Ella & Haputale: Our Favourite Things To Do

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Ella and Haputale are located in Sri Lanka’s Hill Country and are both stops along the famous Kandy to Ella route. Whilst Ella likely needs no introduction, Haputale is located just an hour away and offers a quiet retreat (away from Ella’s general business) with similar incredible views. Haputale is also close to most of the attractions Ella is famous for.

We compiled this list to combine both towns as they offer the same views and sites but with different vibes. One will appeal more to you than the other, depending on the type of traveller you are.

Ride the train along the world famous Kandy to Ella route

Sri Lankans and foreigners departing the train in Haputale

One of the most famous and scenic train routes in the world and the image that is often conjured up in traveller’s minds when they think of Sri Lanka. This route has consistently amazing scenery throughout the Hill Country and is an excellent opportunity to talk and mingle with local people.

Overcrowding: Be warned, It gets incredibly busy. During weekends, holidays or peak season it’s nearly impossible to get a seat or good view unless you book your tickets far in advance. Don’t worry too much if you don’t get tickets. We were travelling through peak holiday season and didn’t ride the full route. We only a couple of small parts of it when we were in Haputale. The views you get from the road are more or less the same. Plus you have the freedom of stopping to take photos.

The parts we did ride we literally couldn’t move at all. To do the full ride in those conditions would not be fun!

Watch the train pass over Nine Arch Bridge

The famous blue express train passing over the Nine Arch Bridge

A 10-minute hike from just outside Ella’s main town (there is a pathway just past the Art Umbrella Cafe if coming from the main town) leads you to a viewpoint to see the Nine Arch Bridge. The walk can get quite slippery if it’s been raining but otherwise it’s an easy, scenic walk.

Keep an eye (and ear) out for the train coming and check the schedule beforehand if you want to see the train passing over the bridge. From the viewpoint you can walk down towards the bridge and cross over it. It’s a cool place to visit! As always, visit early in the morning to beat the crowds.

Take in the breathtaking views from Little Adams Peak

Ponte Vecchio bridge

Not too far from the Nine Arch Bridge is Little Adam’s Peak. We ended up walking from Nine Arch Bridge to the peak in about 1 hour. Although it was quite exhausting. You can get driven most of the way up and enjoy a short, 15 minute hike to the top if you desire.

The views from the top are, once again, breathtaking. The sheer natural beauty of Sri Lanka can feel relentless and constantly outdoes itself. We came here to watch the sunset. Once you’re at the top there are a couple of other places you can walk to. Definitely not to be missed.

Trek from Liptons Seat to Dambatenne Tea Factory

Tea pickers and Sir Thomas Liptons statue at themain viewpoint

The Duomo (the iconic dome attached to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral) is located in the Piazza del Duomo, surrounded by traditional Tuscan buildings, however it is unmissable. The architecture, details and colours of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo are as grand in real life. The exterior of the church is an impressive piece of architecture, and you’ll want to walk around and step back to take it all in from all angles. Entrance to the cathedral is free however, you'll need to plan and book tickets ahead if you want to climb 463 steps to the top of the dome.

Admire (or hike) Ella Rock

The view of Ella Rock from our guesthouse

Ella Rock sits tallest amongst the landscape in Ella. Keen travellers can easily admire this mountain from afar. We had a beautiful view from our guesthouse, Country Homes. We loved watching the sun set each afternoon from our balcony with Ella Rock in view.

The more adventurous (or the ones who have more energy at the time) can climb to the peak in a few hours. There are a lot of guides online that explain the route in detail and we'd strongly recommend checking out a few of them before attempting to reach it yourself. We have heard a lot of conflicting reports regardingthe complexity and difficulty of the route. 

Walk the tracks between Idalgasinna and Haputale

Idalgasinna Train Station

One of the coolest things we did in this area was simply exploring around the railway station in Idalgasinna. Located just 15 minutes by train from Haputale on the Ella to Kandy route, you can quickly reach this area and then walk back to Haputale station. Being one of the most scenic parts of the route, this gives you the opportunity to see the views from the train and on foot.

If you plan on walking the full distance by aware that there are a couple of areas where the pathway gets narrow, somewhere you don't want to be if a train is passing through. Be aware of the train time table which you will be able to find out in Idalgasinna.

Visit a Tea Plantation

Damro Tea Factory

You can't visit Sri Lanka's Hill Country without visiting a tea plantation. The most famous ones in the region are found along the route between Kandy > Nuwara Eliya > Ella. Most places offer tours and the opportunity to sample their teas. The views around the establishments are often big draws too.

The tours themselves are usually free but some may have a small cost. We visited Damro Labokellie Tea Factory where we were taken on a short, 20 minute stroll through the factory. We finished in their restaurant where we sampled some tea and chocolate cake.

Spend the night with a view

Views from our guesthouse in Haputale

You'll always be surrounded by beautiful mountains and hills when you're travelling through this region. However, all the hiking you'll be doing to seek these views will leave you tired. Why not treat yourself and bring the views to you? That way you can appreciate them from the comfort of your balcony with a hot cup of tea!

We spent a night at Leisure Mount View Holiday Inn where we had an incredible view from our balcony that was nearly as good as what we saw at Lipton's Seat. This guesthouse also served up a very delicious buffet in the evening which was one of the best meals we had in Sri Lanka. 

Eat some comfort food in Ella

Ella offers traditional Sri Lankan food and health staples such as avocado on toast

When you're on the road for weeks at a time you may find yourself craving some of the food you're used to back home. Or maybe you just want to eat something other than rice and curry. Don't worry, we won't judge you.

Ella, being a touristy backpacker town, has a great variety of restaurants and can help settle those cravings! Cafe Chill serves up excellent burgers and breakfast staples such as avocado on toast. Cafe UFO is your answer if you're seeking somewhere fancier. A date night perhaps? We spent New Years Eve here and enjoyed a great meal with cocktails.

Have no fears if you wish to keep it fully local though. There are great Sri Lankan restaurants in the area too.

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Canggu: Our Favourite Places

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Whilst the beaches of Canggu don't match the likes of Uluwatu down south or off the mainland towards the Gili Islands, this beachside area offers something else.

Canggu is Bali's epicentre of cool. A home for expats and influencers where Bali's unique holiday flavour is experimented with and refined. This is the place to visit in Bali if you want to see to try the latest beach club, restaurant or concept cafe.

Sometimes you may feel like you are in Sydneys Eastern suburbs rather than Bali whilst you are here, but thats part of the appeal for some.

Here are our top places for teh area:


Where to stay: Theanna Eco Villa

Details of Theanna Eco Villa

Beautiful villas that are offered in Balinese, Japanese or Scandinavian style interiors. They have a 24 hour shuttle service that can drop you off anywhere in Canggu, free of charge.

  • Cash & Card Accepted


For the best coffee: BGS Bali

Some of the best coffee we've had in Bali

Small coffee shop located on the main street in Batu Bolong. Easily the best coffee we have tried during our travels in Bali.

  • Cash & Card Accepted

Beachgarden: Organic Kitchen

Street artwork and smashed avo on toast

Beachgarden offers vegetarian food. You can get all your healthy favourites here in a quaint setting close to the heart of Batu Bolong.

  • Cash & Card Accepted


Vegetarian breakfast choices and exterior

Super popular concept cafe offering a huge range of breakfast options. A pretentious crowd and setting doesn’t defer from the quality of the food.

  • Cash & Card Accepted


Our Favourite: La Bandida

Quesadilla and burrito

La Bandida serves up delicious Mexican fare in a cool, chilled out setting. The interior and vibe is unpretentious with beds and lounges to lay down on. There are daily specials too.

  • Cash Only

La Baracca

Grungy interior

Cosy and intimate Italian restaurant offering up authentic cuisine. Perfect for a date night.

  • Cash & Card Accepted


Beautiful interior stylings and well presented food

Mason has a minimal menu offering cured meats and more. We had the mixed meat board, hummus and spinach & ricotta filo pastries.

  • Cash & Card Accepted

Bro Resto

The dumplings here were amazing

Bro Resto is another fusion restaurant combining French & Chinese. The dumplings they have on offer (especially the mozzarella ones) are excellent.

  • Cash & Card Accepted

Pit Stop

An excellent burger stop for all your unhealthy, late night cravings. They can deliver to your villa too.

  • Cash & Card Accepted


Best Value: Echo Beach Club

Beachfront location

Chilled out beach club offering superb sunset views at very reasonable prices. They offer fresh seafood also.

  • Cash & Card Accepted

The Lawn

Iconic umbrellas at The Lawn

Super stylish beach club located next to Old Mans. Like other Bali beach clubs, day beds are based on a daily minimum spend.

  • Cash & Card Accepted

Old Man's

Rustic feel with sea themed muras

Another Canggu beach club offering a relaxed, laid back vibe. Happy hour from 5 - 6pm everyday offering buy 1 get 1 free for all drinks.

  • Cash & Card Accepted

La Brisa

The pool area at La Brisa

One of Canggu’s most popular stops and a must-visit during your stay. Family friendly and a very relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps too relaxed?

  • Cash & Card Accepted

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Florence: Our Favourite Experiences

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Florence is one of the most romantic, artistic and historically rich cities in Italy and all of Europe. Immerse yourself in the city where the renaissance was born. Here are our top experiences to be had.

Explore Florence on foot

Beautiful architecture and art awaits you as you explore the streets of Florence

The streets of Florence has a timeless beauty to it and you’ll find yourself admiring the beautiful streetscapes, picturesque views and incredible architecture all around you. Once you’ve shared your appreciation of the main remarkable attractions with other tourists, you can easily slip off onto a side street to escape the crowds and explore other beautiful finds.  Florence somewhat feels like a work of art in itself and you’ll sense this as you aimlessly wander around this sophisticated city.

Get a true taste of Florentine & Tuscan cuisine

You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the cuisine in Florence

Go on a food excursion and try all sorts of Florentine and Tuscan cuisine. Tuscan food is famous for its local produce and meats, traditionally cooked based on the Italian concept of “cucina povera” or  “poor cooking”. You’ll find the dishes here are hearty and high quality, made with simple ingredients that bring out the natural flavours. Some Tuscan foods you must try include affettati misti (antipasto of cured sliced meats and cheese), woodfired pizza, Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak), Paparedelle al Cinghiale (long flat pasta with wild boar) and Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo (pasta with truffle mushrooms and procini mushrooms).

See Ponte Vecchio bridge

Ponte Vecchio bridge

Go for a stroll and see one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Ponte Vecchio. The name translates as ‘old bridge’ as it is literally the oldest standing bridge in Florence. Clinging to the bridge are jewellery shops, art stores and antique boutiques. This enchanting bridge truly makes you feel curious about the history of it, so perhaps organise a walking tour and learn about it’s impressive history. The view of the bridge along the river bank is most spectacular during sunset, as the sky lights up and the whole surrounding looks like a painting.

Admire the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo

The interior and exterior of The Pantheon

The Duomo (the iconic dome attached to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral) is located in the Piazza del Duomo, surrounded by traditional Tuscan buildings, however it is unmissable. The architecture, details and colours of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Duomo are as grand in real life. The exterior of the church is an impressive piece of architecture, and you’ll want to walk around and step back to take it all in from all angles. Entrance to the cathedral is free however, you'll need to plan and book tickets ahead if you want to climb 463 steps to the top of the dome.

Visit the Uffizi Gallery

The cathedral and Duomo is beautiful from all angles

Go on an art journey at one of the top art museums in the world, the Uffizi Gallery. The collection is extensive so it is best to plan at least half a day to view and admire the  thousands of unique paintings. The gallery showcases some of the most important and famous works by Italian Renaissance artists Botticelli, Caravaggio, Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raffaello. Organise tickets and plan your visit/viewings ahead for a smooth and unforgettable visit.

Watch the Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo

Michelangelo statue and Ponte Vecchio in the distance from atop

Head to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a terrace situated on a hill south of the Arno River where the third (bronze) version of Michelangelo’s David is displayed. The Piazzale Michelangelo offers magnificent panoramic views of the city and is best experienced at sunset. Sunset viewing is popular here so ensure to get to the terrace early and beat the crowds. Grab a beverage, pick your viewing spot and take it all in. You won’t be disappointed!

Have dinner at Mercato Centrale

Evening at the Mercato Centrale

On the ground floor of Mercato Centrale, you’ll find a market of fresh produce and meats. Above that is a huge food court, which is open until midnight and was a great dinner experience we had in Florence. The atmosphere at Mercato Centrale is vibrant and the aroma coming from traditional and modern food stands smells delicious. We enjoyed dinner at the food court (there are plenty of tables and seats) however if you want to soak in the afternoon sun and local ambience, you can take away your food and enjoy it outside in the Piazza di San Lorenzo (across from the market) or Piazza di Santa Maria Novella (a short walk away).

Enjoy gelato at one of many gelaterias

Gelato from perché no!

Gelato is a classic Italian sweet treat and Florence is one of the best places to try the creamiest and rich-flavoured gelatos. Some gelaterias specialise in unique flavours, some are known for flavoured cones and others offer classic traditionally made gelato. Enjoying a gelato whilst watching the sunset behind the Ponte Vecchio became a late afternoon tradition for us. We recommend Gelateria Perche, however we’re sure most gelaterias in Italy would be pretty good anyway!

Wander around Boboli Gardens

Overlooking Florence from Boboli Gardens

If you have time and prefer to spend it away from the crowds, wander around and explore the Boboli Gardens located behind the Pitti Palace. The garden is a huge open air museum with beautiful landscaping, significant fountains and historical sculptures on display. Follow the path and find yourself at peace while being surrounded by lush greenery. As you climb to the top and reach the terrace, you’ll be able to take in the stunning panoramic views of this incredible city and the countryside in the background. Tickets can be purchased at the site.

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Rome: Our Top 10 Things to Do

Tips & Articles

Rome, the Eternal City, needs no introduction. The cultural capital and an essential stop for anyone visiting Italy. These our are top 10 things to do:

Go on a free walking tour

The Colosseum in the distance and street signage in the Monti area

Find your bearings and get immersed in this incredible, historic city by going on a free walking tour. We recommend: Rome’s Ultimate Free Walking Tour

The Colosseum

The exterior of the Colosseum from a different angle and the interior

See one of the new seven wonders of the world, the Colosseum. Two thousand years on and this ancient gladiatorial arena is one of the world’s most recognisable buildings in the world and Italy’s top tourist attraction.

Vatican City

A Vatican City guard and the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica

Visit the smallest independent state in the world, the Vatican City. Vatican City is best known as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It is free to visit, however, there is an entrance fee for certain buildings. Check out the following places in the Vatican City: St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums and Apostolic Palace.

The Pantheon

The interior and exterior of The Pantheon

See the former ancient temple and now a church, the Pantheon. This cherished monument holds a fascinating history, art and architecture, which you can learn more about through a guided tour.

Castel Sant’Angelo

The Castel Sant’Angelo in the distance beyond the bridge

See the Castel Sant’Angelo, which is located on the banks of the Tiber River beside the Vatican City. The thick and round structure of the castle is instantly recognisable and impressive from afar. This old fortress offers interesting history and spectacular views of Rome as you climb to the top.

Borghese Gallery (Galleria Borghese)

Admiring the artwork at the Borghese Gallery

Admire art in a beautiful space without the crowds at the Borghese Gallery. The gallery features one of the world’s greatest private art collections by Cardinal Scipione Borghese in his former 17th-century garden villa. Ensure you organise reservations and tickets beforehand as it runs on a timed reservation system.

Roman Forum

The remnants of what once was at the Roman Forum

Wander around and admire the ancient ruins at the Roman Forum. This historic site is where several temples, memorials, civic buildings and public spaces were once situated during different times in history. Some highlights include the Arco di Settimio Severo, the Curia, the Tempio di Saturno and the Arco di Tito.

Palatine Hill

Ancient ruins at Palatine Hill

Visit one of the most ancient parts of Rome, Palatine Hill, located at the centre of the Seven Hills of Rome. Discover Rome’s ancient history and take in the spectacular views while walking through this beautifully atmospheric landmark. Some highlights include the Stadio (stadium), the Domus Flavia (imperial palace) and the Orti Farnesiani.

Quartiere Coppede

The distinctive architecture of Quartiere Coppede

Escape the crowds and explore one of Rome’s most enchanting neighbourhoods, Quartiere Coppede. Discover unique architectures, artistic details and visual treats designed by Gino Coppede. Keep an eye out for the impressive entrance archway, an intricate outdoor chandelier, the golden spider on the Palazzo del Ragno, the Fontana delle Rane (Fountain of the Frogs) and the Villini delle Fate (little houses of the fairies).

Explore Trastavere

Locals enjoying an evening drink at Bar San Calisto and Pasta at Da Enzo Al 29

People watch and soak up the ambience in Trastavere whilst trying the many restaurants and bars the area is famous for. A few of our favourites are:


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