Colombo is one of the key destinations of a trip to Sri Lanka, often the first city you discover, because Bandaranaike is the only international airport in the country. What to do in Colombo? How long to stay? We take you to discover the Sri Lankan capital which has nothing to envy to the other cities of this resplendent country.
Main capital and economic capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the most populated city (approximately 1.5 million inhabitants). With its heavy traffic, skyscrapers and colonial buildings, Colombo is full of contrasts. It is an important step to visit Sri Lanka. A few days are enough to visit the city. You can visit Colombo both in four days and in two days. It all depends of course on the place you want to give to other cities, such as Yala, Galle, Kandy or Ella.
- 1 Visit Colombo: Places to see
- 2 Visit Colombo: Where to sleep?
- 3 Getting around Colombo
Visit Colombo: Places to see
Colombo is a huge bustling city in which it is almost impossible to get bored. Many places are worth visiting, namely important monuments, national museums, parks or even religious sites.
After three centuries of colonization (Portuguese, Dutch and then British) Sri Lanka gained its independence in 1948. In Colombo, we find the famous Independence Square (also called Independence Square), which has become an essential place in the city and a major attraction. for travelers looking for a local and quaint atmosphere. Surrounded by greenery, historic buildings and cafes, Independence Square is the perfect place to visit Colombo.
> Address: Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka
Independence Memorial Hall
In Independence Square is the “Independence Memorial Hall”, a national monument in Sri Lanka and not to be missed when visiting Colombo. It commemorates the independence of the country since it is here that the official ceremony took place on February 4, 1948. Today, this place is mainly devoted to religious events and annual celebrations of the national day.
Mandalay Council : You can go there all year round but favor the period of early February so as not to miss the celebrations during Sri Lanka’s Independence Day.
The Fort district
To visit Colombo well, a short visit to the Fort district is essential. This is the financial district of Colombo, where all the major banks and companies are gathered. Why go there? Quite simply to see the skyscrapers rub shoulders with period buildings. Just next to Gordon Gardens, do not miss to admire the official residence of the President of Sri Lanka, but also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Bank of Ceylon. One walks there at the end of the evening, along the sea, when the streets are calmer and the waves throw themselves against the rocks.
Colombo National Museum
The National Museum of Colombo, also called the National Museum of Sri Lanka, is one of the two main museums in Colombo and the largest museum in the country. You will be amazed both by its facade, a huge off-white building, and by its interior, which contains a collection of objects of great importance such as traditional costumes and historical jewels, in particular the throne and the crown of the kings of Kandy, as well as many other relics related to Sri Lankan history.
> Address: Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Colombo 00700, Sri Lanka
Not far from the Colombo National Museum, Viharamahadevi Park (or Victoria Park) is your green getaway in the city. It is a very popular place to walk, renowned for the beauty of its flowering trees between March and May.
Visit Colombo: Where to sleep?
Where to sleep when you want to visit Colombo? The accommodation offer is quite extensive. Among all these hotels, there are a few pearls, mythical places between luxury and authenticity. Here are some hotel ideas:
Taru Villas Lake Lodge
In the heart of Colombo, nestled behind a sports field, a stone’s throw from Lake Beira, Taru Villas Lake Lodge is a charming hotel perfect for your stay. It is presented as a large villa with spacious rooms decorated in an authentic and simple way.
> Address: 20 Alvis Terrace, Colombo 3, Kollupitiya, 00300 Colombo, Sri Lanka
The Sea House
Want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit? Book a room at the Sea House, a family guest house with rustic decor and direct access to the beach. Sea House is located in the heart of Negombo village, only 30 km north of Colombo.
> Address: 121 Lewis Place, Negombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka
For a stay closer to traditions in Sri Lanka, choose the Halcyon House hotel. More than a hotel, Halcyon House in Colombo is a guest house that will make you feel like you are staying with the locals. The hotel occupies a house from the 1950s, just renovated and will seduce you with its terrace with lush vegetation, ideal for taking a break.
> Address: Col-5, 42/3 Dr Lester James Peries Mawatha, Colombo 00500, Sri Lanka
Getting around Colombo
You should know that the distances inside the city are not excessive. You have the choice between bus, car or tuk tuk to get around Colombo. The means of transport will mainly depend on the desired route.
Buses are very present in Colombo. It is the most practical and economical solution for getting around the city. There is no central ticket office or ticket office to buy your ticket. You can buy a ticket directly on the bus. Note that the buses are often crowded, so there is very little space for your luggage.
It is an unusual means of transport for travelers, but used by most locals in Colombo. Tuk tuks are motor scooters that can be found on every street corner. They allow you to crisscross the streets and avoid being stuck in traffic jams.
Mandalay Council : Be vigilant, do not hesitate to negotiate and agree on the price of the race before boarding. Note that the cost of a race should not exceed Rs 150 (0.74 euros) per kilometer, but the best would be to choose a tuk-tuk with a meter.
As in most cities in Sri Lanka, renting a car would be best with a driver, to ensure maximum flexibility in your travels. It should also be noted that renting two-wheelers is not as common in the city as in other parts of Asia.
To cross the country from Colombo, the train is the best solution. Indeed, the Sri Lankan railway lines represent an ideal way to go from city to city, while enjoying the landscape. There are three main lines:
From Colombo to the south (Weligama, Galle…): The train line passes through Aluthgama and Hikkaduwa to reach Galle and Matara.
From Colombo to the east : The line crosses the mountainous region of Sri Lanka, in the center, namely Haputale and Ella.
From Colombo to the North: The line goes through Anuradhapura to Mannar and Jaffna, in the north of Sri Lanka.
Mandalay Council : Even with a ticket, having a seat is not guaranteed. To avoid spending almost 2 hours on your feet, try to take the train early in the morning (around 6am) and get on first.