The 3 nights we spent in Ella were by far the best part of our short trip to Sri Lanka! We moved at a slow pace, enjoyed out downtime, and simply enjoyed the fresh air and lush greenery.
Here is a list of tips for traveling to Ella – things to keep in mind when planning, activities to add to your list, and suggestions of places to eat.
Get a room with a view:
There is no shortage of accommodation options in Ella, from luxury hotels to budge-friendly home stays. Our recommendation: spend a little bit more for a room with a view. Waking up to the mountains, enjoying breakfast on the balcony, and watching the sunset is worth every penny.
For two nights we stayed at a small hotel called Laura. The room and view of Ella Gap were spectacular. The location was also great for hiking to Ella Rock and walking into town for dinner, drinks, or tea shopping.
For the third night, we moved to a guest house called Ella Ridge View. It was closer to Little Adam’s Peak and a short tuk-tuk ride (200 rupees) or walk to town. We had a spacious cottage with a balcony and scenic view for only 44USD. Breakfast was by far the best we had in all of Sri Lanka, and the staff were exceptionally hospitable.
Both locations were incredible – highly recommended!
Hike to Ella Rock:
Depending on your fitness level, walking from Ella Town to the summit of Ella Rock and back will take anywhere from 2.5 – 4hrs.
To get there, we followed the railroad track to the bridge and took a left after the Hindu temple. We were greeted by a small group of locals, including a police officer, and shop owner selling refreshments. Initially, we started our hike up the well-traveled path alone, but quickly realized that we were going to get lost in the tall grass. In that moment, a woman magically appeared and said “follow me.” Naturally, we did. She guided us all the way to the top, talking to us about her life and family. She told us it was her second time up that day. To top it off, she was wearing flip flops and barely broke a sweat! We paid her 2,500 Rupees – money well spent. There were others without a guide, but we were happy to have the company and to help her out.
Hike to Little Adam’s Peak in the Morning:
Little Adam’s Peak was less challenging than our hike to Ella Rock, and equally if not more beautiful. You can either start from 98 Acres Resort or follow the path and signs at Ella Flower Garden. The hike is well marked from either direction, and you can expect a combination of dirt path and concrete stairs. When you get to the top, there is a second peek that is worth hiking to, but this part was very steep and more challenging.
I would recommend doing this hike in the morning. When we left out hotel at 6AM, the sun had just risen and the temperature was perfect. There were very few tourists at the top, but we met lots on the way down, so getting an early start seemed to be worth it. We were back at our hotel by 8AM, just in time for breakfast!
Watch the Train at Nine Arches Bridge:
Continue walking along the road past 98 Acres Resort until you see the sign for Nine Arches Bridge. Follow the signs, ask some locals when you get lost, and don’t worry when you start walking through what feels like someone’s backyard. Eventually, you will be guided to the perfect lookout point. There were chairs, benches, and a smiling man selling cold drinks. Check the train schedule to make sure you are there on time! When we got to the bottom, the rain clouds were rolling in quickly, so we decided to take a tuk-tuk ride back to town. It was the most beautiful ride and our driver stopped along the way for us to take some pictures.
So peaceful, relaxing, and rejuvenating, especially after a long day of hiking! It was expensive, Sri Lankan standards, but worth it! Looking out over the tea plantations while getting a massage was such a unique experience.
Where to Eat:
Unwind at Cafe 98:
Ya… it’s more expensive than other places in Sri Lanka, but it’s amazing. The atmosphere, beer options (Lion Stout), and food is superb. If your looking for a place to have a cup of tea, wait out the rain, or have a cold one after your hike to Adam’s Peak – this is a great spot! Plus, you can’t beat this view.
Eat, Drink, and Chat at Chill Cafe:
All the tourists are doing it. The mojitos, carrot ginger soup, and Sri Lankan dishes are delicious. It’s a great place to chat with other travelers and hangout. Great atmosphere!
Smoke Shisha at Cafe Guru:
They have a shisha lounge, open concept kitchen, chill house music, massive portion sizes, and the perfect combination of Sri Lankan dishes and western options if you are craving a pizza! It’s a bit farther along the road, and much quieter than some of the other restaurants in town. Don’t let the quietness deceive you.
Have a Mango Shake at Garden View Restaurant:
After our hike to Ella Rock, we were craving a cool, refreshing drink. Along the train tracks as you approach town, there is a little restaurant called Garden View Restaurant. We had a delicious fresh mango shake! It’s the perfect spot for a bite to eat or cool drink before or after trekking to Ella Rock.
Overall, our time in Ella was the perfect combination of hiking, relaxing, eating, and drinking. We fell in love with this beautiful hill town, and highly recommend it to anyone traveling to Sri Lanka!