NUWARA ELIYA TOURISM | TOURIST PLACES TO VISIT & TRAVEL GUIDE TO NUWARA ELIYA
About Nuwara Eliya
#1 of 10 Places to visit in Sri Lanka
Ideal Trip Duration: 1-2 Days
Nearest City to Nuwara Eliya: Colombo (168 Kms)
Best Time to Visit Nuwara Eliya: December to May
Peak Season: January to April
At a distance of 53 km from Ella, 72 km from Kandy, 182 km from Sigiriya, 150 km from Dambulla, 168 km from Colombo, 188 km from Polonnaruwa, 227 km from Anuradhapura, 230 km from Mirissa, 267 km from Galle, 274 km from Trincomalee, and 412 km from Jaffna, Nuwara Eliya is a beautiful hill town in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. It is the administrative capital of Nuwara Eliya district and among the must-include places in Sri Lanka Packages.
Often called the mini London, Nuwara Eliya is known for its picturesque landscape and temperate climate. The literal meaning of Nuwara Eliya is the 'city on the plain (table land)' or 'city of lights'. It is a perfect place to relax and escape the oppressive heat and humidity that surrounds the rest of the country as this is the highest town in Sri Lanka situated at an altitude of 1868 m. Overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka, Nuwara Eliya is considered to be the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka.
Though Nuwara Eliya had been inhabited during the early period of the kingdom of Kandy, the existence of the spectacular 'Eliya' valley wasn't known to the Colonial British until the accidental discovery by the colonial civil servant John Davy in the year 1819. Governor Edward Barnes converted Nuwara Eliya into a commercial and a coffee planting center during the 1830s. In the year 1847, the great colonial explorer Samuel Baker introduced the gardening of English vegetables in Nuwara Eliya. To date, Nuwara Eliya is the leading producer of European vegetables in Sri Lanka and it distributes all vegetables to the rest of the island. During the 1870s, the plantation of tea was introduced by Sir James Taylor resulting in the development of the Nuwara Eliya district as the heart of the tea-growing region of the Central Highlands of Ceylon. The town was later the ultimate destination for English pastimes such as golf, fox hunting, polo, etc.
With a multitude of gorgeous attractions ranging from waterfalls and tea plantations to gardens and lakes, Nuwara Eliya is a quiet place with great scenic beauty. The most notable tourist attraction in Nuwara Eliya is Lake Gregory, a stunning reservoir constructed in 1873. One can take a boat ride, jet skis and pony rides at this typically tranquil lake. Besides, Lover's Leap Falls, Bomburu Ella Falls, Victoria Park, St. Clair's Falls, Devon Falls, Labukelle Tea Factory, Rambada Falls, Hakgala Botanical Gardens, Galway's Land National Park and Seetha Eliya Temple are the places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. Nuwara Eliya is a start point for visiting the Horton Plains National Park.
The town comes alive in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. It is difficult to find accommodation as Sri Lankans holiday in the region during this period. The festive season starts on April 1 annually in a ceremonial manner that consists mainly of a band show in which all the local school bands participate. One can also witness motor racing, horse racing, golf tournament, and flower show during this time.
Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) is the nearest airport which is about 161 km from Nuwara Eliya. It has well flight connectivity with India and other parts of Southeast Asia, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and the United States. Nanuoya Railway Station, about 9 km from Nuwara Eliya, is the nearest railhead and has well train connectivity with Colombo, Kandy, Ella, and Badulla. Traveling by train is a safe, inexpensive and scenic way to get to Nuwara Eliya. There are a number of public and private buses that travel from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo, Ella, and Kandy on a daily basis. However, road transport between Colombo and Nuwara Eliya is very slow and the journey will typically take 5-6 hours.
Being a hill station, Nuwara Eliya experiences pleasant weather for most of the year. December to May is the best time to visit Nuwara Eliya when the city witnesses little rainfall and quite low temperatures making it the perfect time for exploring the picturesque sights. However, April is quite a busy month in Nuwara Eliya, as this is the time of the Sinhalese New Year, with flower shows, horse races and car races happening across the city and inevitably, the hotel prices are very high. Better to avoid the months of June to November, as the rainfall is generally high during this time, hindering sightseeing.