Quick hit list of things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka
I spent 3 days in Ella, and luckily had a little bit of good weather even though it was raining nearly every day at the time. Though I didn’t get to do a whole lot because of the weather, I did get to relax and decompress. There are plenty of things to do in Ella Sri Lanka to take up a few days, even if you just do one major thing per day.
Ella is a small hill town that has expanded in popularity in recent years. A Sri Lankan I met on the bus to Ella there asked me why so many tourists like it. I think it is a combination of a pretty good location, not too big, good options for accommodation (that has only multiplied), chill vibes, and good restaurants. It’s a village that somehow was more ready to serve foreigners and so has become a hotspot. It’s also along a well-known train line for scenic hill country views.
At this point, it hasn’t gotten so big that there are tons of people trying to sell you things, although people will try to get you to stay at their guest house. Tourists are mostly left to their own devices, and you can spend your days eating and chilling if you so wish to.
There are several activities to do while in Ella, some more active and some more laid back so it’s a nice mix. There are a few major tourist places in Ella, like a few nature points like the waterfalls. Some I’ve tried, but others I didn’t get a chance to. Here’s my list of the best things to do in Ella Sri Lanka!
Things to do in Ella Sri Lanka
Mini Adam’s Peak
This is a light hike to the top of the nearby hill. It may take you only about 20 to 30 minutes to get up to the top, and from there you can go across to another hill to see a clearer view of the valley. For something that is named after a big peak (which I also did later in my trip), I later came to realize this isn’t really a mini Adam’s Peak. It’s more like a mini mini mini Adam’s Peak.
It can get slippery if it has been raining, so wear some sensible shoes if you can. To get there, go east on the road where the street market is and continue while looking out for signs. There were several small groups with guides, but I don’t think you need a guide for this hike.
Curd and honey (or kithul)
This was my favorite thing in all of the food that I ate in Sri Lanka! I wish I could have had more of it! You can buy it in supermarkets anywhere in the country, but in the hills you can get it fresh. In Ella, you can get fresh curd in most restaurants and it’ll come with either honey or kithul (which is a local palm sugar syrup).
It’s so delicious!! And I feel like it was really great for my gut (which is a big deal for me as I’ve got some food intolerances!). I’m considering going back for longer just so that I can have more curd and get more good bacteria in my gut.
I didn’t try this, but a friend of mine did while she was there. She said that this involved a lot of body oils, and she had to go straight back to her guest house to take a shower. If you are into this kind of thing though, there are several places in and around town where you can try it out!
Ella rock hike
This hike is more difficult and longer than little Adam’s Peak. It goes south down the main road past the waterfalls and in from the road a bit. I also didn’t try this because it was very rainy while I was there, but would try it if I get to go back to Ella! You might want to hire a guide for this hike. For more info, check out this other blogger who wrote about it.
Most restaurants will have seating on their second level where you can look out onto the street and across to other restaurants. With all the tourists, locals, and vehicles coming through, this is a nice way to do some people watching.
My favorite was sitting on the second level of the Curd Shop because it is right above where the public buses stop. You can watch as buses roll in, people get in and out, and sometimes people run to catch a bus.
- If you are arriving in damp weather, nothing will dry properly. If you can, avoid doing laundry because your clothes will stay damp no matter how many days you leave it. If you can dry it in any window of sunshine, that would help, but if it’s rainy season it can start to rain without much warning.
- There is so much accommodation, you can show up without anything booked if you want to. People will approach you and ask you if you need a place to stay. Guest houses that have more than 2 rooms may have some space available if you just walk in or call ahead the day of.
- Also, you might be able to bargain for a cheaper rate at your guest house. I walked into one by accident while I was looking for mine, and they offered me a room for 7,000 LKR for 2 nights when I told them I was paying that much for 3 nights at the place I booked. I don’t know what their going rate was, but their place was much nicer.
- Book your train ticket 1 or 2 days in advance. You don’t need to get first class or observation car to get the nice views. Second class reserve tickets are 600 LKR, and third class 300 LKR. For more info on getting around, check out my other post on Sri Lanka transport.
- For a home-cooked style Sri Lankan meal, check out Jade Green Tea Centre and Restaurant in the middle of town. I had a nice egg curry, which was made fresh, and came with vegetable side dishes that were prepared beforehand.
Favorite town in Sri Lanka?
Ella might be my favorite town that I visited in Sri Lanka! I know people may rave about it all the time, but it is for a good reason. I think the hills are some of the best parts of Sri Lanka, especially if you like the cooler climate. My favorite part was eating all the fresh curd and honey!! I hope you enjoyed my list of things to do in Ella Sri Lanka!
What’s your favorite thing to do in Ella?