Once you land in Sri Lanka from the Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo is the closest main city you get to reach. Here’s a complete guide to this buzzing, sleepless city, Colombo Sri lanka, and the unique vibe it gives you!
Colombo is the judicial and executive capital of Sri Lanka. Located on the island’s west coast, just south of the Kelani River, Colombo is a chief port on the Indian Ocean. It is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multicultural city with the largest population in Sri Lanka. Colombo is such a spirited location on the island that offers anything and everything you desire!
So, if you’re enthusiastic to know what this place really is and why it is one of the most important hubs in Sri Lanka, we are about to enlighten you with everything we know!
Let’s Get To Know About Colombo!
Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka and the nation’s largest city in terms of population. It is a captivating city on the west coast surrounded by white sand beaches and an amazing harbourfront. Colombo is portrayed by a series of canals, with the scenic 160-acre Beira Lake at its center.
Colombo is the nearest main city once you land in Sri Lanka from the Bandaranaike International Airport. It offers a unique blend of tradition and innovation from the historic fort district to the modern business centers.
You’ll be rewarded with colonial buildings, ancient religious hubs, busy and wakeful streets, splendid traditional Sri Lankan food, the warm smiles of locals, and many more! You’ll get to experience the buzz of an ordinary urban city. But the best thing here is that you get to indulge in the rich culture and tradition of this country within the hustle!
A Flashback To The History Of Colombo Sri Lanka
Initially named Kolomtota (කොලොම්තොට), Colombo was the central seaport of Kotte, which was Sri Lanka’s 15th- and 16th-century capital. With its enormous natural harbor and crops of tropical spices and plants, the city has always been an engaging post for traders.
Known to Arab traders as Kalamba, the city lured the acquisitive Portuguese as early as 1505 and became the stronghold of their rule for nearly 150 years. Surprisingly little remains to certify to this era, apart from a distribution of Portuguese surnames in the telephone directory and a handful of Roman Catholic seminaries and churches.
In 1638, the Sri Lankan royal family inscribed an agreement with the Dutch to help them push the Portuguese out in exchange for the island’s assets of trade goods, and they were eventually successful. The Dutch East India Company monopolized the wealthiest lands (including Colombo) until the British seized the area at the end of the 18th century.
Evolvement With The British Rule…
Under British power, much of the city, including tram lines and buildings, was developed and constructed. The central area of Colombo is still known as Fort, but the remains of the colonial ramparts have long since been destroyed or merged into newer buildings.
There are more remembrances of the British period, including the neoclassical old parliament building and the Victorian-era President’s House (which is still called the ‘Queen’s House’). In addition, the luxuriously mercantile brick front of Cargill’s, a splendid 19th-century department store, has modified little since the 19th-century bloom of Sri Lanka’s British tea planters.
During World War II, Colombo functioned as a substantial Allied military base. A large part of the British and American fleet was stationed on the island, as were thousands of soldiers dedicated to the war against Japan in Southeast Asia.
What Kind Of Experience Can You Get In Colombo?
The dynamic experience a traveler could get in Colombo is simply beyond expectations! Some would presume Colombo to be a chaotic, unclean place in comparison with several other developing countries. But friends, we should insist that Colombo is nothing as you presume.
In fact, it is a much cleaner, energetic urban city where you have plenty of places to relax and chill. In the middle of the city and a little away, you’ll find several religious sites worth visiting if you like to appreciate the ancient architecture, arts, sculpture, and multi-religious culture of this country.
Buddhist temples like Gangaramaya, Hindu temples like Sri Manikka Vinayagar Hindu Kovil, Muslim religious places like the Red Mosque, and Catholic shrines like St. Lucia Cathedral are places that you shouldn’t miss in Colombo. As you walk through the massive colonial buildings, you’ll find yourself lost in a local shopping paradise with hundreds of vivid little shops and boutiques.
The experience you could have at the Galle Face Green is simply unexplainable! While you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful Indian Ocean running to infinity, you’ll also find joyful kids and youths who enjoy flying kites or playing with balls. This place will be lined with many interesting food stalls while you can savor the thrilling taste of a large Shrimp Vadai and beat the hotness with a locally branded popsicle.
More Excitement Awaits!
Exhilaration in Colombo doesn’t confine to the city! You still have got plenty of places to explore around. The Lotus Tower and Lotus Pond Theatre are the latest additions to the city’s adornment. The Lotus Tower is South Asia’s tallest freestanding construction, where you can catch a panoramic view across the city and the surrounding that runs towards the infinite sea when you reach the top.
Places like The Old Dutch Hospital are ancient colonial buildings that have been refashioned with many high-end shops, including the famous seafood restaurant “Ministry of Crabs”(which happened to be the 29th restaurant in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list of 2017).
While there are many locally branded shops around the city, you’ll find international brands with an exclusive shopping experience in high-end shopping malls in several places in Colombo. Recently, this city has also become an excellent place for digital nomads looking forward to working in a hassle-free, budget-friendly environment.
The nightlife of Colombo shouldn’t be underestimated as you will never get that kind of experience anywhere else in the country! From bouncy Casinos to nightclubs and pubs, you can simply chill out with some street food in Aluth Kade, which typically goes 24/7.
How To Get To Colombo?
You can get to Colombo by road or air, no matter where you stand in Sri Lanka. You could either use public transport (the bus or train) or travel by a private vehicle.
If you use the train service, you can get down from the Fort Railway Station, and there’s even a Tourist Information Centre where you can have all the details about taking a city tour. If you plan to reach Colombo directly from the Bandaranaike International Airport, you could rely upon any mode of transportation like the bus, train, or taxi service.
However, since you’re about to get to the country’s most urban part, we suggest taking a private vehicle or a taxi could be your best bet. And that would be convenient when you travel across Colombo as well. Once you reach Colombo, you can hire a tuk-tuk or a car to back your city tour.
Attractions Near Colombo
Your adventures don’t stop with the city tour since there are plenty more other places to travel and explore nearby. Dehiwala and Mount Lavinia areas are located a little further from the main city of Colombo (about 10-12 minutes away).
In these areas, you’ll find golden sandy beaches with the turquoise sea to indulge in the warm sun and have quality beach time. These places are ample with luxury and affordable hotels and restaurants while you can also get a perfect golfing experience. You can also savor great seafood and take a moment to visit the turtle hatcheries around Dehiwala.
Take your route towards Arugam Bay, Hikkaduwa, Bentota, Negombo, or Kalpitiya to get an unconditional beach vibe!
What Do You Need To Know About Safety And Security When Visiting Colombo?
Generally, Colombo is one of the country’s most highly-secured, protection-guaranteed areas so that you can travel alone or with your family. But, if you’re a woman who travels alone, especially if it is your first time in Sri Lanka, we recommend taking the help of a reputable tour company.
It is essential that you carry travel identification documents with you and be aware of scammers. Colombo is probably one of the warmest parts of the country, so do not forget your sun protection creams, clothing, etc.
Be careful when you click pictures, as videography and photography could be prohibited in some places. It would be best to carry a big bottle of water with you, mainly if you are used to drinking a specific type of water. You can be checked at several checkpoints by the Sri Lankan police or Forces while traveling, so obey them and act accordingly.
Visit Colombo To Experience The Best Things Sri Lanka Has To Offer!
Colombo is one of the best places that should be on your Sri Lanka travel itinerary. It is the portal to the splendor of Sri Lanka, which boasts a rich colonial heritage featuring a diversity of races, cultures, and religions. It is a city of disparities, a mix of gleaming hotels, showy office blocks, spectacular colonial-era buildings, buzzing shops, and golden sandy beaches. It is the perfect place to experience a bunch of eclectic adventures for all travel enthusiasts!