Things to do in Colombo

Activities, attractions and tours

Colombo Attractions

While it may no longer be the official administrative capital, Colombo remains the beating heart of Sri Lanka - its financial, commercial and population centre. A vast and sprawling city, the tropical conditions can mean it gets hot here, but there are plenty of beaches nearby where you can cool off. Once known as a garden city, modern development has made this hard to imagine but you can still find the colonial heritage in its wide boulevards and architecture. Wander through buzzing markets, discover a city that’s in transition and enjoy fine dining in the more cosmopolitan parts of town. Colombo is a great place to bookend your Sri Lankan experience.

Areas & Neighbourhoods in Colombo

Fort district - The heart of the old colonial city, the Fort district has had its troubles but is slowly recapturing its former glories - a unique part of the city that’s well worth a visit.

Pettah - the bustling market and commercial district, where you can haggle for bargains or simply take in the atmosphere and buzz all around you.

Slave Island - Captivating temples and a great insight into the traditional street life that once characterised the whole city.

Kollupitiya and Bambalapitiya - The modern suburbs and a great indication into the direction in which the city is heading. It’s also where you’ll find the more upmarket shopping and eating destinations.

Cinnamon Gardens - These leafy streets are a popular place to base yourself during your stay, with plenty of places to eat and drink. You can also visit the nearby Viharamahadevi Park.

Things to See in Colombo

As the country’s major city, this is where you’ll find the majority of the best museums. Check out the National Museum of Colombo in the Cinnamon Gardens, with its displays of royal paraphernalia. The Natural History Museum and Dutch Period Museum are both well worth the effort too. Head to the the Galle Face Green Promenade at sunset for a superb photo op and spectacular view, stroll the Zoological Gardens or visit the wildlife at the Turtle Conservation Villa. You can also get in touch with your spiritual side at the Gangaramaya Temple, a Buddhist religious site next to the Beira Lake.

Things to Do in Colombo

Head to the beach to cool off in the tropical heat - with Mount Lavinia’s sandy shores and suburb offering good facilities and eating options. Escape from the city a little further at the Talangama Wetland, a nature preserve where you can spot wildlife. Explore the city’s Dutch heritage at the Wolvendaal Church or shop for bargains at the Pettah Market - the city’s largest commercial centre. Even if you’re not looking for anything in particular, visiting the market is an experience in itself.

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Areas of Colombo

Day trip destinations from Colombo