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Things to do in Colombo

by Nebojša Vujinović

Colombo, the bustling capital city of Sri Lanka, is a fascinating destination that seamlessly blends modernity with rich history and culture. With its diverse attractions, delicious cuisine, and friendly locals, Colombo offers many experiences for travelers. Here’s a comprehensive guide to things you can do in Colombo to ensure you make the most of your visit. Make sure to book your Chennai to Colombo flight as early as possible for discounts. You can check various websites for cheap flights and hotel bookings.

Immerse in Spirituality at the Gangaramaya Temple

Start your exploration with a visit to Gangaramaya Temple, one of Colombo’s most iconic religious sites. The serene atmosphere and beautiful artifacts make it a must-visit for those interested in spirituality and history.

Galle Face Green

Take a stroll along Galle Face Green, a picturesque promenade by the Indian Ocean. This open space is perfect for a relaxing evening, with vendors selling local snacks and the soothing sound of waves in the background. It’s a popular spot for tourists, offering a glimpse into daily life in Colombo.

National Museum of Colombo

Delve into the island nation’s history at the National Museum, which houses an extensive collection of exhibits. The museum provides a captivating journey through Sri Lanka’s past, from ancient artifacts to colonial-era relics.

Treat Your Tastebuds at Pettah Market

For a taste of local life and a shopping adventure, head to Pettah Market. The market is a sensory delight with its vibrant colors, aromatic spices, and diverse goods. Explore the narrow streets and haggle with friendly vendors for souvenirs, textiles, and spices.

Soak in Tranquility at Beira Lake

Source: wowiwalkers.com

Escape the urban hustle and bustle at Beira Lake, an oasis of calm in the heart of Colombo. You can take a boat ride, feed the swans, or enjoy a peaceful lake walk. The surrounding area also features the Seema Malaka Temple, a serene Buddhist temple.

Explore Colombo Fort’s Colonial Architecture

Explore the historic Colombo Fort, a testament to the city’s colonial past. The area has significant landmarks such as the Old Parliament Building, the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct, and the Clock Tower. Wander through the charming streets, appreciating the blend of old and new.

Viharamahadevi Park

Rejuvenate yourself at Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo’s largest public park. Named after Queen Viharamahadevi, the park offers lush greenery, playgrounds, and walking paths. It’s an ideal spot for a family picnic or a peaceful retreat amidst nature.

Immerse in History at The National Museum

Discover Sri Lanka’s captivating history at this expansive museum near Viharamahadevi Park. Spread over four sections, it houses everything from relics of prehistoric eras to Kandyan regalia. Marvel over rare palm leaf manuscripts, historical maps, precious gemstones, demon masks, and more.

Feast on Seafood at Mount Lavinia

A short drive from Colombo, Mount Lavinia Beach is a popular escape for those seeking sun, sand, and sea. Enjoy a relaxing day by the ocean, enjoy seafood at beachside restaurants, and witness a mesmerizing sunset.

Street Food Exploration

Colombo is a paradise for food enthusiasts, especially those who love street food. Dive into local flavors by sampling hoppers, kottu roti, and spicy curries. Galle Face Green and the streets of Pettah are excellent places to embark on a culinary adventure.

Admire Street Art Across Neighborhoods

Source: travellersisle.com

Walk through Colombo’s streets to discover vibrant and thought-provoking street art. Talented local artists have transformed walls into colorful canvases, depicting the city’s cultural diversity and social issues.

Shop Local Fashion on Bagatelle Road

Set out on a shopping spree along smart boutiques and stores lining Bagatelle Road in the posh Cinnamon Gardens. Look for handicrafts, Ayurvedic cosmetics, designer fashion, multi-gemstone jewelry, batik prints, and more. For tailored outfits, head to Paradise Road.

Bar-hop in Union Place Plaza

As the sun sets, Union Place transforms into a hip watering hole hub for Colombo’s party crowd. Paint the town red by pub-hopping between bustling Brewery, swanky Colombo Tap House, Froth – Ministry of Crab’s rooftop bar, and chic Sugar Rooftop Bar.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

Colombo’s ubiquitous, no-frills bakeries serve Ceylon tea perfectly complemented by soft buns, flaky croissants, or sweet local desserts like caramelly watalappam. For quality ice-creams, visit Elephant House outlets dotting the city. Or try creamy homemade gelato at Paradiso Art Cafe in Cinnamon Gardens.

Witness a Spectacular Sunset at Galle Face Green

No visit to Colombo is complete without an evening stroll along the expansive urban parkland edging the coast. Watch locals play cricket, fly kites, and grab street food as the sun melts into a riot of pink and orange hues on the horizon. The ocean breeze and laughter make for an unforgettable memory.

Day Trip to the Ruins of Ancient Anuradhapura

Venture out on a day trip to Anuradhapura – an ancient capital and the heart of Sri Lankan Buddhism. Be awed by enormous dagobas, soaring Bodhi trees, decadent palace ruins, intricate rock carvings, and serene monasteries in this vast heritage site.

Before You Leave

As you prepare to bid adieu to vibrant Colombo, ensure you explore its bustling bazaars, high-end boutiques, quirky stores, and lively sidewalk stalls for must-buy souvenirs to carry back memories of your Sri Lankan holiday.

Shop for Precious Gems and Jewellery

Source: srilankafinder.com

Sri Lanka is renowned for precious stones like sapphires, rubies, emeralds, topaz, moonstones, and more. Head to the high-end showrooms in five-star hotels or trusted stand-alone jewellers around Galle Face Green to shop for these dazzling gems polished into stunning jewellery. Don’t miss out on delicate silver filigree work pieces too.

Pick up Handicrafts and Home Decor

Visit heritage boutique stores like Paradise Road and Barefoot to find an array of handicrafts that reflect Sri Lankan artistry and heritage. Choose from wooden masks, vibrant batik prints and embroidered fabrics, artistic home decor made from brass, ebony, and sandalwood, crocheted laceware, and handwoven cotton wares.

Take Back Designer Fashion and Ayurvedic Beauty Products

Explore smart boutiques along Bagatalle Road and ideal stores dotted across Colombo neighbourhoods to shop for chic designs by renowned Lankan designers. For natural beauty and wellness products, find aromatic essential oils, herbal cosmetics, and medicinal concoctions in stores selling Ayurvedic products.

Don’t Forget Delectable Ceylon Tea and Spices!

You definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on Ceylon tea, considered among the world’s best. Pick from a variety of black, green and herbal tea packs as gifts for family and friends. Shop for delectable spices like cinnamon quills, curry powder, clove, nutmeg, vanilla beans, chilli flakes and more too!


Colombo offers many experiences for every type of traveller, from history enthusiasts to foodies and nature lovers. This bustling city, with its blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy, will leave you with lasting memories of your Sri Lankan adventure.