Ella is a small hill town located around 200km east from the capital city of Colombo in the island country of Sri Lanka. It is situated at an altitude of around 3145 feet above sea level and is surrounded by dense forest, hills and tea plantation. Due to the elevation the town has a pleasant climate all year round.
To reach the town of Ella, there are two primary options. The first is to take the railways which is a good option since it’s a more scenic and fun way to travel till Ella. There are direct trains from Kandy and Colombo that stop at Ella enroute to Badulla. The train is considered to be very scenic but is also more time consuming, since it’s slower.
The second option is taking the road, it’s either a private vehicle or the local government bus. Private vehicle is best suited if you’re in a group and are on a tight time frame. The government bus is honestly the best way to travel in Sri Lanka, there are regular buses from Colombo, Kandy, Galle, Matara to the hill town of Ella.
One first entry into the town you’ll understand it’s unlike most of the places you have seen thus far on your trip to Sri Lanka. With hills on all sides you have to either climb steep slopes or winding roads to reach anywhere you want in Ella. So be prepared for a lot of cardio when you’re Ella and planning to explore on foot.
A walk up to Ella’s rock, is one of the main attractions in the town. It takes around 2-2.5 hours to reach there. The hike starts by walking along the railway tracks for 80% of the journey, with the rest being through tea plantations. The best time to head out for this hike is by 6am to make it time before the hazy fog gets the better of your pictures.
Other attractions around the town include the nice arch bridge and little Adams peak. Both these places are excellent to take pictures and are totally worth the time spent. Make sure you visit them during the first half of the day before the afternoon sun gets to it’s peak.
When it comes to things in the town. Ella has a bustling street which is the town center where all the cafes and souvenir shops are located. The lane is around 60-70 meters long and has numerous eateries on either side of the road. The nights is when the place comes alive with the mercury level dipping and
Food options are in plenty with a host of local Sri Lankan cuisine which includes the regular dosa, hoppers & kuttu. If you’re not into the local food then you have options from pizzas to pastas and burgers the place has it all. You’ll be surprised by how well developed the place is when it comes to the quality of food served in a hill town like Ella. You can order anything and it will be exactly like what you’re expecting it to be.
Accommodation options in Ella are located all over the hills and slopes. The further you go from the main center the cheaper the accommodation will get. But staying too far also has its cons. The place gets very lonely and dark in the night so you’ll end up missing out on the fun in the night if you stay too far since you’ll have to call it a day earlier. The accommodation options range from regular room stays to cabanas and tree houses which have direct views of the hills.
When you’re in Ella make sure you have at least a full sleeve T-shirt or at least a light sweatshirt since the nights are actually very cold with the mercury level dropping to 20-24°C. If you haven’t carried one you can always get one locally from the stores in Ella. It’s the kind of climate that you will instantly fall in love with.
Money exchange and ATMs are easily available in Ella so you don’t need to worry about getting cash exchanged. The town is extremely safe to travel to with the crime rate being pretty much close to zero.
Finally if you’re in Sri Lanka for more than a week and you like the hills then make sure you have Ella on your bucket list. Sri Lanka without Ella is like traveling India without going to the Himalayas.