.Train routes throughout Sri Lanka look like they were designed by some dreamer soul with a vision of fairy tale travel through the magical sceneries, from beach through the jungle up to the mountains and tea plantations…or it’s just the whole island that is simply magical in all it’s beauty. It’s up to each one`s interpretation. In any case, Sri Lanka by train should definitely be your next big plan, and we will further explain why.
Contents hide1 Traveling by train is almost always fun especially if it runs through the beautiful landscapes in a nice sunny day.2 Well, trains and train routes in Sri Lanka are special. COASTAL LINE is a major railway line in Sri Lanka, running between Colombo and Matara.4 Galle is the biggest city in the region so you can do plenty of activities there as well: you can visit the fortress and old part of the town, see some of the impressive temples and try some delicious Sri Lankan food in some of the local restaurants.5 Yes, Sri Lanka has it all. Beautiful wavy beaches and fresh mountain air up north with the tea plantations covering hills.6 Safari tours are offered and they are organized usually by the accommodation owners. You can almost always book it all together.7 Ella is a beautiful little mountain town ideal for hiking and long walks through the famous Sri Lankan tea plantations.9 If you take early morning train from Ella to Kandy, you will enjoy fresh mountain breeze and spectacular view of the awakening mountains. The foggy hilltops in the background are an extra.10 Sri Lanka is one of the truly wonderful places on Earth. Offering so much with so little effort, natural, modest, simple and yet so overwhelming and fulfilling… a lot to be proud of having such a beautiful land raising from the ocean.
Traveling by train is almost always fun especially if it runs through the beautiful landscapes in a nice sunny day.
In Sri Lanka most of the days are sunny so all you need is a train ticket that will, by the way, cost certainly not enough to cover all the unforgettable moments that you are about to experience.
Assuming that you start your Sri Lanka trip from the capital, after getting to know it a bit, a good idea is to head south all the way down the coastline. You don’t need particular preparation, just some mental visualisation of what might sound like a simple, ordinary train ride.
Well, trains and train routes in Sri Lanka are special. COASTAL LINE is a major railway line in Sri Lanka, running between Colombo and Matara.
Leaving the busy capital the train turns south towards beautiful sandy beaches and warmer sun running all along the coastline offering you a wonderful sceneries along the way.
The scenery is almost surreal so you will find yourself in one of those moments when you are unsure if the things are actually happening out of your head or it`s just your very vivid imagination.
Some of the nice beach towns to keep in mind are Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Mirissa.
The train runs several times per day so you can easily travel from one beach town to another. They are all wonderful and you will find a lot of fun – fancy beach in Bentota, coral reef in Hikkaduwa beach, hit of western party atmosphere in Mirissa, whale watching boat trips and, if you are lucky enough, you will meet some turtles while swimming around in any of these places.
Another beautiful city worth a visit is Galle with it`s Dutch fort, lighthouse and beautiful coastline.
Galle is the biggest city in the region so you can do plenty of activities there as well: you can visit the fortress and old part of the town, see some of the impressive temples and try some delicious Sri Lankan food in some of the local restaurants.
Distance between all this towns is short and you can easily travel from one to another by train and get to know them all.
We highly recommend taking early morning train from Colombo with a 2nd or 3rd class ticket. Why not 1st class? Well, not because it is so expensive (it is not) but for some other, more romantic reasons.
1st class has air-conditioning. In case this is not a mandatory condition for you – go for the 2nd or 3rd class. 1st class will make you unable to feel that warm blowing salty air that will be touching your face. If you would lean yourself through the 3rd class window you don´t want to miss that experience, trust me!
After some days, weeks or months of exploring the southern Sri Lanka, nice way to get to know the rest of the island`s railway routes is going from the beaches up to the mountains.
Yes, Sri Lanka has it all. Beautiful wavy beaches and fresh mountain air up north with the tea plantations covering hills.
Nice point between the sea and the mountain is Uwadalawe National Park where is possible to see elephants and some other animals in their natural habitat.
It is not possible to just go to the park by yourself. It is because some dangerous animals live there in absolute freedom.
Safari tours are offered and they are organized usually by the accommodation owners. You can almost always book it all together.
Arriving to Uwadalawe is not possible by train, but this short distance can be easily reached by car or bus, even tuk-tuk.
Moving more up to another interesting town called Ella is easily achievable the same way – bus/tuk-tuk or taxi and, from there, you can continue your amazing journey through Sri Lanka by train.
Ella is a beautiful little mountain town ideal for hiking and long walks through the famous Sri Lankan tea plantations.
In Ella you can do some of the trekking routes, see waterfalls and caves, get yourself lost in the forest and meet some monkeys. The town belong to the monkeys. They are all around, but they are well behaved. For sure they will not disturb you (unless they see you with banana).
From Ella runs another amazing railway route to the city called Kandy.
Route Ella-Kandy is ONE OF THE MOST SCENIC TRAIN RIDES IN THE WORLD.
The train goes up north from Ella reaching highs of the Sri Lankan mountains. The train is moving slowly, just so you can have enough time to enjoy the view of the beautiful landscapes.
Running high on the curvy railway, the train passes through the hills of tea plantations where you can see Sri Lankan woman in colorful sarees picking tea leaves – picture that you could only possibly see in some film.
If you take early morning train from Ella to Kandy, you will enjoy fresh mountain breeze and spectacular view of the awakening mountains. The foggy hilltops in the background are an extra.
3rd class is a top choice again since the windows position is better. It’s like you have bigger screen for watching these spectacular images passing right before your eyes.
The ride Ella – Kandy lasts around 6 hours. Although seems like a lot, the ride is really amazing. Giving you breathtaking views all along and enough time for all the photos you want to take.
Passing through the places so unique, natural and unspoiled will make you think maybe…about life, nature… or about some other important life topics. Or maybe you will just be making selfies. In any case, none of these will be waste of time.
The ride is long enough to give you the luxury to get lost in your own thoughts and contemplations. Maybe to master taking photos out of the moving object. Any of these is good.
Taking off the train in Kandy will bring you back to reality so you can evaluate, reflect, make conclusions and, if nothing, you will have so much to tell once you are back.
The city of Kandy has another interesting things to offer to a visitor – Sri-Lankan most significant Buddhist temple – Temple of the Sacred Tooth relic, several other important Buddhist temples, museums, beautiful lake, food market…
From Kandy, you can decide to take the train back to Colombo or to continue your journey toward ancient towns in northern areas.
In case you are finishing your trip in the capital, then Kandy – Colombo is a logical choice. Once again, the ride will be scenic and fun. Definitely the best way to finish your expedition through Sri Lanka by train.
In any case, wherever you travel in Sri Lanka, always go by train. You will, for sure, enjoy a real fantasy ride.
For the parts of the route that are not connected by the railways you can easily travel around. You can travel by bus, tuk-tuk or a taxi. No need for any planning – easy going locals will offer you the alternative ways to arrive to your destination. This is useful for cities such as Coastal towns -Uwadalawe – Ella – Ancient towns.
Sri Lankan people are generally friendly and they will almost always be happy to help you. Even before you ask, they will approach and offer you a ride in their tuk-tuk or a car.
Busses in Sri Lanka are also definitely something you should try – they are colorful, with funny interior design and really loud music. Not to mention that drivers of the buses in Sri Lanka are also special in their own way – they drive fast & furious (it’s scary and funny at the same time), they play their favorite music really loud and they decorate the bus as per their own taste.
Sri Lanka is one of the truly wonderful places on Earth. Offering so much with so little effort, natural, modest, simple and yet so overwhelming and fulfilling… a lot to be proud of having such a beautiful land raising from the ocean.
Do not miss discovering Sri Lanka by train!
⇣⇣⇣⇣IF YOU LIKE IT, PIN IT⇣⇣⇣⇣
28 thoughts on “SRI LANKA BY TRAIN”
I would love to take this train and feel the sea breeze blowing on my face. I have never thought of Sri Lanka this way but it sounds fantastic! I would also like to see the workers picking tea leaves.
We are happy to hear that you enjoy reading. It seems that you like it as much as we like writing about it.
Thanks a lot!
I love travelling by train and this looks like a fabulous way to explore Sri Lanka. So much to see! That is a great tip to travel 2nd or 3rd class rather than 1st class. I would never have thought of that, but following your explanation, I understand why completely.
Thanks for reading Jane. We highly enjoy traveling in Sri-Lanka is such a great place to do many things!
Train certainly seems the way to see this beautiful country. Though I’m not sure about the buses. The scary drivers is a little off putting.
Thanks for reading John!. The buses are hardcore, normal driving rules and speed limits seens to not apply there 😂😂😂
Train rides in Sri Lanka sound like an incredible adventure! I’m sure the landscape is breathtaking. I can just imagine spotting people working in the plantations or a goat farmer watching over his flock near the tracks. The coastal beach towns sound heavenly as well. Train travel is one of my favorite ways to travel!
We also love traveling by train. Although the landscapes are still great, the trains here in Europe are very modern. The ones in SriLanka can transport you to another time, is magical. And the views are fantastic, we love everything about this country and we highly recommend it.
Thanks a lot for reading and commenting. We appreciate it.
Taking notes. We’re hoping to make it to Sri Lanka next year (all being well with the world). Did you need to book tickets in advance, or could you just rock up to the station and get them?
Hi Ellie! Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. Buying the tickets was challenging. Most of the time you have to buy on the spot. No prebooking.Thats part of the adventure, not so funny sometimes.
Wow what an adventure! I think that seeing Sri Lanka by train would be an incredible experience. I’d love love love to visit one day!
Thanks for reading Lisa!. Indeed was a fantastic adventure travelling around SriLanka. I killed a drone too…that was not fantastic, very sad day. The rest was really good, I hope you can make it there soon.
I love travelling by train so would definitely enjoy seeing Sri Lanka by train. Might be tempted to go First Class though, being such a princess. I’m going to put Uwadalawe National Park on my list too as it would be incredible to see elephants in the wild.
Hi Wendy! Thanks fir reading dear friend. The park was fantastic. We saw lot of cute animals, baby elephants, alligators (not that cute), chameleons (Boy George come to my head). Lots of fun, you will enjoy, although in Australia you have also a lot of wildlife. Many things can kill you in Australia for what I read from snakes and spiders to octopus and alligators. Did you have such experience with some wild animal in Australia?
Sounds like the perfect way to visit these beautiful places! I’m a bit of a train buff so I’d like to know more about the trains themselves. What are the carriages like – old or modern? Are they hauled by diesel or steam locomotives – the line doesn’t look like it’s electrified so I assume it’s one or the other 🙂
Hi Carole. Thanks a lot for taking the time for reading our post. All through our trip the carriages were old. Regarding the diesel and steam we were in both types. What I didnt saw as you mention was electric lines. Thats way too modern -electric trains I mean. i hope this helps. If you want I can look for some other photos of the trains and send them to you 😁. If you want, send us an email.
I can see why you like seeing Sri Lanka by train! It’s so beautiful and with such diverse landscapes from beaches, lush jungles, to the mountains and tea plantations. I’d definitely want to take this train route one day!
Hi Vanessa, thanks a lot for taking the time to read the post. The train in Srilanka is fantastic because is design perfectly. You can make most of the costline by train visiting the major touristic points. Moreover you cann even reach the inside of the island and the mountains. Is just brilliant!. Not to mention tickets are SUPER CHEAP.
What a great trip guys what an experience you had. Had the chance to go to Sri Lanka years ago and never went regretted it ever since
Indeed dear friends is a fantastic place. It was also the graveyard of my first drone. 😂😂😂. Thanks as always for reading, is much appreciated.
Great post. Would love to do a few of those train rides. Sounds like solid advice (even though unexpected) to avoid 1st class.
Thanks for reading as always Stefan!. As I was telling to Carina before, the bad side of 3rd class is that there is no a/c so you might sweat a little for moments haahahaha.
Sri Lanka looks stunning, the trains appeal lots. Not sure it would be a good fit with the dog, however he enjoys the kennels.
Thanks a lot for reading. In think that any dog will enjoy it because there is a lot of jungle, beach and nature everywhere. I dont know if you can bring them in the train, I didnt paid attention at the moment.
Such a great post! I spent a week in Ella and that train ride there was just bouncing around for hours!! I wish I had more time and explored different places but I didn’t want to rush.
I’ll be sure to refer back to your post next time I’m there!
Thanks for the reading and the nice words. Ella has a lot of places to visit around, is a neuralgic point to visit many others. Sometimes I am very anxious and I want to see many places which many times, end up in not stay enough in some places.
I loved riding trains in Sri Lanka! I would definitely not opt for 3rd class because it was cramped and there was no way to get to a window or a door to enjoy some fresh air when we were there…
Thabks for reading Carina. Indeed you need to push a little to get your turn, thats true. Nothing is perfect you know. Bad side of 3rd is that no a/c so might as well get roasted on the trip hahaha