Today we share a Colombo City Guide for first-timers visiting the Sri Lankan city, to help you plan and prepare your trip.
Colombo is the capital city and one of the best places to visit in Sri Lanka, popular for its classic beaches and its cultural heritage. The rich history could be traced back to the successive rulings of the Dutch, Portuguese and British. Besides, it’s the financial center of the country. Every year millions of tourists flock to this place to explore the culture and popular attractions of importance. And you can also indulge in a variety of activities such as snorkelling and other watersports.
Best time to visit Sri Lanka
The most favourable time of the year to visit Colombo is between January and March. Although, the weather all year round is fairly temperate. From May to August and October to January, there are constant downpours which are significantly high.
May has most of the rainfall and January is considered to be the driest. Therefore, this goes without saying that travel booking needs to be in advance to avoid inflated rates. Or you can set u ‘Set up Fare Alerts’ options on comparison websites; this setting alerts you whenever there is a drop in the flight rates.
Best places to visit in Colombo
National Museum of Colombo
It was built in 1877 and is considered one of the biggest museums in the island nation. The Museum shows the ancient civilizations in Sri Lanka with some of their best-personalized collections of various dynasties and their reign. It carries an Italian style architecture and has numerous artefacts and remnants of the previous eras. A history fanatic would simply love it here, with so much to explore about Sri Lankan history.
Gangaramaya Temple of Buddhism
It is a must-see attraction for its the most popular attraction in the country. It has a mixed style of architecture with elements of Chinese, Indian and Thai. The temple is of great importance with respect to Buddhism and its storyline. There are many chambers and statues, a vihara temple and an assembly hall for the Buddhist Monks.
In Fact, the temple holds the largest collection of Buddhist statues and murals. Just make sure that you do not show any form of disrespect like do not click photos with your back facing the statues, come appropriately dressed by not wearing anything revealing etc. The Bodhi tree is also a popular highlight, do not miss to see the holy tree with loads of different Buddha images.
It’s the most beautiful place to visit in the entire Colombo which is set in the heart of the city and is much closer to the Gangaramaya Temple. There is another gorgeous temple right in the centre of the lake called Seema Makala which is basically a floating temple and much similar to the former. The lake is a popular stop for birdwatchers and photographers and also famous for activities like rowing and picnicking alongside. Though there were a lot of improvements that took place around the area, the lake still showcases its old style with a peaceful charm to it.
Independence Memorial Hall
This place is of significant importance with respect to Sri Lankan history and hence it is popular as a tourist attraction. Built in 1953, it depicts the importance of the liberation of Sri Lankans from British rule. The building is huge and made of stone with a serene garden in its surrounding. Right in front of the hall, there is a statue of the first-ever President of Sri Lanka.
There is also a museum around the establishment which showcases various brave soldiers statues who fought for the nation. Interestingly, the hall is also open to pursuing various fitness activities like jogging, cycling and aerobics.
Dutch period Museum
It is located in the middle of the Pettah market and is popular for its unique architecture and depiction of Dutch history. The museum was originally the official residence of the Dutch Governor of Sri Lanka back then. With some help from the Government of the Netherlands, the mansion was converted into a public museum in 1977. The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday only.
Beaches in Colombo
Colombo has various exotic beaches which is so easy to get lost into. They are lined along their shorelines with beautiful coconut palm trees with pristine sands and crystal clear waters. Some of the popular ones are the Hikkaduwa Beach for its lively ambience and stunning views, the Bentota beach is popular for its adventure sports. The Negombo beach has everything you need for a perfect beach vacation – you can enjoy watersports, have the freshest of seafood, and also listen to live bands.
How to reach
The International Airport of Colombo is Bandaranaike International Airport and it has frequent flights which fly to every country all year round. Visa requirements are customised for every country; some countries like India can issue a visa on arrival to their citizens at the immigration whereas citizens of other countries have to apply and issue beforehand.
There are many airlines that fly to Sri Lanka, among which Flydubai gives the best services to their customers at lenient prices. You can compare, book and find various offers on your Flydubai booking on Cleartrip. The best part of Cleartrip is that you can find every piece of information regarding your flight and get your booking done within no time. The interface of its website and the mobile app is super neat and navigation is super easy. Cleartrip caters to making your travel simple and hassle-free. The payment options are also really sorted and it gives you the leverage to store multiple cards under one roof and use it for super-fast booking. And with every flight booking, Cleatrip also gives you various complimentary hotel deals and other rewards.
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favourite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel to, I always take these trusty hand sanitizer’s and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.