Not sure what to do in Ella? This guide will tell you the 7 best things to do in Ella while you are here, the perfect Ella itinerary! From jumping into waterfalls and climbing Adam’s Peak, Ella is one of my favourite places in Sri Lanka. Ella is much cooler than other places in Sri Lanka, so a top tip is to take some layers. It is full of great things to do and is very chilled out. You could do all of the things in this article in a few days, but it is also nice to chill and have more time here. I would recommend at least three nights here, you might even extend your stay!
How to get to Ella?
If you are doing a tour of Sri Lanka you will most likely be coming to Ella from the North, from Kandy. The best way to get here is to take the train from Kandy to Ella. It is THE most scenic train journey I have ever taken. The train goes through tea plantations, incredible countryside and thick forest. Prepare to be sat staring out of the window for a solid 6 hours. You may even choose to sit by the door as the Sri Lankans do! It isn’t expensive at all, but be sure to book your tickets well in advance as it gets reserved fast. There are also standing tickets on the day, but I wouldn’t want to stand for 5 hours.
What to do In Ella: 7 things to add to your Ella Itinerary!
1. Jump into the water at Diyaluma Falls: Sri Lanka’s best waterfall
How to get to Diyaluma Falls?
This was one of the sweatiest hikes up to a waterfall but it was so so worth it. If you have made some friends, get yourselves a car and head to Diyaluma Falls. Along the main road in Ella there are plenty of people stood next to their cars and for a small price per person you get a car and a driver. Alternatively, if you hire a motorbike this is another option. The roads are not ideal and I would recommend getting a car. We paid about 7,000 LKR for the car, which is about £30. The last stop in the car is at the car park, where guides are waiting to take you up.
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Do you need a guide?
I can definitely say I wouldn’t have made it without a guide. It is really not a straightforward route at all so get a guide! The paths lead to many levels of the waterfall, so to get straight to the top the best way is with a guide. The guide was 2000 LKR, which is about £9.
How long is the hike?
It took us about 20-30 minutes to reach the top of Diyaluma Falls.
What can you do here?
First things first, hop into the pool at the top of the waterfall! After a sweaty hike this cold water was perfect. There are a few pools to jump in and cool off at the top of the waterfall. Then I could resist getting the drone up to see the entirety of the waterfall from above! Usually, you get to see a waterfall from below, but its great to be able to go to the top.
Slide down the waterfall and jump off into the water
As you walk higher up the waterfall, there are lots of places to slide down the rocks. Some sections we even saw people with inflatable rubber rings sliding into the waterfall. Alternatively, you can just jump right in! There are lots of places where the pools are deep enough to jump in.
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2. Climb Little Adam’s Peak
Be prepared for a very early start to see the sunrise here! Set off at about 4am. The sun rises at 6am, and the hike to the top takes about an hour from Ella Town. From the base of the mountain, it is just a 20-minute walk up. It is not a strenuous hike at all and has the most beautiful sunrise views. There is one spot just at the top where you can stop and watch the sunrise. Or, head a bit further on for even better views, it’s a bit of a crumbly path but well worth it. Take some snacks though, as after this climb, Nine Arches Bridge is a great place to see on the way back to Ella Town.
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3. Walk along Nine Arches Bridge
This famous and very instagrammable bridge is really breath taking and a must see! The total length of this bridge is 91m! It is set up very high amongst the trees and had incredible views. Down below are tea plantations, and if you stand among these it makes for a great photo. The trains do go along this bridge still, so make sure to watch out while you walk along here for any trains.
4. Hike up Ella’s Rock at sunset
Ella’s Rock is a great hike and one of the best parts of this Ella itinerary. Much longer than Little Adam’s Peak, it also has the most amazing views. From Ella Town, follow the railway and two hours later you will reach the top of Ella’s Rock. As you walk along the railway towards Kital Ella station, keep going right past it. There will be a turning to the left and usually someone is nearby to help guide you. We past lots of people making their way back from Ella’s Rock and asked them the way!
Once you have turned left, follow the path and cross over a small bridge. There will be a sign saying Ella’s Rock to the right, but turn left and walk through the tea plantations. From here, follow the path and start the hike. It really is beautiful and is shaded quite a bit of the way. We started the hike at about 4pm and reached the top just before sunset. Make sure you get back quickly after that as it gets dark very fast!
Hop on the train!
On the way back from Ella’s Rock, it was getting dark and we were walking back along the railway. However, don’t make the mistake we did of jumping on the train as it stopped before the station! If you want to get on the train, get on at Kital Ella station. We jumped on right where there was a ticket inspector and got into trouble!
5. Relax at an infinity pool
There are many beautiful hotels in Ella. You can eiher choose to stay here, or just head here to relax by the pool for a few hours. There are a lot of hotels that have the pool open for non-guests throughout the day. I would recommend Mountain Heavens. Here, for 150 LKR, you have access to the pool for one hour.
6. Visit Ravana Falls
Ravana falls is another set of waterfalls, on the way to Diyaluma Falls. It is also breath taking, but this one you get to stop and see from the road. It is one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka.
7. Visit a Tea Plantation
Sri Lanka is famous for it’s tea. Each trip I take here I come home with lots of green tea, as it’s my favourite. Definitely head to a tea plantation for a few hours to explore and try some tea.
What day trips to do from Ella?
Head to Udawalawe National park
From Ella, Udawalawe National Park is a two-hour drive away. The best safaris are at sunrise or at sunset. I would recommend going at sunrise as later on it is very hot. These are the times when the animals will come out and you will see the most. Definitely add this to your Ella itinerary!
The safari starts at 7am, so it will be a 4:30AM wake up call. We arrived at 7am and hopped into our safari to go. The entrance fee is 5,000 LKR per person, but this goes down as you have a bigger group. The hostel we stayed at organised the trip for 5,000 LKR per person.
I can tell you it is amazing. Before we had even entered the park properly, we had already seen two elephants. Then you can see crocodiles, buffalo and all kinds of animals.
Where to eat in Ella
Ella has some great food, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am a massive fan of Sri Lankan curries, but there are plenty of options for those who don’t like spice. This Ella itinerary wouldn’t be complete without a guide on the best Sri Lankan curries!
Sri Lankan food
Jade Green – great for a cheap rice and curry!
Matey Hut – recommended by the hostel we stayed at
Chill Café – great for western and Sri Lankan food.
You must try!
Kotthu – This is Sri Lankan fast food! It is rotti mixed in with vegetables or chicken. It is prepared by putting all the ingredients on the hot plate and they chop it up into fine pieces and mix it altogether. Great food after a night out too.
Hoppers – these are quite common with curry. There are two types. String hoppers are like noodles in a bowl shape. Then normal hoppers is like a pancake is a bowl shape, often with an egg in the middle. Great with a curry to help you pick it all up without any cutlery.
Where to stay in Ella
We stayed here and it’s a great lively and sociable hostel. If you are a solo traveller I would definitely recommend it. Also within walking distance to the train station.
Box on Clouds
This place looks amazing. Set high up it has some amazing views and looks like the coolest place to stay in Ella! Spend a few nights here if you can as part of your Ella Itinerary.
I hope you enjoyed my guide on what to do in Ella and the perfect Ella Itinerary!