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How to get from Nuwara Eliya to Ella – complete guide

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Planning your journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella? You’re in for a treat! These two destinations in Sri Lanka‘s highlands offer a blend of natural beauty and cultural charm.

The best part about this trip is that you can travel by train that is famous for it’s stunning views. In fact, this train ride is considered to be one of the most beautiful and epic train rides in the world!

In this guide, we’ll cover all the transportation options as well as practical tips. We hope you’ll have a smooth journey. Let’s dive in and make your highland adventure a breeze!

Where is Ella

Ella is a small town located in the Badulla District of Sri Lanka’s Uva Province. It is nestled in the central highlands, approximately 200 kilometers east of Colombo.

Ella is renowned for its lush green hills, cascading waterfalls as well as tea plantations. Furthermore, it has become a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its relaxed atmosphere, outdoor activities, and opportunities for trekking and exploring nature.

Little Adam's Peak hike in Ella viewpoint
Little Adam’s Peak, Ella

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 booking.com.

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

Nuwara Eliya to Ella by train

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Price: 160LKR (0.5€) 3rd class, 300LKR (0.9€) 2nd class

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Travel time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Traveling from Nuwara Eliya to Ella by train is going to be a memorable experience. I dare to say it’s going to be a ride of your life!

But seriously. Train rides in Sri Lanka are extremely epic. Kandy to Ella train route is without a doubt one of the best train rides in the world!

Nuwara Eliya is half way between Kandy and Ella. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have its own railway station, though. Hence you need to get to Nanu Oya and catch a train from there.

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Nanu Oya railway station

In order to get to Nanu Oya railway station you can either take a taxi or go by bus. The bus should depart eveery 20 minutes and one way ticket should cost around 20 LKR (0.05€). It’s possible the price went up since we were there.

We decided to take a bus. As soon as we arrived to the bus station (next to post office – map) we were shown the right bus. After 10-15 minutes of waiting the bus was ready to go.

Additionally, the staff was really helpful, like always in Sri Lanka. The driver told us exactly when to get off.

Another option to get to Nanu Oya is to order a taxi or a tuktuk. This might cost anywhere between 600LKR (1.7€) to 1000LKR (3€) and up. It all depends on who you talk to and what are your bargain skills.

Furthermore, it might take up to 20 minutes to arrive to Nanu Oya.

Nuwara Elyia to Ella - Nanu Oya train schedule
Nanu Oya train schedule

Nuwara Eliya to Ella train schedule

There are 5 trains departing from Nanu Oya 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 train schedule.

Train name Departure from Nanu OyaArrival to Ella
11269:2513:24
Podi Menike (1005)13:1015:38
Udarata Menike (1015)14:3816:59
100716:0818:26
Night Mail (1045)3:4506:38
Nuwara Eliya to Ella train schedule chart
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Read next: Want to learn how to surf on Sri Lanka? Definitely read this guide about Weligama beach, a surfer’s paradise.

Nuwara Eliya to Ella train ticket price

There are multiple classes one can choose when traveling by train. There’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class with an option for reserved or unreserved seats.

The train ticket price depends on the type of ticket you want to buy.

Sri Lanka Colombo to Ella train third class
Third class

1st class (reserved only)

In general 1st class has the most comfortable seats and AC. But the biggest disadvantage is that it’s not possible to open the windows or the doors.

Therefore, you will not have the experience of enjoying the fresh Sri Lankan air in your hair. Ability to sit in the open train door is what makes this ride so special.

Another downside is that almost all the passengers in the first class are tourists. Riding train with locals is a great way to make new friends on the way and to get to know Sri Lankan culture in the most authentic way.

Hence I don’t recommend traveling first class.

2nd class (reserved or unreserved)

While second class on the train has no AC, it allows you to sit in the door and take those crazy photos. It’s up to you to decide if you want to buy a reserved seat ticket or not.

I recommend getting it since the train is often packed with locals and tourists with no space to sit down. 2nd class is without a doubt the best one for traveling from Nuwara Eliya to Ella.

9 arch bridge Ella
9 arch bridge, Ella

3rd class (unreserved)

The last and the cheapest option is 3rd class. In this case, you can only buy unreserved ticket on the day of travel. Since this train is used by many people each day, it might not be such a good idea. Unless you’re willing to stand most of the time.

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TIP: The train actually starts in Colombo and goes all the way to Ella. If you want to learn more details about the train ride from the capital, also check our post “Colombo to Ella train – complete guide”.

Nuwara Eliya to Ella train booking

You can make your train booking personally in a booking office. Those can be found on train station. When buying unreserved tickets, you get only purchase them on the day of travel.

Reserved tickets can be bought up to 30 days in advance.

Another option would be to do the train booking online. I highly recommend doing so. As mentioned above, you can buy your reserved train tickets for the next 30 days. However when using 12go.asia, it’s possible to buy train tickets even earlier.

Sri Lankan railways also 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.

Powered by 12Go system

Nuwara Eliya to Ella by bus

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Price: 70-100 LKR (0.2€ – 0.3€)

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Travel time: 3 hours

If you don’t feel like traveling by train for some reason, you can also take a bus. The bus to Ella stops at Nuwara Eliya bus station next to the post office. This is the exact location on a map.

The bus should depart 4 times a day. Visit the bus station for the exact bus schedule.

Nuwara Eliya to Ella by bus

Nuwara Eliya to Ella by van

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Price: from 2700 LKR (8€)

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Travel time: 1.5 hour

If you have a lot of lugage or if you’re traveling with small kids, you can also go by minivan. This is way more comfortable than any other option. Traveling by van should only take around 1.5 hours.

You can try to book something directly in Nuwara Eliya. Another option is to book online via trusted website – 12go.asia.

Sri Lankan family

Nuwara Eliya to Ella by taxi

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Price: from 14 000 LKR (42€)

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Travel time: 1.5 hour

The easiest, most comfortable and also most expensive way to travel is by a taxi. You can organize your transport directly in Nuwara Eliya or via 12go.asia.

I also stumbled upon a reliable company with very good reviews. It’s called Ella Budget Taxi. Make sure to check their services, too.

Nuwara Eliya tea plantation worker

Best activities in Ella

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How to get from Nuwara Eliya to Ella – conclusion

When traveling from Nuwara Eliya to Ella, there is an option for every type of traveler. Our personal favorite is definitely the train ride. I think it’s clear to see why.

We hope this guide provided you with all the information needed.

If you find any information to be incorrect, let us know. We’ll be more than happy to update our guide. If you liked this post and found it helpful leave us a comment. Also check our other blog posts for more travel tips.

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