Ella Nine Arch Bridge

Rail Tours Sri Lanka

Trains in Sri Lanka are a very adventurous travelling option and also the best way to explore the natural beauty of the country.

Trains in Sri Lanka are a very adventurous travelling option and also the best way to explore the natural beauty of the country. By opting for a rail tour in Sri Lanka you can plan your holiday by means of a very affordable mode of transport for exploring the country. Luxury and moderate class government owned and private rail services are available to popular holiday destinations in Sri Lanka.

Option 1


Colombo to Kandy (By Car)

On the way to Kandy, you can visit the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage in the morning hours and watch how the elephants bathe and eat their food. It is an interesting sight indeed, particularly for those who are fond of animals.

Next, you can visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, which is just a few kms from Kandy. Here you will find a wide range of flora including orchids, spices, medicinal plants, palms and much more. This is an enjoyable picnic spot for many locals and foreigners alike.

A Kandy city tour is a must, including a visit to the Kandy Lake and other important sites in Kandy. In the evening, you can enjoy a cultural show with traditional Kandyan dancers to entertain you.

We will then take you to Earl’s Regency for your overnight stay in Kandy.

Sail and Cruise Tour in Sri Lanka
Dalada Maligawa

Kandy to Nanu Oya (By Train)

Before you depart to the central highlands, you will be taken to the Temple of the sacred Tooth Relic to obtain blessings from the Buddhist priests. You will then proceed to the Kandy railway station for your first train ride in this rail tour Sri Lanka. Your destination from Kandy by train will be to Nanu Oya. This is a ride during which you must do nothing but sit back, relax, and enjoy the most breathtaking scenery ever! From Nanu Oya, a car will drive you to Heritance Tea Factory hotel in Nuwara Eliya. On the way, you will pass Nuwara Eliya town, where you can enjoy an evening boat ride on Gregory Lake.

Kandy Temple of Tooth Relic
Hatton tea plantation

Nanu Oya to Ella (By Train)

In Nuwara Eliya, we have scheduled a tea factory visit where you can learn about the manufacturing process of tea and partake in an exciting tea plucking experience the traditional way. After a tour of Nuwara Eliya town, you will be driven to the Nanu Oya train station for your next train ride to Ella. This is another journey during which indulging in the beauty outside is a must. In Ella, you will stay at a luxury hotel known as the 98 Acres Resort and Spa.

Tea experience factory
Nuwara Eliaya Praks

Exploring Ella

In Ella, it is advisable to begin your day at the crack of dawn if you want to hike to Little Adam’s Peak and get the best view at the Ella Gap. The Nine Arch Bridge is another attraction that you can visit in Ella before you return to your luxury hotel for another night.

Little Adams Peak
Ninearch bridge

Ella to Yala (By Car)

From Ella, you will be driven to the southern city of Yala and on your way you can spend some time at the beautiful Ravana Waterfall. Upon reaching Yala, a jeep safari at the Yala National Park is a must. Jetwing Yala is the hotel we have selected for your accommodation in Yala.

Deers in Yala National Park in Sri lanka
Ravana Falls

Yala to Mirissa (By Car)

Moving further towards the southern coast, Mirissa is a popular beach destination in Sri Lanka. Here you can spend plenty of time enjoying the exotic beach. Sri Sharavi Beach Villas is where you will spend a night in Mirissa. A visit to the Weligama fish market is optional in this Sri Lanka rail tour itinerary.

Parrot Rock Mirissa
Fish Maket – Weligama

Mirissa to Bentota (By Train)

Early next morning, enjoy an adventurous whale watching experience in Mirissa and then head towards the train station at Matara for your next train ride to Bentota. On this ride, you will see completely different scenery to what you saw in the hill country.

Once in Bentota, visit the Turtle Hatchery and relax on a boat ride in the Madu river. Your overnight stay in Bentota will be at Villa Bentota.

Whale Watching Mirissa
Fishing boats parked at Bentota beach

Bentota to Colombo (By Train)

At the Bentota train station, you can get into any train going towards Colombo and get off at the Colombo Fort. Walk around the fort area and the Pettah trading market and shop for anything that you like. Then explore the Gangarama Temple to learn about Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka. You can also visit the Manning Market in Colombo for some tropical fresh fruits and vegetables.

During your Colombo city tour, don’t forget to visit the Galle Face Green, Old Parliament Building (Dutch colonial architecture), independence square and BMICH (an admirable conference hall). Hotel Tintagel is where you will spend your last night in Sri Lanka, end your journey the next day and drive towards the airport at a suitable time, depending on the time of your flight.

Gangarama Temple Sri lanka
Air plane taking off

Option 2

We also have a five day itinerary for a rail trip in Sri Lanka which focuses only on exploring the hill country. In this package, you will travel by train, beginning from Colombo Fort to Kandy railway station. In Kandy you can visit popular attractions such as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and enjoy an evening cultural show with Kandyan dancers to entertain you. You have two nights to spare at The Stone House in Kandy and you can use your time to engage in other activities that interest you such as trekking, nature trails and a tea factory visit.

On Day 3 you will go to Hatton by train whilst enjoying the breathtaking scenery of the high altitude tea country. During your next two nights at the Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton, you have the freedom to see the beautiful sights of the hill country. You could discover tea estates, climb the Adam’s Peak, visit Horton Plains National Park or simply relax and enjoy the view and weather in the cozy atmosphere of your hotel room.

On Day 5, you will end your journey with a train ride from Hatton back to the capital city of Colombo.

Option 3

In addition to the above two rail tour Sri Lanka itineraries, we can also arrange a rail focused journey to the northern city of Jaffna. Express and luxury classes are available to travel to Jaffna by train. In Jaffna you can look around and observe the ruins of the 30 year civil war and also visit the many Tamil, Catholic and Buddhist places of worship. Jaffna is also a popular beach destination with calm and swim safe waters. Authentic north Sri Lankan food is a must-try when you are in Jaffna. This tour can be customized based on your dates and duration of travel. Advance confirmations are necessary if you want good seats on the trains to Jaffna as this sector is often fully occupied on most days throughout the year.

The Sri Lankan Railway System

Initially built in 1864 by the British, rail tours Sri Lanka were mostly used for transporting tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo for export purposes. Today, this network has expanded, connecting several major cities in Sri Lanka. Detailed information on trains, timetables and ticket prices are available on the website of the Sri Lanka Government Railways.

Train Carriages

(a) 1st Class Sleeper: with sleeping berths, available on some overnight train journeys.

(b) 1st Class Observation: popular among tourists; available on day time trains on the Main Line.

(c) Ideal for viewing scenery as it is located at the rear of the train or sometimes behind the locomotive.

(d) 1st Class Air-condition: these seats are occasionally available on inter-city express trains.

(e) 2nd Class: available on all inter-city trains as either reserved or unreserved.

(f) 3rd Class: most common type of seats available on most trains and this carriage can get very crowded during peak hours.

In addition to these government-run carriages, two privately run sectors are also operating on the tourist bound stretches. These are known as the Rajdhani Express and the Expo Rail.

Journey Highlights

  • Trip length: 08 Days/ 05 Days
  • Sitting on the footboard of a Sri Lankan train – being the best way to get a 360 degree view of your surroundings.
  • Getting to know other locals during your train journeys in Sri Lanka.
  • After an eventful rail journey, unwind in the comfort and luxury of your hotel room.
  • Pay Homage To The Sacred Tooth Relic Of Lord Buddha At Kandy Temple.
  • Train rideEnjoy Magical Train Journeys On Earth Passing Phenomenal Sceneries
  • MountainChallenging Hike To Ella Rock Through Lush Tea Fields
  • Coconut treeTake The Prominent “Palm Tree Photo” On Coconut Tree Hill
  • Option 2

  • Feast On Your Eyes With Extensive Collections Of Orchids And Roses
  • Discover The Rolling Countryside Of Hatton With A Scenic Train Ride
  • Get Your Doorway Photo During Rail Journey
  • Set Off On An Overnight Climb To Holy Mountain – Adam’s Peak
  • Option 3

  • Admire The Incredible Ancient Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil
  • Discover Civil War Monuments Including The Most Significant Elephant Pass
  • Speak With Local And Get Insights About The Tamil Way Of Life And Experiences Of Life In North
  • Tickle Your Taste Buds With Ice Cream At Rio’s

Insightful Tips

  • Make a reservation in advance – Train journeys must be booked at least one month prior to arrival in order to secure your seats and guaranteed.
  • You can choose from the options either if you want to travel in first-class observation car with big glass windows; first class enjoying epitome of comfort as it is air-conditioned or second class which provides fans with options to open the windows.
  • If you want to Travel like a Local with the air in your face, looking out a window while enjoying the stunning sceneries of mother nature, you can catch a local commuter train (Third class compartment) by being quick with the assistance of our guide especially during peak season and at weekends as the line can get extremely busy with locals.
  • Travel light – Remember to keep your luggage in the vehicle you travel, before getting onboard unless you need it to carry with you.
  • Try authentic snack like ‘Wade’, little deep dried balls of dahl which are savory but delicious and ‘chai’, a cup of sweet milky tea from the local train vendors which would be one of the catchy bits of your train journey in Sri Lanka. Come armed with water as well.
  • Pack you own sanitary provisions including wet wipes, loo roll and antibacterial lotion, in any you have to use washrooms in the train.
  • Stick to the right of the train for sumptuous scenery of the rolling hills (Kandy to Nuwara Eliya) while left side will be the best when traveling from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. But, if you miss to sit on the right-hand side, don’t stress too much though, since left side also have best views of the valleys and opportunity to get an up-close view of the hillside.
  • Make sure you have enough battery on your phone or camera to take plenty of awesome shots while you are riding through the beautiful landscapes
  • Trains never arrive on time, hence, do not expect to leave at the planned departure time.
  • Take epic pictures while hanging out of the door when nice bends comes. But hang tight and be mindful of branches which might come on your way.


How long does it take to go from Nanu Oya to Ella by train?

It does take only 02 ½ – 03 hours

How do I book train tickets?

We will book train tickets on your behalf of you and handover them over to you during the tour.

How do I carry my luggage on the train?

You don’t need to carry the luggage on the train. You can keep them in the car with your chauffeur guide and he will take care of them.

Can we get first-class reserved seats?

It is depending on the availability. But we recommend 02nd class seats as it would be the most preferred compartment among tourists because you can open the windows and capture the beautiful sceneries while breathing some fresh air.