There are 2 operators that run from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya, with 2 departures per day. If you decide to take a bus, you can take the Standard and Tourist options.
There is 1 operator that run from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya. If you decide to take a car, you can take the Standard option.
There is 1 operator that run from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya, with 2 departures per day. If you decide to take a train, you can take the First Class and Third Class options.
After the hustle of Sri Lanka’s capital city, it’s time to see something different. Nuwara Eliya is a charming town in the tea hills of central Sri Lanka. When you compare Colombo to Nuwara Eliya, they couldn't be more divergent.
Nuwara Eliya, nicknamed “Little England,” is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire country. The lush green tea plantations are gorgeous, and there are plenty of activities like hiking and jet skiing to keep any adventure seeker happy.
If you’re looking for something a little different, Victoria Park and Gregory Lake are the perfect places to relax.
This charming tea town is the perfect place to check out Sri Lanka’s impressive landscapes.
You can definitely get your waterfall fix there. Bomburu Waterfall is incredible. Ramboda Falls is great for scenery, and St. Clair’s falls is perfect for connecting with nature.
There are loads of other places to explore, so renting a bicycle and roaming around is another great way to see the town. If you do, you’ll find things like the extremely Instagramable Old Post Office or Strawberry Fields.
Plan to stay overnight in Nuwara Eliya because coming from Colombo on a day trip just isn’t feasible. Take your time, spend two to three days there, and it will feel like a magical escape from other parts of Sri Lanka.
Many travelers choose to take the bus or train from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya because it’s such a scenic drive.
Nuwara Eliya is located 160 km (~99 miles) east of Colombo.
The bus takes about five hours and the train just over six. The benefit to making this journey overland is the views – just make sure you sit by the window.
It is also possible to fly. Taking a flight and a taxi would only take an hour and a half, which may be a much more appealing way to cover the distance from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya.
There are a few options when it comes to how to get from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya.
As mentioned, Nuwara Eliya is one of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. So, the government has worked hard to develop the infrastructure to get from one city to the other easily.
If you want to travel overland, you can take a bus, ride the train, or hire a minivan or private car. You’ll be treated to some spectacular views along the way.
You can also fly. The closest airport is Hatton, which is less than an hour away from Nuwara Eliya by taxi.
Taking the train is one of the best ways to get around in Sri Lanka. It is comfortable, moderately priced, and a great way to see more of the country.
The Colombo to Nuwara Eliya train is operated by Sri Lanka Railways and takes six hours. One of the greatest things about the train (besides the endless views) is all the daily departures. You’re bound to find a time that works with your schedule.
All trains depart Fort Train Station in Colombo and arrive in Nanuoya Railway Station, just west of the center of town. It will be easy to grab a tuk-tuk to your accommodation from there.
There are three ticket classes that offer different amenities. Third-class tickets start at US$15 per seat, and you can bring 15 kg of luggage with you on board.
If you prefer a little more comfort, you can book a second-class ticket. For US$20, you get a reclining seat and the ability to purchase food and drinks on board.
The most comfortable option is a first-class ticket. These start at US$23 per person and include all the amenities that second and third-class tickets have, plus air conditioning. If you’re traveling during the summer, this may be a necessity for you.
All trains have a bathroom on board and large windows to see the beautiful rolling hills as you move further into the country.
Pro Tip – Make sure to exchange your e-ticket or voucher at any of the ticket counters in Colombo before boarding the train. You may have to show your paper ticket along the way.
You should also check the Colombo to Nuwara Eliya train schedule for the most up-to-date information on departures.
If you prefer to travel as cheaply as possible, taking a public bus may be more your style.
Standard public buses cost as little as US$1 (US$3 if you want AC) and take five and a half hours.
If you prefer a little more comfort, you can travel with CBS Transport. The bus from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya has AC, reclining seats, TVs, and charging ports for your electronics.
You can catch the CBS Transport bus at Bastian Mawatha Bus Station in Colombo. It will drop you off at the Nuwara Eliya Main Bus Station, right near Victoria Park. Both are convenient locations, no matter where you are staying.
There are two departures per day at 11:40 and 14:55, but it is always a good idea to double-check the bus schedule from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya for the most current route information.
Tickets start at US$14 per person, and you can cancel or change your booking for free up to seven days before your departure.
If flying is more your style, you have the option to take a flight from Diyawanna Oya Airport to Hatton. Diyawanna Oya is only 10 km outside of Colombo city center, and it services internal flights for the country.
Flights are only 30 minutes on Sri Lankan Airlines and cost around US$100. Taxis will take about an hour and cost between US$15-20. They are easy to catch at the airport.
If you end up choosing to take the Colombo to Nuwara Eliya flight, you can arrive in less than two hours. Talk about maximizing your time!
Your final option to get to Nuwara Eliya is a private transfer by car or minivan. My Travel Partner offers private transfers for individuals and small groups.
If you are traveling with one or two people, you can hire a car for around US$100. If you have a bigger group, getting a minivan may be a better option. These cost about US$140. Minivans can seat up to eight passengers, depending on how much luggage you have.
These transfers are great because the cost can be split by everyone sharing the ride, and you can set your own schedule. The trip also only takes four and a half hours as opposed to five or six, which is nice if you hate being cooped up in a car.
Make sure to take some time to enjoy the ride as you approach Nuwara Eliya. The scenery along the way is almost as beautiful as the town you are about to adore!