Guide to Nuwara Eliya: Visa Information and Travel Tips

One of the first places that comes to mind when travelers think of Sri Lanka is the tea plantations of its central Hill Country. One of the premier cities in this region is Nuwara Eliya and it is a destination that thousands of domestic and foreign tourists enjoy each year.

Traveling to Sri Lanka’s tea plantations is an experience tourists won’t want to miss on a trip to the country. To help plan a visit, this guide explains the most important information that prospective travelers need to know when preparing a vacation to this beautiful destination.

This article details:

  • How to arrive to Nuwara Eliya
  • What to do when visiting the Hill Country city
  • The weather to expect and the best times to travel to Nuwara Eliya
  • A little background context the famous tea produced in the region

How to Get to Nuwara Eliya

One of the first steps to getting prepared to travel to Nuwara Eliya is to register for a Sri Lankan ETA. This is an essential requirement for foreign visitors from nearly 50 countries and offers a quick and easy means of applying online for travel authorization into Sri Lanka.

To get to the city and its plantations most tourists will arrive in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo via the nation’s international airport. Direct flights operate from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia to Colombo. From there the tea regions of the country are accessible via the country’s rail and road network.

Arriving in Nuwara Eliya by Road

There are numerous buses running the 180km distance between Colombo and Nuwara Eliya. Route 79 travels to the region 3 times daily, making the journey in around 6 hours. Alternatively, the bus also runs from Kandy every 20 minutes and arrives in Nuwara Eliya approximately 3 hours later.

Getting to Nuwara Eliya by Rail

Whilst there is no train station located in Nuwara Eliya itself, travelers can easily reach the city from the nearest geographical station in Nanyuoya approximately 6km away. The train service, known locally as ‘Udarata Menike’ runs four times a day from both Colombo and Kandy.

Unmissable Sights and Activities in Nuwara Eliya

The famous tea plantations of Sri Lanka, located close to Nuwara Eliya are visited by thousands of tourists each year. The area is sometimes referred to colloquially as “Little England” because of many surviving colonial buildings from the days of British control.

Amongst the best activities to enjoy on a trip to the plantations and foothills of the South Central Sri Lankan highlands are cycling and hiking. There are many dirt trails that can be traversed on a day trip and climbs of up to 2,100m above sea-level offering spectacular views of the surrounding area.

With tall mountains, beautiful tea plantations and preserved temples and colonial houses to enjoy there’s a lot to see on a trip to the city. Some of the highlights include:

  • Pedro Tea Estate
  • Lover Leap
  • Lake Gregory
  • Seetha Amman Temple
  • Galway’s Land National Park


What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya’s weather varies throughout the year. The region is temperate year-round, however, temperatures drop and heavy rains persist throughout the winter months of November-to-February.

Spring begins in earnest in April around Nuwara Eliya, with sunnier weather and warmer temperatures. However, there are a number of local festivities that occur during this time, which cause the number of local vacationers to swell. This can sometimes lead to difficulty reserving hotels as well as higher prices for accommodation.

Nevertheless, the weather in Sri Lanka is at its most enjoyable in July, after the country’s principal monsoon season. This time of year offers much dryer weather, although, temperatures also soar to highs of around 29ºC.

What is Ceylon Tea?

During the days of British colonial rule, Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon and the tea produced there is still known by that name to this day. The tea leaves grown in the region are said to be higher in antioxidants such as myricetin and kaempferol than other varieties. The taste produced by brewing Ceylon tea is also notably more citrusy than other alternatives thanks to its growth at high altitudes.

Ceylon tea can be produced as the following types of drink:

  • Oolong
  • Green tea
  • Black tea
  • White tea


Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka is an unmissable destination to experience on a trip to this diverse island nation. Getting there is less than a day’s journey from Colombo and those that do make the trip are sure to reap the rewards of its impressive sights and scenery.

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