The colorful island of Sri Lanka has a lot going for it—tropical weather year-round, ancient ruins, monasteries, wildlife, beaches, deliciously spiced food and welcoming people. Oh, and don’t forget the famous Ceylon tea! The variety of things to do, see and eat is one reason why Sri Lanka has become a “hot” destination for travelers. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re greeted with friendly smiles and a safe, traveling environment to venture off on your own if you wish.
Whether you’re making a brief stop-over in Colombo or are there for a few days to kick off a longer stay in Sri Lanka, using the list that follows as a guide will give you a feel for the country’s history and cultural diversity. Our guess is your visit to Colombo will spark a desire to come back for more.
What to Do in Colombo
1. Take a guided tour:
Explore the Colombo home of Geoffrey Bawa, one of the most important Asian architects of the 20th century. Bawa is famous for bringing the natural elements of the tropical outdoors indoors.
2. Walk along the Galle Face Green:
Fly a kite or relax, have a picnic or enjoy some street food from the local vendors, mingle with the locals or watch the sunset on the famous Galle Face Green, an ocean-front, 12-acre city park. Lots of options with a beautiful backdrop no matter what you do.
3. Watch a game at the Sugathadasa Stadium:
Watch the Lions, the national cricket team, play a game at Sugathadasa Stadium, which seats 25,000 people and even has its own hotel. Rugby and other sports events are played in the stadium, too.
Fun fact: did you know that cricket is the most popular sport in the country, but volleyball is the national sport?
4. Visit religious sites:
Make a pilgrimage to important religious sites, especially Gangaramaya Temple, one of Sri Lanka’s oldest Buddhist temples, and Jami Ul-Alfar, one of the oldest mosques. You can’t miss it—its bright red and white pattern earned it the moniker, the Red Mosque.
5. See prime landmarks:
Walk or join the joggers circling Independence Memorial Hall in the Cinnamon Gardens of Independence Square. The iconic Hall commemorates Sri Lanka’s independence from the British Empire in 1948. If time permits, visit the Independence Memorial Museum in the Hall’s basement.
6. Explore museums and libraries:
Stroll through the white Italianate National Museum of Colombo, the largest museum in Sri Lanka and home to its largest library. The more than 100,000 objects and artifacts tell the story of Sri Lanka’s culture and history.
7. Tour the city:
Take a city tour with legendary Mark Forbes, who founded the concept of taking in Colombo slowly by walking its streets. And what streets! Forbes’ definition extends to passageways and allies you would never find on your own.
8. Relax at a world-renowned spa:
Treat yourself to an Ayurvedic treatment customized for your “dosha” at Spa Ceylon Luxury Ayurveda. Ahhhhh, enjoy!
9. Enjoy a famous Colombo restaurant:
After strolling through The Old Dutch Hospital, crack open some lagoon crab from the north of Sri Lanka at Ministry of Crab, but not on Poya Day. That’s a Buddhist holiday every full moon that restricts harming any living thing. Poya Day is a civic and bank holiday, too, so many offices and businesses are closed, and there is a ban on alcohol. Can’t decide what to get? Sources say the Garlic Chili Crab and Pepper Crab are favorites.
10. Where to stay in Colombo:
The beautiful Galle Face Hotel is an historic landmark hotel built in 1864. It was a favorite of Somerset Maugham, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain and many other famous writers. Another option: the luxurious Maniumpathy, a boutique hotel in a heritage house. Its central location puts you near all the Colombo action of galleries, monuments and shops.
Ready to travel Colombo, Sri Lanka?
Now that you have our guide of things to do in Colombo, it’s time to book your travel with Myths and Mountains! Check out our variety of Sri Lanka travel experiences!