Top 6 things to do in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

Top 6 things to do in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

Exploring Sri Lanka’s central hills is a must for first-time visitors to the island. With a cooler climate, incredible scenery and an alluring laidback atmosphere, this is the perfect place to relax, seek out breath-taking viewpoints, and discover the island’s tea heritage – a British legacy.

Tea experiences

The British converted the Hill Country into a tapestry of tea fields over the course of a century. Travellers visiting today can still tour traditional tea factories with their original equipment and watch tea pluckers harvesting leaves by hand as they have done for over 150 years.

Enthusiasts for this universally beloved brew will enjoy doing tea tasting sessions with experts like the one at Amba Estate which pairs speciality blends with various local and international dishes.

Sensational hikes

There’s no shortage of sensational hikes in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country. Whether you favour a gentle stroll or multi-day treks that take you away from the tourist trail, you’re spoiled for choice with walks.

Pick up a portion of the internationally-acclaimed Pekoe Trail which was named one of the best experiences in the world for 2024 by National Geographic. This painstakingly planned trail traverses the tea country from corner to corner, highlighting the most extraordinary vistas.

The best day hikes in Sri Lanka include Little Adam’s Peak which overlooks the Ella Gap, climbing up to the forests of the Knuckles Mountain Range, and the trail to the favourite viewpoint of British tea planter Sir Thomas Lipton.

Stay in a tea bungalow

Walking not your thing? Experience the majesty of this magnificent and magical landscape from the comfort of a colonial tea planter’s bungalow. Revamped with the very best facilities and furnishings, these properties offer a luxurious stay in sensational settings.

Browse the Red Dot recommended Hill Country hotels and look out for the authentic planters’ bungalows. Ceylon Tea Trails are some of Sri Lanka’s most sought-after properties with a vintage feel while Camellia Hills has a contemporary take and a glorious outlook over Castlereagh Lake.

Horton Plains

No visit to Sri Lanka’s hills is complete without walking around Horton Plains National Park. Poised at one of the country’s highest points, there’s an abundance of picturesque panoramas.

Take the trail to World’s End where the cliff drops almost 1,000 metres straight down into the valley below. Further on is a series of waterfalls known as Baker’s Falls which will lead you back to the start point. As you walk, look out for stately sambar roaming the vast grass plains.

Sacred Adam’s Peak

For those who can bear the idea of hiking through the night, climbing the steps to the summit of Adam’s Peak is infinitely rewarding. This mountain is sacred to local Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Hindus and between December and March thousands of pilgrims make the climb.

Set out between midnight at 2pm depending on your preferred pace to ensure you reach the top by dawn to witness one of the most spectacular sunrises in Asia. As you walk, listen to the chanting of your fellow hikers and stop off to sample local delicacies served from stalls alongside the path.

Ride the railway

One of the best ways to uncover the heritage of Sri Lanka’s tea hills is to ride the railway. The trains still run along the original tracks laid down by the British during the 19th century, crowned by the spectacular Nine Arch Bridge at Demodara. Beginning from Kandy, the Gateway to the Hill Country, wind up through the mountains and watch as the landscape falls away around you. Tea fields glitter as far as the eye can see, interspersed with small villages, rushing rivers and waterfalls, and alien alpine forest.