Sri LankaCan Sri Lanka be toured by Railways?

A guide to exploring Sri Lanka by Train

Touring Sri Lanka by train is convenient as it saves you from traffic congestion on the road, an added bonus is that it gives you a unique view of the beauty of our paradise isle!

Whether you are chugging along the sunny coast, or through sleepy villages, or passing waterfalls, a train journey in Sri Lanka can be a delightful experience, as you will have the opportunity to interact with locals and also meet fellow travelers.

Train fares differ according to the length of the journey and the seating class you opt to travel in. A majority of trains offer First, Second and Third class seating, and in most cases seating can be reserved ahead of time for selected classes.

If you wish to take a normal train, it is best to book tickets at the railway station in advance to ensure you receive a seat. You could also speak to your travel agent and they will be happy to make the necessary arrangements for you. A website is available to reserve your train ticket however, it will be an online reservation only. Passengers need to collect their physical ticket from the mTicketing service enabled station.

Colombo to Kandy
Start – Colombo Fort; End – Kandy; Distance – approx. 80 miles/125km – Duration approx. 2hrs 30mins

Colombo to Galle
Start – Colombo Fort; End – Galle; Distance – approx. 75 miles/120km – Duration – approx. 1hr 40mins

Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
Start – Kandy; End – Nanu Oya Station,Nuwara Eliya; Distance – approx. 122 miles/196km – Duration – approx. 3-4hrs

Colombo to Ella [Recommended – Scenic Route]
Start – Colombo Fort Station; End – Ella Station; Distance – approx. 169 miles/272km – Duration – approx. 7-9hrs

Kandy to Ella
Start – Kandy; End – Ella Station; Distance – approx. 86 miles/140km – Duration – approx. 6-7hrs

Colombo to Anuradhapura
Start – Colombo Fort Station; End – Anuradhapura Station; Distance – approx. 128 miles/206km – Duration – approx. 3hrs 30mins

Exploring Sri Lanka by train is time saving, convenient and affordable, in addition to being one of the best ways to see more of the island!
For train schedules visit

Tips for traveling by train in Sri Lanka

  1. Take snacks and water
  2. Trains have no food carriages, so it’s best you take your own snacks and beverages. Try and get snacks before you get to the station.

  3. Travel light
  4. All carriages have overhead luggage racks, which ideally fit backpacks and small suitcases. However, it is not a good idea to travel with more than one large bag.

  5. Double-check the platform for your train
  6. When you arrive at the main platform gate and enter upon showing your ticket, remember to inquire about the correct platform your train will leave from. Also be mindful, most platforms have two sides, make sure you are on the right one.

  7. Be mindful of the open doors
  8. Most carriages on Sri Lankan trains have open doors. The doors remain open throughout the journey. If you choose to wonder about the carriage, watch your step.

  9. Have a light jacket on hand
  10. Although a tropical country, depending on the time of year, the hill-country can get chilly. Taking a light jacket with you for the ride would be ideal for trips in to the highlands.