Hiking Ella’s Rock in Sri Lanka on Christmas Day
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Ella is a small town tucked away in the hill country of central Sri Lanka. It's known for having lush landscapes and great hiking trails, attracting trekkers and outdoorsy types. The chilled out vibe and relaxed nightlife has a similar feel to Pai in Thailand and is a really popular place for backpackers too.
Is Ella worth visiting? In my opinion, absolutely! Ella was one of my favourite places on our whole two week trip in Sri Lanka. There are so many great things to do in Ella, so here are 6 great reasons why Ella should be on your itinerary when visiting Sri Lanka!
Where's the best place to stay in Ella?
6 Great things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka
1. Enjoy the relaxed vibes of Ella's main street
Ella’s main street has lots of bars, cafes and restaurants as well as souvenir and clothing shops. Wander around the small town centre and visit the local shops and market stalls. The atmosphere here is really nice and has a laid-back backpacker vibe to it.
2. Visit some of the best cafes and bars in Ella
The cafes here are perfect to relax overlooking the main street or read a book in the afternoon after a morning hike and there are some great coffee and fresh juice options. Here are some of my favourite spots:
This bar and restaurant is one of the most popular in Ella. With great background music, stylish wooden interior and delicious local and western dishes it’s not hard to see why. You might have to wait for a table in the evening, particularly if there is a group of you.
This is a great spot for breakfast or lunch. Sit at the bar on the first floor, overlooking the street to watch the world go by with a coffee or juice. We stopped here after hiking up Ella’s rock for a well deserved beer and lunch.
If you like your coffee, this is the place to go. The small outlet also serves lunch of both local and western food.
This restaurant is part of a local hotel chain. In the evening, it has a busy, vibrant atmosphere with live music, great cocktails and traditional Sri Lankan food.
After hiking, it’s time for cocktails on Ella's main street!
Sat overlooking Ella's main street (you can see the queue for Cafe Chill in the background!)
3. Hike up Little Adam's Peak - One of Ella's most popular hikes
Little Adam's Peak is one of Ella's most popular hikes because it is not too strenuous and it offers amazing views! The hike starts from Ella's main street and is well sign posted from there. If you're short on time and can only do one walk whilst you're in Ella, I would definitely recommend this walk, it is one of the best things to do in Ella. If you're a seasoned hiker, a great option after hiking Little Adam's Peak is to extend the walk and continue onto Ella's famous Nine Arch Bridge - one of the most popular tourist spots in Ella. I've written a separate post with full details on how to walk Little Adam’s Peak and the Nine Arch bridge.
Travelling in Southeast Asia? You might also be interested in reading my top 10 unmissable hikes in Thailand
Sitting at the top of Little Adam's Peak in Ella
The view across to Ella’s Rock from Little Adam’s Peak, Ella
4. See the Nine Arch Bridge - Ella's most instagrammable spot
The Nine Arch Bridge is one of the best things to do in Ella and no doubt you will have seen photos of the famous bridge when researching Ella. The bridge is one of the best examples of colonial-era construction in Sri Lanka and set in the luscious green tea plantations, it looks really beautiful.
To get to the bridge, you can get a tuk tuk or taxi from Ella town, or as I mentioned above, you can walk to the Nine Arch Bridge either from Ella or from Little Adam's Peak.
At the bridge, there's a couple of coconut sellers and it's a great place to sit and enjoy the view. Just be careful when taking photos though, there was so many people we saw standing on the edge of the bridge and it's a 30m drop down!
Ella's famous Nine Arch Bridge
5. Hike to Ella's Rock
Another one of the best things to do in Ella is to hike Ella Rock. If you enjoy hiking, then you don't want to miss this. I would class it as a moderate hike - it’s more strenuous than Little Adam’s Peak but not until the last part of the hike, where the route starts to climb. Some blogs advise that you need a guide to be able to complete the hike to Ella Rock, however after much research I was happy that we could complete it ourselves using several instructions I had found online and downloaded. After successfully following instructions and not getting lost, we arrived at the top of Ella Rock and were rewarded with beautiful views across the valley of forests and tea plantations.
We actually completed this hike on Christmas Day and it was such a great atmosphere as we were joined at the top by other hikers and locals wishing each other a ‘Merry Christmas’. I would definitely recommend adding this hike to your itinerary of things to do in Ella. For a guide on how to get to Ella Rock, see my post here.
Gorgeous views from the top of Ella’s Rock in Ella, Sri Lanka
6. Visit the Ravana Falls
The Ravana Falls are the widest falls in Sri Lanka and are a must-see when in Ella. The Ravana falls are located just 7km from Ella and you can easily get to the falls by tuk tuk or by hopping on the bus going towards Wellaway. The Ravana Falls are just off the main road so you can't miss them. You can climb across the rocks at the base of the falls to get a closer look at the waterfalls and if you fancy it, you can also go for a swim here. Just be aware that this is a very busy tourist spot so your swim might not be as relaxing as you had hoped!
The Ravana Falls are one of the best things to see in Ella
I hope this guide has inspired you to add Ella to your Sri Lanka Itinerary. In my opinion, it is one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka, and with waterfalls, beautiful hikes and a great atmosphere in the town, it's not hard to see why it's a popular spot with other travellers too.
How can you get to Ella?
The best way to get to Ella is either by train or taxi. If you really wanted to, you could get the bus but it would involve a lot of changes and to be honest, I would recommend the train.
By train - The Kandy - Ella train is the most beautiful train ride in Sri Lanka, with gorgeous views of tea plantations and green landscapes all the way. We travelled from Nuwara Eliya to Ella via train, which you can read all about in my post here.
By taxi - Taxi's are really quite cheap in Sri Lanka and it is really common for tourists to hire drivers, either for single trips or for the whole or part of the trip.
Where's the best place to stay in Ella?
There are many accommodation options in Ella, for a range of budgets. We stayed at the Ravana Falls View guest house, which was a short stroll from the main street in Ella. I would really recommend this guest house, it was so peaceful and quiet and we had a shared terrace outside our room with stunning views across the hills and of the Ravana waterfall. If you're looking for something a little more luxurious, then the 98 Acres resort might be just for you.
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