Discovering Colombo: A Day in the Bustling Capital of Sri Lanka.

Colombo City Sri Lanka
Colombo City Sri Lanka

Nestled away on the western coast of Sri Lanka, Colombo is a city that calls in for both contemporary style and traditional customs. From ancient temples, and colonial-era buildings to shopping complexes and a vibrant nightlife Colombo offers something for everyone.

So, let us discover Colombo, the bustling capital of Sri Lanka. Moreover, we will also take you through the places to visit in Colombo Sri Lanka, and discuss some travel tips to make the journey easier for you.

How to get to and around Colombo?

Getting to and around Colombo Sri Lanka is very easy because there are many transportation options.

  1. By flight

All international tourists get to Sri Lanka Colombo by flight through the Bandaranaike International Airport. Therefore, when you arrive at the airport you have to take a taxi to reach the Colombo city.

  • Taxi services

The most convenient way to get around Colombo is through taxi services like Uber and Pick Me. For instance, there are many options available such as Uber motos (motorcycles), tuk-tuks, cars, and even minivans.

  • Tuk-tuks

You can also find plenty of tuk-tuks ready to go on the roadsides. However, you need to agree upon a reasonable price before getting into a tuk-tuks. That is because sometimes they are overpriced. The best thing you can do is look out for metered tuk-tuks, with a starting price of LKR 100.

  • Public Buses

Another one of the easiest and most affordable ways to get around Colombo is by public buses. However, they can be a little crowded, especially in the morning and evening hours. The traffic also makes it a little worse, so you might want to think if you are up for that.

  • Private taxis

For a more comfortable experience, you can hire a local chauffeur tourist guide. They can take you to the city’s top attractions and provide insights into the culture and history.

What are the best places to visit in Colombo Sri Lanka?

Colombo Lotus Tower

Colombo Lotus Tower is a 350-meter-high tower located on McCallum Road in Colombo 10. Shaped like a blooming lotus, the Lotus Tower is one of the most exquisite structures built in Sri Lanka. The Lotus Tower Colombo can be seen almost everywhere in Colombo, even in the suburbs! At night, it is illuminated in beautiful colors like pink, green, yellow, and blue so you can enjoy this light show as well. The tickets for the Colombo Lotus Tower will cost USD 20 for foreign adults and children above 10 years old. Also, it will be USD 10 for foreign children aged 3 to 10 years old, and free admission for foreign children below 3 years old.

National Museum of Colombo

The National Museum of Colombo is very easy to find! It is a two-storied colonial-era building painted in white, with well-kept lawns and gardens near the Nelum Pokuna Theater. However, the main attraction here is the crown jewel and throne of the last King of Kandy. They were returned by the British to the Sri Lankan people. It is also home to the Museum of Natural History so you can combine both museums. The ticket price in combination will be LKR 1500 for foreign adults and LKR 600 for foreign children.

Viharamahadevi Park

Colombo Sri Lanka’s best place to visit for a quick stroll is Viharamahadevi Park. Viharamahadevi is one of the biggest in Sri Lanka, located quite close to the National Museum in Colombo. It has well-landscaped gardens with a variety of trees, flowers, lotus ponds, fountains, a golden image of Buddha, a large Statue of Queen Viharamahadevi, and Queen Victoria. Therefore, this park is a perfect place to relax, for shady walks, and picnics, and most of all a great place to spend your time with your family.

Gangaramaya Temple & Seema Malaka

Gangaramaya Temple is the most popular Buddhist Temple in Colombo Sri Lanka. It is located near the Beira Lake. What sets apart the Gangaramaya Temple is its blend of different architectural styles and cultures. Therefore, the most notable is the museum which displays Buddha statues and related objects from all around Asia. Gangaramaya Temple is also well-known because a replica of the famous Borobudur temple of Java, Indonesia is inside. Similarly, there is the Seema Malaka, located a few meters to the east of Gangaramaya Temple. It sits gracefully on the Beira lake with a series of beautiful Buddha statues around it.

Independence Square & Memorial Hall

The Independence Square & Memorial Hall is located near the Cinnamon Gardens in Colombo, Sri Lanka. However, it was known as the Torrington Square by the British. The Independence Square & Memorial Hall was built to commemorate the independence of Sri Lanka from British rule in 1948.

Dutch Hospital – Shopping Precinct

The Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct is another one of the must-visit Colombo Sri Lanka attractions. The building you see here was used as a hospital by the Dutch. After that, it was converted into a shopping precinct in 2011 (by preserving the colonial architecture. Today, there are lots of cafes, restaurants, boutique shops, etc. such as Barefoot, Ministry of Crab, Spa Ceylon, and Heladiv Tea Club that you can explore in the evenings.

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque

Colombo City Sri Lanka
Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque is also known as Red Mosque. It is one of the most colorful mosques in Sri Lanka. More precisely, it looks like a candy cone (with red and white colors)! It dates back to the early 18th century and is built with an Indo-Islamic architectural style. But you can’t go inside the Red Mosque, you can only admire it from the outside.

Pettah Markets

Colombo City Sri Lanka
Colombo City Sri Lanka

The Pettah Markets are so busy, that you might be wondering where to go at first glance. But if you ask a local where to buy (or rather explore) they will show you where to go. You can find anything here – electronics, jewelry, clothes, handbags, sweets, souvenirs, handmade items, and much more!

One Galle Face Mall

There is only one international standard mall in Sri Lanka – the One Galle Face. There are seven floors in the One Galle Face Mall which has restaurants, shops, a cinema, and even a lovely viewing deck. Also, there are entertainment areas for both children and adults. So, try to go to One Galle Face with your friends/family! It will be a super exciting day for you – shopping, snacking, having fun, and ending the day with a perfect movie.

Galle Face Green

If you are wondering what to see in Colombo in the evening hours, don’t forget the Galle Face Green. It is a beautiful green promenade located opposite the One Galle Face Mall. You can best enjoy Galle Face Green after 4:00 pm closer to the sunset. Many locals come here too, so it will be a bit crowded, especially during weekends. However, you can just sit down somewhere, and enjoy the cool sea breezes (and the sunset)! In the meanwhile, if you get hungry, you can try the famous “isso wades” (a deep-fried food item with prawns), ice cream, or even noodles!

How is the Nightlife in Colombo?

The nightlife in Colombo offers a vibrant and lively experience for a variety of tastes. Here are some of the best bars, pubs, lounges, and casinos that you can check out in Colombo.

  1. Irish Bar & Grill
  2. In… on the Green
  3. Ward 7 Restobar
  4. Capital Bar & Grill
  5. ON14 Rooftop Lounge & Bar
  6. The REPUBLK
  7. The Love Bar at Flamingo House
  8. Bally’s Casino Colombo
  9. Casino Marina Colombo
  10. Bellagio Colombo

Travel Tips to Colombo Sri Lanka

Now you know what to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Let us look into some travel tips to Colombo so that it becomes even more of a hassle-free journey for you!

  • Usually, the best time to visit Colombo Sri Lanka is from April to August, when there are sunny clear skies!
  • This is because the Colombo weather can be a little unpredictable especially during September to January.
  • However, the average temperatures range from 29 °C-32.8 °C, with the minimum dropping to around 23°C.
  • So, how many days in Colombo you should stay? You will just need 2-3 days in Colombo to see all of the attractions mentioned above.
  • Now if you are wondering where to stay in Colombo you can check out Cinnamon Red, The Granbell Hotel, Shangrila Colombo, and Radisson Hotels.
  • However, another one of the best hotels in Colombo with beautiful views is Marino Beach Colombo. Among the budget-friendly hotels Colombo has are C 1 Colombo Fort and Clock Inn.
  • Most importantly, Sri Lankan cuisine is a must-try while in Colombo. Don’t miss out on dishes like rice and curry, kottu roti, paratha, egg hoppers, string hoppers, etc.
  • The best restaurants in Colombo to try these amazing foods are Graze Kitchen, Agra Colombo, Nuga Gama, and the Navaratna Restaurant.
  • There are no strict dress codes when it comes to this bustling capital when compared to other parts of the country.
  • For instance, you can wear shorts, mini dresses, sleeve tops, etc. But it is advised to wear long-sleeved tops and long pants/skirts when visiting the temples in Colombo.
  • You can also arrange for day trips from Colombo Sri Lanka to Kandy, Galle, Mirissa, Dambulla, and Sigiriya.