You will feel the flowing of cool wind through your hair and cool breeze brush your cheeks as you travel in a windows seat of this hill country train. You will feel the chilly wind more strenuously as you nearing occasional mist shrouded gloomy tunnels; as you make it higher and higher in mountains, with slow moving blue train. The breath-taking scenery are abundant on this route and travellers takes by surprise with its beauty. Towering mountains, tea plantations, cascading waterfalls, perennial water ways, vegetable plots, and patches of lush green forests offer a spell binding scenery that you never be able to see anywhere else. This is about one of the most popular train trips in Sri Lanka, which goes through the Sri Lanka’s hill country. This hill country train journey is one of the biggest tourist attractions on the island.   

What you all need to experience this rail trip is taking part in a Sri Lanka tour packages organized by a local tour operator. The Sri Lanka rail trip is usually a part of Sri Lanka tour packages such as Sri Lanka 7 days tour, Sri Lanka 5 days tour. However, there are Sri Lanka trips that are offered solely for the purpose of experiencing the Sri Lanka hill country rail journey, e.g. Sri Lanka hill country 3 days tour. This 3-day tour not only includes rail journey from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya but also most important tourist places in the Sri Lanka hill country such as tooth relic temple, royal botanical garden.

What are the popular train trips in Sri Lanka?

The train trips in Sri Lanka can be broadly categorized into five categories as below;

  • Train trips in Sri Lanka through the hill country
  • Train trips in Sri Lanka along the south and west coast
  • Train trips in Sri Lanka along the north west coast
  • Train trips in Sri Lanka to the east coast via north-central province
  • Train trips in Sri Lanka to the northern coast of Sri Lanka

How to choose the best part of the hill country train trips in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka has a well-developed rail network allowing the Sri Lankans to reach every corner of the island without any difficulty by train. The train route from Colombo to Badulla is one of the longest routes with about 219 km. This railway line was laid by British colonial rulers to transport goods from Colombo to hills country. Today a part of this rail route from Kandy to Ella has become hot tourist attraction due to the stunning scenery. However, the rest of the rail journey is not that appealing. If you intend to catch the hill country scenery it is recommended to take the train from Kandy and travel to Nuwara Eliya and Ella or vice-a -versa.   

Sri Lanka rail tours are not only a great way to save money during your Sri Lanka trip but also a very practical way to learn the life of Sri Lankan life. Some people say the dining table is the best place for the discussion, so is the train in Sri Lanka. You will encounter schoolchildren making the way to school, men and women commute to the office and many other people in the different age group …

Nature of train trips in Sri Lanka

With a wide network of the railway line, Sri Lanka rail journey offers some of the world’s best scenery…from the busy urban metropolis of Colombo to the misty/ rainy Sri Lanka’s hill country, to the endless tea gardens with green-capped mountain in the backdrop. Train is one of the most popular transport mode in t Sri Lanka, especially among the middle and lower-middle class people. Specially the hill country train as it attracts a large number of foreign travellers apart from the large number of local commuters. Despite a large concentration of commuters, travel by train is very affordable and it is convenient too. The travellers should be aware it could be difficult get a seat in the train due to the large crowd. There is only less than a 1 cm of distance between 2 person in the compartment.

Train trips in Sri Lanka in the hill country with breathtaking scenery

Most travellers are thrilled by venturing on a Sri Lanka’s hill country rail journey, which is one of the most popular rail trips on the island. Unlike most other rail journeys around the world, the upcountry lasts only around 5 hours though Sri Lanka’s breathtaking hill country. The views of the hill country rail trip are stunning and the tiny train stations you encounter along the way are lovely little examples of the English Mission style of architecture.

Train trips in Sri Lanka on the coast to see serene ocean view

For serene ocean views, nothing beat Sri Lanka’s coast; Sri Lanka rail trip along the southern and western beach, that lasts 5 hours is another popular itinerary to see the beauty of Sri Lanka’s coastal belt. Recently the rail way line was further extended on this route from Matara to Hambantota. The southern coast rail route is popular among the travellers as it allows them to reach most popular beach resorts on the island with convenience, most importantly it save lot of time apart from allowing them to experience the stunning scenery. Train journey on the coastal line is very popular among the local travellers too, mainly due to the time saving factor and affordability. Travel by train on coastal line from Galle to Colombo saves about 3 hours against the journey by bus. There are many dozens of trains plying on this route from Colombo to southern coast and vice-a-versa, however, the most number of trains can be seen in the morning and evening to cater to the office crowd and school children.

Sri Lanka rail tours: reliability and cleanliness

Most train passengers of Sri Lanka do not praise the reliability and cleanliness, however, the beautiful scenery makes up what is a lack of reliability and cleanliness. Therefore, knowing the shortcoming of the rail trip, travellers are not reluctant to take their share of the beautiful train trip. Sri Lanka rail trip will have a mix experience, chaotic and wonderful.

Why foreigners love Sri Lanka rail trips

There is a large number of travellers, especially foreign travellers that love train travels in Sri Lanka because the train journey is one of the best ways of discovering the natural beauty of Sri Lanka. Most foreign travellers praise the beautiful scenery on Sri Lankan rail journeys. Especially those on the upcountry railway line. The rail journey along the beach can be monotonous some times, due to the never ending coastal scenery, but the hill country train journey offers range of picture-perfect scenery in every second of the trip.

Choose the best class for the best train journey

Train travel Sri Lanka is always adventurous, and if you have the correct class, it is a comfortable train journey as well as an unforgettable experience, as it allows you to see the breathtaking scenery across the tea gardens, vegetable gardens, patches of forest, rivers, Ocean, cascading waterfalls and green-capped mountains.

Sri Lanka rail tours: an opportunity to get to know the local people

After all, travelling by train in Sri Lanka is a perfect opportunity to mingle with the general public and have a nice, friendly chat with the local people. If you are a kind of person, who enjoys travelling in trains during Sri Lanka trip, then you must try train travel in Sri Lanka.

Train travel Sri Lanka is not only a great way to save money during your Sri Lanka trip but also a very practical way to learn the life of Sri Lankans. Some people say the dining table is the best place for the discussion, so is the train in Sri Lanka. You will encounter schoolchildren making the way to school, men and women commute to the office and many other people in the different age group. This is a great way to learn the life of average Sri Lankans and train travel in Sri Lanka open your holiday to a whole range of new experiences.

Sri Lanka rail tours: online booking

You may find it a daunting task to book a fully-confirmed train ticket as a newcomer. But, thanks to the new automated Sri Lanka railway online booking system, it has become considerably easier during the last several years.

Unlike in most other countries, it is not difficult to find the correct route to your destination. And it is easy to make a sense of Scheduling of trains and availability of seats through the Sri Lanka railway online booking system. What you all need a valid passport and credit card to make the payment.

Sri Lanka 4 days rail tour

  • Highlights- Kandy, Temple of the tooth relic, Royal botanical garden, Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon tea trails, Elle, Hiking
  • Duration-4 Days
    Places- Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Elle
  • Start/End-Colombo
  • Transport-Private vehicle and train
  • Accommodation 3-star hotel
  • Meals-Breakfast and Dinner
Special Price US$ 490, save $60, Regular Price US$650

Origin of Sri Lanka rail

Origin of Sri Lanka rail is going back to the first half of the 1800s. It was initiated by the British colonial rulers as a convenient method of transporting goods between Colombo and the mountains. Today, Sri Lanka railway is considerably developed and serves the country as a leading method of transporting goods and passengers.

It has become one of the best transport mode with luxury, value for money and time-saving. The modern trains are designed to provide more comfort for the commuters. Especially the trains, which are on the long distant journeys, provide the best comfort and services. Train travel in Sri Lanka would definitely create some of the beautiful memories of your Sri Lanka tour.

Sri Lanka’s railway system may not as popular as most other transport modes on the island but it is very affordable, enjoyable and convenient if you use it in the right manner.

Originated during the British rule in Sri Lanka (early 18’s), Sri Lanka’s railway network grown to be around 1560km covering a large part of the country. Around 4 million people are benefited from the railway system of Sri Lanka. 

Sri Lanka trains are most popular among the office workers and daily a large number of trains are scheduled to transport office workers and schoolchildren. More than 396 trains are in operation it provides the service approximately to about 4 million passengers. Trains are available on 67 long-distance journeys. The entire railway track of Sri Lanka is around 1560 km long and managed by Sri Lanka Railway department.

Choosing the destinations for Sri Lanka rail tours

Being an island Sri Lankan rail network is not as large and complex as most countries in the world. There are four major train routes on the island and all of them start in Colombo. Railway lines that go to southern Sri Lanka and Northern Sri Lanka along the coastal belt are the busiest train routes in Sri Lanka.

Trains are very frequent on those routes and mostly used by the local office crowd. Railway track that goes to the central mountain range and North-East direction are the two other major railway tracks but train with less frequency.

For most travellers, train travel in Sri Lanka is most enjoyable, when it goes in the direction of the central mountain range. Train travel in Sri Lanka along the beaches can also be interesting but a variation of beautiful scenery is very limited along the coastal belt.

What are the 5 most popular Sri Lanka rail tours?

Choosing the proper train for your Sri Lanka rail tours

The commuters often tell that the trains of Sri Lanka’s predilection for delays, in some cases late for hours!- it all testify to its efficiency and wonder. Choosing the correct trains for your train travel in Sri Lanka is critical to have enjoyable train trips in Sri Lanka.

The trains of Sri Lanka can be categorized into several categories. Express trains, known as the intercity train or mail trains, available on long-haul destinations and connect most major cities. It has cars for all 3 classes of seats (1st class, 2nd class and 3rd class).

These express trains provide a compartment with air-conditioning and observation compartment too. Normal trains or slow trains take you to most places with frequent stops along the way. They have 3rd class cars while few of them have 2nds class cars as well.

Whatever the train you choose, you can have an interesting exchange with local travellers and you have the opportunity to try the local food on the railway platforms during your train trip in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka express train Vs regular train

On the express trains, the vendors are marching from carriage to carriage with short eats and drinks during the journey. If you go to a faraway destination take an express train, that definitely save you a lot of time. In the Sri Lankan train, there are three classes, first-class, second class and third class.

First-class train for a luxurious Sri Lanka trail journey

First-class is the most comfortable with Ac, Wi-Fi and comfortable seats and available on long distant tracks. Due to the high demand for first-class tickets, it is advisable to book those tickets several weeks before the journey.

If you want to buy tickets on the day of the Sri Lanka train trip, it will be subjected to availability, especially the availability of seats. Usually, you need to have a prior reservation for second class and first-class carriages. Third class tickets are the cheapest and can be obtained without a prior reservation.

Usually, express trains on the long-range trips, have 2nd class and 3rd class compartments. The 2nd class compartment is less crowded than the 3rd class compartment. 2nd class compartments are more comfortable than the 3rd class compartment with luxurious and spacious seats.

The reclining seats are more spacious than the seats of the 3rd class compartments. As far as rates are concerned 2nd class tickets are 2 times the rate of the 3rd class tickets. Some of the trains even have the 1st class compartment with air-conditioning. Prior reservation of seats required for the 1st and 2nd class tickets.

Sri Lanka rail tours: Wait list

When you make a booking in Sri Lanka for a train trip, there is no wait list similar to India. If the seats are not available your request is declined or offered some other options. The booking can be done via the online system or through mobile phones. If you can drop into the major railway station like Colombo, Kandy, you are able to reserve the seats through the ticket counter.

Always bring your own toilet paper on Sri Lanka rail tours

Common toilet in trains usually in the European style but they do not have toilet papers. often they dirty due to the lack of attention from the cleaners, so bring hand sanitizer. if you travel by air-conditioned compartment, the cleanliness is very high and the toilets are also in very good shape.

Sri Lanka rail tours from Colombo to Badulla

The train journey between Colombo and Badulla can be described as the most scenic Sri Lanka train journey available for travellers. Travellers are able to have an awe-inspiring train journey with “Udarata Menike” Express train on this route. The train goes through the valleys, mountain slopes and along with the jagged rock faces.

Usually, most foreign travellers take part in this rain journey. The railway track from Kandy to Ella is considered being the most scenic part of the trip. The trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and Ella and Vice-a-versa takes around 3 hours. This 2 hours train journey is a part of most Sri Lanka road trips.

The train trip also can be booked as a one day trip from Colombo or 2 days Sri Lank tour from Colombo with Kandy city tours and other important tourist places.

The train crosses the Mahaweli Ganga and many other leading rivers, you will trace the beautiful waterfalls arises due to the windswept plateaus of the mountains. Be prepared to experience the lowest temperature in the country at the highest elevated region of Sri Lanka.

Thanks to the engineers in the past, this Sri Lanka train journey goes across the most difficult terrain in the country, it winds through the mountains, and sometimes the train is penetrating the mountain through the tunnels.

If you travel in the direction of Badulla, the latter half of the journey is full of mountains and the train is straight up on the steep mountains.  This is the most picturesque part of the journey and steepest railway line.

You can have a glimpse of the misty hills and unique landscape dominated by mountains and escapement. They are covered with tea plantations, vegetable gardens and patches of forests; looks like the mountains are concealed by a green blanket.

You will see the Horton plains national park when the train rolls through the Pattipola Railway station. Pattipola is the highest elevated station in the country, which is more than 1800 meters above sea level. Take time and enjoy the healing climate of the health resorts of Bandarawela and Nuwara Eliya. If you love to have some adventure holidays, Ella is the destination for you. The railway track ends in Badulla, which is another popular holiday destination among local people of Sri Lanka.

Train schedule Sri Lanka to Badulla from Colombo. Badulla is the last railway station on the upcountry railway track. all these trains are stopping at Kandy, Ella, Nanuoya and most other railway station along the way.

Train Travel Sri Lanka-useful link – Sri Lanka railway train schedule

Train travel Sri Lanka schedule from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya and Ella

Your Station Arrival Time Departure Time Destination / Time End Station / Time Frequency Name Type
COLOMBO FORT 05:55:00 05:55:00 BADULLA   16:06:00 BADULLA   16:06:00 DAILY Podi Menike EXPRESS TRAIN
Available Classes: 1st Class ,  2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at BADULLA at 16:06:00 Train No:  1005

COLOMBO FORT 08:30:00 08:30:00 BADULLA   18:22:00 BADULLA   18:22:00 DAILY Udarata Menike EXPRESS TRAIN
Available Classes: 1st Class ,  2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at BADULLA at 18:22:00 Train No:  1015

COLOMBO FORT 09:45:00 09:45:00 BADULLA   19:17:00 BADULLA   19:17:00 DAILY 1007 EXPRESS TRAIN
Available Classes: 1st Class ,  2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at BADULLA at 19:17:00 Train No:  1007

COLOMBO FORT 20:00:00 20:00:00 BADULLA   07:10:00 BADULLA   07:10:00 DAILY Night Mail Night Mail Train
Available Classes: 1st Class ,  2nd Class, 3rd Class The train ends at BADULLA at 07:10:00 Train No:  1045

Train travel Sri Lanka  prices from Colombo to Badulla

Class Name Price (Rs.)
2nd Class 450.00
3rd Class 285.00
Total Distance:  294.293 km

The most beautiful rail journey in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s upcountry also known as Sri Lanka’s tea country is home to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring scenery, and the upcountry train offers travellers the opportunity to experience the vast landscape with pure luxury. Cutting a path directly through Sri Lanka’s tea country – the upcountry train trip covers the distance of 76 km from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya. With its mountain scenery and sprawling tea country, Sri Lanka is one of the most popular destinations for its train-side scenery.

It takes passengers from the lush, tropical botanical garden of Peradeniya via the Ramboda pass and onto the fertile plains of Nuwara Eliya. A trip on this route also features off-train excursions, including a leisurely boat tour of Gregory Lake and a trip to the Horton plains national park.

Sri Lanka rail tours: Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

Travelling from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and Ella is in the bucket list of most travellers because it is one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world. Usually, we include this Sri Lanka upcountry rail trip to most Sri Lanka multi-day tour packages.

However, the demand for this rail journey is very high and therefore it is very difficult to get seats, especially it is very difficult to get a seat on the 2nd and 1st class compartments. It is recommended to pre-book your seats 3 months ahead of the trip in order to secure your seats.

Travelling on a blue train that that move up the mountain from Kandy to Ella and Nuwara Eliya, through the misty mountain is an experience to behold.

Take a glimpse into breathtaking upcountry with Sri Lanka rail tour

Breathtaking scenery is abundance on this route, as the training perch many thousand meters above the surrounding area on the mountain’s slopes. A large number of tourists standing by the door and feel the chilly wind in their hair, and respond the waving kids as they cross the sleepy villages while witnessing the briskly moving colourfully clad tea puckers in the tea gardens.

The train winding along rolling hills hidden in the lush green vegetation, interspersed with small streams, cascading waterfalls, mountain tunnels, tea plantations and vast green valleys- one of the most scenic rail trips on the world.

There are many train trips daily from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya and Ella, however, the train scheduled to start at 08.45 am from Kandy is the most popular among the foreign travellers, which is the best time to enjoy the breathtaking scenery as the mist evaporates in the mountains due to the rising sun.

The clouds invade the entire regions again towards the late evening as the sun reduces its heat means the train trip can be less attractive if you get into the evening train. The upwards rail trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya can take between 4 to 6 hours.

The new luxury train travel Sri Lanka between Ella and Kandy from 2018

A new luxury train is added to the fleet from March 2018 targeting leisure travellers in Sri Lanka. These 2 luxury trains are scheduled to ply between Kandy and Ella in the mountains. The railway track between Kandy and Ella is considered to be the track for the most scenic rail journey in Sri Lanka and there is a huge demand for this rail journey.

The trains will be available during the weekends. Each train has 4 compartments providing rooms for 264 passengers on the train. The ticket cost 1250Rs (USD 8 Approximately) from Ella to Kandy and the cost of the ticket from Kandy to Nanuoya (Nuwara Eliya) is 1000Rs (USD 6 Approximately).

Sri Lanka rail tours from Colombo to Galle

This certainly a beautiful scenic route west coast and the southern coast of Sri Lanka: the train, “Ruhunu Kumari “rolls along the borders of the Indian Ocean giving you the flashes of coastline.

Take a look at the beautiful geographical formations along the coastal best such as coves, bays, sand dunes, and rock formations. enjoy the gentle breeze coming from the ocean. 

You also have the opportunity to see the calm, serene countryside of the west and southern coast. Enjoy the low country vegetation. The isolated mountains that are formed by the geographical upheaval of the earth also make beautiful scenery along the way.

The train is the best way to travel between Colombo and Galle, which is hassle-free, convenient, saves time and cheap. There are a large number of trains ply between two cities daily and provides service for thousands of commuters.

Most trains available in the early hours and in the afternoon owing to the high demand. Most trains have 2 categories of compartments 3rd class compartment and 2nd class compartment. The journey lasts around 3 hours between Colombo and Galle with an express train. But the journey with a normal train might take as much as 5 hours.

Train travel Sri Lanka schedule from Colombo to Galle and Matara southern Sri Lanka

Your Station Arrival Time Departure Time Destination / Time End Station / Time Frequency Name Type
COLOMBO FORT 06:35:00 06:55:00 MATARA   10:42:00 GALLE   09:19:00 DAILY   EXPRESS TRAIN
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at MATARA at 10:42:00 Train No:  8050

COLOMBO FORT 08:17:00 08:35:00 MATARA   11:50:00 GALLE   10:49:00 DAILY   EXPRESS TRAIN
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at MATARA at 11:50:00 Train No:  8040

COLOMBO FORT 10:20:00 10:30:00 MATARA   13:47:00 GALLE   12:42:00 DAILY Rajarata Rajini COLOMBO COMMUTER
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at MATARA at 13:47:00 Train No:  8086

COLOMBO FORT 14:19:00 14:25:00 MATARA   17:48:00 GALLE   16:33:00 DAILY Galu Kumari COLOMBO COMMUTER
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at MATARA at 17:48:00 Train No:  8056

Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at MATARA at 18:20:00 Train No:  8058

COLOMBO FORT 16:44:00 16:46:00 MATARA   19:35:00 GALLE   18:45:00 NS,NSU SAGARIKA LONG DISTANCE
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at MATARA at 19:35:00 Train No:  8096

COLOMBO FORT 17:29:00 17:30:00 GALLE   20:10:00 GALLE   20:10:00 NS,NSU SAMUDRA DEVI LONG DISTANCE
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at GALLE at 20:10:00 Train No:  8760

COLOMBO FORT 17:34:00 17:35:00 GALLE   21:13:00 GALLE   21:13:00 NS,NSU   COLOMBO COMMUTER
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at GALLE at 21:13:00 Train No:  8764

COLOMBO FORT 17:55:00 18:05:00 MATARA   21:38:00 GALLE   20:28:00 NS,NSU   EXPRESS TRAIN
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at MATARA at 21:38:00 Train No:  8766

COLOMBO FORT 18:50:00 19:30:00 GALLE   22:58:00 GALLE   22:58:00 DAILY Night Mail Night Mail Train
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at GALLE at 22:58:00 Train No:  8775

Train travel Sri Lanka prices from Colombo to Galle

Class Name Price (Rs.)
2nd Class 180.00
3rd Class 100.00
Total Distance:  111.78 km

Sri Lanka rail tours from Colombo to North Sri Lanka

This is the most controversial railway track for a Sri Lanka rail journey. A great portion of the track was abandoned during the last 30 years, due to the civil war. Today this scenic Sri Lanka train journey is a very safe way to travel to the north of Sri Lanka and people are using the trains more often than other forms of transport such as land and air transportation.

The train track goes through the picturesque countryside, which is dominated by coconut plantations and paddy fields. Isolated forest patches make beautiful scenery along the way. The train starts in Colombo and roll into the interior of the country.  The train, which popularly known as “Yal Devi Express” takes you to the northern direction. Enjoy the fascinating wildlife of Habarana forest. You will be greeted by a large number of wild elephants as you travel through the reserve.

Train travel Sri Lanka schedule from Colombo to Jaffna

Your Station Arrival Time Departure Time Destination / Time End Station / Time Frequency Name Type
Available Classes: 1st Class ,  2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at KANKESANTHURAI at 12:17:00 Train No:  4021

Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at KANKESANTHURAI at 15:20:00 Train No:  4077

COLOMBO FORT 11:50:00 11:50:00 KANKESANTHURAI   18:47:00 JAFFNA   18:15:00 DAILY uttara devi A.C. – INTERCITY
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at KANKESANTHURAI at 18:47:00 Train No:  4017

COLOMBO FORT 13:45:00 14:00:00 JAFFNA   00:32:00 JAFFNA   00:32:00 04/05/2018 Pirith Special Special
Available Classes: 2nd Class ,  3rd Class Train ends at JAFFNA at 00:32:00 Train No:  4000

COLOMBO FORT 20:30:00 20:30:00 KANKESANTHURAI   06:05:00 JAFFNA   05:10:00 DAILY Night Mail Train Night Mail Train
Available Classes: 2nd Class, 3rd Class Train ends at KANKESANTHURAI at 06:05:00 Train No:  4089

Train travel Sri Lanka ticket prices from Colombo to Jaffna

Class Name Price (Rs.)
2nd Class 540.00
3rd Class 335.00
Total Distance:  397.8 km


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