Want to know how to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the three ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
3 ways to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
There are three ways to travel the distance of 75 km (47 miles) from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya: by bus (3.5 hours), taxi (2.5 hours) and train (3h35m-3h53m). The journey takes between 2h30m - 3h53m and the quickest way is by taxi. The lowest priced tickets start from 250 Rs ($0.70) for the bus.
Although neither as comfortable nor as scenic as taking the train, taking a bus is a cheap way to travel like a local from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya.
Intercity buses operate daily, with buses leaving every 30 minutes. Tickets cost 250 Rs ($0.70) for an air-conditioned bus and 180 Rs ($0.50) for an ordinary bus.
Buses depart from Goods Shed Bus Stop, a short tuk-tuk ride from Kandy city centre. They arrive at Nuwara Eliya Bus Station in the city centre.
Tourist Bus from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
Not keen on local transport? Brown Tours offers bus trips from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. A one-way trip costs 3,640 Rs ($11.00) and takes less than 3 hours.
Although more expensive than a local bus, taking a tourist bus is a good alternative for its comfort, cleanliness and speed. Passengers of local buses often complain about dirty seats and uncomfortable journeys. Brown Tours is also a trusted company and receives good reviews.
You can easily book a tourist bus ticket online through the link below.
Departs at 08:00 from 702 Peradeniya Road, west of Kandy city centre
Arrives 10:40 at No. 01 Glenfall Road at Nuwara Eliya city centre
Nuwara Eliya is a popular destination in Sri Lanka for its temperate climate and rolling tea estates. But you can get get a close look at these plantations and their farmers even before you set foot in the city if you take the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya.
You can buy tickets at the train station on the day of your trip. But most probably only unreserved seats will be available, with fares starting at 170 Rs ($0.50).
Because this is such a busy route, you might want to book reserved seats online at least a month before your trip. The 1st class cabin is airconditioned and a seat costs 5,180 Rs ($16.00). We, however, prefer the open windows of the 2nd class cabin. Much better for photo ops! And a reserved seat costs more than $10 cheaper.
Trains depart from Kandy Railway Station at the city centre and arrive at Nanu Oya Railway Station, 10 km west of Nuwara Eliya city centre.
From Nanu Oya, you will have to take a tuk-tuk or a bus for 20 minutes to get to the city centre. You can easily find a tuk-tuk outside the station and they normally charge 500 Rs ($1.50). Taking a bus is a lot cheaper at 20 Rs ($0.00). But you will have to walk about 50 m to the bus stop and the buses run only every 20 to 30 minutes.
The ride from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is picturesque anywhere you look, but we think it is best to sit on the right side of the train for this journey. You can check the train schedule below.
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 and time schedules & info are more reliable.
Another train option that you can’t book with BookAway but only on 12GoAsia is the more luxurious Viceroy II. Its tickets cost a bit more than a 1st class cabin at 5,810 Rs ($17.50). But with an air-conditioned train, soft seats, wi-fi on-board, and pleasant lighting, you will have a comfortable 3.5-hour journey.
Its bar is fully-stocked, but drinks are a bit more expensive. Best to bring your own food and drinks for the journey.
Viceroy II operates from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Departs at 12:35 from Peradeniya, a suburb located west of Kandy’s city centre
Arrives at 18:27 at Nanu Oya Railway Station, 10 km west of Nuwara Eliya city centre
Tickets cost 5,810 Rs ($17.50). You can book your Viceroy II ticket at the link below.
Buying tickets at a local agency or at the train station
If you missed that 1-month limit for booking trains, you can still try to book reserved seats with the help of an agency. You will find a lot of them when you arrive in Sri Lanka, but you can also try an earlier booking online. Note that agencies charge a higher price, but they give you a better chance of securing a ticket.
Visit Sri Lanka Tours is a highly-recommended agency that can help you book your tickets even a few days prior to your preferred date. The nearer the date, the lower the chances. But they promise to give you a full refund if your desired tickets are unavailable.
A cheaper option is to try buying tickets directly at train stations. You can book any route at any train station, so we recommend that you buy all your needed tickets at once. Note that chances for unreserved tickets are quite low when buying on the same day.
If you’re really keen on taking the Sri Lanka Railway from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, the last resort is to buy a ticket for an unreserved seat at the train station on the day of your trip.
Tickets for a 3rd class seat cost 95 Rs ($0.20) while 2nd class seats cost 170 Rs ($0.50). Apart from being cheap, these tickets are unlimited, so you wouldn’t have a hard time buying them.
But don’t be fooled by their price! Although the tickets are unlimited, the seats are not. You will be lucky to get a seat at all as the train cars will be full of locals taking advantage of the cheap fare.
Standing in a jam-packed train for more than 3 hours can get uncomfortable and will take away your focus from the beautiful view outside.
A taxi from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya costs around 7,000 Rs ($21.50) if you book via Uber, but fares can be slightly cheaper or more expensive depending on availability. If you want to do everything to get the cheapest rates, you can also check the taxi apps PickMe and TaxiGo. But, unfortunately, these apps have 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!
If you are unable to book with any of the above options, you can also book a taxi via BookAway starting at 8,600 Rs ($26.50).
Frequently Asked Questions about Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
What is the distance from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya?
The distance from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is 75 km (47 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya?
The fastest way to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is by taxi and takes 2.5 hours.
What is the cheapest way to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya?
The cheapest way to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is by bus with ticket costs starting from 250 Rs ($0.70).
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. If there's anything else you're wondering about, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to answer you within a few days.
PS: If you've recently travelled this route, share your experience with fellow travellers and help us improve this post. Thanks for helping out our travel community!
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.
Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.