Fantastic Experiences, Great Value

020 7263 3000

Nuwara Eliya

   More photos

Seated high in the hills, the peaceful city of Nuwara Eliya was once a country retreat for British colonialists. Given its uncanny resemblance to the UK, it’s not hard to see why. At an elevation of 1,868m, the region has one of the coolest climates in Sri Lanka, with a year-round temperature of 16°C, and average highs of just 20°C. Civil servants and tea planters would come here to relax, enjoying a full range of English past-times, including cricket, polo, golf and fox hunting. To this day there is still a racecourse and golf club.

The city bears many other tell-tale signs of its colonial past, in particular, the abundance of Tudor revival architecture and tidy English lawns. It’s these houses that give the region its nickname: “Little England”. There are some beautiful examples of these buildings around the town, such as the Post Office, Queen’s Cottage, and General’s House. You can even stay in one: the Grand Hotel was formerly the home of Sir Edward Barnes, fifth governor of Sri Lanka.

Another way the British left their mark was by introducing tea. Nuwara Eliya’s high altitude makes it ideal for tea cultivation, and the city is now one of Sri Lanka’s most important tea-producing regions. It’s hard to miss the brightly coloured workers picking the leaf tips on the surrounding estates. Sri Lanka is now the world’s second-largest tea exporter after China, and Nuwara Eliya is the home of its highest-quality produce.

The train journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya is one of the most scenic rail routes in the world. Passing through tea estates, rural villages, and eucalyptus forests, the train slowly winds its way through stunning scenery. The Clair and Devon waterfalls are a highlight.