Nuwara Eliya was truly a magical stop in Sri Lanka. It was emerald green tea leaves for days, cascading waterfalls and quaint colonial buildings which made me feel like I was at home in UK.
You can tell why they call it Sri Lanka’s little England as soon as you arrive.
The weather is freezing, it rains more often than not and there are tonnes of Colonial style buildings dotted all over the place. Even the tea plantations are named after English cities and counties!
I was lucky enough to land into Nuwara Eliya on a super warm and clear day which was quite rare in October. Apparently it had been raining for weeks. So, I rushed straight outside to enjoy it in the sunshine.
Here are the top things to do in Nuwara Eliya: Sri Lanka’s little England!
1. Visit one of the many tea plantations
One of the main reasons that people visit this area of Sri Lanka is to visit one of the many tea plantations. As soon as you step off the train you are immersed in miles and miles of tea leaves. It’s endless, with plantations quite literally moulding into each other.
There are so many tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya to visit, you may be stuck for choice. So, visit a few! Most the plantations offer free tours and, even better, FREE TEA! The reason for doing this is because all the tourists exit through the gift shop and literally will be piling boxes of tea bags into their baskets. But, you’re not obligated to buy.
The most famous tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya is Pedro but I didn’t visit this one. I went to Mackwoods, which has more recently been taking over by Labookellie and Bluefields which had good reviews.
By far my favourite was Labookellie as not only did you get limitless free tea, but you also got a piece of chocolate cake for 100 rupees! It was heaven.
2. Sample some Ceylon tea
It would be criminal to visit Sri Lanka and not sample Ceylon tea and even more so in Nuwara Eliya where most of the leaves grow! Here is the perfect place to nab a taste as it’s all free and fresh from the source.
But, be warned, you may find that you get the caffeine shakes from so much tea. I think after my fifth cup of tea, I called it a day. There can be such a thing as too much tea, even for a Brit!
3. Chase waterfalls
There are many waterfalls in Nuwara Eliya to go and visit but there are only a few which are really worth visiting. I personally decided to visit Ramboda falls as it was recommended by my rickshaw driver.
Typical that it had to have one of the hardest treks to reach it (well, for me anyway). I had a bad ankle at the time and so walking up and down the jagged, uneven staircase was a challenge indeed.
Luckily, my rickshaw driver came to the rescue and quite literally assisted me by holding my hand the whole way up and down. I felt like I was around 90 years old but was thankful when I got to experience seeing the beautiful falls at the end!
Other falls in the area of note are Lovers Leap, Glen falls and Bomburuella.
4. Visit the Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya for High Tea
A favourite past time of the British is to have a spot of afternoon tea and in Nuwara Eliya it’s no different. I absolutely loved experiencing having tea at the Grand Hotel. There’s something so luxurious about taking an hour or so out of your day and immersing yourself in a tea room.
Despite the high tea looking absolutely scrumptious, I personally didn’t have it as I arrived quite late in the afternoon. I was determined to save my appetite for dinner at their Grand Thai restaurant (which was amazing by the way). But, I did sample one of the famous white teas which are famous in the area.
I loved the Grand Hotel so much that I came back the following day for a tea mocktail called the Ceylon Prince. It was a white tea with a twist of lemon and ginger. The Grand Hotel’s tea selection is truly vast and, if you have the time and the money, I’d recommend sampling a few of their creations.
5. Stroll around Lake Gregory
I had a stroll over here to take in the views around Gregory Lake but I was highly disappointed by it. Maybe it was the weather and the fact it was such a dreary rainy day but I felt it was nothing to write home about.
It is quite a cool place though as there is boating, cafés and all sorts of activities happening around this part of the town. Hopefully, when you go there, there will be some sunshine to enjoy it!
6. Trek Horton Plains
I didn’t personally do this but I heard that this trek is a magnificent one! You will have to get up super early (around 5am) to see anything before the clouds, rain and mist come in but the views look totally worth it.
It’s situated around 32 kilometres from Nuwara Eliya so make sure you pre-plan your taxi/rickshaw to take you there for sunrise!
This isn’t Horton Plains FYI, just some beautiful panoramic views of Nuwara Eliya
7. Feel like you’re in UK
It was quite surreal for me to spend a few days in Nuwara Eliya. The climate was obviously quite familiar (it’s always cold and rainy at any point of the year in UK), we also drink copious amounts of tea, but it was all the colonial buildings and greenery for miles that threw me.
The one thing that I really miss when I’m in Asia is being amongst fresh luscious fields and forests. It felt so comforting to breath in cool, fresh air.
Edinburgh tea plantation
The super quaint post office
I love this photo as it’s a beautiful colonial style building…with a tuk-tuk outside