4 reasons to go to Ella – the ultimate mountain retreat

Tourists visiting Sri Lanka can often overlook the tea country in favour of the stunning coastlines. Venturing inland can surprise you with relaxing hilltop retreats and sleepy towns. Ella is situated just 120 miles east of Colombo but 1041 meters above sea level. Ella’s elevation means it has an entirely different climate and the cool air can be a welcome break from the baking beaches. If you aren’t sold already here are our top reasons to spend some time in Ella.

Green hills of Ella

Credit: E Davis

The journey is as good as the destination.

There are very few journeys which can compare to the final destination, but the train from Colombo to Ella is just that. The rickety wooden train is a delightful and historic experience in itself, but the views set it apart. As you climb, the views are uninterrupted and you start to get a feel for rural Sri Lanka. The towns you pass through get smaller and the shades of green more vivid. As you climb you’ll be reaching for a sweater as the temperature drops. The train often passes through low-lying clouds before emerging into another green vista. This is certainly not the fastest way to travel, but the views are certainly worth taking your time over!

Train to Ella


If you are looking for solitude you can find it here.

When I last visited Ella in April there was barely another tourist in sight. Ella’s hard to reach location makes it a spot for the more determined traveller and you will certainly be rewarded for your efforts. While there are plenty of restaurants cafes and guesthouses, don’t be surprised if you are the only one in them! The popular backpacker bars like Cafe Chill can become crowded but the feel of the town is certainly one of peace and seclusion.

Valley of Ella

Credit: E Davis

Ella is a chance to get back to nature.

Ella town is spread down a mountain side and into a valley, surrounding it by mountains. For the adventurous types, Ella’s location is a perfect start for hiking trails. With Ella Rock and little Adam’s peak to explore you can truly immerse yourself in nature. The trail to Ella rock is steep in points and takes you through varied terrain from tea fields to forest. I recommend climbing in time for sunrise as you can see the valley fill with light. If climbing at night, be sure to hire a guide and take a headlamp . There are guides available at every guesthouse and through most restaurants. While the dark hike is tricky, the sunrise is breathtaking!

View from Ella Rock

Credit: E Davis

You can put your feet up and enjoy the view.

Whether you are rewarding yourself after a long hike or spending the day with tea and a good book in one of the many casual cafes- a view will never be far away. If you are climbing Adams peak it is well worth stopping in at nearby 98 Acres. The elevated bar has unbelievable views and the open sides allow you to feel the clouds against your face! If you don’t feel like hiking for the views, you can take a tuk tuk, but be sure to haggle as the lack of tourists has driven the prices up.

cafe with a view

Credit: E Davis

Ella is truly a magical place and the perfect mountain retreat. Whether you are looking to enjoy nature or just relax with a cold beer, Ella has the peace and seclusion you are looking for.

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