The Prettiest Train Rides in Sri Lanka

with 41 Comments

I absolutely adore taking the train when traveling abroad! I enjoy sitting side by side with locals often striking up a conversation and sometimes even sharing snacks. I enjoy hearing the crick-cracking of rusty wagons and the chugging of wheels on steal rails. I revel in staring out the windows to take in the ever-changing scenery. I’m curious to see what ambulant vendors will sell at the next stop.

Train rides are rarely boring if not for the pure joy of infusing a bit of nostalgia.




But the prettiest train rides I’ve ever taken thus far were in Sri Lanka – more specifically through the tea plantations that were in full bloom during the wet season. We took two such train rides: one from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya (Nanu Oya Station) and the other from Dalhousie (Hatton Station) to Ella. Both offered equally stunning landscapes slowly passing through villages clothed in a dramatic mist, snaking along sleepy rivers and crossing highlands overlooking pretty valleys.

The more modern trains in Sri Lanka, painted a bright shade of blue contrasting vividly against the green vegetation, are sufficiently comfortable and rarely crowded. The ticket prices are extremely low allowing even budget-minded travelers to regal in first class if they so wish. But we found 2nd and 3rd class (reserved) seats to be more than adequate for these two short rides of just a few hours each.




The most fun part about riding on trains in Sri Lanka is that they move at incredibly low speed allowing passengers to sit or stand on the stairs of the open doorways enjoying the views and taking in the fresh breeze. Just make sure to tuck yourself in before passing through a narrow tunnel (of which there are many)!

And so I leave you with these images of sheer, natural beauty to awaken or further ignite your wanderlust (and to possibly stir up some dreamy nostalgia).






















I just love these old train schedules!


Read all about my travels to Sri Lanka



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  • I have seen pictures of people hanging out of these types of trains before. I didnt realise this was possible because they were so slow. The landscape is incredible!

  • Bistra Yakimova

    Looks like riding the train in Sri Lanka is the top experience! I would love to do the same ride one day! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Erin

    Looks so beautiful! The only trains I frequent are from New Jersey to New York City… not nearly as picture-esque!


      Haha… tea plantations on that route! πŸ˜‰

  • Tabassum Ahmed

    I have always wanted to visit Sri Lanka, mostly because it is where my favorite architect has done most of his works. But more I learn about this country, more magical this seems. If train journeys are this picturesque, I wonder what the country has in store to see. I just want to pack my bags and GO!


      Sri Lanka has so much more to offer from beaches to jungles – I’m sure you would love it! Who’s your favorite architect?

  • Sandy & Vyjay

    Train travel is a great way to get to know the locals and their culture. We have just been on a flying visit to Colombo and would love to get to Sri Lanka to spend some leisurely time. I have heard about some of the spectacular and scenic train journeys in Sri Lanka.

  • Coleman Concierge

    I absolutely love trains, I remember growing up riding the ski-train from Denver to Winter Park, good times! Sounds like I need to jump on a train when I visit Sri Lanka!


      Taking the train through the tea plantations in Sri Lanka is a must! πŸ™‚

  • Cat Lin

    wow the train ride took you through many beautiful parts of the country! I’d love to experience this when i visit! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  • OMG! If that’s the view you have when riding Sri Lanka’s trains, then I’d love to live there haha! Thanks for sharing this amazing experience! πŸ™‚ Now it’s on my pending list!


      Haha……Sri Lanka is a beautiful country! I hope you go one day! πŸ™‚

  • Katie

    I too love taking trains when I travel! It is a great way to see what everyday life looks like for those living near the tracks. Lovely pictures!

  • Carol

    I love, love, love all the greenery! Such a refreshing sight!

  • Neha Verma

    I have heard so many good things about train rides in Sri Lanka. And your post just reconfirms how scenic it is, will definitely like to take one when I go there, particularly the one from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya

  • Polly Grice

    That scenery is amazing! I hadn’t really thought of Sri Lanka as a particularly train-y nation but I love your pictures! I love travelling by train too – had a brilliant ride once in Cuba

  • WanguionTravel

    The trains move through such beautiful scenery…..the photos are lovely….Looks like you had loads of fun…Sri Lanka is a must visit

  • Wow the tree with the orange buds or was that fruit or something looked amazing. It just stood out from the rest of the background great capture.

  • Alexandra

    Wow, the pictures really are dreamy! The blue train against the greenery is absolutely gorgeous. I also love train rides, and I’m always so happy when it’s affordable! What was the price mark for Sri Lankan trains?


      If I remember correctly the price for the longest train ride (about 3 hours) was under $2 – very affordable!

  • KimmConn

    WOW! What gorgeous scenery to ride the train through, and i love that you can hang out the window/door. I think my most beautiful train ride was through austria!

  • I love Sri Lanka, such an amazing country. I think the food is my favourite around the world. The trains make it so easy to travel around too and super fun πŸ™‚ great read πŸ™‚

  • Natalie Tanner

    That dog on the train platform – if you cropped it – right out of a postcard! Love!! I had no idea that the train went so slow. How interesting. I have a feeling it would take some time to get used to the pace. We are so used to a hurried pace…would love to slow down and enjoy the scenery. We love trains, too. Everyone gets to relax and enjoy the view!

  • This sounds so lovely, trains and Sri Lanka. I would love to ride trains there one day. Sounds like a fun way to experience local life and your photos are incredible. Thanks for sharing you experiences!


    We took the train from Colombo to Anuradhapura. I always enjoy train rides but the scenery wasn’t as nice. The train rides in the tea plantation region are really the most scenic. Enjoy Sri Lanka – it’s a wonderful country!

  • Ivy

    What gorgeous pictures! I’ve been reading about Sri Lanka a lot lately and the more I do, the more I want to visit! I thought seating arrangement wouldn’t be very comfortable but it doesn’t look bad at all- looks pretty safe too! Glad you enjoy this train ride πŸ™‚


      I think first class has upholstered seating but these seats were fine for the short train rides. Sri Lanka is a wonderful country – book your ticket now! πŸ˜‰

  • I have to admit that when I think of epic train journeys Sri Lanka does not immediately come to mind. I’m generally not a lover of a slow moving train as I like to get there as soon as possible but I take your point that it does allow you to enjoy the sorroundings more. You managed to capture some great pics that I’m sure wouldn’t have been possible had you been going faster.


      In this case the train ride is a destination in itself! πŸ™‚

  • Rashmi & Chalukya

    Srilanka is high on our list and train travels are our favorite. Srilanka has abundance of greenery. We didn’t know we could do train rides in Srilanka through the sprawling plantations. It looks like an amazing experience. Bookmarking this post and we would surely include this in our itinerary when we plan a trip. Thanks!


      Yay – so glad you liked this post and discovered something new about Sri Lanka! I really hope you make it there – it’s one of my favorite countries and I would go back in a heartbeat. Enjoy!

  • Kandy ella train is a to do list in Sri Lanka yes! We loved it so much and people in our train were so lovely. Def best train ride I’ve been on!


      It was wonderful! The scenery was just so beautiful!

  • Sonia Sahni

    Hey! Loved the pictures! If you liked this, you must explore the train rides along the Western Ghats of India…especially this one over Dudhsagar Falls in monsoon. I am sure you will love it.
    We never went by train when we went to Sri Lanka…preferred the road. Maybe we can try this on our next trip!


      Hi Sonia! Thanks so much for the information. I’ve been to India and took the train a few times but this sounds very interesting. Will check it out if ever I go back to India. πŸ™‚

  • melbtravel

    I have never thought about catching a train through Sri Lanka but recently I have been seeing more and more post on this beautiful place. It looks stunning but the best thing I like is that it looks safe. I love the fact of sitting or standing on the stairs of the open doorways enjoying the views. I will definitely have to visit your post again if I go that way, as I am sold about the trains.


      Traveling by train in Sri Lanka is a must – so glad you were inspired by my post! They’re such a joy to take and Sri Lankans are just so welcoming. πŸ™‚

  • I agree with you that train rides are never boring. I have taken a lot of train rides during my life and I had very exciting ones (the transiberian) and also really scenic ones (in norway). I would love to do a train journey in Sri Lanka, the scenery looks so lush and green.


      Hi Joanna! Train rides are always very entertaining and offer completely different views from other ways of traveling. I would love to do the Transiberian one day!

  • A train through the tea plantations sounds amazing! How much were the tickets and how long did each route take? I love a train with a view and these pictures are stunning so thank you for sharing.


      Hi Katie! We took two train rides and both were about 4 hours each. I can’t remember the exact price but I think it was less than $2 each – very affordable!