Nuwara Eliya, located in the hills of Sri Lanka, is a charming town that has been a favorite with tourists! It is renowned for its lush tea plantations, refreshing cool climate, and breathtaking natural landscapes. In addition, the town has a rich and captivating history that spans centuries. Nuwara Eliya has rightfully secured its status as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost tourist hotspots, often referred to as ‘Little England.’

A Brief History of “Little England”

Nuwara Eliya’s fame primarily revolves around its tea industry, which was introduced during the British colonial era. The British settlers were amazed with how much the town resembled the English countryside. As a result, they affectionately dubbed it ‘Little England’. Today, remnants of this colonial past are evident in the town’s architecture, including picturesque cottages and well-manicured gardens that date back to an earlier era.

  • Colonial Era: The British first arrived in Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) in the early 19th century. In the 1820s, a British explorer named Sir Samuel Baker discovered Nuwara Eliya. It soon became a favored destination for British colonial officers and planters.
  • Coffee Plantations: The British introduced coffee cultivation to the region, and Nuwara Eliya became a center for coffee plantations in the mid-19th century.
  • Tea Industry: However, by the late 19th century, the coffee plantations in Nuwara Eliya and other parts of Ceylon were ruined. As a result, coffee was replaced by tea, which proved to be more resilient to diseases. The switch to tea cultivation marked the beginning of Sri Lanka’s world-famous tea industry. Today, Nuwara Eliya and its surrounding areas are known for producing some of the finest Ceylon tea.
  • Colonial Architecture: The British influence is still evident in Nuwara Eliya’s architecture. Many of the buildings in the town, including the colonial-style bungalows, post office, and the Grand Hotel, reflect the architectural styles of the British colonial period.
  • Recreation and Tourism: The British established golf courses, horse racing tracks, and cricket fields in the area.

Activities to Enjoy when in “Little England”

Visitors to Nuwara Eliya can indulge in a variety of activities. These include touring the verdant tea plantations, sipping on Ceylon tea, and exploring the stunning natural beauty of the region. The town’s cool and temperate climate offers a refreshing escape from Sri Lanka’s tropical heat. Thus making it an ideal destination for relaxation and outdoor adventures. Additionally, the town hosts a number of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, providing visitors with an opportunity to immerse themselves in the local culture and traditions.

Outdoor Activities

  • Tea Plantations: Nuwara Eliya is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s tea country. Take a guided tour of a tea plantation and factory to learn about the tea-making process and enjoy scenic views of lush tea fields. Pedro Tea Estate and Bluefield Tea Gardens are popular options.
  • Horton Plains National Park: Located nearby, Horton Plains is a unique and picturesque national park known for its rolling plains, dramatic cliffs, and endemic wildlife. The World’s End viewpoint is a must-visit spot for breathtaking panoramic views.
  • Hiking and Trekking: Nuwara Eliya and the surrounding areas offer excellent hiking opportunities. You can explore trails like the Lover’s Leap Waterfall, Single Tree Hill, and Moon Plains for varying degrees of difficulty and beautiful scenery.
  • Victoria Park: This well-maintained park is an excellent place for a leisurely stroll or a family picnic. It’s home to various bird species and beautiful flower beds. The park is especially popular during the spring season when flowers are in full bloom.
  • Gregory Lake: Guests can enjoy boating on Gregory Lake, which was originally built by the British during the colonial era. You can rent paddle boats or take a relaxing stroll along the lakeside promenade. There are also horseback riding options nearby.
  • Golf: If you’re a golf enthusiast, the Nuwara Eliya Golf Club offers a challenging 18-hole golf course with stunning views of the surrounding hills.
  • Visit Waterfalls: The area around Nuwara Eliya is dotted with beautiful waterfalls, such as Ramboda Falls, Devon Falls, and St. Clair’s Falls. These waterfalls are easily accessible and provide great photo opportunities.

Historical Attractions

  • Explore Colonial Architecture: Wander through the town to admire the colonial-era architecture, including the Grand Hotel, the post office, and historic bungalows. Many of these buildings offer a glimpse into the town’s colonial past.
  • Visit Religious Sites: Nuwara Eliya is home to several religious sites, including the sacred Seetha Amman Temple, which is associated with the Hindu epic Ramayana. The town also has churches, such as St. Xavier’s Church, that reflect its colonial heritage.

Best time to visit Nuwara Eliya

The best time to visit Nuwara Eliya depends on your personal preferences and the type of experience you desire. If you want to avoid crowds and don’t mind some rain, December to November can offer a more peaceful and budget-friendly experience. You can also enjoy the town’s vibrant atmosphere and outdoor activities in ideal weather conditions. In this case, consider visiting during the peak season from April to May.

Tip: A minimum of two nights stay in Nuwara Eliya is advised in your Sri Lanka tour itinerary to be able to make the most of the pleasant weather and the enjoyable activities available. Also, check the weather forecast for your travel dates and pack clothing suitable for the climate. Be sure to include layers for cool evenings.

How to plan a holiday to Nuwara Eliya, AKA “Little England”

Based on your travel dates and budget, Travel Treasures Sri Lanka can help you plan a tailor-made holiday itinerary for your Sri Lanka tour, including Nuwara Eliya and other preferred destinations. We can arrange a private vehicle with chauffeur, who will assist you throughout your tour in Sri Lanka. Our team of consultants will also carefully select suitable accommodation for your stay, and make the necessary arrangements.