Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Situated on the coast, Colombo is Sri Lanka’s capital and biggest city. Much like Galle and other towns along the coast, Colombo suffered a past. But even before Europeans pushed their claws into the strategic port city of Sri Lanka, seafaring dealers used Colombo as a major trade hub over 2,000 years ago. Even ancient societies such as the Greeks, Romans, Persians and Arabs recognized the worth of trading goods with the kingdom as well as one another along the east-west commerce routes in among Sri Lanka’s largest natural harbors.

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Note from David

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Gangaramaya Temple

Colombo is the commercial center of Sri Lanka and a worldwide city. It possesses a truly distinctive mixture of organic, colonial, and contemporary features. Almost every British Parliament which held office has a street named after him.

Additional Travel Information

Tuk-Tuk Ride

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Independence Memorial Hall

The city itself is not that large in comparison to some other cities, and it takes minutes to journey from 1 side of town. In 1 day you explore the harbor can see colonial buildings, see brightly colored mosques and temples, and enjoy a refreshing dip at the beach.


Visitors can get a crash course from the culture and history of the island at the National Museum. Its exhibits range from chronicle the island’s natural, political, and artistic history, also ancient to contemporary. The Gangaramaya Temple and also the Dehiwala Zoo are also musts. Colombo includes plenty of public space such as Beira Lake, the Viharamahadevi Park, Galle Face Green, Independence Square, Pettah, and also the Colombo Fort.

Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

There’s something to be said about the culture of the lively capital while people stop over in Colombo for only a couple days before heading out to explore different areas of the country. The public’s friendly personality is balanced with the hectic traffic of the buzzing metropolis. With a plan to experience the sights effectively, comfy walking shoes, and an open mind you may conquer Colombo and encounter a magical city unlike any other in the world.

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Dutch Church

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Even the Gangaramaya Temple is a Buddhist place of worship and also certainly one of the most popular attractions of Colombo. Gangaramaya is a complex featuring art gallery, meeting hall, an on-site temple, and backyard. Offerings, teachings, and Significant Buddhist traditions take place at Gangaramaya. Guests will have the opportunity to see these practices firsthand. Gangaramaya monks are active in various social services such as those benefiting children, creatures, people’s health, education, and much more. Built in the 19th century, even Gangaramaya Temple boasts striking architecture which includes Thai, Indian, and Chinese elements.

Colombo Fort

The gallery of gangaramaya comes with library and a small museum. Here people can view a group of scripts and arts from Buddhist temples throughout Sri Lanka, relics of the Buddha, and other artifacts including sapphires, oil lamps, and carvings. Decorative elements at Gangaramaya contain statues of Buddha, rows of dwarfs in positions, rock carvings, murals, gold and red pillars, and the courtyard. A collection of antique cars was contributed to the temple also can be on exhibit in the courtyard along with the massive Bodhi Tree. Gangaramaya is about a 15-minute’s driveway in the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel and sits on the edge of Beira Lake. It’s open every day from 8am to 8pm.

Galle Face Green

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Hours of Operation:

Deliwaha Zoo

Daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

National Museum

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Tuk-tuk, nano taxi, tri-shaw, auto rickshaw, and micro cab are all names used to refer to this small three-wheeled vehicle employed in Colombo and other cities during Sri Lanka and India. Although miniature and relatively slow, this tuk-tuk is a way of transport for short distances. Many tuk-tuks do not come with yards, and that means you will need to negotiate with motorists before you get going. It’s sometimes easier to negotiate when hammering a tuk-tuk traveling in your direction rather than with one which is parked.


Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

The rides are intended to be cheap, As there is not any air conditioning, or doors for this matter! You should bring invoices because most motorists claim to not have switch. Also, be skeptical. There’s a 99% probability that they don’t, however wish to take you to random websites around Colombo for which they receive payoffs. In general rides were drama-free and interesting because I listened to the team and accepted their advice on possible tourist scams. Tuk-tuks really are a great alternative to walking and also make it possible for you to see the city and take lots of pictures. By staying alert and knowing where you would like to go, your tuk-tuk experience will be secure and fun!


Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Independence Memorial Hall is a federal monument built to commemorate Sri Lanka independence on February 4, 1948 from the British. The style of the building is uniquely Sri Lankan; it features rows and massive pillars of large, guardian stone lions. A statue of Rt.. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake presides over one of those outside concrete pavilions.

He was also the first prime minister of Sri Lanka and considered by many to be the”father” to the country. Independence Memorial Hall and plaza are employed for celebrating national holidays and events and available to the public. There’s a museum at Independence Memorial Hall focusing on the historic significance of the site. It’s available Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm.

Pettah, colombo market area, is located east of the Colombo Fort and includes street traffic, stores, and street stalls. A whirl about Pettah is a vibrant one, with vegetables, flowers, jewelry, spices, clothing, shoes, and household things being sold throughout the area. Like the bazaars of Morocco and Jordan, Pettah is a marketplace primarily for sailors get deals on items and to conduct their everyday errands. You will find each street has a theme, while walking throughout Pettah. While Malwatte Avenue sells songs, Keyzer Street is famous for household things. Women particularly love Sea Street’s goldsmith and jewelry stores, although each street is crammed with things such as purchase.

Pettah is much more than a’s an experience, although sure, Colombo has shopping malls and boutiques. Bargaining is expected. You could bring down the price a little and you should attempt. In Colombo, you should visit with one of the many reputable dealers for gemstones. Considering that the area around Pettah is home to many of Colombo’s Muslim inhabitants (and not to mention the majority of the vendors are men), it’s advised that women dress modestly to avoid being stared at or plagued.

Everybody should keep belongings pockets and close guarded. Normally a”no thank you” will suffice when presented with something you do not want. If you feel as if you want someone to direct you resorts in Colombo will supply you with a guide for Pettah for a charge. Pick up hand, handmade jewelry, specialty teas, or throw cushion covers carved Buddhas. Although packed and sometimes smelly, Pettah is a real bazaar experience.

Located within the Pettah district is Even the Grand Mosque, or Your Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, of Colombo.

As it towers over the shops, it is hard to overlook this patterned red and white colored construction. The Grand Mosque is representative of the substantial presence of Muslims in Sri Lanka, which originated when Arab traders bartered along Sri Lanka’s western coast beginning in the 7th century. They traded spices, exotic animals, foods, and slaves together with Asia, Europe, and the Singhalese Kingdom of Sri Lanka. Several of these Arab retailers stayed to work and live in Sri Lanka. Their modern day descendants are known as the Ceylon Moors.

It’s believed that the place of the Grand Mosque that was current is that the site. The Grand Mosque is a substantial spiritual center for Colombo’s Muslims, also proudly bears testament to Islamic existence in the country for decades. The Grand Mosque turned 500 years old in 2005. It remains a pillar of pride to the Pettah community and also a joy although is was redesigned and expanded by architects and engineers. Non-Muslims can enter the Grand Mosque, but not during prayer times or on Fridays. As in the other mosques throughout the planet, taking photos of people praying inside the Grand Mosque is prohibited. Girls should wear a head covering and everybody should remove their shoes.

Even the Wolvendaal Church will be the case of architecture in the country and is the oldest church in Sri Lanka. In 1749, construction started with the help of laborers and lasted eight years. The church was designed in the form of a cross and has a capacity of 1,000 people. It is in good condition as a result of ongoing renovations from the Dutch Embassy in Colombo. The church still contains a first 18th century pulpit, ebony hand-carved chairs, murals, and can be paved with tombstones of Dutch governors.

West of this Pettah district would be the commercial hub of Colombo. Colombo Fort once served as the city’s main fort. Contrary to the Galle Fort, which contains several original buildings, walls, ramparts, and towers still standing, the Colombo Fort is truly a misnomer to the area. Built, rebuilt, and expanded by the Dutch and Portuguese colonists, the British finally demolished the Colombo Fort across the year 1870. Nonetheless, There’s a clock tower in the corner of Catham Street and also Janadhipati Mawatha, or”Queen’s Street.” The tower, which once functioned as a lighthouse, had been converted and fitted using a clock at 1860, making it older than the Big Ben of London by a couple of years.

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Besides the streets and sections of this old wall, the clock tower is among the only original builsings. The Colombo Fort region is full of banks, government buildings , corporate offices, hotels, and restaurants. Still another point of interest in the area is. The house is the version of this White House of Colombo. Every Parliament and President of Sri Lanka has dwelt there. It’s a mansion used for state functions. Unfortunately, this site is closed to the public. The Colombo Fort place can readily be viewed at an early morning.

Galle Face Green is the space in Colombo.

This open grassy promenade was, created by the British governor of Ceylon at 1859, sir Henry Ward as a space. Framed by the sea shore and the”twin towers” of downtown Colombo, Galle Face Green is a classic space perfect for recreational activities like picnics, kite flying, and tranquility.

The space is as simple as the bud that develops it besides the row of antique cannons that are British, however the inhabitants of Colombo make good use. Think about stopping by on Saturday or Sunday day to sample true Sri Lankan street treats and watch the sunset by the beach in the measures. Food vendors set up shop across the borders of the green with their carts, in which they sell freshly made snacks. Fried crabs, shrimp, and veggies are sold for cheap. A terrific family atmosphere is, and the experience of it is quite fun.

The Zoological Gardens of Deliwaha, along with the Deliwaha Zoo for short, is located only six miles (11 kilometers) in the Colombo Fort and exhibits over 500 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and butterflies. Highlights include reptiles dinosaurs, and sea otters ; one of other residents of the zoo: ocelots, tigers, owls, jackals, hippos, deer, orangutans, giraffes, snakes, and camels.

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

The displays can be found along 26 acres of tropical land. The government in 1936 purchased the land in the Earth from two of the animal dealers. The Deliwaha Zoo provides residents and tourists of Colombo with a place to come to and escape from everything. It also serves as an educational center for pupil and college aged children alike. Every year over one million people arrive at the Deliwaha Zoo to discover the hundreds of critters here, small and big. The zoo includes a daily elephant show at 4:30 p.m. and a sea lion show at 4 p.m.

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Colombo’s National Museum is the largest museum in Sri Lanka.

You will find no better place to find out about the history, nature, faith, and culture of the island nation. Sir William Henry Gregory, the British governor of Ceylon at the moment, created the National Museum and had it built in true Italian style that was dramatic.

The museum has gathered an amazing collection of antiquities and artifacts from all around the country. A number of those items on screen are royal clothing, thrones, fine jewelry, precious stones, palm leaf manuscripts, Buddhist ancient objectspottery, masks, paintings, diamonds, and fabrics. With over 15 galleries spread over two floors, there’s a lot of history.  Not all of the displays include detailed descriptions (or descriptions whatsoever for that matter), so it could be worth your while to request the aid of a guide at the ticket counter. Additional photography charges apply. The National Museum is located near Independence Square.

Twenty-two miles (37 kilometers) north of Colombo lies Negombo, a small fishing community with tons of beach to play on. Like a lot of western Sri Lanka, it had been inhabited by Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonists. It is no wonder the seafood market is thriving here now. Negombo is home to the second biggest fish market in Sri Lanka.

Here you will most likely find thousands of tuna fish and beans hanging out to dry on nets. They are salted and dried as a form of preservation. Some fishermen stay out at sea for over one month to bring in a hefty catch! The bustling fish market could be filled with fishy wafts of scales and guts, but it’s a photographer’s dream. Capturing images of the fishermen selling their catches after a tough day’s work was an experience.

For a time, visit one of the quieter stretches of beach via tuk-tuk. Negombo Beach is maintained clean thanks and so is safe to swim the majority of the season. Water sports like wind surfing, diving, and snorkeling are popular in Negombo in November to April when the waters are calm. There is no lack of fresh fish in town, and near Negombo Beach you’ll find seafood restaurants serving up a variety of fresh dishes. The most frequent approach for from Colombo to Negombo is by taxi, which will set you back about $11, or about 1,200 LKR. Choose wisely…not all of taxis are armed with air.

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Only over 24 miles (40 kilometers) south of Colombo, at the opposite way of Negombo, is the charming beach town of Kalutara. The area is filled with beach hotels and resorts. Once satiated with lucrative spice and rubber plantations, Kalutara has retained many of its canals originally urged by colonists to water their moneymakers. Kalutara is famous throughout west Sri Lanka for its vibrant and distinctive basket weaving customs. In the Kalutara Basket Centre, coconut fibers and Watekaia hand leaves are transformed into lively and complex works of art. These make wonderful keepsakes for loved ones back home.

Go over to one of the Buddhist temples of Kalutara when you have had your fill of beaches and baskets. Outside of the Kalu Ganga River bridge would be the glistening Kalutara Vihara temple. It’s a large, white rectangle arrangement (stupa) which was developed in the 1960s. Both historical and contemporary stupas exist throughout the planet, however Kalutara Vihara is the stupa in existence. Indoors there are Buddhist shrines, over 70 murals representing scenes in Buddha’s different lives, and a Bo tree enclosure. Burn incense and people come to depart offerings.

Last but not least, you need to remember to make time to relax! Even the AVANI Kulutara Resort is a excellent place to do exactly that. It’s situated about ten minutes in the center of Kalutara in which the Kalu Ganga River includes remedies for relaxation and rest, and meets the sea. The AVANI Spa provides an array of treatments in a tropical setting.

Give yourself a minimum of 2 days to research Colombo. Many vacationers use without realizing they’ve really skipped Colombo stop over. The city is small, but is a excellent way for travelers. I had the pleasure of staying at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel (previously known as the TransAsia Hotel), and now I can attest to its contemporary, elegant décor and thoughtful staff. Founded in Colombo was delicious and diverse. Expatriated restaurateurs have helped revamp the dining room scene, and prices appear to be reasonable across the board.

Unlike restaurants, finding nightlife venues that were worthwhile were shown to be somewhat more challenging. It’s not that there are not plenty of bars and nightclubs in town; it’s that they alter names continuously. What is popular this month may not be the next. That is why I stress the value of talking with your hotel concierge for more advice than I could provide within this guide. One experience that you must not pass upward is flanked from the beach at Galle Face Green. The area gets filled with families and individuals who come to sample the street grub. And, who does not enjoy an Indian Ocean sunset? To learn more about Colombo check out Olanka Travels.

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Kalutara and negombo are two day trip options you’ve got from the funding. There are dozens and dozens of beachside towns spanning the west coast of Sri Lanka. Many have hotels which help organize excursions, water sports, and excursions of interest. The very best time to see the west coast of Sri Lanka is November to April, which is the dry time and perfect time for swimming. Come hungry, dive in, prior to exploring different sections of the island nation and sleep tight at historic Colombo.

Time zone: GMT +5:30 hours (Indian Standard Time)

Capital city: Colombo

Top 12 Things to See and Do in Colombo

Languages spoken: Sinhalese, Tamalese and English

Currency: Sri Lankan rupee (LKR)

Currency converter: XE

Getting about: When traveling between towns, buses and trains are greatest. Buses therefore are rarely air-conditioned and could be crowded. Trains are slower and can be cramped too, Although, they considered the mode of transport. When in town, tuk-tuks, buses, taxis, and, oftentimes, just walking, are all viable forms of transport. Sometimes, cars and drivers can be hired for a single day or bicycles can be rented.

Tipping coverage: Service prices, normally 10%, are included at most restaurants. Drivers and manuals may even expect advice. A suggestion of 50 LKR is acceptable for hotel doormen and also the people who collect guests’ shoes at the temple.

Electricity: There are two Kinds of sockets, the Form D Indian 5 amp BS-546 and Also the Western CEE 7/16 Europlug.

Entry/exit demands: As of January 1, 2012, all vacation and business passengers to Sri Lanka must possess an Electronic Traveling Companion (ETA). This can be obtained online through the Sri Lanka Electronic Travel Authorization System site.

Health and security: Though instances are infrequent, dengue fever is endemic to Sri Lanka. Even the illness, although treatable, has potential to be fatal. The only way to protect against contracting the dengue virus is by preventing getting bitten by mosquitoes. Use a reliable cream or spray insect repellent to keep mosquitoes possible and then sleep under a mosquito net. Symptoms generally start four to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If you think you have fever seek medical care.  Emergency medical care in private hospitals could be expensive. It’s recommended to have travel health insurance coverage during your stay. We advocate the Explorer package. To avoid unwanted attention, like sporting jewelry, refrain and producing considerable quantities of cash.

Best time to go: December through March, or European winter season, is the best time to visit. It’s very crucial to note rains can happen at any time of the year and that calling monsoon weather is not an specific science.

Reserve your Full-day Sightseeing Tour of Colombo here!

What are your recommendations for the finest places to visit in Colombo? We’d like to hear from you! Leave us a question or comment below.