This has been our second visit to Nuwara Eliya, and now it’s time to head back to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital city. We’ve had another lovely visit to this “Little England” in Sri Lanka, and although we’ve visited different places this time, it has been just as good. And, like last time, we had options for how to go from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo. It’s another opportunity to take a great Sri Lankan rail journey, but before you do, here are the options on how to get to Colombo from Nuwara Eliya and our experiences on doing this journey. Here’s our guide on how to get to Colombo from Nuwara Eliya.
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How to Go from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo – Transport Options
It’s a pretty simple journey from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo and you have the usual options, you can take a train, a bus, or a taxi. Actually, you can’t take a train to Nuwara Eliya. The closest train station to Nuwara Eliya is the Nanu Oya station, which is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Nuwara Eliya, but it’s pretty much the same thing. The bus is quicker than the train, by about 90 minutes (or more if you factor in driving to Nanu Oya). Tourist buses are quicker than local buses but more expensive. Taking a taxi from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo is the quickest way to do this route.
Taking the Train from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
When you’re taking the train from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo, your journey will start with a bus, a tuk-tuk, or a taxi from Nuwara Eliya to Nanu Oya train station. But before you do any of this you should prebook your train seats.
Nuwara Eliya to Nanu Oya Train Station
The bus is really cheap, but taxis and tuk-tuks aren’t expensive either. The best way to get up-to-date pricing on going from Nuwara Eliya to Nanu Oya is to use the Pickme app and also ask your hotel for a price. Let them know what time your train is and they’ll get you there on time. Nanu Oya is about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles from Nuwara Eliya) and it takes between 20 and 30 minutes to go from Nuwara Eliya to Nanu Oya. It should be about 1000 LKR for the taxi.
If you want to take the bus, then you’ll need to get to the Nuwara Eliya Bus Station, which is near Victoria Park (opposite the Post Office in Nuwara Eliya). The bus costs around 20 LKR and takes about 30-35 minutes. They run every 30 minutes or so. The bus will drop you off just up the road from the Nanu Oya station parking lot.
Nanu Oya to Colombo Train
There are up to 6 trains a day that go from Nanu Oya to Colombo. The first train leaves Nanu Oya at 06:00. Actually that’s when it’s timetabled, it might leave then, or it might leave a little later. This is not the start of the route, this train is usually coming from Badulla and may be a little delayed.
The fact that Nanu Oya is not the first station on the route is a big reason to prebook reserved seats, as in Sri Lanka it’s quite usual that if you’ve bought unreserved seat tickets, and are not getting on the train at the first stop you’re unlikely to get a seat.
The last train of the day from Nanu Oya to Colombo leaves Nanu Oya at 23:45 (ish). Trains to Colombo from Nanu Oya take from 6 hours and 11 minutes up to 8 hours and 5 minutes, depending on the stops involved.
The trains go pretty slowly when you’re in Hill Country, but speed up once they get to the plains.
These trains arrive into Colombo Fort Railway station in the center of Colombo.
Buses from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
There are two different types of buses you can take to Colombo from Nuwara Eliya. Local buses, which make lots and lots of stops, which don’t have A/C (just open windows), and the tourist buses. Local buses tend to take at least an hour longer than tourist buses for this route.
Local buses from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
You’ll want local bus number 79 to go to Colombo from Nuwara Eliya. It leaves from the Nuwara Eliya Main bus station (opposite the Nuwara Eliya Post Office). This bus will drop you at the Colombo Central Bus Stand. (I’ve marked it on the map). You’ll need to pay cash for this bus – the conductor will take your money and give you a ticket. You’ll pay 275 LKR upwards for these buses, some of them may have A/C, and some will not. The more “luxurious” the bus, the higher the ticket price.
Tourist buses from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
There are currently two daily tourist buses that run from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo. They leave at 11:00 and 15:00 and take 6 hours. These buses have A/C, pre-bookable seats, and (sometimes) power to the seats too.
Taxi from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
Taking a private taxi to Colombo from Nuwara Eliya is the fastest way to go to Colombo. It is also the most comfortable way to go from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo and comes with the benefit of door-to-door transport. If you use the train or buses then you’ll need to factor in a taxi or tuk-tuk from Colombo Fort to your accommodation in Colombo.
The best way to arrange a taxi from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo is to ask about it at your accommodation, but remember you’ll need to pay cash for this. You can also book a taxi from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo taxis online here with Bookaway. (It also means you can pay by card in advance).
Our Journey from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
We’d prebooked our train tickets online for the journey from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo, as we were heading to stay in Negombo (closer to the airport than the city of Colombo itself). We took a taxi from our hotel in Nuwara Eliya, we’d pre-booked it and agreed on the price (1000 LKR) beforehand.
It took about 20 minutes to go from Nuwara Eliya to Nanu Oya.
And we were in plenty of time for the train, which was running late. Obviously, everyone apart from us knew this as we were the only ones on the platform when we arrived. We were traveling in first class on this train and so got to wait in the first class waiting room on the platform. We’d also traveled first class on the Ella to Nuwara Eliya train too. Although we’ve also previously traveled on the Hill Country trains in unreserved third class seats as well as reserved second class seats.
Our train finally arrived and it was a mad rush for those who had bought unreserved seat tickets, while we sauntered slowly to our carriage and seats. The seats were great, comfortable, roomy, and a great place to relax.
We had a brief stop at Hatton, where we’d hopped off on a previous trip to hike Adam’s Peak. Then there was a stop in Kandy where we’d also had several glorious days.
As we got toward Colombo we actually decided to get off at the station near Thewatta Road. As we weren’t actually staying in Colombo that night, but were heading to Negombo. So we got off early, found ourselves a taxi through the Pickme App, had the usual negotiation for a little higher rate, and then got to Negombo quicker than we would have done if we’d gone all the way into Colombo and then back out again.
We made it to Negombo in time for sunset beers on the beach. Perfect.
Map of Bus Stops and Train Stations for going from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
You can also see the full map of train stations and bus stops from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo here
The quickest way to get from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
Taking a taxi from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo is the quickest way to do this route. Colombo is enormous these days, and if you take a train, then you’ll need to factor in getting from the train station to your hotel. Door-to-door transport is a lot easier. You can check the prices of taxis from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo here.
The easiest way to go to Colombo from Nuwara Eliya
The easiest way to get from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo is to take a taxi, but this is Sri Lanka and you really should take at least one of the Hill Country trains, and the route from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo is lovely.
The cheapest way to go from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
The cheapest way to get to Colombo from Nuwara Eliya is to take the train, but this will be an unreserved seat. Pay a little more and get a reserved seat. We took unreserved seats from Colombo to Galle stood (mostly on one leg) the entire way. – Reserve your train tickets from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo here.
The best way to go from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
There’s no doubt in my mind that taking the train from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo is the best way to go. You’ll need to arrange a transfer from Nuwara Eliya to Nanu Oya, but you can either use Pickme or get your hotel to arrange it. You should pre-book your seats on the train for the best experience.
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Final Words on How to Go from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo
This is a lovely trip on the train from Nuwara Eliya to Colombo, although you can also take a bus or a taxi. This is one of those trips where the journey is actually part of the adventure and you’ll get to see a lot of the landscape of Sri Lanka along the way.
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