Best of Nuwara Eliya

Top itineraries and travel advice in and around Nuwara Eliya
In the heart of Sri Lanka’s verdant Hill Country, Nuwara Eliya is the gateway to misty hillsides covered in tea plantations and well-preserved colonial architecture. There’s more than a hint of old Britain in the Tudor-style homes and English gardens planted by colonists back in the 19th century. At an elevation of 6,199 ft (1889 m), the small city has a cool, springlike climate that makes it a fine place to escape the lowland heat. You can spend your days enjoying outdoor adventures in the surrounding countryside and stay the night in a heritage hotel, enjoying a pot of locally grown tea (or a bespoke cocktail) while sitting by the fireplace. 

On a tour through the city center, you’ll see colonial architecture, lush rose gardens and handsomely manicured green spaces like Victoria Park, where you can often spot unique bird species like the Kashmir flycatcher. South of town, the Horton Plains National Park is a highland reserve of lofty peaks and cloud forests with waterfalls, gorges, and abundant biodiversity. Memorable hikes here include the trail to World’s End, an aptly named lookout perched 2,900 feet (1000 m) above the lowlands. Just east of Nuwara Eliya, you can look for wildlife (including the elusive leopard) in the fertile valley known as the Moon Plains.
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A train overlooks tea estates on the way to Nuwara Eliya
Map of Explore Sri Lanka's Hill Country - 5 Days
Explore Sri Lanka's Hill Country - 5 Days

The misty mountains of Sri Lanka's Hill Country take center stage on this invigorating five-day itinerary. Start with touring temples in the historic city of Kandy, then head south on an unforgettable train journey through lush tea estates. After a night in the hilltop village of Nuwara Eliya, explore flora and fauna of Horton Plains National Park before traveling to the west coast for your final night in the laid-back beach town of Negombo.

See how tea is picked in the highlands of Sri Lanka
Map of A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days
A Taste of Sri Lanka - 9 Days

This nine-day itinerary takes you on a flavorful journey through Sri Lanka's culture and cuisine—from the beaches of the Indian Ocean to the heart of the Cultural Triangle. Alongside an itinerary of ancient temples, wildlife spotting, and countryside cycling, you'll learn the secrets of a perfect curry in Galle, take afternoon tea among the lush gardens of the Hill Country, and embark on a fascinating and fragrant tour of Kandy's Spice Garden.

Ravana Falls
Map of Discover Sri Lanka's Wildlife & Nature: 6 Days
Discover Sri Lanka's Wildlife & Nature: 6 Days

Marvel at the diverse scenery and wildlife of Sri Lanka during this compact six-day trip. Start by exploring the beaches of Negombo before heading east into the misty mountains of Nuwara Eliya. Visit a nearby tea plantation, where you'll learn about tea and, of course, taste it. Go on an evening safari in Udawalawe National Park and get up close to its elephants and other wildlife. Witness baby elephants being bottled-fed at a local sanctuary before getting lost in the frenzy of the vibrant city of Colombo.

Views from "World's End" in Sri Lanka's Horton Plains National Park
Sri Lanka Outdoor Adventure: Rafting, Hiking & Waterfalls - 12 Days

Perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, this jam-packed 12-day itinerary highlights Sri Lanka's most dramatic and diverse landscapes. Hike to five of the country's most scenic waterfalls, raft down the raging Kelani River, see rare wildlife in Horton Plains and Udawalawe National Parks, and end your adventure with some well-earned downtime on the white sand beaches of Weligama.

Take a safari into Yala National Park to meet its thriving population of Asian elephants
Map of Central & Southern Sri Lanka: Wildlife, Culture & Beaches  - 12 Days
Central & Southern Sri Lanka: Wildlife, Culture & Beaches - 12 Days

This 12-day itinerary combines cultural highlights with wildlife spotting and some low-key beach time for the ultimate introduction to Sri Lanka. Check off iconic highlights like Sigiriya, Dambulla, and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, then head to the mountains to cool off in the heart of tea country. After searching for leopards, elephants, and sloth bears on a safari through Yala National Park, make your way to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean for two days of downtime on Unawatuna's beaches.

Footprints on the sweeping beaches of Tangalle
Map of Sri Lanka Luxury Getaway - 12 Days
Sri Lanka Luxury Getaway - 12 Days

Twelve days of ancient temples, mountain tea estates, and tropical beaches await on this luxurious Sri Lankan escape. Sit back as your private driver whisks you through the island's natural wonders and historical monuments in style, from the Cultural Triangle to the Hill Country and on to the wildlife haven of Yala National Park. End your trip with a Champagne toast and some blissful free time on the palm-fringed beaches of Tangalle.

The lush green mountains of Ella, Sri Lanka
Map of Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Cycling Tour of Sri Lanka - 13 Days

This is the quintessential Sri Lankan bike ride! On this two week trip, you will discover local tea plantations, small villages, and historically significant cities — along with some wonderfully diverse riding through a sizeable portion of the island. You'll cycle from the culturally rich north through tea country then down into the southern plains and Horton Plains National Park, finishing in Galle.

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 7 days

See the best that Sri Lanka has to offer on this week-long itinerary around the country's cultural monuments and natural wonders. You'll visit historic temples in Kandy and Sigiriya, see the colorful fish market of Negombo, and learn about tea production in Hill Country. The trip features not one but two Jeep safaris in national parks, providing ample opportunities to see elephants, monkeys, and rare birds in their natural habitats.

Ella Rock in Hill Country
Trekking in Sri Lanka - 7 Days

One of the best ways to explore Sri Lanka is on your own two feet, exploring quiet trails and beautiful landscapes on a guided trekking tour. This weeklong adventure takes you to Horton Plains National Park, Ella Rock, the famed Hill Country, and several other destinations for hiking, canoeing, and appreciating native wildlife. You'll also visit ancient temples and learn about the harvesting and production of tea, adding a cultural element to this outdoorsy itinerary.

A wild deer in Horton Plains National Park
Outdoor Adventure in Sri Lanka - 7 Days

Sri Lanka is a paradise for outdoor adventurers with expansive national parks, peaceful reservoirs, and rushing rivers. This 7-day tour, well-suited to families and active travelers of all ages, leads you around the country's natural wonders. Go whitewater rafting on the Kelani River, trek through the Knuckles Mountain Range, look for elusive leopards in Horton Plains National Park, and paddle a canoe through the quiet waters of Samanalawewa—it's all on the agenda.

Sri Lanka's Sigiriya rock fortress
Map of Nature & Serenity in Sri Lanka - 13 Days
Nature & Serenity in Sri Lanka - 13 Days

Crisscross Sri Lanka on this 13-day adventure, hitting historic landmarks, highland wonders, and golden beaches. First up is a tour of a historic tea plantation followed by a hike in a national park and then a trip to the cultural hub of Kandy. Relax on east coast beaches for a few days, then tour some ancient cities before ending the trip with wildlife safaris in search of the elusive Sri Lankan leopard.

See Asian elephants at Wilpattu Wildlife Safari in Sri Lanka
Map of Sri Lanka's Ancient Cities & Wildlife Encounters - 13 Days
Sri Lanka's Ancient Cities & Wildlife Encounters - 13 Days

Get ready for an unforgettable journey to Sri Lanka that combines visits to ancient landmarks with safari adventures throughout the country. Immediately on arrival, you'll search for leopards at Wilpattu National Park before touring the ancient city of Anuradhapura and the mythic Sigiriya rock fortress. The rest of the itinerary is packed with nature hikes, visits to tea plantations, and even more wildlife encounters.

Sunrise in Galle
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

This eight-day itinerary takes you to the heart of Sri Lanka for ancient history, Buddhist culture, and exciting adventures in nature. From Negombo (near the capital), you'll experience a slew of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, tour a tea plantation, meet elephants, and explore towns loaded with Portuguese and Dutch colonial history. End each day with an opportunity to catch an alluring sunset that only South Asia can offer.

Kandy's Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Map of Best of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Tangalle - 8 Days
Best of Sri Lanka: Negombo to Tangalle - 8 Days

This eight-day adventure will take you to Sri Lanka's must-see highlights. Learn about Negombo's colonial past, climb Sigiriya's rock fortress, wander through Dambulla's cave temples, and explore the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. Then take a scenic train ride and transfer to Nuwara Eliya, where you'll learn about tea production and enjoy spectacular views. Look for elephants, monkeys, and other wildlife at Udawalawe National Park, then relax in Tangalle and keep an eye out for sea turtles.

Enjoy the experience of seeing elephants in the wild on a sunset Jeep safari
Map of Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days
Snapshot of Sri Lanka - 8 Days

This eight-day itinerary will take you on an exciting journey around Sri Lanka's most revered cultural sites and natural wonders. Start by ticking off two phenomenal UNESCO World Heritage Sites at the rock fortress Sigiriya and Kandy's Temple of the Tooth Relic. Head out on an evening Jeep safari in the Kaudulla National Park to spot majestic elephants, then head into the Hill Country to discover the process of Ceylon tea making from tea bush to teapot in Nuwara Eliya.

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 10 Days

Ancient rock temples, wild elephants and whales, sloping hills planted with tea: this 10-day tour of Sri Lanka takes you to the country's incredibly diverse highlights. Go on a Jeep safari, taste tea where it's harvested, and scan the ocean's surface for whales. With a mix of cultural sites and outdoor adventures, plus time to relax on the idyllic beaches of Mirissa, this sweeping itinerary has something for everyone.

Visit a tea plantation in Sri Lanka
Best of Sri Lanka - 10 Days

This 10-day itinerary around Sri Lanka features outdoor activities and cultural attractions for all ages, including a dolphin-watching boat tour, a Sri Lankan cooking class, and multiple Jeep safaris around national parks. Marvel at massive Buddha statues, spot elephants and leopards in the wild, and go snorkeling in the clear waters of Pigeon Island National Park — you'll have plenty to do and see on this lively trip!

Kelani River in Sri Lanka
Outdoor Adventure in Sri Lanka - 10 Days

From mountainous national parks to rushing rivers to the clear waters of the Indian Ocean, the landscapes featured on this tour around Sri Lanka are paradise for travelers who love the outdoors. On this action-packed itinerary, you'll hike and cycle, try whitewater rafting, and spot elephants in the wild. You'll end up at the beach for a free day of water sports, swimming, and sunbathing before the trip comes to an end.

Swim in two waterfalls in the countryside towards the end of the trip
Map of Sri Lanka Culture & Nature Tour  - 11 Days
Sri Lanka Culture & Nature Tour - 11 Days

This extraordinary 11-day tour covers a wide selection of Sri Lanka's best highlights. Starting in Colombo, you'll head north to visit a range of UNESCO-listed ancient cities with palaces, temples, and historic treasures, including the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Continue the journey through the picturesque Hill Country mingling cultural activities with hiking, biking, and swimming in waterfalls. Finish the adventure with a well-deserved beach day on the south coast overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Enjoy a safari adventure in Wilpattu National Park
Map of Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days
Sri Lanka Family Adventure - 14 Days

With a colorful cultural history and rugged landscapes ideal for outdoor adventures, Sri Lanka is a beautiful destination for a family vacation. This two-week tour around the island features a dolphin-watching tour, multiple safari adventures, a Sri Lankan cooking class, and visits to ancient fortresses. Thanks to the mix of hands-on activities and cultural education, it's an excellent option for travelers of all ages.

Playing in the tea fields around Nuwara Eliya
Map of Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days
Family Adventure in Sri Lanka: Pasyala to Tangalle - 14 Days

Equal parts fast-paced adventure and laid-back beach holiday, this two-week itinerary hops around central Sri Lanka with family-friendly tours of cultural landmarks, national park safaris, and a scenic train journey into the mountains. Then it's time to slow down with a week on the south coast beaches of Tangalle, where a private oceanfront villa serves as your base for fun day trips, family watersports, and plenty of beach time.

Explore Sri Lanka on a 14-day cycling adventure
Map of Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days
Hidden Treasures of Sri Lanka Cycling Tour - 14 Days

This cycling tour takes you to Sri Lanka's top cultural sites and also off the beaten path. Cycle along rice fields, tea plantations, and tranquil villages to reach ancient kingdoms rich in history and culture. You also have the chance to explore Sri Lanka's wildlife parks to see herds of elephants roam the wild country.

Take a trip on one of the world's most beautiful train journeys
Map of Discover Nature & Culture in Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Discover Nature & Culture in Sri Lanka - 14 Days

Journey through the heart of Sri Lanka on this 14-day loop around the island. Start your trip in the capital city of Colombo, then move on to Adam's Peak for an unforgettable early morning hike with sunrise views from the summit of the sacred mountain. Continue to Nuwara Eliya, where you'll learn about tea production, then take an epic train ride to Kandy. Travel back in time to the historical sites of Sigiriya, Dambulla, Mihintale, and Anuradhapura, stop to see elephants in Minneriya National Park, and end up on the beautiful sandy beaches of Kalpitiya, where the trip finishes.

A tea plantation in Nuwara Eliya
Map of Highlights of Sri Lanka - 14 Days
Highlights of Sri Lanka - 14 Days

National parks, ancient fortresses, gorgeous beaches, and one of the oldest cities in the world: this varied itinerary takes you far and wide to Sri Lanka's most fascinating sights. You'll explore a quiet island and spot dolphins on boat tours, hike to viewpoints for sweeping views over tea plantations, look for leopards during a Jeep safari, and learn about Buddhist principles during guided tours. Whether you're interested in cultural history, colorful wildlife, or the process behind the production of Ceylon tea, this two-week highlights tour has plenty to offer.

Sunrise across the Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Treasures of Sri Lanka - 20 Days

Discover the magic of central and southern Sri Lanka on this immersive 20-day itinerary. Setting out from Colombo, you'll wind your way through a land rich with culture, history, and natural beauty—visiting countless highlights and hidden gems along the way. Spot elephants and leopards on safari, hike to towering waterfalls, explore ancient ruins and sacred temples, and savor some downtime on idyllic Indian Ocean beaches.

Other popular travel destinations in Sri Lanka
Kandy · Sigiriya · Colombo · Negombo · Ella · Yala National Park · Galle · Udawalawe · Tangalle · Wilpattu · Dambulla · Bentota · Anuradhapura · Mirissa · Pasikudah · Habarana