1. See the famous blue train crossing the Nine Arch Bridge
The Nine Arch Bridge also called the Bridge in the Sky, is the most famous bridge in Sri Lanka. It is located in Demodara, between Ella and Demodara railway station.
From Ella Flower Garden where we based ourselves, we had around 15 minutes by scooter to get to the Nine Arch Bridge. For 50 LKR (around ~0.27$) you park your scooter at the yard of a local woman. From there it’s a short 5-10 minutes walk on an improvised tourist path. We went there almost every sunrise which was perfect as there were no people then. In the morning there are usually 2 trains that pass by before 9 am (the first one is often the blue one and the second the red one). Be sure to check the train map for the schedule. You can’t always rely on it, as they can sometimes be either late or too early. It happened to us a few times.
The view is breathtaking and I loved the mornings there as it was so peaceful. You can take great photos at the bridge, down under the bridge at a tea plantation, in the tunnel, and on the two viewpoints: one at the path on the way there and another on the tunnel’s side.
If you’re going down under the bridge, be careful as there are huge nests of wasps. We didn’t have any problems with them but just a heads up.
Want to take a train ride through the Nine Arch Bridge?
Board the train at Ella train station and go out at the next one, Demodara. The ride is very short but it will give you enough time to take some nice photos and enjoy passing through the famous bridge when everyone else there is taking photos of you. After that, you can take the tuk-tuk to get back to Ella. It shouldn’t be too expensive.The Most Scenic Train Ride in Sri Lanka – Kandy to Ella
2. Climb up Little Adam’s Peak for breathtaking views
Hike to Little Adam’s Peak is one of the most famous and easiest hikes in the area. But don’t confuse it with Adam’s Peak. That one is a tougher and longer hike. Its shape is similar to the one of Adam’s Peak but much smaller, so therefore they only added the adjective ‘little’ in front.
Everyone is starting their hike at Ella Flower Garden, but you can ride a scooter a bit further. Drive to the last point where the scooter parking is (the free one), and from there it takes only 15 minutes to reach the top. If you start in Ella Town, it will take you around 45 minutes.
What’s the best time to hike Little Adam’s Peak?
Sunsets at Little Adam’s Peak are amazing, but we chose to go for sunrise. I suggest the same to you because, as always, there are fewer people that early in the day. Just make sure to bring a flashlight if you’re going when it’s still dark.
Avoid going there in the afternoon because it can get pretty hot, and there’s no place to hide from the sun.
The impressive view from the top shows endless green hills all around. The fog at sunrise makes everything even more breathtaking. You can also hike to the hill in front of you. The path is a little bit steep, but it’s walkable. You’ll see many others doing it too.
On the way back from the sunrise mission, you will see tea pickers about to begin working. The women are usually friendly and will gladly pose for your photos for a small fee (at least 100 LKR ~ 0.5$). But choose the ones that aren’t there just waiting for the tourists to pass and give them money.
3. An adventurous hike to the top of Ella Rock
If you’re up for a more adventurous hike, make sure to hike Ella Rock. It will take you around 2-4 hours to reach the top, and the view will definitely be worthwhile. If you’re going to hike on your own, make sure to double-check the direction for going up, or you can play safe and take a guide.
4. Diyaluma Falls – swimming with a view
If you are a fan of waterfalls, especially the ones you can swim in, this is a perfect place for you. After a little hike, you can refresh yourself by going for a swim in the freshwater with a beautiful view. Diyaluma Falls is 220 m high (720ft) and is the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka, full of natural pools where you can take a swim, kick back and relax.
If you drive from Ella, it takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes by scooter to the viewpoint of the falls. There we hired a guide to take us to the top. We read that the wild elephants can roam around, so it’s best to have a guide just in case they show up. Not sure if that is true as we saw many people going by themselves.
You can choose between the easy and hard path. The only difference between the two is that the hard one takes longer and is quite steep, so you have to do some real hiking, while the easy one is much shorter and easier. The easy one takes about 25 minutes to the top where the first pools are. There is a small waterfall which you can use as a massage and a pool with a beautiful view of the scenery. And it’s so refreshing! Another location where you can enjoy swimming is just a few minutes away.
PRICE FOR THE GUIDE: 625 LKR (~3,37$)
PARKING PRICE: 100 LKR (~0.5$)
5. Join a cooking class at Ella Spice Garden
Sri Lanka is known for its delicious food, so why not take a bit of their cuisine home with you? You can join the cooking class at Ella Spice Garden and learn all about those delicious Sri Lankan dishes you can’t get enough of. And don’t forget to buy some spices so you can recreate the meals for your loved ones at home.
PRO TIP: Check their classes schedule and book your spot in advance as their classes fill up quickly!
6. Taste the real Sri Lankan tea in a tea factory
Ella is known for its tea plantations so I’d suggest you visit one of the factories and do some tea tasting. There are many tea factories around Ella, but the one we chose was the Halpe Tea Factory. There is a fully guided tour where you learn and see all five steps of making the tea. And the best thing, at the end of the tour you get to do a tea tasting!
PRICE: 525 LRK (~2.83$) per person
TIP: There is no need to book in advance, but you’ll have to be patient and wait a bit for more people to arrive so the tour can start.