4 Days Sri Lanka Train Journey

Sri Lanka train journey is a very popular topic among travellers, especially among foreign travellers. You might be wondering, why the Sri Lankan train journey is so popular among travellers. It is mainly due to the scenic views that travellers encounter during the rail journey. Sri Lankan hill country rail journey is the most popular among travellers, which ranks as the 4th most beautiful train journey in the world.

Table of Contents

4 Days Sri Lanka Train Journey

Sri Lanka train journey is a very popular topic among travellers, especially among foreign travellers. You might be wondering, why the Sri Lankan train journey is so popular among travellers. It is mainly due to the scenic views that travellers encounter during the rail journey. Sri Lankan hill country rail journey is the most popular among travellers, which ranks as the 4th most beautiful train journey in the world.

A large number of travellers inquire about Sri Lanka train journeys at the planning stage of the tours. Due to the ever-increasing demand for Sri Lanka train journeys, Seerendipity tours had planned the below Sri Lanka tour itinerary, which lasts 4 days, and includes visits to all major tourist attractions as well as the most scenic train in the world.

The origin of the Sri Lanak railway

The railway system revolutionized travel in Sri Lanka, it is one of the greatest contributions done by colonial rulers to the island. The rail network is widely used in Sri Lanka for passenger transport as well as transport goods. The hill country main railway plays a major role in Sri Lanka and it provides enjoyable and scenic train trips to holidaymakers. Building a railway track was not an easy task in early 18, especially the hill country track, due to the inhospitable mountainous terrain and it was a mammoth undertaking.

Fort railway station – the start of Sri Lanka train trips

The main railway station of Sri Lanka is located in the bustling commercial capital city of Sri Lanka, Colombo. The fort Railway station is the hub Colombo railway and it is the biggest railway station on the island. More than 200000 travellers pass through the fort railway station daily. Fort railway station is the starting point of all train journeys in Sri Lanka.

What is the best time to start the train trip?

For most travellers (local and foreign) usually, early hours are the best time to start the trip. Therefore, most travellers start their train trips at dawn break and run through the countryside into the inland from the coast. there is a big demand for hill country trains, therefore, even that early most carriages in the
hill country train are fully packed. Most of the commuters are holidaymakers and day trippers.

What are the cities to explore on the 4 days Sri Lanka Train Journey?

  • Colombo
  • Kandy
  • Nuwara Eliya
  • Ella

Undertaking a Sri Lanka train journey to the hill country is one of the best ways of exploring the 4 beautiful cities in Sri Lanka, namely Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Ella and Colombo. Especially the train journey is highly recommended as you travel from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. The stunning vistas that are visible on the train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella cannot be found anywhere else on the island. Therefore Sri Lanka train journey between Nuwara Eliya and Ella is considered to be one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.

Simply Sri Lanka 8 Days Private Tour with Luxury Accommodation- This eight-day private tour takes you to the most important tourist places on the island such as Sigiriya rock, Dambulla golden temple, and the tooth relic temple of Kandy, the national park of Udawalawe. Towards the end of the trip, you will be anchoring on the empty beaches of Mirissa.

How do we do sightseeing tours in the cities?

The train allows you to travel between cities and you need to find another form of travel for sightseeing tours in each city. We have already taken it into our consideration, and that’s why a dedicated vehicle for your trip is always behind you. Whenever you need to use road transport Eg city tours, travel from railway station to hotel, or travel to sites, we have arranged an air-conditioned modern vehicle for your trip. If you have luggage, you can also put it in the vehicle and we will look after your valuables.

Is there a local tour guide on this Sri Lanka rain journey?

Yes! you will be accompanied by a local guide from the start of the trip. He will be assisting you at the railway stations, visiting tourist attractions, and whenever you need the assistance of local staff.

What are the 4 days of the Sri Lanka rail journey itinerary?

  • Day 1 – Rail journey from Colombo to Kandy and exploring Kandy.
  • Day 2 – the Train journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and visit the tourist attraction in Nuwara Eliya.
  • Day 3 – the Train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella and visiting tourist attractions.
  • Day 4 – the return journey to Colombo via Kitulaga by car or van

Sri Lanka upcountry train trip

The upcountry Sri Lanka train journey (train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella) is so popular, that a large number of travellers prefer to include it in their tour package. In fact, the train trip from Nuwara Eliya to Ella considered being the most scenic part of the Sri Lankan upcountry rail journey.

The Sri Lanka train journey upcountry can be easily added to most Sri Lanka tour itineraries because most tour packages of Sri Lanka include Yala national park and Nuwara Eliya. Ella is conveniently located between Nuwara Eliya and Yala, therefore, the Sri Lanka train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella can be easily integrated into the tour packages.

If you also travelling from Nuwara Eliya to Ella and wish to take the train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella, you can get the train from Nuwara Eliya railway station, which is also called Nanu Oya railway station. Nanu Oya railway station is about 10 km away from the city centre on Nuwara Eliya- Horton plains the main road.

The nature of the Sri Lanka hill country train trip

On the Sri Lanka hill country train route, the train climbs deep into the tropical heart of Sri Lanka. The first leg of the train journey from Colombo to Ella takes place mainly on flat land. However, the second leg of the journey from Kandy to Ella is more strenuous due to teh steep ascent. This leg of the train trip, from Kandy, goes in the direction of the south through Hatton to Nanu Oya. This is a 61-mile stretch and is a serious climb it is about a 3600 feet climb and you head to Sri Lanka’s fertile hill country. The train climbs slowly giving you plenty of time to absorb the breathtaking scenery. Usually, the blue train (The Chinese-built locomotive) runs at an average speed of 50km per hour but on this stretch the train climb at a speed of around 10 kilometres an hour. The train journey is not only slow but also stops at 18 railway stations between Kandy and Nanu Oya.

The Sri Lanka hill country train journey is special to most travellers and it is something unusual for them. It is an opportunity to experience something unusual. The hill country train trip is one of the best ways to mingle with local people other than enjoying the beautiful landscape and scenery.

A large part of Sri Lanka’s tea cultivation thrives in the hill country. Sri Lanka’s tea plantations spread over 700 square miles and a large part of it is found in the hill country. It takes around 6 hours to reach Nuwara Eliya on the hill country route from Colombo.

Sri Lanka 4 days train tour

The below Sri Lanka train journey is a tour that only uses the train as the main form of transport. The tour lasts 4 days and you will travel mainly by train during the tour.

This is one of the tour programs organized by Seerendipity tours and you cannot find this type of tour package with any other tour operators in the country. However, this Sri Lanka train trip can be customized in whatever way you prefer, the program can be shortened and reduce the time that you spend on the train while combining a part of the Sri Lanka train journey with road transport.

Most travellers prefer to combine road travel with the Sri Lanka train journey and make road transport the main medium of travel. And they curtail the Sri Lanka train journey only for a couple of hours by choosing the most scenic part of the rail track.

However, this comfortable rail journey lasts 4 days and includes the “Podimenike express” train plus several excursions to Colombo, Nuwara Eliya, Ella and Kandy with its most sacred Buddhist temple (Tooth relic temple), where the left eye tooth of Buddha rests. Prices start from USD 360pp. Please write to us at admin@seerendipitytours.com for more information. Click here for more info on this Sri Lanka tour by Rail.

Day 1- Sri Lanka train journey

The train journey from Colombo to Kandy is one of the most popular One-day train trips in Sri Lanka. A large number of foreign, as well as local travellers, undertake this ride. We have noted a large number of foreign travellers take this Sri Lanka train journey, which lasts around 2 hours 30 minutes. It is one of the best options to reach Kandy from Colombo. This train trip from Kandy to Colombo and vice-a-versa is very convenient, cheap and comfortable.

On this 4 days train trip, the travellers will be travelling to the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka. The train journey from Colombo to Kandy is mainly on flat land and on the first leg of the train journey the train moves swiftly across the land. At the start of the train trip, the travellers can witness vast flat lands covered with thick vegetation and rice paddies. After about travelling one hour and thirty minutes, the geological features tends to change abruptly and the train starts to move slowly due to the steep ascent. The journey from Colombo to Kandy takes around 3 hours on an express train, which may last as much as 4 hours on a slow train.

Fort railway station is the hub of the Sri Lankan railway network

This is the first leg of this 4-day Sri Lanka train trip, starting in Colombo at the Fort railway station, the fort railway station is the hub of the Sri Lankan railway network.

You arrive at the Fort railway station in the early hours to take the upcountry express train, where you feel that a considerable portion of 3.7 million people, who travel daily on trains have decided to take the train.

Colombo to Kandy by express train

The guests who take this tour package board the express train, which is bound for Kandy from Fort railway station at 7.00 AM.  It is a 2 hours 30 minutes journey and the AC passenger compartment is comfortable and includes free WIFI and freshly brewed warming up cups of Ceylon tea or Coffee.

Usually, this express train arrives at the destination on time (9.35 AM), but there can be instances when you have to plan a few hours more on the rail journey. Today’s journey will take place through busy urban areas and towards the latter part of the journey the passengers encounter mountainous areas with a considerable green cover.

Colombo-Kandy luxury train

The Department of Railways of Sri Lanka has launched a new luxury train between Colombo Fort and Kandy. The train has three categories of seats 3rd class compartment, 2nd class compartment and 1st class compartment with AC. The train will be scheduled to be on the track during the weekend from st October 2022. This new train leaves Colombo railway station at 6.30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and arrives at Kandy at 9.18 a.m. The train will leave Kandy at 4.50 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive at Colombo Fort at 7.40 p.m. on both days. The special luxury train is supposed to cater for travellers, who like to have a luxurious train journey between Colombo and Kandy. A large number of travellers ply Colombo to Kandy and vice-versa every weekend in order to take part in religious activities at the Tooth relic temple of Kandy. The 1st class tickets are priced at Rs 2000 per person and the second class ticket is Rs.1,500.

Kandy, the first major stop in the hill country train trip

Kandy is the first major stop on the hill country rail journey. Kandy lies at an elevation of 1500 meters above sea level. Kandy is the cultural and spiritual hub of Sri Lanka. Kandy is nestled among the mountain ranges about 115 km away from Colombo. Kandy is dotted with places of worship belonging to all
major religions in Sri Lanka. Kandy host one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists in the world, the tempel of the tooth relic. According to historical information, the tooth relic was brought to Kandy in the 4th century AD. Today tooth relic temple houses it, making it one of the most important sites of worship for Buddhists in the world.

What to see in Kandy?

  • Tooth relic temple
  • Kandyan cultural show
  • Udawattekele forest reserve
  • Kandy lake
  • Tea museum
  • Kandy museum
  • Royal botanical garden
  • Kandy market and shopping area

You will reach Kandy before 10 am, and the rest of the day is reserved for exploring the city of Kandy. There are many interesting places to visit in Kandy but I highly doubt that you will be able to explore all of them within a day. If you plan a Sri Lanka 2 days tour to Kandy, then you will be able to see the most important tourist places in Kandy. However, we have planned only 1 day in Kandy on this 4 days train journey in order to curtail the entire trip to 4 days.

Kandy is one of the most scenic towns of Sri Lanka, which harbours many interesting places such as a Tooth relic temple, a Royal botanical garden, a Colorful market, cultural shows, shopping and entertainment. The city has a fascinating blend of old-fashioned Sri Lankan buildings, colonial mansions and modern architectural high-rise constructions.

One striking fact about Kandy is its inheritance of extended green cover, which surrounded the city from all directions. Kandy lies 500 meters above sea level and has a mild climate with daytime temperatures of 27°c and night temperatures dipping up to 21 °c.

Tooth relic temple of Kandy

The guests usually visit the tooth relic temple during the evening ceremony, which starts at 6.30 PM. The tooth relic temple had been the living quarters of the Kandyan king and later it was converted into a Buddhist temple with the arrival of left eye tooth Buddha. The building is a typical Sri Lankan design, with all gables and turrets built out of local wood. The building of the present temple was built by King Vimaladharmasooriya 1st in 1592 AD.

Daily a large number of local and foreign travellers visit the temple and most of the visitors are impressed by the architectural splendour achieved by the ancient craftsmen.  The visitors are allowed to visit part of the temple complex including the wooden-panelled main shrine room, audience hall, and the museum where the visitors can witness a large collection of statues and paintings.

Day 2- Sri Lanka train journey -Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Day 2 of 4 days rail trip starts with the most scenic rail journey in the world, from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. A train travels Sri Lanka from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and Ella is considered to be one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. As the train slowly moves from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, the travellers feel the gradual change of the vegetation and climate, the temperature is reducing gradually, which reminded them that they are reaching higher altitude areas. The steep ascent starts in Kandy and the travellers gain altitude on this until they reach Pattipola.

History of the railway track from Kandy to Ella

The railway track between Kandy and Ella was built by the British administration in the early 18s, in order to provide an efficient transport system for the British planters. This upcountry railway track was built by the British government (1796 to 1948) in order to transport coffee/tea produced by British planters.

Same time they used rail transport to transport passengers, labour, machinery, manure, rice and foodstuff, etc to Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. Other than cargo transport, there had been a huge demand for passenger transport between Colombo and Nuwara Eliya during the British colonial era, it was mainly due to the popularity of Nuwara Eliya as a holiday destination.

Building the first railway track from Kandy to Colombo

When the planters wanted to send their goods to Colombo from Kandy in the early 18s, the 100 miles journey from Colombo to Kandy, any combination of elephant, horse, bullock cart and rickshaw took seven bone-rattling days. The first railway line in Sri Lanka was opened in 1864 between Colombo and Kandy and later the railway line was further extended to Nuwara Eliya.

Most carriages of the upcountry train are fully packed with local travellers as well as foreigners. A large number of foreign travellers opt to travel by train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and vice-versa during their Sri Lanka trip in order to enjoy the beautiful scenery in the mountains. Therefore don’t be surprised to see a large number of foreigners on the train in some cases the number of foreigners surpasses the number of local passengers.

This 10-day private Colombo package includes 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites: Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Golden Temple of Dambulla, Galle Fort, and Temple of the tooth relic with Sri Lanka mountain resorts, southern national parks, and western and southern beach resorts.

Kandy to Ella uphill sluggish train journey

Despite the distance from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya being merely 60 miles, it takes around 4 hours for the sluggish climb of the train from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, which start at 500 meters above sea level and ends at 1800 meters above sea level. The rail journey is flanked by hills on one side at any time of the journey.

Sitting by the open window is the best and safe way to capture the beautiful scenery, enjoy the cool breeze and enjoy the smell of fresh tea as the locomotive chugs uphill. The average speed of the train on this stretch would be around 10 km per hour, however, this Chinese-built locomotive runs 50km per hour oin average.

From Kandy, you climb up through the hill country and endless tea fields around Hatton and reach the quintessentially English city of Nuwara Eliya. from Kandy the drive continues further up to the railway line summit called Pattipola. From Pattipola it is a gradual descent to the popular mountain resort known as Ella. Ella is the end point of the railway journey for most foreign travellers and Ella is the gateway to the incredible nine-arch bridge.

What is the duration of the train journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya? 5 hours

Building the railway track on this route was an extraordinary feat of engineering, with 2 dozen tunnels, a dozen bridges, and around 4 dozen of curves. The railway line climbs up to 1300 meters from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya within a distance of 60 miles, and the train journey takes around 5 hours, passing a dozen stations.

Immediately after Kandy, the railway starts to cut through the mountains in a series of tunnels, the longest tunnel is around 500 meters long. Most of the work of the railway track was carried out under the purview of British engineers and labour was provided by the local people.

What to see in Nuwara Eliya

  • Tea factories
  • waterfalls
  • Gregory lake
  • Galway bird sanctuary
  • Seetha Amman temple
  • Haggala botanical garden
  • Victoria Park

It will be a late afternoon as the train arrives in Nuwara Eliya, but the visitors are still able to see the town, most travellers say that Nuwara Eliya is much smaller than they imagined, sprawling over the surrounding mountains.

A large portion of the city came to be in the recent past and British-built Theodor-styled comfy mansions rise above the station to Observatory hills. It is topped with the summer residence of the governor, who was appointed by the queen of British to govern the administrative tasks of the island.

It was open only to the high rank British colonial officers during British rule and it is worth taking a closer look into the mansion. The Theodor-styled mansion is mainly built out of local wood and granite stones. It was built after the design by British engineers and meant to remind his native home and impress visiting dignitaries.

After the independence in 1948, the ownership was passed to a local family and now it is converted into a luxurious hotel. The visitors are allowed to see the grandeur of the mansion and visit the Restaurant, pub, coffee lounge and teak-panelled main hall, the visitors can also visit a few rooms if unoccupied rooms are available.

There are several major attractions along the main road such as Victoria Park, Gregory Lake, a racecourse, and Golf club. Most of these places are recently restored and are now part of the major tourist attractions in Nuwara Eliya. The city draws a large number of tourists during the “Salalihini wasanthaya”, which is the main holiday season of Nuwara Eliya, which falls parallel to the school holidays on the island in April.

A large number of Colonial buildings line up along the main road between the city and the lake is converted tourist hotels due to the increasing demand for lodging due to the increasing number of holidaymakers in the city.

Sri Lanka 3-day tour with Sigiriya rock fortress, Dambulla golden temple Kandy, and Nuwara Eliya

Day 3- Sri Lanka train journey -Nuwara Eliya to Ella

The best part of the hill country train trip is from Nuwara Eliya to Ella. However, most travellers start their trip from Kandy and end in Ella. This is not an ordinary railway journey this is one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. You travel nearly seventy kilometres on the precipices, mountains and valleys from Nuwara Eliya. You cross mountain passes, it is a journey through vast tea plantations.

It is recommended to start your train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella with the earliest possible train that you can catch. The train journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella does not last more than 2 hours but you need a lot of time for the types of activities available in Ella.

The journey from Nuwara Eliya to Ella is much faster than the journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, due to the fact that it takes place on a flat surface. Ella is one of the major tourist resting areas in the mountains with a large number of foreign travellers opting to anchor in the city.

The majority of travellers choose Ella due to its calm and serene atmosphere with overwhelming natural forest cover that allows them to have a peaceful and restful holiday with plenty of nature. Ella is also the adventure playground in the mountains with a large number of places for trekking, mountain climbing, rock climbing, and caving.

What to see and do in Ella?

  • Trekking
  • Hiking
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Visiting Horton plain national park
  • Nine arch bridge

Ella is popular as the backpacker’s paradise in Ella and it is pouring with low-budget leisure travellers. However, it has been able to get the attention of travellers around the world over the last few years mainly due to its natural attractions such as mountains, patches of forests, national parks, tea plantations etc.

Visiting nine arch bridge on a Sri Lanka train trip

Visitng nine arch bridge is on the bucket list of most travellers, who visit the hill country resort of Ella. This iconic tourist attraction is very popular and your trip to Ella would not be completed if you miss it. Just a couple of kilometres away from the Ella holiday resort near the Ella railway station is the iconic nine arch bridge.

The nine-arch bridge is considered a masterpiece of colonial-era construction, however, it was masterminded by a local constructor, when the British administration failed to get iron for the construction of the bridge. The construction was completed in 1921 during the British colonial era and according to teh information it was constructed within a year.

The nine arch-bridge is 10 meters long and measures around 33 meters at its highest point. The architecture of the nine-arch bridge is unique and British engineers did not believe that it was strong enough to hold the weight of the train. The entire construction was carried out by local constructors under the leadership of a constructor called Appuhami. Building a bridge was a requirement of the British forces. However, they wanted to build a bridge of metal to guarantee its strength but it was not easy to procure metal for the construction of the bridge due to the scarcity of metal in the world, it was just after the
aftermath of WW1. A local constructor namely Appuhamy came forward at this instance and said he could build the bridge with stones and cement, however, the British administrators were a bit sceptical at the beginning about the strength of the bridge, British engineers were not very familiar with using concrete for this type of constructions.

according to the information Appuhamy with help of his colleagues built the bridge within a year. However, the British administrators were sceptical about the strength of the structure and refused to send the train over teh bridge. However, Appuhamy managed to convince teh Britishers about its strength and at last, the train was able to make a safe journey over the bridge. Today, many hundred years later since the construction of the nine arch bridge. The bridge still stands proudly between 2 mountains and makes a safe passage for dozens of trains daily to cross the valley.

Day 4- Sri Lanka train journey -Ella to Colombo

The journey from Ella to Colombo takes place on the winding road in an air-conditioned vehicle, before boarding the flight back to your home country. Most travellers say that this train journey is very enjoyable and surprisingly relaxed. The tour is pre-planned by the serendipity tours and everything is sorted out on behalf of the travellers, making it more relaxed and taking away most of the strain.

Sri Lanka is upgrading its infrastructure to accelerate economic development and improving the railway track is part of the plan, under the new development plan, the government is planning to build a much faster railway track on the island, in this context it may be that one day those speed train will arrive in Sri Lanka. However, it is these slow trains that make the journey between Nuwara Eliya and Kandy attractive and let’s hope this railway remains the same in the future.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.