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Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka and is home to over 750,000 people. If you are planning a visit to this stunning country then most likely you will be flying into Colombo. Before you head off to explore everything this beautiful island country has to offer stay a few days and enjoy the best things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Best Things to do in Colombo, Sri Lanka
1. Explore the Colombo National Museum
The Colombo National Museum, also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum, is the largest museum in the country. This is one of the best places to visit in Colombo for those wanting to learn about ancient Sri Lanka. You’ll even get to see the crown of the Kandyan monarchs, along with art, statues, guns, and swords from ancient Sri Lanka and the later colonial period.
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2. Enjoy a Healthy Meal at Nuga Cafe
Nuga Cafe prides itself on supplying organic and healthy meals at reasonable prices. If you’re looking to stay healthy during your trip to Colombo, then you’re sure to be visiting this joint on a regular basis.
You can expect to find everything from fresh salads to more traditional paratha on their menu. Their meals are plated to perfection, allowing you to snap the perfect picture for Instagram. The interior of the cafe is cosy, charming and aesthetically pleasing, while the exterior is equally as picture-worthy with hanging plants and a quirky sign.
3. Take an Elephant Safari
If you only have time to visit Colombo on your trip then seeing the elephants of Sri Lanka is still a must. Minneriya National Park is one of the best places to see wild elephants in Sri Lanka. The park is a four and a half hours drive away from Colombo, which makes for a great day trip. Take a private Minneriya National Park safari to experience incredible wildlife sightings.
While you’re in the area, organize transport to Sigiriya Rock which is just half an hours drive from the park. Exploring this historic rock fortress is one of the best things to do for culture enthusiasts. Be sure to wear proper footwear for hiking and bring extra water to make it to the top.
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4. Experience a Tuk-Tuk Ride
Discovering all the best Colombo, Sri Lanka points of interest on a tuk-tuk is an unmissable experience. While taking a guided tuk-tuk tour is an option, hailing one from the side of the road when you need a lift is just as easy.
Navigating the narrow streets on this local form of transport makes any trip a little more interesting. The wind in your hair and exposure to the other elements make any mundane trip more of an adventure. Travelling at an average speed of 45km/h, you’ll also get the chance to take in your surroundings at a leisurely pace.
5. Get a Bargain at a Market
There are three famous markets in the city. Why not make a day of it and visit the city’s finest all in one day.
The Pettah Floating Market is located on a floating bridge that hovers over the Beira Lake. This makes for an incredibly unique Colombo tourism and shopping experience. You can purchase a multitude of different knick-knacks, clothing, accessories, electronics, travel gifts and even fruit and vegetables.
Galle Face Green Night Market is a great place to sample some of Sri Lanka’s most famous street food. Best you go hungry as you’ll likely have the urge to try everything!
Kala Pola Art Market is the place to purchase beautiful artworks as a souvenir to remember your Colombo travels. Choose from decorative paintings, photographs, and drawings that will set your mind ablaze with memories of this bustling city.
6. Take a Colombo Food Tour
Colombo a dream destination for food-lovers. With so much delectable local food to choose from, taking a food tour in Colombo is essential for any foodie.. The Eat, Eat, Repeat Food Tour with a local gives you the chance to eat traditional Sri Lankan food, with the guidance of someone who knows what they’re talking about.
You’ll get the chance to taste a variety of local street food like wadai, kothu, and hoppers. As well as visiting some of the best local foodie hangouts.
7. Explore the Many Temples
There are many, many temples in Colombo that need to be explored, especially for those travellers drawn to spiritual experiences. Here are a few of the best:
- Gangaramaya is a Buddhist temple surrounded by golden statues. It also provides stunning views over the lake of Beira.
- Isipathanaramaya Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka and a great visit for any architecture fanatic. Intricate figurines have been carved into the walls making it endlessly fascinating to explore.
- Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam is the main Hindu temple in Colombo and hosts many religious events. It’s also very colorful and home to many statues and figurines.
- Koneswaram temple is another Hindu temple that has become a sacred shrine to pilgrims from across the country. It’s incredibly colorful and dedicated to Lord Shiva.
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8. Visit Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
This mosque stands out like a sore thumb amongst the other buildings in the city. Distinctive and recognizable for its minarets painted a loud red and white candy-cane stripe. The mosque was constructed in 1910 and was used by sailors to navigate into port before other landmarks were built.
Apart from the architectural style, the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque is a great place to visit in Colombo for those wanting to learn about the diverse range of cultures and religions that make up the city.
9. Dine on Unique Cuisine at the Ministry of Crab
As you may have guessed, the Ministry of Crab serves up a delightful meal consisting of Sri Lanka’s lagoon crab. If you’re up for a mighty meal, tuck into “Crabzilla”, a 4.4-pound portion of crab that can be served up just how you like it. Enjoy with a fiery pepper sauce, cooked in garlic and chili, or baked for an especially unique flavour.
If you’re not a huge fan of crab, they serve up king-size prawns from the rivers that run across the island, as well as clams and oysters from the lagoons.
10. Take a City Tour
If your trip to Sri Lanka is going to be short and sweet but you still want to make the most of it, then taking a Colombo private city tour is the answer. You’ll hit all the main highlights of the city as well as many of the Colombo, Sri Lanka tourist attractions.
You’ll be picked up by your chauffeur who has extensive knowledge of the city. Listen to captivating stories about the history of the city while you drive, and tap into the mind of a local to learn about the city’s hidden secrets.
11. Lounge on the Beach
There are plenty of beach options available for a day of lounging in the sand and splashing in the waves.
Unawatuna Beach is shrouded in palm trees and has plenty of rocky outcrops that make exploring the marine life a great experience. It is the perfect spot for an evening beach walk while you watch the sunset. It’s also known to be a breeding ground for turtles so keep your eyes peeled for these beautiful creatures.
Another great option is Bentota Beach that is located within a beach resort but offers plenty of options to day-visitors. You can spend the day lounging or take part in water sports like water-skiing, sailing, and windsurfing.
12. Take a Day Trip to Kandy
Take a day trip from Colombo to Kandy to explore some of the most fascinating shrines and temples. You’ll also get the chance to walk through the Royal Botanical Gardens and learn about the history of the area’s most famous monuments.
Tour a tea factory and learn the ancient uses of medicinal plants. Also see stunning panoramic views of the city from above. This guided day trip will take you to some of the area’s best viewing points for some fantastic photo opportunities.
Final Thoughts on What to Do in Colombo, Sri Lanka
Whatever you end up finding yourself doing in Colombo, Sri Lanka you are sure to have an amazing trip. With all of the wonderful people, delicious food, interesting history and more you will be planning your next visit soon.