How to get from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya?
The best option to travel the 75km distance from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is by train. This train journey takes 3.5 hours and costs 170 Rs ($0.90) on a 2nd class unreserved seat. Alternate options include taking a bus (3.5 hours) or a taxi (3 hours).
Taking the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is the most scenic option. Costs for tickets bought at the train station start at 170 Rs ($0.90) for an unreserved seat. If you prefer reserved 1st and 2nd class seats, we recommend booking online at least a month before. Rates start at 3,090 Rs ($17).
If you missed out on the chance to get train tickets, you can also take the bus. The bus option is nowhere near as scenic, but it will bring you to the so-called “Little England” of Sri Lanka for just 250 Rs ($1.40). There is also an option to book a tourist bus for 3,640 Rs ($20).
Traveling with a small group? You can also take a taxi for around 7,000 Rs ($38). If you split the cost among 4 persons, it would be even cheaper than taking a tourist bus. Plus you get to travel door-to-door.
Schedule from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
|Train||3h 35m||170 Rs ($0.90)||Check train tickets|
|Bus||3h 30m||250 Rs ($1.40)||Read article for more info|
|Taxi||2h 30m||7,000 Rs ($38)||Book a taxi|
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya by Train
Duration: 3.5 hours
Cost: 170 Rs ($0.90)
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 its 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 ($0.90).
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 ($28.50). 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 center and arrive at Nanu Oya Railway Station, 10km west of Nuwara Eliya city center.
From Nanu Oya, you will have to take a tuk-tuk or a bus for 20 minutes to get to the city center. You can easily find a tuk-tuk outside the station and they normally charge 500 Rs ($2.75). Taking a bus is a lot cheaper at 20 Rs ($0.10). But you will have to walk about 50m 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.
|1st Class Train||08:47-12:40|
|5.180 Rs ($28,50)|
|2nd Class Train||08:47-12:40|
|3.090 Rs ($17)|
*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 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 ($32). But with an air-conditioned train, soft seats, wi-fi on-board, and pleasant lighting, you will have a very 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 center
- Arrives at 18:27 at Nanu Oya Railway Station, 10km west of Nuwara Eliya city center
- Tickets cost 5,810 Rs ($32). You can book your Viceroy II ticket in 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 want more info on booking your train tickets in Sri Lanka check out our page on How to Book Train Tickets in Sri Lanka.
Warning for unreserved seats to Nuwara Eliya
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 ($0.50) while 2nd class seats cost 170 Rs ($0.90). Apart from being very 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.
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya by Bus
Duration: 3h 30min
Cost: 250 Rs ($1.40)
Although neither as comfortable nor as scenic as taking the train, taking a bus is a very 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 ($1.40) for an air-conditioned bus and 180 Rs ($1) for an ordinary bus.
Buses depart from Goods Shed Bus Stop, a short tuk-tuk ride from Kandy city center. They arrive at Nuwara Eliya Bus Station in the city center.
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 ($20) and takes less than 3 hours.
Although much 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 center
- Arrives 10:40 at No. 01 Glenfall Road at Nuwara Eliya city center
Kandy to Nuwara Eliya by Taxi
Duration: 2.5 hours
Cost: 7,000 Rs ($38)
PRO-TIP: Use the code “hpam1ue” or this link to order your first ride with Uber for free!
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