwara Eliya. Most of the factories are open to visitors and you will also be able to taste a hot tea made from fresh tea leaves right then and there.
2. Visit Lover’s Leap Falls
Lover’s Leap waterfall is a less-visited waterfall in Sri Lanka and going to see it is one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya. The waterfall lies on the outskirts of the Nuwara Eliya town and the trail that will take you there will start at the entrance to the Pedro Tea Estate.
You will be able to get a tuk tuk to take you to the location. The trail towards the waterfall is not very steep and it will be one of the most scenic treks you will take, through a small village and many breathtaking sceneries.
This beautiful waterfall has earned its name due to a couple of lovers who jumped to their deaths from the top of the waterfall, according to local folklore.
3. Play A Round Of Golf
Nuwara Eliya and its beautiful environment have been able to enchant British sportsmen so much in the colonial period, that they have established a Golf Club in the Nuwara Eliya town, and playing a round of golf in it has made it into our list of best things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
The golf ground is unmistakable with its green fields and neatly pruned hedgerows, and in a certain part, the main road even runs through the course without damaging the experience or the field. The cost of playing will slightly be on the pricey side, and the correct golf attires are mandatory to play here.
4. Have High Tea At Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya
The Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya is one of the most prominent hotels in the town and it gives a wonderful high tea experience for the residents and outsiders alike. It has made it into our list of best things to do in Nuwara Eliya due to the unique English style garden tea party experience and because it is worth the price.
There are two options of high tea where one is served inside the lounge and the other in the garden. The high tea option in the garden includes champagne as well as different tea flavours. Both options come with many types of tea to choose from and with a number of tasty finger foods. The high tea party is offered every day of the week from 3.30 PM to 6 PM.
5. Ride A Boat On The Gregory Lake
The Gregory Lake is a massive man-made lake in the middle of the Nuwara Eliya town and it is unmistakable for its scenic beauty and the Gregory park that runs alongside it.
The lake was built during the 1800s and was used by the British for their water sports.There are many boat ride services that function centered around Gregory Lake and there are speed boats as well as paddle boats.
You can hire a boat for a few hundred rupees and the experience you get from the middle of the lake will be one of a lifetime experience and one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
6. Visit The Victoria Park Nuwara Eliya
Initially operated as the research field for Hakgala Botanical Garden and established as a separate park in 1897, the Victoria Park of Nuwara Eliya is situated right in the middle of the town and visiting it is one of the main things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
The park contains so many trees and blossoming flower plants and the best time to visit is March, April and May when the flowers are in full bloom.There are many small ponds inside the park and a separate playground and a miniature railway for children to play in. Although it is a leisure park with no big animals, many birds can be spotted.
7. Explore Seetha Amman Temple Nuwara Eliya
Seetha Amman Temple is a colourful Hindu temple located only 7 kilometers away from the Nuwara Eliya town. Given its background and the poojas held in it, visiting it has made it into our list of best things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
The temple is located on the spot where it is believed that an Indian princess Sita was held captive by an ancient Sri Lankan King Ravana, according to the famous Indian epic, Ramayanaya. There are poojas held in the temple at 8 AM in the morning and 2 PM in the afternoon where you will be able to join in to witness colourful Hindu traditions.
8. Visit Hakgala Botanical Gardens
Hakgala Botanical Garden is the second largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka. From among the many things to do in Nuwara Eliya, visiting this botanical garden certainly deserves a main spot.
It contains over10,000 species of plants and since most of these are flowering varieties, the best time to visit is during March and April. However, the park becomes pretty crowded due to the many tourists and locals that come to see the blossoming flowers.
The garden is located at a high altitude of more than 5000 feet above sea level, hence, it is known for its low temperatures and rain. When visiting, warm clothes and an umbrella is always recommended.
9. Visit St. Clair’s Falls Nuwara Eliya
St. Clair’s waterfall, located near the small town of Hatton, which is only a few kilometers away from Nuwara Eliya, is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in Sri Lanka. Visiting the waterfall will be one of the most memorable things to do in Nuwara Eliya because of the scenic beauty and the significance of the waterfall.
It is the widest waterfall on the island and is also known as the ‘Little Niagara of Sri Lanka’. It falls on many levels, creating multiple falls separated by small pools. However, due to the construction of the upper Kotmale Dam, the water density has decreased by a large number, but the waterfall remains one of the most famous ones in Sri Lanka.
10. Trek Through Horton Plains
Horton Plains National Park is the most famous cloud forest in Sri Lanka, which contains large grass meadows and isolated trees here and there. Trekking through the plains is one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya, as it is located 28 kilometers away from the town.
The plains are rich with many flora and fauna, including birds and mammals. Sambur deer are very easily spotted in and around the park and the park contains many waterfalls, including the famous Bakers Falls. Horton Plains is the home to the famous World’s End lookout, a sheer drop of nearly 4000 feet, attracting so many visitors from all around the world.
11. Visit Moon Plains Nuwara Eliya
Visiting Moon Plains has also made it into our list of best things to do in Nuwara Eliya, due to the unique and beautiful environmental and climatic zones it offers. It is a beautiful meadow of slopes covered with healthy green grass, providing many spectacular sceneries, especially from the ‘Mini World’s End’ lookout point.
The meadow bustles with wildlife also, including deer, elk, buffaloes and the occasional leopard or a wild boar. It is the ideal location for a morning hike or a cycle tour, to witness the beautiful sunrise from one of the many lookout points.
12. Roam The Bale Bazaar
Located just inside the main city limits, the winter market is locally known as the Bale Bazaar and is your one-stop to buy all your winter gear at affordable prices. Roaming through the arrays of jackets, sweaters and all kinds of other warm clothes is listed as one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya by us and many other tourists.
Although there is no actual winter in Sri Lanka, if you are spending a few days in the cold climate of Nuwara Eliya, roaming through the bale bazaar should be one of the first things you do. Even though you may be used to the cold, the winds of the Sri Lankan central hills will surely take you by surprise if you are not prepared enough.
13. Eat Nuwara Eliya Strawberries
Central hills of Sri Lanka are famous for their fresh fruits, and the area of Nuwara Eliya is famous for delicious, fresh strawberries. Eating fresh strawberries right after they are plucked will be one of the most memorable and sweetest things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
There are many strawberry farms in the area where they grow, pick and package strawberries and it is one of the most fruitful local businesses. Even if you miss the whole ‘strawberry farm’ experience, there are many local vendors who sell strawberries on the roadsides, so you cannot miss eating them every day if needed, throughout your stay.
14. Visit Devon Falls Nuwara Eliya
Devon Falls is located only a few kilometers away from Nuwara Eliya, and it can be observed from the Thalawakele-Hatton main road. Devon falls is named after a pioneer tea planter in Sri Lanka, Devon, whose plantation was close to the waterfall. Devon falls is the second waterfall experience that has made it into our list of best things to do in Nuwara Eliya.
Devon falls is the 19th tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka and it is 97 meters in height. It is also one of the six waterfalls impacted by the upper Kotmale Dam, but unlike St. Clair’s Falls, the Dam has not affected the water density of Devon Falls.
15. Visit Ambewela Farm
Ambewela Farm is one the most famous farm in Sri Lanka and it is located only 17 kilometers away from the Nuwara Eliya town, making the visit to it one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya. The farm grounds spread over 150 acres, with cows feeding on the green grass under a clear blue sky, which has gained it the name. ‘Little New Zealand’.
Ambewela farm’s dairy products including milk, yogurt and cheese are available to buy all over the island, and there is an outlet here too, where you can buy them freshly. The farm is open from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM every day, and there is a small entrance fee you need to pay to gain access to the farm.
16. Visit Galway’s Land National Park
Galway’s Land National Park is one of the latest and the smallest national parks in Sri Lanka and it is located only 2 kilometers away from the Nuwara Eliya town center. It is only 27 hectares in size and it is a dense montane forest area, home to many flora and fauna species. When it comes to things to do in Nuwara Eliya, visiting Galway’s Land National Park is a must.
The park is considered to be one of the most important birding sites in Sri Lanka, considering the number of endemic and migratory birds found here. Small mammals including wild boar and barking deer can also be spotted inside the park and around 2-kilometer treks are offered into the park for tourists with a guide at the park entrance.
17. Drive To The Top Of Pidurutalagala
Pidurutalagala is the highest mountain in Sri Lanka, which towers at 2524 meters above sea level. It is located very close to Nuwara Eliya and is surrounded by a protected forest reserve rich in biodiversity. Trekking up the Pidurutalagala is strictly prohibited, so driving up is the only way to get there.
The drive is extremely scenic with so many panoramic views and halfway upwards, you can see the entire high mountain range of Sri Lanka. At the top, a ‘Trig Point’ set by the Survey Department marks the highest point of the island. Taking this scenic drive to the top of the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka is one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya.