What is the best Train Route to take for the best scenery?

by | Mar 31, 2024

Sri Lanka’s rail rides rival some of Asia’s best. The emerald landscape of the mountainous heart of the island offers endless scenery. Tea gardens, waterfalls, deep gorges, steep ravines, craggy hills, misty mountain tops, cloud forests, riverine valleys and shrines stretch along the way. It is a procession of moving visuals, better admired from a train window. You will not glance away even for a minute. So, which rail journeys are to look forward to in Sri Lanka? Let’s explore two of the most beautiful across the hill country.

Nanu Oya to Ella

Nanu Oya is a quaint village in the Central Hills with the eponymous stream flowing through it. It serves as the entry point to Nuwara Eliya by rail. This sleepy tea country village is not just a train stop but a perfect holiday spot. Tour the tea estates, see the waterfalls and hike to hilltops with endless vistas. However, the most exhilarating experience is getting on the train to travel deeper into the mountains.

After hopping on the train, you are in for a spectacle of vistas that trail along. The stop at Pattipola is a treat. Pattipola train station, at 1,897.5m of elevation, is the highest broad gauge railway station in the world and the highest in the country. It also has one of the longest railway tunnels on the island.

The journey heads southeast, leaving the central hills behind. One of the most iconic landmarks it passes through is the Nine Arch Bridge or the Bridge in the Sky. It is a stunning 90m-long viaduct with nine arches rising through the forested landscape. The bridge connects the two highland towns, Ella and Demodara. Demodara Loop is a fascinating colonial civil engineering marvel. The track snakes around a hillock and emerges from a 134m-long tunnel beneath the station. The station sits above the point where the track passes under itself, the only one in the world.

Ella is a worthy destination to disembark at. Cloaked by tea plantations, the landscape is a lush green as far as the eye can see. Dotted with waterfalls, streams, forests and elevated viewpoints, it contains the essence of the hill country. Hike up to the Ella Rock, Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Gap for sweeping views of the mountains and valleys below.

Kandy to Nanu Oya

Kandy is the gateway to the hill country. It is a sacred and ancient capital that houses Buddha’s tooth. The Temple of the Tooth is its nucleus, and its vibrant culture revolves around it. Kandy City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its mild climate, gardens, lake, river and arts & crafts mesmerise visitors from all over the globe. However, it is only the beginning of an exquisite journey. Board a train to the heart of the hills, and you can watch the scenery gradually intensifying.

The train ascends the steep mountains, snaking past the montane canopy, twisting and turning through tunnels flanked by the thick forest cover. The rugged terrain, with its treacherous curves, brings no end to mesmerising scenery. Taking your eyes off it is almost impossible. You will know you have entered the Tea Country when the scenery extends for miles, carpeted in tea plants. You will even spot the tea pickers clad in bright-coloured sarees with their baskets on the back, plucking tea leaves and tossing them into the baskets. Care to count how many you see?

And, as the train draws near Nanu Oya, you are only minutes away from the capital of Ceylon Tea that built empires. The tea-clad Nuwara Eliya is home to the Horton Plains and World’s End. Its landscape is a mosaic of waterfalls, lakes, streams, shrines and the old-world colonial experience in authentic bungalows built for tea moguls.

Travel into the heart of the highland with Blue Lanka Tours

The most beautiful train journey in Sri Lanka is also one of the best in the world. Whether you choose Nanu Oya to Ella, Kandy to Nanu Oya or the entire way from Colombo to Badulla, they are all magical.

Blue Lanka Tours offers a myriad of experiences that showcase raw Sri Lanka. Highland journeys loved by locals and tourists alike give you invaluable perspective to understanding the island nation. From its colonial legacies to native treasures, they tell a story in a visual sequence.

We craft each holiday with your desires in mind. And we curate stark, visual, sensory and rare experiences that elevate travel. With our tour designers, guides, chauffeurs, accommodation portfolio and standards, you are always comfortable, safe and well looked after in Sri Lanka. Our customer support team is available 24/7, and our personalised services ensure your holiday fits the bill. Are you ready for rail hopping in Sri Lanka’s hill country?