There is no hurrying a Sri Lankan hill country train, nor would you want to. The joy is in the going, the landscape that glides by, and the fact that you’re sharing the world of the people who live in this special place. You can travel from Kandy to Ella in one go (and vice versa), but we suggest breaking the seven-hour journey and slowing down even more.
In March, Tom and I rode the train from Kandy to Ella, with a stop for a few nights in Nanu Oya at the Langdale by Amaya. This turned out to be a great option, as the road from Nanu Oya to Nuwara Eliya was in the throes of major construction at the time of our visit, and at times, completely blocked.
A journey to remember
Considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful train trip, the route passes lush tea estates, farms and villages. The railway, introduced by the British in the 19th century to transport tea to market, is now a major tourist attraction. Sri Lankans also use the railway extensively, and kids thrill to a ride as much as anyone. Here’s are some of the highlights of our “slow train to Ella”, a trip we will always remember.
If you go
The Kandy-to-Ella train journey is one of the world’s most-loved, and very popular with visitors to Sri Lanka. It is also a personal journey, varying according to the weather and time of year, how long you take to make the trip, and how open to meeting other people you are.
Before you travel:
- Search Sri Lanka Railways’ Official website for train information and timetables.
- Read Nerd Nomads’ description of their trip, which includes some helpful advice about ticketing and costs, as well as hotel ideas in both Kandy and Ella.
- Visit The Man in Seat 61 for his A beginner’s guide to Train travel in Sri Lanka, with plenty of detailed information to aid in planning train travel all over Sri Lanka.
- See what travel blogger and licensed train engineer(!), Sherry Ott has to say about her experience traveling by train in Sri Lanka.
- Check out 100 Trains’ page for the Colombo-Kandy-Badulla route. Detail for this journey is limited, but the site is a gold mine for descriptions of great train travel all over the world, and is continually updated with maps and links to additional information.
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