Why Nuwara Eliya Is Our Favorite Hill Town in Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya is often frequented by the local travelers for its climate. To Sri Lankans, Nuwara Eliya is a cold, sleepy beautiful town. It’s relatively less popular among foreign travelers compared to other hill stations in Sri Lanka, again for the same reason. Climate. It’s rainy, moist and always gloomy. We’ve fallen in love with this beautiful hill town. It’s our favorite place to casually wander around and get lost, maybe find quaint corners and make beautiful memories.
1. Floral fallin’
Nuwara Eliya is always popular for its beautiful flower gardens. Especially in the spring months of March to April, the town is in full bloom, but avoid going in April as the town gets insanely busy with school holidays and New Year celebrations. It sounds cliché, but the best way to visit touristy places is to go there during the ‘off’ season. Some places are overrun by the tourism industry that local lives are disturbed and exploited. The Himachali city Shimla experienced a water crisis recently and the booming tourism industry was a burden to many locals. On the other hand, you’ll less likely to enjoy a place if there are too many people. We’ve been to Nuwara Eliya in December (a little cold), February and May. The recent trip was in May and we absolutely loved it.
2. Horton Plains National Park
If you are following us on Instagram, you may already know that we absolutely loved Horton Plains. While some of you sugarplums agreed with us, some of you told us otherwise. Our advice: Go as early as possible. We were there at the park by 6.30 AM and there was literally no one for most parts. We even thought that a wild animal would have us for lunch and our parents and friends would never know what happened to us. By the time we finished our trail, it was around 10.30 AM and there were hundreds and hundreds of people arrived in big TATA buses. You’ll also find a sambar deer or a few of his friends who’ve become familiar with us hoomans. Please don’t give him your junk food.
3. Salmiya Pizza
Pizza? Whaaaat? You love Nuwara Eliya because of Pizza? Yes. Yes. Yes to all that! We found Salmiya Pizza on TripAdvisor and we’re glad we did. Tucked in an alley facing Lake Gregory, this tiny pizza place is run by two Sri Lankan women who once worked in Italy. Judging by their pizza, we think they’ve mastered the Italian cuisine. The thin crust pizza is meaty, oozing with flavors, and during our 3-day trip, we found ourselves at Salmiya twice.
4. It’s the best place for tuk tuk rides
Driving past village communities, strawberry farms, a herd of cattle and jungle-clad mountains, we loved our tuk rides in Nuwara Eliya. Our tuk driver had worked in the Middle East, spoke pretty much all the languages Nathan speaks and that was a perfect conversation booster. We drove to Horton Plains and back, stopped by Jagro, had what was the best strawberry milkshake in our lives and made friends with dairy cattle — Holstein Friesian? Zin did agri sciences in school so she knows a thing or two about farms, hens, and cattle.
5. The climate
It’s rainy. It’s gloomy. (We’ve heard it’s sunny and hot during the day in April.) It’s a little cold or coooooold by Sri Lankan standards and your poor soul needs a thick blanket to sleep, or a cozy jacket to get you through the day but hey, we love that. We are big fans of cold weather. In May when we went, the monsoons were slowly starting which made our hill country train ride even more beautiful.
Where we stayed: Jo’s Home Stay in Blackpool Village. Funny enough, we’ve previously met our host David on an insanely crowded Sri Lankan train as we hung by the door to get to Kandy. We never knew it was his place. Small world, big beautiful memories. It was, to the date, one of our favorite “Sri Lanka by Train” experiences. David’s place was one of the most affordable places we could find in Nuwara Eliya and it had everything a guest needs.
The place has space for about 6 people, a small kitchen where you can make tea and an attached bathroom with hot water. Add functional Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV with international channels, we’re sold! We stayed indoors when it was raining. A cozy thick blanket, biscuits, chai (tea) and IPL on TV, it turned out to be one of our fave accommodations. David is also very knowledgeable about the region and he’d happily arrange you a vehicle for your sightseeing if you need one. His place is located in Blackpool, about 4 km from Nuwara Eliya Town. The bus stop is right in front of the house and buses run frequently throughout the day. We also went to see Blackpool Church which was initiated by his father, where you could get a panoramic view of the village and the central hills.
Oh, and hey, you get $15 OFF if you book through this link.
If you are a first time visitor to Nuwara Eliya and has only about 2 days to stay, we recommend this guide we previously wrote.
LIKE IT? PIN IT!