Cosmopolitan Colombo, gateway to the wonder of Sri Lanka, boasts a rich colonial heritage, featuring a melting pot of races, religions and cultures. A city of contrasts, it is both an eclectic mix of shiny hotels and swanky office blocks, neighbouring beautiful red-tiled colonial-era buildings. Sprawling bustling street markets brim with fragrant spices, colourful silks, cottons and fresh fruit and vegetables. Discover Colombo’s multi-ethnic legacy with churches, mosques and temples congregating on the same streets, and delve into iconic sites including Fort Station, the Red Mosque, and the Khan clock tower. Plunge into Colombo’s enticing street food scene, eat like a local, and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and aromas of the whirling Pettah Bazaar. This seaside city offers a plethora of exciting adventures, experiences and places to visit. Delight in an exhilarating tuk tuk ride around the city, relish high tea at a magnificent colonial style hotel overlooking the azure ocean, and play a round of golf on scenic green courses. A shopper’s paradise, exquisite boutiques feature international brands, and charming shops offer colourful local art and textured fabrics. The home of the famed Ceylon tea, delve into the vast array of fragrant flavoured teas, including banana and brandy. Featuring a fascinating heritage and enticing culture, Sri Lanka‘s capital is one of Asia’s favoured travel destinations. Offering a vast selection of accommodation options, including rustic beachside shacks to lavish colonial mansions and stunning hotels, your every taste and desire on where to stay is fulfilled.
Activities and points of interest in Colombo
Enjoy a Colombo walking tour of the city’s historic Fort and Pettah districts Discover the vibrancy of Colombo and explore a variety of fascinating attractions, as well as interacting with its authentic people. Delve into the city’s cultural diversity as you traverse through the colourful streets of the lively market district Pettah, Colombo’s most popular district. Sample delicious street food, choose exotic spices, meander through market stalls, and visit the Red Mosque. Spend time in the Fort area, Colombo’s most significant commercial hub.
Visit historical sites such as the Dutch Period Museum and the Dutch Reformed Church Take the time to visit three Dutch Colonial-style buildings very close to the Colombo Fort. These include the Old Dutch Hospital, now a vibrant eating and shopping destination, the Dutch Period Museum, and the Wolvendaal Church which was what the Dutch sailors’ first saw far off in the distance, when they arrived at the port.
Recap your walk over iced cold beers at the Dutch Hospital Complex Thought to be the oldest building in the Colombo Fort area this hospital dates back to the Dutch colonial era in Sri Lanka, the Dutch Hospital now a beautiful heritage building of thick walls and red-tiled roofs, is a contemporary shopping and dining mecca. Exuding an entertaining ambiance and exciting atmosphere this precinct is the ideal place to unwind after exploring Colombo.
Relish an authentic private cooking class in the home of hospitable locals Embrace your inner chef and spice things up in the kitchen learning about Sri Lanka’s different cuisines and culinary family styles. Warmly hosted in the home of a local Sri Lankan family, gain insight into secret recipes, treasured spices, and the traditions of delicious home-cooked fare.
Challenge yourself with a round of golf at the distinguished Royal Colombo Golf Club Play a round of golf at the Royal Colombo Golf Club, a tranquil spot in the heart of Colombo. Ideal for golfers of mixed abilities, the immaculately manicured greens have attracted golfers for over a decade, with the options of playing either 9 or 18 holes.
Ride in a tuk-tuk, off the beaten track in a three-wheeled chariot An incredibly exciting, exhilarating way to navigate your way around the real rustic city is in a tuk-tuk. Prepare yourself for non-stop dodging people, buses, lorries, bullock carts, bikes, and other tuk-tuks. Assisted by a trained, English-speaking driver in a safe environment, this is an incredibly fun way to head off the beaten track and explore parts of Colombo that are not seen on the usual tourist trail.
Savour tea tasting in Colombo, with an expert in the heritage and traditions of tea Understand the culture, customs and history of tea creation and taste an extensive variety of designer tea combinations. Experience takes you through the basics of tea tasting, which includes how to use your nose to detect the delicate aroma from each infusion, as well as identifying how the colour of the brew can affect the final cup.
Explore the holy Gangaramaya Temple Delve into 19th century Gangaramaya Temple, one of the most significant places of worship in Colombo, featuring a mix of modern architecture and cultural essence, swirling with orange-robed monks revering radiant Buddha statues.
Savour fiery street food with a perfect balance of flavour Tempt your taste buds with Colombo’s most delicious fast food kottu rotti, comprising of finely chopped flatbread cooked on a hot skillet with vegetables, eggs and meat of your choice, this is scrumptious and a must-try.
Explore attractions including Galle Face Green and the historical National Museum Take a step back in time and visit the National Museum of Colombo, here among its shiny treasures is the grand golden throne of the King of Kandy, several ancient Buddhist artefacts and a priceless collection of rare palm-leaf manuscripts. The famous Galle Road, which leads to the southern city of Galle along the south-west coast, is a neon pathway framed with shops and buildings, just a stone’s throw away from the Indian Ocean. Spend time at Galle Face Green – this seaside promenade is the ideal spot to fly kites, blow bubbles, rendezvous, frolic in the sea and delight in the beautiful views of the sparkling ocean.
Colonial Colombo by Vintage Car Vintage cars are all about sheer beauty and old-world charm. Savour this fantastic experiencer and ride in a pristine vintage car visiting major attractions including Galle Face Green, the Viharamahadevi Park and National Museum.
Sample Sunday jazz at the Barefoot café A fabulous place to while away a leisurely Sunday, Barefoot is a Colombo landmark. A glorious combination art gallery, restaurant, cafe and shop, this is the best place to pick up colourful hand-loomed textiles, books on Sri Lanka, handmade stuffed toys and other gifts. The garden restaurant, studded with palm trees, has fantastic live jazz on Sundays.
Night Cycling City Tour Riding through Colombo at night is an adventure and this unique addition to Colombo’s nightlife scene is a welcome one and illuminated streets, beautifully lit-up monuments and a warm evening breeze lend the city an air of grace.
Shoppers haven at Paradise Road Quite literally a shopper’s paradise, housed in an old mansion the store sells locally produced home ware, local handicrafts, antiques, clothing, giftware, crockery and more.
Sip sunset cocktails at Galle Face hotel Delight in a fabulous night out and sip sunset cocktails on the chequer board of the Galle Face Hotel before exploring Colombo by night. The hotel was built by the British in 1864, and its Victorian suites have played host to a varied collection of guests, including Richard Nixon, Indira Gandhi, Yuri Gagarin and Arthur C. Clarke.
Explore the city’s temples and kovils A plethora of temple and kovils dot the cityscape of Colombo, some essentials to visit include the new and old Kathiresan Kovil that features the annual chariot festival, and the Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple, adorned with spectacular grandeur. The finest murals cover the walls with intricate details and vibrant colours. Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil features a mesmerising architectural pattern and devotees gather here to pay homage to Lord Shiva.