Enchanting Sri Lanka is blessed with a beautiful city named Colombo to have an incredible adventure you’d never have anywhere else in the country. So, here we got you covered with the best experiences you can have in Colombo!
Colombo boasts a buzzing nature of an urban city which is the first thing you get to experience as you step into the place. But still, there are many places to explore, such as ancient religious places, luxury hotels, restaurants and spas, golfing spots, landmarks, etc. In addition to the places, you will experience incredible nightlife and an excellent digital nomad working environment.
What more does Colombo have to offer you? How do you get the best out of this place? This is all you need to know!
Why Should You Visit Colombo, Sri Lanka?
You should reserve a space in your Sri Lankan itinerary for visiting Colombo for many reasons. We should insist that this is more than just the most densely populated city or the capital of Sri Lanka.
Although many travelers would assume that Colombo is congested, polluted, noisy, and chaotic, it is certainly one of the most wonderful places in the country, with a rich diversity of culture, ethnicity, and religion. Colombo itself has transformed significantly over the years that we have known it.
And it has returned to something like its one-time acclaim as the ‘garden city of Asia’. Thus, while that exaggerates the point, it is undoubtedly a wonderful place to spend a few days exploring the historic areas, visiting the shopping paradise, taking a city tour, or just eating at some of the many outstanding restaurants.
What Awaits You In Colombo?
The Unique Shopping Experience In Pettah!
If you’re looking for a place to start the city tour, Pettah Market is a great starting point! It is an energetic, lively landmark in the heart of Colombo, with a fresh market that vends wholesale produce, spices, and food.
You’ll find bazaars specializing in jewelry, cosmetics, gold, electronics, toys, textiles, and more. The market itself extends to several city blocks in the Pettah neighborhood and is known as one of Colombo’s most engaged commercial areas.
As expected with any open-air street market, you’ll be immersed in the noise and hustle of the vendors, human traffic, and busy locals who are out for business. Here you will have the live experience of an Asian market and prepare to bargain for a fair price!
The Floating Market
The Pettah Floating Market is a recent tourist attraction added to Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was once an industrial canal which is now an attractive shopping street made atop the water. You’ll find almost 92 stalls lined along the canal, selling local produce and handicrafts.
These little shops include some shoe and clothing stores, a few electronic and accessory stores, food stalls, along with a few fruit shops. The floating market has become a place of calm and tranquility for those who wish to take a small stroll or capture some great Instagrammable clicks of the sunset!
Spend Some Quality Time At Galle Face Green
Galle Face Green is an urban park outstretched over 5 hectares of land. It is now considered one of the most extensive pieces of land available to crowds, including tourists and regular local visitors. On one end of this expanse of land lies the Ceylon Intercontinental Hotel, while on the other side, you’ll see the glorious Galle Face Hotel.
The Galle Face beach is a beautiful ribbon of land wrapped in greenery, surrounded by showy buildings and tall towers. You’ll spot the locals living in Colombo often visiting the beach, especially on weekends. If you’re out in Sri Lanka with kids, this is the best spot for them to play around and for families to spend some quality time amid some excellent food and a little bit of a sweet hodgepodge.
Make sure you stroll at the Galle Face Green beach around 5 PM to bathe in the exquisite view of the setting sun. The turquoise waters, orange sky, and the golden setting sun make for the best scenery after a long day in the Sri Lankan warmth.
As the day approaches, you’ll see the beach buzzing with locals and tourists wandering around the beach, playing cricket, or just relaxing at the end of the day. Do not forget to indulge in some great street food by grabbing flavorful deep-fried shrimp vadai and sipping a local non-alcoholic ginger beer! However, you should keep in mind that alcohol is not allowed in Galle Face.
Did you know that Colombo is the most densely populated area in Sri Lanka, boasting a rich cultural, religious, and racial diversity? Click on this link and follow up on this article to learn more about this vibrant location.
Explore Art and Sculpture In Religious Places
Amidst the sweet chaos in Colombo, you’ll find some magnificent religious places within the city if you are interested in admiring the religious diversity of Sri Lanka.
Buddhist Shrine- Gangaramaya Temple
Established over 120 years ago, Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple attracts thousands of people, including local and foreign devotees. They gather at this lively space, esteemed for its adorned architecture and statues exhibiting Sri Lankan, Thai, Chinese, Burmese, and other artistic techniques. Gangaramaya is also a sacred place of worship, a religious educational and vocational training center.
Islam Shrine- The Red Mosque
You’ll find the red and white structure of the Jami-ul-Alfar Mosque (casually known to locals as the Red Mosque) in the center of the humming streets of Pettah. It stands as one of the city’s most famous tourist attractions and one of the oldest mosques in Colombo.
Its clock tower and candy-cane-striped vivid minarets elevate over its surroundings. They are visible for miles and were once utilized as a landmark by sailors coming to Colombo’s ports.
The Red Mosque was built in the early 1900s by the local Muslim community, who required a main location for their daily prayers. One of its prominent features is the “pomegranate-shaped domes,” considered distinct from the standard onion-shaped domes of mosques.
Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam is one of Colombo’s leading and most ancient Hindu temples dedicated to two principal deities, Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva. Thanks to its religious significance, this temple is the leading venue for hosting an annual Thai Pongal harvest festival.
Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil is another elegant Hindu shrine you’ll find in Colombo known for its dedication to Lord Shiva. This place was captivatingly constructed with elaborate carvings and black stones. Mass inrushes of devotees gather at the shrine on Fridays, where special rites are performed.
St. Lucia’s Cathedral is the oldest Parish church in Sri Lanka and is believed to be the heart of the Archbishop of the Colombo Roman Catholic Archdiocese. It was established in 1760 and displayed exquisite architecture of the Gothic style. The cathedral has a rich heritage and culture, which makes it a favored place in Colombo.
St Anthony’s Church in Kochchikade, Colombo, is another ancient Catholic shrine dating back to the 18th century. This magnificent 200-year-old church was established in reverence to St. Anthony of Lisbon and Padua.
The first portrayal of St. Anthony is shown through an eloquent casing of wood set at the entrance. And on the left side of the main altar lies the most significant yet oldest element of the church, the glorious statue of St Anthony.
Colombo Is A Convenient Spot For Digital Nomads!
Recently, we have seen a rise in digital nomads traveling across the globe. So, if you’re a digital nomad seeking a convenient working environment in Sri Lanka, we bet that Colombo is the best place with effective coworking spaces.
You could have a faster internet speed in this part of the country than anywhere else. Many co-working spaces have been initiated in Sri Lanka, along with the island’s flourishing entrepreneurial and start-up culture. So, if you wish to take a break from your office or merge with other freelancers and entrepreneurs during your time in Sri Lanka, consider using one of the co-working spaces in Colombo!
Visit The Beautiful Landmarks In Colombo
Do not miss out on visiting these beautiful landmarks to complete the city tour in Colombo. Some of them hold the legacy of Sri Lankan culture and heritage, while others boast the uniqueness of this pretty little island.
The Lotus Tower
The iconic Lotus Tower is the latest addition to the embellishment of the city. Rising at the height of 356 meters, this construction is the tallest tower in South Asia, the 11th tallest edifice in Asia, and the 19th tallest tower in the world.
If you intend to visit the country, this tower is a must-visit. It serves as a radio and television transmission tower along with various entertainment activities. There are shopping malls, restaurants, banquet halls, hotels with suites, museums, auditoriums, and much more! A magnificent revolving restaurant at the top provides a panoramic view of the city, completing one rotation every 90 minutes.
It is open 24/7 for tourists and is also safe to visit with your kids. The observation deck at this site is a must-visit that offers an unforgettable view of the city. The interiors are beautifully embellished so that you can capture great pictures to add up to your travel journal!
The Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond Theater)
The Nelum Pokuna Theater is a major performing arts center in Colombo. Nelum Pokuna means “Lotus Pond,” and the structure’s architecture takes direct inspiration from the similarly-called 12th-century lotus pond in Sri Lanka’s ancient city of Polonnaruwa.
It was opened in 2011 and has a floor area of roughly 14,000 square meters. The layout has two main theaters: an auditorium furnished to seat over 1200 people and an open-air theater. In addition, the facility features a library and modern installations that allow for ideal research and educational activities.
The Nelum Pokuna has made it a desirable backdrop for local and foreign producers and visitors, with the theater being encompassed by five-star hotels, local attractions, and shopping districts.
While the two landmarks mentioned above take prominence in your must-visit list, you may also consider seeing the following places, depending on the time you have during your city tour:
- Viharamahadevi park
- Seema Malakaya
- Old Cargills Building
- National Museum of Colombo
- Crow Island Beach Park
- Independence Square
- Sri Lanka Planetarium
- Colombo Maritime Museum
- Dutch Period Museum
- Old Parliament Building
- National Art Gallery
- Traditional Puppet Art Museum
Shop To Your Heart’s Extent In Colombo!
If someone asks us where is the best place to shop in Sri Lanka, we will answer Colombo without any second thoughts! Even locals around the country reach Colombo for an exceptional shopping experience.
As a traveler, you can start buying things from the Pettah market, as we mentioned earlier if you need to get an authentic Asian market experience. But in reality, Colombo has an elaborated shopping experience to offer you! You’ll get several high-end shopping malls across the city that sell local and branded goods.
In addition, there are many authentic shops like Laksala and Barefoot if you need to shop for local handicrafts and handloom fabrics. The vibrant shopping adventure in Park Street Mews will give you so many memories. At the same time, places like Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct and Paradise Road are ready to offer a luxurious shopping spree with premium boutiques.
Indulge In A Unique Food Experience
Colombo has some of the country’s best restaurants, hotels, and cafes. From street food to high teas in luxury hotels, this is a heavenly place to indulge in some quality Sri Lankan food. This place is no short of international cuisines as well.
If you visit Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, you’ll get to dine at the famous high-end seafood restaurant, Ministry Of Crabs, listed as the 29th restaurant in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list of 2017.
And also another of Asia’s best restaurants, Nihonbashi, conducted under the guidance of the same master chef who runs the Ministry of Crabs, Darshan Munidasa, is another place to indulge in the pure bliss of Japanese food. In addition to these reputed places, you’ll find plenty of other open-air restaurants, chilled lounges, seaside cafes, and bars to spend some quality time with the best food in the country.
Nightlife In Colombo
Are you a party animal who likes to dance all night in a dynamic nightclub? Or are you an entertainment enthusiast who seeks an exhilarating game like Casino? If not, would you like to venture into the street food in a buzzing street or just chill in a tranquil place with a cool beer?
Colombo has everything set up for you! You’ll find several vibrant nightclubs, Casinos, and pubs to spend a happening night. And for a unique Sri Lankan food experience, you can go to the streets of Aluth Kade lined with hustling small street food stalls, which usually come to life around 6 PM and go until 3-4 AM.
You could also spend a romantic dinner date at a seaside restaurant while enjoying the serene sea breeze and the calming sound of the waves.
More Adventure Beyond The City Of Colombo…
If you’re done with the city tour and still have 1-2 days to spend around the Western province of Sri Lanka, you shouldn’t miss out on hitting Dehiwala and Mount Lavinia areas. You’ll find several pristine, golden sandy beaches around this area, along with golfing clubs and turtle hatcheries.
If you seek sea adventures wherever you go, some places around Dehiwala and Mount Lavinia offer a thrilling scuba diving experience. In addition, you can also take a stroll along the intriguing Bolgoda Lake. This lovely water body is supposed to be the largest natural lake in Sri Lanka.
It covers around two-thirds of the Kalutara district and is also a significant portion of Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. It is the largest freshwater lake in Sri Lanka, where you can engage in various water sports such as kayaking, sailing, yachting, canoeing, jet skiing, and water skiing.
Places To Stay And Refresh In Colombo
Colombo is the heaven of lavish hotels and the best restaurants in the country! You’ll find plenty of places to stay no matter the scope of your budget. On that note, here are some of the reputed and best places of accommodation you can find in the heart of the city of Colombo and beyond:
- Cinnamon Grand Colombo
- Shangri-La Colombo
- The Kingsbury Hotel
- Marino Beach Colombo
- Galle Face Hotel
- Jetwing Colombo Seven
- Mövenpick Hotel Colombo
- Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo
- Ramada by Wyndham Colombo
- Hilton Colombo Residences
- Taj Samudra
- Colombo Court Hotel & Spa
- Fairway Colombo
Soak In The Blissful Experience In The Vibrant City Of Colombo!
Warm sun, charming chaos, mesmerizing sunsets, shiny colonial buildings, majestic landmarks, incredible shopping experience, and you name it! Colombo still has many more things to give its travelers, no matter what your expectations are. This beautiful city is one of the most symbolic places in Sri Lanka, with the most unexpected adventures. So, we hope our guide was helpful enough to make your travel bucket list on your next trip to Colombo, Sri Lanka.