When travelling the 55km distance from Ella to Nuwara Eliya, you have 3 options: you can take the train for 1,000 Rs ($5.50), a bus for 70 Rs ($0.40), or a taxi for 6,000 Rs ($33). The journey will take about 2.5 to 3 hours.
If there is one route in Sri Lanka where you should take the train, it is definitely the route from Ella to Nuwara Eliya. For 2.5 hours, you will get nothing but superb views.
Rates start at 1,000 Rs ($5.50) for a 1st class ticket bought at the train station. Note that these sell out fast so you might want to book train tickets online a month before. They are more expensive, but you will be assured of a seat.
Missed the 1-month deadline to book a train ticket online? You can take ordinary bus #31 from Ella to Nuwara Eliya for only 70 Rs ($0.40). There is also an option to take a much more comfortable tourist bus for 3,610 Rs ($20). Travel time is 3 hours.
If you’re travelling with a group, you can also opt to take a taxi. A 3-seater taxi costs 6,000 Rs ($33), but you can also rent a van for a bigger group. Although this option is not as scenic as taking the train, you will have a hassle-free door-to-door journey.
Ella to Nuwara Eliya by Train
Duration: 2h 34min Cost: 1,000 Rs ($5.50)
The train ride from Ella to Nuwara Eliya is the most scenic train route in Sri Lanka, followed closely by the route from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy. It is a short journey at just 2.5 hours, so make the most of it by enjoying this beautiful view from the window or by catching the fresh winds while hanging out of the wagon (be carefull though!).
Sri Lanka Railways offers several trips a day and if you’re lucky, you can buy a 1st class ticket for 1,000 Rs ($5.50) on the day of your trip at the train station. However, we recommend to book a slightly cheaper reserved 2nd class seat for the ultimate experience. Second-class cabins are not air-conditioned, but you can open the windows to let the fresh breeze in.
Tickets for reserved seats often sell out fast, especially for this famous route. If you really want to secure a good seat, we recommend booking a ticket online at least a month before your trip. 2nd class tickets cost 3,090 Rs ($17) and air-conditioned 1st class seats are also available for 5,180 Rs ($28.50).
PRO-TIP: For the best views, take a seat on the left side of the train when leaving Ella and while nearing haputale, keep your eye on the right side.
The train departs from Ella Railway Station in the city center and arrives at Nanu Oya Railway Station, 10km west of Nuwara Eliya city center.
From Nanu Oya, you have 2 options to get to the city center: you can either take a tuk-tuk for 500 Rs ($2.75) or a bus for 20 Rs ($0.10). Tuk-tuks are easily available outside the train station. To take the bus, you have to walk about 50m to the nearest bus stop, where buses pass by every 20 to 30 minutes. Travel time to the center is about 20 minutes.
You can check the train schedules below and book your tickets up till 30 days before your travel date with the button below.
*Notice that train tickets are also sold on 12Go.Asia for a few dollars less. However, we recommend booking with BookAway as they don’t add a booking fee, time schedules & info are more reliable and the customer support is far better.
One train option you cannot book via BookAway is the more luxurious Viceroy II. This is a restored fully air-conditioned train featuring posh interiors, soft seats, pleasant lighting and even wi-fi.
Imagine yourself to be a British monarch on the way to the so-called “Little England” during the ride!
A ticket costs 5,055 Rs ($28), just a few dollars more expensive than a 1st class seat on Sri Lanka Railways.
Viceroy II operates from Ella to Nuwara Eliya on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Departs at 11:57 from Ella Railway Station in the city center
Arrives at 14:35 at Nanu Oya Railway Station, 10km west of Nuwara Eliya city center
Unreserved train tickets are unlimited and very cheap. An unreserved 3rd class seat from Ella to Nuwara Eliya costs 60 Rs ($0.30) while a 2nd class seat costs 110 Rs ($0.60). You can buy them at the train station on the day of your trip. For train schedules, visit the Sri Lanka Railways website.
Note though that while buying unreserved tickets is very easy, getting a seat on this busy route is the entire opposite! You will have to compete with both locals and tourists for a seat in the unreserved cabins, and there’s a high chance you’ll lose.
Better avoid this stressful experience and enjoy this epic ride to the maximum by booking a reserved seat!
If you missed the 1-month deadline to book a reserved ticket online, we suggest that you try to book at the train station in Ella or with a trusted agency. They charge a higher price, but they guarantee to get you good seats.
When travelling by bus from Ella to Nuwara Eliya, you can choose between a local ordinary bus or a tourist bus. Below, we give you more details so you can decide which one is best for you.
Ella to Nuwara Eliya by Local Bus
Duration: 3 hours Cost: 70 Rs ($0.40)
The local bus is the cheapest way to travel from Ella to Nuwara Eliya at only 70 Rs ($0.40). However, it is worth noting that the only direct buses available are ordinary buses with wooden seats. They are not the most comfortable mode of transport for a 3-hour journey, but the open windows and scenic views might make it worth it.
Bus #31 also has limited trips daily, so we suggest you ask your hotel for assistance on what time they will pass by Ella. Your last stop is at Nuwara Eliya Main Bus Station in the city center.
Ella to Nuwara Eliya by Tourist Bus
Duration:2hr 45min Cost: 3,610 Rs ($20)
If you’re not up for a 3-hour journey on a wooden seat, you can also travel via tourist bus for 3,610 Rs ($20). Travel time is 2h 45min, but can take longer depending on traffic.
Brown Tours operates buses for this route on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays.
Departs at 14:10 from 39 Passara Road, Ambagollapathana, at Ella city center
Arrives at 16:55 at No. 01 Glenfall Road at Nuwara Eliya city center
You can get a taxi from Ella to Nuwara Eliya for around 6,000 Rs ($33) via Uber, but fares can be slightly cheaper or more expensive depending on availability. If you’re hoping to find the cheapest rates, you can also check the taxi apps PickMe and TaxiGo. But, unfortunately, these apps have very limited availability outside the capital city, Colombo.
PRO-TIP: Use the code “hpam1ue” or this link to order your first ride with Uber for free!
On the off chance that none of the above options is available, you can also book a taxi via BookAway for 7,900 Rs ($43).