Interesting and Best Places to Visit in Colombo

2022 Febraury updated


As the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is the best place for trips and tours, irrespective of your taste. In addition to their local culture, they have a diverse background of foreign cultures since they were colonized and ruled by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British in different eras. The diversity of cultures in Sri Lanka creates a beautiful mosaic of unity and growth. There are several monuments too due to their history and cultural diversity.

Aside from the amazing monuments and architecture, Colombo is flooded with well-crafted religious places, museums with unique artefacts, and a beautiful natural landscape, which makes Colombo a top choice on any tourist’s travelling list. You will surely appreciate the beauty in diversity in Colombo. Apart from these, you can also take part in memorable touring activities on your visit to Colombo. The trip activities include shopping, scuba diving, and waterpark activities. The numerous activities and fun places to visit in Colombo make Colombo the most wanted tourist location in Sri Lanka.



How to travel

Distance from Airport – 130 Km

By Road

130 km or 2 ½ to 3 hour’s drive

Colombo – Ambepussa - Kurunegala Highway – with traffic

By Train

Colombo – Gal Oya Express train – 5 hour’s

Walk in to Colombo fort railway station and you can get tickets for 3rd class and 2nd class. (3rd class railway tickets price is very cheap)

3rd class is very crowded sometimes not recommended for tourists.

To pre-book a rail journey contact a travel agency

For more information, log in to – http://www.railway.gov.lk/web

By Air

Colombo – Nuwara Eliya – 20 to 30 minutes
The following travel companies offer internal chatter flights and Helicopter tours

https://www.cinnamonair.com/

https://www.senoksl.com/travel-and-leisure/airport-and-aviation-services-sri-lanka.html

01 Gangaramaya Temple


The Gangaramaya Temple is a Buddhist temple built by the famous scholar-monk Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera, a pioneer Sri Lankan Buddhist revivalist in the late 19th Century. It is the oldest and greatest religious site in Colombo. As a religious place of worship, it is a dream place for all who want to learn more about the culture and life of the people. The Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple also houses a wonderful library and museum. With its marvellous architecture being a fusion of Indian, Chinese, and Thai-styled designs, it is located near Lake Beira.

On the walls are unique murals that tell the story of Buddhist legends and tales. These and the carvings on the doors and walls of the temple add to its majestic look. The samadhi buddha statue in the temple adds to the serene and artistic look of the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple.

The Chapter House or Seema Malakaya

Next to the temple and inside the Beira Lake is the Chapter House or Seema Malakaya. It is located on the water and near the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple. It is a place for meditation and its entry is restricted to priests only. Its beautiful landscape makes it a photoshoot site for tourists too.

02 Galle Face Green


About one and a half miles is the Galle Face. A 12-acre urban park located near the coast in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was built; by the order of Sir Henry George Ward in 1856. The purpose of this was to serve as a recreational park for children and ladies.

It is currently a location for horse racing, golf, rugby, tennis, football, and cricket. It is a wonderful place for relaxation since its close to the Indian Ocean. Enjoying a sunset walk along the length of Galle Face is one of the most picturesque things to do in Colombo.

03 Old Dutch Hospital


Location

Among the oldest colonial buildings is the Old Dutch Hospital. As the name suggests, it was built in the Colombo Fort area by the Dutch in the late 17th century. This was built as a health facility to help take care of the staff of the Dutch East India Company. Because it was meant for the Sailors, they built it very close to the sea to make it easy for them to visit the hospital.

Post-Dutch era (in the British era), the Old Dutch Hospital was no longer in use. It later became the Colombo Fort Police Station in the 1980s and 1990s. After that, it has suffered severe damages from the Central Bank Bombing in 1996 and the LTTE attack which followed.

In 2011, the hospital was renovated by the Urban Development Authority as plans to make it a resourceful place, which it is currently. Within this historic building, the Old Dutch Hospital also has a shopping centre and dining joints such as the Colombo Fort Café, the reputed Ministry of Crab, and Spa Ceylon. Designed to also prevent the entry of the harsh tropical heat on the island of Sri Lanka, this makes the Old Dutch Hospital a serene and relaxing location for tourists or visitors.

04 Port City Beach


Location

Following the restoration of the Port City Colombo from the Indian Ocean, the artificial beach and public area project is one of the many plans in making the land a top choice for foreign investments.

There is a link from it to the Galle Face with the help of a footbridge. The artificial beach spans to a length of about 1.5km and is about 50 metres wide. Despite questions raised by individuals on the effects of this project on the environment, the Head of Environmental Management Plan Team, W.A.D.D Wijesooriya, promised a positive project outcome.

According to the Daily Mirror Online, “the breakwater prevents large waves from reaching the shoreline and provides safety for bathing, swimming, beach sports, and water sports.”

05 The Red Mosque


Location

Also known as Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid, Sri Lanka’s Red Mosque is one of the best architectural works ever made in the World. One of the oldest mosques in Colombo, the Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid is situated in the hard and hot streets of Pettah.

The construction of the Red Mosque began and was completed in 1908 and 1909 respectively. Its purpose was to serve as a place of worship for the local Indian Muslim Community. Interestingly it was designed by an unqualified architect known as Habbibu Labbe Saibu Labbe. He designed it as a creative fusion of native Indo-Islamic and Indian architecture, Gothic revival, and other timeless styles. The distinctive color and pattern of the Jami Ul-Alfar Masjid (the Red Mosque) gives it a resounding reputation in the hall of architectural wonders of the world. It is one of the top places to visit in Colombo if you enjoy vibrant architecture.

06 Colombo Fort Bazzar and Kaiman’s Gate


Location

The Pettah being a street market makes it one of the busiest neighbourhoods in Colombo. These collective streets are filled with unique shops which deal with things like jewellery and gold, especially on Sea Street. The open-air bazaars and markets are just among a few reasons why you will want to visit Pettah. If you enjoy bargain shopping, the Colombo Fort Bazzar should definitely be in your list of places to visit in Colombo.

Built by the Portuguese in 1554, the Second Colombo Fort was used as a place of protection and defense at Colombo. But in 1656, the Dutch captured it. Under the ownership of the Portuguese, they made Poorta Reinha (“Queen’s Gate”), the fort’s main entrance at the eastern rampart. There was a tunnel with a drawbridge and moat. At the “Kayman’s Gate” (It comes from the Dutch word Kaiman, meaning crocodile) there were plenty of crocodiles in the Beira Lake moat and would usually come together when rubbish is thrown out of the fort. St. John’s River was later the name for the south-north canal which links Beira Lake to the sea through the moat. This was later filled under the British era. As a link of Pettah with the fort, the street was the Portuguese Roa Directo but now the main street. The fort together with all its other parts were taken down by 1870. The place was used by the colonizers for public executions up till the late 19th century.

07 Colombo Street Foods – Aluthkade (hulftsdorp)


Location

Are you a food lover? Do you like to find different foods? Then the Colombo Street Foods will give you the joy you need. Out in Colombo, street foods come at diverse tastes and prices. Most foods are usually associated with a specific restaurant or eatery. You don’t want to miss out on such an experience. Undoubtedly, testing the street food scene in Aluthkade will be one of the best things to do in Colombo.

08 Floating Market


Location

Opened by the minister in charge of health, Maithripala Sirisena (later became President of Sri Lanka) on 25th August 2014, the Floating Market of Pettah is a one-of-a-kind market.

The Floating Market project; was done by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) to help curb the congestion of footpaths by unlicensed traders. Regardless, the traders now complain of low sales and high costs of rentals. It has also helped clear the once overcrowded streets of Pettah.

The Floating Market contains 92 shopping stalls. These include; pagoda spaces and spaces within boats. It also serves as a tourist attraction and, this will help and the foreign investment boost in Sri Lanka.

09 Galle face urban forest park


Location

The Galle Face Urban Forest Park is a recreational facility; where both the adults and children can go and relax in the evening. This is one of the many projects by the government; in an attempt to make Sri Lanka the fastest growing country in the region of South Asia. The forest park has stalls and food joints or cabins. Even though the shopping mall is still under construction, it will be one of the well-stocked malls in the region.

The Galle Face Urban Forest Park is found in front of the Galle Face which passes between the Shangrilla and President’s office. With some green plants is a 1.5km well-developed jogging track. This track can be found on the banks of Baire Lake. The food cabin section and a relaxing spot together with other wonderful things; can be found on the other side of the Baire Lake.

10 Viharamahadevi (Victoria) Park


Location

Built under the British era, the Viharamahadevi (formerly Victoria) Park is the oldest and largest park in Colombo. It was the only large park at Colombo at its time. It contained a cricket park for games. The Buddha statue currently in the park replaced a Queen Victoria statue.

The beautiful trees and evergreen grasses make the park an awesome place to relax or hang out with family and friends. Even though it is situated in a busy community, the park’s environment is serene.

11 Park Street Mews


Location

The Park Street Mews is a very colorful street spot made from a series of warehouses. The streets are vibrant with all sorts of entertainment. In this wonderful place are; restaurants, bars, and hosting space for events. It is the best place for a street walk and to hang out with family and friends.

12 Independence Square and Arcade


Location

Built as a landmark for the commemoration of Sri Lankan Independence from British rule, the Independence Square Arcade is a beautiful complex with almost everything under its roof. From shops to entertainment and food. The Urban Development Authority (UDA) did some renovations to help maintain the unique architecture of this national treasure. With this making Colombo one of the fast-growing cities in the world, you can’t afford to miss this experience.

13 Mount Lavinia Beach


Location

Just out of the city of Colombo, Mount Lavinia Beach is a hotspot for residents and tourists. It is located along the beach and this gives you that cool environment for relaxing. There is a series of restaurants at Mount Lavinia Beach. The position of the beach allows you to enjoy the view of a beautiful sunset making it one of the best places to visit in Colombo. It is overcrowded during the weekdays so try weekends for the best experience. Recommending the Mount Lavinia Hotel terrace for your great comfort. The swimming pool at the Mount Lavinia Hotel is very affordable.

14 Diyatha Urban Park and Diyatha Station


Location

From a spotlessly clean and cool park to amazing trees, the Diyatha Urban Park has it all. The serene nature of the place makes it the best choice for your relaxation and therapy in or near Colombo city. The evening is also a great time to have a walk in the park with your family or friends. This experience is very comforting and healing.

15 Wetland Park


Location

Located in the heart of Colombo city is the Wetland Park. It is a park that gives you that jungle feeling. People go there to relax or take butterfly walks as well. If you are a bird lover, then check out their duck pond. The Wetland Park is an amazing place to birdwatch. Do not miss out on a great adventure.

16 National Sandalwood Garden


Location

The first-ever garden to be designed and grown, the National Sandalwood Garden is probably the largest in South Asia. The trees and plants create a therapeutic environment for your relaxation. It is the best place to meditate and enjoy a calm time with family and friends. With a flower bouquet on each side of the entrance, the garden welcomes you to a wonderful experience. They have amazingly arranged ponds in the garden too. The location of the garden also provides easy access to the main road.

17 Ape Gama


Location: Habarana

Ape Gama is a traditional arts and culture village in Sri Lanka. On display are locally crafted art pieces that are very significant to the culture and way of the people of Sri Lanka. It is also a heritage museum that seeks to preserve the past and present of Sri Lankan culture for the future. Upon your visit, you can also experience how these crafts are made. The serene and eco-friendly nature of this art village gives you a wonderful experience and free space to explore. The art crafts or souvenirs are sold at affordable prices.

18 Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya


Location

Located in Bellanwila (Colombo district), is the high and majestic Bellanwila Rajamaha Viharaya Buddhist temple. This temple is the most significant among the others in present-day Sri Lanka. Standing about 2 km from the Colombo-Galle highway, the temple is not only a place of worship but also perfect for relaxation. The background of the place flows with peaceful green fields. With amazing architecture and statues, it houses the beautiful heritage and history of the people. There are two entrances; one at the car park and the main entrance.

19 Bolgoda lake and Jet ski


Location

Presumed to be the largest natural lake in Sri Lanka, the Bolgoda lake is an amazing habitat for aquatic flora and fauna. These include mangrove and Kirala trees. This is a wonderful spot for a nature experience. Resorts along the lake also provide boat and jet ski services to tourists and residents.

20 Lotus Tower


Location

High in the city of Colombo is a 356 meters tower – the Lotus Tower. The Colombo Lotus Tower is also referred to as “Nelum Kuluna” in Sinhala. As a landmark, it is also the tallest skyscraper in Sri Lanka, the 11th tallest tower in Asia, and the 19th in the world. Its design was inspired by the Lotus which is a very cherished flower in the culture of Sri Lanka. It also signifies flourishment and development which proves the Sri Lankan dream of becoming the most developed country in the South Asian region. It has 8 floors and illuminates at night. Aside from being a tourist attraction site, the Lotus Tower is also a communication tower.