Sri Lanka’s most scenic train ride is one of the best in the world

Sri Lanka's Colombo to Badulla train ride deserves a place on your bucket list, and these three scenic stops along the route prove why.

Woman peering out of train from Ella to Kandy
  • Kamei Cheong
  • March 2020

The train ride from Colombo to Badulla will awaken all your senses. Take in Sri Lanka’s breathtaking natural sights as you traverse terraced tea plantations, lush forests and misty mountains.

Hang out the open doorways and feel the cool breeze of the hill country in your hair. Take on the chaotic hustle of street food sellers who board the trains at each stop, get yourself some crispy papadums or rice with curry, and break bread with a fellow traveller.

All along the way, reminding yourself that sometimes, the journey is just as magical as the destination.

Adventures that await you on the Colombo to Badulla train ride

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya tea plantation
An oval-shaped plateau at an altitude of over 1.8km, Nuwara Eliya is considered the most important location for tea production in Sri Lanka.

Get off at Nanu Oya station to access the tea country hills of Nuwara Eliya. It is also known as “Little England” due to its cold and wet weather, and its history of being a retreat for British colonists looking to relax. Savouring a cup of freshly brewed Ceylon tea at one of the many tea plantations is necessary but if time permits, visit one of the country’s widest waterfalls, St Clair’s Falls.

READ MORE: Your guide to Sri Lanka’s most beautiful natural sights


Flying Ravana zip-line
Stretching over 500m, the Flying Ravana zip-line offers a bird’s-eye view of Ella’s hills.

Take a walk along the rails on Nine Arch Bridge, a British engineering feat that is made out of only brick, rock and cement. Swim and cool off at the bottom of the three-tiered Ravana Ella Falls, or for a real adrenaline rush, book an experience with Flying Ravana to zip-line over the lush green hills of Ella at 80km/h.


Interior of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Kandy was the last kingdom of Sri Lanka and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site mainly due to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

As the capital to the last Sinhalese kingdom to fall to the British, Kandy offers fascinating insights into Sri Lanka’s ancient history. While the town and its suburbs are studded with temples, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic that houses Buddha’s tooth is by far considered the most sacred. To travel further back in time, take a 3-hour drive to Sigiriya — a 1,500-year-old palace complex built 200-metres above ground on a rock plateau.

READ MORE: Colombo’s must-visit historical landmarks