Train Travel in Sri Lanka

The island country of Sri Lanka is a popular travel destination for its rich heritage, flourishing flora and fauna, and its lush tea plantations! Instead of taking the usual taxi or tuk-tuk rides, tourists are recommended to travel by bus or train to experience their journey to the fullest. The train rides cost a little more than the bus rides but travelling by train is considered to be the most comfortable and convenient way of moving around Sri Lanka. It is an economical way of travelling in terms of saving money and time as a tourist. On any train ride, in case you get hungry and don't have any food, you don’t have to worry because the local vendors have a variety of snacks for you.

Train Travel Guide to Sri Lanka

  • The first class is the epitome of comfort as the air conditioner is available. These are available on some intercity express trains, whereas, the second class provides fans, comfortable seating and the option to open the windows. These class seats are available on all intercity trains.
  • If you are travelling by the third class available on most of the trains, you must be quick in catching a seat. This section gets crowded because many locals use this class to travel for work.
  • Apart from the air-conditioned first class, some daytime trains also have the option of a first-class observation car. The observation cars have big glass windows.
  • There is also an option for the people who enjoy travelling in the nighttime; you can book first-class sleeping berths on some trains.
  • It is best if you reserve the seats and berths for the first and second classes in advance to avoid missing your train due to it being full.
Although the Sri Lanka Railways website can provide you with all the details of the routes, timings and train names, they don’t have an online booking service just as yet. So tickets for any train journey are best bought online through 12GO Asia, Visit Lanka Tours or other authentic websites. You can also buy tickets directly at the train station before travelling if you don’t have any time restrictions.

If you’re confused about where to start from, we’ve got a list of train journeys you can take:

1. Ella to Kandy 

Before starting your journey from Ella to Kandy, it is essential to know how to get to Ella. There are a few ways to do that from Colombo Airport,

-  You can ride a taxi to Ella from Colombo airport, which will take about 5 hours. Or ride till Colombo Fort Railway Station which will take about 1 hour 30 mins (depending on traffic).

-  You can also take bus number 187 from the airport, which uses the express highway to the Colombo Fort Train Station. The bus journey takes about roughly 1 hour 30 minutes. From there, you can hop on a train that goes directly to Ella. 


The Ella to Kandy train journey is considered a local and tourist favourite. This is because of the path the train takes, passing by luscious green hills and forests, waterfalls, villages, and tea plantations. The train also passes through tunnels that make the scenery worth looking at after dark.  

Journey from Ella
Source


A few places that are a must-visit in Ella are the Nine Arch Bridge, Ella Rock, Ella Spice Garden, and Little Adam’s Peak.
Train Name/ Number, Destination and Average Cost for One Person:

Viceroy II - #1008
Ella to Peradeniya, Kandy
LKR 6,500

#1006 (First Class)
Ella to Kandy 
LKR 2,500

#1016
Ella to Kandy 
LKR 2,500

Journey Time – Between 5-7 hours

Note – The tickets for the Ella to Kandy journey go up for sale 30 days in advance, so if you’re planning a trip this needs to be kept in mind. Hence, the tickets get booked fast by travel and tour agents.

2. Kandy to Colombo 

Your next stop from Kandy can be to the capital city of Colombo. On this train ride, you will experience a change in the scenery from a gentler landscape of green hills, crop fields, and palm trees to the hustling cityscape.

Luscious Tea Plantations
Source

Train Name/ Number and Destination:

Viceroy II - #1008
Peradeniya, Kandy to Colombo Fort

#1006 (First Class)
Kandy to Colombo Fort

#1016
Kandy to Colombo Fort

#1040 (Second Class)
Kandy to Colombo Fort

#1030
Kandy to Colombo Fort

#1036 (Second Class)
Kandy to Colombo Fort

#1010 (First Class)
Kandy to Colombo Fort

#1020 (First Class)
Kandy to Colombo Fort

Time – Depending on the train, the average time taken for the train journey is between 1-4 hours

Average Cost for One Person – Between LKR 2,500 - LKR 3,500 (Depending on the class)

3. Colombo to Galle, Jaffna, Anuradhapura and Nanu Oya (Nuwara Eliya)

From Colombo, you can choose to travel to a lot of places like Galle, Jaffna, Anuradhapura, and Nanu Oya.

4. Colombo to Galle – Coast Line

The Colombo to Galle train ride shows you a contrast between the city and countryside, along with the coastline along the way. The scenery on this journey ranges from the cityscape, rural villages to palm trees, and the ocean.

Galle, Sri Lanka
Source

Train Name/ Number and Destination:

#8056
Colombo Fort to Galle

#8050
Colombo Fort to Galle

Time – between 2-4 hours depending on traffic 

Average Cost for One Person – LKR 3,500

5. Colombo to Jaffna – Northern Line

The train ride from Colombo to Jaffna has an aura that you’ll notice in the difference of landscape. Jaffna has a northern influence. Known as the City of Temples, Jaffna is most famous for its Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil Hindu Temple. It also has a fort for those who like for history and spirituality.

Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, Jaffna
Source

Train Name/ Number and Destination:

#4021 (First Class)
Colombo Fort to Jaffna Station

Time – Roughly 6-7 hours

Average Cost for One Person – LKR 4,500

6. Colombo to Anuradhapura – Northern Line

The train journey to Anuradhapura like the others is scenic and full of lush greenery on both sides. Anuradhapura is a city capital that is known for its ancient religious sites and many temples. If you’re religious or want to build on some spirituality, then you should visit here. Apart from that Anuradhapura is also famous for the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree, where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. Dagobas or brick Stupas are other famous monuments that are oozing with history.

Jetavanarama Dagoba in Anuradhapura
Source

Train Name/ Number and Destination:

#4021 (First Class)
Colombo Fort to Anuradhapura

Time – Around 3-4 hours

Average Cost for One Person – LKR 4,500

7. Colombo to Nanu Oya (Nuwara Eliya)

On your way to Nanu Oya from Colombo, you will be captivated by the views of waterfalls, hilly terrains, and tea plantations.

Nuwara Eliya, the city, called “Little England” is in the hills of Sri Lanka. There’s a lot to see and do once you reach Nuwara Eliya, from sitting by Gregory Lake, taking a walk in Victoria Park to visit the Strawberry Fields. Everything in this city has a colonial touch to it.

Waterfalls, Nuwara Eliya
Source

Train Name/ Number and Destination:

Podi Menike #1005
Colombo Fort to Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya

Udarata Menike #1015
Colombo Fort to Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya

#1007 (Observation Class)
Colombo Fort to Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya

Time – Between 6-7 hours

Average Cost for One Person – LKR 2,800 - LKR 3,800
*A Disclaimer – The above prices have been taken from the 12 Go Asia Website and prices may vary on other travel websites

Advice: Always double-check your ticket with your destination before getting on a train.

This post was published by Malvika Kumar

Share this post on social media
Google +

Sri Lanka Packages

Compare quotes from upto 3 travel agents for free

Related Articles

Experiences

Experiences

Sri Lanka in November: Things To Do, Festivals

Backpacking

Backpacking

Buses in Sri Lanka : Routes, Fares and Bookings

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

6 Airports in Sri Lanka: Getting Around Sri Lanka By Flight

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Car rentals in Sri Lanka: Tips, Cost, Operators

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Public Holidays in Sri Lanka 2020

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Sri Lanka Re-Launches Free Visa On Arrival Scheme For India And Other Countries

Shopping

Shopping

Shopping in Sri Lanka For Handicrafts, Clothes and Tea!

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

Online Visa for Sri Lanka - Procedure, Fees and Eligibility

Adventure

Adventure

Water Sports in Sri Lanka For An Exciting Adventure

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

Languages in Sri Lanka: Local Language and Getting Around Sri Lanka

Beaches & Islands

Beaches & Islands

Sri Lanka Opens Visa-On-Arrival For Indians - Start Planning Now!

Experiences

Experiences

Sri Lanka in August: Weather, Things to Do, Places To Visit

Experiences

Experiences

Sri Lanka in September: Weather, Things to Do, Places To Visit

Experiences

Experiences

Sri Lanka in March: Weather, Things to Do, Best Places To Visit

Sightseeing

Sightseeing

Sri Lanka in October: Things To Do, Festivals and More!

Travel Tips

Travel Tips

E-Visa Countries For Indian Passport

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

Religion in Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism and Other Major Religions

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

Historical Places in Sri Lanka For A Time-Travelling Experience

Experiences

Experiences

Sri Lanka in January: Things To Do, Festivals

Experiences

Experiences

Sri Lanka in February: Places To Visit, Weather, Things To Do

Adventure

Adventure

Snorkeling in Sri Lanka For An Underwater Spectacle

Adventure

Adventure

Tourist Places in Sri Lanka To Explore The Emerald Country

Adventure

Adventure

Things To Do in Sri Lanka For An Exciting Vacation

Adventure

Adventure

Rivers of Sri Lanka | Things To Do, Activities and More!

Art & Culture

Art & Culture

Museums in Sri Lanka Every History Buff Should Visit

Food & Drink

Food & Drink

Food in Sri Lanka That Are The Country's Best Local Delicacies

Religious

Religious

Churches in Sri Lanka For A Blessed Experience

Adventure

Adventure

National Parks in Sri Lanka For A Wild Escape

Family Holidays

Family Holidays

Temples in Sri Lanka For A Divine Pilgrimage

Adventure

Adventure

Waterfalls in Sri Lanka For A Rejuvenating Experience

Beaches & Islands

Beaches & Islands

Beautiful Places in Sri Lanka For An Spectacular Holiday

Comments on this post