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Colombo to Ella train – complete travel guide

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Riding Colombo to Ella train is an adventure that will take you through Sri Lanka‘s most stunning landscapes. This iconic route offers travellers an unforgettable experience.

The train will take you through lush green jungles, misty hills, charming villages as well as tea plantations. It’s without a doubt one of highlights of Sri Lankan adventures.

Ella is a beautiful sleepy town surrounded by incredible lush green jungle, misty hills and awesome views. You can visit famous 9 arch bridge or hike Little Adam’s peak here.

In this comprehensive travel guide we provide all the necessary information for your trip. You’ll learn how to buy train tickets, train schedule and also prices.

We also share some useful tips to make your journey even better! So get your camera ready and prepare for an unforgettable ride through one of Asia’a most breathtaking landscapes.

Why should you travel from Colombo to Ella by train?

One of the most obvious reasons is that this train ride is considered one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. The train traverses through incredible landscapes that will leave you speechless.

Whether you’re a professional photographer or just an occassional Instagrammer, there will be plenty of photo opportunities on the way. From stunning views to locals daily life in surrounding villages.

Additionally, riding the train in second or third class provides a perfect occassion to get to know locals and make some friends on the way as well. Furthermore, the train is very convenient and comfortable way to get around Sri Lanka.

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Don’t forget to get your Sri Lanka visa before traveling.

Colombo to Ella train door open

Should you only go from Kandy to Ella?

While many people only choose to travel Kandy to Ella section on the train, I suggest doing the full route.

The train passes through Kandy and Nuwara Eliya where you should definitely make a stop for at least one day. As I mentioned above, it’s a great way of traveling around Sri Lanka.

The views on Colombo to Kandy section might not be as good as later on, but it’s still worth it! If you’re short on time, opt for Kandy to Ella section only.

Kandy Sri Lanka
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Colombo fort railway station

Colombo fort is the main train station in Colombo city. There is just few platforms, but many commuter and intercity trains enter the station daily. From the outside as well as from the inside the station looks rather old.

You can find a few restaurants around as well as directly at the station. There are also free public toilets, too. The train schedule can be found on electric screens at the station. Booking office can be found here as well.

Overall we felt pretty safe at Colombo fort train station.

Sri Lanka Kandy to Ela train

Best hotels in Ella

If you use the links below, you pay the same and we earn a little commision. It helps us run this blog. You can also check more hotels in Ella on

Best hotels Ella - The Winsome and Treehouse

Winsome & Tree House

Low budget

Best hotels in Ella - Sky Garden Ella

Sky Garden Ella

Mid budget

best hotels in Ella - 98 acres resort & spa

98 Acres resort

High budget

Colombo to Ella train schedule

There are 4 trains departing from Colombo fort to Ella. The destination of all the trains is Badulla. Occassionally there are some special trains added.

Make sure to check the official Sri Lanka railways website for the most up to date schedule.

Train name Departure from Colombo fortArrival to Ella
Podi Menike (1005)05:5515:38
Udarata Menike (1015)08:3016:59
Night Mail (1045)20:3006:38
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READ: Heading to Udawalawe next? Read our post to see How to get from Ella to Udawalawe.

Colombo to Ella train duration

Below you can see the train duration for each section of the train. I only mention those train stops where many tourists make a stop. If your destination is not included, you can also check the official Sri Lanka Railways website.

The Colombo to Ella train durations are just approximate. Trains are often delayed.

Also note that for traveling to Nuwara Eliya you must get off at Nanu Oya. From there it’s 8 more kilometers to town. You have to go by a bus or car.

ColomboKandyNanu Oya
Kandy2.5 – 3h
Nanu Oya6-7h4h

Where to buy Colombo to Ella train tickets

There are 2 options where you can buy your train tickets. It’s possible to buy the ticket in a booking office at Colombo fort station.

Additionally you can buy your train tickets at any other booking office in the country. Keep in mind the train tickets might be sold out.

Another option would be to buy the train tickets online. I highly recommend doing so. You can buy your reserved train tickets for the next 30 days.

Sri Lankan railways have official website for booking your tickets. You need to fill out passenger information, including travel document information. It’s possible to pay online with your card.

Once you book your train tickets you can pick them up at the booking office at the train station. The whole process is really easy.

It’s also possible to book train tickets via It seems like it allows you too book a ticket in a bigger time window, so you’re not limited to those 30 days. You can also use the search form below.

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Kandy to Ella train ride

Colombo to Ella train ticket price

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3rd class: 440 LKR (1.3€)

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2nd class: 900 LKR (2.7€)

The above prices are for unreserved tickets only. These can be bought directly at train station in booking office. If you’re buying reserved tickets online, expect to pay a little bit more. First class might cost you around 20€.

No matter what class you choose the train ticket price is still affordable!

Colombo to Ella train in Sri Lanka views

Which class to choose?

There are 3 different classes on each train: 1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class. Let’s take a look at the differences of each class.

3rd class (unreserved)

The third class in the train only has unreserved seats. The seats are not as comfortable as in other classes. There is no AC, however each carriage has fans.

Tickets can only be bought on the same day. It’s the cheapest and probably the most authentic option, too.

2nd class (reserved or unreserved)

When traveling in 2nd class, you can either buy a reserved ticket ahead of time or unreserved one on the same day. As well as 3rd class, the 2nd class has no AC. The seats are reclining though.

In this class there’s a nice mix of tourists and Sri Lankans, offering more authentic experience.

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TIP: The biggest advantage of traveling 3rd and 2nd class is the possibility to open the windows. Most of the time the train door is open as well. You will not get that in 1st class. For that reason I would avoid traveling 1st class. Hanging out the train door is an experience you don’t want to miss.

1st class (reserved)

The first class carriages are all equipped with AC, which is great. The biggest disadvantage is that all the windows as well as doors are closed the entire time. That means you won’t be able to get that photo of you hanging out of the train.

Another disadvantage is that almost all the passangers traveling first class are foreigners.

Sri Lanka Colombo to Ella train third class
Tird class

Colombo to Ella train stops

The train starts in Colombo and goes all the way to place called Badulla. Despite being called an express train, train actually stops every 15 minutes.

All the trains on this route have at least 30+ stops. The train passes some of the famous tourist cities such as Kandy and Nuwara Eliya.

I would certainly recommend to brake your journey into mulitple parts and stop along the way for a day or two. Travel time from Colombo to Ella is more than 10 hours.

The landscapes are so beautiful it would be a pity to only enjoy them from a passing train.

Sitting on Colombo to Ella train

Colombo to Ella train facilities

All the trains are equipped with toilets. You can even choose if you prefer to use a squad or a western toilet. Don’t forget to bring your own toilet paper, since it’s not provided.

When it comes to food, there might be a few vendors walking around the train selling samosa, snacks, tea or other drinks. But definitely bring enough food in case they don’t show up.

At some stops people try to sell you snack through a window, too.

Travel Insurance

One of the worst things you could do is travel without insurance. We never go on a trip without travel insurance. Anything can happen during your adventures.

Our go-to company is SafetyWing. They will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars if something goes wrong.

If you purchase the insurance through our link, you still pay the same, and we will earn a small commission. This helps us run our blog. Thank you ❤️

Which side of the train to choose?

For the best views along the way try to get a seat on the left side of train when leaving Colombo.

In Kandy, the train actually turns around. So if you sat on the left side between Colombo and Kandy, you will be sitting on the right side from Kandy to Ella. For that section, that’s the more scenic side of the train.

After Passing Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya), once again left side offers better views.

Train from Kandy to Ella Sri Lanka

Best activities in Ella

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Colombo to Ella train – conclusion

Colombo to Ella train is an unforgetable adventure that will stay in our hearts forever.

While we were not as lucky when it comes to views, we still enjoyed it to the fullest. From incredible views to lovely interactions with the locals. This was certainly one of the highlights of our Sri Lankan trip.

If you liked this post and found it helpful let us know in the comments. Also check our other blog posts for more travel tips.

Plan with us

Ready to start planning your next trip? If you use our referral links, you pay the same and we earn a little commision. It helps us run this blog. Thank you! ❤️

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Car rental: Discover cars

Insurance: Safety Wings

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Bus, train: 12.Go Asia

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Tours: Viator

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Visa: iVisa

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